Local’s guide to South Bank

Just across the river from the city centre is Brisbane's favourite playground, full of fascinating culture, fabulous dining and plenty of fun to be had. Local’s guide to South Bank
Site Requires Javascript - turn on javascript!

Local’s guide to South Bank

Just across the river from the city centre is Brisbane's favourite playground, full of fascinating culture, fabulous dining and plenty of fun to be had.


By Jac Taylor

The vibrant, always popular precinct along Brisbane’s southern riverbank is a must-see for international visitors wanting a taste of this sun-loving city’s more leisurely side. South Bank is home to many of Queensland’s cultural institutions, dozens of eateries offering a world of culinary options, a beautiful parkland where you can get as lively or relaxed as you like, and countless community projects, from cityside mini-farms to eclectic markets and live entertainment.

HOW TO GET THERE

South Bank is an easy 10 minute walk across Victoria Bridge from Brisbane's centre. You can also take a short ferry ride from North Quay to South Bank ferry terminal 2 or 3.
 

DON'T MISS

  • Lose yourself for a day drifting through the many galleries and cultural spaces
  • Make the most of the famous Queensland sunshine, in South Bank's parks, gardens and swimming spots
  • Spoil yourself in the many bars and restaurants, in the laneways or overlooking the water

South Bank highlights

TOP THINGS TO DO IN SOUTH BANK

Catch some culture
South Bank is Brisbane's cultural centre, with Grey Street and its Cultural Forecourt collectively home to such institutions as the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre, and the State Library of Queensland. Catch a live performance of ballet, music or theatre at QPAC (the Queensland Performing Arts Centre) and see groundbreaking visual art exhibitions and famous visiting international artworks at the innovative QAGOMA (the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art). Queensland's symphony orchestra and opera company can also be found here. 

Swim at an inner city beach
Stroll the streets of South Bank and you'll come upon a beautiful freshwater lagoon lapping at a white sandy beach among subtropical greenery. Amazingly, Streets Beach – right on the waterfront, surrounded by restaurants – is man-made, and a favourite spot for locals who come to sit in the sunshine and enjoy a lunchtime swim in the city. Both the beach and lagoon, which is as big as five Olympic swimming pools, are free to use. Lifeguards patrol the beach during opening hours (which change seasonally). Next door is a second swimming spot, the tranquil Boat Pool, also free for visitors.

Visit the Epicurious Garden
This is a city that absolutely loves its food – and that includes appreciating where it comes from. Accordingly, a large part of the formal gardens of South Bank were dug up a couple of years ago to make way for what amounts to a giant vegetable patch. Over its 1500 square metre (1794 square yard) area and 30 garden beds, the Epicurious Garden grows everything from figs, herbs and avocado to corn, papaya and sunflowers, in an environment where kids can touch, taste and learn about where food comes from. From Tuesday to Thursday, free samples of produce are available to try on the harvest cart by the garden beds. Watch a cooking demonstration, learn about Brisbane's subtropical climate or simply lie on the grass and smell the herbs on the breeze. 

Dine at Brisbane's best
The welcoming carpet of grass and surrounding waterfront area that form River Quay Green serve as both outdoor space and backdrop for some of the city's finest restaurants. Gaze across the river at the city skyline at sunset as you dine on award-winning cuisine at five alfresco-loving restaurants: the seafood and Mediterranean-styled Stokehouse Q, Asian-Australian fusion among the Balinese-inspired daybeds of The Jetty, the classic French fare and relaxed ambience of Aquitaine Brasserie, an urbane take on Italian cuisine at Popolo Italian Kitchen and Bar, and the precinct's newest resident, River Quay Fish, dishing up Brisbane’s famous fresh seafood with style.

Enjoy free family fun
Thanks to a host of complimentary activities and venues, you can enjoy a day or a week in South Bank with the whole family without a care in the world. As well as two modern playgrounds – including the Picnic Island Green playground set among giant fig trees – the kids can splash out in the lifeguard-protected pool and interactive fountains at Aquativity water park or explore the exotic, hand-carved Nepalese Peace Pagoda. Admission to the Queensland Museum is free, including its ongoing dinosaur-laden Lost Creatures exhibition, and South Bank’s Little Days Out program offers free activities, from sports to art workshops, every Thursday morning from 9am until 1pm.  

Explore Fish Lane's cosmopolitan secrets
Duck into the cosy and cool Fish Lane, a lively alleyway stretching along six gloriously eclectic city blocks from South Bank all the way to West End, and find tiny bespoke bars, popular eateries, and Brisbane life at its most up to the minute. Just steps from QPAC, the Fox Hotel contains one of the city's iconic rooftop bars. There's great dining at Fish Lane Bistro, and in the art gallery and design space of Fish Lane Creative Studios visitors are equally likely to see an art installation or avant garde performance. Further down the laneway, past Merivale Street, breathe in and squeeze into the intimate bar, Maker; it's dedicated to local produce, Australian wines and spirits, and house-made liqueurs. 

Experience the sights and sounds of the city
At any time of year you can enjoy performances by local and international music acts thanks to Australia’s biggest live music program, City Sounds. The music starts at 3pm every Saturday in nine locations across South Bank. Enjoy the acoustics of the Liana Lounge walk-in art piece that acts as an amphitheatre for live acts, or settle in at the Cultural Forecourt or on the Central Café Lawns. Every September the citywide Brisbane Festival ends with a bang with the spectacular Sunsuper Riverfire fireworks display, and South Bank is one of the most popular vantage points, offering a carnival atmosphere and free public transport for almost half a million spectators who flock along the shores of the river for the free show.

latest articles about brisbane

A guide to Brisbane markets

A guide to Brisbane markets

For tasty treats, unique designs and bona fide bargains, Brisbane’s market scene has you more than covered.

View more information

Add to your dream trip Add to your favourites add favourite
Top 10 Things to Do in Brisbane

Top 10 Things to Do in Brisbane

Visit Brisbane and you'll find a modern, vibrant city with a sunny, sub-tropical climate and unsurpassed natural beauty. Best of all, you'll find friendly locals keen to show you around this pretty riverside city. They love their city and so will you.

View more information

Add to your dream trip Add to your favourites add favourite

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

Adventure on the Brisbane River

Adventure on the Brisbane River

Don't be deceived by the wide, mangrove-fringed Brisbane River winding leisurely through the Brisbane city centre. This scenic, serene waterway is the backdrop for a whole range of exhilarating outdoor adventure. Kayak past Brisbane's glittering sky-line at night or take in the breathtaking panorama of the city and its surrounds from the top of the Story Bridge. Climb or abseil the sheer cliffs at Kangaroo Point or walk, bike ride or rollerblade over the floating walkways of Brisbane Riverwalk. Afterwards, take an adrenalin break in the City Botanic Gardens or the lush riverside parks of South Bank.

View more information

Add to your dream trip Add to your favourites add favourite
Brisbane's Cultural Life

Brisbane's Cultural Life

Brisbane is a city with some serious cultural credentials. This is where you'll find the sprawling Queensland Cultural Centre on South Bank, which hosts every manner of artistic endeavour and a growing number of world-class exhibitions. But this national treasure trove of galleries, museums, theatres and arts spaces is just the start. Brisbane's cultural hot-spots include eclectic New Farm and Fortitude Valley and the city, with its public art and heritage buildings.

View more information

Add to your dream trip Add to your favourites add favourite
7 of Brisbane's best cheap eats

7 of Brisbane's best cheap eats

The dining scene in Brisbane is only getting better, but that doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune to enjoy it.

View more information

Add to your dream trip Add to your favourites add favourite
Three Great Days in Brisbane

Three Great Days in Brisbane

Make the most of your holiday 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.

View more information

Add to your dream trip Add to your favourites add favourite
Local’s guide to Fortitude Valley

Local’s guide to Fortitude Valley

A little bit fancy, a little bit rock'n'roll, Fortitude Valley is simply a place to have fun.

View more information

Add to your dream trip Add to your favourites add favourite

Make Your Trip Happen

Property Type
Hotel Class
Price Range
Type
Main Course

Prices are indicative

Liquor Licence
OOPS! The search results for your query are currently unavailable. We apologise for any inconvenience. Please try again later.
loading