Our Top 10 Free Things To Do In Brisbane

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What we love about Brisbane here at CityXplora is the accessibility of its cultural institutions combined with its impeccable outdoor adventure facilities. The Southbank Parklands are easily one of our favourite public green spaces and there are few art galleries that offer as much value for money as the Queensland GOMA. So with Spring under way and Summer fast approaching we decided to do a bit of research into citywide activities that exploit Brisbane's finest qualities without a burning hole in the pocket. Want to know where you can enjoy a free stand-up comedy show, or a classical music concert that's open to all? Read on and let our 10 favourite 'things to do' list inspire your next (or first) trip.

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1) Museum of Brisbane (L3, Brisbane City Hall, 64 Adelaide Street, Brisbane QLD 4000):

Where better to start than with the history of Brisbane itself? Housed within the stately City Hall building the Museum of Brisbane displays artefacts and stories that define the Queensland capital's 200-year history. The museum's main exhibition traces the development of Brisbane by focusing on its symbiotic relationship with the Brisbane River. You'll learn about the region's earliest inhabitants, the coming of European settlement, and how the interplay between these diverse peoples and the river itself created one of Australia's most thriving metropolises.


2) Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (Stanley Place, South Brisbane QLD 4101):

On top of being free to access the largest modern and contemporary art museum in Australia is home to more wonders of visual expression than you might think. Its temporary exhibitions provide new perspectives on artists and storytellers as diverse as Pablo Picasso and David Lynch, not to mention dozens of talented names whose voices are just being discovered. In addition to the newest works by upcoming and established artists the GOMA contains an extensive permanent collection of Asian, Aboriginal, Pacific and historical Australian art. Check out the title link to learn about everything the museum has on offer.


3) State Library of Queensland (Stanley Place, South Brisbane QLD 4101):

The State Library of Queensland is more than just a book repository, it's a place where culture and history go on display. The venue hosts free talks every Tuesday and unique exhibitions run all year round. Click on the link above to find out what events are currently taking place. Past experiences have included animation and manga workshops, Aboriginal female fashion, and modernist architecture.


4) Customs House (399 Queen Street, Brisbane QLD 4000):

The heritage listed Brisbane Customs House is a multi-purpose building currently on lease to the University of Queensland. As well as being an all-round wonderful sightseeing gem it contains a classy restaurant whose dining area overlooks the adjacent Brisbane River. What really gets the Customs House a place on this list, however, is its free classical concerts. Every Sunday students from the Queensland University School of Music prep their instruments and put on a show worthy of any big performance hall.  Though it's completely free to enjoy the Customs House do recommend arriving 10-15 minutes early so that you can be assured of a good seat.


5) Roma Street Parkland (1 Parkland Boulevard, Brisbane QLD 4000):

Though it doesn't have the sheer number of facilities that the Southbank Parklands do, the Roma Street Parkland is every bit the spectacle of its southern neighbour. 16 hectares in size it's the world's largest subtropical garden in an urban city centre. We'd highly recommend it for a lazy afternoon stroll mainly because of its placid atmosphere, many relaxing water features and vivid floral diversity. As you explore you're likely to encounter its animal residents as well. Eastern Water Dragons, Flying Foxes and Rainbow Lorikeets all count themselves amongst the park's wildlife. If you'd like a more engaging experience then free guided tours run everyday at 11:00 and 13:00. For more info on these walks click on the link above.


6) Southbank Parklands (Stanley Street Plaza, South Brisbane QLD 4101):

Probably the most important free attraction in Brisbane, the 17-hectare Southbank Parklands are easily the jewel in the city's crown. Lying within view of the CBD and stretched out along the western bank of the Brisbane River, Southbank is a definitive Spring and Summertime location for visitors and locals alike. There's free to use barbecue facilities on the Picnic Island Green, a unique Rainforest Walk, and the scenic Clem Jones Promenade is one of the city's loveliest running/cycling routes.

We'd like to draw attention to four of the park's features in particular. The Collective Markets operate every weekend from Friday morning till Sunday afternoon. Amongst the open-air stalls you'll find artisan crafts, plenty of food vendors, bespoke gifts, and much more. There's even the odd bit of live music now and again. Streets Beach is one to pack your swimwear for. It's the world's only man-made beach located right in the middle of a major city, offering crystal-clear swimming lagoons that overlook the sparkling Brisbane River.

Our next sightseeing suggestion has to be the Nepal Peace Pagoda. Standing as a reminder of the 1988 World Expo, this stunning piece of Asian architecture was designed by German architect Jochen Reier, intricately hand-crafted in Nepal, then assembled in Brisbane to honour the United Nation's 1986 International Year of Peace. Lastly, there's the South Bank River Quay Green, a stretch of finely manicured public land boasting stunning riverside views, various restaurants, and best of all, a sweeping outdoor amphitheatre. Visitors aged 18 and over should note that as long as they're in possession accompanying food, and keep it within the hours of 10:00-20:00, they're allowed to consume alcohol on the Green.


7) Brisbane City Botanic Gardens (Alice Street, Brisbane City QLD 4000):

Located on the southern tip of Brisbane's CBD the City Botanic Gardens offer similar delights to the Roma Street Parkland, but there are a few unique features which we especially love. For walkers there's a Bamboo Grove and an avenue lined with Weeping Fig trees. Sightseers with a knack for photography should keep an eye out for the Walter Hill Fountain and Jemmy Morrill sculpture, the latter in particular being a stunning piece of artwork on loan from the Queensland Art Gallery. Note that the City Botanic Gardens have their own free guided walking tours, which you can learn more about by clicking over to the Brisbane City Council website.


8) Kangaroo Point Cliffs (461 Main St Kangaroo Point QLD 4169):

South of the Southbank Parklands and close to the Maritime Museum you'll find one of Brisbane's grandest natural spectacles. On one hand the Kangaroo Point Cliffs provide an unbeatable backdrop for any riverside stroll, and by ascending to the summit you'll find yourself atop one of the city's finest vantage points. Bring the camera along and a pack of burgers, because the area is dotted with free to use electric barbecues, tables and chairs.


9) Jan Power’s Farmers Markets (49 Zillman Rd, Hendra QLD 4011):

The Jan Powers Farmers Markets have four locations throughout Brisbane, but this one next to the Brisbane River and Powerhouse Park caught our attention mainly because of its scenic beauty. Head along every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month (from February) and browse the multi-coloured rows of fresh produce. It's the perfect place to do a spot of people watching or revel amongst lively crowds. Though the buyers stalls are the main attraction the Powerhouse Market is also filled with freshly cooked, ready-to-eat treats such as crepes, pizzas, sausages and chicken skewers. If kids are amongst your fellow travellers then the adjacent New Farm Park with its massive playground makes for an ideal next stop.


10) Brisbane Powerhouse (119 Lamington Street, New Farm QLD 4005):

Right next to the Powerhouse Market is the building from which it derives its name. The Brisbane Powerhouse is a mid-sized performing arts venue located within a former power station. As well as ticketed performances it hosts a regular roster of free events each centred around visual and performing arts. Take a walk down and enjoy everything from the latest in press photography to stand-up comedy. The latter is made possible through their 'Knockoff' Friday events, where patrons are encouraged to grab a cold beer and pull up a seat in the former turbine hall.