Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and as such, brings with it all the sights, sounds and smells of a lively Australian city. Despite having a relatively small population of just over 2 million, Brisbane certainly has a distinct charm all of its own. Of course, there’s the weather, which is almost always fabulous, but there’s a growing cultural scene too. From galleries to museums, exhibitions spaces to theatres, Brisbane also has a burgeoning live music scene and a delightful array of wonderful markets. So here you’ll find a list of the best way to spend 48 hours in Brisbane and to help you fall in love with this city too.
Table of Contents
Discovering Brisbane’s History (Day 1 – Morning)
Why not start with a bit of history? The Bulimba district is historically one of the oldest in Brisbane. Located south of the city, this secluded area is easily accessible by taking the City Cat – a ferry that meanders along the great river dividing Brisbane in two. Taking the ferry is certainly the most pleasant way to discover Brisbane, especially if the sun is shining. This mode of transport also offers beautiful views of Bulimba upon arrival, a little paradise whose presence one might not suspect. Historically, there was only a sugar mill and a brewery in Bulimba. Now, it’s a modern neighborhood with numerous cafes and bookstores on every corner. It’s the perfect opportunity to stop for breakfast on a terrace and take the time to appreciate the Australian way of life. For those who want to extend their visit, the Heritage Trail is an interesting walking route to follow.
Relaxing Afternoon Around South Bank (Day 1- Afternoon)
Along the river, Brisbane has many surprises in store… A favorite spot among most tourists and locals is South Bank. This district south of the riverbank is all about entertainment. Here, you’ll first find a superb artificial lagoon, a sort of giant pool with children’s play areas, picnic spaces, numerous bars, and restaurants… All set against a backdrop of lush nature and the city’s skyscrapers. Moreover, the lagoon, pool, and play areas are free to access throughout the day.
From the relaxing Street Beach to the giant Ferris wheel, there’s plenty to keep you busy for the day: sunbathing on the artificial beaches, strolling through the parks, or visiting the GOMA (Modern Art Museum). On weekends, markets liven up the area, offering a variety of local products and handmade items. Don’t leave without taking a photo in front of the construction of letters forming the city’s name B-R-I-S-B-A-N-E. A real work of art, it’s the perfect spot to immortalize your visit with the Brisbane skyline reflecting in the river in the background.
Animated Evening in the CBD (Day 1)
As the sun sets, head to “The Valley”. For years, Fortitude Valley, its full name, wasn’t of much interest. But today, this part of the city has become “the place to be” at nightfall for live music scenes and tasting craft beers.
If you’re feeling peckish, head to Chinatown, just a few minutes from “The Valley”. This area is also full of great bars and pubs for a good time. To mention just one, The Bloodhound Corner Bar and Kitchen offers irresistible tacos!
For a cocktail on a chic Brisbane rooftop with a view, head to Eleven Rooftop Bar. Always lively, this bar also serves food, with a menu designed for sharing. The rooftop turns into a small nightclub with a DJ until 3 am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Taking in Nature (Day 2 – Morning)
After experiencing Australian nightlife, it’s probably time to start this second day gently. Head to the famous Botanic Gardens to immerse yourself in greenery. Surrounded by the urban city on one side and the river on the other, strolling through Brisbane’s Botanic Gardens is a most pleasant awakening.
A little break is a must at the Gardens Club Cafe! The perfect place to relax with a coffee amidst these magnificent green spaces, just a few steps from the heart of the city.
Exploring an Alternative Neighborhood (Day 2 – Afternoon)
In the afternoon, it’s time to discover a very different side of Brisbane by hopping on a bus to West End.
In a very student-oriented, almost bohemian environment, it’s the ideal place for a vegetarian lunch, rummaging through small vintage shops, and soaking up the street art. Wandering the streets of West End allows you to immerse yourself in the unique characteristics of this multicultural, lively, beautiful… simply unique city.
Evening Entertainment (Day 2)
To end the second day on a high note, the neighborhoods of New Farm and Tenerife offer a wide selection of great restaurants. Located along the river, these areas are close to the city, making a post-dinner stroll an appealing option.
New Farm is also known for the ‘Brisbane Powerhouse.’ This venue has become a hub for quality artistic performances. Be sure to check out the schedule during your stay. There are often free live concerts, outdoor film screenings, and exhibitions.
Finally, Riverstage, located near the Botanic Gardens, is another favoured entertainment venue. This open-air amphitheater is an incredible place to see a show by one of your favorite artists.