A Budget Traveler’s Guide to Austin

There are some great budget-friendly activities to do in Austin
There are some great budget-friendly activities to do in Austin | © Peter Tsai Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Aubrey Cofield

Traveling doesn’t have to mean spending more money than you can afford. From the great outdoors to some beloved local murals, here are some budget-friendly places to consider checking out when you’re spending time in Austin.

What to see and do

1. Mount Bonnell

Park, Natural Feature

Whether you’re traveling solo or with family, there’s nothing like driving through the hill country and heading towards Mount Bonnell on a nice day. Once there, take the short hike up the rocky terrain until you come across a series of openings that offer the best panoramic views in Austin. Take a moment to gaze at the rolling landscape that makes Texas famous and the river and mansions beneath you. We recommend packing a picnic and inviting a group of friends to share the experience.

2. The Texas Capitol Building


Texas State Capitol, Austin
© philipus / Alamy Stock Photo
Make sure to visit the Texas Capitol Building – one of Austin’s architectural gems – which is full of history and also completely free. Take a self-guided tour through the building’s various rooms and halls, or enjoy one of the Capitol tours that take place every 20 to 30 minutes all week long; the exact schedule can be found here. The tour guides are extremely knowledgable and will gladly answer questions related to the building or Texas history. Once you’ve checked out the Capitol Building, it’s time to try out all the other fun things to do in Austin.

3. Greetings From Austin


Greetings From Austin mural
© Steve Lagreca / Shutterstock
While in Austin, don’t forget to make a pitstop at the ‘Greetings From Austin’ street-art display to snap an Instagram photo. This mural is a prime example of 1950s and 1960s-era domestic tourism postcards and offers an opportunity to create your own perfect retro snapshot.

4. Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk


Man biking along Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk, Austin
© Trong Nguyen / Shutterstock
End your evening admiring the sunset on the Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk. Watch the kayakers glide by and witness one of the best views of the Austin skyline. If you walk down the trail far enough, you’ll run into Congress Avenue Bridge, home to the largest urban bat population in the United States – their dramatic nightly flight in search of evening supper is a sight to behold.

Where to eat and drink

5. South Austin Trailer Park and Eatery


Austin offers a bunch of budget-friendly spots where you can grab a meal. For lunch, head to South Austin Trailer Park and Eatery. You can grab three tacos at a fairly reasonable price at Torchy’s Tacos and sip on a cup of their free water. Austin loves its food trucks and the locals live off tacos. At Torchy’s you can find some of the best around, with fillings that range from all-vegan to juicy barbacoa meat. Another food truck making the trailer park home is Holy Cacao, where you can grab a cake pop, shake or hot chocolate for a nice post-meal dessert.

6. East Side Pies

Pizzeria, Restaurant, Italian, American

Pizza is always a viable option when on a budget, and East Side Pies is not only affordable, but wholesome as well. It sources all its toppings from local Austin farms that practice organic and sustainable farming. The pizza offerings depend on the season, but some examples include bacon with green chili, and butternut squash with yellow squash, carrots and green beans; all are delicious.

Where to stay

7. Firehouse Hostel and Lounge


Despite the high cost of living, Austin offers visitors a number of hotels and hostels for the budget-conscious traveler. Just off 6th Street – Austin’s liveliest stretch for nightlife – is the very affordable Firehouse Hostel. Built in 1885, it now serves as an updated hostel and lounge. They provide free breakfast, free Wi-Fi and various room options. Depending on how much you’re looking to pay, they offer rooms with shared or private bathrooms, deluxe dorm style and economy dorms.

8. HI Austin Hostel


Guests at HI Austin Hostel can rent out bikes and yoga mats
© HI Austin Hostel / Hostelword

Right off the serene shores of Lady Bird Lake sits HI Austin. This hostel gives you the feeling of being out in the country but it’s still in very close proximity to downtown and all of Austin’s fun activities. Lodging prices range from about $30 per person for shared rooms and around $70 per person for private rooms. You can’t beat the location, free breakfast and Wi-Fi included in your rate.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article