AustraliaOceaniaTravel Hacks

Travel Hacks: How to Get Around Melbourne on a Budget

Explore Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, without spending a lot of money! Get more bang for your buck to discover Melbourne’s amazing museums, live music bars, restaurants, and theaters.

Navigate easily through ‘The World’s Most Liveable City’ to experience international sporting events (ever heard of the Australian Open?), as well as beautiful gardens, national parks, and lush wildlife habitats.

Enjoy cheap travel in Melbourne with our transportation guide – read below to get everything you need, from free tram zones to detailed maps and insider tips:

Purchase a Myki Card or Myki Explorer Pack

Myki Card (image via Sam Churchill, Flickr)
Myki Card (image via Sam Churchill, Flickr)

Arrive in Melbourne Airport and determine what kind of Myki card you need

Melbourne Airport, also called Tullamarine Airport, is around 22 km northwest from the Central Business District (CBD). Look for the Skybus booth at Terminal 3 (here’s a map for all terminals!) and buy a Myki Card:

  • Get a Myki Card: Similar to other contactless cards on other countries (like HK’s Octopus Card), the Myki Card is your best bet for all-around public transportation. Cost: $6 (reminder: top up to cover the cost of your journey)
  • Choose a Myki Explorer Pack: If you’re planning to cover most of Victoria’s attractions all in one day, then grab this one! Enjoy this unlimited travel access and discounts on popular attractions. You’ll also get a free wallet souvenir and handy maps. Cost: $15 ($9 for stored value)

Traveling from Melbourne Airport

Melbourne Airport: Australia
Melbourne Airport: Australia

Expect the airport to be busy and crowded! All terminals are reachable on foot – choose the option below that suits your needs.

Cheapest Option: By Public Transport Victoria Bus (PTV)

Head to the Transport Hub from Terminal 4. choose the 901 route to Broadmeadows Station (Check out all the routes on this map)

  • Schedule: 24-hr service, with buses departing every 10 – 20 minutes
  • Route: From Melbourne Airport to downtown
  • Average Cost: $7 on weekdays and $3.50 on weekends (one-way)

2nd Cheapest Option: By Skybus

Like we mentioned above, head to Terminal 3 to find the Skybus.

  • Schedule: 24 -hr service. Buses depart every 10 minutes, except between 1:00am and 4:00am (which will take 30 minutes)
  • Route: From Melbourne Airport to CBD
  • Average Cost: $19 (for one-way)

3rd Cheapest Option: By Shared Transfer

Head to Terminal 2 and look for your shuttle.

  • Schedule: 24-hr service

Expensive Option: By Melbourne Airport Taxi

Go down to the ground floor. Taxis are available at Terminal 1 or between Terminal 2 and 3.

  • Schedule: 20 – 40 mins
  • Route: to Melbourne City Center
  • Average Cost: $55.00 – $65.00 (capacity up to 4 travelers)

Getting Around Melbourne

Explore vibrant Melbourne by public transportation
Explore vibrant Melbourne by public transportation 

Melbourne’s public transportation system is well-developed! It’s so efficient that you always have an option, even if you happen to be partying out ‘til 4:00am! Take advantage of ‘Free Tram Zones’ so you don’t have to spend your dollars on the road.

Here’s an overview map for bus, train, and tram routes.

Cheapest Option: By Tram

Melbourne Tram (image via Matthew Paul Argall, Flickr)
Melbourne Tram (image via Matthew Paul Argall, Flickr)

The tram is the most popular means of transportation. These trams operated by the Yarra tram company are extensive, spanning 250 km throughout 24 routes. No need to spend a dime for the Circle City Tram, which runs through the Free Tram Zone in the central district. Budget travelers, rejoice!

Schedule:

  • 10:00am and 6:00pm every Sunday – Wednesday and10:00am – 9:00pm every Thursday – Friday and Saturday. Trams run every 12 minutes from both directions.

Route:

  • Free Tram Zone Map: Flinders Street – Harbour Esplanade – Docklands Drive – La Trobe Street – Victoria Street – Nicholson Street – Spring Street – Flinders Street

Average Cost:

  • Circle City Trams: Absolutely free! However, if you arrive outside the Free Tram Zone Map (Route 35), you will need to pay by tapping your Myki Card. The cost can run you anywhere between $4.30 (one-way) – $8.60 (daily cap), depending on hourly use and if you land on Zone 1, Zone 2, or both. Find out more info here.
Melbourne Star Observation Wheel
Melbourne Star Observation Wheel
  • Sightseeing Tips: Ride a tram to the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel (book tickets here) and enjoy panoramic views of dazzling Melbourne and scenic Port Phillip Bay. 

