A Thrifty Trip: Brisbane

Travelling can be expensive. Once you add up time off work, flights, accommodation, food, and shopping, you’re usually looking at more than you expected. There are always ways to cut down a travel budget, from booking your rental car and accommodation early and avoiding peak season rates to finding cheaper flights with a detour or two. But one of the best ways to cut down on costs while travelling is to find free or inexpensive activities and sites to see during your stay. Australia is full of free things to do. In every major city, you will find free art galleries, museums, national parks, maybe even a free zoo or animal sanctuary. Brisbane is no different, with a range of free, cost-saving activities to enjoy during your stay on the Queensland coast.  Here, we will go through some of the top budget-friendly ways to enjoy Brisbane.

The Gallery of Modern Art

The first stop on your Brisbane budget journey should be the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). These galleries are two sides of the same coin in the same world-class exhibition space in Southbank. The galleries house internationally significant collections of everything from Aboriginal Art to European Impressionism. There are stunning permanent exhibitions and a roster of changing travelling exhibitions, meaning even if you’ve already been to QAGOMA, it’s worth looking online to see what’s changed in the space. The gallery also has a screening space for films that screen modern and contemporary films, including rare 35mm film prints and recent restorations of silent films. Entry into the permanent gallery space and screening room is completely free, with only the occasional paid special exhibition. QAGOMA offers everything you want from a modern gallery experience, but still surprises you with something you didn’t expect. 

The Queensland Museum

If QAGOMA is the premier free gallery in Queensland and Brisbane, then the Queensland Museum is the same in the museum space. With free entry, the museum offers a range of artefacts from human history. The Sparklab space is home to 40 interactive exhibits exploring science and technology and their impact on the modern world. The museum space’s diverse collection extends from dinosaurs and wildlife collections to the ANZAC Legacy Gallery.

Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens
The Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens & Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium

The next space is a two-in-one experience. The Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens and Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium are both on the same site, and both have free entry. The Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens are the best sub-tropical botanic gardens in Queensland, spread over 56-hectares and located just seven kilometres from the heart of the CBD. Featuring a topical dome, Japanese Garden and outdoor lilyponds, the garden is a fantastic natural refuge from everyday life and an extremely relaxing walk. While you’re there, check out the free display zones and sundial courtyard of the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium.

The Cityhopper

If you like the look of the river, why not jump on the Cityhopper. The tiny red boats travel from Sydney Street in New Farm Park and North Quay in Brisbane. It’s a free activity and a useful mode of transportation through the city. Or you could wander the Riverwalk, one of the best ways to move from New Farm Park to the city.

Streets Beach in Brisbane.
Streets Beach

Keep your nature fix going and visit Streets Beach, a man-made beach in South Bank and a local icon. This 17-hectare beach on the banks of the Brisbane River is Australia’s only inner-city man-made beach. With a lagoon and white sand, it is a popular spot for locals and visitors. Streets Beach is free to use and patrolled by trained lifeguards. With a car park, picnic area, free Wi-Fi and a range of places to eat, it’s the perfect place to relax in the city. 

Walking trails

All these fantastic activities don’t even include the nature surrounding Brisbane, with mountains and walking trails just outside the city. From Gold Creek Reservoir to the summit track at Mt Coot-Tha, these walking trails offer stunning views of nature and the city. 

The City Centre Heritage Trail

If you want to get some walking done in the city, follow the City Centre Heritage Trail. Explore the old buildings and sites of Brisbane and learn about its history, from convicts to the Great fire of Brisbane in 1864. Download a heritage trail brochure online and complete the walk by yourself or with family, with 26 points of interest, including theatres, churches, schools, hotels, government buildings and public monuments. If you have internet available on your phone, you can even follow the trail on Google Maps. 

With so much to see and do in the city for free, you can spend that travel budget elsewhere, like the city's fantastic restaurant scene. Start planning your Brisbane on a budget trip today. 

To experience all of the thrilling activities above, hire a car from Brisbane Airport or Brisbane Downtown today!

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