No need to break the bank during a visit to the Gold Coast. You can have the time of your life for under $25. In fact, there are plenty of amazing experiences that don’t cost a single cent. Here are some savvy ideas on how to get the most out of the Gold Coast even if you’re on a budget.
1. What’s raucous, rainbow coloured and can fly? The rowdy rainbow lorikeets that you can feed at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary every day. Whilst you need a ticket to see the more exotic animals here, it’s free of charge to enter the gift shop and lorikeet feeding area, where hundreds of these parrots congregate every morning at 8am and every afternoon at 4pm. A gold coin donation will get you a plate of nectar to feed them and these curious, cheeky parrots will land on your head and hands to get a taste.
2. All you need is a packed lunch and a picnic blanket and the Gold Coast is your oyster. We’re blessed with many picturesque picnic spots to enjoy an alfresco meal in nature. Take your pick from lush hinterland locations, creekside settings or beautiful beaches.
3. That 90s hit song has a lot to answer for because in our humble opinion you should go chasing waterfalls every chance you get. There are some stunning and easily accessible waterfalls in the Gold Coast hinterland and it doesn’t cost a cent to go and soak up the serenity.
4. Big City Lights* is an exciting new festival on the Gold Coast. Using audio-visual experiences, large-scale digital works and unexpected projection sites, the central Gold Coast suburb of Southport will be transformed over four nights of light, colour and creativity. The CBD will feature five art zones as rooftops, building facades alley ways, shop fronts and car parks come alive with colourful creations. Big City Lights is happening from June 21 - July 7, 2024 – don’t miss it!
5. You can find free, live music and good vibes every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at Miami Marketta. Three evenings a week this street food market and local laneway dining experience comes to life with vendors, visitors and talented musicians who will sing while you enjoy your supper. Sample some entrees and enjoy a frosty beverage for under $25.
6. BYO binoculars and set up on a headland or lookout along our glorious coastline for a spot of whale watching between June and October. Keep an eye out for splashes or the spray of a spout out to sea. You’ll find the perfect perch for this past time with uninterrupted ocean views at Point Danger in Coolangatta, Kirra Hill Lookout, Elephant Rock at Currumbin or Burleigh Headland.
7. The Gold Coast rivals Melbourne when it comes to our cafe culture and we’re calling it – our baristas are better! Grab yourself a hot cup of takeaway coffee (and maybe a pastry too) to enjoy with ocean views, sea breezes and a beach walk. A quintessential Gold Coast experience for under $5.
8. Throw in a line at some of the best local fishing spots – no boat required. If you’re lucky, you might catch yourself some free dinner too!
9. Weekend markets on the Gold Coast are nothing short of awesome and whether you’re looking to fill your basket with fresh produce or browse stalls filled with fashion, jewellery, accessories and homewares, we’ve got you covered. Spend your $25 on snacks or hunt for some bargains, before enjoying some live tunes in the sunshine.
10. Fancy a swim in freshwater rock pools? Immerse yourself in the refreshing water and natural beauty at this special spot in Currumbin Valley. A great one for nature lovers and highly recommended on hot days.
11. If you’ve got a full tank of petrol and packed lunch, you can have a lot of fun for very little cash on a road trip. Just you and the open road, adventures ahead of you and your worries left behind. The Gold Coast is an ideal home base to explore south east Queensland and northern NSW – here are a few of our favourite day trips.
12. Free festival fun! The Gold Coast is home to some epic annual events and many come at absolutely zero cost to those who attend. Some firm favourites include Blues on Broadbeach (May), Groundwater Country Music Festival (October), Cooly Rocks On (June), Bleach* Festival (August) and Swell Sculpture Festival (September). Punters at these events get to enjoy free music, public art and amazing performances on the streets, beaches and parks of our sunny city.
13. Explore Tamborine Mountain with a variety of affordable activities all under $25. Immerse yourself in the enchanting world of glow worms on a guided tour (adults $23 | kids $15) or take a leisurely stroll among the treetops on the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk (adults $19.50 | kids $9.50). Head to ThunderBird Park and try your hand at crystal panning for $15, or let the kids enjoy Thunderegg Fossicking for just $19. Wrap up your day by enjoying a picnic at Hang Gliders Lookout, where you can marvel at the breathtaking sunset.
