Brisbane is the third largest city in Australia, and is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Located in south Queensland, Brisbane is the gateway to other areas like Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and the Hinterlands. There is no shortage of things to do in Brisbane to keep you busy.
Brisbane is far more relaxed than other capital city states in Australia. Located by the coast on the Brisbane River, with mountains nearby, a thriving foodie scene, and cultural activities, there is always a variety of things to do in Brisbane for anyone. Being able to do so many activities outdoors it creates a lifestyle that’s hard to beat.
Having studied in Australia for 3 years and completed a 6 month road trip around Australia, I’ve visited Brisbane a few times and compiled this ultimate locals guide to help you get the most out of your trip to the capital of Queensland in Australia.
Continuing on up the east coast? Read my Ultimate Road Trip Guide To The East Coast.
How To Get To Brisbane?
Brisbane can be accessed basically in any way. From internationally on airlines like Emirates, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, the list goes on. The same goes for domestic flights using Virgin Australia, Qantas, Jetstar and Tiger Air.
Do check if flights are cheaper arriving into Gold Coast, as you can easily rent a car or catch the train 1 hour north to Brisbane city.
Best Time Of Year To Visit?
Brisbane is blessed with a consistent tropical climate and is therefore a great city to visit all year round. It produces (on average) 261 days of sunshine every year. It also doesn’t really have a winter, with a few days a year reaching down to roughly 12 degrees Celsius.
However, if you wanting an all round best time the shoulder season bridging April / May is the best time to visit Brisbane. This usually produces comfortable, sunny weather with low amounts of rainfall while avoiding school holiday crowds.
Where To Stay In Brisbane?
Brisbane has a whole range of accommodation options depending on your budget and the type of traveller you are. From backpacker party hostels to ultra luxurious hotels to large families, you’ll find exactly what you need in this marvellous city. Below are some of my favourite hotels/hostels that are great value for money depending on your budget.
The Best Hostels In Brisbane:
Bunk Brisbane: Is for those wanting to meet fellow travellers, and wanting to party. With free breakfast everyday, 30 Mins free wifi per day ($2 a day) and a free shuttle from the Greyhound and Premier stops it’s a great option for backpackers. Click here for the best rate!
City Backpackers: Only minutes from all the best shopping, bars, restaurants and nightlife, it has all the options to suit any traveller, and for those on a shoe string budget or even if you want to splash the cash a bit. Click here for the best rate!
Breeze Lodge: Is Brisbane’s newest, cleanest and most luxurious hostel! They offer some of the best facilities out of any hostel in Brisbane – including free wifi, a rooftop, large kitchen, free breakfast and all the amenities you need next to your bed. Click here for the best rate!
The Best Value For Money Hotels In Brisbane:
Meriton Suites Herschel Street: Located just 100 yards from the Brisbane River, this apartment-hotel offer modern self-contained living with unlimited free WiFi, a swimming pool, fitness centre and parking. Click here for the best rate!
Ibis Styles Elizabeth Street: Another perfectly located hotel, only 550 yards from Queens Street Mall, this is a great option if you’re wanting to walk to all the major attractions without breaking the bank. Facilities include – free WiFi, fitness centre, a bar and parking. Click here for the best rate!
Capri By Fraser Brisbane: Just a 3 minute walk to the Botanic Gardens in the city centre, Capri by Fraser features an indoor swimming pool, a sauna, a 24/7 fitness centre, and free WiFi. Click here for the best rate!
The Most Luxurious Hotels In Brisbane:
W Brisbane: The luxury chain of Marriott Hotel Group, the W is located on North Quay with views over the Brisbane River. With incredible facilities that are second to none, including – a swimming pool, bar, parking, free WiFi, 24 hour front desk. This is a great option if you’re wanting to splash your cash. Click here for the best rate!
The Calile Hotel: One of the most swanky and modern hotels in Brisbane. Located in the city of Brisbane, with direct access to restaurants, shopping and bars, The Calile Hotel features an outdoor pool, fitness centre and spa facilities. Click here for the best rate!
Ovolo Inchcolm Brisbane: Has been elegantly refurbished and offers a luxurious boutique hotel experience in the heart of Brisbane. Set in a 1920’s era building this hotel features an on-site restaurant and bar, fitness room, parking and free WiFi. Click here for the best rate!
10 Things To Do In Brisbane
Visit South Bank Parklands
If it’s culture and lifestyle you want, then South Bank is where you want to be. Boasting a huge area of lush parkland and also a man-made beach right on the river, South Bank is perfect for just about anything – whether you’re a family, backpacker or couple it’s a great place to eat, relax and take in the scenery.
A the 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 a waterpark for children as well.
Each weekend, the South Bank Markets come alive with vendors selling everything from food to handbags, clothing, jewellery and other crafts.
Climb Story Bridge
The Story Bridge is Brisbane’s most iconic structure. The best way to see Brisbane is by….you guessed it climbing it! Although it is not quite as magnificent and well known as the Sydney Harbour Bridge. However, this is a great activity to do, with impressive views from the top of the city.
It’s the best way to get a unique perspective of the city and its surrounds, from the glass house mountains in the north to the bay in the east and stretching down towards the Scenic Rim mountains in the south, along with the best view of the Brisbane CBD and its surrounds.
Book the Story Bridge Climb for the best rate here!
Take a Day Trip To The Nearby Moreton Island
Moreton Island is one of the most naturally stunning places I’ve visited in Australia. That is a big call for me, as I’ve pretty much travelled it all. Snorkelling around the Tangalooma Wrecks is a must on your bucket list. Other activities include – climbing the huge sand dunes and tobogganing your way down to the bottom, feed the dolphins or just enjoy the natural beauty around the island.
Tours I Recommend:
Ride The CityCat Along The Brisbane River
It’s not everyday you can take a catamaran which is part of a cities public transport. This is a great mode of transport to see the whole city from the river for a great price. It is not only a cheap way to visit some of the city’s best suburbs. But for fellow photography lovers, capturing any city from the water is always recommended.
Visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Located 12 kilometres outside Brisbane CBD, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is my favourite animal conservation sanctuary in Australia. It is also the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary with 130 koalas.
Here you can hold a koala, hand feed kangaroos and meet a large variety of Australian wildlife in beautiful, natural settings as well as learning, and supporting conservation in an enjoyable educational surrounding.
Click here to get the best rate on Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary!
Head Up To The Summit Of Mt Coot-Tha
If you are to visit any lookout in the area, this one is a must. With breathtaking panoramic views of Brisbane City and Moreton Bay, this is one of the must see things to do in Brisbane. The best time of day to head here is just before sunset, so you see the view during the daylight, sunset and night time.
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 the area to explore.
Take To The Skies By SkyDiving Or Helicopter
Get a different view of the city by taking a helicopter tour, hot air balloon tour or if you’ve never been skydiving and always wanted too, Brisbane is an excellent place to tick it off.
Jump from a plane and experience Brisbane from a bird’s eye view! You can jump tandem or take an accelerated free-fall course and jump on your own. Even if you have been skydiving before, there are few places more beautiful to do it than the Brisbane countryside.
Ever wanted to experience hot air ballooning over the greater Brisbane region and surrounds? Through this tour now you can. Enjoy superb and glorious city and country views whilst floating majestically and effortlessly over this visually stunning region. Click here to get the best rate on this tour!
Have A Few Drinks & Dance In Fortitude Valley
The Valley is known for its bars and nightclubs and great party scene. It is also home to Chinatown, and its beautiful boutiques. Great for shopping and excellent food choices from relaxed brunch cafes mix with cosy Chinatown eateries and upmarket European restaurants. I recommend visiting the laneways and street art spotting.
Day Trip To Sunshine Coast Or Gold Coast
Depending on what your after, these two places couldn’t be more different. If you’re after a relax atmosphere with endless beaches, beautiful houses and lots of wonderful cafes – Sunshine Coast is for you. If you’re wanting the best parties in Australia, surfing, high rise apartments along a huge stretch of beach – Gold Coast baby!
It is an easy day trip from Brisbane, but if you have time, stay the weekend, as there is so much to do in both these places.
Shop Till You Drop At Chermside
If you need some serious retail therapy, check out Chermside shopping mall, which is home to Australia’s largest Westfield shopping centre.
The suburb is situated just 9km north of the city and is one of Brisbane’s fastest developing suburbs. Chermside is known as a mini CBD of Brisbane.
Ride The Brisbane Wheel
Located on Brisbane’s South Bank Parklands, it is an iconic landmark on the skyline and a breathtaking way to take in a 360-degree panoramic view of spectacular Brisbane city.
You can choose to experience the sights by day, a romantic sunset ride or the sparkling city lights at night with all rides including an engaging audio tour of the Brisbane landscape. This activity is great for the whole family, and can seat up to 8 people per cabin.
There are all these best things to do in Brisbane and more whether you’re there visiting for a short weekend or here for a longer period of time, you won’t get bored in this fast growing capital Queensland city.
So if you’re planning a vacation in Australia, check out my Australia Travel Guide with all the latest tips and tricks about the country. You can count on an experience you and your family will be talking about for years to come. So don’t wait any longer, start planning your trip to Brisbane today.
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