The Best of Brisbane on a Budget

Brisbane… on a Budget?

Brisbane is a well-loved city, which doesn't feel like a city at all. Think more large country town with friendly people and no subways… That's more like it! As the state capital of Queensland, many travellers pass through as they journey up or down the infamous East Coast of Australia. However, when people think of cities, many no doubt imagine that to enjoy yourself, you will need a hefty wad of spare cash. When it comes to Brisbane, think again! With a huge wealth of activities and sights on offer that won't force you to not eat for a week, it's no wonder Brisbane is so highly regarded by travellers and locals alike.
Brisbane skyline as the sun goes down

Brisbane's skyline

Here's a compilation of 6 free things to do when you're in beautiful Brisbane and on a budget. Get exploring!  

1. Relax in Southbank

Brisbane sign lit up in South Bank

Southbank Brisbane

Whilst Brisbane may not be nestled nicely on the coast with perfect swimming and surfing beaches like neighbour Surfers Paradise, it does have its own little slice of beach heaven. Southbank has 2 outdoor pools set alongside the river, one even complete with sand and ice cream sellers; Streets Beach. The pool-cum-beaches have lifeguards at set times and cost nothing to visit; perfect! With lockers to stash your belongings, plenty of restaurants and cafés lining the area, complete with a view of the beautiful Brisbane skyline, it's no surprise that the 'beach' draws people in from all over the city. If you don't fancy cooling-off in the water, or it's a bit too fresh for that, South Bank is a wonderful area for strolling along the river, having a picnic on the grass or grabbing a speciality coffee and a bite to eat. Set amongst native trees and flowers and with no vehicles along the promenade, South Bank is the perfect place to spend a few hours and enjoy the relaxed Brisbane vibe. Streets Beach and Pool, Southbank, free.  

2. Explore the markets

French treats from the food market


Brisbane has heaps of markets, from farmers markets to craft markets to full-blown street food markets. One of the best is the Eat Street Market near Hamilton. Jump on the City Cat and you'll soon find yourself in a foodie heaven. Set in and amongst old shipping containers (no thanks to its location next to the port of Brisbane) it is a delight for both the belly and the eyes. It costs just a few dollars to enter, and once in you'll find a huge array of food vendors selling home-made delicacies. Whatever it is you fancy, you are almost certain to find it here. There are also a couple of bars, live music and vendors selling arts and crafts. A perfect addition to any weekend! Eat Streets Market, Hamilton, $2.50 Open Fridays and Saturdays, 4-10pm, Sundays 11am-7pm.  

3. Learn in the museums

The old fail-safe when it comes to budget friendly exploring: museums. And how convenient, because Brisbane has a variety of excellent museums that have no entrance fee (unless you want to see special exhibitions). One of the best is GOMA; also known as the Gallery of Modern Art. Whilst art museums are not for everyone, the GOMA cannot be recommended enough. Full of fascinating art that is imaginative and daring, the museum features artists from the World over, including home-grown Aboriginal talent. A must. Just a short stroll from GOMA is the Science Museum, a fun, interactive yet educational museum showcasing a huge variety of scientific artefacts. This world-class facility recently hosted the World Science Festival; a highly respected event across the World. If you fancy something a little more specific to the city, head over to the Brisbane Museum. If you're interested in learning about the history of Brisbane alongside the modern-day state capital and the values it's inhabitants hold, this museum should also be high on your list. GOMA, free, Stanley Place, South Brisbane. Science Museum, free, Grey Street, South Brisbane. Brisbane Museum, free, Adelaide Street.

4. Catch some live music

What city is complete without a variety of music to offer?! Certainly not Brisbane! As well as hosting big-name, international acts at renowned venues, Brisbane also showcases local talent. Many of the pubs in areas such as Fortitude Valley and West End will regularly have bands playing on any given night of the week. In the lovely and leafy suburb of New Farm, head down to the iconic Powerhouse every Sunday afternoon to catch a free gig. Whilst your there, check what else is going on – they have great line-ups offering all sorts of music, theatre and comedy for great prices. Find out more:  

5. Visit Stradbroke Island

Point Lookout on Stradbroke Island


The beautiful Stradbroke Island, affectionately known by locals as Straddie, is a must if you've got a few days in Brisbane. Just 40 minutes drive, you will arrive at Cleveland, where you can hop on the boat. Once you're on Straddie, you can take the local bus up to the Point Lookout area. Here you can find affordable camping, independent cafés and absolutely stunning beaches. Whilst Straddie, an ocean destination, is at its finest during summer, a trip in winter will offer you peace and quiet, walks and wildlife viewing. Expect to see pods of dolphins playing in the waves, turtles, rays and if your timing is right, whales! Public transport is also available from Brisbane. Boat $20 foot passenger return. For ferry timetables check out  

6. Unwind in the City Botanical Gardens

Being in Australia, Brisbane is blessed with weird and wonderful native flora and fauna that are a delight to the senses. The botanical gardens in Brisbane are an exceptional showcase of such flowers and trees, immaculately kept in beautiful grounds; you could easily spend a couple of hours walking around the different paths admiring all things bush. Why not grab a picnic and some friends, it's the perfect spot for people watching. Alternatively, wander along the main path, grab a coffee on the way, and continue your leisurely walk over the pedestrian and bicycle bridge and into Southbank. Botanical Gardens, Alice Street, free.
Beautiful Jacarandas in Brisbane

Jacarandas of Brisbane


And there you have it! This list is just scraping the surface, and there are many, many more things you can get up to while in Brisbane and its surrounds, but for now go ahead and enjoy these 6 great things to do that won't break the bank!


A 20-something Brit from a little island in England, currently living in Australia and always looking for the next adventure!