14. Head to the park at Point Danger where you can straddle the border between Queensland and New South Wales, standing with one foot in each state. There’s a monument to mark the spot and not only does it make a great souvenir snap of your Gold Coast holiday, but this elevated headland is an ideal spot to watch the waves and surfers below and marvel at beautiful views of the surrounding coastline.
15. The Gold Coast’s swanky new HOTA Gallery is the largest public gallery outside a capital city in Australia and is absolutely free to visit for a fabulous cultural experience. The spectacular contemporary gallery features inspiring and through provoking exhibitions across many mediums, a dedicated childrens’ gallery with interactive displays and incredible views across the whole Gold Coast from the top floor.
16. Play, climb, slide, skip, spin and swing the day away. There are endless hours of free fun to be had on the many amazing playgrounds found all across the Gold Coast.
17. Head down to Burleigh Beach on Sunday evening between 6-8.30pm when drummers, dancers and fire twirlers gather under the pine trees in Justins Park (just to the left of Burleigh Heads Surf Life Saving Club) for Burleigh Beat Drum Circle. This joyful community jam session has become a weekly tradition over many years and everyone is welcome to join in or just chill out and enjoy the music.
18. $20 is the cost of entry for one adult to the Gold Coast Motor Museum (seniors are $15 and kids under 15 are free). The museum showcases an impressive private collection of 75 beautifully restored cars and bikes from 1900 through to 1988, as well as horse-drawn buggies, old pushbikes and peddle cars and other relics of history, from telephones to tools and the finest period fashion.
19. Treat the kids to a fun day out without breaking the bank. Embark on a journey of discovery at Bella's Wonderland in Southport with a two-hour pass priced at $25. Challenge the family to a round of Putt Putt in Mermaid Beach ( adults $20 | kids $16), or head to Burleigh Waters to jump around at Bounce (adults $23.50 | kids $16). Make a splash and head to GC Aqua Park for a 50-minute session at $25 per person or enter another galaxy at Infinity in Surfers Paradise, with admission at just $19.90 per person.
20. One of the best ways to explore a new destination is on two feet. Stretch your legs and get to know some truly beautiful parts of the Gold Coast on foot. Choose from easy nature walks (suitable to do with kids) or more hardcore hikes for those who love a challenge.
21. There’s a whole other side of the Gold Coast to explore – the underwater world. Our fair city features some amazing snorkelling sites including islands, wrecks and reefs that are easily accessible from the beach. Grab a mask and fins and get out there!
22. Who doesn’t love a sundowner? A refreshing, cold beverage enjoyed at the end of the day, as dusk paints the sky pretty colours. An excellent venue to enjoy a sundowner is on the balcony of one of our iconic surf clubs. There’s one in just about every beachside suburb along the coast and they all have well priced food and beverage options, plus open air balconies to enjoy the views. Some favourites include Currumbin, Rainbow Bay, Palm Beach, Kurrawa, Tallebudgera, Burleigh and North Burleigh.
23. 13 times a year there’s a magical show put on by Mother Nature – full moonrise over the Pacific Ocean. If you’ve never experienced it before, you’re in for a treat. It’s a stunning sight, the moon peeking it’s face over the horizon, it’s rosy glow reflected in the water. Here are some of the best spots on the Gold Coast from which to view this spectacle on a clear evening.
24. If you’re the sort who likes living the high life, then get up to the hinterland and take a stroll along O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk. This cool experience consists of nine suspension bridges 16m above the ground and provides a birds eye view of the rainforest canopy.
25. Pedal power can get you a long way on the Gold Coast and exploring by bike is a brilliant way to see the city. There’s a trail, track, road or pathway for every kind of cyclist on the Gold Coast from toddler-terrors on training wheels to lycra-clad long-distance athletes. Hire a bike and go for a cruise along the flat, beachside cycleway that runs from Burleigh to Main Beach, with pit stops to visit the beautiful beaches or nearby cafes along the way.
So there you have it. Gather your spare change together and set forth for an amazing time exploring the Gold Coast on a budget.
Liked this blog? You might also enjoy Splurge or Save: The Gold Coast on Any Budget.
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
Destination Gold Coast acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region.
We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout Southeast Queensland.