(whether you are a local or visiting for the first time)
Fondly nicknamed “Bris Vegas”, Brisbane is centred along the Brisbane River in South East Queensland, almost 930km north of Sydney. Nestled between the stunning Sunshine Coast and lively Gold Coast, the modern city of Brisbane boasts beautiful weather for most of the year and numerous events and attractions that make it one of the countries’ favourite tourist destinations.
It might seem like a sleepy country town at first glance, but the sprawling green city has a population of approximately 2.3million and is bustling with activities, arts and culture, music and festivals for everyone.
Before you enjoy these awesome things in Brisbane, don’t forget to Slip! Slop! Slap! while you are here (that’s slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat!).
Get your bearings (or rediscover Brisbane) from the Brisbane River (FREE)
The CityHopper ferry service allows you to rediscover the beautiful river city for free with ferries running every 30 minutes between 6am and midnight, seven days a week. Since it is FREE, all you need to do is hop on and hop off and enjoy taking in the Brisbane River and Brisbane city sights.
The CityHopper travels along the Brisbane River, stopping at North Quay, South Bank 3, Maritime Museum, Thornton Street, Eagle Street Pier, Holman Street, Dockside and Sydney Street terminals.
Spend a day exploring the South Bank precinct on foot (FREE)
The South Bank precinct is in South Brisbane and conveniently connected by an array of foot and traffic bridges to the city center situated on the opposite side of the Brisbane River. Visitors can enjoy recreational and leisure activities in 17 hectares of lush parklands that feature grassy areas, water fountains and a world-renowned sandy beach and shallow lagoon pool for swimming. There are world-class restaurants and pubs, yoga classes, playgrounds, public BBQs, walking and cycle paths, and pop-up activities such as the Night Noodles Markets.
South Bank is also home to educational and cultural attractions such as the Queensland Museum, the Queensland Art Gallery /Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, and the Queensland Maritime Museum.
The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art / GOMA Q (FREE)
GOMA opened in December 2006 in the South Bank precinct and houses some of the most well-known pieces of modern art from within and outside Australia. GOMA holds the Asia Pacific Triennial (APT) which focuses on contemporary art from the Asia and Pacific in a variety of media from painting to video work.
(Admission: Free. Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm daily)
Learn about the city’s past in the Museum of Brisbane (FREE)
The Museum of Brisbane, located in Brisbane City Hall, was opened in 2003 and is the City of Brisbane’s official museum. Entry is free and there are free tours of the clock tower daily.
(Admission: Free. Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm daily)
Sip cocktails or a cold craft beer in characteristic venues and laneways
There are several places near Brisbane city to go for nightlife: The City (CBD), The Valley (just east of ‘The City’ and formally known as Fortitude Valley), West End (located on the south side of the river, just beyond South Bank) and Caxton Street (north west of ‘The City’, just beyond Roma Street Station) are a few areas dominated by restaurants, cafes and bars.
See a band
Brisbane’s music scene is far from dead. In the footsteps of Powderfinger, The Go-Betweens, Keith Urban and Regurgitator, new bands are emerging every year and they are worth looking out for.
(FREE) For something a bit more casual and budget friendly, catch a City Sounds gig (Australia’s largest free live music program presenting local and touring artists) in the Queen Street Mall, Post Office Square, South Bank and other locations around Brisbane each week.
Get wild; cuddle a Koala, hand feed kangaroos and watch crocodiles jump
Opened in 1927, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary was the world’s first koala sanctuary. The 18 ha sanctuary is located in the Brisbane suburb of Fig Tree Pocket and also has kangaroos and emus you can feed by hand.
(Admission: adult $35 (cheaper online). Opening Hours: 9am – 5pm daily)
Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo is located one hour north of Brisbane on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. If you can’t drive from Brisbane, catch a QR Citytrain to Beerwah Rail Station and catch the Australia Zoo courtesy bus. Visit Australia Zoo to see over 1,200 animals from the African Savannah, South-East Asia and, of course, Australia. There are many shows, tours and interactive animal encounters to be enjoyed!
