Brisbane has seen a rise in tourist traffic in recent years, and that’s because it’s equally charming to Sydney and Melbourne. You’ll hear people referring to Brisbane as the River City because it’s built on a peninsula of the Brisbane River or the Sunshine State as there is sunshine 280 days per year. It has beautiful beaches and a burgeoning cultural scene. Couples have plenty of choices in arts and entertainment, dining and drinking, outdoor activities, shopping and nightlife. If this is your first time in Brisbane, why not add these 10 things to your must-do Brisbane list!
How to Get There
As this will be your first time in Brisbane, it’s very reasonable to worry about the available transport ways to reach the city. Most commonly, international and domestic visitors fly into Brisbane Airport. The award-winning airport offers numerous duty-free shops, eateries, and even affordable Brisbane airport parking options. Other ways include car or bus, especially if you’d like to take in as much as possible of the unique Australian scenery along the way.
Once you’re in Brisbane, use the far-reaching and regular public transportation system. You can use a bus, train, and even ferries.
Brisbane Story Bridge Climb
For unrivalled panoramic views of the city, there’s no better place than the Story Bridge. Climb up to the 74 metres (243 ft) bridge to see the whole city from above, the Kangaroo Point, the Glass House Mountain, the Scenic Rim, and the Moreton Bay. It takes 1138 and a good two hours to reach the top, but once you make it the feeling up there can’t be described with words. What makes the experience even more thrilling is that the Story Bridge Adventure Climb is one of the three bridge climbs in the world that are accessible to the public.
All the required safety measures are put in place, and a trained guide will be there to help you. During the guided tour, you’ll learn everything about the construction, the historical significance and the role of the bridge in contemporary Brisbane.
After this adrenaline rush, you can relax at one of the restaurants and breweries that are beneath the bridge by the river.
Brisbane River Cruise
Explore Queensland’s capital by a City Cat ferry that connects the whole city, from Hamilton to St. Lucia. The cruise is so scenic, especially, at sunset, watching the beautiful shades of sky illuminate the river waters. Many boat companies operate tourist cruises that provide many amenities. You can even have lunch, dinner and drinks on board that can include local seafood and Australian wine, and even live entertainment. The most common city landmarks that you’ll see are the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, the Botanic Gardens, the Maritime Museum, the Brisbane wheel, and more interesting architectural buildings. If you only have a few days to spend in Brisbane, the river cruise is the best opportunity to see some of the most significant sights of the city.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
One of the unmissable things to do in Brisbane is to visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. It has made it to the Guinness Book for being the first and largest haven for koalas in the world. When the sanctuary was first established, back in 1927, it was home to only two koalas. Their population has grown today to be over 130, which brings a glimpse of hope for this endangered species. Along with the koalas, the list of species housed in Lone Pine exceeds 100. You can come close to kangaroos, platypus, the Tasmanian Devil, Sulphur-crested cockatoos, freshwater crocodiles, and more Australian native wildlife. If you’re travelling from another country, then this is your chance to see animals that you’ve never seen before.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is only a 30-minute drive from the city or a 75-minute boat ride from the South Bank.
Brisbane Art Scene
Art lovers have every reason to visit Brisbane as there are so many galleries, exhibitions, and museums to choose from. Even if you’re not much of an art enthusiast, you’ll doubtlessly feel tempted to add one of the following cultural sights to your itinerary.
Dive into the rich past and indigenous heritage of the region in The State Library of Queensland, get to know the natural history and scientific achievements in Queensland Museum and Sciencentre, and let yourself get carried away in the Performing Arts Centre.
Lately, the most popular cultural venue in Brisbane is Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). The two galleries will introduce you to contemporary art created by local artists. If you’re looking for free things to do in Brisbane, QAGOMA offers free access to some of the exhibitions. Throughout the year, numerous exhibitions take place, such as indigenous Australian art, contemporary Asian and Pacific art collections, and thousand others international artworks. Even the facade of the building, which during the night is lighted up with different colours, will entice you to pay a visit.
Streets Beach at South Bank
Are you visiting Brisbane during the hottest months of the year? If the answer is yes, then the manmade Streets Beach at South Bank will be a refreshing stop in your day. Brisbane is proud to be home of the only beach of this kind in Australia. The clean blue waters and the white sand feel as if they are 100% natural. The beach is safe as it is patrolled by lifeguards, but there are also two enclosed pools, the Aquativity and the Boat Pool, that are ideal for children. Lay down your towel or head to one of the nearby eateries and cafes along the river. The place gets very crowded during the weekend, and it’s also a popular picnic spot. On a hot day, it is the perfect revitalising stop in the inner city.
Eat Street Markets
If you’re in Brisbane during the weekend and searching for the best places to eat, the Eat Street Markets along the Hamilton Wharf should be at the top of your list. What used to be an abandoned dock, today it’s the hottest destination for every food lover. From Friday night until Sunday afternoon, over 70 food stalls, which are basically shipping containers, bring this whole place alive. The dining options are just countless. It is the place to be if you’re looking for the latest trends in street food; from local dishes, sushi, Thai, noodles, burgers, grilled meat, pizzas, Mediterranean flavours, vegan alternatives to doughnuts and churros. Stay ’till late to savour a drink accompanied by live music performances.
While it takes some time to reach the location of the city centre, it is definitely worth the hassle. You can drive there or jump on a City Cat ferry to Northshore Hamilton Ferry Terminal.
Shopping and dining in the busiest neighbourhoods of Brisbane can be overpriced and kind of mainstream. Away from the crowds, in the secluded lanes, you’ll discover the real cultural face of Brisbane.
Burnett Lane, Eagle Lane, and Gresham Lane in the CBD. Burnett Lane is all about hip bars and late-evening dining whereas, Eagle Lane is great both for an early morning coffee and night-time entertainment. Gresham Lane has some of the best street food spots in the city.
California Lane, Winn Lane, and Bakery Lane in Fortitude Valley. The newest addition to Brisbane Laneways is the California Lane characterized by its summer vibes, vintage boutiques, and international cuisine eateries. Another location for independent boutiques and local artisans is the Winn Lane. It’s guaranteed that you’ll find the most delicious cocktails and mouth-watering brownies in the Bakey Lane.
Fish Lane in South Brisbane is the locals’ favourite for late-night dining and world-class cocktails.
These are some of the most burgeoning laneways in Brisbane, which are ever-changing and setting the trends for the dining, drinking and shopping scene of the city.