Welcome to Brisbane

the Brisbane sign at Southbank.

Welcome to Brisbane. Photo: Tourism Australia

Brisbane is a small and relaxed city. It operates at a calmer pace than most cities, and the locals are warm and friendly. Another feature of Brisbane is that it's close to both the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, making it easy to get away on the weekend to the beaches.

Getting there

Get to Brisbane by plane, train or car. Another popular alternative is to fly into Coolangatta airport and enjoy the Gold Coast for a few days before heading an hour up the road to Brisbane.

You don't need a car to get around Brisbane. There's plenty of trains, buses and ferries. One of the best ways to get around Brisbane is the CityHopper, which is a free ferry service that stops off at different points along the Brisbane River.

Take a tour of Brisbane

a woman kayaking on Brisbane River

Go kayaking on Brisbane River. Photo: Tourism Australia

  • There are plenty of ways to tour Brisbane including a Brisbane river city cruise or a guided sightseeing tour of Brisbane that includes the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Mount Coot-tha, Suncorp Stadium, and the XXXX Brewery.

  • Take a walking tour through the Brisbane CBD. Check out the major landmarks including the Story Bridge, the City Botanic Gardens, City Hall Clock Tower, as well as hearing all of Brisbane’s hidden secrets. 

  • Join a bike tour and cycle your way around Brisbane. You’ll ride along the river before and visit the main parts of the city as well as Brisbane's parks.

  • Take a kayaking tour down Brisbane River or book a stand-up paddleboard tour along the scenic waters of the Brisbane River.

a couple of women doing an abseiling tour down Kangaroo Point in Brisbane

See Brisbane from a different angle as you abseil down Kangaroo Point. Photo: Tourism Australia 

Popular things to do in Brisbane

Southbank Beach is Brisbane's man-made beach and favourite recreation spot

Southbank Beach is Brisbane's man-made beach and favourite recreation spot. Photo: Tourism Australia 

If you’re looking for things to do in Brisbane, below are a few suggestions to help get the ball rolling on working out your itinerary.

  • Southbank Parklands is one of Brisbane’s top attractions. Southbank is in the city, and runs along the Brisbane River. Southbank Parklands has cafes, restaurants, parks, playgrounds children's playgrounds, free barbeques and picnic areas which make for the perfect day out. It has a swimming beach which is Australia’s only inner-city, man-made beach. This super cool swimming beach has a lagoon and water play park for the little kids. Free.

  • The Wheel of Brisbane is a giant enclosed ferris wheel located at Southbank. Jump in one of the air-conditioned capsules and go 60 metres high for panoramic views of the city. 

  • Visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary which is the world’s largest koala sanctuary. Lone Pine is home to over 130 koalas, kangaroos, Tasmanian devils and other Aussie wildlife. It’s a wonderful day out where you get to cuddle koalas, hand-feed kangaroos.

some of the gorgeous koalas at Lone Pine Sanctuary in Brisbane.

Meet these gorgeous koalas when you visit Lone Pine Sanctuary in Brisbane. Photo: Tourism Australia

  • Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha is free and has lots to explore. There’s a Japanese garden, tropical display dome, lagoon and rainforest to get lost in. There’s also free guided tours and minibus tours. Be sure to include a visit to the Planetarium where you can learn about the universe through the Skydome, Theatre, Observatory and Display Zone. (The Planetarium is a paid activity).

  • Do a Brisbane Story Bridge Adventure Climb for an exhilarating look at Brisbane. The Brisbane Story Bridge is Brisbane’s most iconic landmark so climb to the very top for unforgettable views.

  • Head to Sirromet Winery for delicious wine tastings and vineyard tours.

  • Hang out in New Farm Park. Catch the City Cat ferry across Brisbane River to New Farm Park, one of Brisbane’s inner-city parks and home to an adventure playground and some of the best climbing trees! With heaps of open space and greenery, there is plenty of room to bring a picnic and a football. Another great space to hang out in the City Botanical Gardens (which is in the CBD) and has walking and bike tracks, playgrounds, picnic and barbeque areas and much more.

a family having a picnic at Newfarm Park in Brisbane

Head to Newfarm Park for a picnic. Photo: Tourism Australia

  • Robelle Domain is located in the western suburbs of Brisbane and is 24 hectares of adventure! There's a water park, interactive playground, treetop walks, picnic areas, gardens, and cafe.

  • If you fancy picking your own strawberries, visit the Berry Patch which is open to the public from June to November.

Nearby island getaways

a group of friends camping on Stradbroke Island

Stradbroke Island is a short ferry ride from Brisbane. Enjoy and relax on 'Straddie'. Photo: Tourism Australia

Imagine swimming, snorkelling, sandboarding, sailing and all other fun ways to play. This is all possible at Moreton and Stradbroke Islands - which are just a hop, skip and a jump from Brisbane city. 

  • North Stradbroke Island is located 30km southeast of Brisbane. The locals refer to this island as ‘Straddie’. Straddie is ideal for fishing, surfing and diving and just floating in the water. If you're after land-based activities, hire a bike, scooter or hike and explore the island. Whether it’s just for a day trip or a small holiday, this unpretentious, pristine island is worth a visit.

  • Moreton Island is just off the Coast of Brisbane and is perfect for camping, four-wheel driving, fishing, snorkelling shipwrecks, sailing and swimming.

  • Tangalooma Resort is on Moreton Island. Swim, snorkel or dive in the crystal clear water. Land activities include hiking, sand tobogganing, quad biking and parasailing. At night you can hand-feed the dolphins on the beach. These gorgeous and very tame animals swim in for a feed and to show-off to their adoring audience.

Museums and galleries in Brisbane

Brisbane's Southbank is where you'll find museums, galleries, theatres and playhouses.

Brisbane's Southbank is where you'll find museums, galleries, theatres and playhouses. Photo: Tourism Australia

Southbank is the cultural heart of Brisbane where you can take in the latest plays and Broadway musicals, and visit museums and art galleries. This is Brisbane's cultural precinct, and you’ll find:

  • The Gallery of Modern Art, better known as GOMA, has exhibitions by contemporary artists from all around the world. GOMA has kid-friendly exhibitions and activities so they can also enjoy the world of art. GOMA is located at Southbank. Free entry but charges apply to some exhibitions and events.

  • Queensland Art Gallery houses stunning works by local and Indigenous artists. Free entry. NOTE: Queenslanders love an acronym, so you might hear the word QAGOMA – which is short for Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art. 

  • Discover the Brisbane city’s culture and history at the Queensland Museum. There’s all kinds of exhibitions that map out Queensland’s past, present and future. Free entry but charges apply to some exhibitions.

  • Take the kids to QLD Sciencentre which is also at the Queensland Museum. It has fun displays such as the body zone, science fiction, action stations, and a discovery centre. This is a really fun place for kids to fall in love with science. 

  • Queensland Performing Arts Centre is the perfect location to take in a show, musical, opera, and a concert.

  • State Library of Queensland is free and has exhibitions and regular guest speakers and lectures. 

  • The Museum of Brisbane is a short walk across the bridge at the Brisbane City Hall. This museum has free exhibitions on Brisbane’s art, culture and history, plus free guided tours, talks and workshops.

Brisbane Shopping

women shopping in Brisbane

Shopping is a much-loved activity in Brisbane. Photo: Tourism Australia

  • If you’re after some retail therapy, Brisbane is happy to help. In the heart of Brisbane city you’ll find shopping malls, department stores and big named brands. Head to Fortitude Valley, Paddington and a few other suburbs and you’ll find local designers. 

  • Queen Street Mall is in the Brisbane CBD. This very popular pedestrian-only shopping street and has everything you’d expect including international and Australian brands such as Dior and Zimmermann, endless retail chain stores and boutiques, and Australia’s iconic department stores - Myer and David Jones.

