Is it possible to do Brisbane cheap? Do Kangaroos keep their babies in a tummy pocket?
The answer to both of those questions is yes, and I brought in a Brisbane local to tell us all about $16 hostels, $6 Indian food, and free art museums!
Hi, my name is Courtney and I’ve lived in Brisbane for my entire life, which has given me plenty of time to get to know the city. I’m currently in university so my spare time is spent doing free and budget friendly activities around the city. I hope you enjoy your visit here!
Cheap Lodging in Brisbane
There are plenty of inner-city hostels to choose from in Brisbane, many offering free internet to guests and some including free breakfast.
Big Bird Backpackers – $16-25/night
This hostel is located near Roma St Station, providing plenty of public transport options which will take you almost anywhere you want to go within the Brisbane area.
Summer House Brisbane – $14-22/night
This spot is also fairly close to Roma st station and the beautiful Roma St Parklands and includes both free internet and free breakfast.
Bunk Backpackers – $15-23/night
This place is situated in Fortitude Valley, so if you want to experience Brisbane’s nightlife this is the place for you. The Valley, as Brisbane locals like to call it is where you’ll find many of Brisbane’s bars and nightclubs and if you’re staying at Bunk Backpacker’s it’s only a short walk back home.
Private Room in Woolloongabba – $36/night
If you’re looking for accommodation close to the city centre, this Woolloongabba Airbnb offers a single room less than 15 minutes by car or public transport to and from the city and is close to public transport.
Private Room in West End – $29/night This quirky offering is also close to the city centre, located in the suburb of West End. Close to various forms of public transport, be sure to check this listing out if you’re a nature lover.
Entire Apartment in Kangaroo Point – $120/night
If you prefer your own space, this apartment is close to the city and various modes of public transport, it also offers views of the Brisbane River and access to a swimming pool.
Related: If you’re new to Airbnb, here’s a $40 credit on your first booking!
Cheap Food in Brisbane
5dogs – $6-$9.50
5dogs is a great place to grab a quick and filling lunch or dinner in Fortitude Valley, with generously sized hotdogs starting at $6 for a traditional hotdog and all hotdogs costing under $10.
Don’t worry if you’re not a meat eater, 5dogs is looking out for you and has two vegan hotdogs on the menu, as well as vegan cheese and bacon available to add on. If hotdogs are not to your taste, 5dogs also serves a range of Hot Rolls and fries for $6 and under and is open late into the night from Tuesday to Sunday.
Noosa Chocolate Factory – $3 Small Coffee
Possibly the most affordable coffee within the CBD, $3 will get you a skilfully made coffee and if you’re lucky, a sample of the fresh, locally made chocolate that is sold here.
While you’re waiting for your coffee, take the opportunity to browse the shelves and pick out a treat to take home with you. As a bonus, if you enjoy an evening coffee the shop is one of the rare few coffee places open into the evening on weeknights, and the staff here are always friendly and willing to help you pick out something you’ll enjoy.
The Bagel Boys – $5-$10
Starting at $5 for a bagel with cream cheese or avocado, The Bagel Boys offer a range of bagel flavours. Bagels are also $2 each without filling if you want to make your own bagel creation at once you get back to your accommodation later.
Vegerama – $2-$15
Located both in the Myer Centre and Post Office Square in the city, Vegerama offer a range or vegetarian or vegan options. The food is budget friendly, delicious and filling. It starts at $2 for a fried pakora, or if you’re hungrier for more than a snack, $6 will get you a small salad or serving of Asian or Indian inspired hot food.
You’ll be able to purchase most items on the menu for under $10 and as well as savoury hot dishes there are a range of salads, wraps and dessert options available for you to choose from.
Cheap Things to Do in Brisbane
Brisbane Botanic Garden – Free
This Botanic Garden is a gorgeous place to spend an afternoon or have a picnic with friends. The garden features a Bonsai house, a cactus garden and a stunning Geodesic dome filled with tropical plants and is a short distance from a lookout that gives you a great view over the city.
The Planetarium is also located within the Botanic Garden area and if you’re willing to spend some money it’s definitely worth a visit.
GoMA and QAG – Free
If you like art, the Gallery of Modern Art and the Queensland Art Gallery are both free to visit and often have interesting and well curated exhibitions running. The Gallery of Modern art also has a great children’s area where activities often run alongside the current exhibition.
There are also occasionally paid entry exhibitions but generally you can visit the entirety of the two galleries for free.
Queensland Museum – Free
The Queensland Museum is the place to go if you have an interest in science, nature or history and is free to explore. You can learn about Australian animals, Australian history and even see some live insects.
Attached to the Queensland museum is the Sciencecentre, which has a range of science related exhibits and activities for both adults and children to enjoy. Entry is $14.50 for adults and $11.50 for children.
Roma St Parklands – Free
Located close to the city center, Roma St Parklands offers a quick getaway from the concrete and skyscrapers of the city. The 16 hectares of garden areas and lawns are perfect for lunchtime picnics and lazy afternoons. There are also barbeque areas and public toilets available for use.
City Hopper Ferry – Free
The City Hopper is a free, regular ferry service that travels up and down the Brisbane river. If you have a few hours to kill, or you want to get a good look at a range of riverside areas, you can hop on and off at your leisure and explore to your heart’s content.
Thrift/Op Shopping – The Cost of Your Purchases
Fortitude Valley has several Thrift stores (we call them Op shops) that are usually full of quirky, and bargain priced clothing and homewares. There worth a look around if you’re feeling tired of your travel wardrobe or want to pick up a unique reminder of your travels!
Seasonal – Various Prices
No matter when you visit there’s usually something going on in Brisbane. There are yearly theatre, film and music festivals, writing and poetry festivals,. There are cultural festivals and lots of things happening around the Christmas Season, too.
There are usually plenty of free and low cost activities to enjoy. It’s always worth seeing what might be on around the time of your visit.
Thanks so much for sharing your insights, Courtney! Aussies, do you have anything to add?
Awww man, this post makes me so sad that my Aussie plan was cancelled this December. Saving this for the future!
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
While in Brisbane, I visited the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. I don’t remember how much the entrance fee was, probably not actually cheap, but that was one of the happiest days of my life! They even let you hold a Koala for an additional fee, not cheapskate I know, but sooooo worth it!!
I’d also recommend using the Brisbane bike share system (CityCycle – http://www.citycycle.com.au). It’s only $2 for a 24 hour casual pass, and if you only use it in 30 minute increments, there are no extra fees. I was visiting Brisbane in August and I zoomed around the city all day, returning the bike every 30 minutes, so I never had to pay anything (other than the $2). It was like a fun game. And if that’s not your idea of fun, it’s only $2-$5 more if you keep it past 30 minutes. There are lots of bike paths, so it’s easy for a tourist to navigate. It was my favourite thing I did in the city.