Dear lovers of Melbourne,
Whether you’re a single, swipe happy lover or in a long-term relationship, thinking of date ideas in Melbourne on a budget can be tricky. Therefore, we have compiled a cheat sheet you can turn to next time a little romance is on the cards.
This is a skeleton key that involves you doing a little research for local options but feel free to add questions below and we will do the research for you!
Furthermore, all the specific suggestions given are my personal recommendations we haven’t received any benefit at all by including them here so please feel free to comment with your favourites and we will add them to this list!
Where to go for a drink date
Liquid courage doesn’t have to be expensive, two words: happy hour! Figure out what area you would like to go to and then google some local bar happy hours. For instance;
Morris Jones Happy Hour
On Chapel St Morris Jones does happy hour every day from 4pm-7pm and have $12 espresso martinis, a perfect way to get the evening started!
Bosozoku $10 Cocktails & Jugs
These guys also on Chapel has $10 cocktail and Coors jugs! Come for a drink and then stay for Karaoke and arcade games. Our next article will be a comprehensive guide to local happy hours so subscribe to be kept in the loop.
Where to take your date for a meal
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
Whether you cook for your lover or you do the planning and shopping together it gives you an opportunity to get to know each other. Add some candles and music for extreme romance on a shoestring budget. For couples in long term relationships, finding recipes throughout the week can become a fun ritual as you get excited for gourmet date nights that bring you closer even cleaning up can become sexy – trust me!
Pack 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 or picnic with friends
Separate entrée, snacks, main and dessert options between couples and share costs. This is also great to get to know each other’s friends!
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 go out for dessert? Here are a few of my favourites;
This award-winning dessert bar at the Adelphi Hotel is a specialty sure to impress.
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.
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.
Use food voucher websites
Our favourite sites are:
If you are happy having an early dinner at one of their partner restaurants your bill will be slashed by 50%! Just pay a $10booking fee and eat according to your appetite, not your bank account.
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.
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!
Go see a show together
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 often 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 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.
Melbourne Theatre Company
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 that 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.
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.
There are a number of free concerts on during summer like the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra series at the Sidney Myer Music Bowel 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.
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.
I’m yet to meet a lady that doesn’t enjoy browsing some form of market for goodies. Whether you go diving for treasure in Op Shops or check out a farmer’s market before cooking a weekend feast, it’s a wonderful way to get to know each other and each time is a new adventure. My favourite fashion markets are Camberwell and Bentleigh markets both run on a Sunday and both with yummy cafes surrounding it. There are also special summer markets;
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
from late November to mid-Feb.
Night Noodle Market
A summer favourite for all Melbournians. Many a hinge/tinder/bumble date has started here.
Fun Activity Date Ideas
Here are some ideas for active lovers in Melbourne:
Go for a bike ride together along the yarra river and stop at the convent in Abbotsford for a fantastic coffee and lunch.
Have a swim at your local pool. 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!
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 Botannical.
Try indoor rock climbing together. There’s a great place in the Melbourne CBD or a few options in the suburbs as well.
Holding hands whilst ice skating. Very romantic.
- Get competitive at Ten Pin Bowling
- Head to the RSL for some Barefoot Lawn Bowling
- Hit some balls at the driving range
- Play Minigolf. Special mention Glowgolf which is a glow in the dark course in the Docklands which also has a bar!
- Run around playing Laser Tag
- Jump for joy with your lover at Bounce the indoor trampoline centre.
- Take a dance class, there are plenty of free or cheap salsa class options. For the real salsa lover, I recommend getting to the Night Cat in Fitzroy on Sunday night for classes by Melbourne Salsa Company at 7 pm. Then you can party the night away from 8:30 pm with a live band, social dancing and cheap sangria.
- Go to a local billiards hall to play pool and darts. This is a good way to make some early body contact by teaching each other how to play!
- Go to a VR gaming arcade. They have games like fruit ninja which give you a surprisingly good work out!
Nerdy Date Ideas
For my fellow sapiosexuals;
Work together to get out of an Escape Room. My favourite Melbourne escape room is Trapt, located right in the heart of the CBD. They also have a great bar where you can enjoy a cocktail before (and after?) your escape experience.
Head to a local Trivia night
Play some board games, you can google local bars that have them such as 29th Apartment in St Kilda and Antique bar in Elsternwick.
Every Friday night the Planetarium at Scienceworks museum runs adult only movie nights and opens the bar. Check their website for movie schedule.
Explore a museum together! Type in ‘melbourne museums’ into google on your phone for a comprehensive scroll through list. We recommend the Immigration Museum to learn how Melbourne became so wonderful.
Go to a gallery. NGV is the most famous one and on Friday nights they also put on a concert!
Figure out your common interests and then attend a meetup together. Sign up with Meetup.com to find your niche.
Go on a walking tour. There are a few donation 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.
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.
Day Trip Date Ideas
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 is heaven. You could;
Head to Portsea for a beach day and have some fish and chips by the water
Check out the amazing views and waterfalls in the Dandenong Ranges or do the famous 1000 steps.
Get in touch with your inner child at Fun Fields, Gumbaya park or Ashcombe Maze.
Sometimes life gets so busy dates become extra stress if you feel like that then turn to one of these options.
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.
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 student massage for around $25!
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!
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.
- Pick up some adult colouring books, paints, coloured pencils, some playdough and get crafty. Check out the Crafternoon café or Glaze it Studio in Elsternwick for structured crafty activities.
- Go for a walk on the beach. As mentioned above we recommend St Kilda pier at sunset to see the penguins!
- Put together a jigsaw puzzle.
- Go Punting on The Lake (mentioned above).
- Just have a chat. You could play ’36 questions’ which are a set of questions designed to make any two people fall in love! A google search will pull up the list, answer the questions and then stare into each other’s eyes for 4min for some love voodoo.
Got some more ideas that you think we should add to this list? Drop them as a comment below!