As the saying goes, “The best things in life are free”.
Forget the gourmet restaurants and high-end designer labels in Melbourne and Sydney. There are many fun ways of exploring both cities without burning a hole in your pocket.
Here are the top six things that you can do without spending a cent:
1. Visit Melbourne’s hidden laneways and city landmarks via the City Circle Tram, a free tram service that lets you hop on and off around central Melbourne. Explore the city at a more laidback pace while admiring the city’s historic architecture and skyline from the comfort of a tram seat. There is also a Free Tram Zone in the city covering the main city centre!
2. Hosier Lane is a must-visit for art lovers and fans of street culture. A short five-minute walk from Flinders Street Station, this hidden laneway has developed a reputation for having some of the most expressive and politically charged street-art masterpieces in the city. For a closer look at the inside world of graffiti, join a free tour of Hosier Lane. If you are lucky, you may even catch graffiti artists in action, transforming alley walls and sidewalks into street art masterpieces right before your eyes!
3. Step into one of the world’s greatest libraries and a cultural landmark of Melbourne, the State Library of Victoria. Located in the heart of the city, this magnificent 19th century building is framed by a majestic domed ceiling and houses over two million books, hundreds of thousands of pictures, newspapers, maps and manuscripts, and masses of audio, video and digital material. Don’t miss the two free permanent exhibitions; free guided tours of this historic building are also available.
4. For fresh air and scenery, set off on the Bondi to Coogee Walk, which offers spectacular coastal views. Stretch your legs on the free coastal walk, past a stunning array of beaches, parks, cliffs and rock pools. It takes between one to two hours to complete at a leisurely pace.
Make your way up a set of steep stairs to Marks Park, near the start of the walk, and be entranced by rare Aboriginal rock carvings. As one of the walk’s highest points, the park is also a prime whale-watching spot during the migration season between May and November.
Rest assured that there are rest stops with great views as well as cafes and restaurants along the way, offering trekkers opportunities for a well-earned break.
5. If you prefer flora to coastlines, visit the Royal Botanic Gardens, which offers an escape from Sydney’s CBD area. Enjoy free guided walks unless the weather is too hot (35 degrees and above), and explore a diverse range of flora and fauna. Easily accessible, the nearest train station is Martin Place but the gardens are also just a short stroll away from St James and Circular Quay train stations. If you have time to spare, treat yourself to pretty views of the harbour as you while away the afternoon on the garden’s sprawling lawns.
6. Cap off your day with spectacular views from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which is under a ten-minute walk from Circular Quay. Get snap happy as you walk along the eastern side of the bridge; the western side is reserved for cyclists. As the steel arches tower over you, look out and be mesmerised by breath-taking views of the harbour, Opera House and surrounding bays.
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