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Looking for the best things to do in Brisbane? There are so many fun things to do in Brisbane that it can be hard to know where to start. We know, because we’re Brisbane locals and we’re always still discovering incredible new hidden gems.
We’ve put together the ultimate list of things to see and do for all interests and ages.
Whether you’re looking for family activities for a day out in Brisbane with kids or want a unique experience with a partner or friends, we’ve got something on this list for you!
Located in Queensland’s South-East, Brisbane brings the perfect combination of laid-back lifestyle, dramatic scenery, and coastal access.
With so many things to do in Brisbane, it can be hard to know where to start. But we’ve got your back, as this list has just about everything you could want!
With a population of over two million people, in Brisbane, you will find historic landmarks alongside the Brisbane River or enjoy the warm weather most of the year-round, with the chance to get out on the water and make the most of the sunny climate.
These Brisbane attractions and fun activities are great for exploring the city, having family fun or getting a little bit of culture and history along the way.
Here are the best things to do in Brisbane city and the surrounding suburbs:
1. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Head to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary for your chance to cuddle a koala, feed kangaroos and get up close with a huge range of native Australian wildlife. This is the largest koala sanctuary in Queensland.
The sanctuary is a short drive from Brisbane, or catch the daily cruise that leaves from the CBD for a chance to enjoy a scenic boat ride each way. This is by far one of our favourite things to do in Brisbane with kids and we visit often.
I actually did my high school work experience at Lone Pine and it was such a fun chance to learn behind the scenes and interact with the animals.
2. Eat Street Northshore
As the name suggests, Eat Street is Brisbane’s foodie hub. You’ll find all sorts of eateries representing different cuisines and ethnicities here.
It’s a great place to come for a tasty lunch or dinner on weekends, often with live entertainment happening while you make your way from stall to stall, sampling new favourite foods from around the world.
3. Brisbane River Cruise
Cruising the Brisbane River is a relaxing way to see the city, with short 1-hour river cruises offering quick tours of the city or longer cruises, offering lunch or dinner cruises as you take in the scenery and fancy mansions along the riverbanks.
4. Brisbane River Kayak Tour
When you think of things to do in Brisbane, it’s a good idea to get out on the water if you can. What better way than by taking a kayak tour along the river. Departing Riverlife, you will see iconic Brisbane landmarks such as the Story Bridge and South Bank from a different perspective.
5. Queensland Maritime Museum
The Queensland Maritime Museum is the perfect place to take your kids for a day out. It offers family-friendly activities and interactive exhibits that will keep them entertained all day long!
6. Wheel of Brisbane
Take a ride on the Wheel Of Brisbane for spectacular views across all of Brisbane’s landmarks. The iconic Ferris wheel is a great way to see panoramic views of Brisbane by day or night.
7. IMAX Cinema
Across from the Southbank Parklands, enjoy watching a film on the massive IMAX screen. This cinema complex screens the latest blockbuster releases plus regular IMAX screenings, all at an affordable low price.
8. Brisbane Powerhouse Cultural Centre & Arts Precinct
Brisbane’s Powerhouse Museum is home to cool exhibitions, live performances, workshops and special events throughout the year. It has especially established itself as the home of comedy. Check out what’s currently happening at the Powerhouse.
9. Sparklab Science Centre
Brisbane’s science centre is a must-visit for Brisbane families. Walk through the interactive displays, learn about our natural world or get hands-on in the Discovery Centre. This is always a fun day out even if your kids groan at the thought of spending a day learning about science.
10. The Gabba
Visit The Gabba for a chance to explore Queensland’s most famous cricket ground then head out to watch the game in action from one of its many open-air seats. This is also home to the Brisbane Lions Football games, giving you plenty of options throughout the year for sports fans.
11. Queen Street Mall
Brisbane’s hub for shopping, dining and entertainment. You will find plenty of shops, restaurants and activities to entertain you for a day in the Queen Street Mall, with regular street performances and events taking place in this central hub.
12. Brisbane Story Bridge Climb
Climbing the iconic Story Bridge is an amazing experience and a Brisbane must-do! You’ll get to climb the iconic bridge safely, and get a view from above unlike any other. The walkways are made of steel mesh so it is safe enough for kids aged six or older to participate in the guided climb.
Seeing the heart of the city of Brisbane from a different angle is a memorable experience!
Tip: Do the bridge climb in the late afternoon so you can see the inner city as the sun sets over Brisbane or go for an early morning sunrise.
13. Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium
This is a great spot for kids to learn about astronomy and explore the stars. When you’re not gazing at the star show above, there are some fantastic things exhibits to explore at the Planetarium too.
But the planetarium isn’t just for kids. While they do have several programs catered to younger kids, the majority of their programming is targeted to 6 years and up, so grown-ups will love visiting just as much as the youngsters!
14. See Live Music
Brisbane has plenty of live music and live entertainment most nights of the week, whether it be live bands, karaoke night, or cabaret performances. You may even discover your new favourite live band!
15. Customs House
Take a visit to Brisbane’s Customs House, a heritage-listed building that has been restored to its original glory with an impressive dome and grand staircases. Customs House is a popular event space.
There is also Patina at Customs House Restaurant, with indoor dining within the heritage surroundings or outdoor dining overlooking the Brisbane River and the Story Bridge.
16. Eagle Street Pier
Eagle Street Pier is a redeveloped Brisbane icon and the best place to go for an early morning coffee or brunch or finer dining by night. You’ll find some of the best views of the river, as well as the Riverside Markets that happen each Sunday!
UPDATE 2023: The Eagle Stree Pier has been demolished to make way for a new development. Waterfront Brisbane is expected to reopen the Eagle Street riverwalk by 2024, and complete its first tower by 2026. For more information, head to the Dexus website.
17. Howard Smith Wharves
Visit the Howard Smith Wharves and enjoy a meal at one of their trendy restaurants or explore with a walk along the Brisbane River. Here you will find the popular Felons Brewing Co and their Barrel Hall, Mr Percival’s overwater bar and much more, all located beneath the Story Bridge.
18. Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Brisbane’s largest theatre, QPAC is a must-visit within Brisbane’s cultural precinct. Take your pick from their varied theatrical offerings that include dance, opera and musicals or catch one of their many live performances on stage at any time during the year.
19. City Bicycle Tour
Take a bike tour around Brisbane so you can see things from a different perspective. Uncover the hidden gems of Brisbane and learn interesting facts about its history, culture and people with an experienced bike guide around Queensland’s capital city.
The tour is aimed to give you a local perspective on the city while getting some exercise and fresh air too!
20. Treasury Brisbane
Treasury Brisbane houses a plethora of things to do, including Brisbane’s Casino and is set on the site of Queensland’s first Treasury Buildings. This grand building also houses restaurants and bars, located along the Queen Street Mall, near the Brisbane River.
21. City Cat Ferries
Brisbane City Cat Ferry
You can’t visit Brisbane without taking a cruise down the river on a City Cat. These iconic ferries are much more fun than driving and they’re a great way to see the city from an entirely new perspective.
Plus they can lead you to some really cool new places to explore at each stop.
22. Brisbane Segway Tour
Take in the sites of Brisbane, without ever having to walk a single step. An urban adventure for all ages and fitness levels that will take you around some of Brisbane’s most iconic landmarks on a segway tour. This adds a whole new element of fun to your Brisbane city tour!
23. Visit The Breweries
Brisbane has some fantastic craft breweries that have grown in popularity over recent years. With Newstead Brewing Co and Green Beacon, James Squire, Felons, Brisbane Brewing Co, Aether, Ballistic, Helios and Slipstream to just name a few, you will have no shortage of choices.
