Free Things To Do in Brisbane
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After you've admired the sweeping views at the Brisbane Lookout, Mount Coot-tha, walk (or drive) about 1.5 miles northeast to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha. At this 138-acre subtropical conservatory, you'll find a host of native and exotic plants, not to mention the largest collection of Australian rainforest trees in the world. Within the garden you'll come across several themed spaces, including the Japanese Garden, the Lagoon and Bamboo Grove, the Fern House and the Fragrant Plants and Herb Garden – all containing different varieties of plantlife. When you're not admiring the spectacular flora, see if you can spot the fauna: Visitors say you'll likely come across iguanas and other reptiles, not to mention plenty of insects and birds.
Past visitors said the gardens provided a beautiful setting for kids to burn off some energy. The Brisbane City Council also offers a "Hide 'n' Seek Children's Trail" with surprises and facts for youngsters to discover as they make their way through the garden. And do be sure to bring your camera since this outdoor attraction boasts plenty of photo-op-worthy spots, including areas with superb views of the city.
- #2View all Photos#2 in BrisbaneParks and Gardens, Recreation, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, Recreation, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
If you're searching for a quiet respite from the city bustle, you don't have to go far: The City Botanic Gardens are less than a mile southeast of the CBD. In fact, visitors can get to this free attraction by walking, renting a bike from a local vendor, riding the ferry to the QUT Gardens Point terminal or taking the complimentary City Loop bus to several nearby stops. Limited free parking is also available. Once you've reached the gardens, which were the first in Brisbane, you'll find all sorts of relaxing spaces, including the Bamboo Grove, two ornamental ponds, a riverfront cycling area and the Weeping Fig Avenue.
To explore the gardens, travelers can take a self-guided tour using the Brisbane City Council's points of interest map or a free guided walk with one of the City Botanic Gardens' volunteers. Guided walks leave twice daily – at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. – from the property's rotunda. Whichever option you choose, visitors say you'll encounter stunning scenery.
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Story Bridge operates as more than just a link between Kangaroo Point, central Brisbane and Fortitude Valley: It's also a major attraction – and not just for photo-ops. With an experienced guide leading the way, you can traverse catwalks more than 260 feet above sea level to reach the top. During your two-hour trek – which includes a briefing and a safety demonstration from Story Bridge Adventure Climb – you'll climb from one side of the bridge to the other, stopping to take in the Brisbane skyline as you go. You can also abseil down its side or travel beneath it in a kayak or on a CityCat ferry.
Travelers rave about the views from the top of Story Bridge. However, expect to shell out at least 99 Australian dollars (or roughly $76) to climb or abseil down the structure. For a more affordable way to see the bridge, visitors recommend taking the ferry – which costs AU$2.56 ($2) to AU$4.60 ($3.50) per ride – or renting a kayak for about AU$30 ($23) to AU$45 (about $35.50) per person.
- #4View all Photos#4 in BrisbaneParks and Gardens, Recreation, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, Recreation, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
It's the largest urban subtropical garden in the world, but travelers just think of Roma Street Parkland as a slice of urban reprieve. Roma Street Parkland, which stretches across nearly 40 acres, is divided into five distinct districts: the Spectacle Garden at Colin Campbell Place, the Celebration Precinct, the Forest and Fern Gully, the Lake Precinct and the Upper Parkland. Some of the most popular areas include the Forest and Fern Gully and the Upper Parkland. True to its moniker, Fern Gully features a rainforest with verdant ferns, bubbling creeks and walkways that will lead you into the lush forest canopy. Families should retreat southeast of this area if they want to explore the Upper Parkland, home to the children's playground, amphitheater and the Harry Oakman Pavilion.
No matter what area you explore, past travelers said you'll find well-maintained gardens at every turn. To make the most of this beloved park, take a free hourlong guided walk. Tours leave from an information center known as "The Hub" (located in the center of the park) at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily.
- #5View all Photos#5 in BrisbaneMuseums, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseums, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
Housed on the fourth floor of Brisbane City Hall, the Museum of Brisbane aims to showcase Brisbane's residents and locals throughout the years. More than 120 exhibits are on display in the museum's five galleries, including artwork by local artist Richard Randall, historic ceramics and various multimedia presentations. What's more, the property offers a small theater, a gift shop, two cafes, restrooms and the Dome Lounge, where travelers can take a break from the attraction's exhibits.
Whether you're a history buff or have kids in tow, odds are you'll enjoy checking out this museum. In fact, many former visitors appreciated the property's informative displays and complimentary admissions. To make the most of your time while in Brisbane City Hall, travelers recommend joining the free city hall and clock tower tours, which are offered several times daily. Tickets for city hall tours can be arranged by phone or online, while a limited number of clock tower tour tickets are provided on a first-come, first-served basis from the museum's reception counter.
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For sweeping views of Queensland's capital, head up to the Brisbane Lookout, Mount Coot-tha. Located 5 miles southwest of Brisbane's city center, this free viewing platform offers more than just a spectacular vantage point: The lookout sits on a 544-acre bushland reserve with several attractions and scores of walking trails.
Start at the observation deck, which features coin-operated telescopes, a gift shop, a restaurant and a cafe. The Kuta Café offers small bites, while the Summit Restaurant & Bar features contemporary Australian fare, such as barramundi (a type of seabass). Past visitors say grabbing a drink at the bar while watching the sunset from the lookout is an amazing way to enjoy the vantage point. However, once you've seen the view, travelers admit there isn't much to do at the lookout. After you've taken advantage of the photo-op, move on to the area's other activities.
- #7View all Photos#7 in BrisbaneMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
Travelers are consistently impressed with Brisbane's arts scene, and perhaps the best way to experience it is to pay a visit to this comprehensive institution. Made up of two distinct venues – the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art – QAGOMA features a diverse lineup of more than 17,000 paintings, sculptures, decorative art pieces and multimedia installations created by both Australian and international artists. Careful not to ignore the interests of its youngest visitors, QAGOMA also boasts a Children's Art Centre, where interactive exhibitions and activities – often curated by artists exhibiting within the gallery – are available for kids of all ages.
Visitors regularly praise both galleries for their engaging and informative presentations, as well as their top-notch collection of Australian and Aborginal works. However, some caution that ongoing renovations make parts of the facilities feel a bit sparse. Nevertheless, many are quick to recommend QAGOMA for those days when it's too hot or too rainy to do much outside.
- #8View all PhotosfreeCityHopper#8 in BrisbaneTours, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDTours, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDRead More
One of the best ways to take in Brisbane's sights is to travel along the Brisbane River on a CityHopper ferry. Part of the TransLink transportation network, CityHoppers offer free service between North Quay and Sydney Street. The ferry passes by or under popular attractions like the City Botanic Gardens and Story Bridge, giving passengers a chance to snap some superb photos and take in the sights. Visitors are welcome to ride the entire voyage or hop on and off along the way.
Travelers rave about this convenient, reliable and cost-effective service. But keep in mind that this ferry is slower than the city's fee-based CityCat service, with most journeys between the route's first and last terminals lasting approximately 45 minutes. Also, consider sitting on the top deck when the weather is nice to enjoy some of the route's best vistas.
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