Brisbane, which is on the east coast of Australia, is a large metropolis with over 2 million residents. It is the third largest city in the country after Sydney and Melbourne. The capital of the state of Queensland, Brisbane serves as a central hub to many regional locations in Australia, including the world-famous Great Barrier Reef. Also, it happens to be the city I have lived in for close to 10 years. So, I know it pretty damn well. I love helping people save money, so I have put together this guide on how to save money on travel in Brisbane. I hope it helps!
Whether you are here for a holiday or moving here, it is important to know how to save money on travel in Brisbane. However, the city can be expensive to travel in if you are unaware on best practices. This guide will help you navigate the city like a local and save you some dollars.
Here are 9 ways to save money while travelling around Brisbane:
- Get a Go Card
- Stay Close to the City
- Use the CityHopper
- Free Comedy at the Brisbane Powerhouse
- Go to South Bank
- Visit the Queensland Museum
- Get a Restaurant Deal
- Watch the Sunset at Kangaroo Point
- Visit West End
- Bonus Tips!
Ways to Save Money on Travel in Brisbane
Get a Go Card
The Go Card is the electronic ticketing system used for public transport in Brisbane. Introduced in 2008, the plastic card allows travellers to tap on and tap off at a train station or bus stop. As of 2016, the Go Card also covers the Gold Coast light railway system.
The Go Card covers your public transport from the Gold Coast, all the way through Brisbane and up to as far north as Gympie. Using a Go Card grants you a 20% discount on all fare prices from the traditional paper-based fare. Single trips receive an even bigger discount. So, it is perfect for travelling around the city of Brisbane and great if you want to head to the beaches at the Gold and Sunshine coasts.
Go Card Seeq
Along with the traditional Go Card, tourists visiting the city have the option to purchase the Go Card Seeq, an unlimited travel card for a period of either 3 or 5 days. This is a great option if you will be doing a lot of travel around the city and represents amazing value when using the Airtrain service from Brisbane airport. Usually the Airtrain service costs more than the regular train service. But, Go Card Seeq allows 2 journeys on the Airtrain, which will get you to and from the airport for a much cheaper price than a taxi, Uber or shuttle bus. Airtrain services go to all major stops including Central, Fortitude Valley, Roma Street and South Bank.
3 day Seeq: Adults $79, Child $40
5 day Seeq: Adults $129, Child $65
Go Card Explore
Another option available is the Go Card Explore, which is great for day trips to the Gold and Sunshine Coasts. The Explore card is a single day unlimited use card which works on the Gold Coast train and tram network, as well as the Sunshine Coast bus network. This card is perfect if you want a full day on the coast and see as much as possible.
However, my recommendation is the Go Card Seeq if your trip is going to be 3 or 5 days. This card will allow travel on the whole network including at the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. Travelling to Central Station in Brisbane’s CBD is $19 one way so this represents great value overall.
Go Card Explore: Adults $10, Child $5
The Go Card is a great way to explore and save money on travel in Brisbane. Learn more about the Go Card Explore on the Translink website. Find your nearest retailer to purchase the Explore card here.
Stay Close to the City
Staying close to Brisbane’s CBD is a great way to save money on your trip here. Most of the tourist destinations are located very close to the city. Most tourist locations outside the city area can be accessed by the cities transport network using the Go Card mentioned above. Staying in Brisbane CBD can be quite expensive. However, Fortitude Valley and South Bank offer great alternatives.
Located along the Brisbane river, the central business district, shortened to CBD is the heart of Brisbane city. Featuring amazing restaurants, bars and shopping, the CBD will keep you entertained for days.
The Brisbane CBD is great for being in a central location. However, there is plenty of transport around including the Central train stations, South East Queensland’s hub station. Getting around the CBD itself is easy with everything in walking distance or using the various e-Scooters around the city.
The suburb located to simply as “The Valley” by the locals, Fortitude Valley is perfect for a cheap stay while remaining close to the CBD. With plenty of hostels, there is sure to be a bed for you to sleep for a good price.
While you are in the valley, you will have plenty to see and do. Home to the famous Chinatown Brisbane, amazing food can be had (I highly recommend Wagaya) as well as nightclubs and nightlife if that is your thing.
Fortitude Valley is only a short 15-minute walk from Brisbane’s CBD. As well as plenty of busses and the Fortitude Valley train station, your stay in Brisbane is not going to be impacted staying here. Ride an e-Scooter from Fortitude Valley to Brisbane CBD, it’s good fun!
South Bank is located across the river from Brisbane CBD and is packed with plenty to see and do. The great thing is a lot of it is free. While not as cheap as Fortitude Valley to stay in, South Bank makes up for that with its family friendly environment and activities.
