Things To Do

50 Free (Or Cheap) Things To Do On The Gold Coast

By Brooke Darling
14th Mar 2023

free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast

You’ve got twenty bucks burning a hole in your pocket and you don’t know how to spend it. Said no one, ever. After all, money doesn’t grow on trees, at least not on the Gold Coast, so the more fun you can have for less, the better.

Is your bank account significantly lower after birthdays, events, shopping and, well, everything? Us too. With that in mind, we’ve foraged together 50 awesome things to do on the Gold Coast in 2023 that are fun, sometimes tasty and maybe even free. You and your bank account can thank us later.

  1. You can order an espresso martini with a side of golf? Now that's winning. Holey Moley is where cocktails and bar snacks collide with crazy putt putt golf and good times galore. Located in Surfers Paradise, nine holes here will set you back $12 per person, just bring extra cash for beers and burgs. 
  2. One of all-time favourite free things to do on the Gold Coast, no matter what your age, is the free lorikeet feeding sessions at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (daily at 8am and 4pm). These colourful critters are seriously wild.
  3. Get your hands dirty with you-pick veggies and fresh produce from these fertile farms in the region. It’s one of the best things to do on the Gold Coast and will cost you next to nada. Did someone say sunflower selfies? Now that's perfect Insta-pimpin' content.
  4. Nothing exemplifies the Gold Coast’s laidback culture and the creativity of our talented populace than a Sunday morning stroll around Burleigh’s beloved The Village Markets (8:30am to 1pm on the first and third Sunday of the month). It’s free to wander and enjoy the live tunes, but be warned, you’ll wanna buy one of everything. Though if your wallet is tight, all is not lost. At the first market of each month, the TVM rack sale includes dozens of pre-loved stalls and literally hundreds of new-to-you outfits to ponder. 
  5. Speaking of markets, Gold Coast is home to a ridiculously large selection, and is without question one of the best things to do on the Gold Coast if you’re on a budget. For cheap street eats, vintage finds, free live entertainment and all those feel-good community vibes, start with this list of some of the Gold Coast's best monthly markets.  
  6. If you love beer, you don’t need a fat wallet to explore Gold Coast’s burgeoning craft beer scene. Soak up the brewhouse atmosphere and order a tipple from each brewery—starting with Balter, before moving north to Burleigh Brewing, Black Hops and Miami's Precinct Brewing, Hard FIZZ HQ and Lost Palms. Fridays through Sundays are your best bet if you want to hit them all.
  7. Lace up your sneakers and explore any of these incredible national parks in our immediate backyard. While you’re at it, these stellar local bush walks will get you amongst nature—‘cause the best things in life are free.
  8. One of our all-time fave things to do on the Gold Coast when you're on a budget? Snag one of the best seats in the house for drinks and a cheap pub meal at the characterful old Rainbow Bay Surf Club. Knock back the cheapest pot of Balter in town, with views over the same surf break where the legendary shark-punching world champ Mick Fanning got his water wings.
  9. Warm up with a steamy pot of herbal tea (with lemon, mint and ginger plucked fresh from the garden) at Currumbin Valley Harvest, open Saturday from 7am to 1pm and Sunday from 9am to 1pm. Or climb Tomewin Range for coffee and homemade cake with killer views at Freeman’s Organic Farm. It’s one of our favourite cheap things to do on the Gold Coast if you’re on a budget. 
  10. Go to the beach. Duh. With literally dozens of sandy spots the entire length of the city, what better way to spend a cash-free day than with a good book and a beach towel? We've rounded up some of our favourite Gold Coast beaches here
  11. Bank account looking dismal until payday? Eat your way through this long list of best cheap eats on the Gold Coast. From Italian to Japanese to just your classic Aussie burger, we're certainly spoiled for choice.
  12. How many times have you stopped to ponder how blessed we are to live just 30-minutes inland from towering ranges bursting with ancient rainforests, waterfalls and wildlife? Consider this your guide to exploring Tamborine Mountain and the surrounding hinterland. Make sure you have a designated driver because the amount of wineries on Tamborine Mountain is downright dangerous.
  13. Water activities? On the Gold Coast? You know it. With boards hired from Currumbin Creek’s Boatshed for just $20 for 1.5 hours, SUP’ing is the perfect activity for your tourist pals. Whether you’re a pro or newly learning, it’s a sure-fire way to create some serious deep-belly chuckles. Or check out these top spots to SUP around the Coast.   
  14. Nothing beats a cheap and flaky pastry for brekkie or lunch from one of the best bakeries on the Gold Coast. We love anything from Paddock Bakery, Tarte Bakery, Burleigh Baker and Custard Canteen, just to name a few.
  15. Get wet in Currumbin Valley’s Cougal Cascades. This little slice of paradise is hidden among some lush south east Queensland greenery and is the perfect place to chill out and swim without being attacked by a vicious wave. It's our pick among the best free things to do on the Gold Coast. 
  16. Throw a sickie and spend a weekday trawling the best op shops on the Gold Coast. Wanna dress like the locals? Go vintage and you’ll be safe. 
  17. Chase waterfalls, folks. Don’t listen to TLC; getting lost surrounded by nature is the best medicine, always. Check out our favourite waterfalls around the area and beyond. 
  18. Burleigh Hill is the greatest picnic spot on the Gold Coast and our absolute weekend arvo go-to when guests are in town. Unless you hate crowds and looking for a place to park, in which case it could be the worst. But, for most of us, the sweeping views from Burleigh Hill up to the glitter strip and the ‘always Sunday’ mood make it well worth the effort.
  19. While we pile on the layers in autumn and winter, others are flocking to the warmer Queensland waters in droves. Yes, May to November is whale migration season and you can gawk at these wondrous creatures as they frolic and splash their way north, and then south again come springtime. Our top picks for a free nature show? Burleigh Hill, Point Danger, The Spit and Miami Lookout. Check out the Gold Coast's best whale watching spots.
  20. Scoop up your date or family and head to Yatala Drive-In. Here, a car full of people (max six guests) will set you back just $35, leaving plenty of coin for choc-top ice cream cones. 
  21. Head out for a sunset bike ride from Main Beach to Burleigh (or vice versa). While everyone else is stuck in traffic racing home from the office, there’s nothing better than winding down with a cruisy pedal along the bike-friendly foreshore. You’ll work up a sweat and be in awe of the gorgeous sunset.
  22. Flick off the thongs for a pair of Nikes and pound the pavement between Kirra and Froggies Beach, or any of these pretty walks. Stunning views and increased heart rate come complimentary. 
  23. Speaking of walks, if you're after strictly oceanfront views then you need to conquer the Gold Coast's best coastal walks. Nothing beats sea breezes and epic views with a side of getting physical.
  24. Grab a picnic blanket, your favourite buddies, a phone with some banger playlists, dips, crackers and your unrivalled cheese board skills, then set up a picnic with your friends. Any of these awesome picnic spots will do just fine. 
  25. Chow down at one of the best cheap Taco Tuesday nights on the Gold Coast and you’ll easily come out on top. Or Tuesday Wednesday, or Tuesday Thursday. We'll take cheap tacos any day.
  26. When you have a backyard as stunning as we do, it would be a crime not to take advantage of its wonder and natural beauty.  Sleep under the stars at the Gold Coast's best camping spots and depending on the location, you'll barely have to break a $20. 
  27. Smash a hole in one at the Gold Coast's best mini golf courses. It's ridiculously cheap; one round at Mermaid Beach Putt Putt will only put you back $19. 
  28. While we're on the topic of highly competitive sports, strike it lucky at the Gold Coast's best bowling joints. We're spoiled with plenty of spots from Coomera all the way to Tweed. 
  29. Book into Burleigh Heads Barefoot Bowls on a Sunday from 12pm onwards for fun that even gramps can get into. $10 per person will cover all equipment, as you lounge around with the locals and lap up the savings you’ve made. Bookings essential. 
  30. Go appreciate the wealth of artists that call the Gold Coast home at any of these fabulous local galleries. While you're at it, check out all these epic workshops where you can let your creative juices flow.   
  31. Binge on your favourite street food at Miami Marketta, which pulls together some of the best ethnic food stalls from across the Coast every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Expect an electric vibe, revolving roster of toe-tapping bands and DJs, multiple cocktail bars, a dessert hall, fashion stalls and a buzzing family-friendly crowd. 
  32. If there’s one thing Gold Coasters are obsessed with, it is euphoric treats of the frozen variety. We’re talking ice cream and gelato—cold, sweet, delicious goodness which won’t set you back more than $5. We challenge you to lick your way through each of the best ice cream joints on the Gold Coast this summer.
  33. Be inspired by over 4, 400 incredible artworks on display at HOTA Gallery. This stunning gallery is the largest public gallery outside a capital city in Australia, so you can expect it to be absolutely incredible. Enjoy views from the rooftop Exhibitionist Bar or indulge in fine-class dining at Palette Restaurant
  34. Explore the rich Indigenous culture of the Gold Coast at Jellurgal Cultural Centre in Burleigh Heads. On your free tour you can browse the incredible Indigenous artwork, learn about the native Yugambeh People and be inspired by the traditional customs.
  35. Nestled away in picturesque Tamborine Mountain, you’ll find the gorgeous Glow Worm Caves, where thousands of the critters light up these magical caves. For just $15, embark on a guided tour, where you can get close and personal with these bioluminescent creatures.
  36. Lace up and get a full top-to-toe workout with the latest craze—indoor rock climbing. The Gold Coast is packed with prime rock climbing spots, and with climbing sessions costing $15 to $30 (and loads of places offering free trials) this fun activity won’t dig too deep into your wallet.
  37. We’re all about wellness and healthy living here on the Gold Coast, so grab your yoga mat and get into your best downward dog with the GCCC’s Active & Healthy Yoga Program. Most weekly yoga sessions are free, with a few costing a gold coin donation, so you’ve got no reason not to get your zen on.
  38. Sip your way through the abundance of gorgeous distilleries we are blessed with on the Gold Coast. From Granddad Jack’s craft spirits to Wildflower Gin’s botanical gins, a tipple or two won’t set you back too much coin and you can even learn about the spirit distilling process and take a free tour of the distilleries. Bonus.
  39. Get your flippers and snorkelling gear ready to go and explore our stunning home from beneath the surface. Get face deep (for free) and snorkel your way around the Gold Coast’s beautiful blue waters.
  40. Fulfil your influencer dreams at the most Insta-worthy cafes across the Gold Coast (and trust us, there’s plenty of them). Grab a coffee and snack at one of the many aesthetic AF spots, perfect for pimpin’ your feed.
  41. The Gold Coast is home to a bunch of mouth-watering pizza options—enough to sample a different one every day of the week, if you’ve got the dosh. From authentic Italian wood-fired delights to quirky toppings, there’s a slice to suit every taste bud that won’t set you back too much coin.
  42. We sure are a sucker for the decadent winer drink of molten chocolate in a mug, AKA a hot chocolate, which is the best treat during the chillier months. Bring out your coin purse and wrap your mitts around the best hot chocolates on the Gold Coast.
  43. Jump in the car, turn the car tunes up to the max and explore eight stunning roadrips that showcase the natural wonders right on our doorstep. Most of these roadtrips will take you north towards Brissy, but that's what a roadtrip is all about right? All you need to do is pack the car snacks.
  44. Indoor plants are all the rage right now and we’re first to admit we’re totally obsessed (especially when we can snag a cheapie from a local nursery). Thankfully, the Coast abounds in blossoming garden centres and plant shops which sell every plant you could possibly want, without costing an arm and a leg. 
  45. Knowledge is power, so show your date what you’ve got by hitting up one of the many trivia nights around the Coast. Wednesday night trivia goes off at one of our favourite Burleigh haunts, NAAMi.
  46. Pedal your way through the Gold Coast’s best cycling tracks. Go on, lyrca is in this year.
  47. Get wet at the Currumbin Rock Pools. This little piece of paradise is hidden amongst some lush South East Queensland greenery and is the perfect place to chill out and swim without being attacked by a vicious wave.
  48. Take a stroll through the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens—entry is free and there’s so much to see.
  49. Load up on the Gold Coast’s most epic burgers.
  50. Then lace up and hit the best running tracks on the Gold Coast to counteract all the burger eating.

On the hunt for more epic things to do in our pocket of paradise? Keep up to date with all the hottest events happening on the Gold Coast with the best things to do on the Gold  this weekend.

Image credit: Hayley Williamson and Brooke Darling for Urban List 

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