Brisbane Free Things To Do

Free Things To Do In Brisbane | Travel Guide

With so many free things to do in Brisbane and free public transport, it is really easy to do Brisbane on a budget. Brisbane’s free attractions are varied from museums to park lands, from free pools to historic buildings and more.

On the traditional lands of the Aboriginal Turrbal and Jagera along the Brisbane River, Brisbane offers so much to do indoors and outdoors. It really is a destination for the budget traveller. 

We recommend stretching your budget further by taking your own food and drinks and picnicking in any of the parks in Brisbane. We also suggest forgetting your car and either walking or using the free public transport available to get around Brisbane. It is a very easy city to navigate making it a pleasant place to visit. 

To see and do everything for free in Brisbane we recommend you allow three to five days or do as many day trips if you are staying outside of the city.

As usual with our articles dog friendly attractions and activities are marked with the paw prints 🐾.

Cityhopper | Free Ferry

Getting Around | Free Public Transport

CityHopper | Free Ferry 

The CityHopper is a free inner city ferry on the Brisbane River. Recognisable by their red colour, the CityHopper is an incredibly convenient way for getting around the city and a terrific way to enjoy the river, taking the same route as many of the river cruises that cost money.

Each CityHopper Ferry has a lower or entry-level which is indoors and an upper level which is an open air deck with seating. The upper level on a nice day is a great place to sit and enjoy views along the river. It is also great for getting your river photos.

There are ferry terminals at:

  • North Quay, Brisbane City
  • South Bank 3, South Brisbane
  • Maritime Museum, South Brisbane
  • Thornton Street, Kangaroo Point
  • Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane City
  • Holman Street, Kangaroo Point
  • Dockside, Kangaroo Point
  • Sydney Street, New Farm

The ferries run every 35 minutes clockwise and anti clockwise from 6am to midnight, 7 days per week.

We highly recommend the ferry as an option for getting around the city. We also recommend that you enjoy a full loop of the ferry route to take in the sights along the river. You my even want to do the loop during the day and at night when the city is lit up. 

City Loop | Free Bus Service

Red colour buses at red colour bus stops run every 10 minutes in loops, both clockwise (route 40) and anti clockwise (route 50). The services run daily from 7am to 6pm and you can hop on and off as often as you need to.

Spring Hill Loop | Free Bus Service

These are yellow buses at yellow bus stops running in a loop between the CBD  and Spring Hill. Operating as route 30 buses run every 10 minutes during peak times and every 20 minutes during non peak times.

Mount Coot-tha | Free Shuttle Bus

The free shuttle bus runs every 20 minutes to and from destinations within the Mt Coot-tha area. To get to Mt Coot-tha from Brisbane, bus 471 from Adelaide Street runs daily.

Brisbane Information Centre

Free Tours

Free Walking Tour

Free walking tours are brilliant and are one of the first things we try to do in any new place. Walking tours in our experience are a great way to learn the lay of the land, learn the local history and get some local tips on what to see and do.

The Visitor Information Centre, Brisbane City runs free (and these are truly free with no donation needed) walking tours daily at 10.30am. Spots are limited so make sure you book. Volunteer guides who are generous with their time and information lead the walks.

The walk starts at the Visitor Information Centre on Queen Street Mall in an old theatre. The theatre is heritage listed and even if you don’t do the walking tour go in and check out the amazing murals on the walls and ceilings. It was even the scene of a shooting and if look you will see bullet holes.

Opening Times: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, Weekend 10am to 4pm
Address: Queen Street Mall, 167 Queen St, Brisbane City

Brisbane Greeters | Free Guided Tours

A team of local volunteers, unmissable in their red t-shirts, generously give their time to Brisbane visitors showing and telling them about the best spots and things to do in Brisbane. There are three different tour types, each being a walking tour lasting between two to four hours. It is necessary to book for each tour, walk ups are not allowed.

Daily Greets: this is a walk for up to four hours with a Brisbane Greeter based on what your greeter loves and knows about Brisbane. Bookings are required and will take, where spots are available up to 3 hours before the tour departs.

Your Choice – Precincts: this a two to four hour walking tour with a greeter in a region of Brisbane you wish to explore. Seven day notice when booking is required so that a greeter can be matched to your request.

Your Choice – Special Interest: also a two – four hour walk but this time with a focus on an interest you have such as colonial history, indigenous history, art and so on. This tour also needs to be booked seven days in advance.

Opening Times: 10am
Address: For Daily Greets – Brisbane City Hall (King George Square Entrance)

Museum of Brisbane | Free Tours of Clock Tower and City Hall

This is a small museum in the Brisbane City Hall. The museum’s focus is Brisbane’s history, culture and art. Here you can see photographs highlighting the local history as well as highlights of local history and artworks by local artists.

There are two free tours you can enjoy at the Brisbane Museum. The Clock Tower tour is a 15 minute tour up to the top of the clock tower where you can enjoy some of the best views of the city. The City Hall tour is a 45 minute tour of the city hall and guides will tell you about Brisbane’s history. Bookings for tours are needed.

This is the place to come if you want to learn more about Brisbane, its history and culture.

Opening Times: Monday to Sunday 10am to 5pm
Address: City Hall, 64 Adelaide Street, Brisbane City

Parliament House

Parliament House | Free Guided Tour

Queensland Parliament House is seen from the Brisbane River, its French Renaissance Rival style in contrast to the modern towers around it. Construction of the three storey stone building was completed in 1867 with additions and renovation also done in later and more recent years. Stain glass windows depicting British royalty adorn the building along with its large dome. It is a remarkable building. 

All visitors must have government issued photo identification.

Guided Tours: on non sitting days are hourly at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm and only at 2pm on sitting days.

View a sitting of parliament: from the Legislative Assembly Chamber public gallery on the days parliament is sitting

Opening Times: Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm
Address: 2A George Street, Brisbane City

Brisbane City Botanical Gardens 🐾 | Free Guided Walk

Brisbane City Botanical Gardens is 20 hectares of beautiful gardens, flower beds and manicured lawns on the bank of the Brisbane River in the middle of the city. Throughout the gardens there are many areas and spaces to explore, look out for sculptures, water features, ponds and more. Why not take a stroll through the gardens or take a picnic to enjoy with views of the Brisbane River.

More than just gardens, this is one of Brisbane’s premium outdoor music and entertainment venues with events hosted fairly regularly. Also if you are visiting at night the gardens are lit up creating a fun and vibrant atmosphere.  

Join a free guided walk of the gardens, Monday to Saturday (not Sundays or public holidays) at 11am or 1pm from the Information Kiosk. The walks go for about an hour and are informative about the features and plants within the gardens. 

Opening Times: 24/7
Address: 147 Alice Street, Brisbane City

The Arbour | South Bank Parklands

Parklands

South Bank Parklands 🐾

South Bank is 17.5 hectares of lush parklands on the Brisbane River. Built on the World Expo 88 site, the South Bank Parklands features rainforest, a riverfront promenade, gardens, open grass areas as well as free barbecues, picnic tables, and whole lot of fun free things to do. There are also paid attractions such as the Brisbane Wheel and Marine Time Museum.

Streets Beach | South Bank Parklands

Streets Beach: an inner city man-made lagoon and beach open for swimming all year. Streets Beach is also patrolled by qualified life guards.

Aquativity: a fun and delighty water play area and park.

The Arbour: a one kilometre curved structure covered in bougainvillea over a pathway.

Rainforest Walk: a boardwalk through lush rainforest in the centre of the South Bank Parklands.

Nepal Peace Pagoda: originally featured at the World Expo 88, the three storey, carved wooden pagoda is now permanently located in the South Bank Parklands.

