Australia can be a very expensive country and Brisbane is no exception. However, while loads of other cities have beautiful beaches that you can spend a free day out on- Brisbane isn’t a coastal city and so free activities are a little harder to come by. So here is a list of 9 free (or almost free) things that you can do in Brisbane, albeit sadly with no real beaches included.
Mount Coot-tha is the highest peak in Brisbane so you get the best views of the whole city. In the daytime it’s lovely but on a nighttime, when the city is illuminated by lights, it offers an incredible panoramic view and definitely makes you appreciate the scale and beauty of Brisbane. I’d recommend taking a picnic to eat as the sun sets, but there’s also a gorgeous restaurant up there if you’re in the mood to be spendy.
At certain times of the year, Roma Street Parkland screens movies on their lawn for free. We went to see Ghost Busters at Halloween and we’re definitely going to see a few festive classics this December. The super hot days in Brisbane mean that the slightly cooler nights are perfect for spending outside. Bring a blanket and some snacks and you’re all set for a cute, romantic evening under the stars.
Brisbane is also home to Australia’s only man-made, inner-city beach. The reality of this tiny spot being the only ‘beach’ in Brisbane means that it’s ultra cramped, full of screaming children and probably not very hygienic. However, it does have a lovely-looking blue lagoon, a fair amount of white sand (imported, of course) and plenty of palm trees. If you close your eyes for a minute, you can almost imagine that you’re on the Gold Coast- then a shrieking toddler standing on your hair brings you back to reality. Nevertheless, it’s a unique experience and sometimes the only way to cool down for free on the intense Queensland summer days.
4) A picnic at Southbank
If you walk just a couple of minutes past the mayhem of Streets Beach, you come to some beautiful, far more relaxed spots along the rivers edge. I would advise taking a picnic there around 6pm, getting a cheap bottle of wine and watching the sun set. It’s miles more peaceful than the ‘beach’ area and you can either sit up and watch the busy action of the city across the river, or lay back and gaze at the stars. This is definitely one of my favourite cheap things to do here.
Personally, I love museums and if there is ever a free museum- I have to go. I love finding out about the background of the place that I’m visiting and I also just find them really fun. Queensland Museum is a great free museum that has changing exhibitions. When we went, it was focused on the evolution of Australia and it’s nature- right through from the dinosaurs to now. Definitely worth checking out.
The museum of Brisbane is equally as amazing as the Queensland Museum and equally as free. I think that both are worth checking out if you have the time, but if you can only do one, then I’d go for the Museum of Brisbane as it’s more focused on Brisbane specifically (as the name suggests). It includes sections on Brisbane as the home of the indigenous, to the arrival of the British, and everything else that has happened here between then and now. There’s also a fantastic free art gallery there and you can have a free ride in an old-fashioned lift that takes you right inside the clock tower and to an observation deck that has a lovely view of the city.
Located on the river, the City Botanic Gardens are a beautiful place to enjoy the sunshine- surrounded by flowers and Australian wildlife. There’s loads of different sections dedicated to different styles of plants and nature and it’s the most relaxing place to go that is still inside the city. On some weekends they also have a farmers market where you can get local, fresh produce at a reasonable price.
Brisbane Powerhouse is a 1920s power station, remodelled as Queensland’s hub of contemporary culture and the arts. They host tonnes of events, some of which are ticketed and therefore do cost money, but entry to the building itself is free and there’s always some free exhibitions, such as contemporary art installations. The old building is also a really interesting piece of architecture in itself and the setting on the river makes it a lovely place to visit on a cheap day out.
9) BBQ at Kangaroo Point
Something that’s very cool about Australia is the amount of public BBQ’s that are free to use and mean that you can have a proper BBQ in some stunning locations. Kangaroo Point is a particularly fabulous location to have one in Brisbane and is a very popular area. The Kangaroo Point Cliffs are the perfect place for picnics, rock climbing and abseiling. Take a picnic blanket, some friends and some meat and enjoy your burger whilst watching other people doing the active, life-endangering stuff.