Many are within walking distance from one another or jump on a ferry or train for a Brisbane city craft brew hop.
Tip: Join a Brisbane brewery tour to make it easier to move between them and sample some of the best brews in town.
24. Netherworld Arcade & Bar
Brisbane’s retro gaming haven and bar located in Fortitude Valley was created out of the founder’s love for old-school pinball games, video arcades and retro favourites like Pac-Man or Space Invaders from childhood days.
Netherworld is the place to come for pinball machines, classic gaming consoles and arcade games, as well as board games. Enjoy a beverage from the bar and food off the menu as you compete against friends to be the gaming champion.
This is definitely a great option if you’re looking for fun activities in Brisbane for adults!
25. Brisbane Dark Stories True Crime Tour
Learn about Brisbane’s darker history with this true-crime story tour. Hear about Brisbane’s criminal underbelly and the gruesome crimes they committed in the city. This one is better suited to older kids and teens or for an adults-only night out in Brisbane.
26. Brisbane Ghost Tours
Another for the more mature crowd! Take a haunted ghost walk for things to do in Brisbane at night; you’ll hear spooky tales of people who have experienced paranormal activity right here on their own doorsteps!
There are several ghost tour options within Brisbane and the surrounding suburbs, including the CBD, Toowong Cemetary, Boggo Road Gaol and other creepy options for your spookfest!
27. Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park
View of city from Kangaroo Point cliff top
This riverside parkland is a beautiful, tranquil place to walk. It is a popular spot for abseiling the cliffs if you’re feeling energetic!
There are also great river views from up the top of the cliffs here so you can enjoy the sunset while having some fresh air. The park has plenty of space for kids to run around too, with a playground.
28. Indoor Skydiving
Head to IFly Brisbane, located in Chermside, for your chance to get airborne and enjoy indoor skydiving. This fun experience is suited to adults and children and is sure to be like nothing else you’ve experienced before (with the exception of actual skydiving)!
29. Brisbane Food Tour
A Brisbane food tour is perfect for things to do in Brisbane, no matter the weather outdoors. Taste your way through coffee and sweets, seafood lunch and a cheese platter with stops at some of Brisbane’s famous landmarks along the way.
A Brisbane Scavenger hunt is an entertaining activity that is great for visiting with kids or even for locals who want to discover new things about the city they thought they knew! Work together to solve clues leading you through a self-guided mystery. We have done this as part of a larger event and it was so much fun!
31. Escape Room
Challenge yourselves with solving the mystery by trying your skills at a Brisbane Escape Room. There is a time limit to solve the puzzle and you’ll need to work as a team! This is great fun for visiting Brisbane as a group.
Free Things To Do In Brisbane
Don’t want to spend a dime? These free things to do in Brisbane with family will keep your spending in check, all while having a load of fun around town. You don’t need to spend to have a great day out in the Brisbane CBD with so many free attractions and public facilities to keep you busy.
Check out the best free family activities in Brisbane and the surrounding areas:
Streets Beach at South Bank Parklands
32. South Bank Parklands
South Bank Parklands, once the site of World Expo ’88’, offers the perfect spot for family fun in Brisbane. At one end there’s a natural heritage park, with more than 40 hectares of open space to explore and picnic on grassy lawns that overlook the river.
There are free swimming pools and huge playgrounds and it’s close proximity to art galleries, museums and theatres too.
When it comes to finding things to do in Brisbane for free, Southbank is always a good choice as there is always something happening. The parklands are especially popular during the summer school holidays!
Tip: During the warmer months, or anytime if you dare, pack your swimmers and head for a swim in the lagoon or the only man-made beach in Brisbane – Streets Beach . There are also splash zones and water jets, perfect for visiting with babies and toddlers who can’t yet swim.
33. State Library of Queensland
One of Brisbane’s most iconic buildings, the State Library is a grand old building with an amazing reading room and some wonderful interactive displays. They offer regular activities for kids and have a school holiday program to keep the little ones entertained over the break.