2nd Cheapest Option: By Bus

Melbourne Bus (image via Alan Isherwood, Flickr)
Melbourne Bus (image via Alan Isherwood, Flickr)

The buses will transport you to Melbourne’s regional attractions and suburbs. They cover more ground than the tram, and can also take you directly to sports complexes and shopping destinations!

Schedule:

  • 6:00am to 9:00pm Monday – Friday, 8:00am to 9:00pm on Saturday and 8:00am to 9:00pm on Sunday

Route:

  • See the complete list of stops here

Average Cost:

  • $4.30 – $8.60 via Myki Card

Sightseeing Tips: Squeeze in a visit to the iconic open-air Queen Victoria Market via bus from Seddon Station

2nd Cheapest Option: By Train

Melbourne Train (image via Zed Fitzhume, Wikimedia Commons)
Melbourne Train (image via Zed Fitzhume, Wikimedia Commons)

Don’t confuse trams with trains! These are bigger and powerful enough to take you on a longer journey. This passes through outer suburbs and Flinders Street Station.

Schedule:

  • Trains depart as early as 5:00am and stop as late as 12:00am. Check here for the specific route schedule

Route:

  • See complete list here

Average Cost:

  • $4.30 – $8.60 via Myki Card

Sightseeing Tips:

  • Heading out to Sydney? Head to Southern Cross Station, a major transport hub accessible by this mode of transport

Most Expensive Option: By Taxi

Standard Taxi (image via Reinis Traidas, Flickr)
Standard Taxi (image via Reinis Traidas, Flickr)

If you want to spend a little extra for some privacy, or simply hate the crowds, take a taxi!

Options:

  • Download Uber, a popular ride-sharing app in Melbourne. This is a cheaper option compared to standard taxis
  • To use a public taxi service, taxi signposts are available in almost every corner

Route:

  • Wherever your destination in Melbourne

Average Cost:

  • Uber app: $1.45 per kilometre and $0.40 per minute
  • Standard taxis: $2.19 per kilometre and $0.94 per minute

Insider Tip: Travel by Night Network

Night view of Melbourne (image via Richard Ricciardi, Flickr)
Night view of Melbourne (image via Richard Ricciardi, Flickr)

Use the night network of trains, trams, and buses if you’re planning to discover Melbourne’s nightlife on a weekend (meaning Fridays and Saturdays only)!

Schedule

  • Tram: Departs every 30 minutes during nighttime
  • Bus: Departs every 30 to 60 minutes
  • Train: Departs every 60 minutes
  • Night Coach: Departs between 1:10am – 2:10am

Route:

  • Tram: within the Free Tram Zone and specified routes
  • Bus: 21 routes – 10 within CBD (see list here)
  • Train: all Metro Trains Melbourne lines (excluding Stony Point and Flemington Racecourse)
  • Night Coach: Departs from Southern Cross Station to Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and Traralgon

Average Cost:

  • Tram: Free
  • Bus: $4.30 – $8.60 via Myki Card
  • Train: $4.30 – $8.60 via Myki Card
  • Night Coach: $4.30 – $8.60 via Myki Card (New rates apply for journeys after 3:00am)

Tourist Tips for Getting Around:

  • Get a SIM Card: Stay connected with your group through a data plan
  • Drop by Melbourne Visitor Center: should you need extra help with accommodations and local inquiries. Pick up souvenirs and maps here too!
  • Make use of free Wi-Fi spots: namely Queen Victoria Market and Federation Square, State Library, City Library, and Melbourne Museum
  • Plan your Zone 1 journey on off-peak hours for a 30% discount! Hours: before 9:00am and between 4:00pm to 6:00pm on weekdays

With Melbourne’s cheap travel fares and endless options, you’d wish that transportation everywhere else was this easy! Enjoy your Aussie adventure with our guide and discover the delights of this cosmopolitan city with KKday.

Get more Melbourne vacation ideas below: