I’ve put together a list of the best Melbourne date ideas for under $50. I hope you like it!
As a self-proclaimed relationship enthusiast, I am a big believer in date nights. Nothing beats quality time with the person you love, and I will take a memorable experience over a new trinket any day. However, let’s be real, this can be an expensive exercise, especially if you are single!
So here is my gift to you, a budget-friendly cheat sheet to dating in Melbourne. If you have any other date ideas that are under $50 for 2 people we can add them to the list!
This guide is separated into 9 sections;
Let’s get into it.
1. Go for a drink
This is my favourite first date idea as it is quite easy to cut short if the date is not going well. Also, as an introvert, my flirty banter is at A-game after a couple of wines.
But Karina, drinking dates can get quite expensive if everything is going well (or horribly) you say. I hear you but it doesn’t have to be this way if you utilize Happy Hour!
For instance on Chapel St Morris Jones has Happy Hour every day from 4pm-7pm with Espresso martinis at $12 and $3 Rose’s every Thursday night. If your more of a rooftop bar person then Madame Brussels is a great first date location in the CBD.
If you have to leave your car at home and haven’t downloaded DiDi yet, use my referral code: AUA68C46 to get $20 off your ride home! (DIDI is an alternative to Uber).
2. Get a cheap feed
Food is amazing. I’m convinced this is a universally accepted fact and I don’t need to preach to the converted so I’ll just get right to the affordability hacks.
Keep an eye out for theme nights in local restaurants such as Taco Tuesdays or steak nights. With a bit of research, mid-week feeds can be affordable if you follow the specials. Make sure you follow your favourite local places on Facebook as that’s where they usually post their daily deals.
Cook at home – Cooking something delicious is a sure fire way to impress someone. Even if you stuff up your effort is usually appreciated. For established couples doing the planning and shopping together can become a fun adventure and help you get to know each other, work together and bring you closer! Add some candles and music for extreme romance on a shoestring budget.
Have a picnic – Head to the supermarket and pick up some fruit, cheese, dips, chocolates etc and head somewhere beautiful. My personal favourite is the Royal Botanical Gardens, there are so many beautiful spots there, but you can’t go wrong by the lake. If it’s a special occasion you could also hire a private gondola from ‘Punting on the Lake’ with prices starting from $50.
Host a Potluck Dinner – Separate entrée, snacks, main and dessert options between couples and share costs. This is also great to get to know each other’s friends!
Use food voucher websites – My favourite sites are:
FirstTable.com.au – If you are happy having an early dinner at one of their partner restaurants your bill will be slashed by 50%! Just pay a $10 booking fee and eat according to your appetite, not your bank account. You can use the code JUSTMELB to get 50% off the booking fee too #win!
Allthedeals.com.au – Aggregates daily deal sites so you can have all the best food deals listed in one place. They don’t include all the deal sites so check out Groupon, Scoopon, and Cudo separately if you’re feeling extra savvy.
EatClub – This is an app solely dedicated to providing daily specials at local restaurants. They also have a referral program in which you can give a free meal to a friend and get one back for yourself!
If you aren’t quite ready for a full sit-down dinner or are meeting up late in the day, why not skip dinner and;
3. Go Out For Dessert
Here are a few of my favourites;
Om Nom Dessert bar at the Adelphi Hotel is proper fancy
Acland St in St Kilda is full of cake and ice cream shops to tantalise your tastebuds. Finish off your night with a ride at Luna Park or a walk down the beach and then the pier to see the penguins after sunset.
Stables of Como – is a day time café in Toorak with a variety of delicious desserts and high tea options. It is set on the grounds of an upscale country mansion with beautiful gardens to explore at the back.
Entrecote – This is a French restaurant near the botanical gardens which is perfect positioning to walk off their exceptionally delicious profiteroles! This place is no one-hit wonder though with impressive date-worthy food from breakfast to dinner daily.
Nikos Cakes in Oakleigh – Probably my favourite cake shop in Melbourne! They are always extremely busy and do a variety of café style food check out their Instagram for some proper #cakeporn!
4. Take a stroll through some markets
I’m yet to meet a lady that doesn’t enjoy browsing some form of market for goodies. Whether you go diving for trinket treasures or check out a farmer’s market before cooking a weekend feast, it’s an adventurous way to get to know each other. My favourite fashion markets are Camberwell and Bentleigh markets both run on a Sunday.
There are also seasonal markets such as:
Queen Victoria Night Market – Every Wednesday night 5pm-10pm.
The Arts Centre Sunday Market – from 10am-4pm with live music from 12pm-3pm.
St Kilda Twilight Market – late November to mid-Feb.
Night Noodle Market – A summer favourite for all Melbournians. Many a hinge/tinder/bumble date has started here.
Hank Marvin Food Truck Market – Saturday 9am – 3pm Alma Park East, St Kilda East and Sunday 9am – 3pm, Dendy Park Brighton East.
5. Go to the theatre
In my opinion, there is nothing better than seeing a performance of some sort on a date. It’s fun and gives you plenty to chat about after. It’s pretty standard that my favourite option is also the most expensive usually, so I have collected some hacks to lower the cost- enjoy!
This is an amazing website with discount tickets to plenty of shows, it’s also a great way to learn about new things that are playing. Sign up to their mailing list to be kept in the loop or if you never check promo emails like me just check their site often as they list tickets a few days before the performance sometimes even the night of. Out of all the recommendations on this post, this one I was most reluctant to share as it’s my secret weapon to being in the know on a budget, but sharing is caring!
An outlet on Swanston St selling discount tickets to shows that night. Sometimes you get better shows here as producers may not want their shows advertised online at a discount. Make sure you bring cash!
An Arts Centre initiative in which they release tickets to every show on that night for $30 at 6pm. Make sure you get in the line quite early though as there are only a limited amount of tickets available. This would be
Under 30? Tickets and subscriptions are now 50% off full price for anyone aged under 30. This is a steal for some incredible local and international shows.
Resale ticket websites
There are a number of sites that let you buy and sell tickets often cheaper than cost price when people can no longer attend a gig. If you have a specific concert in mind you can check these websites for a bargain. Please note they operate in a grey area of the law as it is especially ticket scalping and there are risks involved with using these sites but you are an adult- so you do you.
6. Go to a Jazz bar
My personal favourite is Birds Basement which usually has concerts on so you will need to check prices but there are others in which you can just walk in, get a drink and listen to some live music without paying.
7. Check out a free concert
There are a number of free concerts on during summer like the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra series at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl and the Stonnington Summer Series concerts – check their what’s on calendars for dates and then pack a picnic and go early for a prime spot.
8. Have a laugh!
Local comedy nights are great value for money, especially now as we are getting close to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival so famous comedians like to test out their material. My favourite is Local Laughs at the Local Taphouse in St Kilda which run comedy nights every Monday at 8:30pm for $15.
9. Join a TV studio audience
Lots of great shows are filmed in Melbourne which can make for a fun memorable date idea.
10. Go for a bike ride
Ride along the Yarra River and stop at the convent in Abbotsford for a fantastic coffee and lunch.
11. Swim and sauna sesh
Get hot, steamy and sweaty in a PG context first. Check out your local pool for deals. Special mention to the new Reunion Island Pool Club which has all day swim passes from Mon-Thur for $25 and is on the roof of Melbourne Central Station so you can have an after-work dip in Summer!
12. Walk the Tan
This is a great way to get to know someone whilst enjoying Melbourne’s favourite running track. When you’re done you can have a well-deserved wine at The Botanical.
13. Rock Climbing
Race each other up a wall instead of driving each other up it! Google a centre near you.
14. Ice Skating
Hand holding = romantic. Falling on your ass repeatedly – (hopefully) endearing. Ice skating is usually a recipe for success plus it’s a surprisingly good workout. There are a number of local rinks but special shoutout to The Winter Village in Southbank for ice skating surrounded by cool igloos and fake snow.
This is pretty old school, I haven’t been for a while but I hope they play 90s music and allow you to rend leg warmers with your blades.
16. Ten Pin Bowling
Another ode to the old-school! Check out a local centre for affordable games package. I’d recommend getting bumpers if you are both competitive and bad at bowling. Otherwise the crazy may come out a little too early in the dating life cycle.
Unfortunately, I am speaking from experience here, a haunting date from a few years ago. Andrew*, if you are reading this – now you know why I never called you back #unflattering!
Special mention to the Barefoot Bowls option at your local RSL – you can get a whole day of bowling in under $50 especially when you buy off a deal website. In my opinion, this option also results in less embarrassment as it’s easier if you don’t have much upper body strength and also you can blame any un-coordination on the cheap RSL drinks!
*Name changed for privacy but you know who you are!
17. Hit the driving range
A great option after a long day. Take some frustration out on 100 golf balls for under $20 at the Albert Park Driving Range.
18. Jump for joy
Check out Bounce and Jump Central indoor trampoline centres for a fun playful date option!
19. Take a dance class!
A perfect opportunity for some early body contact! There are plenty of free or cheap salsa class options around the city. For the real salsa lover, I recommend getting to the Night Cat in Fitzroy on Sunday night for classes by Melbourne Salsa Company at 7pm. Then you can party the night away from 8:30 pm with a live band, social dancing and cheap sangria. I’d recommend googling a local dance studio and asking if they have any deals for new students, most studios offer a free class so check their timetable and surprise your lady.
20. Go to an exercise class together
Personally, I despise any cardio that isn’t dancing but I am fully aware that exercise is a thing enjoyed by a large portion of society so why not share your favourite class with your lover? If you’re going down the high impact route I’d recommend Rise Nation – great workout, music and a general party vibe.
A special section for the big kids amongst us.
21. Play Minigolf
Glowgolf is an indoor glow in the dark course in the Docklands which also has a bar!
22. Go to an arcade
Here are a few favourites;
Sidetracked – They have arcade games, laser tag and go-karts!
B.Lucky & Sons Arcade Bar
Archie Brothers Bar
Bosozouko – Great food, karaoke and arcade games. Even a dry jacuzzi!
