Discover Brisbane, the sunny, sophisticated capital city of Queensland.
By Ellie Schneider
Combine art and outdoor adventure in Brisbane, where creative spaces, music and hip new restaurants meet pretty riverside gardens and man-made beaches. Explore the sun-soaked Queensland capital over a couple of days or a few weeks with our tips on the best things to see and do.
- Delve into Brisbane's eclectic arts scene
- Eat, drink and shop in Brisbane's hippest neighbourhoods
- Day trip to idyllic neighbouring islands
How to get there
International flights arrive at Brisbane Airport from many global hubs. From the airport, it's an easy 20-minute taxi or train ride to the city centre. The inner city has a free bus service that circles the city every 10 minutes, and a free CityHopper ferry service that travels along the river from North Quay to New Farm.
Things to do and top attractions in Brisbane
Climb Brisbane’s Story Bridge... and abseil down it
Climb Brisbane’s Story Bridge for panoramic views across the city, north to the Glasshouse Mountains and south to the World Heritage-listed Gold Coast hinterland. In a two-hour journey you will ascend 80 metres (262 feet) above sea level as you learn about the bridge's history and construction. Keep the adrenaline going with an optional 30-metre (98-foot) abseil back down the anchor pier, facing the glistening river and cityscape.
Soak up the arts
Explore the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), housed in two riverside buildings at South Bank. The collection consists of more than 17,000 works of historical, modern and contemporary art, and the gallery presents a diverse program of Australian and international exhibitions. Visit The Henderson Gallery, which focuses on working with First Nations Artists, artists who are or were prisoners and first-time exhibitors. The Institute of Modern Art (IMA) in Fortitude Valley is also worth a visit. Brisbane also boasts an exciting live music scene. Check out the line-up at The Triffid, or for a rollicking good time, head to Lefty's Old Time Music Hall, an all-American saloon with live country music and southern bar snacks.
Drink and dine
Brisbane is home to a number of restaurants and cafés at which chefs emphasise local Queensland produce. In the city centre, multi-award-winning Allium serves sophisticated and exciting food through its ever-evolving menu. Urbane is another popular choice for its "omnivore" and "herbivore" set menus with matching wines. At breakfast, Gauge offers fresh, healthy food with many ingredients made in-house, while Gerard's Bistro draws inspiration from global flavours. Enjoy cocktails at rooftop bars Up on Constance and Eleven in Fortitude Valley, or choose from more than 400 whiskies at Cobbler in West End.
Shop the markets and designer boutiques
Fortitude Valley is brimming with independent stores and is regarded as Brisbane's best shopping precinct. Along James Street you’ll find more than 130 specialty stores, including high-end Australian designers Lee Mathews, Scanlan & Theodore and Zimmermann. Winn and Bakery lanes (off Ann Street) offer a handful of quirky boutiques such as The Outpost, Babushka Ballerina and Stock and Supply. Back in the city centre, The Collective Markets are held each Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday at Stanley Street Plaza and feature more than 100 local creatives selling handmade jewellery, art, antiques, photographs and vintage fashion.
Visit Brisbane's islands
Brisbane's coastline is dotted with idyllic islands. Moreton Island, just a 70-minute ferry ride from Brisbane, is the third largest sand island in the world. Most of the island is national park, creating a blissful paradise of sandy beaches, bush and lagoons. The island is also home to the Tangalooma Wrecks, popular for diving and snorkelling. North Stradbroke Island is just a 40-minute ferry ride from the coast. There are three villages on the island, fringed by magnificent surf beaches and migrating whales between June and October. Join Straddie Adventures to discover the island's adventure with a cultural twist. Try kayaking or sandboarding through the incredible landscape as Traditional Owners of Quandamooka share their culture.
Meet over 100 koalas
Just 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) from Brisbane City lies an animal refuge with unmissable wildlife encounters. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the world's first and biggest koala sanctuary. Here, you can hold a koala, feed a kangaroo and meet a wide variety of native Australian animals. Head to one of the daily keeper talks, where you can hold a snake or bird of prey, or book a close-up encounter with a dingo and platypus. You'll be encouraged not only to see wildlife, but also connect and learn about over 100 incredible Australian species.
Swim at Streets Beach
In Brisbane, you don't even have to leave the city to enjoy the sand and sea. Streets Beach, located in Brisbane's lifestyle suburb of South Bank, is Australia's only inner-city, man-made beach. Enjoy the view overlooking the skyline before taking a dip in the sparkling lagoon, which is surrounded by white sand and tropical greenery. Nearby, you'll find an intricately-designed Nepalese Pagoda - one of only three Nepalese peace pagodas found outside of Nepal.
Experience Aboriginal culture and celebration
Brisbane is a bustling city, but experiencing local Aboriginal culture offers the rare opportunity to stroll slowly, listen intently and feel deeply. Walk in the footsteps of Aboriginal elders on a tour of Brisbane with BlackCard Cultural Tours. Visit local art galleries and learn ancient knowledge about native bush plants. Visit Brisbane during winter to attend the Quandamooka Festival, which offers a full calendar of events celebrating Aboriginal culture, country and people. Immerse yourself in language, dance, tradition and more. About a 40-minute drive from Brisbane is the unforgettable cultural performance of The Spirits of the Red Sand, which depicts a story inspired be real events. Be moved by the story of Jarrah, the only surviving member of three Aboriginal brothers, before enjoying a chargrilled BBQ dinner.
Make your trip happen