(Admission: adult $59. Opening Hours: 9am – 5pm daily)
Have a BBQ in the parklands (FREE)
South Bank is one of many popular tourist and recreation areas in central Brisbane which also include the Roma Street Parkland, the City Botanic Gardens and Kangaroo Point. In the suburbs and with-in a ten minute drive of the city centre are New Farm Park, Mt Coot-tha and the Mt-Cootha Botanical Gardens, Brisbane Forest Park and Portside Wharf. Many have public BBQs and picnic areas for guests to use.
Experience the stunning views and natural bushland at Mt Cooth-tha (FREE)
The suburb of Mount Coot-tha is home to a popular state forest, and the Brisbane Botanic Gardens which houses the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium and the “Tsuki-yama-chisen” Japanese Garden. From the Mount Coot-tha lookout 280m above sea-level, you can see the entire Brisbane catchment below and the crystal blue waters of Moreton Bay in the east. The surrounding bushland is also a popular destination for walkers, hikers and cyclists wanting to explore the dirt trails and a waterfall.
Mount Coot-tha can be reached by Brisbane public transport Bus 471 or the Brisbane City Council’s CitySights Bus.
Immerse yourself in numerous cultural events hosted each year
Until you’ve experienced corny carnival rides, showbags, animal shows and a famous strawberry ice cream at the Ekka (formally known as the Royal Queensland Exhibition), held each August, you can’t say you have seen the true essence of Queensland. Unless you have ohhh-ed and ahhh-ed at the fireworks display and variety of entertainment activities on during the (FREE) Brisbane Riverfestival, held each September at South Bank Parklands and surrounding areas. On a slightly smaller scale, the Caxton Street Seafood and Wine Festival, held every winter, is a cultural experience with a focus on delicious seafood and local music.
Climb our iconic Story Bridge
If you like adventure and heights, the Story Bridge adventure climb is an unforgettable and special experience. Climb to the top of the bridge for a unique view over the glistening Brisbane River and sparkling city. I hear the two hour journey with a guided tour it is best at sunset.
(Admission: starting at $119. Opening Hours: approximately 9.30am – 6pm daily)
For those craving more adventure, you can also rock climb at the Kangaroo Point cliffs.
Visit historical buildings (FREE)
In Wickham Park, near Roma Street Parklands, is the Old Windmill, built by convict labour in 1824 and the oldest surviving building in Brisbane. It was originally used for the grinding of grain and a punishment for the convicts who manually operated the grinding mill. It was also used for the first television signals in the southern hemisphere were transmitted from it by experimenters in April 1934 – long before TV commenced in most places.
Brisbane City Hall and the Shrine of Remembrance, Brisbane’s main war memorial in ANZAC Square, opened in 1930. These historic buildings, along with the Story Bridge which opened in 1940, are key landmarks that help define the architectural character of the city.
Weather in Brisbane
Brisbane enjoys hot and humid summers (21-35° Celsius) and dry moderately warm winters (7-20° Celsius). From November to March, thunderstorms are common over Brisbane, with the more severe events accompanied by large damaging hail stones, torrential rain and destructive winds.
Be mindful that your skin can burn in the sun all year round, so remember to Slip! Slop! Slap!
Getting around Brisbane
Brisbane has an extensive transportation network including bus, rail and ferry services. The Brisbane central business district (CBD) is the central hub for all public transport services with services focusing on Queen Street Bus Station, Roma Street and Central railway stations, and various city ferries wharves.
Brisbane’s CityCat high speed ferry service, popular with tourists and commuters, operates services along the Brisbane River. And the Citytrain urban rail network consists of 10 suburban lines and covers mostly the west, north and east sides of the city
The Pacific Motorway connects the central city with the Gold Coast to the south. The Bruce Highway is Brisbane’s main route north of the city to the rest of the State, including the Sunshine Coast, Gympie, Fraser Island and Cairns.