Bright, charming and blessed with summery weather, Brisbane is packed with culture and community vibes. Discover the pulse of the river city at weekend markets, acclaimed restaurants, lush parklands and vibrant art galleries – whatever your style, there’s plenty to explore.
Here are our picks of the best things to do on your trip.
1. Take a free walking tour
Check out the secrets of the neighbourhood with a free walking tour lead by a Brisbane local. Brisbane Greeters gives you a fantastic way to explore the different areas of the city, with tours available to everyone, any day of the week. Tour leaders are all volunteers who love introducing their city to others and always have plenty of stories to share.
A huge range of personalised tours are available, based either on the area you want to explore (the city and South Bank, riverside precincts, parklands and gardens precincts, etc) or your interests (sports, education and science, Aboriginal heritage, public art and more).
2. Chill out at Streets Beach
For a unique city experience, you can’t miss a trip to Streets Beach. Nestled in the South Bank Parklands, Streets Beach is Australia’s only inner-city, man-made beach, and is made up of a beautiful blue lagoon, clean stretches of sand and a picturesque fringe of palm trees. Relax with a book, splash in the cool water and soak up the festive, tropical atmosphere. Now that’s the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon.
3. Get active along the river
The beautiful Brisbane River offers plenty of opportunities for adventure activities, with leafy scenery and a calming atmosphere. Head down to Riverlife for stand up paddle boarding, kayaking and more. You can rent equipment to play on your own, or book in a session with qualified instructors, who will take you on a scenic trip down the river.
If exploring on dry land is more your style, you can hire a bike and peddle through the parklands. Another fun option is to take a Segway tour with X-Wing – gliding alongside the river on a mini Segway is a fantastic and relaxing way to take in the sights.
During autumn and spring, there are free outdoor fitness classes in the South Bank Parklands. The Medibank Feel Good Program brings you fun, social classes ranging from flowing yoga and pilates to high-energy cardio workouts. You don’t need to book – just bring your sports gear and show up ready to sweat.
“The beautiful Brisbane River offers plenty of opportunities for adventure activities, with leafy scenery and a calming atmosphere.”
4. Be inspired by artwork at QAGOMA
The Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) combines two side-by-side galleries on the banks of the Brisbane River. Stroll through the permanent historical, modern and contemporary collections of Indigenous Australian, Australian, Pacific, Asian and international art, or check out the current exhibitions. Whatever style of art you’re most drawn to, there’s something to inspire.
For a truly unique dining experience, the GOMA restaurant is a must-visit. With a philosophy of providing food that is “as contemporary and creative as the artwork which surrounds it”, the restaurant serves up incredible deconstructed dishes, each a piece of art in themselves.
5. Indulge in delicious food and drink
Brisbane has a thriving restaurant, café and bar scene – and the weather makes it perfect for al fresco dining. Unwind at a rooftop bar with a spectacular view (our pick – Eleven Rooftop Bar in Fortitude Valley), chomp on a burger in a colourful indie café (the street art-covered CHUR at TRYP Hotel is a fun and vibrant spot), or stroll along the river for plenty of elegant dining options. Moreton Bay bugs, anyone?
6. Explore the great outdoors
Head out of the city for an active adventure – there are so many gorgeous national parks to explore just a short road trip away. Swim under waterfalls in Springbrook National Park, breathe in the eucalyptus scent and soak up the view from the Mt Coot-tha lookout, or tackle your choice of hiking tracks in Brisbane Forest Park (try Araucaria Track for a gentle 5 km walk, or Mermaid Mountain for seasoned adventurers).
7. Hit the shops
Take a wander around the many outdoor malls, shopping strips and markets and take advantage of the sunshine. For independent boutiques and high-end designers head to Fortitude Valley, an eclectic hive of shops full of unique finds. Stop for a coffee at Jamie’s Espresso Bar and window-shop luxury fashion along James Street and the Emporium.
If vintage is more your style, check out Paddington or visit Woolloongabba for antiques and collectibles. And for serious shoppers, Queen St Mall in the inner city is a must-visit, with over 1000 shops including all your high street favourites.
Travelling to Brisbane? Airtrain gets you from the airport to the city in just 23 minutes – quick, cheap and convenient. (And also, there’s free wi-fi…) Plan your trip online, get great discounted tickets and find more inspiration for exploring this beautiful city.
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