Not so long ago my friend and fellow blogger Cameratic travelled to Melbourne. Naturally, I came up with a list of things to do on the cheap. I thought it would be cool to share it on Tripping Over Travel for anyone who is visiting Melbourne and is on a budget, or if you already live in Melbourne and want to explore the most livable city in the world!
For both outings described below, we heavily relied on public transport. All that was required was a valid Myki card with a balance of at least AUD$8.00 (daily/full-fare), money for food and entry fees, an open mind and plenty of enthusiasm!
Old Treasury Building and Parliament House
Melbourne is looking more and more modern everyday with new high-rise buildings and skyscrapers being constructed quite regularly now. But there are still some grand historic buildings standing strong, including the Old Treasury Building and Parliament House, neighbouring each other on Spring Street. The closest train station to get here is Parliament Station; however, several trams run in this direction also.
Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens
A short walk from Parliament House is Carlton Gardens and the Royal Exhibition Building. Carlton Gardens is the city escape that many opt for as a place to relax if they work in the area. Entry to the gardens is free. The Royal Exhibition Building stands tall in the middle of the garden. The inside is only open during public events but it is worth snapping photos on the outside because it is a gorgeous building. The Melbourne Museum is also in the same area.
The Block Arcade
Via Spring St, Lonsdale St and through Emporium, we made our way to The Block Arcade on foot. The inside is beautiful and during Christmas the decorations are delightful. I love checking out the cakes at Houpton Tea Rooms as I wander through. There are a number of adorable little stores inside the Block Arcade that you can browse around in and do a bit of shopping.
333 Collins Street
This is my favourite building in Melbourne. 333 Collins St is occupied by various tenants but access to the foyer is free. It’s something that you have to see for yourself. I personally believe it is one of the most beautiful foyers I have ever seen in Melbourne. It is even better during Christmas, when they add a huge glittery Christmas tree as the centrepiece of the foyer. Photos are allowed and it is simply worth visiting to be awed.
Summer Night Market @ QVM
From 333 Collins St we made a U-turn, caught the tram from Elizabeth Street and headed towards Queen Victoria Market (QVM) for the Summer Night Market (it was a Wednesday). Trams 57, 59 and 19 all stop right outside QVM. I love the Night Market; I go every year so I had to bring my friend while she was in town. Our first stop was Running Bull Sangria and then we immediately went to the Twistto stand, where they sell fried potato twirled around a skewer. I know it is not the healthiest snack but it is so deliciously addictive! We completed a few laps around the market, wandered up and down the aisles admiring all the stalls until it was dessert time. My go-to dessert are the delectable Dutch pancakes at The Tram Stop – lemon and sugar flavour. They are so light and fluffy; I could eat them every week!
We hopped back on a tram from Elizabeth St (again, either trams 57, 59 or 19), disembarked at Flinders St, walked through the subway to get to Southbank and made our way to Eureka Skydeck. Our goal was to see Melbourne as the sun set and we felt that Eureka Skydeck would provide one of the best views. One adult general admission ticket is AUD$20.00. Once we were up, we picked a spot and literally stayed at this one spot the entire time; setting up our cameras, getting ready for the sunset (what did you expect? We’re bloggers!). All I can say is that it was a stunning sunset, and Melbourne looked magnificent! It was a lovely way to end the night.
My friend is a coffee addict! So our first stop for the day was Degraves, which is walking distance from Flinders Street Station. Despite there being endless options for coffee in Melbourne, Degraves seemed like the best place to truly feel like a Melbournian. It’s one of our most famous laneways after all. We each spent roughly AUD$3-$5 on our drinks.
After we got our coffee/chai latte fix (I don’t actually drink coffee) we walked to Swanston St to catch the tram to Carlton. Pretty much any tram that says “Melb Uni” on it is going to Carlton. The aim was to get to Lygon St, which is walking distance from the main tram terminal near the University of Melbourne. Lygon St is one of my favourite places to eat in Melbourne and probably my most frequented. The street is lined with busy restaurants, with Brunetti being the prime spot for coffee and dessert. Lygon St is where you go for a taste of Italy!
Known as the hipster area of Melbourne, we walked from Lygon St to Brunswick St in Fitzroy for lunch (we didn’t actually eat at Lygon St… just had a wander). We’re not vegetarians but we’re both always open to vegetarian meals, so I took her to the famous Vegie Bar. This place is seriously the best! I ordered a pizza and she got the falafel and it was so tasty! If we didn’t plan on having dessert elsewhere, I would have had their Sticky Date Pudding too – my favourite!
I think nature in the city is important. It creates balance. One of my favourite spots is Fitzroy Gardens, which is just outside the city centre. From Brunswick St, we jumped on a tram (trams 11, 12 or 109), got off at Albert St (stop 11) and walked from there (it’s a short walk). I always forget how big Fitzroy Gardens is and I end up finding new little areas and cute ponds and bridges within the gardens to take photos of or simply chill. Whether you want to lay in the sun or cosy up under a tree, Fitzroy Gardens is a great getaway from the busy city and entry is free!
This is located in Melbourne Central. After wandering around Fitzroy Gardens, we ended up on the Spring St end of it, so we had to catch tram 75 to Flinders St and then any tram on Swanston St to get to Melbourne Central. Alternatively, you could walk from Flinders St. So we kind of went around in a circle from where we started our day just to get to our preferred dessert eatery, which was Harajuku Crepes! My friend and I actually met in Japan, so Harajuku Crepes was a fun place to eat because of that link. There are so many options for flavours; it literally took me a solid 10-15mins to make a decision. I ended up getting one with peaches and ice cream, which costed roughly AUD$8.00.
From Melbourne Central we walked to Bourke St and caught tram 86 to Docklands. Disembarking at Harbour Town, we wandered around the shopping centre and checked out the Melbourne Star. We didn’t go on it on this occasion but I have taken a ride in the past and it offers amazing views of the city. If you are up for it, there is an ice skating rink nearby. We made our way to the Esplanade before walking through Etihad Stadium and catching the train back home from Southern Cross Station.