Cheap Backpacking in Melbourne
Australia is on the top of many travelers’ bucket lists, but let’s face it, this country is pretty pricey. With $9+ pints of beer and hostels starting at $35/night, cheap backpacking in Melbourne really gets the broke backpacker counting their pennies. But don’t fret, there’s a reason Melbourne has been voted the world’s most livable city for so many years. This spot has it all, from fine dining and chic nightlife, to cheap cafes and tons of free activities. So fellow broke backpacker, we got ya covered. Here’s our quick list of cheap and free things to do while backpacking in Melbourne.
Fresh Street Art
Melbourne is famous for it’s street art (aka graffiti), and rightly so. It seems like almost every corner you turn around, there is a gorgeous piece just freshly drying on the wall. One of the most popular spots with locals and tourists alike is Hosier Lane. This narrow cobblestone street is bursting with color and creativity. It’s not uncommon to see bride and grooms using this street as a backdrop for wedding photos. Caledonian Lane also in the CBD, is a short street to walk through but you could spend a whole afternoon deciphering layers of images and stencils that interconnect and blend into each other. Other top spots: Yarra Place & Union Lane.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Library?! Next! But before you skip over this, hear me out. The Victoria State Library is right in the heart of Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD). The building itself is gorgeous and it’s a popular spot for locals to get in a good study session. If books aren’t your thing, stay outside where there’s always a good crowd. The grass is a great spot to meet up with friends or have a picnic. On sunny days the staff pull out giant beanbags to chill out on the grass and you can listen to a varying lineup of buskers play music. After, challenge someone to a game of giant chess at the top of the stairs. Also… free wifi!
Visit Miniature Penguins
Interested in seeing a little wildlife but don’t want to shell out the cash to visit the zoo? No worries, mate! Down by the St. Kilda pier is a small penguin colony. Head there just after sunset to see these little guys swimming back to their home in the rocks after a day out in the ocean. This place can get a bit crowded but it’s worth it to catch a glimpse of these cute little creatures. Volunteers are around to give you some information on the conservation project as well as point out any hidden penguins hiding in the rocks. If you want to take photos, make sure to turn off your flash as it can damage their eyes.
Cheap All You Can Eat Hare Krishna Food
Are all these amazing activities making you work up an appetite? Don’t be a sucker and pay $20+ for lunch at one of the trendy (ie. pretentious) cafes downtown. Instead find one of the several Hare Krishna restaurants in the area. Jump in the queue with other budget backpackers and broke students. Lunch is $5.50 for students and $7.50 for everyone else. There’s only one dish featured each day and it’s all you can eat, which includes dessert and a drink. Sit at a communal table and make a new friend or grab some of their spiritual literature for some mid-day enlightenment. Our favorite Hare Krishna spot: Crossroads at 123 Swanston St.
Beers on the Yarra River
After a long day in the Melbourne sun you’re probably craving a nice cold beer – or as we Aussies say – a frothy. If you’re going to a bar expect to pay upwards of $9 for a pint. On a backpackers budget that’s crazy! Why pay extra to sit indoors when you can grab a cheap beer and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Yarra River? Head over to the corner of Flinders and Swanson, grab a six-pack from the Young & Jackson take-away, cross the Princess Bridge and then pull up a patch of grass on the side of the river.
27 thoughts on “Cheap Backpacking in Melbourne”
Great post! I love it. I hope one day you will add PurpleDinner in the Agenda. We have many hosts serving meals for free on PurpleDinner.com. Looking forward to your next post. Marsil.
Let us know if you have dinners in the Melbourne area and we’ll check one out! Thanks!
I didn’t explore Melbourne as much as I should’ve done when I was in Oz but the street art was definitely my favourite thing about the city! I’d love to go back sometime and see how it’s changed!
The street art is amazing! And the best thing is that its always changing and evolving!
I love the idea of that library! Also the street art. I’d love to make it to Oz some day so its good to know I won’t go completely broke.