Epicurious Garden: a garden of edible herbs and plants harvested by volunteers and horticulturalist. It is free to check out the garden and produce is sold on the Harvest Cart. Volunteers attend the garden Tuesday to Thursday 7am to 11.30am.

Collective Market: an outdoor market with stalls selling all sorts of things and food you’d expect to find at a market. Open on Friday 5pm to 9pm, Saturday 10am to 9pm and Sundsy 9am to 4pm.

Opening Times: 5am to midnight
Address: Stanley Street, South Brisbane

Roma Street Parklands 🐾

At 16 hectares, Roma Street Parkland is the world’s largest subtropical garden in a city. Located in the heart of Brisbane, the parkland is a haven for people wanting to get back to nature and for local wildlife. Look out for eastern water dragons that live in the parkland in large numbers. 

Water ways, green wide open spaces, lush gardens, art works, playgrounds as well as barbecues and picnic tables all connected by series of pathways and boardwalks makes the Roma Street Parkland a terrific place to explore during a visit to the city. Regular outdoor public events are also held in the park throughout the year.

Amphitheatre: open air, events, outdoor cinema, theatre productionsT

The Sound Society: free live music on Sunday mornings

Spectacle Garden: a display of colourful flower blossoms, water features and artworks best seen in September

Enchanted Garden: the Roma Street Parklands for nearly two weeks each December becomes a spectacular and beautiful display of lights, it is not to be missed

Kids Collective: series of free activities and workshops for kids

Playgrounds: there are two well equipped playgrounds within the parklands

Opening Times: 24/7
Address: 1 Parkland Boulevard, Brisbane City

Kangaroo Point Cliffs

Kangaroo Point Cliffs Reserve and Lookout 🐾

The Kangaroo Point cliffs are a noticeable feature along the Brisbane River, towering high fairly close to river bank. At night the cliff are lit up by a series of lights, with one of the best advantage points for seeing them lit up being from the Cityhopper ferry.

The reserve between the base of the cliffs and the river has picnic amenities including tables and chairs, barbeques, public toilets as well as green open spaces and a playground. It is also a popular spot for taking photos of the CBD and watching the sunset.

Why not take the 107 cliff-side steps up to the top where you can enjoy more views of the city at Kangaroo Point Lookout. The steps are popular with runners and I have found most will wait patiently for you to climb or descend the steps but if needed just give room for them to pass by.

Kangaroo Point is an inner city suburb of Brisbane and can be explored further from the top of the cliffs. Regardless of whether you choose to explore the area further the cliffs are an interesting and scenic place to visit and in the city. 

Opening Times: 24/7
Address: 29 River Terrace, Kangaroo Point

Queensland Museum

Queensland Cultural Centre

Also known as the Brisbane Cultural Precinct, the Queensland Cultural Centre (its official name) is a hub of cultural, art and entertainment and located in the South Bank Parklands. While not all attractions or exhibitions at the centre are free a great many area.

Queensland Museum

Queensland Museum is four spacious floors of educational displays for all ages. It is the place to see dinosaurs and dinosaur skeletons, large numbers of taxidermy animals and insects as well as artefacts. At the museum you can also learn about the earth’s history and ecosystems.

It is not a large museum so about two hours is usually enough time to allow to have a good look and enjoy the displays. What there is to see is well presented and displayed.

Opening Times: Monday to Sunday 9am to 5pm
Address: Corner of Grey and Melbourne Streets, South Brisbane

Various Genres of Art | Qagoma Brisbane

Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art

Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art or Qagoma for short are two art galleries with a wide collection of modern and old art spanning across many art genres including indigenous artworks. The displayed art and exhibitions are well worth checking out.

Opening Times: Monday to Sunday 10am to 5pm, closed Good Friday, Christmas and Boxing Day
Address: Stanley Place, South Brisbane

State Library of Queensland

Visit a library on a day out or on holidays? Absolutely! The Sate Library of Queensland is in a beautiful modern building with high ceilings and stunning architecture. More than that, it is a  hub of activity and information with permanent and temporary exhibitions, displays and workshops.

Regular activities, groups and events take place for children in the library particularly in school holidays. Groups and events often book out early so be sure to check out the library events here and make your booking if anything interest you.

Overlooking the Brisbane River there are versatile spaces with comfortable lounges and free wifi if you’re needing to relax, recharge or get out of the weather.

Opening Times: Monday to Thursday 9am to 8pm, Friday 9am to 5pm, Weekends 10am to 5pm
Address: Stanley Place, South Brisbane

River Views of Story Bridge from the Cityhopper

Landmarks and Historic Buildings

Story Bridge 🐾

Opening in 1940, Story Bridge is an iconic landmark over the Brisbane River. A heritage listed cantilever bridge, it is visible from many locations within the city centre and the road across is Australia’s shortest highway, the Bradford Highway only 15.24 kilometres long.

As visitor you can the bridge can walk over and or under along designated pathways also shared with cyclists. Another great vantage point for seeing the bridge is from the Cityhopper ferry from which you can uninterrupted views of the bridge along the river.

My favourite time to see the bridge and photograph it is at night when it is lit up by coloured lights, a different colour each night. There are great city views from the bridge to enjoy. 

Opening Times: 24/7
Address: State Route 15, New Farm

The Old Treasury Building

The Old Treasury Building

The Old Treasury Building, now heritage listed built over 3 stages between 1883 – 1923 to house various government departments is one of Brisbane’s treasured landmarks. Built on former military barracks and influenced by Italian Renaissance style architecture, each stage used different sandstone with noticeable colour variations. Have a look for yourself and see if you can spot the difference.

Now home to the Treasury Casino you can have a look inside without visiting the casino. Take a walk in and check out the inner forecourt. The architecture is amazing.

Opening Times: TBA
Address: 21 Queen Street, Brisbane City

The Cube

The Cube is an interactive digital learning space focused on the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). There are 5 large interactive screens and one interactive room which allow you to become virtual scientists and to interact with virtual dinosaurs, extinct animals, cars, robots and an underwater reef. The Cube is a small attraction and it takes about an hour to do all the activities available.

Opening Times: Monday to Sunday 10am to 4pm
Address: Science and Engineering Centre, Gardens Point Campus, 2 George Street, Brisbane

Free Entertainment and Festivals

Brisbane Festival

The Brisbane Festival is a major highlight in the city’s annual calendar of events each year. Held over three weeks in September, the art and cultural festival is a program of various art installations and performances across the city and on Brisbane River. The program changes each year, with some events and performances being free and others requiring payment.

The major free event of the Brisbane Festival every year is Riverfire, a free fireworks event. Fireworks are lit along numerous vantage points along Brisbane River on the final day of the festival.

Opening Times: Various
Address: Various locations across Brisbane

City Sounds

City Sounds is Australia’s and longest running free music program. The weekly schedule of music showcases many established and upcoming musicians and singers. Gigs and shows are held at various outdoor venues across Brisbane including the Queen Street Mall, Post Office Square and other.

Opening Times: Various
Address: Various

Livewired Comedy | Brisbane Powerhouse

Livewired is a free comedy show held each Sunday at 5pm for one hour.

Opening Times: Sunday 5pm
Address: Turbine Platform, 119 Lamington Street, New Farm

Shopping

Queen Street Mall

An open air mall for pedestrians only in the centre of Brisbane city, Queen Street Mall is hive of shops, restaurants and regular entertainment by buskers and outdoor performances. With a vibrant and lively atmosphere the Queen Street Mall is a great place to window shop, people watch and enjoy the bustle of the city but in space that still feels open and airy. 

Whether you do a walk through or get to relish in a free outdoor performance the mall is an interesting place to visit. 

Opening Times: 24/7, shops and restaurants vary
Address: Queen Street, Brisbane City

Chinatown Mall

Distinctive by its large traditional Chinese Entry Gates, the Chinatown Mall for pedestrians only, is home to many shops and restaurants. More than just shopping and restaurants, Chinatown Mall also has a number of large statues – the Big Bell, Lions and the Big Koi.

Some people love Chinatown and others not so much. We recommend doing a walk through and seeing it for yourself.

Opening Times: 24/7, shops and restaurants vary
Address: 33 Duncan Street, Fortitude Valley

Beyond the City Centre

Mount Coot-tha

Mt Coot-tha, six kilometres from the heart of Brisbane is a suburb and mountain 287 metres above sea level. The mountain was once home to the Yugara Aboriginal people and coot-tha is an indigenous term meaning honey mountain. Mt Coot-tha is a popular tourist destination with much to see and do.

Mount Coot-tha Lookout 🐾

The highest lookout in Brisbane, the Mt Coot-tha Lookout also known as the Brisbane Lookout has stunning, uninterrupted panoramic views city and Moreton Bay. If you want to make the experience extra special visit the lookout at sunset.

Opening Times: 24/7
Address: Sir Samuel Griffith Drive, Mt Cooth-tha

Mount Coot-tha Botanical Gardens

Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens is 56 hectares with over 500 species of native and exotic plants. Self guided walks and various themed gardens such as the Japanese Garden, the Tropical Dome, Fragrant Garden, Bamboo and Lagoon Grove and many more can be experience at your leisure.

Opening Times: September to March, Monday to Sunday, 8am to 6pm or April to August, Monday to Sunday 8am to 5pm
Address: 152 Mount Coot-tha Road, Mount Coot-tha

Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium

In the grounds of the Mt Coot-tha Botanical gardens, the Planetarium has interesting and informative displays about our solar system and the universe. There is also theatre which covers astronomical topics exploring the mysteries and possibilities of the universe. General admission is free however there is a admission fee for the Cosmic Skydome.

Opening Times: Tuesday to Sunday, hours vary
Address: Mount Coot-tha Road, Toowong

Mount Coot-tha Reserve 🐾

Mt Coot-tha Reserve als known as Mt Coot-tha Forest is 1500 hectares of eucalyptus forest and rainforest just 15 minutes from the Brisbane CBD. There are 50 kilometres of walking trails in the Mt Coot-tha forest and information on the best trails can be found here.

Opening Times: 24/7
Address: Sir Samuel Griffith Drive, Mount Coot-tha

Shorncliffe Pier 🐾

Shorncliffe Pier is a long historical pier stretching 350 metres in Bramble Bay recognisable by its white rails and colonial style lamps. The pier built-in the 1800s has had a number of changes and extensions over the years and until 1928 ferries between Shorncliffe and Brisbane docked there. There had also been an amusement parlour and picture theatre. Last restored in 2016, today is it a popular walking and fishing spot for locals and tourist, you may even spot dolphins, string rays or jelly fish from the pier.

On the foreshore there is a shallow beach, playground, barbecue and picnic facilities making it a great place to swim and play. 

Opening Times: 24/7
Address: Park Parade, Shorncliffe

Wynnum Wading Pool and Foreshore 🐾

Wynnum Wading Pool is a  large seawater tidal pool on Brisbane’s Moreton Bay. Built is 1932 during the Great Depression, the now heritage listed pool is oval shape measuring 128 by 54 metres and is shallow at only 0.75 metres at its deepest. The bottom of the pool is sand and there are long tiered steps making it perfect to sit close by and supervise your children swimming or put your belongings while you swim.

The outdoor swimming area also has a grass foreshore with a playground including a water play area, sheltered barbecues and tables. This is a great place to swim, play and picnic especially with children on a warm sunny day. 

Opening Times: 24/7
Address: Wynnum Esplanade, Wynnum

Brisbane is a fantastic city to visit as a budget traveller. We hope this article has inspired you to visit and make the most of all the free things Brisbane has on offer. Please let us know if there are any other free attractions we should add to this page.

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