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Cheap Melbourne: Tours and talks

You don’t need to be rich to enrich your mind. If you know where to look, there are plenty of affordable ways to hear from fascinating people and explore hidden corners of Melbourne

By Time Out editors |
Birrarung Marr
Photograph: Roberto Seba

There's no such thing as knowing everything about your city. So whether you're a tourist or you've lived here all your life, you'll want to know about these cheap (and in some cases, free) ways to learn new things in Melbourne.

Love to learn? Head out on these great Melbourne tours, including walking toursIndigenous history tours and ghost tours.

Cheap tours and talks in Melbourne

The University of Melbourne: Parkville
Things to do, Educational venues

Free public lectures at the University of Melbourne


Instead of adding to your hefty student loans by enrolling in a degree, be enlightened by the University of Melbourne’s series of free, accessible lectures. One week you could be hearing from human rights lawyers; the next from scientists tackling antimatter in space. Book ahead, because they sell out fast.

Flinders Street Station at night
Photograph: Graham Denholm

Melbourne Visitor Shuttle

They say you never stop learning – and that applies to your understanding of your own city. Check the map and hop on at any of the shuttle’s 13 stops. Once you’re on, audio commentary will share stories behind some of the city’s best-known landmarks.

Wheeler Centre
Things to do, Classes and workshops

The Wheeler Centre


Founded in 2010 as part of Melbourne’s journey to become a UNESCO City of Literature, the Wheeler Centre hosts cheap and free talks from some of the world’s greatest thinkers, from politicians to novelists to podcast stars.

Parliament House
Things to do, Walks and tours

Parliament House Tour

Parliament House, East Melbourne

You don't have to have political aspirations to enjoy the tour at Parliament House. For one, it's free, and who doesn't like a freebie? Aside from walking in the same hallowed halls as our current and former state pollies, the tour takes in the incredibly ornate architecture and reveals some of the building's less illustrious moments. There are also two 20-minute express tours every day for the time poor. No need to book – just turn up on time for your chosen tour on any weekday when parliament is not sitting. 

Deadly Melbourne Birrarung Wilam Walk
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do

Koorie Heritage Trust’s Cultural Walk


This inner-city walking tour takes visitors through Federation Square and down to the Birrarung Wilam Aboriginal art installations to learn the history of Birrarung Marr and the Kulin nation. Led by a local Koorie guide, you’ll learn about how the land on which Melbourne is located has changed over time and gain a deeper understanding of Melbourne’s importance as a meeting place and location for social, educational and cultural events and activities. Tours run for one hour and bookings are essential.

W-Class Tram

City Circle tram

You’ve seen these cute heritage trams rattling around the city – why not hop on? This free shuttle loops the CBD and Docklands, all the while playing an audio commentary that focuses on the history of Melbourne.

Ned Kelly's armour
Photograph: Supplied
Attractions, Libraries

Ned Kelly Tour at the State Library of Victoria


Did you know that the State Library is home to Ned Kelly’s armour? Seeing it up close is just one drawcard of this free tour, which delves into Kelly’s divisive place in Australian identity and reveals other artefacts like the Jerilderie letter and eyewitness photographs from the Glenrowan siege.

Heidelberg School Artists Trail

Heidelberg School Artists Trail

Get to know the key figures of the Heidelberg School art movement in the green riverside bushland where they worked. This picturesque trail by the Yarra is punctuated by 12 signs depicting paintings by six artists including Arthur Stratton and Walter Withers.

More thrifty thrills in Melbourne

Birrarung Marr
Photograph: Roberto Seba
Things to do

Cheap things to do in Melbourne

No money? No problem! We've pinched our pennies to bring you the ultimate guide on how to eat, drink and have a great time in Melbourne on a budget.

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