This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure
Brisbane is one of Australia’s best cities, but often becomes more of a transit point for nearby destinations such as the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, or tropical north Queensland. However Brisbane has plenty on offer and it is well worth spending time exploring this city. Think warm weather, river views and gardens, with a backdrop of a typical cityscape, all making Brisbane a great destination all year round.
BRISBANE CITY GUIDE
Brisbane is Queensland’s capital city, located in the southern part of Queensland, Australia. Like the rest of Queensland, Brisbane has mild temperatures in the colder months, rarely dropping below 20 degrees Celsius and can get quite hot during Summer and spring.
Brisbane has both a domestic and international airport, with regular flights arriving and departing from around the world. There is also a port for cruise ships arriving into Brisbane.
To get about in Brisbane, you have a range of transport options including buses, river ferries, and trains, as well as taxi services. Many of the inner city attractions are within walking distance.
Your best option is to grab a GoCard loaded up with cash to travel between inner city transport services on buses, trains and ferries, or if you are planning to explore for 3 or 5 days consecutively, a SeeQ ticket is a great option.
Check out the Translink website for more information.
TRAVELLING WITH KIDS IN BRISBANE
Brisbane is a safe destination for family travel with lots on offer to delight young travellers.
While the usual safety precautions should be taken while travelling with kids anywhere, you will find it easy to enjoy Brisbane with kids, due to the many great attractions and local sights they can enjoy, as well as the warmer year-round.
Australia overall is a perfect family travel destination with facilities and services to accommodate families almost everywhere. You will find basic amenities such as baby change tables and parent rooms in most shopping centres and public access buildings. It is also acceptable to breastfeed babies discreetly in most places.
All Brisbane supermarkets and chemists stock baby and toddler necessities such as nappies, wet wipes, formula and baby food. There is easy access to health care in case of emergencies or illness.
Strollers and prams are suitable for use in Brisbane, with footpaths along most streets and ramp entrances to most buildings.
There are parks, playgrounds and indoor play centres scattered all around Brisbane and the surrounding suburbs, with plenty of activities and locations suited to family travel.
BEST ATTRACTIONS IN BRISBANE
1. Southbank Parklands
Situated in the heart of the city, Southbank Parklands is one of the most popular family friendly destinations in Brisbane, with plenty on offer. As the previous site of Expo ’88’, Southbank has been converted into one of Brisbane’s busiest attractions for locals and tourists alike.
There is the manmade Kodak Beach, with sandy beaches in case you want some relief from the heat.
Every Friday and Saturday there are markets, selling a variety of unique one of a kind creations, clothing, jewellery and other wares. Southbank is also home to the Wheel of Brisbane, a viewing wheel to give you city views, and has a variety of restaurants and cafes to keep the foodies happy.
Situated right alongside the Brisbane River, Southbank is also a great central hub for visiting other parts of the city.
Right next to Southbank is a variety of cultural delights, from the Queensland Performing Arts Complex to the Art Gallery and National Library, however one place that is great fun for adults and children alike is the Queensland Museum and Science Centre.
The museum itself has free admission, with the exception of special seasonal exhibits. There are plenty of interactive displays and educational resources.
The Science Centre has an admission charge, but is a super fun place to visit with kids, full of engaging and entertaining activities and displays, and plenty of learning opportunities.
3. City Cats
While in the city, a great way to see more of the sites along the river is by City Cat, which are Brisbane’s ferry system.
The City Cats take you quite a distance up and down the Brisbane River, stopping at lots of interesting places along the way. You may want to just go for a ride and enjoy the sites, or consider getting off and exploring one of the stops along the way.
4. Mt Coot-Tha Lookout
A favourite attraction in Brisbane, the Mt Coot-tha Lookout is one of the best places for city views and even more spectacular by night.
There is also Summit Restaurant and the Kuta Cafe at the lookout so you can enjoy a meal with views. Towards the bottom of Mt Coot-tha are the Brisbane Botanic Gardens and Planetarium, both offering fun options for a family day out.
5. Kangaroo Point Cliffs
One of the ferry stops you may want to get off at is the Kangaroo Point Cliffs. Well known for rock climbing opportunities, which can even be enjoyed by older kids with the assistance of an adult.
There are some great city views by night from this location too, as well as pathways to enjoy a leisurely stroll alongside the river.
6. Story Bridge Climb
While only suitable for adults, the Story Bridge Climb is a great way to see Brisbane from a unique vantage point.
While nowhere near as iconic as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Story Bridge is impressive in its own right. There are several Story Bridge climbs each day, however, you may need to book in advance.
7. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Located a little further out from the city centre in Fig Tree Pocket is Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, a popular attraction showcasing Australian wildlife. Get a photograph holding a koala or feed the kangaroos, and see plenty of other Australian animals up close.
