In a recent ranking of the world’s costliest cities, two of Australia’s major cities and most popular tourist destinations, Sydney and Melbourne, ranked in the top 10. Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide came in the top 40 of the 131 cities surveyed. Rising costs shouldn’t put travellers off from visiting these cities, however – there are plenty of free things to do in Australia, no matter which capital city you visit.
Free things to do in Sydney
- Walk across the Harbour Bridge for spectacular views over Sydney’s crown jewel, the Opera House
- Great art is available for nothing at the Art Gallery of NSW and the Museum of Contemporary Art, both free for all. Temporary exhibits charge a ticket entry price, but permanent displays can be viewed without cost.
- A free bus ride around the CBD on the 555 will take you close to the State Library, Paddy’s Market, and Darling Harbour – all free attractions in their own right.
- Explore the Botanical Gardens and check out the interesting local (and not so local) flora. If you are visiting at dusk, keep an eye out for the resident flying foxes!
- Take in the sweeping coastal views along the Bondi-Coogee walk and cool off with a dip in the sea at world-famous Bondi beach
Free things to do in Melbourne
- Explore the street art and graffiti around Melbourne’s laneways, starting with Hosier Lane
- Browse Queen Victoria Market for fresh produce and bargains on everything from clothes to souvenirs
- Find a spot somewhere in the sun and people watch in Federation Square, Melbourne’s urban heart.
- Eat at Lentil as Anything, which is a new concept restaurant where you donate as little or as much as you want to for a vegetarian meal.
- Catch the City Circle Tram, an unique Melbourne experience which runs through CBD and take in the sights.
Free things to do in Perth
- Perth’s Cultural Centre is comprised of the Art Gallery, Museum, State Library and Perth’s Institute of Contemporary Art, PICA, and is a haven for art buffs. Best of all, entry is by gold coin donation.
- The Bibbulmun Track is just over 1,000 kilometres long, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t attempt at least a small section of it. Starting from Kalamunda, it is a scene, free way of taking in Perth’s natural sights.
- The I-City walking tours are run by City of Perth volunteers and take visitors to the main sights. There are even speciality tours with a art, history or culture focus.
- At the boutique brewery of Little Creatures, in Fremantle, tours are offered free of charge, though sadly, a pint of Little Creatures ale is not.
- Creative Native, an Aboriginal art store located in downtown Perth, offers free 15 minute lessons on how to play the didgeroodoo. Book in advance.
Free things to do in Adelaide
- The Garden of Unearthly Delights is a yearly festival of arts and entertainment with outdoor bars, carnival rides, sideshows and market stalls – a free spectacle for all.
- Getting around Adelaide is free and easy with the trams that run between north Adelaide, Adelaide City and Jetty Road, Glenelg.
- On a good day, the climb up Mount Lofty is worth it for the spectacular views over the city
- Arguably South Australia’s most popular export, Haigh’s chocolate is a household name amongst cocoa lovers. The Adelaide chocolate factory offers free tours, and if you’re lucky, a few pieces or two for tasting at the end of the tour.
- Jam Factory is a collective of artists’ studios, galleries and shops. It’s free to wander around and watch the artists at work, or $5 for a guided tour.
Free things to do in Darwin
- The sunsets over Darwin Harbour are truly magnificent. Watch the light change from the coastal reserves at East Point, Night Cliff or Casuarina Beach.
- Fannie Bay Gaol, a 19th century gaol, is a key historic attraction in Darwin. It was built in the 19th century and was closed down as recently as 1979.
- Lyons Cottage is a historical bungalow that was once the British Australian Telegraph house, and the only example of colonial architecture to be found in Darwin city.
- Try your luck with a line at the Stokes Hill Wharf, a dedicated fishing platform close to the CBD. You may have to beg, borrow or steal a fishing rod, or if all else fails, pull up next to a local and ask (nicely!) if you can cast a line.
- Entry to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory is completely free – the site boasts some of the best collections of Aboriginal artwork in the country.
Free things to do in Hobart
- Visit Anglesea Barracks, which are the oldest military buildings still in use in the country. Go on a Tuesday, when there is a free guided tour.
- The Mount Wellington National Park boasts walking trails aplenty as well as cultural attractions within the park itself.
- For intrepid twitchers, bird watching at the Waterworks Reserve offers a chance to spot water fowl and other feathered natives, absolutely free. Bring your own binoculars.
- Ride an ArtBike around Hobart. These 15 free bicycles are available for visitors looking to get around the city on two wheels. Look out for the quirky, arty bike parking.
- Explore Battery Point, a historic warren of old cottages, pubs and mansions built in 19th century Hobart, and step back in time.