The Gold Coast is one of Australia’s most exciting beachside destinations, packed to the brim with exciting, one-of-a-kind experiences – most of which won’t bust your travel budget.

If you’re planning a visit to the Gold Coast on a budget, here are the 10 best things to do for free.

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Hit the beach

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way – the beaches. Here along the Gold Coast you’ll find some of the most beautiful beaches you’ll ever experience, with golden sand, pristine water, and heaps of sunshine. Missing out on these spectacular beaches is simply not an option!

Lounging on the sand with some fish and chips is what visits to the Gold Coast are made of.

There are plenty of beaches to choose from along the Gold Coast, with Surfers Paradise being the busiest. Otherwise, if you’re chasing a much quieter location, consider visiting Burleigh Heads or Main Beach.

Broadbeach on the Gold Coast

Stroll through the beachfront markets

Open on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays from 5 pm – the Beachfront Markets in Surfers Paradise is a great spot to pick up some local goods and enjoy live performances.

Browse across more than 100 stalls, including handmade goods, fashion, tasty desserts, and heaps more, all while listening to the calming waves of the ocean.

Head down in the late afternoon to admire the buzzing atmosphere along the coast.

Head to the Currumbin Rock Pools

Swap the beach for a natural, secluded swimming hole with a visit to the Currumbin Rock Pools.

Located about 40 minutes inland from Surfers Paradise, the area is home to calm swimming conditions, plenty of shade, natural waterslides, picnic tables, and a rope swing.

The best part? Getting to the Currumbin Rock Pools is a journey within itself, as the route weaves you through the towering Currumbin Valley.


Hike Burleigh Heads National Park

If you’re eager to do some hiking during your stay at the Gold Coast then be sure to stop by Burleigh Heads National Park. The parklands stretch over 27 hectares and holds a variety of diverse environments to explore – including rainforest, bushland, mangroves, and more. Not to mention, you might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some Aussie creatures, such as koalas, echidnas, kookaburras, and humpback whales.

Burleigh Heads coastal view

Have a picnic on Burleigh Hill

After your hike through Burleigh Heads National Park, stop by Burleigh Hill for a picnic overlooking the towering skyline of the city. Wander down at sunset, bring along a blanket, enjoy a few tasty snacks, and watch the sun illuminate the city as it sets.

Visit Springbrook National Park

Springbrook National Park is one of the many popular natural escapes near the Gold Coast and is home to a variety of rainforest walks for you to choose from.

Out of the many diverse regions in Springbrook, many visitors can’t pass up the chance to explore the Natural Bridge – a short river-side hike that leads you through a blooming rainforest and down into an underground cave with a waterfall cascading from above. It’s an enchanting location that’s effortless to appreciate.

Purling Brook Falls, Springbrook National Park

Take a photo under the Surfers Paradise sign

A photo under the Surfers Paradise sign is a bucket list item for most Gold Coast visitors. Better yet, it is a simple activity that can be enjoyed without having to reach for your wallet.

The sign is located at the end of Cavill Avenue and on the brink of the beach. Since many tourists are known to flock to the sign throughout the day, try to plan your visit earlier in the morning. This will allow a shot with little to no bystanders.


Walk along The Spit

Another great spot to admire the skyline of Surfers Paradise is the Spit, located 24 minutes north of the city’s hub.

If you’re looking for a scenic walk, there are 2 jetties to choose from – guiding you on a straight path over the ocean, with a unique perspective of the city to accompany. Plus, a visit in the early hours of the morning or at sunset can make for a great photo op.

View of the Spit Looking towards Surfers Paradise

Play in the Broadwater Parklands

If you’re exploring the Gold Coast with kids, a trip to the Broadwater Parklands is an easy win for the whole family.

Kids can enjoy the bouncing pillow, cool off in the rock pools, or climb over the obstacle courses in the water. Afterwards, the family can refuel at one of the many eateries located nearby.

The Broadwater Parklands are reasonably central, located only 15 minutes from Surfers Paradise.

Southport and Broadwater Parklands

Stroll Through Pacific Fair

Pacific Fair is one of the largest shopping centres in Australia and home to more than 400 stores.

The shopping hub is located in Broadbeach and offers an extremely diverse range – including international brands, department stores, a cinema, plenty of eateries, and heaps more. With the variety on offer, there’s sure to be a little something for everyone to enjoy.

Nicholas Hastie

Editor in Chief at
Nicholas Hastie is a travel and health writer located in Brisbane, Australia. He is passionate about documenting his journeys through writing and photography. Nicholas enjoys sharing his travel stories online and encouraging others to travel and create unforgettable memories. [Read full bio]

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