Here we have listed 10 things to do in Brisbane to start you off on your discovery of Queensland's Capital. When it comes to cities on the East Coast, people are usually talking about Sydney or Melbourne but after spending some time in Brisbane, we believe it deserves some of that love too. This is a small city but it can pack a big punch if you give it a try.
Southbank in Brisbane really reminded us of the Southbank in London. There are really good vibes here, especially on the usual sunny Brisbane days. Here you can take a stroll along the bank and take in the sights along the way.
Aside from the fantastic views of the city by the river, there are a few other highlights along the way. At one end you will find the Brisbane sign for a fab photo opportunity and the beautiful flower wrapped arbour walkway. Further along, there is a man-made beach and a Nepalese pagoda, comprising of 80 tonnes of hand-carved timber, surrounded by peaceful gardens.
To add to that London Southbank feel, there is the Wheel of Brisbane for views beyond the bank. To add to the buzz, every Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday a market is held with an exciting array of products being sold.
This area is also spilling with eateries and regularly hosts events throughout the year. Check here to find out what’s happening when you’re around.
That man-made beach we mentioned along Southbank is called Streets Beach. This is actually the only inner city, man-made beach in the whole of Australia! It might not be a real beach but it’s a great beach nonetheless. Brisbane is surrounded by beautiful beaches but unfortunately there aren’t any right by the city so here’s your answer for a chilled Brisbane beach day with minimal effort to get there!
Eat Street Northshore
If you love good food, Eat Street Northshore is an absolute must! This is a venue bursting with shipment containers (180 to be exact), all filled with various eateries and entertainment. We saw lots of photos of this before we arrived and it’s size still surprised us! There is something for everyone in here, from doughnut fries to topped Hungarian Lángos. There are also bars and two entertainment stages to occupy you whilst you eat. Only open Friday – Sunday.
There is a free ferry service in Brisbane, called the CityHopper. It operates every half hour from 6 am to midnight every day and can be easily spotted by their red and white colour. Take in the views as you travel along the Brisbane River for free!
Have you even been to Australia if you haven’t seen all the top Australian wildlife? Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the perfect place to see and learn all about Australia’s residents. Here you will see lots of varieties of birds, snakes, dingoes and even a platypus! There’s an area you can enter, where Kangaroos and Emu’s are roaming free and you have the opportunity to interact with them. Of course, giving the name of the location, you’d expect to see some koalas… and you won’t be disappointed! This is the world’s first and largest Koala sanctuary and there is even the opportunity to take a photo with one, although be prepared for a long queue for this!
Combine your trip here with the Mirimar II boat cruise, where you’ll be able to travel along the river with interesting commentary about Brisbane for the perfect day. If you don’t fancy the commentary but want to get on the river, you can also opt for the Koala Express. Or do what we did and get both!
Roma Street Parkland
These stunning gardens are definitely worth a visit for some downtime in the City. Feels like it’s miles away but it is situated only 10 minutes from the CBD. The display of flowers in these gardens are beautiful and the various water features add that extra level of tranquillity. Spend some picnic time here and make use of the many public BBQ’s available too.
The Fortitude Valley area shows the more funky side of Brisbane. It is a hub of activity, with everything from dive bars to chic rooftop cocktail vibes. There is also the Chinatown Mall, which is a hub of cosy Chinese eateries. Want to go more upmarket? There are plenty of upmarket European restaurants to choose from and if you want a chilled morning, there are brunch options galore. Throw in some art galleries and record stores and you get the picture…
We’d recommend drinks at:
As with all botanical gardens, you can expect to see a beautiful array of plants and flowers here. Brisbane’s does not disappoint but one feature that really makes it stand out above others is the fairy-lit tree that elegantly glows at night. It is such a pretty feature and definitely makes for some unforgettable evening viewing.
Brisbane is a fantastic hub, being surrounded by some of the best the East Coast has to offer. With not too much fuss, you can head to places like the Glasshouse Mountains, Fraser Island, Noosa or the Gold Coast… to name a few!
Check out our two-week itinerary starting from Brisbane and visiting the infamous Byron Bay, Fraser Island, the Sunshine Coast and even a little trip to Sydney too! No car needed!
If your hometown has this, you won’t find this as enticing but personally, we loved this! So, most major cities now have the facility to hire bikes to get around. Well, Brisbane takes it another step further and offers electric scooters! They’re perfect for nipping around the city or using one to go around the Botanical Gardens is a fun idea. All you need to do is download the Lime app and find your closest one!
If you’re in Brisbane in September, you may be around to catch Brisfest, which also hosts Brisbane's largest fireworks show! The event goes on throughout September, and Riverfire is held around the Southbank area. There is usually some entertainment in the afternoon, followed by a huge fireworks show in the evening. Definitely worth checking out if you’re in town. Find out more here.
Where to stay
City Backpackers HQ – stay in this hostel to meet lots of other backpackers and enjoy amazing views of the city, the pool and the in-house pub! All-round good vibes.
Nomads Brisbane – stay here for a fantastic central city location, right by Central Station. A lovely, clean hostel suited more for those looking to party, as there is a popular, lively bar right below.
The Park Hotel – a lovely hotel, located right opposite Roma Street Parklands. Worth checking out as we managed to find a great price for this hotel on booking.com, with a yummy breakfast included.
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