Brisbane is the third-largest city in Australia, and the capital of Queensland. The city, which has nearly 2.5 million inhabitants, is a real attraction for local and international tourists. Enjoying pleasant weather all year round, it offers an ideal living environment. Not only does the climate allow you to visit Brisbane each Season of the year, but the city is also spotless, very safe and you have everything to hand. So do not miss this rich and welcoming destination which easily sums up the soul of Australian culture.
What to do in Brisbane?
City parts in Brisbane
The city of Brisbane (Brisbane City Council) covers more than 6000 km2! A surprising size, if one compares this with the size of the small town centre. In fact, the Brisbane one is tiny city centre (Central Business District – CBD) in the heart of the city and many suburbs (the so-called suburbs). Australians live mainly in the suburbs and are very well-equipped with many shopping centres in the vicinity (including: Post office, Bank, Doctors, etc.). As a result, it is very common for people to stay in the suburbs without finding the need to go to the center.
The centre of the city, which is separated by a river, is located on the left Bank. It is located in the proximity of the Central business district (CBD), a major shopping street (Brisbane Mall) and the Botanical garden. The CBD, you should have seen because it is a tourist attraction in Brisbane.
The business district is very modern and consists of many high-rise buildings. You can stroll along the Docks (Eagle Street Pier and the Howard Smith Wharves), where you can find many Restaurants and Bars. On Thursdays and Fridays, when after-work parties take place, the neighbourhood is particularly lively. Take the time to visit St Stephen’s Cathedral in Neo-Gothic style on Elizabeth Street. The statue of Mary MacKillop (1842-1909), the first Australian Catholic saint, is also worth a look.
Monuments and Parks
Just steps from Queen Street, you can admire City Hall at King George Square. It is the largest city hall in Australia! Built between 1919 and 1930, the New York Art Deco-inspired building has been the pride of the people of Brisbane for many decades. It also houses the city museum.
For those who prefer it a bit greener, the downtown botanical garden offers a relaxing environment of 20 hectares. A great sight in Brisbane. You can also walk along the river and observe interesting animals, such as the Australian water dragons (large and beautiful lizards). There is also the QUT University Campus (open to all) and the Queensland Parliament, which is open for free that can be visited throughout the year from Monday to Friday. Roma Street Parkland covers an area of 16 hectares and is a 10-minute walk from the city center. It is a popular destination for lush vegetation, picnic areas with a free barbecue and many playgrounds. There you can also observe the most different types of birds.
Of course, you should not leave Brisbane without meeting kangaroos and koalas! Brisbane’s Lone Pine Sanctuary is the world’s largest koala reserve and one of the most famous attractions. There you can even cuddle with koalas and feed kangaroos. You can get there by bus from the city center. take the 430 bus from Queen Street Station or the 445 bus from Adelaide Street. You can also get there by boat by joining a river cruise. Mirimar Cruises will let you enjoy a scenic river cruise before heading to the wildlife park for an amazing day out.
Enjoy the artificial beach
One of the most popular attractions in Brisbane and South Bank. Cross the Victoria Bridge and drive in the direction of the right Bank of the South Bank Parklands. You will be amazed, because the area is exceptionally beautiful. The landscaped waterfront is not only appreciated by young people, older people and families spend their day there! A few minutes’ walk away from each other, you’ll find a Ferris wheel, a Nepalese pagoda, the Queensland Museum and the Modern Art Gallery.
The most popular attraction is The Lagoon: a huge artificial beach with turquoise water! In contrast to Sydney, there are in Brisbane, no beaches. Very well equipped, you can relax with your friends or children. You can find a lot of deck surfaces (Sand or grass), picnic tables, and plenty of playgrounds. For those that don’t get wet would like to offer Gray St and Stanley St, just a few steps away, a wide selection of Restaurants and trendy Bars.
In downtown Brisbane you will find a large pedestrian street with department stores. The street is called Queen Street and has an open-air mall dominated by the Brisbane Casino. Most of the shops are concentrated on the mall, but there are also shops for shopping in parallel streets. If you like shopping, it is important to know that most stores open at 09:00 and close at 17:30. Every Friday night the shops in the city centre are open until 9 pm. The shopping malls in the suburbs are open on Thursday until 9 pm. On Sundays, the shops usually open from 10 am to 4 pm.
From this side of the Shore you up to Kangaroo Point to see and the view over the cliff. Enjoy, which climbers use. At the end of the pier you can watch the incredible steel structure of the Story Bridge and even climb if you don’t suffer from vertigo.