It’s only a short walk from South Bank to get back to Brisbane CBD. Many bridges such as the Victoria Bridge and the Kurilpa Bridge connect the two sides of the river. South Bank and South Brisbane train stations as well as plenty of bus stops are available to assist you getting around the city.
Use the CityHopper
Brisbane City Council operates the highly popular CityHopper ferry service. It provides residents and tourists a great way to explore and travel the city. Best of all, the CityHopper is free! Going from New Farm to South Bank, the CityHopper stops at popular tourist destinations such as Kangaroo Point, Woolloongabba and Brisbane’s CBD.
The service runs from 6am until midnight, 7 days a week. Services run every 10 to 15 minutes and you can to hop on and off every 30 minutes. The CityHopper is a great way to save money on travel in Brisbane, not to mention an amazing way to see the city along the iconic Brisbane river!
The list of stops for the CityHopper are:
- North Quay, Brisbane CBD
- South Bank 3, South Brisbane
- Maritime Museum, South Brisbane
- Thornton Street, Kangaroo Point
- Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane CBD
- Holman Street, Kangaroo Point
- Dockside, Kangaroo Point
- Sydney Street, New Farm
Learn more about the CityHopper and full timetable here.
Free Comedy at the Brisbane Powerhouse
The Brisbane Powerhouse offers up free comedy that will have you belly laughing, offering the best comedy in the city. Every Sunday at 5pm enjoy an hour of laughs with a few drinks and meals with the best comedians that the area has to offer.
Getting to the Powerhouse is simple. From South Bank and Brisbane CBD, jump on the CityHopper ferry service and head towards the final stop in Sydney Street, New Farm. From there you can take a short 20-minute walk along the Brisbane river and take in the sights of the city on your way to the Powerhouse.
The Powerhouse offers a lot of history on the city of Brisbane. Built in 1928 as a power station for the Brisbane tram system, the Powerhouse is an art and cultural hub within Brisbane. However, the power station was commissioned in 1971 and was repurposed into what it is today in the year 2000.
Learn more about free comedy at the Powerhouse here.
Go to South Bank
South Bank is one of Brisbane’s most family friendly spots, with plenty to do. The bonus is a lot of it is free! With some of Brisbane’s best picnic spots, museums, tourist attractions and a beach, there is plenty to see and do for all ages. Here are a few of best things to do in South Bank, whilst keeping an eye on the budget:
Brisbane is a tropical city which enjoys warm weather all year around. So, it would make sense that we love our swimming here. South Bank has a man-made beach and swimming pool which is perfect for enjoying the summer days with the family. Qualified lifeguards patrol the area. The area is very safe for experienced and non-experienced swimming alike. The beach and pools are free and are perfect for relaxing on a hot summer’s day.
There is plenty to see at South Bank. Walk along the Brisbane river and take in the sights of the CBD. The Brisbane Wheel offers amazing views of the city surrounds and is particularly beautiful at night. The Nepalese Pagoda was built for World Expo 1988 and offers some amazing culture to the city. Visit the South Bank markets on a Friday and Saturday evening and sample some of the local arts and craft. There is plenty more to see in South Bank too!
Have a picnic on the river in one of the many spots offered in South Bank. The most popular spots including North Quay, River Quay Garden and Picnic Island are all licensed except on big events such as New Year’s Eve and Riverfire. There are plenty of free barbeques also located at the picnic sites.
Art and Museums
While I will cover the Queensland Museum separately below, there are still plenty of other museums and art exhibitions to visit in the South Bank area. These include Queensland Art Gallery and Modern Art (QAGOMA), Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) and Queensland Maritime Museum.
Visit the Queensland Museum
The Queensland Museum and Science Centre is located right near South Bank on the end of the Victoria Bridge connecting to Brisbane CBD. The Museum has a rich and colourful history and was opened over 20 years ago. Featuring world class exhibits and attractions, this free museum is a must see on any Brisbane trip.
The museum is also home to millions of different objects, artefacts and pieces of history on the state of Queensland, including war memorabilia, archaeology, indigenous cultures and geoscience specimens. So, you will be lost for hours discovering everything the museum has to offer.
You can get general admission to the Queensland Museum for free, with some special events and exhibits costing a fee. The museum is open daily from 9:30am – 5pm and is only closed on Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The museum opens from 1:30pm on ANZAC Day. This is perfect for frugal minded people who want to explore and save money on travel in Brisbane.
Visit the Queensland Museum website for more details on current exhibits and events here.
