No car? No worries! If you’re wondering how to get around Melbourne without a car, never fear, because there’s plenty of other modes of transport to easily get you where you need to go and back again.
With buses, trams, trains, bikes and even ferries available to move you across the city, there’s really no need to get behind the wheel at all. So grab your helmet, your walking shoes or your Myki card, and download the PTV app (the best Melbourne public transport app) because this Melbourne itinerary is a car-free zone.
Of all of Melbourne’s public transport options, the train network is probably the most efficient. The lengthy suburban routes extend as far as Craigieburn in the north, Lilydale in the east and Werribee in the west, while the underground city loop is comprised of five major stations – making travelling quickly through the CBD a breeze. The main Melbourne transport hub is Flinders Street Station, which is where all metro trains arrive and depart, while Southern Cross Station is your go-stop for regional train services. Easy to use, reliable (most of the time) and with all-night services available on the weekend, trains really are one of the best ways to get around Melbourne.
To catch a train in Melbourne (or a bus and tram), all public transport users require a Myki card. These can be purchased from train stations, online or at select retail outlets, and need to be topped up with money before use. Melbourne has two train transit zones (1 and 2) and it’s roughly $4.30 AUD per trip (with a daily cap of $8.60 AUD) – although it’s slightly cheaper to travel in Zone 2 only. And don’t forget to tap on and tap off with your Myki card on every trip. A handy tip for any new visitors to Melbourne who are going to be using public transport is to download the PTV app. It covers the train, tram and bus networks, and has timetables, journey planners and detailed station facility information, plus real-time updates on delays, cancellations and disruptions.
For a public transport option that’s uniquely Melbourne, trams are the way to go. Operating mostly in the CBD and inner-city suburbs, tram directly pass by many of Melbourne’s main landmarks and attractions, including the MCG, Queen Victoria Market, the Arts Centre and Docklands. Tram stops are well signposted throughout the city, and allow you to explore some of the more cooler, hidden neighbourhoods that you wouldn’t normally stumble upon, such as Brunswick, Fitzroy, Windsor, and Balaclava. You’ll need your Myki card to hop on (fares are similar to train prices), unless you jump aboard the free City Circle Tram (it’s burgundy and gold, you can’t miss it) or travel within the free tram zone, which encompasses most of the CBD grid. You don’t need to touch off with your Myki when you disembark however – and clogging up the tram doorway while trying to so during peak hour may earn you a few steely glares. When it comes to free public transport in Melbourne, you can’t go past the trusty tram system.
Buses have a bit of a bad rap among Melbourne public transport users. Sure, it’s not as quick as catching the train, or as fun as hopping aboard a tram, but the bus can get you to many important locations a train and tram can’t, such as Melbourne Airport. By offering plenty more route options, and travelling further into the outer suburbs, buses really do fill the gaps left by trains and trams. And if you are arriving via the airport, buses provide the only transport from Melbourne Airport to Southern Cross Station. Yes, there’s no airport train service in Melbourne, so unless you want to pay a small fortune by jumping in a cab or Uber, the Skybus is a great budget-friendly option. Again, you’ll need your Myki card to board a bus, but fares are on par with trains and trams.
With 135 kilometres of on- and off-road cycling routes, bikes are a wonderful option to explore the city. A new Uber-owned electric bike-sharing service called Jump has just launched in Melbourne, with 400 e-bikes currently available. Dotted around the CBD, these rides cost $1 AUD to unlock, and an extra 30 cents per minute to operate. There are other bike hire companies to choose from as well (including a just-launched one from Uber!), with prices beginning from as little as $25 AUD per day. Just make sure you hire a helmet as well, as riding in Australia without one is illegal.
Dedicated on-road cycling lanes can be found along the main thoroughfares of Swanston Street, Royal Parade, Exhibition Street and La Trobe Street, but if the thought of weaving in and out of Melbourne traffic makes you anxious, the next best thing is the Capital City Trail. This 29-kilometre, fully paved and mostly flat path begins on the Yarra River and winds past many of Melbourne’s most beloved landmarks, including the Melbourne Sports Precinct and the Zoo.
It’s definitely not the most cost-effective mode of transport in Melbourne, but sometimes it’s easier to jump in a cab or an Uber to get where you need to go. Taxis and Ubers have earned their spot on this list thanks to their late-night reliability, relative safety and total convenience. If you’ve exhausted your public transport options and just have somewhere to drive to in Melbourne, it’s well worth considering a taxi or Uber – you’ll thank yourself later.
Public transport in Melbourne for tourists doesn’t come much more fun than the surprisingly good ferry services. While the Victorian capital’s offerings may not match the Harbour City’s incredible Sydney to Manly route, you might be impressed to learn just how far you can go on a Melbourne ferry. If it’s a leisurely cruise up the Yarra you’re after, there are multiple locations along Southbank where you can board a boat for a scenic ride up and down the river. Fancy fish and chips in Williamstown or a visit to Scienceworks? Melbourne River Cruises run trips from Southbank that pass by Crown Casino, Polly Woodside and under the Westgate Bridge on the way to the historic port of Williamstown. There’s even a newly-launched Melbourne to Geelong service that will have you on this regional waterfront in 90 minutes. Tickets for all of these ferries can be purchased online or on board, and do not require a Myki card.
What is something everyone can do that doesn’t incur any public transport costs in Melbourne? Walk, of course! Yep, who needs trains, trams or two-wheels when one of the best ways to explore the Victorian capital is to simply pound the pavement. Melbourne is an extremely walkable city with an easy-to-navigate grid-shaped CBD, well-marked paths and an abundance of shops and cafes to pop into along the way. Plus, heading out on foot means you truly get to immerse yourself in all the sights, sounds and smells of the city, without the hassle of wondering whether or not you’re on the right tram or if you tapped on with your Myki card. It is one of the best ways to explore Melbourne.
Ready to navigate the streets of one of the world’s most liveable cities? Book cheap flights to Melbourne with Webjet, and find the perfect Melbourne accommodation too. If you do want to see more of Victoria however, you can always add a hire car to your booking.