Best free things to do in Geelong

Geelong promenade bollards

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted January 02, 2024

Whether you're looking for family activities, picnic spots or the best bike trails, Geelong has free fun for everyone. 

Geelong, Victoria’s second largest city, offers a range of free activities and attractions for visitors of all ages. 

Just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, there's something for everyone to enjoy for free on a fun day trip or weekend getaway. 

Geelong Gallery

Geelong Gallery has many free exhibitions. Image: Visit Victoria


The best things to do in Geelong for free

Best free family and kids activities in Geelong

Visit Eastern Beach Reserve

Located on the stunning Geelong waterfront, Eastern Beach Reserve is a perfect spot for families and is a great free activity in Geelong.

Enjoy a swim in the enclosed sea bath, build sandcastles on the beach, or have a picnic in the shaded areas.

The playground and BBQ facilities make it an ideal destination for a fun-filled day with the family.

Walk through the Geelong Botanic Gardens

A great free thing to do in Geelong is to take a leisurely stroll through the dog-friendly Geelong Botanic Gardens and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. Set on over 200 acres, the gardens feature a wide variety of plants, including a stunning collection of roses and sculptures. 

Pack a picnic and relax in the peaceful surroundings while the kids explore the nature and nearby Play Space.

Explore the Waterfront

Take a leisurely walk along the Geelong Waterfront and enjoy the stunning views of Corio Bay. Admire the iconic bollards, which depict characters from Geelong's history, and stop by the restored carousel, constructed in 1892 and one of only 200 still in existence around the world.  

The waterfront is also home to various cafes and restaurants, perfect for a coffee or meal with a view.


Geelong Library

Geelong Library has a rotating schedule of free activities, workshops and events. Image: Supplied


Best free cultural attractions 

Admire the works at Geelong Gallery

Art enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Geelong Gallery, which houses an impressive collection of Australian and international art.

Entry to the gallery is free, allowing you to explore the diverse range of artworks and exhibitions at your own pace, including the Kungka Kuṉpu' (Strong Women) exhibit and permanent displays of colonial and modern Australian sculpture, metalworks, porcelain and paintings. 

Learn about Indigenous culture at the Narana 

Narana, meaning to ‘deeply listen and understand,’ is a not-for profit organisation providing education and tourism activities relating to Aboriginal history and culture.

Entry is free, where visitors can see roaming kangaroos in the Native Garden, view artworks in the Indigenous gallery, learn some history in the Exhibition Centre, and visit the onsite store and café. 

Head on a Geelong Library Tour

Known as ‘The Dome,’ the Geelong Library & Heritage Centre is not only a place to read, but also to learn and experience with free activities and things to do. 

Book a walking tour, attend a writer’s workshop, join a knitting circle or bring the kids to story time – there’s always a new activity to be explored at this cultural hub in the middle of the city. 

Check the latest free events

Geelong is a bustling, vibrant city, with free events running almost every month of the year, and especially during summer.

From previous White Nights to Christmas festivities, Geelong After Dark, city markets and Chinese New Year celebrations, there is always something happening that is free and fun in the area. 


The bollards on the Geelong Waterfront make for fun viewing

The bollards on the Geelong Waterfront make for fun viewing. Image: Supplied


Best free picnic areas in Geelong

Have a lazy lunch near Barwon River

Pack a picnic basket and head to the picturesque Barwon River. With its lush greenery and tranquil atmosphere, it is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy a meal with family or friends. 

Take a walk along the riverbank, or simply sit back and soak in the natural beauty.

Take in the views from Eastern Park

Located near the Geelong Botanic Gardens, Eastern Park offers ample space for picnics and outdoor activities. Enjoy panoramic views of Geelong from the hilltop, or explore the park's walking trails and playgrounds.

Stop and smell the roses at Pevensey Park

Head to the park’s Ron Robertson Rose Garden for a picnic that smells as lovely as it appears – it’s one of the best places to enjoy roses in Victoria.

Just a few minutes’ walk from Eastern Park, sit and admire the flora when in season, or when not in bloom, head to the northern side of Pevensey Park, which features a playground for children and large grassy area for the perfect picnic. 

Best free bike trails in Geelong

Ride along the Bellarine Rail Trail

Embark on a cycling adventure along the Bellarine Rail Trail, which stretches from South Geelong all the way to Queenscliff.

This 35km scenic trail takes you through picturesque landscapes, including vineyards, farmland, and coastal areas. Bring your own bike, or rent one from a local bike shop. 

Cruise the Ted Wilson Trail

Explore the Ted Wilson Trail, a shared path that winds its way along the Barwon River. This 12km bike path offers stunning river views and is suitable for cyclists of many different skill levels.

Keep yourself protected on the trip with bike cover in case the unexpected happens.

Head down the Barwon River Trail (South)

At just over an hour long, this 6.4km bike trail is popular with walkers, dog owners, bird watches and bike riders alike. 

Featuring picturesque scenery on either side of the riverbank, this family-friendly bike trail is relatively flat and makes for a smooth and leisurely ride. 


Geelong botanical gardens

A stroll through the Geelong Botanic Gardens is a free and leisurely pastime. Image: Supplied


Best free walking trails in geelong

Cruise the Geelong Bollard Trail Walk

Have a leisurely stroll along the Geelong Waterfront Walk and soak up the coastal atmosphere. Around two hours one way, this scenic stroll features over 100 bollards at 48 sites, keeping walkers engaged with the various artworks along the way. 

Hike the Barwon River Loop

This 12.9km trail takes you on a loop following Barwon River. Taking roughly 2.5 hours to walk, the trail is popular with hikers, bird watchers and runners, providing a scenic and dog-friendly river walk with river views. 

You could even make the trip to the luscious Buckley Falls for some fun rock hopping adventures amongst the waterfalls. 

Take the Rippleside to Eastern Beach Walk

This 6.3km walkway stretches from Rippleside Park to Eastern Beach Reserve, offering stunning views of the bay, Geelong Promenade and the city skyline over the course of 1.5 hours.

It can be started at various points and features many landmark sightings, including the Cunningham Pier and Steampacket Gardens, making it the perfect stroll for both beginners and advanced hikers. 

Best free places to swim in Geelong

Relax at the Eastern Beach Sea Baths

There's plenty of free things to do at this Geelong hotspot.

Cool off on a hot day at the Eastern Beach Sea Bath on Corio Bay. This enclosed swimming area of the beach is perfect for a refreshing dip in the ocean. Opening in the 1930s, it features a diving board, floating islands, slides and an adjoining children’s pool. 

Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months, ensuring a safe swimming experience for all.

Explore the Barwon River swimming holes

Discover hidden swimming spots along the Barwon River. These natural swimming holes offer a tranquil escape from the city, allowing you to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Road trip to nearby beaches

As the gateway to the Bellarine Peninsula, driving a bit up the road provides the entrance to marvellous beach options, from great fishing spots along the Great Ocean Road, to riding the magnificent surf of Ocean Grove and nearby Torquay.


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