Get a Restaurant Deal
Brisbane boasts several world class restaurants, bars and dining precincts. There is deals to be had at these amazing places every day of the week. You just need to know where to find them! Here are some of my favourite restaurant deals to get your mouth watering:
- The Fox 2-4-1 weekly specials (All week)
- Vapiano $12 Pizza Lunch Special (Monday to Thursday)
- Red Hook $10 Burger (Monday night)
- Hai Hai $10 Ramen (Monday and Tuesday night)
- Hudson Corner Taco Tuesday (Tuesday night)
- The Defiant Duck $5 Hotdog and Burgers (Tuesday night)
- Ben’s Burgers 2-4-1 Burgers (Tuesday night 6-9pm)
- Mister Paganini All You Can Eat Pizza (Wednesday night)
- Bloodhound Bar $10 for 1kg of Wings (Wednesday night)
- The Defiant Duck $10 Charcoal Chicken (Thursday night)
- The Defiant Duck $1 Tacos and 50 Cent Wings (Saturday until 6pm)
There will be plenty more food and drink deals to be had around Brisbane if you search for them. Everyone loves a great meal, but why not save some money doing it? Be sure to check out Scoopon and Groupon for some amazing deals!
Watch the Sunset at Kangaroo Point
Get some natural beauty whilst still in close proximity to Brisbane city. Kangaroo Point is the perfect place to watch the sun go down over the city and is one of my favourite places in Brisbane. The area can be accessed via the CityHopper with 3 stops in the area. Otherwise you can take a taxi, Uber or bus over the Story Bridge to get there. However, there is no train station at Kangaroo Point.
There is plenty of parkland, picnic spots and other activities happening at the Kangaroo Point cliffs. You will find joggers, rock climbers and people enjoying a relaxing afternoon at the cliffs. This is the perfect spot to explore, take in the scenery and enjoy what Brisbane has to offer. So, with plenty of barbeques, tables, chairs and amazing views the whole family will have a great time at Kangaroo Point. This area is a great way to save money on travel in Brisbane whilst still experiencing the culture and what the city has to offer.
The Kangaroo Point cliffs were built by convicts who were forced to mould the volcanic rock that is deposited there. Records indicate that a quarry was opened in the early 1800’s to build the cliffs. The same quarry was also used to line parts of the Brisbane river.
Visit West End
The eccentric suburb of West End is full of history and culture. A bustling cafe and bar scene line the roads of this inner-city suburb. Head down for breakfast or a few drinks in the afternoon and evening. West End hosts several galleries and artist run initiatives showcasing the work of local artists.
Weekends will always be lined with market stalls selling fruit, vegetables, breakfast and amazing coffees. Brunch spots are galore to tide you after the morning markets. There is plenty of deals on restaurants, cafes and bars that will help you save money on travel in Brisbane.
West End hosts the annual Paniyiri Greek Festival each May. A true celebration of Greek culture in Brisbane, the festival is jam packed with food, music, dancing and atmosphere. With over 60,000 attendees this festival is one of Brisbane’s biggest and not to be missed.
Craft brew lovers will be in heaven at one of the many breweries around the suburb. Microbreweries such as Brisbane Brewing Co and Catchment Brewing Co are perfect to wet the taste buds after a long hot day.
Take a walk down Boundary Street and check out what West End has to offer. Located just a short walk from South Bank, West End is easily accessible by bus, bike or walking. So I’m sure you will be pleasantly surprised at the culture and history that this unusual area has to offer.
Bonus Tips to Save Money on Travel in Brisbane
Following the above ways is going to save you a lot while travelling in our amazing city. However here are a few more ways that will help you not only in Brisbane, but all of Australia.
You will find plenty of free samples around the Brisbane CBD area. Nespresso in the Queens Plaza offers free coffee. T2 always has free samples of their teas available to try. On top of this there is a free Google Map called Brisbane Public Harvest. This pinpoints all the locations around to pick fruits free of charge. Great for exploring the city and sampling the locally grown foods!
Brisbane CBD is full of free Wi-Fi hotspots. No need to purchase expensive roaming SIM cards when you can be connected at virtually all times. Check out this list from Brisbane City Council on all the free spots. On top of that, all shopping centres also offer free Wi-Fi.
Avoid Convenience Stores
Brisbane convenience stores, and the wider Australia, do not represent good value for customers. In other countries I have travelled to I have found the smaller stores aren’t hugely more expensive than the supermarket. However, in Australia, expect to pay 2 or 3 times the price of a supermarket. There is a Coles and Woolworths in the Brisbane CBD, you are best off to get your groceries from them to save a lot of money.
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