The lookout point at Mount Coot-tha with views of the city and all suburbs offers to the visitors in the evening twilight with a breathtaking Panorama. Its highest point is 300m high and the walk will take you barely 30 minutes. At night, you have a brilliant view of the stars in the sky. The top is a Café and a Restaurant. During the day you can wander around the grounds. A little further down you can through the lush Botanical gardens of Mount Coot-tha for a stroll, and the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium visit. You’ll see many great sights of Brisbane.
Best time to visit Brisbane and how long to stay?
Best period to visit Brisbane
The climate in Brisbane on the Australian East coast is subtropical. With other words: the summers are long, hot and humid and the winters are short, but cool. Keep in mind that the seasons are opposite because Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere. You can visit Brisbane all year! If you suffer from heat or cold, visit Brisbane in spring (September, October, November) and autumn (March, April, may). The temperatures are mild and perfect for Outdoor activities. The nights are not too hot and you can sleep well.
To enjoy the summer heat and the beach on the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast (or the lagoon), it is best to arrive between November and April. If you are not too sensitive, you can swim all year round. The water temperature rarely drops below 21 degrees.
Beware of the UV rays. The Brisbane UV Index is between 3 and 11. It is strongly recommended that you protect your eyes and skin all year (Index 30) as soon as you go outside. Even in cloudy and cool weather!
How many days should I plan to visit Brisbane?
The Brisbane City Centre is small and the attractions can be explored within a day on foot. The city is modern and mainly for the business district (CBD), a major shopping street (Brisbane Mall), the Botanical Park and the countryside Bank (South Bank) are known. The city offers a free City Loop Service and city hoppers – not to be confused with the CityCat -which is super fast. You’ll be able to see most of the sights in Brisbane in just a day.
If you have 2 days time in Brisbane to visit and see in the area want to stay, we advise you to the charming suburbs to explore (Paddington, West End, New Farm, Teneriffe, etc.). Since the city is very spread out, you need to still use the public transport.
Add at least two additional days, if you want to explore the Sunshine Coast in the North or the Gold Coast in the South.
Restaurants & Bars in Brisbane
Downtown, the locals enjoy Eagle Pier, with its many trendy restaurants and bars, and incredible views of the river and Kangaroo Point. In its expansion, Howard Smith’s docks have recently been redeveloped and feature eye-catching decor beneath the Story Bridge. From chic restaurants to cozy pubs, there’s something for everyone to eat here. Thursday evenings, the so-called afterworks is always busy.
On the other side of the bank (South Bank) are Gray Street and Stanley Street with restaurants and bars for all budgets. Boundary Street in the West End also offers a wide variety of affordable restaurants.
In Fortitude Valley and China Town, just 20 minutes’ walk from the city centre, you will find a variety of reasonably priced restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Party animals are spoiled for choice in these places. From 10 pm you can put on your dance shoes.
Visiting the street markets in Portside Wharf is a must and one of Brisbane’s top attractions. Immerse yourself every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in a festive and colourful atmosphere and discover the multicultural cuisine of Queensland. Stroll along the Brisbane River between numerous food trucks and stalls.
In major shopping centers like Chermside or Garden City, food courts are also open at night.
Accommodation in Brisbane
Brisbane has a great advantage, in terms of accommodation to be cheaper than Sydney and Melbourne. Rents are currently affordable.
For short stays in Hotels, Hostels, Airbnbs or Couchsurfing offer. You’ll quickly notice that there is a lack of accommodation. The minimum price for a hotel room is between 120 and 150 AUD.
For short stay rentals, in other words, you rented the room of a Person for a few weeks to a few months absent. This is an advantageous Option, but unfortunately only temporarily. Gumtree or Facebook be used to search for sub-leases.
Check in the following quarter, if you are in the vicinity of the city centre, you would like to live: CBD (of course!), South Bank, South Brisbane, West End, Woolloongabba, Milton, Auchenflower, Toowong, Paddington, New Farm. Use Google Maps to estimate where your new apartment is approximate.
For longer stays (longer than 6 months) there is a possibility of an apartment or even a multi-bedroom to rent. The Rent of housing in Australia is in comparison to Europe, very flexible. Websites such as realestate.com.au or domain.com.au are full of Ads. For a two-bedroom apartment in the suburbs, you have to expect about 370 AUD per week. In multi-bed rooms, the prices usually start at 150 AUD per week. If you want to rent a furnished apartment, you may need to increase the rent expectations. In addition, utility bills are usually not included in the rent and are usually shared by all the roommates.
