The best free things to do on the Sunshine Coast and Noosa

Noosa National park TE QLD


Posted March 27, 2024

Whether you’re travelling with the family, looking for an affordable friend getaway, or seeking solo adventures for the soul, Noosa and the Sunshine Coast offer a raft of free activities to add to your itinerary.

While Noosa offers a plethora of exciting activities, your stay doesn’t need to break the bank. The region’s idyllic temperatures make it an outdoor lovers’ paradise, with breathtaking beaches, refreshing swimming spots, and a range of hiking and biking trails offering no-cost ways to soak in the best of Noosa and the Sunshine Coast.

Here are some of the best free things to do around Noosa and the Sunshine Coast.

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A stroll through Noosa National Park. Image: Getty

Take a stroll through the Noosa National Park. Image: RACV

Free things to see and do around the Sunshine Coast and Noosa

Best free activities

Noosa National Park Coastal Walk

One of the best ways to experience why Noosa is such a popular Sunshine Coast destination is on the Noosa National Park Coastal Walk. Weaving your way along the coastal paths, secluded beaches, and native flora affords the perfect introduction to Noosa’s natural charm.

Watch for dolphins frolicking in the azure waves and - from July to October - migrating whales.

Allow around two hours for this 5km walk, more if you swim at the Fairy Pools (low tide only). It’s easy to catch a bus back to Noosa for a one-way trip or pack a lunch and make a day of it. 

Caloundra Street Art Trail

For art lovers, one of the Sunshine Coast’s best free things to do is take the Caloundra Street Art Trail. This self-guided walk tours you through the town’s vibrant murals and thought-provoking street art, turning Caloundra into an open-air gallery.

With nine stops along the 1.7km trail, allow an hour to wander this creative urban adventure. Trail maps are available at the Caloundra Visitor Centre. 

Eumundi Markets

For a charming mix of art, culture, culinary treats, and community vibes, head to the Eumundi Markets on a Wednesday or Saturday morning. Meandering the stalls, window shopping the local crafts, and enjoying the waft of the market’s tantalising treats prove an idyllic introduction to the Noosa Hinterland.

Make time to chat with the passionate stallholders; local pride is as infectious as the food truck treats are aromatic. Eumundi also has a free self-guided street art tour. 


Cruise the shops on Hastings Street, Noosa. Image: Tourism and Events Queensland
The Eumundi Markets are a popular attraction on the Sunshine Coast. Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

Best free cultural attractions

Noosa Regional Gallery

Only a 15 minute drive from Noosa’s popular Hastings Street, the Noosa Regional Gallery is a haven for art enthusiasts and culture-loving road trippers.

Free to enter, spend an hour or two at the gallery (Tuesday to Friday) to discover a diverse range of traditional and contemporary art exhibitions. Enjoy paintings, sculptures, and multimedia installations, alongside the regular visiting exhibits.

Caloundra Regional Art Gallery

The coastal charm of the Caloundra Regional Gallery holds a different appeal from Noosa’s more contemporary offering. With a commitment to the community and a diverse collection of paintings, sculptures, and visual arts displays, a visit to this free gallery proves enriching.

Open daily, allow 60 to 90 minutes here; more if there is a visit exhibition or cultural event running.

Best free picnic areas

Kings Beach Park

Enjoy a carefree day at Kings Beach Park. This family-friendly and accessible spot overlooks pristine Kings Beach in Caloundra.

Choose a lush space in the shade, cook up a quintessential summer’s feast on the nearby barbeque facilities, and enjoy plenty of dips in the seawater swimming pool.

A post-picnic stroll along the coastal boardwalk rounds out a perfect day.

Noosa Botanic Gardens

Enjoy a tranquil picnic amid the lush greenery, exotic plants, and walking trails of the Noosa Botanic Gardens. Open daily, these free gardens are on the banks of Lake Macdonald.

Post-picnic, wander the themed gardens and look for the 94 species of birds that the native flora attracts.

The amphitheatre is an excellent spot for events and concerts.

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

The Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, near Maleny, has one of the Sunshine Coast’s best picnic views. The breathtaking panoramic Glass House Mountains vistas are the perfect accompaniment to your picnic spread, and there are plenty of grassy areas to spread out.

If you’re visiting on a Sunday, stop by the Maleny Market for local artisanal treats. Walk off your picnic feast on the 1.7km Mary Cairncross Rainforest Walk.


Mount Coolum makes for a spectacular sunrise trail. Image: Tourism and Events Queensland
Relax and unwind at the main Noosa Beach, just off Hastings Street. Image: RACV

Best free bike trails 

Noosa River Ride

For cyclists of all abilities, the Noosa River Ride is a 13km (round trip) route from Tewantin Information Centre to Lion’s Park in Noosa Heads.

A mix of on and off-roading, enjoy peddling alongside the million-dollar homes that line Noosa River before reaching Hasting Street, where plenty of cafés, eateries, and gelato shops seek to entice you to take a break.

The RACV Noosa Resort has bikes and e-scooters available to hire for guests. 

Maroochy River Connection

For a pleasant day exploring the scenic Maroochy River, join the Maroochy River Connection trail, part of the Sunshine Coast Coastal Pathway, a 73km route from Coolum to Bells Creek.

The Maroochy River Connection tours you from Mudjimba to Cotton Tree, a mostly flat part-coastal, part-river route that impresses with its water and nature views and local wildlife. 

Best free walking trails

Mount Coolum Summit Track

If you love a moderate hiking challenge, Mount Coolum Summit is one of the Sunshine Coast’s best trails, thanks to its stunning panoramic views. The sweeping coastal and hinterland vistas make the track worthwhile, especially at sunrise and on clear days when you can see the iconic Glass House Mountains.

While the track is only 1.6km long, it’s a steep ascent to the summit, so allow 60 to 90 minutes depending on your fitness levels. 

Buderim Forest Park and Falls

With a range of well-maintained walking tracks, the Buderim Forest Park is a peaceful place with towering trees, babbling brooks, and the famous Buderim (Serenity) Falls. For an easy circuit, take the Serenity Bridge trail; for a challenge, the 1.4km Buderim Tramway Walk has steeper sections to work up a sweat.

Martins Creek is significant for the Kabi Kabi people, who have used it as a freshwater source for thousands of years. 


Plan the perfect picnic with stunning natural views. Image: Supplied

Mooloolaba Beach is fun for all. Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

Best free places to swim and play

Mooloolaba Beach, Mooloolaba

Recently voted one of the best beaches in the South Pacific, a day at Mooloolaba Beach offers a gorgeous white-sand beach for sunbaking, frisbee games, or sandcastle building, plus crystal-clear waters for snorkelling, swimming and body surfing.

The lively Mooloolaba Esplanade is ideal for strolls and people-watching around the Esplanade’s ample cafés, restaurants, and boutique shops.

Cotton Tree Park, Maroochydore

For a safe spot to swim on the Sunshine Coast, head to Cotton Tree Park in Maroochydore on the banks of the Maroochy River. Its grassy areas, shade, and shallow waters make it great for families.

There’s a fun playground for young children, a skatepark and basketball court for sporty tweens and teens, plus walking and biking paths. 


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