There are also regular special exhibits for families that are always worth checking out!
34. City Botanic Gardens
The Brisbane Botanic Gardens encompass more than 100 hectares of bushland, lakes and botanical treasures. It’s a great place to explore on foot or by bike. There are also lots of paths for long walks and picnic spots to put down a rug and enjoy lunch outdoors.
35. Queensland Museum
If you’re after a different kind of cultural experience then head to Queensland Museum where kids can explore interactive displays about Australia’s amazing history and wildlife.
The Museum of Brisbane has a kid’s learning zone with plenty of hands-on activities and the iconic dinosaur sculptures that have been there for as long as most Brisbanites can remember!
The Queensland museum often has special exhibits throughout the year. Some of these are at an admission cost if you are looking for a little something extra to do during your visit.
36. GOMA Brisbane
The Gallery of Modern Art is the perfect day out for families with kids who want to explore contemporary art and design. The gallery has exhibitions on all kinds of topics, but what really stands out are its interactive displays which encourage children to create their own artwork or discover their creative talents.
There is also a Children’s Gallery that holds regular workshops and daily activities for visiting families. This is easily one of the best free family activities Brisbane offers.
37. Queensland Art Gallery
The Queensland Art Gallery has been around longer than GOMA and provides a different perspective on Queensland’s art and culture and they are located a short distance apart. The Gallery doesn’t just display the classics, they also offer exhibitions showcasing contemporary Australian artists and international talents.
38. Mt Coot-tha Lookout
For time outdoors, check out Mount Coot-tha Lookout for sensational views over Brisbane and its surrounds. This is a great place to visit during the day or in the evening when the city lights create an incredible sight from this impressive viewing point.
Hiking up Mt Coot-tha is also a great way to enjoy the great weather and fresh air. There are many other great hiking trails in the area too.
Tip: There is also a restaurant and cafe for dining with incredible views!
39. Roma Street Parklands
This expansive green space is the perfect place to explore and take in a little nature.
Roma Street Parkland is a short walk from the CBD and boasts native plants from around Australia, unusual tropical fruit trees and some really cool playgrounds that are suited to kids of different ages. Kids can also enjoy an interactive water play area.
40. Free CityHopper Ferry
The Brisbane CityHopper is a hop-on, hop-off inner-city ferry service for the Brisbane River. With six stops between North Quay and Sydney Street, New Farm, the free service runs every 30 minutes between 5.30 am and midnight, seven days a week.
This is a great way to explore along the Brisbane River without spending big on transport, making it perfect for families.
41. New Farm Park
If you are looking for wide-open spaces, cool playgrounds and plenty of walking paths, New Farm Park is a great spot. It’s also home to the iconic Brisbane Powerhouse, which is worth checking out for people of all ages (including those who are into arts and culture).
Tip: On Saturdays, don’t miss the New Farm Markets, with delicious food, local handmade wares, farmers’ markets with fresh produce and cool finds.
42. Japanese Garden
The Japanese Gardens at the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens are a peaceful oasis in the city, with traditional Japanese architecture and gardens. The path within the gardens follows an S-shape. As you approach an area, the view of the next section is hidden, adding an element of mystery or surprise for visitors.
43. Brisbane City Hall
Brisbane City Hall is a huge and stunning place to visit, not just because of its beautiful architecture and iconic clock tower but also for the array of Brisbane activities that happen inside. If you’re into the spooky, dark side of Brisbane’s history, there are also regular ghost tours that take you on a visit after dark to City Hall.
And during the festive season, the outside is lit up with an incredible lights display and parade.
44. Free Brisbane Walking Tour
Explore Brisbane on foot with a free walking tour. Brisbane Walking Tours offers a 1.5-hour walk through the CBD with commentary on buildings of interest, street art and more.
45. Brisbane Forest Park
Located in Brisbane’s outer east, just 13km from the CBD, is this nature reserve that offers a wide variety of outdoor family activities including bushwalking trails, bird watching opportunities or picnics under those magnificent Moreton Bay fig trees.
One of the most popular attractions is Mount Glorious, with popular walking tracks from the Maiala picnic ground to the beautiful Green Falls. The park is part of the larger D’Aguilar National Park.
Day Trips From Brisbane
If you’re looking for Brisbane day trips that are only an hour or two from the CBD, you will find plenty of fun options for the whole family. Some of our favourite Brisbane day trips include:
46. Gold Coast
Head to the Gold Coast for some fun in the sun with beaches, nature walks, wildlife parks and playgrounds. In Surfers Paradise, you will find tourist attractions such as Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium, ArtVo, Infinity and loads more family attractions on the Gold Coast.
And of course, the Gold Coast is also home to Queensland’s best theme parks and water parks too, including Dreamworld, Seaworld, Movieworld, Wet N Wild and White Water World.
47. North Stradbroke Island
If you want to get away from the city, Stradbroke Island is a 40-minute drive followed by a ferry ride away. With a huge range of things to do and see including beaches, national parks and wildlife reserves, there are loads of great things to keep the whole family entertained.
48. Tangalooma Island
Tangalooma Wrecks are great for snorkelling
A short ferry ride from the mainland brings you to Tangalooma Island where things are a little quieter and slower-paced. For those who want to enjoy some peace, tranquillity and wildlife, a day trip to Moreton Island and Tangalooma is a great option.
You can take a humpback whale watching or bottlenose dolphin watching cruise, depending on the time of year, from Brisbane and go snorkelling around the Tangalooma Wrecks.
Located around 30 minutes from Brisbane, Ipswich is a great day out for families. They have some fantastic playgrounds and parklands, including the free Orion Lagoon swimming pool and Robelle Domain Parklands in Springfield Lakes.
In the city centre of Ipswich, you will find Queens Park with a big playground, a Japanese Garden and a free wildlife park where you can see kangaroos, lizards, bilbies and heaps more native Australian wildlife.
There is also the Workshops Rail Museum in North Ipswich.
Take a Sunshine Coast day trip and hike your way up the Glass House Mountains or take a visit iconic Australia Zoo for a huge day of wildlife encounters. The Sunshine Coast is also perfect for a day at the beach.
If you want even more day trip inspiration, check out our extensive list of the best day trips from Brisbane so you can explore beyond the city.
How To Get Around In Brisbane
While you will find plenty to see and do within walking distance of the Brisbane CBD, there are also some great attractions and day trips further from the city.
The best way to get around if you don’t have your own transport is by utilising the public transport system, including buses, trains and ferries that will get you to most places in Brisbane and beyond.
There are also taxi and rideshare services, including Uber and Lyft.
When travelling from the Brisbane Airport into the city, the Airtrain will take you to the CBD or there are bus services available as well.
Where To Stay In Brisbane
As well as having plenty of things to do in Brisbane, it’s also important to think about where you’re going to stay.
The city is home to some of the best accommodation options and all sorts of things for travellers with different budgets – from luxury hotels and apartments near the river or close proximity to CBD and public transport to budget backpacker hostels right near a train station.
Here are some great choices for Brisbane accommodation to suit every budget:
Brisbane is a city of culture, food, and fun. It’s also the perfect place for you to escape from your everyday life with an adventure or two! We’ve compiled our favourite places to visit in Brisbane that will make you want to stay forever. With so many things to explore in Brisbane, you may not know where to start.
Whether you’re visiting for the first time or live locally as we do, this list of the best things to do in Brisbane is a great place for inspiration! We’ve included some ideas for all budgets and ages. Have fun exploring our beautiful river city!
Now that you have plenty of inspiration for what to do in Brisbane, what will you do first?
Check out these resources for planning your Brisbane visit: