Back in 2011 (years before I started this blog!) I visited Australia for the first time and spent a month going up the east coast from Sydney to Cairns with one of my best friends from university. Brisbane was one of the cities I remember the most (apart from Sydney!). Brisbane is a fun city with great weather and beautiful beaches. If you’re planning on visiting Brisbane, be sure to check out this list of fun things to do in Brisbane.
I’ve since returned to Australia with Thom where we stayed in and around Sydney and New South Wales. Read our itinerary for one week in New South Wales.
Brisbane is the capital of Queensland, a state in Australia. It’s a large city on the Brisbane River and the Pacific Ocean. It’s a city of culture and art as well as delicious food and beautiful views. A few hours drive from Fraser Island, it’s a popular stop for backpackers travelling on Australia’s East Coast. The city of Brisbane is famous for its near-perfect year-round weather too!
How to get to Brisbane, Australia
Flights from all over the world land at Brisbane Airport. From the airport to the city, simply take a train into the centre or a 20-minute taxi. If you need to book flights to Brisbane then be sure to check out Skyscanner. They’re always the first place I check before booking flights as they make it easy to find a great deal. Also, check out my article on how to find cheap flights worldwide here.
You can also get a bus from Sydney to Brisbane (or Brisbane to Sydney). As well as from other cities in Australia. Greyhound service the east coast of Australia and elsewhere and their buses are usually pretty comfortable.
Another way to get to Brisbane is to get the train. There’s a train from Sydney to Cairns which stops at Brisbane and takes about 14 hours. The train usually leaves Sydney in the afternoon, travels overnight and gets to Brisbane early the following morning.
Where to stay in Brisbane
Visitors to Brisbane are spoilt for choice when it comes to great hotels in Brisbane. There’s something for everyone whether you’re looking for cheap hostels in Brisbane or boutique hotels in Brisbane. Below are a few of my top picks for accommodation in Brisbane, but check here for more Brisbane hotels.
Hotels in Brisbane
- Adina Apartment Hotel: Enjoy everything there is to do in Brisbane and then return to Adina Apartment hotel’s pool, fitness centre, restaurant, bar and comfy rooms. This hotel is in downtown Brisbane super close to the top Brisbane attractions like the river and Queensland Art Gallery.
- Royal on the Park: Directly the , Royal On The Park features , a and a . There’s also a pool and a hot tub.
- Tattersall Club Hotel: Minutes from Queen Street Mall, Tattersall’s Club features beautiful views of Brisbane. The rooms are gorgeous and the hotel has great facilities.
- One Thornbury Boutique B&B: This stylish 1886 Queenslander cottage includes a free continental breakfast and is only 10 minutes’ walk from Fortitude Valley and Chinatown’s many pubs, clubs and cafes.
Hostels in Brisbane
When I visited Brisbane I was backpacking up the east coast and so hostels were my jam. We stayed at Base Backpackers at several places along the coast and I was always pretty impressed. They’re by no means fancy but they’re usually sociable, clean and a good price.
- Ellie’s Guest House: A great place for travellers looking for a quiet, cosy home away from home.
- Breeze Lodge: This hostel has a rooftop, big kitchen area and free breakfast – everything you need for a great place to stay in Brisbane.
- Brisbane City YHA: A great social hostel with a bar, pool tables, swimming pool and a games room.
The best things to do in Brisbane, Australia
As the capital of the state, these things to do in Brisbane are also some of the top things to do in Queensland too. Browse the list and check out some (or all!) of them when you visit Brisbane. Plus, you’ll find plenty of these suggestions are things to do for free in Brisbane – so perfect if you’re on a budget. You won’t be wondering what to see in Brisbane after reading this!
Best Brisbane tours
If you’re travelling solo and want to meet fellow travellers, or are looking for unique things to do in Brisbane, check out these tours in Brisbane for something different.
- Day trip to Moreton Island with snorkelling, paddle boarding and kayaking with ferry trip to Brisbane and back included.
