Make the most of your vacation in Brisbane - a sunny, sophisticated capital on the winding Brisbane River. Along with lush parks and laid-back locals, this is a city with serious cultural credentials and first-class wining, dining and dancing. Shop up a sub-tropical storm on Queen Street, then check out the city's historic buildings. Dine out along South Bank's sandy lagoon and explore its storehouse of cultural attractions. Pick out Brisbane's landmarks on a leisurely river cruise or from Mt Coot-tha Lookout. Listen to live music in Fortitude Valley or lose yourself to nature in the sandy adventure playground of Moreton Island.
Culture and river cruising
Begin your vacation in downtown Brisbane, a mix of gracious old buildings, sleek skyscrapers and grassy parks. Browse the heritage arcades and 500-plus stores on Queen Street Mall, the city’s shopping hub. Check out the elegant former Treasury Building, learn about the city’s history at Brisbane City Hall and get a bird’s eye view from the Museum of Brisbane tower. Wind through the exotic, sub-tropical vegetation of the City Botanic Gardens. Then take the ferry to South Bank for lunch in a riverside restaurant or a picnic in the gardens. Swim in the lagoon or submerge yourself in culture at the Queensland Cultural Centre. Stay on after dusk for a ferris wheel ride overlooking the city’s glittering sprawl. Or return in your evening finery for a blockbuster musical, cutting-edge play or a performance of opera, orchestra or ballet at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.
Fortitude Valley and parklands
Head to Fortitude Valley, where the once-gritty streets have been gentrified but still retain their vibrant, bohemian flair. Have an al fresco breakfast along tree-lined Brunswick Mall, then browse the funky boutiques or check out local designers at the weekend markets. In nearby New Farm, you can relax on the shady lawn of New Farm Park or explore the converted industrial spaces of the Powerhouse arts centre. Cruise up and down the river, hopping off for lunch at pelican-lined Bretts Wharf or historic Bulimba. From the city you can take a bus to Mt Cooot-tha Lookout, where views extend across Brisbane to Moreton Bay and the Glasshouse Mountains. Wander the bushland reserves, then the rainforest of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens at the foot of the mountains. In the evening, head back to Fortitude Valley and experience its famous nightlife. Dine out in Chinatown, then amble between pumping live music venues and bars and clubs which range from elegant to edgy.
Take a fast catamaran to Moreton Island, which is one of the world’s largest sand islands and mostly national park. Explore the beaches, sparkling lagoons and rocky headlands on one of the many walking trails. Trek to Blue Lagoon or Honeyeater Lake, where you can swim and spot flocks of waterbirds. Hike to Cape Moreton and see Queensland’s first lighthouse, built in 1857 from island sandstone. Spot migrating whales from here between June and November. Snorkel with more than a hundred species of coral at Flinders Reef or dive the rusted Tangalooma Wrecks with rainbow fish. Toboggan down the world’s largest sand dune at Mt Tempest or join a quad-biking tour across the island. Hand feed the wild bottlenose dolphins who swim up to Tangalooma Beach every evening, then sleep under the stars in one of the many camping grounds. Alternatively, return to Brisbane for a night of fine dining in the multicultural West End.
Find attractions and tours in and around Brisbane
More Vacation Ideas
See what else there is near here to inspire your vacation planning.
The Brisbane River winds though the brisbane city centre.
The Gold Coast is one hour south of Brisbane.