Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory © Liam Neal
Things to know about travelling Australia on a budget
Australia’s diverse landscapes and distinct cities mean there’s plenty of freedom to roam. Make the most of your trip Down Under with these tips for having a cheap holiday in Australia.
Travel within Australia
With wide open spaces and landscapes ranging from red sand deserts to lush ancient rainforests, you’ll likely want to visit more than one place once you arrive. Australia’s budget airlines Bonza and Jetstar offer cheap fares, and prices tend to be lower if you travel in the early morning or late evening. Sites like Wotif can also be helpful for booking car rentals, so you can take off on epic road trips on a whim. If you don't feel like driving, train and bus travel are convenient and affordable options for travelling between cities and regional towns. Within major cities, check for free or cheap bike rental programs and enjoy the fresh air. Some cities even offer free public transport within the city centre.
Australia boasts many luxurious lodges and glamping getaways, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find quality accommodation on a budget. Australia's fun and affordable hostels are a great way to stay in amazing locations without spending too much money, and you'll get to make friends with fellow travellers while you're there. With so many spectacular natural attractions to explore, camping is another great option. Many campgrounds offer well-equipped cabins if sleeping under the stars isn't for you.
Food and drink
Australia has fabulous permanent food markets in major cities, like Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market, as well as many farmer's markets in urban and country areas where you can score tasty meals at affordable prices. There are cheap eats to savour in any major city, including Thai in Adelaide and pub feeds in Canberra. Check for restaurants that offer BYO before heading out to dinner and save by bringing your own bottle of wine. You’ll also find free and coin-operated barbecue facilities in beachside parks, where you can cook up a meal and soak in the Aussie outdoor lifestyle.
From the cities to the outback, there are plenty of free things to see in Australia. The country's beautiful beaches are free to visit, and many have professional lifeguards patrolling the area during the summer months (December to February). Sign up for free walking tours found in most major cities, or head off on one of many walking and coastal trails. Experiencing art is also incredibly affordable in Australia – you can wander through innovative outdoor galleries and the permanent exhibitions at all of Australia’s major art galleries are free to view.
From kangaroos and koalas to dolphins and whales, Australia has so much wildlife to encounter. There are plenty of zoos and aquariums you can pay to enter, like the popular Taronga Zoo Sydney that has animals from Australia and around the world. While it’s not guaranteed, you can also spot Australia’s wildlife in the wild. Pay a visit to Rottnest Island to see parks filled with smiley quokkas, spot Tassie devils in Tasmania or grab some goggles and dive in along the Great Barrier Reef to see a colourful variety of marine life.
Festivals and events occur in every corner of Australia each year, and some of the best are free to attend. Pay a visit to Adelaide for the annual Adelaide Fringe festival, where you can attend free live music, comedy and theatre performances. Vivid Sydney's lights showcase is not to be missed, with the harbour city coming to life in a rainbow of public art installations each winter. You can also attend Floriade to be part of Canberra's extravagant annual celebration of flowers.
Things to know
When you're travelling in Australia, there are a few extra tips to know that might help you save money. Firstly, tipping is not considered obligatory in Australia, and most venues don't add service charges to your bill unless you're part of a large group. If you need free wi-fi along your journey, you can often find it in public spaces such as museums, shopping centres and train stations as well as some cafés. If you're catching public transport, be aware that some major cities have replaced single-use tickets with reusable cards such as Opal in Sydney.