- Essential Brisbane walking tour – Do some Brisbane sightseeing on foot with this guided tour.
- Brisbane city sightseeing cruise with morning tea – view the best things to see in Brisbane from the comfort of a boat.
- Moreton Island Shipwreck, sand dune and kayak tour
1. Walk the 15km route along the Brisbane River
This starts off a South Bank and finishes in the New Farm area. Cycling this route is also a great fun thing to do in Brisbane.
You can either rent a bike from a rental shop in the city or use one of their city bikes which can be picked up and parked at various points. Make the walk or cycle even better by refuelling with a few drinks along the way!
2. Go Kayaking!
I love hitting the water as you get an entirely different view of a city. Rent a kayak and paddle up and down the Brisbane River.
3. Hike Mt Coot-tha
One of the top things to do in Brisbane is to hike Mt Coot-tha. So put on those hiking shoes and head on a hike to the summit!
Time your hike to coincide with the sunset for some incredible city views making it one of the great things to do at night in Brisbane.
4. Do some sand tobogganing
Head over to Moreton Island which is just a short boat ride away from Brisbane for some sand-based fun. At Moreton Island, you can indulge in some sand tobogganing which is just as fun as it sounds!
5. Hire a 4×4 and hit the dunes
Hire a 4×4 or take a tour and hit the dunes over on Stradbroke Island (‘Straddie’). You’ll be able to get to some incredible viewpoints from here and may even see some whales!
6. Bushwalk to Simpson Falls
Simpson Falls is only 20 minutes from Brisbane city centre and it’s well worth adding this walk to your list of things to do in Brisbane. It’s along the scenic drive to Mt Coot-tha so you can combine the two in one day.
7. Go Scuba diving
Explore what Brisbane has to offer under the water by diving amongst the Tangalooma wrecks just off of Moreton Island. There are all sorts of tropical fish down here – it’s like a whole different world!
8. Practice yoga at one of Australia’s most beautiful studios
If you’re a yoga lover (or you’re trying to be) then head to SoHo Yoga in Newmarket for a yoga session. This studio was voted one of Australia’s most beautiful and it’s easy to see why!
9. Go skydiving
Ever wanted to do a skydive? Well, why not add it to your Brisbane itinerary? Plummet 12,000 feet to Earth with Skydive Brisbane and see if you can bring yourself to open your eyes to take in the coastal and city views.
10. Explore the forests
Take a hike through the glorious forests at the aptly named Mt Glorious. Just 45 minutes away from Brisbane this mountain road is spectacular with plenty of incredible look-outs to stop at. The village here is often covered in mist which makes it a great escape from the summer heat in the city.
11. Take a historical walk
Take a wander along the 4km long Cleveland Heritage Walk and embrace the history. You’ll pass mid-19th Century buildings until you get to Queensland’s first-ever licensed pub. The Grand Hotel is the perfect place to reward yourself for a quick walk! This walk is also one of the top free things to do in Brisbane too.
12. Explore Coochiemudlo Island
Take the 10 minutes ferry ride over to Coochiemudlo Island. Here you could try paddleboarding or kayaking. Both of which I love!
13. Go whale watching
Moreton Bay is one of the best places to catch the annual whale migration and if you happen to be visiting Brisbane from June to October make sure you book yourself on to a whale watching tour!
14. Visit the Koala Sanctuary
One of the top Brisbane tourist attractions is the koalas! The city is famous for its koala sanctuary and so if you’ve ever wanted to see a real-life koala (and who hasn’t?) then make sure you visit Daisy Hill Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane. It’s easily one of the best things to do in Brisbane with kids.
15. Get your laughs at Brisbane Powerhouse
One of the top Brisbane events happens on Friday nights when you can enjoy some free comedy at Brisbane Powerhouse. It starts at 6 pm and you’ll have a super fun night in this cool location! Usually at the top of most lists featuring things to do in Brisbane at night.