More on this can be found here: accommodation in Brisbane
Public transport in Brisbane
There are several ways to get around in Brisbane. The Australians, however, prefer their own car. If you plan to use public transport, we advise you to make some small preparations.
Download the MyTransLink app for free on your mobile phone to make it easy to plan your travels. Get a GoCard (you can buy it at any train station or 7-Eleven store). With this card, you can travel by bus, train or ferry. You can conveniently charge the card at any train station, in a 7-Eleven or in the designated terminals near bus stops or train stations.
Remember to check in and check out with the GoCard as soon as you get on and off the bus (the same applies to the ferry). For the train, the terminals at the entrances and exits of the station or platform are announced. If you forget to scan your card when you get off, you lose a portion of your balance.
The city hall has set up a free bus and ferry shuttle service: CityLoop and CityHopper. These are ideal to visit the attractions in the city centre of Brisbane.
Electric scooters for self-service are a cool option to get around the city. The E-Bike ($1 to unlock it, then 45 cents per minute) is super convenient. Bear in mind that wearing a helmet is mandatory and driving the sidewalks in Brisbane is legal (except in prohibited areas such as Queen Street).
Activities in the surroundings of Brisbane
If you are Outdoor, enjoy activities, Brisbane is a great destination! Immerse yourself in just a few hours travel in new environments.
South of the City
Mount Tamborine (about 1 hour’s drive South of Brisbane) on a day visit. Many tours are offered by local agencies. Discover a charming village and taste the wines of the Canungra valley. Stroll through the rain forest to the Springbook National Park and discover the world-famous UNESCO Natural Bridge. It is guaranteed to be something for everyone!
The Gold Coast will also be one of the destinations of choice where you can enjoy huge beaches and go surfing. Surfers Paradise (80 km to the south) is an unmissable place which contrasts sharply with Brisbane and where the beach tickles the skyscrapers! Thrill seekers will love the region’s amusement parks.
North of the City
In the North-West, in the Hinterland of the Sunshine Coast are the villages of Maleny and Montville picturesque and worth a visit. If you travel along the coast, we advise you, to visit Noosa and the Eumundi Market to (Wednesday and Saturday).
Camp with fins, diving mask and snorkel in your hand luggage on Fraser Island, Moreton Island or Stradbroke Island and enjoy the paradisiacal waters of the Pacific. If you do not have much time available, day tours are also available. There are many tour operators available to choose from.
Further, in the Hinterland (3 hours by car) is in Toowoomba which is known for its flower gardens and the flower festival in September. It is the last big city before Entering the Outback. Best you stay in one of the many Cottages. Beware of the winter, temperatures at night drop below zero.
Road trip itineraries from Brisbane
Departing from Brisbane, you will have the choice between going north and its incredible beaches, south to reach Sydney or even a road trip inland to discover the Outback.
Brisbane -> Cairns
For those who are not used to road trips, who love the ocean, this itinerary is perfect. Driving along the coast on the Bruce Highway, you can discover the beauties of the East Coast with Fraser Island, the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. The tropical and verdant forests of the North are also not to be missed.
If you drive directly from Brisbane to Cairns, the journey will be around 1700 kilometres. Most of the amazing places to visit are within 50 kilometres either side of the highway. Obviously, these extra detours add time and distance to your trip, making it difficult to fit it all in. But rest assured, however much time you have, you’re sure to see some amazing sights on your Brisbane to Cairns holiday.
This short 909 km road trip will be via the Pacific Highway. Heading south, one of the first stops will be to discover the Gold Coast, famous in particular for Surfers Paradise and its tall buildings on the beach. Large skyscrapers, shopping malls and many water sports activities are clustered here. Above all, don’t miss Ballina or Byron Bay, Australia’s iconic hippie town. Then comes Port Macquarie with its koala refuge, an ideal place to observe them and learn more about the population in the country.
Further south and if you are a fan of snorkelling, head for Port Stephens and its turquoise waters! From Nelson Bay, book a 2.5 hour cruise to observe dolphins (all year round) and whales (May to November) in their natural habitat. You can also go for the ascent of the Tomaree Head Summit. This 2.2 km round trip hike (about 1 hour) offers a panoramic view of the coast.