brisbane city scape

50 Fun Things to Do in Brisbane: Attractions & Free Activities (2021)

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There are so many fun things to do in Brisbane that it can be hard to know where to start. We’ve put together the ultimate list of things for all types of 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 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.

Brisbane city scape sunrise

Fun Things To Do In Brisbane

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! These Brisbane attractions and activities are great for exploring the city, having family fun or getting a little bit of culture and history along the way.

If the weather is looking questionable, these Brisbane rainy day activities will help keep the family entertained, with plenty to do indoors.

Here are the best things to do in Brisbane city and the surrounding suburbs:

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary – Head to Lone Pine for your chance to cuddle a koala, feed kangaroos and get up close with a huge range of native Australian wildlife. 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.

Eat Street Northshore – As the name suggests, this 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.

Kookaburra River Queen Brisbane River Cruise
Kookaburra River Queen

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, such as the Kookaburra River Queens, offering lunch or dinner cruises as you take in the scenery and fancy mansions along the riverbanks.

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 with one of our kayak tours along the river. Departing Riverlife, you will see iconic Brisbane landmarks such as the Story Bridge and South Bank from a different perspective.

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!

Wheel of Brisbane

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Brisbane Story bridge

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.

Tip: Do the bridge climb in the late afternoon so you can see the city as the sun sets over Brisbane.

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!

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!

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. 

Eagle Street Pier Brisbane

Eagle Street Pier – This 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 great views of the river, as well as the Riverside Markets that happen each Sunday!

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.

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.

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!

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.

Brisbane City Cat Ferry along river
Brisbane City Cat Ferry

City Cat Ferries – 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.

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!

Visit The Breweries – Brisbane has some fantastic craft breweries that have grown in popularity over recent years. With Newstead Brewing Co and Green Beacon, 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 moving between them and sampling some of the best brews in town.

Netherworld Arcade & Bar – Brisbane’s retro gaming haven and bar located in Fortitude Valley was created out of the founders love for old school pinball games, video arcades and retro favourites like Pac-Man or Space Invaders from childhood days. This 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.

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.

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!

kangaroo point cliffs
View of city from Kangaroo Point cliff top

Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park – 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.

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)!

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.

Brisbane Scavenger Hunt – 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!

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 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 activities in Brisbane and the surrounding areas:

Southbank Parklands beach
Streets Beach at South Bank Parklands

South Bank Parklands – The 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.

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.

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.

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.

Brisbane Museum dinosaur skeleton

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 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!

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.

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.

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.

Tip: There is also a restaurant and cafe for dining with incredible views!

roma street parklands

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.

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.

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 yummy food, local handmade wares and cool finds.

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.

Brisbane City Hall

Brisbane City Hall – Brisbane City Hall is a huge and stunning place to visit, not just because of its beautiful architecture but also for the array of 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.

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.

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 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:

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 popular 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 too.

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 things to keep the whole family entertained.

tangalooma wrecks beach
Tangalooma Wrecks are great for snorkelling

Tangalooma Island – 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 dolphin watching cruise, depending on the time of year, from Brisbane and go snorkelling around the Tangalooma Wrecks.

Ipswich – 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 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. Check out even more fun things to do in Ipswich.

Sunshine Coast – Take a Sunshine Coast day trip and hike your way up the Glasshouse 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

bus zone in brisbane city

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, through budget backpacker hostels right near a train station.

Here are some great choices for Brisbane accommodation to suit every budget:

Budget – Brisbane City YHA (Hostel)

Mid-Range – Mercure Brisbane King George Square

Family-Friendly – Oaks Brisbane Casino Tower Suites

Luxury – Stamford Plaza Brisbane

There are also some great private rentals and Airbnbs in Brisbane if you would rather a self-contained option.

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!

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50 best things to do in Brisbane