Seven free tours of iconic Melbourne places

There’s so much to see and do in Melbourne that a lifetime isn’t enough to discover it all. Take a guided tour to fast-track your exploration. Take two, or more, because these walks are among the best things in life – free.

Hit the highlights

The Melbourne Free Walking Tour includes many of the sights and stories that makes this city special. See laneway street art and grand Gold Rush-era architecture. Get the lowdown on the traffic quirk that is the hooked turn. Learn about notorious bushranger Ned Kelly at the Old Melbourne Gaol, where he was hanged in 1880. By the end of these daily 180-minute tours, visitors will probably know more than most Melburnians. Tours are free, but you’re welcome to leave a tip if you enjoy their service.

A group of people looking at street art of an older lady in a laneway

Melbourne Free Walking Tours

Hero or criminal?

Want to know more about Ned? The State Library of Victoria has a significant collection of objects related to this divisive figure. What’s more, this beautiful Victorian-era institution offers a free Ned Kelly tour twice a week. A highlight is the homemade armour he famously wore at a shootout with police, which is riddled with bullet holes. A free Welcome to the Library Tour, which includes highlights such as the building’s magnificent Dome Room, also runs weekly.

A huge old fashioned room with people reading at rows of desks on the ground floor

The Dome Room at the State Library of Victoria

Go to town

Completed in 1870, the Melbourne Town Hall has played an important role shaping Melbourne’s past and future. See the wood panelled council chambers, wave at strangers from the portico balcony and see the piano once played by Paul McCartney. Tours are at 11am and 1pm weekdays except Tuesdays, and bookings are essential.

A grand old building

Melbourne Town Hall

Victorian splendour

Another impressive 19th century public building well worth a look is Parliament House, where the state of Victoria is governed. Wonder at the abundance of Gold Rush-era marble, chandeliers, gilding and polished wood. See inside the two parliamentary chambers: the green Legislative Assembly and red Legislative Council. Say hello to the statue of Queen Victoria and portraits of every Victorian premier. There are several tours every weekday, except when Parliament is sitting.

Botanical beauty

Don’t miss the opportunity to discover more about Melbourne’s vibrant Royal Botanic Gardens on one of their free guided walking tours. Led by an experienced, knowledgeable guide, discover the natural flora and fauna in Melbourne as you wander through rolling landscapes, towering trees and glittering lakes.

A group of people walking in a park among trees, lawns, bushes and flowers

Royal Botanic Gardens

Starchitecture

Opened in 2002, Federation Square is one of Melbourne’s contemporary architectural icons. Tours of this three-hectare site are offered at 11am daily except Sundays, and explore its history, engineering and distinctive architecture. From the main plaza’s textured, undulating sandstone paving to the buildings’ angular, geometric deconstructivist exteriors, it’s a must for design fans.

An outdoor courtyard with people in the sun

Federation Square offers free tours six days at week

Art attack

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia is among Federation Square’s tenants, and home to some of the nation’s most important home-grown art. Nearby, NGV International showcases the National Gallery of Victoria’s impressive international collection. Both offer regular free tours of the highlights and exhibitions, and gallery entry is also on the house. Impressed? Just wait until you see the art!