Melbourne’s beachside “Backpacker Hot Spot” has for decades attracted tourists, international visitors and even Melbournians to its lively streets, colourful cake shops, the famous Luna Park and alternative, laid back way of life. Located only ten minutes from Melbourne’s CBD, St Kilda is the ultimate base for those travelers (or beach junkies) keen to explore all that Australia’s hippest capital has on offer. Whether you are visiting for just a few days, a few weeks or a few months, these Top 10 Free or Cheap Things to Do in St Kilda are a must (and won’t blow a hole in your budget).
1. Little Penguins! (FREE)
Every night of the year you can see these cute little fellas down at St Kilda Pier! Have a wander down sometime after sunset and you’ll discover the colony swimming and waddling around their nests. Tip: wander to the end of the pier just before sunset to make the most of the amazing views (and photo ops) of Melbourne city.
2. St. Kilda Esplanade Sunday Market
Open 10am-4pm, this fantastic quality arts and crafts market has something for everyone! From paintings (which you can often find being created right there in front of you), hand-made jewelry, wood carvings, henna and pop-up coffee stalls. It’s a vibrant and cultural way to spend your Sunday, with the beautiful backdrop of St Kilda Beach as a cheeky bonus!
3. Lentil As Anything (As cheap as you need it to be)
A unique way of dining! This “pay what you feel” vegetarian restaurant aims to provide tasty and nutritious meals where money is not a concern. You simply order from the menu – which does not have a price list – and when it comes to paying you put in a donation of your choice. This fantastic concept allows every individual to eat out and feel valued regardless of their financial situation. YAY for top human beings!
4. St. Kilda Botanical Gardens (FREE!)
St Kilda Botanical Gardens are open from sunrise to sunset 7 days per week! This beautiful gem is located just between St. Kilda Road and St. Kilda itself, providing some peace and tranquility in the heart of the hustle and bustle. Swimming with wildlife, greenhouses and plenty of grass verges for picnics. Perfect! Live like the locals, grab a six pack, a rug and spend the afternoon in the sun.
5. Acland Street
If it’s amazing little cafes and bars you’re after then head straight to Acland Street. This diverse area of St. Kilda is hugely popular with backpackers as well as locals due to its vibrancy and deliciously rich cakes! So whether you’re just looking for an interesting place to wander or some tasty treats, Acland Street is the one!
6. Albert Park
Spend an afternoon strolling around this local beauty, spanning 2.25K with a beautiful lake full of local wildlife. With numerous ovals, sporting facilities, the public golf course, a 5 km walking track around the lake, and the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit. Whether you want to chill out with a picnic and a barbeque or make the most of the activities on offer (you can even go sailing), there is something here for everyone!
7. St. Kilda Festival (amazingly, FREE!)
Australia’s BIGGEST celebration of summer, and it’s FREE! St. Kilda is transformed for a week each year, showcasing some of Australia’s best acts in Music and Dance. With around 400,000 people in attendance and festivities including extreme sports, visual arts, comedy, dance classes, family activities and workshops. This really is an event not to be missed!
8. St. Kilda Beach
Described as “Melbourne’s best playground by the sea”, it isn’t summer until you’ve spent a day at St. Kilda Beach! A hub full of activities; With walkers, joggers and rollerbladers on the foreshore and kitesurfers, windsurfers and all-weather swimmers gracing the waters. You can also check out St. Kilda Pier for crazy panoramic views of Melbourne skyline, day or night.
9. Bike Share on the Esplanade
A super easy and efficient way to see St. Kilda and the surrounding suburbs! You hire your bike and ride it to another docking station within 30 minutes. It seems like a challenge, but these docking stations are EVERYWHERE! With various subscriptions- whether it’s daily use at $2.90 or weekly at $8- you really can’t go wrong! It’s way cheaper than taking a tram, and you’re exercising! Winner!
10. Luna Park
This historic theme park has been the place for fun in St. Kilda for over a century! Luna park is free to enter, meaning you only pay for the rides that you want to go on. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, definitely hit up the website for some “unlimited ride passes” to save a few bucks! Ideally located right next to the beach, it’s a must-see for all big kids!