TDon’t want to splash your cash on your getaway? Here’s how to do Brisbane on a budget. There are plenty of cheap things to do in Brisbane but will give you that fabulous holiday feeling. When it comes to the evening, you still don’t have to shell out big dollars to have fun. There’s also things to do in Brisbane at night that don’t cost a cent
I am Brisbane born and bred but still love wandering around the city finding what’s fresh and exciting. Here are eight cheap things to do in Brisbane so you can have a great day out! All of these activities are accessible from Brisbane’s CBD area. If you are a local, take your visiting friends and show off the city.
Cheap things to do in Brisbane – Stroll the Brisbane River Boardwalk
Brisbane on a budget tour
Start with this list for your Brisbane on a budget tour. It is a great way for visitors and even locals to get to know the city better.
Do you already know Brisbane? If you are a local with some great tips on how to explore on the cheap, please share them in the comments section. Friendly folk make a great city even better!
Cheap $1 ride thrills
Combine thrills and views with a ride on the Brisbane River Boardwalk on an electric hire scooter, a great thing to do in Brisbane at night. A scooter costs $1 to unlock and 30 cents per minute, making it great for short journeys. The Brisbane River Boardwalk is an overwater highway for cyclists, electric scooters and pedestrians. It runs alongside the riverbank from Brisbane’s CBD to New Farm. The walk is suspended over the water from Howard Smith Wharves to New Farm which adds to the experience. Take your camera and stop at the rest spots along the way to enjoy the views. Hire your scooter using an app from Lime.
TIP: Stop for a refreshing locally brewed beer at Felons on Howard Smith Wharf.
Cheap things to do in Brisbane – hop on a CityCat!
The $6 Brisbane River cruise
Seeing Brisbane from the river gives the city a whole new perspective. You can hire a kayak, an electric picnic boat, or even just hop on a CityCat for a three-hour loop for just $6. Take one of the double-decker CityCats and you have a premium view although I do like standing right up the front with the wind in my face as you cruise.
For a special friends experience, cruise the Brisbane river with eight of your besties for an hour for just $12.50 a person on a motorised GoBoat. You’re the captain of this cruise so work out your own river route.
A two-hour kayak paddle around the river is a great way to see the riverbanks up close and personal. Riverlife at Kangaroo Point has instructors who will give you some pointers before you head out.
TIP: Explore Kangaroo Point to see a real slice of Brisbane’s suburbia so close to the city.
A picnic by the river is one of the great things to do in Brisbane at night.
Superb sunset dinner $45
There’s no need to pay big dollars to enjoy fabulous food with a sunset view in Brisbane. Grab a takeaway picnic pack from The Jetty and enjoy a sunset river dinner at South Bank ($45 picnic for 2). On Sunday afternoons there is free music too! It’s pretty by the river as the city winds down from the day and a perfect thing to do in Brisbane at night on a budget.
TIP: Enjoy a drink before your dinner and some delicious bar snacks at Otto.
Would a free walking tour suit your Brisbane on a budget visit?
Free walking tour
When they say the best things in life are free, they must have been thinking about a Brisbane Greeters Tour. This free service is provided by Brisbane City Council and puts skilled and knowledgeable locals in charge of group tours through the city. They will show you some fabulous spots and even regular visitors will discover new things to amaze. If you are looking for cheap things to do in Brisbane at night, watch out for the new nighttime Greeter tours.
TIP: Explore Brisbane with these walks recommended by locals.
My BrisBetter Day Out list has to include an art gallery
Free art and air conditioning
There’s no doubt that sometimes Brisbane gets a little steamy, so if you are seeking to escape the heat there’s no better place to get cool and grab some culture than the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art.
Located in the South Brisbane Cultural Centre, QAG/GOMA is two buildings where a series of rotating displays provide a feast for your eyes. Next up is the European masterpieces from New York’s Met at GOMA (June 12 to October 17). Entrance to this exhibition is just $28, so much cheaper than a trip to New York! The Queensland Museum is also located at the Cultural Centre and is a perfect place to entertain kids of all ages, including big kids. This is Brisbane on a budget for all the family,
TIP: My favourite city cafe is located in the QAG watermall. It’s quiet, secluded and serves excellent food. Grab a table under the tree and watch the water fountains.
Take a ride to the top of City Hall.
Free thrills and views
See the city like a local at MoB (Museum of Brisbane) and take a free ride and tour up the Brisbane City Hall clocktower. The Clock Tower Tour includes a ride in one of Brisbane’s oldest working cage lifts. You’ll see behind Australia’s largest analogue clock faces and explore the observation platform to see a unique city perspective. Make sure you check out the latest exhibition at MoB when you book your tour for an insider’s look at the city’s homegrown talent.
Market shopping is always a Brisbetter Day Out
Low $$ market bargain
Brisbane’s CBD area has multiple markets where you can find great local produce, dine on a wide selection of food and find the perfect present or take-home treat. On Sunday, the Riverside at the Gardens Market fills the city’s Botanic Gardens at the end of George Street with colour and flavours.
Every Wednesday there is a market in Reddacliff Place (next to the Treasury Casino at the top of Queen Street) that offers a huge array of food, produce and artisan goods.
A little out of the CBD, but easily accessible by bus, CityCat or a City Hopper ferry, Jan Power’s Powerhouse Farmers Market runs every Saturday from 6 am to 12 noon at New Farm.
TIP: There are more fabulous markets for you to explore on this list.
Your list of cheap things to do in Brisbane can include a hotel stay!
Where to stay in Brisbane
Brisbane has an exciting range of hotels with plenty of options. I’ve developed a list that your Brisbane hotel stay to your personality. It also includes top tips on why you might choose to stay at each of the hotels.
Some fabulous suggestions here. I have family in Brisbane so when I am able to visit I’ll be bookmarking this post and following up your ideas. Really useful post, thank you.
Thanks Suzanne! I love exploring Brisbane and sharing my tips on how to discover the city without burning your budget. It’s easier than most people realise! Enjoy your visit.
These are all great suggestions. I”m surprised at the low cost of the river cruise. Those are always more on the expensive side. The public art would be a nice way to spend a day especially if there is free AC 🙂
It is surprising how cheaply you can explore Brisbane on a City Cat. They are a very comfortable way to travel too. I always find it hard to drag myself away from the front where the wind in your face makes for a fabulous cruise experience.
I love taking boat tours, it’s an inexpensive and new way to see the city you’re visiting. I would definitely take advantage of that budget friendly tip if in Brisbane. Pubic art is always a great low cost option for visitors combine with a walking tour.
Brisbane has so much public art to discover. You can walk around on your own or there are Brisbane City Greeters who will show you around on a free tour. Just remember to book ahead.
Good to know there are ways to see Brisbane on a budget. We would definitely check out the $1 scooter to get around. And would not miss the $6 river cruise! A great way to spend 3 hours. Art galleries are always great ways to find air conditioning and take in some great art too. Love to save a little money here and there to splurge on other things!
The scooters are so much fun. It’s a bit of a skill to learn when you first hop on but a great way to get around quickly to all the top spots.
I went on one of the greeters tours several years ago and it was quite interesting. The greeter suggested the clock tower tour so we returned after the tour and did that too. The $6 river cruise sounds like a great deal.
The Museum of Brisbane near the clocktower in City Hall is also worth a visit. It’s such a great way to get to know the city like a local