There is a daily cruise along the Brisbane River that takes you to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and back too.
BEST PLACES TO SHOP IN BRISBANE
1. Queen Street Mall
Right in the centre of the city is the Queen Street Mall, full of trendy shops, big brand stores and places to eat. Queens Plaza offers many of the iconic international clothing labels, as well as all the popular local brands with more affordable price tags,
2. Indooroopilly Shopping Centre
While a little further from inner city Brisbane, Indooroopilly Shopping Centre is one of the largest shopping centres in Queensland, offering up a huge range of stores and restaurants.
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN BRISBANE
1. Plough Inn
One of our Brisbane city favourites is the popular Plough Inn, located at Southbank. They offer up the usual pub favourites, with a great menu and delicious meals. There is often live music playing in the beer garden, a lively atmosphere on the deck, or you can catch the latest sports match inside on one of the big screen TVs.
2. La Vue Waterfront Restaurant
Number 1 on Tripadvisor, La Vue Waterfront Restaurant is located on Queen Street in the city centre and offers up great views of the Story Bridge and Southbank Parklands. They serve modern Australian cuisine with a strong French influence.
3. Sono Japanese Restaurant
Located in the Brisbane suburb of Hamilton, Sono Japanese Restaurant has river views while you dine on Japanese specialities. The restaurant is set up to look like traditional Japanese floor seating, with cut out tables in the floor. Sono is currently the 2nd top restaurant in Brisbane according to Tripadvisor reviews.
4. Eat Street Markets
A relatively new addition to the Brisbane market scene and a foodie delight, the Eat Street Markets located on the Hamilton Wharf offers up international food delights and live performances every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Find out more, including market times on their website.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BRISBANE
1. Meriton Serviced Apartments
Newly built in a central location are the two Meriton Serviced Apartments hotels – located on Herschel Street, near Roma Street transit centre and parklands, and on Adelaide Street.
Both offer fully self contained apartments and are rated number 1 and 2 on TripAdvisor for Brisbane accommodation. They are luxury apartments catering from 1 – 3 bedrooms, making them suitable for any type of travel.
2. Hilton Brisbane
If it is a shopping trip you are keen on, the Hilton Brisbane comes recommended as one of the perfect inner city places to stay in Brisbane.
Within close walking distance to many Brisbane city attractions, including Treasury Casino and the City Botanic Gardens, as well as offering plenty of great leisure activities at the hotel, such as swimming, tennis and fine dining.
3. Rydges South Bank Brisbane
In the perfect Brisbane city location to enjoy all that is on offer at South Bank and surrounds, from fine dining to river cruises, the Rydges South Bank Brisbane is a great option for accommodation.
There is a jacuzzi, sauna and heated outdoor swimming pool, but also babysitting services if travelling with kids. In house dining is also an option.
SPECIAL EVENTS IN BRISBANE
Brisbane hosts an array of special events and festivals throughout the year, aimed at honouring arts, culture and history, both large and small. There is always something on in Brisbane.
1. Brisbane Festival
Kicking off in September each year is Brisbane’s largest festival, drawing crowds from around the world and showcasing a range of performing arts talents – dance, music, theatre, circus and heaps more.
The most anticipated part of Brisbane Festival is Riverfire, Brisbane’s annual fireworks display along the Brisbane River. Seeing the Story Bridge lit up is a must see.
2. Paniyiri Greek Festival
For the serious foodies, the Paniyiri Greek Festival is one of the most anticipated Brisbane events. This two day event is a cultural delight, with great food and drink, cultural performances and plenty of entertainment.
BEST DAY TRIPS FROM BRISBANE
1. Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is one of the first places that most people think of when considering the best day trips from Brisbane. With a lively atmosphere, with plenty of attractions, from beaches to theme parks, fine dining and shopping, the Gold Coast has something for everyone.
2. Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast is known for beautiful beaches and natural bushland, quite a bit quieter than the Gold Coast. Noosa has plenty on offer for activities, food and accommodation, or Coolum is a great destination if it’s water activities and cafes you are keen on.
3. Scenic Rim
If it’s more a country break you are looking for as a Brisbane day trip, head down the Scenic Rim for small towns, regional cities and natural bushland. From big country town Toowoomba, known for beautiful gardens and the views from Point Lookout, to as far as Stanthorpe where you can pick your own fruit or visit some wineries.
For a day trip that is actually part of Brisbane itself, Redcliffe is a great spot to go where you can enjoy the water of Brisbane’s bayside.
There are plenty of great places to eat, although fish and chips by the water is always a great option! Plus there are several great boating experiences that depart from the Redcliffe jetty each day, including dolphin or whale watching trips.