12 free things to do in Brisbane for students

If you thought you had to stay at home because you’re #broke and laying low until pay day, you thought wrong. There are so many great things for you to do in Brisbane. Better yet, there are so many free things to do in Brisbane. Exhibitions, scenic drives, walks, lookouts, health and fitness activities, adventurous fun – the options are endless.

1. Scenic drives and nearby nature walks

Sunrise at Mt Coot-tha

Q: What's the best way to exercise without feeling like you're actually doing any excerise?
A: Nice, leisurely, scenic walks.

Brisbane’s surrounding landscape of forests, parks and mountain ranges offers lovers of the great outdoors loads of walking and hiking options. You can explore the diverse walking trails in and around Brisbane like Mt Coot-tha or Enoggera Reserve, or take a short scenic drive to the regions for a great day out with your mates.

2. Be a tourist and get history-savvy

If you're yet to explore the city and inner-city suburbs, Brisbane Greeters offer free tours around Brisbane, led by locals who incredibly passionate about their home city. Choose from street art walks, history tours, or let the Greeter choose for you to start building a bank of local knowledge. Trust us, it'll come in incredibly handy when your family comes to visit - you'll be an expert on Brisbane.

3. Go for a dip at South Bank

Streets Beach

Is the Brisbane summer too hot to handle, but the electricity bill is too? Head to South Bank and cool down with a dip in Streets Beach, the massive beach-style lagoon in the middle of the city. Work on your tan in the sand, wade in the water or swim a few laps in the Boat Pool.

Pack some snacks for later and settle in beside the water at River Quay for an afternoon picnic where there's free live music every Sunday afternoon.

4. See koalas in their natural habitat

Daisy Hill Koala Centre

The folks at Daisy Hill Koala Park keep a koala education facility where you can learn about Australian animals and see koalas in their near-natural habitat (large outdoor enclosure). Head up the observation tower, watch videos about local threatened species and take a walk around the enclosure to spot some furry friends.

5. City Hall clock tower tour

One of the best views of the city from above can be seen from King George Square’s City Hall clock tower. Free tours of the clock tower run every 15 minutes daily from 10.15am-4.45pm. Perched at 76m, it offers a unique bird’s eye view of the city.

6. CityHopper river cruise

The CityHopper ferry is a free hop on, hop off service that runs 6am-midnight daily between Sydney Street and North Quay ferry terminals. Use it as a free transport service between the city and inner suburbs, or cruise the river to take in the sights on the banks of Brisbane’s inner-city.

7. Explore the city's parks and gardens

We think we're pretty spoilt for green space in Brisbane. Pick up herbs at the Epicurious Garden in South Bank, wander through the city's oldest park - the City Botanic Gardens - or head up to Mt Coot-tha and stop in at the Planetarium after wandering through the spectacular gardens. Pack a picnic or a really good book and settle in the peaceful Roma Street Parklands, or get prepared to pat a lot of dogs in New Farm Park.

8. Indigenous culture in Queen Street Mall

Familiarise yourself with the dance and culture of indigenous Australians at the Aboriginal gatherings at the top end of Queen Street Mall, each Wednesday. From noon-1pm you can see the tribal gatherings of traditional and contemporary dance expressing ancient Dreamtime stories. There’s a different group each week.

9. Interactive exhibitions at The Cube

The Cube at QUT

One of our favourite things to do on campus in Brisbane is check out the interactive displays on offer at The Cube at QUT Gardens Point campus. The Cube turns students’ research projects into interactive displays to facilitate opportunities for the public to discover, visualise and contribute to research projects.

10. Enjoy Brisbane's arts and culture scene

QAGOMA

Queensland's premier visual arts institution, the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), connects people and art through a dynamic program of Australian and international exhibitions that showcase works from a diverse range of historical and contemporary artists. Throughout the year, QAGOMA has several free exhibitions you can enjoy. 

Stop into the Museum of Brisbane  and check out the all free exhibitions that dive a little deeper into the city's story, kick back and enjoy free live music - from jazz to folk to rock - on Friday afternoons at QPAC's Green Jam sessions, or laugh out loud at Brisbane Powerhouse's Knockoff - a free comedy session held on Fridays from 6pm.

11. Live gigs in the city

The City Sounds

The City Sounds is Australia’s largest free music program and has been bringing Brisbane’s emerging music talent to light. It has welcomed touring national and international artists to the Queen Street Mall’s Main Stage but, at its essence, The City Sounds is committed to giving local music talent a public stage. Catch a free gig at one of nine CBD locations each week, or pack your blanket and picnic basket and settle in for a classic Saturday session at Gigs and Picnics in the City Botanic Gardens.

12. Multicultural meetups 

The Brisbane Student Hub is a free welcoming service for new students and a support service for existing students. Drop in to meet the friendly staff and volunteers, take part in regular workshops and keep an eye out for free events throughout the year by MDA Queensland including the WelcomeFEST, Luminous Lantern Parade and Create Welcome Week.

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