Brisbane on a Budget

Image of Brisbane at night and Story Bridge illuminated in rainbow colours
Brisbane at night with the famous Story Bridge illuminated

Brisbane on a Budget

I admit, I didn’t have big expectations about Queensland’s capital Brisbane but it pleasantly surprised me. No longer just a big country town. Brisbane, home to over 2 million people and Australia’s third largest city, is now cultured and cool, laid back yet happening, functional yet beautiful and modern but with some interesting historical buildings.

Australia is known for being an expensive destination to visit but let me show you around Brisbane on a budget.

Brisbane life centers around the Brisbane River and the best way to see this city and get your bearings is out on a river cruise. No worries if you need to see Brisbane on a budget either, there is a FREE city hopper ferry which slowly traverses the main city stretch of the river giving plenty of time to sit up top, enjoying the sights and take lots of photos.

seeing brisbane on a budget on the free city hopper ferry along the Brisbane River
The free city hopper ferry along the Brisbane River

Brisbane on a Budget: The Great Outdoors

Brisbane has an enviable climate and Brisbanites are an active bunch. Along the river are many pathways, people walk, jog, skate, cycle or ride on segways along the paths built into the mangroves along side the river.

If you fancy cycling yourself the city cycle scheme allows you to hire one for yourself (free for 30 minutes sign up online and find out more information here ) to explore and get around the city. (Just don’t forget to wear a cycle helmet to avoid a $120 fine)

Along the boardwalks are children’s playgrounds, work out equipment and benches and BBQs for the less active. It’s not uncommon to see people rock climbing and abseiling or kayaking or jet skiing down the river alongside private yachts, the sleek city cat ferries and traditional old paddle steamer boats.

Image of cycling along the South Bank of the Brisbane River
Cycling along the South Bank with the Brisbane CBD skyline in the background

Staying outdoors; Roma Street Parklands and Brisbane’s Botanical Gardens are world class and offer a real escape from the city for FREE and don’t forget to have a look at the historical buildings of the Parliament House and the Old Government House.

Stroll along the wonderful South Bank through the gardens along the quayside, admiring the view of the CBD and splash around in Street’s Beach for FREE or enjoy one of the restaurants and pubs or browse the markets and food stalls.

engjoy brisbane on a budget at free Streets Beach on Brisbane's South Bank
Streets Beach on Brisbane’s South Bank

Brisbane on a Budget: Arts and Culture

The South Bank also houses Queensland’s Cultural Precinct, which includes the Performing Arts Centre, Queensland Museum, the State Library, Queensland Art Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), exhibition and concert centers, a Maritime Museum and Science Center and the Brisbane Observation Wheel.

Visiting the FREE Museum of Queensland is well worth your time to learn more about the history and inhabitants (animal, fish, dinosaur, aboriginal and European) of Queensland with beautiful and engaging displays. The Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art are also FREE and has a collection of enlightening pieces from Queensland artists covering the history of the state.

Image going under story bridge in Brisbane
Brisbane’s landmark – Story Bridge

Brisbane on a Budget: Historical Architecture

Continue along the Brisbane River to take in the view of Eagle Pier and Story Bridge, built in 1940 and now heritage listed and one of Brisbane’s most iconic landmarks. You can climb over Story Bridge ( not cheap at $99 but a lot cheaper than Sydney’s Harbour Bridge climb at from $198 to $358)

Explore the CBD, visit the colonial and historical buildings at King George Square like the Brisbane Town Hall, the city’s landmark which also houses the FREE Museum of Brisbane.

Image of Brisbane City Hall
Brisbane City Hall

Browse the shops and take in the hustle and bustle of this multicultural city along Queen’s Mall but don’t forget to look up and note the different architectural styles of the older buildings and see if you can spot a traditional Queenslander hotel building with the wide, wooden verandas and stop in for a Bundaberg Rum or a pot of XXXX Gold.

Also, don’t miss the Treasury, a magnificent, classical style building that used to be Government buildings, where in 1901 the proclamation of the federation of the Australian Commonwealth was read from the balcony but now the building is a casino.

Image of the historic treasury building in Brisbane
The historic Treasury Building

Around Brisbane on a Budget

The area around Brisbane is blessed with a great climate and natural beauty, not far from the city lie beautiful beaches and great islands like Moreton and North Stradbroke Island to relax on. Taking a trip to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is not cheap ($32) but you can cuddle a koala or hand feed a kangaroo, great if you want to get up close to these unique aussie animals or climb the walking trails up to Mount Coot-Tha lookout for an escape to nature with great views over the city.

Do you have any more tips for seeing Brisbane on a Budget?

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