23. Go to a local billiards hall to play pool and darts
If you’re a pro, this is the oldest trick in the book to look cool.
24. Escape reality with VR.
I went to one where I played games like Fruit Ninja and painted with the google brush. This was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done!
Only for the brave…
For my fellow sapiosexuals;
26. Do an Escape Room
The best escape room in Melbourne is probably Trapt. Located in the heart of the CBD they have a range of easy and hard escape rooms. And best of all, they also have a bar which can help those first date nerves disappear 😉
27. Play some board games
Another great group date idea if I may say so myself. Whether you play at home after dinner or hit a board game bar this is a great way to learn how your date thinks and handles themselves under pressure.
For those that don’t think that board games provide pressure, good for you – and you obviously haven’t played in an Eastern European household.
Here are some board game bars;
29th Apartment in St Kilda- also has giant Jenga, Mario Kart and great food and drink specials.
Antique Bar Elsternwick
Queen of Spades Fitzroy
Katuk South Yarra
28. Learn some stuff at a museum
We have so many amazing museums and entry is mostly under $25pp. You can become a member of Museums Victoria for $59 per year and enjoy unlimited entry to Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks and the Immigration Museum as well as discounts at IMAX and the Melbourne Planetarium in Scienceworks which are also 2 great date ideas! The planetarium runs adult only movie nights every Friday, check their website for movie schedules.
29. Go to an Art Gallery
NGV is the most famous one and on Friday nights they also put on a concert! Google pop up art shows to see the emerging talent and usually score a free drink or some canapes!
30. Trivia nights
Test your smarts at a local trivia night, also a great double or triple date idea!
31. Be a tourist in your own city
Go on a walking tour. There are a few donations based walking tours of the city which are a fantastic way to learn our history. Tours run daily just search ‘free walking tour Melbourne’ and pick a time that suits you. I’d recommend starting or finishing your day with a Nutella waffle from the Degraves St stand.
32. Book Readings
Attend a local book reading together. You can find a list at readings.com.au or inquire at a local book shop
Play Bingo. There is a chill bingo version that they play at bars and then there are real bingo halls. Those real bingos are pretty hardcore, they go very fast and you have to keep up, so it’s great for your brain and reflexes – hence the nerdy date categorisation.
I would only recommend this option once you know you can spend extended periods of time with your love interest. If yes, then a Sunday drive adventure to a place like Yarra Valley is heaven. You could;
34. Have a beach day in Portsea.
Eat some fish and chips by the water and go window shopping at the boutiques.
35. Check out the Dandenong Ranges.
Do the 1000 Steps, see an amazing waterfall and reward yourselves with scones from Miss Marples Tea House!
36. Check out one of Melbourne’s secret gardens.
Our favourite is the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden in Sherbrook forest.
37. Hit a theme park.
Check out Fun Fields, Adventure Park, Fairy Park and Gumbaya park.
38. Get lost in Ashcombe Maze.
Everyone should do this at least once.
39. Go to Ballarat!
Check out Krystal Castle, Sovereign Hill and Ballarat Wildlife Park.
Sometimes life gets so busy and organising dates can become unnecessary stress. If you are feeling that sentence then this section is for you.
40. Floatation tanks
Try a sensory deprivation flotation tank. These are highly relaxing little pods that make you feel like you have had an amazing night’s sleep after 20min. Look for new member specials or vouchers on Groupon to keep this experience under $50.
41. Get a massage together
This will take some planning in advance if you are on a budget but you can look up massage schools and book in a one-hour student massage for around $25! Otherwise, perhaps just a foot massage after a long walk will suffice!
42. Play with some animals
Looking at fur babies is a nice way to destress so why not borrow a friend’s dog (if you don’t have one) and go to the dog park. For a cheaper option than the Zoo, you could check out Collingwood Children’s farm or the cat cafe in the CBD.
You could just play a guided meditation on YouTube or go to a meditation meetup together.
From soup kitchens to animal shelters, helping others is a nice way to put your own stresses into perspective and bond. Look on Seek Volunteer for opportunities or just contact your local charity of interest!
45. Go for a walk on the beach
Simple but effective. St Kilda pier at sunset to see the penguins come in for bonus points!
46. Just have a chat over a cup of tea
You could play ’36 questions’ which are a set of questions designed to make any two people fall in love! Here’s the list, answer the questions and then stare into each other’s eyes for 4min for some love voodoo.
47. Create some art.
Pick up some adult colouring books, paints, coloured pencils, some playdough and get crafty. Check out the Crafternoon café for structured crafty activities. Or for extra bonus points in a long term relationship, you could put together a vision board with some magazine cutouts or Pinterest.
48. Paint some pots.
Pottery classes are expensive but at Glaze it Studio in Elsternwick you can paint some already made items and just pretend to have made them at a fraction of the price.
49. Put together a jigsaw puzzle
Ok, probably not my first choice of a date idea but could appeal to some?
50. Draw some sexy people.
So there you have it! More than 50 ideas for a great date in Melbourne for under $50. I really hope you discover an idea on the list so you have the best date ever.
Got some more ideas that you think I should add to this list? Drop them as a comment below!