There are few times better to visit Melbourne than in autumn. The leaves are turning from a brilliant shade of green to a deep amber, the air is crisp and cool and the days are long. It’s the perfect weekend escape, but how do you spend a weekend in Melbourne and keep it budget-friendly? Here are some tips for visiting Melbourne on a budget.

Thanks to the creation of budget airlines competing for our business, it’s possible to snag yourself some pretty cheap airfares. Be flexible with your dates and sign up for airfare sale notifications so you can pounce on them quickly. Flying early in the morning or late at night can be cheaper and taking carry-on luggage only cuts back on luggage costs too.

When it comes to getting to your hotel, skip the expensive cab ride and swap it for the SkyBus. You can book your tickets in advance for $18 one way, which is a big price drop for solo travellers. If you do find yourself travelling as a pair and want to catch a cab, ask the people around in the cab line where they’re going and split the cab ride cost with them.

Accommodation in the heart of Melbourne CBD can cost you a pretty penny. Instead, opt to stay just outside the city in budget accommodation or fully self-contained apartments. Budget options like Tune Hotel on Swanston Street are within close walking distance to the city and offer room rates and packages that can help you save money. Similarly, staying at a self-contained apartment means you can buy food and drinks to have at home to keep costs down.

Getting around town is easy thanks to your own two feet and Melbourne’s Free Tram Zone, a massive loop running past all the places you’ll want to visit — from Flinders Street and Federation Square to Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne Central Station and the waterfront at Docklands.

Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you need to miss out on eating all the delicious food in Melbourne. Grab a coffee and a muffin for breakfast from a local cafe, like Brother Baba Budan on Little Bourke Street, Sun Moth Canteen on Lonsdale Street or the Queensberry Pour House in Carlton.

Melbourne is famous for food trucks, so find out where they’re going to be and get in on a local food experience at a fraction of the cost of a restaurant. Gumbo Kitchen serve New Orleans soul food including deep fried catfish Po Boys, seafood gumbo and hush puppies. Banh Mi Boys offer banging Vietnamese street food while Happy Camper Pizza and Taco Truck serve top quality food at great prices.

Still hungry? Get yourself down to the Queen Victoria Markets for an eating tour including fresh fruit, just-baked pastries and cakes, divine Filipino chicken skewers, Jamaican jerk chicken and BBQ corn and a big bowl of fresh mussels.

When it comes to sight-seeing on a budget, take a stroll along the Yarra and place a love-lock on Melbourne’s Southgate Bridge. Stop in for coffee and feline fun at Melbourne’s first Cat Cafe, open on Queen Street, or soak in the best views of the city and beyond 88 floors above the ground at the Eureka Skydeck.

Where are your favourite places to visit in Melbourne on a budget? Share your tips in the comments below!