There’s so much more to the GC than skyscrapers and theme parks, as these five budget-friendly experiences reveal.

Head to the beach

You can’t start a story about the Gold Coast without mentioning beaches – and there are 21 of them stretched along the coast you can talk about. The Goldie is particularly famous for surfing – Burleigh Heads offers some of the most consistent waves in Australia while Snapper Rocks hosts the annual Quiksilver Pro World Surf League event. Plus, most of the Gold Coast’s beaches are patrolled by surf lifesavers so they’re very safe.

See some Aussie wildlife

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Get up close and personal with cute and cuddly Australian animals at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary – kangaroos, koalas, emus, dingos, rainbow lorikeets, crocodiles, Tasmanian devils, wombats, echidnas . . . the whole gang!

Explore the hinterland

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Head inland to discover the Gold Coast Hinterland, a collection of picturesque national parks that will provide Instagram material for weeks. Check out the incredible Natural Bridge in the Springbrook National Park (pictured) and the panoramic views from Tamborine Mountain, as well as the waterfalls of the Numinbah Valley and the secret swimming hole at the idyllic Currumbin Rock Pools. The best part? All these hinterland national parks are free!

Nab a bargain at the markets

Lap up the atmosphere and sniff out a bargain at one of the Goldie’s many great markets. Every Friday and Saturday night you can pick up a souvenir at the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets every Friday and Saturday night or grab some tasty street food at NightQuarter, and if you’re after fresh produce try the Burleigh Farmers Markets (Saturday mornings) and Gold Coast Organic Farmers Market (Sunday mornings).

Get active

Take in the scenery as you cruise along the Gold Coast’s sparkling waterways on a stand-up paddleboard – great for your fitness and not too hard on your hip pocket (the going rate is $20 for 1.5 hours). The Goldie also boasts 36km of coastal pathways to cycle, as well as world-class mountain bike courses for the more adventurous.

YHA is the biggest budget accommodation network in Australia. With more than 80 hostels around the country, there is a YHA ready to welcome you wherever your wanderlust might lead.