The Top 13 Free Things To Do In Gold Coast
Gold Coast is one of Australia's top vacation destination hotspots, and it's not hard to see why. Home to one of the country's top nightlife destinations in the form of Surfers Paradise, this East Coast city is also blessed with tons of national parks and the Pacific Ocean right on its doorstep. As a result, Gold Coast, Australia is a perfect place for both cultural activities and outdoor adventure. And because it offers so much scenery, Gold Coast activities often involve free things to do.
If you're a fan of the outdoors, Gold Coast will seem like a dream destination to you. But if you prefer cultural activities, want a lively night out, or are hoping to enjoy some of the best food in Australia, Gold Coast can help you there too. Plus, the presence of some of Australia's best-loved theme parks adds to the appeal of Gold Coast as a holiday destination and keeps people coming back to this rapidly growing city.
If you're in search of free things to do in Gold Coast, you won't have to look far. But you'll find it much easier to let go and enjoy yourself if you're not carrying more than you need to. Drop off your belongings at a Bounce luggage storage in Gold Coast, and you'll be able to enjoy the best of this vibrant city on a budget.
Gold Coast Regional Botanic Garden
A real gem of Gold Coast, the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Garden is located just outside Surfers Paradise, yet it offers the chance to soak in the tranquility of nature near the heart of the city. Open year-round, the carefully tended gardens cover 31 hectares. Take a stroll around the lake, enjoy the beautiful flowers of the rose garden, explore all your senses in the Sensory Garden, or feel the flutter of tiny wings in the Butterfly Garden. When you just can't take another of Gold Coast's famous theme parks, the Botanic Garden offers a great Gold Coast thing to do with kids.
Best of all, the Botanic Garden is completely free to visit. And while you're there, you can take advantage of the free barbecue facilities and picnic areas to enjoy the most Australian of pastimes, the barbecue. Thanks to the great scenery and reliably good weather of Gold Coast, this is usually one of the best free things to do in the city.
Gallery at HOTA
If you prefer your vacation to have a little bit of culture, skip the city's theme parks and head instead to the Gold Coast City Gallery. Now known as Gallery at HOTA, the massive arts precinct that has become a hub of the city, the City Gallery holds Gold Coast's impressive collection of visual art. The gallery focuses on Australian artists with special attention to local Gold Coast painters, and it's a great way to learn more about the cultural life of this vacation destination that is often overlooked by many visitors. Best of all, it's completely free to visit, although donations are appreciated to keep this worthy art gallery in business.
Springbrook National Park
Gold Coast is known for its incredible national parks. And the best part is, you don't need to travel far to see some of the natural wonder of Gold Coast. Springbrook National Park is less than an hour from Surfers Paradise, but with its lush rainforest, cascading waterfalls, and fantastic walking trails, it feels a very long way away.
One of the highlights of Springbrook is the Natural Bridge, a stunning rock formation that features a waterfall plunging into a cave. The cave is home to Australia's largest population of glow worms, making it a fascinating place to visit. You could also visit Canyon Lookout in the park to get that perfect Gold Coast holiday photo. And if you really want to immerse yourself in the Australian wilderness, there are plenty of more challenging hiking trails that you can explore in this conveniently located National Park.
Burleigh Heads National Park
Another of the fantastic national parks that are surprisingly close to the city, Burleigh Heads National Park is only twenty minutes from Surfers Paradise. And impressively for a national Park, it's accessible by public transport from the city. But don't let that proximity to Gold Coast fool you. This park feels very wild and offers some of the best hikes in Gold Coast. Although it's relatively small, Burleigh Heads National Park offers an excellent way to get away from it all and enjoy incredible ocean views while you explore beautiful beaches, rock pools, and isolated bays that represent the very best of Gold Coast, Australia.
If you happen to be in Gold Coast during August, don't miss the chance to immerse yourself in one of the city's top artistic activities. Bleach is the premier cultural festival of Gold Coast, and it celebrates everything creative with live music, theater, art displays, workshops, and street parties. This already lively town reaches a new level of excitement when the festival is on, and you'll find both visitors and locals getting together to enjoy the cultural treasures on offer at this festival. Amazingly, Bleach Festival is completely free to visit, so you can enjoy one of the best Gold Coast festivals without spending a penny.
Lamington National Park
Another of the incredible parks in close proximity to the city, Lamington National Park borders Springbrook and is under an hour away from the city of Gold Coast by car. Known for its treetop walkways, the park preserves a UNESCO recognized expanse of rainforest that was here long before dinosaurs walked the earth, let alone humans.
With incredible wildlife, mountain views, gorgeous rainforest, and virtually endless hiking trails, Lamington is the perfect place to encounter the Australian wilderness without heading far from Gold Coast. It's almost jarring to be so close to the city and yet feel so far away, and all it will cost you to visit the park is the gas to get there.
Gold Coast Beaches
One of the things that make Gold Coast such a desirable vacation destination is the wealth of beautiful beaches along the Pacific Ocean it offers. If you don't take advantage of the best Gold Coast Beaches while you're in the city, you're doing yourself a huge disservice. Main Beach is one of the most popular and offers a huge stretch of golden sand so there's a good chance you'll be able to find a place to stretch out even on a busy day. Surfers Paradise also has its own beach, and there's also Kurrawa, Kirra, Burleigh Heads, and Currumbin beach, to name a few. Bring a picnic lunch or have a sunset barbecue on any of these beaches, and you'll know you couldn't be anywhere other than Australia. The beaches are also great places to bring the kids for the day and let them burn off some energy playing in the sand and in the water. And for an extra special treat, get up early to take in a sunrise at Snapper Rocks to see the Gold Coast at its most beautiful.
Currumbin Rock Pools
Luxurious hotels with rooftop swimming pools are a great way to pamper yourself, but they don't come cheap. If you're looking to save a few dollars, or you just want to enjoy more of the natural side of Gold Coast, head to Currumbin Rock Pools for a truly unique experience. Here, in the lush Currumbin Valley, the river emerges from the dense forest to fill rocky pools on its way to the sea. Just 15 minutes drive from Currumbin Beach, the rock pools are a perfect way to beat the heat on a sunny day and get some natural swimming done without straying far from the city.
Farmers markets are always a great way to spend some time and soak up the atmosphere of a new city. And Gold Coast is home to some great ones. Surfers Paradise beachfront markets are great places not only for shopping, but also for live entertainment thanks to the musicians, magicians, and street performers who congregate here. Alternatively, you could check out Carrara Market with its pony rides and baby animals that make it a great choice for kids. Meanwhile, Miami Marketta is one of the premier street food destinations in Gold Coast and a place that foodies should put at the top of the list of things to do in the city since it's the best place to try Gold Coast food. Visiting all these markets is free, but once you see what's on offer, it's incredibly tempting to start spending some cash. At least if you do give into temptation, you know you'll be supporting local farmers, chefs, and craftspeople.
Gold Coast Multicultural Festival
Modern Australia is unquestionably a multicultural society where people from all over the world come to enjoy a great quality of life. This cultural mixing is celebrated by several festivals, including the Gold Coast Multicultural Festival. Enjoy dance, music, crafts, and of course food from around the world, and you'll feel like you're touring the globe without leaving Gold Coast. If you're lucky enough to be in Gold Coast while this popular festival is going on, you shouldn't miss this opportunity to explore the traditions and cuisines of the world.
In those cities in the world where it's possible to go whale watching, you'll often spend a great deal of money for an encounter with oceangoing cetaceans. The same is true in Gold Coast, where you can hire a boat or head out on a tour to encounter whales and dolphins in their natural habitat.
However, you don't necessarily need to go to those lengths. From June to November, whales migrate from Antarctica to Queensland. Head to Kirra Hill or Currumbin Rocks, and you just might catch a glimpse of these majestic animals, identifiable by the plumes they make as they rise to the surface. You'll need patience and ideally a good set of binoculars. But spending a day looking out over the ocean and enjoying the sunshine is a great Gold Coast activity, whether you see a whale or not.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Speaking of wildlife, you can get a much more hands-on encounter with Australian animals at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. This wildlife park has a daily lorikeet feeding, and watching the brightly-colored birds swarm their keepers for some food is an enchanting way to spend some time in Gold Coast. It's free to watch the birds being fed, but for the price of a donation to this worthy cause, you can feed them yourself, which is definitely worth doing if you visit this wildlife sanctuary. The photo opportunities alone...
If there's one thing Gold Coast isn't short of, it's stunning views. Just about everywhere you turn in the city, you'll see ocean or mountains or the skyline of the city itself. Still, even by that high standard, Mount Tamborine offers something special. You can drive to Rotary Lookout, where you'll get incredible views out over the city and the sea beyond. But if you prefer to stretch your legs, you'll find dozens of hiking trails up and down the mountain, from easy strolls to strenuous hikes that will test even the most experienced hikers. And none of it will cost you a thing.
Gold Coast isn't exactly known as a budget travel destination. In fact, in this glitzy coastal town, it can sometimes seem like it costs a fortune just to exist. But by taking advantage of some of these free activities, you can make your holiday dollars stretch further and enjoy more fun experiences in this beguiling town.
Don't forget to drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage so you can really get to grips with what Gold Coast has to offer, and you'll be all set to have a fantastic - and affordable - time.