10 things to do in Brisbane that don’t cost any money

Brisbane – the capital city of Queensland. In this compact city, you won’t run out of things to do. And if you do, you can always visit Gold Coast that is only an hour’s drive away! 

From mountains to universities to street malls to museums – the possibilities are endless! This city is like a giant amusement park left for everyone to discover! 

1. Visit Mt. Coot-tha

I really love the name. MOUNT COOT-THA. I love it more when the locals say it.

Mt. Coot-Tha is a mountain and a suburb in Brisbane. You can get a panoramic view of the Brisbane City when you are up there. There’s an information board to tell you the names of the landmarks in front of you. 

It can get really crowded because we saw plenty of buses coming in bringing a sea of tourists. 

2. Walk around the University of Queensland

University of Queensland is straight out of the movies! It’s crazy to think that people are actually studying in such a sophisticatedly-designed university. My favourite department in this university is the Law Department in the Forgan Smith Building. 

You can see plenty of students studying in the Forgan Smith Building, a building that looks sophisticated as heck! Walking in feels like you’re walking in the scene of The Da Vinci Code. I was literally sucked into the movie and I thought I was acting with Robert Langdon. Only I was VERY MUCH under-dressed.

3. Explore Brisbane CBD

Brisbane clock tower is one of the iconic buildings and symbol of Brisbane. The design and architecture of the clock tower remind me of ancient Roman buildings. From the design, you can taste the architectural and cultural significance of Brisbane. 

People might mistaken you for being in Europe if you take photos in front of this building.

Entering the building underneath the clock tower, we came into the City Hall. Never in my life have I witnessed such a grand-looking city hall. Now I am traversing through the space of the Phantom of the Opera. Humongous pipe organs lined the wooden-crafted stage with pale yellow walls that complement them. The colours just seem to blend so well together.

4. Walk around Queen Street Mall

The night of Christmas near the CBD. Photo courtesy of Queen Street Mall Facebook Page

Christmas night in Queen Street Mall. Photo courtesy of Queen Street Mall Facebook Page

The CBD is located within walking distance to Queen Street Mall. If you have enough time to spare, consider walking around Queen Street Mall. No, you don’t have to buy anything. Why choose to go shopping when you can watch the many street performance going on in the square? If I have had enough time, I would sit on the benches and do some good ol’ people-watching there. 

You can also access the Regent Theatre when you’re in Queen Street Mall. It used to be a cinema designed in the 1930s, now it is just a visitor centre located in this heritage-listed cinema. Another architecture that brings us back to the past with its highly intricate design. As I gazed at the elaborated walls and ornaments, I just can’t stop feeling in awe. 

5. Visit heritage-listed Cathedral of St. Stephen

I think I should start naming this post “Trip to Heritage Sites in Brisbane”. There are so many heritage-listed buildings here that it just blew my mind! Most importantly, they all come at no cost! 


Once again, the blow pipe on the altar captured my attention. Amidst all the modern structures, the cathedral established a juxtaposition between eras. 

6. Walk along the riverfront

The story bridge is a famous iconic structure in Brisbane. You can even book an activity in which you can climb on top of the bridge and feel like you’re on top of the world. 

If you’re on a budget or just want to experience it for free, try standing opposite on the riverfront and gaze at its beauty from afar. What a perfect spot for couples to enjoy the view together. 

7. Take a stroll in the botanical gardens

A botanical garden located in the heart of the city of Brisbane. Photo courtesy of WIkipedia.

If you have plenty of time to spare, consider taking a stroll in the big botanical garden located in the heart of Brisbane. It has been around since the 1840s and has gone through plenty of changes since!

8. Take a picture with the Brisbane sign and Wheel of Brisbane

With towering buildings lined the background, it is only natural that the “BRISBANE” sign is located at this exact spot for the picture to be taken. It is safely barricaded from the public so no obvious vandalism was done to the sign to preserve its significance to the city. The sign itself tells many stories, with each letter representing a different element of the city. 

A while stretch of building lining up behind us!

Near the same area, you can see the Wheel of Brisbane. Are you starting to feel like I have been touring Europe now? 

There’s the Story Bridge, like the London Bridge; the Wheel of Brisbane, like the Eye of London; the heritage-listed buildings like the City Hall and the Clock Tower and the Theatre. Even so, each one of them has its own unique characteristics that makes them different from Europe.

9. Relax at Streets Beach

Photo courtesy of Visit Brisbane.

If you are itching to go to the sea or want to lay in warm sand, fret not as Brisbane has its own artificial beach – as the locals call it. It is called Streets Beach. When we were there, we saw plenty of people sunbathing on the grass and sand. It was summer and everyone wanted a tan. You can see people from all walks of life swimming in the “ocean” having a whale of a time.

10. Take a ferry from the ferry wharf

Wait… how is this free?

According to Brisbane City Council, the CityHopper is a free inner city ferry service for the Brisbane River. You can hop on and hop off the CityHopper every 30 minutes. The service runs between 6am and midnight, seven days a week. 

Now that’s what I call transportation FOR ALL

What blew my mind was the existence of a city ferry within a city. Honestly, this was my first time seeing people taking ferry from one place of the city to another. To me, a normal mode of public transport would be a bus, a taxi or a carpool with friends. Now a ferry is definitely a first. The Brisbane River does connect the city in many ways.


And there you have it! The 10 things you can do in Brisbane for free! You can tour all these places within the span of 2 days, so make sure you plan something up if you’re staying longer! 

If you want to experience the local bus, make sure you get yourself a Go Card. It is really convenient as we used it to ride a bus, the ferry (that cost money) and public transport like trains in the Gold Coast. I call it the Ultimate Card.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *