We get it, you want to be the most unforgettable person your date has ever been with, but damn if inflation isn’t hitting very hard right now.
Dating is hard enough without completely emptying your bank account, but you don’t have to pay to have a good time. Check out some of the best cheap dates in Melbourne you can serenade your future sweetheart with, and some don’t even cost a dime.
Have a cute dinner at the right time
There’s not too much Good Times doesn’t serve, so if you’re looking for a date that won’t break the bank, look no further. The joint is only open Thursday through Saturday, so be sure to book online to grab a table. The venue itself is full ambience, with long candles set in empty wine bottles resting on each table for an added romantic touch. Everything you have to try at Good Times starts at $9, with $9 generous plates of pasta, $9 garlic bread, $9 carafes of red wine, and even $9 Negronis. That’s what we like to call a good time.
Picnic at Abbotsford Convent
There is perhaps nothing more timeless than a picnic in the park, and Abbotsford Convent is as picturesque as you and your date can hope for. With a magnificent Gothic convent looming in the distance, lush gardens with plenty of secluded niches for a bit of privacy (wink), endless art exhibitions and a cafe or two, this get-together will do sigh your mate how thoughtful you are in taking them somewhere so lovely. If Abbotsford is too remote for you, check out a whole list of the best places to picnic in Melbourne here.
Stroll along the swim boxes at Brighton Beach
It’s as Instagram-worthy as you’ll find our beloved town, Brighton Beach is beloved by all for its brightly colored bathing huts. Now, we’re not saying you should only date there so you can flex on the gram… but what happens, happens. There’s a reason why “taking long walks on the beach” is the most cliched dating profile descriptor, but hey, it’s worked for so many people it’ll work for you too. Grab some fish and chips while you’re there and try not to let the seagulls spoil your romantic mood.
Intellectualizing at NGV Friday Nights
Museums are sexy. Art is (usually) sexy. The night is sexy. Mix it all up and you have a hot date at NGV’s Friday Nights, half an intellectual stroll through a beautiful gallery and half a dancing party. There are DJs playing music all night and bars overflowing with drinks, so it’s not a boring affair. Brush up on your art history before you go and wow your date with a sophisticated, dark appearance.
Jazz evening at the return of The Rook
You’re going to want to get there early for this one as good luck getting into the venue if you arrive after 9pm. Almost every Wednesday for 8 years, jazz band The Rookies have cooked up some of the freshest, funkiest jazz known to man at The Rook’s Return, and it’s a guaranteed good time for you and your loved one. The drinks are quite cheap, but the free music is where it’s at and it doesn’t disappoint. There’s sure to be a loyal crowd partying here week after week, so we think it can be the usual fun night out for you and your darling.
Show off your skills in a billiard room
This one’s for Casanovas who are soft-talking about the dating world, or maybe you’re just feeling a little competitive. Billiards is an undeniably sexy game, especially when played in the right atmosphere and with the right partner. Cue a pool hall (pardon the pun), of which Melbourne has a decent number. North of Fitzroy, The Red Triangle is dimly lit and moody, and you can also order milkshakes at the counter. It’s $20 an hour for a table, so even better if you go Dutch. In the CBD, iCue Lounge is a neon, buzzy little space, and it’s licensed, so feel free to have a cheeky taxi sav while you show off your best moves. Masters Billiards Home is in the south of St Kilda, a more traditional, green affair that will have you sinking into balls like no one else needs it.
Cheapest movie tickets in Melbourne at Cinema Nova
We know it’s easier than ever to stream with the plethora of services at your fingertips. It’s hard to find the energy to leave your comfortable home to watch a movie when you can easily watch one at home. However, there’s nothing quite like the movie theater experience – popcorn, drinks, a cheeky shock top. Movies and dating go hand in hand, so look no further than the cheapest discount tickets at Cinema Nova, all day Monday. If you arrive before 4 p.m., tickets are only a measly $7, so there’s no excuse not to indulge in the latest film.
Ice cream in Pidapipo
CARLTON, WINDSOR, CBD
So you’ve just left your cinema session at Cinema Nova, and you’re both not ready for the evening to end. Of course, the only logical place to go to end the night on the sweetest possible note is a gelateria, and Pidapipo is fortunately just across the road. Known for only working in small batches to ensure the freshest, highest quality possible, Pidapipo is the ultimate stylish yet cost-effective go-to, with scoops starting at $6.20. That being said, if you’re looking to be the cutest with your date, get yourself a two-spoon mug and share a gesture so sweet the ice cream can be forgotten.
ACMI’s Moving Image History
The only thing better than a date is a free date, and ACMI’s History of the Moving Image exhibition is just that. If you and your date are both movie buffs, this is the perfect place for a cheap date, as you can see how movies and video games came to be, and how the he moving image has changed the way we view art and culture. Currently, exhibits on display include “Thor: Love and Thunder” costumes, a showcase of some of the most iconic outfits worn in film by Thor, Mighty Thor, Valkyrie, Gorr and Zeus, making it perfect for Marvel stans.
Stroll through the Rose St.
If you’re trying to woo your date with a bit of old-fashioned charm, reduce, reuse, and recycle, we highly recommend taking them to the market in the early hours of a weekend morning. Rose St. Market is notoriously aesthetically pleasing, and there’s no better way to trick them into thinking you’re cultured and cool than by taking them to the heart of Fitzroy. You can do your hair at the vintage clothing stalls or buy a bouquet of flowers from the florist (you can get a great bouquet for less than $15).
Play board games at your local
We wouldn’t recommend taking the Monopoly board out for the first few dates at least; no reason to end a relationship before it has started. However, a few games of Jenga, Cluedo and the like never hurt anyone (don’t quote us on that). Locations include The Fox in Collingwood, Katuk in South Yarra, 29th Apartment in St Kilda and Good Heavens in the CBD. Just make sure you’re not one of those overly competitive types who can’t see themselves losing before choosing a board game bar as your meeting place.
Hike the Merri Creek Trail and stop at CERES
The Merri Creek Trail is about 8 miles long, so line up all your best conversation starters for this one. Of course, you don’t have to go all the way, but it’s such a pretty walk that you might find yourself walking back and forth. CERES is a beautiful community garden meets an urban farm, with a cute little organic cafe tucked inside. Stop on your walk and have a latte, and if you come at the right time of year you may hear a little symphony of frogs singing in the small pond nearby. Idyllic as a date can get.
Late Night Dumplings in Chinatown
An absolute classic, we even have a list of best dumplings in melbourne. There’s just something quintessential about a dumpling date, and nowhere does that do it better than the myriad of options you’ll find in Chinatown. Most places also do great wine deals, so staying on budget won’t be difficult. No need to splurge on Flower Drum or the like, joints like ShanDong Mama and Shanghai Street offer some of the best dumplings in town, and usually at a price you won’t shed a tear over.
Explore the Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Garden is so large it would take multiple dates to cover its ground, but there are so many wonderful little spots to seek out that we’re sure it will make for the perfect afternoon for you and your loved one. Along the side which runs beside the Yarra River there are a number of charming gardens and pavilions, including the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden, Grotto Waterfall and Fern Gully. Don’t get too close to the swans that live on the ornamental lake.
Looking for an inexpensive meal? Check out the best spots to score a stream for under $20.
Image credit: Urban list