Five cheap things to do in Brisbane

A city cat cruising the Brisbane River. Pic: Joanne Lane,

Continuing in our series of “cheap things to do” in Australian cities (see the Sydney and Melbourne entries), here’s five things to do in Brisbane that won’t break the budget.

Swim or sunbathe at Southbank
It sounds corny but Brisbane has its very own man made beach. It might not quite be Bondi but it’s not too far off and seriously, it’s pretty cool to lay on a beach and look across at the high rise of the CBD. Southbank has an array of restaurants, barbecues and other entertainment from markets to open air movies and other events – there’s wicked New Year’s Eve fireworks too. It’s a great place at any time of the night and day.

Gallery, museum and library hop
In recent years Brisbane’s galleries, museums and libraries have received a face lift. They are now state of the art facilities and worth a day wandering around with excellent exhibitions that could include anything from Picasso to Andy Warwhol. Start at GOMA (the Gallery of Modern Art) at South Brisbane then walk next door to the museum then over the river to the State Library. There’s plenty of free things to do in all these facilities from WiFi to movies.

Climb Mt Coot-tha
Mt Coot-tha is the highest point around the city and a great spot for a picnic, walk or a coffee overlooking Brisbane. You can bus to the base of the mountain (number 471 from the city) and then undertake some of the energetic walks to the top. There’s a tour that leaves in the afternoon that heads up there. If you had a bicycle you could easily get to the mountain also, although the last climb will be a trek unless it’s a really good bike and you’re a good cyclist!

City Cat cruise
Unfortunately this is not a free activity but it’s a leisurely cruise along the river and very scenic. It’s also a great way to stop off and see things on route, particularly Southbank if you haven’t already been there. The City Cat runs from Bretts Wharf at Hamilton through to the University of Queensland, a journey of almost 1.5 hours. Both UQ and Hamilton have cafes and other entertainment venues such as libraries, pools and so on. They are a little bit of a walk from the ferry terminals but could easily be a good full or half day itinerary.

Rent a bike and cruise the bike ways
The Brisbane City Council has started a cycling initiative in recent years with 104 stations around the city with 1000 bikes. If you’re here for any length of time it’s the cheapest way to rent a bike at just $2/day or $11/week. You must have a helmet by law in Queensland and there are 400 available otherwise you can buy/rent your own. There are so many bike paths in Brisbane and many take in the scenic stretches of the river and its many parks.

Train ride out to the beach
From Brisbane you can easily use the train to access the city’s beach side suburbs like Sandgate/Shorncliffe (on the Shorncliffe line), Wynnum and Manly (on the Cleveland line) or even travel right down to the Gold Coast – there is a bus connection from Helensvale, Nerang and Robina to the actual coast.

See other posts in the “five cheap things to do” series: Brisbane | Sydney | Melbourne


Hope you’re enjoying the VIP Backpacker’s Travel Blog. There’ll be an update added every other Friday, so keep tuning in to keep your travel dreams alive! If there are any travel topics you want covered feel free to contact me, Jo, at


7 thoughts on “Five cheap things to do in Brisbane

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