It’s an awesome place to visit! It can be really expensive but there’s a lot of backpackers here as well who can have fun together on a budget!
good guide. I was pretty broke when I was in Melbourne, I took a free walking tour and afterwards gazed at the street art. I certainly recommend spending the pennies on some coffee and food though!
We haven’t done the free walking tour but I’d like to do it before we leave! The coffee is definitely worth spending money on!
Cheap dinner at a hare krishna restaurant is a great idea! You have just inspired me to go and cook some lentils. 🙂 I will have to check it out next time I am in Melbourne.
Yay! We love lentils! Definitely check out the Hare Krishna place, its awesome!
I love Hare Krishna food! There is a great cheap place on K Road in Auckland that I used to frequent a lot. I love the little penguins, I am a volunteer warden for the colony in Manly, Sydney
That’s awesome! When we make it to NZ we’ll be sure to check it out! Awesome great work with the penguins, the volunteers down there are so friendly and helpful. Well done!
Melbourne is our first stop in Jan so this has come at just the right time as I an I nthe process of looking at things to do over our three days there. Really looking forward to the street art, I have seen some incredible pictures!
Sweet, we’ll be around in Jan just before we fly to Asia. You should shoot us an email and we can catch up for a beer!
It is always great to find free activities in any city and Melbourne is no exception. The street art has had a real revival of late it seems. A cheapish day out also is to grab an all day train/tram/bus pass and head out to the Dandenong Ranges – get the train to Belgrave, pick up a tourist map before hand, and from there you can walk through the forest, feed the birds… hop on a bus and travel right across the Dandenongs and down to Croydon on the other side – then train home again!
Hop the free City Circle Tram too… that can be a great way to see the sights for free!!
We’ve actually been out to the Dandenong Ranges! We did the 1000 steps. It was a beautiful hike. We drove up because we have a car but thanks for letting us know about the public transport. We’ll be sure to include that when we write about it!
Thank you. Now I can backpack with a tight budget. Can’t wait to see Melbourne.
Glad we could help! Melbourne is awesome!
Hi! I lived in Melbourne for almost 2 years, and Jack (my other half for our travel site) is a Melbournian too! And yes, it is soooo pricey! but we were able to find our cheap nights out by going to uni bars, drinking at happy hours (even though they were at weird hours), and eating meals off groupon! We would get 3 course meals plus a wine each for 2 people for only $30! Steal! I think people forget that groupon and other sites like it really exisit and can make your trip heaps cheaper!
We loooove Groupon! They always have awesome deals for stuff we’d never be able to afford otherwise! We did an all-inclusive resort in Mexico from Groupon, have had delicious meals, massages, etc. Its such a great site!
These are some great recommendations. I would love to visit Melbourne someday(soon) but the long flight there just kills it. Hopefully I can break it up with a stop for a few days in one of the Asia pacific islands or something.
Yeah it’s a bit of a tough one. Long flight, expensive flight and the place is expensive. But there are always budget ways to do it, but you might still need to save up a bit first. One day! Come one! Th flights not that bad. Make sure to give us a shout… that’s if we’re not already gone!
Such a relevant post seeing as how expensive melbourne can get! Absolutely loved the street art and library (avoided the hare krishna food because we got enough of it back home) and I cannot believe we didn’t know there were penguins in St. Kilda. We had to cancel Phillip Island because we chose Mornington instead and I was a bit bummed about not seeing the Penguins. And we did spend a day in St. Kilda. I could kick myself!
Oh no, sorry you didn’t get to see the penguins! They’re pretty awesome. It gets crowded, but you can’t really complain with free. There’s also these weird water rat things, but they’re definitely not as cute haha. Oh well, I’m sure you had an awesome anyway. Melbourne is such a cool city, glad you liked the article.
I did not find Melbourne to be backpacker cheap at all, but these are some great tips!
I wish I had known about the Hare Krishna food, just so I could try it.
Maybe next time. 🙂
It’s definitely an expensive city, but like most places, its all about where you look. There’s lots of great free activities and cheap deals to take advantage of!
You just got me super excited planning my trip to Melbourne !!
Thanks for sharing!