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The Gold Coast offers plenty of entertaining activities for travellers on a budget. Read on to discover the best Gold Coast things to do for free, whether you prefer to sample award-winning chardonnay, hit the beach or find your chi with a meditation or yoga class.

Free Gold Coast fitness classes

If you enjoy being active and trying something new, check out the Gold Coast City Council’s Active and Healthy program. With free or low cost (think $3) classes up and down the coast there are plenty of activities to choose from. Join yoga by the beach, meditate with the sound of the waves or challenge yourself with a boxing workout. It’s all free (or almost free) and tourists are welcome. If you see a class in progress along the foreshore, don’t be afraid to ask if you can join for free as it’s probably part of this program.

Hit the beach

From Southport to Coolangatta there is a beach for everyone and, perhaps surprisingly, they are all different with their own unique vibe. Even if the surf conditions aren’t great for swimming, you can still sit on the sand, soak up the sun and watch the waves.

Browse the Gold Coast’s markets

Normally if you have seen one market, you have seen them all but the Gold Coast is different. Experience the fun of The Social Markets at the Mermaid Beach Bowls Club, complete with barefoot bowls and funky stalls. Carrara Markets are huge and packed with old-school cool while the hip Miami Marketta has live music, outdoor dining and stalls featuring talented local artists.

Miami Marketta
Soak up the vibe at Miami Marketta

Hike Gold Coast national parks

From the dramatic, volcanic coastline hugging Burleigh Head National Park to the cool rainforest walks of Tamborine Mountain and blue-green lights of thousands of glow-worms at Springbrook, the national parks of the Gold Coast are truly captivating. Check out the Queensland National Parks website for more information on some of the Gold Coast’s stunning walks.

Wine tasting on the Gold Coast

Head for the hills of the Gold Coast hinterland and gain an understanding of Queensland wine from the people who make it. The Gold Coast has some impressive wineries and some of the friendliest cellar doors around. While tasting is usually free, be warned that you might not walk out of the cellar door empty handed as the wines are excellent.

Looking for some Gold Coast accommodation? Read our reviews of the Hilton Surfers Paradise, Oaks Calypso Plaza, The Darling, Surfers Paradise Marriott, Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, The Star Grand, voco Gold Coast, Wyndham Hotel Surfers Paradise, AVANI Broadbeach Gold Coast Residences, Rydges Gold Coast Airport, Oaks Gold Coast Hotel, JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa, and the retro La Costa Motel. If you’re visiting the Gold Coast, don’t miss our Ultimate Guide to the Gold Coast.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.