The Ultimate Travel Guide to Brisbane

If you’re exploring the East Coast of Australia then it’s likely you’ll find yourself in Brisbane, which is the gateway to Queensland and the Sunshine Coast. Brisbane has everything you’d expect to find in a modern city but it also has the benefit of having a subtropical climate with year-round warm weather, so it’s not often that you would need to wear a jacket! The vibe here is more relaxed than say Sydney or Melbourne and the people are super friendly – I actually have family from Brizzy and once spent several weeks staying with friends in Fortitude Valley, so I got to know the city well.

So here’s a quick guide to what to do, where to stay and where to eat!

Where to stay

Brisbane has lots of very shiny high-rises and there’s no shortage of hotels, so if you’re looking for good Brisbane accommodation you’ll be certain to find something to suit all budgets:

Luxury:  Sofitel Brisbane Central has direct access to Central Station and is located within walking distance from Eagle Street Pier, South Bank Parklands and the Convention Centre. Not only is it conveniently located, the hotel also boats luxury French interiors, a heated pool and four restaurants.

Affordable: I love ibis Styles hotels because they’re affordable but they also have everything you need. The ibis Styles Brisbane Elizabeth street offers free continental breakfast included in the room rate and free Wi-Fi in all public areas.

Of course, you also have lots of other options, including apartment rentals and hostels (try YHA, Nomads or City Backpackers if you’re backpacking on a budget).

Where to eat

Gauge Brisbane

Brisbane has a lot of great Asian restaurants and you’ll find lots of good places to eat and drink in ‘Fortitude Valley’ (or ‘The Valley’ to locals). Heres where you’ll find all the nightlife, from live music venues and dive bars to trendy clubs. I’d highly recommend going to Fat Dumpling for some gyoza and beers!

Another great area to visit is the area along South Bank, which has lots of restaurants to choose from. There are a few great restaurants here, including Baba Ganouj, Harajaku Gyoza and Zeus Street Greek. If you don’t mind splashing out, Bacchus is a glamorous restaurant serving modern Australian food in an opulent setting.

I don’t know about you but I love a good Aussie brunch spot and there are simply loads of brunch spots in Brisbane – just look at this list! Popular haunts include Gauge, Lokal + Co, Riverbar & Kitchen, Artie & Mai and Willow & Spoon. Gauge has a really sleek, airy interior and serves really inventive brunch items, such as coal grilled pineapple with labnah and sweet pistachio dukkah, or sourdough waffle with peach, honey custard, buttermilk sorbet and bay leaf!

Things to do in Brisbane

South Bank – The Brisbane CBD may not have a natural beach but it does have South Bank – a man-made outdoor swimming pool and beach where you can cool off from the humid weather. I used to love coming here to sunbathe or just simply stroll along the promenade, where lots of joggers will usually pass you by.

Queen Street shopping – Queen Street Mall is Brisbane’s main pedestrian mall, which covers approximately 500m from George Street to Edward Street. The street is lined with over 700 retailers, both Australian and international, and it’s really considered the heart of the city.

Breweries of Brisbane – If you love beer then I’d recommend visiting one of Brisbane’s breweries to taste some icy cold local craft beers and some good food. There are quite a few in Brisbane including Newstead Brewing Co, Green Beacon Brewing, Brisbane Brewing Co, Brews Brothers, XXXX and Bacchus Brewing Co. So plenty to keep you occupied! If you’d rather sit back and have someone show you around, there are tours you can book too.

GOMA Gallery of Modern Art – This modern art gallery is located across two adjacent river-side buildings in the Cultural Precinct at Brisbane’s South Bank. QAGOMA holds art work from Australian artists as well as leading artists around the world, including a collection of over 17,000 works of historical, modern and contemporary art.

Story Bridge – The Story Bridge spans the Brisbane River carrying both pedestrians and cars. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can climb the story bridge and admire the views of Brisbane for above. Day climbs cost around $129 while twilight climbs cost around $159. Not the cheapest activity but definitely one you’ll remember!

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary – If you’ve never seen a koala before, this is the place to do it! Founded in 1927, it is the world’s oldest and largest koala sanctuary and covers 18 hectares of land in the suburb of Fig Tree Pocket. There are over 130 rescued koalas here, and you don’t just see the koalas, you actually get to meet them and hold them. They have kangaroos too, so if you’re a newcomer to Australia, this is your chance to discover the local wildlife.

North Stradbroke Island – Fancy getting away to the beach? North Stradbroke Island, known as “Straddie” is great for outdoor activities such as sand boarding, kayaking fishing and 4×4 tours. The island is short ferry ride across Moreton Bay from Brisbane, making it a great place to go for a quick getaway.

Kayaking on the Brisbane River – Have you ever kayaked at night time? On Friday and Saturday nights you can rent an illuminated kayak and paddle for 90 minutes along the Brisbane River, taking in the twinkling lights of the city skyline. On your way you can pause for a riverside meal of fresh king prawns (Friday) or a barbecue (Saturday) with famous Queensland lamingtons for dessert – definitely a romantic activity for a date!

So those are all the tips I can give you about Brisbane – do you have any other recommendations? Leave a comment below! 

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Victoria Brewood

Hi I'm Victoria, a British girl from Manchester. After graduating from university I decided there was more to life than the hours between 9 and 5, so I packed my journalism degree into my suitcase to travel the world and find a way to make money at the same time. I now call London home, although I still travel whenever I can. I hope to inspire you to be your own boss, live life and see the world.

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