Living and travelling on a budget can be tricky. As well as crunching the numbers on food, drink and transport, you need to figure out where to lay your head. And then consider the litany of entertainment add-ons: how much will tickets be? Is the tour free? Do I have enough left for a cocktail or is tap water fine, thank you?
But you don’t need to spend a packet to get the best out of Brisbane, if you know where to look. The city is full of budget-friendly options that won’t cost an arm and a leg.
Brisbane City YHA
Brisbane City YHA is an ideal option for budget-conscious travelers, featuring both private and shared rooms. The hostel is walking distance to the heart of the city and just around the corner from popular nightlife strip Caxton Street. You can borrow one of their bikes if a destination is too far to walk, but it’s unlikely – everything you need is close by.
The recently opened rooftop bar is a good option for a sundowner and snack before hitting the town. There’s also a rooftop pool.
The YHA has considered its environmental footprint by cutting down on energy emissions, minimising waste and saving water. So by staying here, you’re saving money and doing your bit for the environment.
Brisbane’s best ‘burgs can be found down a little lane running adjacent to popular nightlife strip Ann Street. The only rule? No alterations. You might be able to add bacon to one of the three burgers on offer (The Classic, The Cheesy and The Veg), but that’s about it. Pop in for the 20-buck meal (and drink) deal which includes a burger, fries and a 4 Pines tap beer. There’s also a two-for-one burger deal on Tuesday nights from 6pm to 9pm.
Ben’s might have the best beef burgers in Brisbane, but the best chicken burgers belong to Lucky Egg. There’s the crowd-favourite Original Crispy (with ‘slaw and honey-mustard sauce), as well as the Buffalo Crispy (with American cheddar, garlic pickles and spinach). On Wednesday nights, all burgers are half-price when you purchase a side – handy when you have sides such as Dorito popcorn chicken and mozzarella sticks to choose from.
Hai Hai Ramen
The perfect budget week in Brisbane starts with a $10 bowl of ramen. Hai Hai Ramen offers this deal every Monday and Tuesday from 5pm to 6pm. Choose from tonkotsu, chicken, vegetarian or miso. If you’re feeling extra hungry, add on a side of karaage chicken or miso corn for $5 each.
With five plant-based burgers on the menu, Brewski’s a great option for vegans. There’s a pulled-jackfruit burger, as well as the ABC (avocado, fake bacon and “chicken”). On Mondays there’s a two-for-one deal on burgers, and on Tuesdays they’re just $10 a pop. Brewski is less than 500 metres from the Brisbane City YHA, making it the perfect dinner spot before hitting up some of the city’s best bars.
John Mills Himself
Not only home to Brisbane’s best coffee during the day, John Mills Himself becomes a world-class bar at night. A budget-friendly option is to buy smaller five-ounce “pony” glasses of draft beer (that’s about 150 millilitres). All brews have been sourced from within a 180-kilometre radius of Brisbane’s CBD – think Stone & Wood, Newstead Brewing Co and Green Beacon Brewing Co. The wine list is also local, sourced from cellar doors within a 250-kilometre radius of the city. As Australia’s first venue to consider “drink miles”, John Mills Himself helps you reduce your carbon footprint by drinking locally.
Since opening in early 2017, Netherworld has become one of Brisbane’s favourite bars. Brisbanites flock here every night for its 24 beer taps, laid-back vibe and huge range of arcade games. The machines cost $1 to play, but consoles and board games are free, making it an affordable night of entertainment. If you head in between 4pm and 6pm you might even get a few extra playing tokens with your purchase at the bar.
Previously home to Trash Video – an adored VHS store in West End – The End has swapped tapes for taps. There are six in total, including a special, exclusive Mocha Stout made in collaboration with Blackstar Coffee (and brewed by Bacchus Brewing). Keep an eye on their Instagram page for the daily seasonal cocktails that are announced at 5pm.
GOMA Director Chris Saines once told Broadsheet that GOMA – one of the best galleries in Australia – “demands artists, curators and directors occupy and animate with large experiences”. This is reflected in marquee events featuring big names such as Anish Kapoor, Gerhard Richter and James Turrell, as well as its huge Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art that draws visitors from the world over. But the free gallery is worth a visit any time. Set aside at least half a day.
This cinema chain is always a bargain with $8.50 movie tickets, but Monday to Friday before 6pm and Tuesday nights they’re $2 cheaper.
The Brisbane Powerhouse welcomes a variety of local and national comedians every Friday night from 6pm to 7pm. It’s free.
B Lucky & Sons
Brisbane’s first adults-only arcade offers some fantastic midweek deals. On Tuesdays games are half-price, and on Thursday nights students get unlimited games for $15 from 7pm onwards.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with YHA Australia. YHA Australia helps you explore more of Australia without breaking the bank. Plan a trip to Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney and book a stay at YHA Australia right in the middle of the city.