  • Latrobe Terrace, Paddington has plenty of fashion boutiques, homeware and antique shops, plus great cafes and restaurants. (Paddington is just outside of the city centre but it’ll still take 20 minutes on the bus.)

  • James Street, Fortitude Valley is one of Brisbane’s most chic retail and lifestyle precincts. Check out stunning fashion by Brisbane designer Gail Sorronda, and luxury jewellery by Adronis Fine Jewellery. There’s plenty of other popular Australian fashion labels including  Camilla,  Sass & Bide, Scanlan & Theodore, Venroy. When you tired of trying on clothes, browse the many homeware stores, restaurants and bars. James Street is also known for its pop-up designer sales, and the annual ‘James Street Up Late’ and James St Food and Wine Festival.

  • DFO (direct factory outlet) is near Brisbane airport and has sales galore! DFO has hundreds of stores and brands on sale every day including Australian favourites Oroton and Lorna Jane.  

Brisbane markets

Eat Street is one of Brisbane's favourite places to dine

Eat Street is one of Brisbane's favourite places to dine. Photo: Tourism Australia

Australia loves its food and lifestyle markets, and Brisbane is no exception. Some of the Brisbane markets selling food, fun, arts and quirky include:

  • The Collective Markets where you will find clothes, handmade jewellery, art, homewares and more. These popular Brisbane city markets run every Friday night and all day Saturday and Sunday.  Find these markets at Stanley Street Plaza, South Bank.

  • The Young Designers Market is the first Sunday of every month at Southbank. These markets are all about supporting local and upcoming designers so grab yourself something unique while you can. Find Young Designers Market at Little Stanley Street, Southbank from 10am - 4pm. 

  • Suitcase rummage is the first and third Sunday of every month, and can be found in Brisbane Square (beside Brisbane Treasury Casino), on George Street. People literally turn up with a suitcase full of goodies they no longer want. There’s around 150 stallholders – or suitcases – where you can buy, swap or sell anything from artwork, second-hand clothing, jewellery, to handmade paper and cards. Suitcase rummage is thrifting at its best, and it’s super easy.

  • Riverside Markets are every Sunday for unspeakably good baked goods, handmade jewellery and clothing. The markets are at Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane CBD.

  • Boundary Street markets sell delicious goodies and fresh produce from over 100 growers and artisans. These markets are every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the West End. 

  • At night, Boundary Street Markets transform into outdoor dining so you can devour street food while listing to live music. Food stalls sell flavours from all around the world every Friday and Saturday nights and all day Sunday.

  • If you’re looking for all things vegan, head to the Brisbane Vegan markets in the West End on the second Sunday of the month. You’ll find vegan foods, fresh fruit and vegetables, cosmetics and ethical clothing.

  • The Eat Street Markets are on the Brisbane River at Hamilton. Food stalls are set up in shipping containers. Eat Street markets are on every Friday to Sunday night, and is the perfect place to enjoy delicious street food and live music.

people shopping at Southbank markets

Head to Southbank markets for all kinds of clothing, homewares and food. Photo: Tourism Australia

Farmers Markets

Brisbane has plenty of farmers’ markets selling fresh fruit, vegetables and other yummy food. Head to the local farmers' markets and meet the growers. To get you started on your market journey, check out The Gap, Carseldine, Cleveland, Manly, Riverside, Nundah, Eagle Farm, or Rocklea markets.

Rainy day activities with the kids

a group of friends at the bowling alley

A great rainy day activity is to hit the bowling alley. Photo: Cottonbro, Pexels

  • Bricks N Fun is a Lego specialty store with great displays, a build room, and an under 5's to play area.

  • Go carting at Kingston Park Raceway, or have a game of putt-putt.

  • Laser Force is an indoor, two-storey playing arena with a light show.

  • Bounce Inc/Sky Zone has indoor trampolines suitable for all ages and is loads of fun.

  • Strike Bowling Bar has bowling, laser tag and karaoke.

  • Iceworld Skating Rink is an Olympic-sized rink so you can test out your skills.

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