Melbourne is one of those eclectic, easy-going cities you can quite happily visit on a whim. When you’re looking for a weekend getaway, Melbourne is just one of those places that easily springs to mind. It’s easy to book, easy to get there and a very easy city to spend a weekend exploring. With so many bars, markets, restaurants and amazing hotels to choose from… plus, the cost of getting around town, it can end up being quite an expensive trip. So, how do you spend a weekend in Melbourne and keep it budget-friendly? Here are some tips for visiting Melbourne on a budget.
Thanks to budget airlines competing for our business, it’s possible to snag yourself some pretty cheap airfares. Be flexible with your dates and sign up for airfare sale notifications so you can pounce on them quickly. Tuesday’s and Friday’s usually see sale airfares come up with airlines like Jetstar. Flying early in the morning or late at night can be cheaper and taking carry-on luggage only cuts back on luggage costs too.
When it comes to getting to your hotel, skip the expensive cab ride and swap it for the SkyBus. You can book your tickets in advance for around AUD$19 per person one way, which is a big price drop for solo travellers. The SkyBus drops you at a bus terminal where you board a free shuttle service that does the rounds to most hotels. If you do find yourself travelling as a pair and want to catch a cab, ask the people around in the cab line where they’re going and, if it’s safe, split the cab ride cost with them.
Accommodation in the heart of Melbourne CBD can cost you a pretty penny. Instead, opt to stay just outside the city in budget accommodation or a fully self-contained apartment. Staying at a self-contained apartment means you can buy food and drinks to have at home to keep costs down, read my review of Adara Hotel here. Alternatively, you can check out HotelsCombined for more accommodation options in Melbourne with the cheapest rates.
Getting around town is easy thanks to your own two feet and Melbourne’s Free Tram Zone, a massive loop running past all the places you’ll want to visit. From Flinders Street and Federation Square to Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne Central Station and the waterfront at Docklands. You can also find some of the best things to do in Melbourne here in my guide of 48 Things To Do.
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you need to miss out on eating all the delicious food in Melbourne. Grab a coffee and a muffin for breakfast from a local cafe, like Brother Baba Budan on Little Bourke Street, Sun Moth Canteen on Lonsdale Street or the Queensberry Pour House in Carlton.
Melbourne is famous for food trucks so find out where they’re going to be and get in on a local food experience at a fraction of the cost of a restaurant. Gumbo Kitchen serves New Orleans soul food including deep-fried catfish Po Boys, seafood gumbo and hush puppies. Happy Camper Pizza and Taco Truck serve top quality food at great prices.
Still hungry? Get yourself down to the Queen Victoria Markets for an eating tour including fresh fruit, just-baked pastries and cakes, divine Phillipino chicken skewers, Jamaican jerk chicken and BBQ corn and a big bowl of fresh mussels.
When it comes to sightseeing on a budget, take a stroll along the Yarra and wander over Melbourne’s Southgate Bridge. Stop in for coffee and feline fun at Melbourne’s first Cat Cafe open on Queen Street or soak in the best views of the city and beyond 88 floors above the ground at Melbourne Skydeck. Take yourself to Hosier Lane and do a self-guided tour of Melbourne’s street art scene, just doing laps around the city will yield you access to some pretty spectacular artworks.
A weekend getaway doesn’t have to cost you the earth. Sometimes it’s just about taking the time to get away from home for a few days and be somewhere else, away from all the noise of day-to-day life. Budget restraints can play a big part in travelling, but just remember, you don’t need to spend a lot to see a city and have a great time away. Just being there is enough.
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