16. Dance to free live music
Brisbane is the home of Australia’s largest free live music programme: City Sounds and it’s one of the best shows in Brisbane. Every week artists turn up at various locations throughout the city and play. And it won’t cost you a penny!
17. Take a swim at Streets Beach
Another must do in Brisbane is to visit Streets Beach. Streets Beach at South Bank is a massive man-made beach where you can relax in the cool waters or chill out on the sand. It’s a pretty cool spot!
18. Go sailing for free
One of the best free Brisbane activities happens every Wednesday afternoon. Take the chance to join the Wednesday Afternoons Go Sailing group that operates out of Manly near Brisbane and try out some sailing for free!
19. Walk to King Island
Get out of bed early one day during your visit to Brisbane and take a walk to King Island. Make sure to go when the tide is low (otherwise you won’t be able to walk it!) and leave plenty of time to get back.
At low tide, there’s a natural sand walkway and once you get the island you’ll be able to relax amongst the mangroves making it another of the top places to visit near Brisbane.
20. Climb the Story Bridge
Venture to new heights on a 2-hour climb of Brisbane’s most iconic landmark: the Story Bridge. Choose a time from early morning to twilight and follow your guide as you take in a full 360-degree panorama of Brisbane and its surroundings.
- Book your Story Bridge climb tickets here.
Where to eat & drink in Brisbane
Here are some of the best restaurants for when you visit Brisbane.
21. Enjoy a picnic at New Farm Park
Maybe add this to the end of your walk/cycle along the river. There are some huge fig trees which provide some shade and make a great place to cool off.
22. Try Eat Street Northshore
Eat Street Northshore is along the Brisbane River. There are so many different stalls and cuisines to try out here. A fun thing to do would be to get a starter, main and dessert from a different stall so you can try as many as possible!
23. Shop local
If you’re in Brisbane during the weekend make sure you check out the Jan Powers Farmers Market. You can find these across the city so there’s bound to be one near where you’re staying in Brisbane!
23. Get some great Vietnamese
If you love Vietnamese Food then you’ll want to head over to Trang Restaurant in Brisbane’s West End. This restaurant is known for giving its customers a great deal on food making it one of the top places to go in Brisbane for dinner.
24. Go on a pub crawl!
One of the best things to do around Brisbane is to round up some friends from your hostel or hotel and head out on a pub crawl through Burnett Lane. Make sure to stop off at Super Whatnot and Brew.
25. Grab a burger that does good at DA’Burger
DA’Burger in New Farm helps disadvantaged youth in the local community. This means you can enjoy a delicious burger whilst also knowing you’re doing some good simply by eating!
26. Spend your Sunday like a local
Wondering where to go in Brisbane on a Sunday? Many Brisbane locals spend their Sundays with a pizza and a beer at The Fox Hotel. You’ll soon see why it’s so popular!
27. Find comfort food
One of the best places to visit in Brisbane for comfort food is Brooklyn Depot. At Brooklyn Depot in Southbank, you’ll find ribs and wings for that BBQ fix that we all need now and again.
28. Grab street food with a side of live music
Head to Mt Gravatt Marketta on a Saturday night for live music, street food and a great atmosphere.
29. Eat great Greek
One of the highlights of my trip to Greece was the delicious food. If you have a craving for a yiros while visiting Brisbane then make sure you head to The Yiros Shop in Southbank and enjoy a delicious lunch!
30. Eat your heart out at Fritzenberger
Want more tasty burgers? Head to Fritzenburger for chips, burgers and beer (what else would you wash it down with?)!
31. Eat liquid nitrogen
I mean once it’s been turned into some tasty ice cream! What better way to cool off than with a deliciously creamy dessert from Nitrogenie at South Bank in Brisbane.
32. Go on a vineyard or brewery tour
There are loads of wineries near Brisbane so head out with your fellow travellers and go and taste what this part of Australia has to offer. If beer is more your thing then head to the Four X brewery and find out more about how it’s made.