Backpacking Melbourne: Ultimate Budget Travel Guide 2024

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Backpacking Melbourne has always been popular, but no more so than in the modern world where backpacking has been growing and growing for years.

Melbourne offers the perfect place to go backpacking, and if you found this article, you are likely planning a trip yourself.

Luckily for you, I’m a full-time traveller and an expert in backpacking and budget travelling, and I’ve created a complete guide to backpacking Melbourne with everything you need to know.

Let’s get right into it!

Why you should backpack Melbourne

There are endless reasons why you should backpack Melbourne. Most of these apply to Australia in general – like stunning beaches, the language being English, beautiful skylines, etc. – but there are a few reasons why you should choose Melbourne specifically.

Melbourne is an incredible place, and it’s one of Australia’s most visited destinations. People don’t tend to travel to places for no reason, so it’s clear Melbourne has a lot to offer.

If you are travelling throughout Australia, you might have already been to Sydney. Melbourne is much more relaxed than Sydney. It’s more laid back and has a “go with the flow” attitude. And this applies perfectly to the concept of backpacking. One of my top backpacking hacks is to have a spontaneous attitude.

A picture of Melbourne.

Melbourne also has a plethora of cultural diversity. Backpacking Melbourne may make you a new person. There are so many different ways of life to experience in this city, there truly is no better place to backpack, as you want to experience new things, right?

Another reason is the nightlife. The nightlife in Melbourne is second to none and is usually considered to be the best in Australia.

There are so so many more reasons, but hopefully, throughout this article, you will discover more reasons for yourself as to why backpacking Melbourne is a must-do.

Is backpacking Melbourne safe?

Yes, absolutely. Melbourne is one of the safest places in the world, as it was voted as the joint 8th safest city in the world. Just think how many countries and cities there are in the world, and Melbourne is in the top ten safest.

You can backpack Melbourne with no safety concerns (as long as you use common sense) and explore the city freely.

A picture of a bridge in Melbourne.

One of the biggest reassurances when backpacking is that you are not alone, and this is the case with Melbourne. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people in Melbourne who are backpacking, at any given time.

You will make friends in hostels and meet new people every day, so even if you are travelling solo, you have other people around you to “have strength in numbers”.

But regardless, yes, Melbourne is definitely safe.

How much does backpacking Melbourne cost?

Unfortunately, the single downside to backpacking Australia compared to backpacking Thailand or other countries in Southeast Asia is that it’s nowhere near as cheap. In fact, it can get pretty costly at times.

Hostels can cost anywhere between $30 AUD to $50 AUD depending on the time of year and which hostel you opt for. It’s quite the contrast compared to $1-a-night hostels in Southeast Asia. But trust me, the quality of the hostels is night and day.

This will be your biggest expense while backpacking Melbourne, and prices for food and activities will be pretty in line with the likes of the UK, Canada, Australia etc.

A picture of a hostel room I stayed in while backpacking Melbourne.

On average, most people spend about $80 AUD per day while backpacking in Australia. In other currencies, this is £43 / €49 / $54 USD.

So you can expect to spend $2400 AUD each month (£1,300 / €1,500 / $1,600), which isn’t the end of the world, but it’s also not the cheapest city you will ever visit.

Of course, like always with backpacking, it’s possible to do it on a complete shoestring budget by using Couchsurfing (make sure to read my 2023 Couchsurfing review) and other means to keep the budget down. And on the other side, it’s possible to spend a lot more too if you do lots of activities.

When to backpack Melbourne

Melbourne is a place where you can visit at any time in the year and it’s an amazing experience. If you visit in the Summer (December to February), you will have scorching sun, beautiful days on the beach and a typical “Australian” summer with lots of surfing.

If you visit in Winter (June to August), you will avoid the crowds of the summer, and get much cheaper prices in hostels etc. The downside is the weather and it can actually get pretty cold in Melbourne in the winter months.

So in my opinion, the best time to visit Melbourne is between the two main seasons. Visiting between August and December or February and June gives the perfect balance between weather and activities, and crowds and money. It also lines up quite nicely in timing if you go on to do the Banana Pancake Trail.

How long to stay in Melbourne

The question “how long to stay in X, Y, Z” is one of the hardest questions to answer in the travel world. It completely depends on how you like to travel and everyone is so different.

For example, some people could see the main sights in Melbourne in one day and consider the city “done”. Other people could spend a few months in Melbourne and still have places they want to explore.

What I will say is that most people (not just backpackers) will stay for around 4-5 days at most. It gives enough time to see what Melbourne has to offer as well allowing for plenty of time to relax on the beach.

An aerial view of Melbourne. If you are backpacking Melbourne you might want to stay for a week.

As a backpacker, you’re likely travelling a little slower, so you might want to dedicate a full week to the city.

If you feel like you have seen enough by the last few days, there’s nothing stopping you from taking a day trip from Melbourne. There are lots of options and some of the most popular include Daylesford for the natural springs and Phillip Island for the penguins.

Where to stay in Melbourne

The best hostel in Melbourne is without a doubt the Space Hotel. As the description says, it’s “where luxury meets budget” and this could not be more true. It’s pretty much a flashpacker’s hostel, but for a decent price.

You can get a bed in a dorm room for around $40 AUD depending on the time of year and how busy it is. But regardless of the price, this is the hostel to stay in Melbourne. When the prices are up, they will be up in all the hostels so this is definitely the one to go for.

The hostel is right in the heart of the city, making it really easy to get around, with great public transport links and loads of sights and attractions within walking distance, allowing you to save some money there.

It’s also really popular amongst backpackers, making it a great place to meet like-minded people and make new friends. There’s always something going on and the facilities are unreal, with a gym, games space, cinema and more. Not to mention the hot tub or rooftop garden!

And if hostel rooms aren’t your thing- don’t worry. They have rooms for all types of travellers with private rooms, family rooms, you name it. And these are just as high quality.

It’s undebatably the best hostel in Melbourne, so if you are backpacking Melbourne, make sure to book your stay at the Space Hotel because it will sell out in the peak season.

Things to Do in Melbourne

There are so many things to do in Melbourne, especially for backpackers like me and you who are constantly looking for new things to do that are unique to the city. There are lots of opportunities to have immersive and new cultural experiences in Melbourne, but here are just some of the best things to do. You could also see these as reasons to visit!

1) Visit the Melbourne Museum

One of the most popular things to do in Melbourne is to visit the Melbourne Museum. It has pretty much everything you need to know about Australia’s history in one building, from the indigenous Australians to everything Victoria, you’ll leave the museum an Aussie genius. You could spend hours exploring the museum, and there’s truly something for everyone. So much so that even if you hate museums, you might just hate this one a little less.

A picture of Melbourne Museum and IMAX

And how could I forget? There’s literally a cinema in the museum too, like a proper IMAX cinema!

2) Drink a lot at the amazing cafes and bars

Melbourne is a city with an abundance of outstanding cafes where you can have some incredible coffee. Australia is famous for its coffee after all! I wasn’t particularly fond of coffee but there are still coffees in Melbourne that I would classify as “drinkable” that others would class as “delicious”, so make sure to head to a cafe every day on your trip!

A picture of some cups of coffee, make sure to drink a lot while backpacking Melbourne as they are the best in the world.

And on top of drinking coffee, you can drink lots of alcohol too. Melbourne’s nightlife scene is next-level and you can find some of the best bars in the world in Melbourne. And there are also tons and tons of hidden gems too. It’s the perfect place to go on a pub crawl. So make sure to enjoy lots of cafes and drinks while backpacking Melbourne!

3) See the view from Melbourne Skydeck

The skyline of Melbourne is beautiful. Seeing the skyscrapers and other buildings Melbourne is made up of is a pretty sight, but imagine seeing it from above. Turns out, you can! The Melbourne Skydeck on the Eureka Tower gives you an unrivalled birds-eye view of Melbourne. It’s the best way to get a view over Melbourne without taking a hot air balloon flight.

A picture of the Eureka Tower.

Fancy taking it a little bit further? There is a glass cube on the outside of the building known as the “Edge” which you can step into and look underneath your feet to see Melbourne like never before.

4) Shop at Queen Victoria Market

One of the most iconic parts of Melbourne is the Queen Victoria Market. The market offers the opportunity to buy, quite literally, anything. Fresh food? No problem. New t-shirt? You got it. There are over 600 stalls, so you’re bound to find something. Even if you don’t, the experience makes it worth visiting anyway. It’s a must-do during your time in Melbourne.

A picture of Queen Victoria Market.

5) Watch a cricket match at Melbourne Cricket Ground

As you may know, Australians love their cricket. And the Melbourne Cricket Ground is one of the most famous sports stadiums anywhere in the world. If you happen to be in Melbourne when there’s a match, try your best to go. The atmosphere is electric and even if you don’t enjoy cricket, it’s still really enjoyable. You can also take a tour of the stadium and go behind the scenes to areas normally out of bounds (no pun intended!)

Free Things to Do in Melbourne

Of course, as a backpacker, you are wanting to keep the budget down as much as possible. So finding free things to do is important- this is one of the easiest ways to travel on a budget, by finding free things.

Thankfully, Melbourne is a great place when it comes to free. Some of the best things to do in Melbourne are actually completely costless. So here are 5 free things to do in Melbourne.

6) Spend time at Fitzroy Gardens

Melbourne is a pretty green city with lots of parks and such. One of the best is Fitzroy Gardens, which has beautiful shrubbery and greenery in every direction. Not to mention the flowers or ponds too. It’s just a peaceful and relaxing place, which is a welcome contrast after a busy day exploring the city. There are lots of places for picnics throughout the park, making it the perfect spot for a lunch break.

A picture of Fitzroy Gardens, one of the best places to relax while backpacking Melbourne.

7) Pay respects at the Shrine of Remembrance

The Shrine of Remembrance is the national war memorial in Victoria honouring Australians who fought in World War One and any other wars, commemorating their sacrifices and dedication to peacekeeping. The shrine itself is beautiful, and the message is too. It’s a nice place to reflect on life and the world, and appreciate what you have.

A picture of the Shrine of Remembrance in Black and White.

8) Have fun at St. Kilda Beach

Arguably Melbourne’s best beach and one of the best beaches in Australia is St. Kilda Beach. It’s such a picturesque beach and it just screams “Australian” which when it comes to beaches, means it’s pretty damn good! The sand is so soft and golden, and the water is so blue and refreshing. And there’s always something going on too. Music, cinemas, anything goes at St. Kilda’s.

A picture of the view of Melbourne from St. Kilda, the most popular beach to visit when backpacking Melbourne.

You get a really nice view of the Melbourne skyline too, especially at night. Also- it’s a really popular spot for backpackers and you’re guaranteed to meet someone else backpacking Melbourne here and in the area surrounding.

9) See the 12 Apostles

Backpacking Melbourne would not be complete without seeing the iconic 12 Apostles, an iconic part of the Great Ocean Road. The limestone stacks which rise out of the ocean are unexplainably stunning. It’s like being on a whole other planet and words really can’t do the stone towers justice.

The whole area is absolutely beautiful and taking a Great Ocean Road tour is one of the best ways to spend a day in Melbourne. It allows you to see the 12 Apostles and the rest of the route, which is stunning.

A picture of the 12 Apostles.

10) Relax in the Royal Botanic Gardens

As said before, Melbourne is a city with lots of greenery, and the perfect example of this is the Royal Botanic Gardens. There are over 8,500 plant species to see here, and endless spots to sit down and simply relax in nature. And if you’re an animal lover, it’s filled with birds and sometimes even possums! The Royal Botanic Gardens along with Fitzroy Gardens offer two perfect places to relax in Melbourne. And they are both 100% free!

How to get around Melbourne

Melbourne is a pretty big city and if you are staying for a week or so, you’re going to be visiting more or less every corner of Melbourne. The best way to get around is by taking the tram. You can use the tram to get everywhere in the city, and there’s even a free tram designed for tourists.

The Free Tram Zone and City Circle Tram provide completely free public transport around these parts of Melbourne, which is great if you are backpacking Melbourne on a tight budget.

Outside these zones, it’s still the fastest and cheapest to get the tram. It’s very affordable, with a daily cap of $9.20 AUD.

A picture of a tram in Melbourne.

Though for some of the main sights, particularly in the city centre, you may opt to walk. Melbourne is considered a walkable city which really suits backpackers. Most things are within walking distance of each other, for example, the Royal Botanic Gardens to the Shrine of Remembrance is just 5 minutes of walking.

So for short distances, the best way to get around Melbourne is by walking. For longer distances, like if you are heading to some of the further suburbs like to get to St. Kilda beach, take the tram.

Backpacking Melbourne: Top Tips

Like anywhere in the world, backpacking Melbourne has its own tips and tricks on top of general tips for backpacking which can help make your experience go that tiny bit smoother. Although I’m an advocate for jumping into the deep end and seeing where life takes you, here are 5 things to know that can help you while backpacking Melbourne.

  • Pack for all weather conditions: The weather in Melbourne can change in the click of a finger. Make sure you have appropriate conditions for the sunniest day ever and also the most rain you will ever see, unfortunately snow in Australia isn’t as common as elsewhere, so you probably won’t need snowboots.
  • Breakfast and brunch are the best: Melbourne locals absolutely love eating out for breakfast and brunch and you can find some of the best brunch options worldwide in Melbourne. Don’t worry- brunch is until 1 or 2pm so there’s no need to rush out of bed.
  • Couchsurfing is competitive: As the hostels are so expensive in Melbourne, many people try their hand at Couchsurfing. As a result, it’s really competitive and hosts often have more requests than they can handle. Throughout your travels, you have likely met an Australian before (they sure love to backpack the world). Try reaching out to them as an alternative option and see if they can accomodate you, or know someone who could.
  • Book in advance: Whether it be hostels, tours, whatever, make sure to book in advance. The most popular hostels, tours etc will sell out in advance, particularly during the summer. A week should be enough (for tours anyway), just don’t leave it until the day before or day of!
  • Check your dates: Melbourne hosts lots of international events, like the Australian Open or the Australian Grand Prix. Make sure you check your dates in Melbourne so you know what to expect. Being in Melbourne during one of these events is a unique experience as it’s so different- but it also means you probably need to spend more days in Melbourne so you can see the sights and stuff too.

Backpacking Melbourne: FAQ

Below are some questions related to backpacking Melbourne, along with my answers.

Where do backpackers hang out in Melbourne?

St. Kilda is the most popular spot for backpackers. It’s right by the beach and there are constantly things going on. Whether it be live music or an open-air cinema, St. Kilda is the place to be for anyone backpacking Melbourne. There’s tons of bars, clubs and places to get cheap but tasty food too.

Which Melbourne suburbs are best for backpackers?

Most backpackers tend to stay in the St. Kilda district, a suburb in the South of Melbourne which is right by St. Kilda Beach, one of Melbourne’s best beaches. The area is also home to loads of restaurants, bars and clubs too which suits the backpacking lifestyle to a tee.

How much should a backpacker spend daily in Melbourne?

A typical backpackers budget in Melbourne would be around $80 AUD daily which is £43 / €49 / $54 USD. This is equivalent to $2400 AUD each month (£1,300 / €1,500 / $1,600), which isn’t the cheapest in the world but it’s not the most expensive either. Thankfully, there are lots of free things to do in Melbourne to keep the budget low.

Backpacking Melbourne: The Wrap Up

And there you have it, a complete guide to backpacking in Melbourne.

Hopefully, this guide has taught you everything you need to know about visiting Melbourne on a budget.

It’s an incredible city and the perfect place to backpack.

So enjoy your time backpacking Melbourne- it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience! 🙂