Enjoying the best of Melbourne doesn’t have to cost the earth. Try our insider tips to wine, dine and enjoy more for less, plus learn how to score $15 weekday parking

Visit Bangkok on a budget

Looking for lunch deals? At Thai favourites Dodee Paidang, crispy pork belly with rice and a side of soup is a steal at $10. There are more than a dozen options to tempt you. Or soak up the Bangkok atmosphere at Soi 38. It’s a popular spot in the unlikely setting of a car park, where a lunchtime bowl of boat noodles with pork or beef costs just $10. The secret’s in the heavenly pork broth, and there’s a meat-free laksa for vegos.

Asian food in bowls
Soi 38

Grab the best happy hour deals

Time things right, and a chilled cocktail can be yours at a bargain price. Visit the tequila experts at Mejico on a Monday for $10 margarita madness all day. If a Negroni is more your style, Campari House has a choice of five. And during Negroni Time, Tuesday to Saturday from 4pm to 6pm, they’re a bellissimo $10 a glass. For a $10 Aperol spritz and a taste of Milano, swing into the Campari Bar at Brunetti on Flinders Lane.

Play like a kid again

Forget Zoom trivia, get the crew together for a day of IRL activities instead. For just $10pp you can while away an afternoon at Australia’s first 18-hole glow-in-the-dark mini golf course. Don’t forget to drop into what is possibly the world’s smallest bar for post-putt refreshments. Or give ice skating a go at O’Brien Icehouse. It’s fun for all ages plus, if you visit on Tuesdays, entry is only $14.50 (plus skate hire). Take the stress out of choosing what to do and just do them all at Baller’s Clubhouse. This huge new funhouse boasts shuffleboards, ping pong, darts and a VR playhouse with prices starting from $15pp.

Several adults and a child on an ice skating rink.
O'Brien Icehouse

Shop Melbourne's boutiques

Picking up a new outfit doesn’t have to break the bank. It doesn’t get much cheaper than going to Cheep where everything is under $25. Get sweet vintage and new classics at this cult favourite retailer. Or give your look a rock’n’roll edge with a trip to Retrostar Vintage Clothing. They’ve got everything from afternoon tea dresses to old-school band tees. Starting your Christmas shopping early? Find Kris Kringle pressies that clock in under $20 for your hard to buy for co-worker or foodie buddy.

Go for a stroll in the gardens

Looking for a bit of serenity? Take a meander through Melbourne’s magnificent Royal Botanic Gardens. This 38-hectare urban oasis is home to over 8,500 plant species, a wide variety of wildlife and even a volcano. Pack a picnic then choose from one of the 11 picturesque lawns to enjoy spectacular views of the city.

A woman sitting in a garden
Royal Botanic Gardens

Explore an exhibition of iconic Australian music

If you’re musically inclined, the Australian Music Vault is a must. It’s a great overview of Melbourne’s backstage sounds and stories. Watch rare footage and see iconic objects like Kylie Minogue’s stage outfits and notebooks belonging to Nick Cave. The free exhibition is permanently on show at Arts Centre Melbourne.

Take a crash course in cinema

Get behind the camera at ACMI’s free exhibition, The Story of the Moving Image. From the birth of film to today’s digital wonders, there’s more than a century of movie history to explore. And you can get hands-on at this fun cinema showcase, with animation and sound effects to play with.

A woman sitting in front of a projection screen
Movie magic at ACMI

Find the last cheap movie night

Most cinemas have dropped cheap Tuesdays and discount tickets all together. But on Mondays thrifty film buffs can still head to the Kino Cinema, where tickets are $8.50 all day. Whether your passion is art-house films or the latest blockbuster, you’ll have plenty of change for a choc top.

Order authentic French crêpes from a tiny icon

Dessert is a bargain at La Petite Crêperie. Join the queue at the Swanston Street kiosk to order a plain crêpe for $5, then add your toppings. A mix of caramel and almonds is $3.50. And go on, add a whirl of whipped cream for $2. Voilà, dessert is served for a petite $10.

Snack on doughnuts at QVM

There’s always a stream of people lined up outside the American Doughnut Kitchen van at Queen Victoria Market. They know just how good these jam-filled hot doughnuts can be. Plump with raspberry-plum jam and rolled in sugar. Grab a bag of five for $7.50, then go for a stroll through the market. The historic sheds are filled with fresh produce stalls and speciality stores.

Sugar coated doughnuts
American Doughnut Kitchen's iconic treats

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