Seeing the sights of Brisbane on a budget

brisbane on a budget

Brisbane may be one of Australia’s largest cities, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the most expensive. There’s plenty to be done in Brisbane for $50, or even less.


  With lots of culture and monuments to see, there are plenty of activities to fill your itinerary if you’re tackling Brisbane on a budget. With plenty of free and affordable attractions, you may not need more than $50 a day. So, lace up your best pair of walking shoes and embark on a cash-savvy journey around Queensland’s marvellous capital.  

Opening image: Family walking through the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, located at the base of Mount Coot-Tha. Image: Tourism and Events Qld.


Brisbane on a budget: QAGOMA. © Tourism and Events Queensland

Browse Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA)

A great way to familiarise yourself with a city is to experience its art. Luckily, Brisbane has plenty, and it’s all free at QAGOMA. The gallery hosts a wide variety of Australian and international exhibitions, with a focus on Australian and Pacific contemporary art. You could spend an entire day getting lost among the exhibitions, and it doesn’t stop at just the art. Have fun as a family in the Children’s Art Centre or catch some of the best international films at the Australian Cinémathèque.

If that’s not your thing, stick with the 16,000 works the gallery has for you to look at. The works range from conventional paintings to surreal installations that will make you question where reality ends and art begins. You might end up losing a few bucks to special exhibitions or the café, but otherwise, you can safely explore QAGOMA for a grand total of $0.  


Brisbane on a budget: South Bank © Tourism and Events Queensland

Explore South Bank

Considered the cultural heart of Brisbane, South Bank has so much more to offer than the typical park. For one thing, it’s settled in a location that has a stunning view of the city skyline. That’s not to mention the luxurious artificial beach right in the centre, so you can simultaneously take a dip and take in supreme urban views.

South Bank also hosts some of Brisbane’s best available food, assuming you don’t mind splurging just a little. If you’d prefer not to, there are still plenty of events that take place here year-round for free. Even when nothing in particular is on, you can soak up the fabulous atmosphere with a relaxing stroll. Be sure to take plenty of pictures while you’re there; it’s something you’ll want to remember.  


Brisbane on a budget: Mount Coo-tha © Matthew Taylor | Tourism and Events Queensland

Take a hinterland road trip

Brisbane is surrounded by mountains, all perfect for a daytrip. You can you reconnect with nature and take in Brisbane’s sublime collection of skyscrapers from afar. If you want something close to the city, Mt Coot-tha is the place, offering the perfect blend of metropolis and countryside. On the other hand, there’s Mt Glorious, with incredible westerly views. Just south of that peak is Mt Nebo, the ideal place to escape from the city and have a nice, calming picnic.  


Brisbane on a budget: Hinterland. © Tourism and Events Queensland

Wherever you go, there are plenty of hiking and walking opportunities through bush reserves and national parks. If you’re doing Brisbane on a budget, these gorgeous walks can knock out half a day without spending a dime. So, pack some snacks, hit the road and enjoy some fresh Queensland air.

Check the Queensland National Parks website for the latest trail and safety information.  


Brisbane on a budget: Ferry ride. © Tourism and Events Queensland

Catch the Brisbane Ferry

A river cruise through the city sounds like a fabulous idea, but in most places this is a pricy activity. Never fear, Brisbane has its own ferry system that only charges $4 to ride. You can go from one end of the river to the other, all for less than a fiver. Take the ferry from Powerhouse to South Bank, and you’ll see everything from Story Bridge to the CBD and more.

Enjoy the delightful breeze as you coast along and get some of the best city sights. On choppier days, you may also be in for an exciting ride. Consider going for the classic Titanic pose with the dazzling city lights shining around you. That may not be totally authentic to the movie, but it’ll be way cooler. A fun ferry trip AND a Hollywood photoshoot? Now that’s how you do Brisbane on a budget.  


Brisbane on a budget: Davies Park Market © Tourism and Events Queensland

Stroll through Davies Park Market

There are plenty of great markets to choose from around Brisbane. Unfortunately, some of them actually charge for entry. For a free and fulfilling market experience, go with Davies Park Market. You’ll find plenty of goods, ranging from fruits to crafts to vintage vinyl.

You can always stick with not spending money, too, and just wander around the stalls, getting a great taste of Brisbane culture. If you are willing to let loose a little, nothing at this place should be detrimental to your bank account. In fact, if you were planning on getting some souvenirs or groceries anyway, the market might even end up saving you money. Regardless, a lovely Saturday afternoon wandering around this vibrant market in Brisbane’s West End is a day well spent.  

Want to explore more of Queensland? Head south for a fun-filled Gold Coast holiday, or north to the breathtaking Lizard Island.


Travel to Brisbane

Rex flies to Brisbane. Book your flights here.


Scroll to Top


For travel inspo and recommendations, flight deals, and awesome giveaways straight to your inbox!

TrulyAus for Rex Subscriber Form