Brisbane, Australia is a city that is really only starting to grow up. Long in the shadow of Sydney and Melbourne, it is finally starting to rate on the international scene. And, for very good reason.
Located in the state of Queensland, it is also the gateway to the Gold Coast, the beautiful hinterland, and the Great Barrier Reef.
Brisbane is blessed with a consistent climate and is, therefore, fabulous for visiting all year round, producing (on average) 261 days of sunshine every year. It also doesn’t really have a winter, with a few days a year around 15 degrees Celsius.
Visitors flock to Brisbane during the months of November – February to experience the heat of the summer. It can be quite hot during these months, but this is when everyone takes respite in the pools and at the beaches. There’s nothing better than putting on your sunscreen and a big hat and heading outdoors for a swim and a BBQ. It’s what Brisbane is all about.
Brisbane is far more relaxed than other capital cities in Australia. And why not? Surrounded by oceans and beaches, mountains, a thriving food scene, and cultural activities, there is always a variety of things to do, for everyone. Being able to do so much of it outdoors, adds a completely different dimension to this great city.
Here are 7 Awesome Things to Do in Brisbane, Australia
1. Visit South Bank
As the inner city’s green oasis, South Bank is an iconic destination. Built on a former industrial wasteland, South Bank came alive during World Expo ‘88.
Following Expo, the area was redeveloped into the beautiful place it is today. Nearly 30 years later, it is the thriving heart of the inner city and represents everything the locals (and visitors) love about our lifestyle.
On weekends and holidays, the South Bank Parkland is awash with activity.
The main attraction is the man-made beach. Here, at Streets Beach, you can sunbathe or swim in the enormous pools, all with a magnificent view of the Brisbane River and the glistening city. The beach is protected by a lifeguard, and there are areas where you can swim, or just laze about in the shallows. There are a smaller pool and waterpark for children also.
Along the river promenade, large shady trees and grassed areas provide the perfect environment for a picnic or bbq.
The South Bank precinct is also well known for great cafes and restaurants, and with the mix of cultures in this city, there’s something for everyone.
The best part about South Bank is that it is completely free. Here you can walk, run, bike ride or hire a Segway. You can use roller blade, walk your dog, or just sit on the seats that line the promenade and people watch. There’s even a community garden.
Each weekend, the South Bank Markets come alive with vendors selling everything from food to handbags, clothing, jewelry and other crafts.
2. Climb the Story Bridge
As one of only three bridge climbs in the world, this is a must-do when you are in Brisbane. Get up early and climb the bridge to watch the sunrise, or come back in the evening when the sun is setting for arguably one of the best views and experiences in Brisbane.
If early mornings aren’t your thing, then you can always climb it during the day.
3. Go to the top of Mt Coot-tha
Mt Coot-tha (Brisbane Lookout) provides a wonderful opportunity for an 180-degree view of the city. On a clear day, you can see right across the Brisbane bayside.
If you are lucky enough to be in Brisbane on New Year’s Eve or during the Brisbane Festival in September, it’s a great spot for watching fireworks. There’s also a fantastic restaurant up there. Or, if you love bushwalking or mountain biking, there’s plenty of tracks and wildlife around.
4. Take a day trip to Moreton Island
Just off the coast of Brisbane lies the gorgeous Moreton Island, and the Tangalooma Resort. After enjoying a great ride across on a ferry, there are some fantastic activities to get involved in.
Here you can climb the huge sand dunes and toboggan your way down to the bottom, feed the dolphins or snorkel (or dive) in the crystal clear waters around the Tangalooma wrecks.
5. Join the foodie scene
Brisbane has a growing and exciting food culture, with microbreweries, quirky cafes and farmers’ markets popping up everywhere. Every Thursday, in a little lane in South Brisbane, hidden away from the normal hustle and bustle, “Thank Truck it’s Thursday.” is the place to be.
Between 5pm-9pm, the Fish Lane carpark of Wandering Cooks turns into food truck heaven. Every week there is a different group of local food trucks on site to tempt you with their cheap food.
6. Visit the Kangaroo Point Cliffs
Made from volcanic rock and heritage protected, these incredible cliff faces are a landmark in Brisbane. Located on the opposite side of the river to the CBD, the cliffs offer a sweeping view of the city.
At night, as the sun gives way to evening, the city lights start to glow, and the Story Bridge becomes the centerpiece of this beautiful city. With this as your backdrop, it’s a great place to grabs a few drinks or an early dinner and watches the sun set over the city.
At the top of the cliffs, and at river level, there are bbq and picnic facilities.
On any day of the week, morning or late afternoon, you will also see groups of rock climbing enthusiasts scaling the cliff face. It might not be the most challenging of rock climbs, but it’s one of few that would have such an epic city backdrop.
7. The Cultural Precinct
The cultural precinct is made up of the Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), Queensland Museum, Queensland State Library and the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). Next door to South Bank, it has an easily accessible position from the city.
GOMA is the newest addition to this area and holds a significant collection of art. Each year it has a full calendar of exhibitions, most of which are free. They also have a children’s art center, which features interactive art, often from artists from all over the world.
Where to Stay in Brisbane, Australia
Best Budget Hotel in Brisbane, Australia – Mantra
Mantra South Bank is located on the southern bank of the Brisbane River, opposite Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre. Situated in the heart of Brisbane’s cultural and restaurant precinct, Mantra South Bank Brisbane’s on-site Stone Restaurant and Bar offers a sophisticated dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
All studios and apartments are modern in design and feature a kitchenette or fully equipped kitchen. The apartments have laundry facilities, and some have city views. Most accommodation features a balcony. Guests enjoy free access to an outdoor heated pool, a spa pool, and a fitness center
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Brisbane, Australia – Spicers Balfour Hotel
Located in the fashionable suburb of New Farm, Spicers Balfour Hotel is an award-winning boutique hotel just 7 minutes’ from the Brisbane city center and approximately 30 minutes’ drive from Brisbane Airport.
Spicers Balfour Hotel rooftop bar serves cocktails and overlooks the city and Story Bridge. The Balfour Kitchen is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It offers a modern Australian menu with European flair, and you can enjoy your meal inside or in the intimate courtyard. There is a private dining room, and a larger function room, available for celebrations or business events.
Best Luxury Hotel in Brisbane, Australia – Sofitel
Located in Brisbane’s CBD (Central Business District), the 5-star Sofitel Brisbane Central features a day spa, an outdoor pool and luxurious rooms with an LCD TV. It offers direct access to the Central Station.
All rooms of Sofitel Brisbane Central are equipped with satellite TV, bathrobes and slippers, and a fully stocked mini-bar. Stephanies Spa Retreat offers several health and beauty treatments, including their signature cleansing treatment, the Opal Rasul Temple. The SoFit Gymnasium offers guests an opportunity to work out.
Guests can watch the chefs of Thyme2 Restaurant cook international dishes live in the open-plan interactive kitchen. Cuvée Lounge Bar serves a wide selection of vintage and non-vintage champagnes and wines.
About the Writer
Kerri is the owner and writer of Beer and Croissants. She’s one-half of a couple who have traveled the world together since the late 90’s. Every travel experience involves food, and she never misses an opportunity to sample the local beverages either! Sometimes five stars but never budget, Kerri writes for those travelers who are financially independent, flexible and love traveling to their own tune.
Photos by Matt Williams Photography