Brisbane is the capital city of the sunshine state – Queensland.
Sadly it’s often overlooked by many tourists. Why? Well because most people only have a limited time and it just seems easier to fly directly from Sydney to the Great Barrier Reef and skip Brisvegas all together.
I am proud to say I am from Brisbane. For some reason when foreigners ask me where I’m from, and I respond “Brisbane”, they give me a vacant smile and say “Oh, I know someone from Sydney/Melbourne”. Come on! There are over 22 million people in Australia. We can’t all live in bloody Sydney or Melbourne -although admittedly they are really kick-ass cities.
So I thought I’d give y’all some info on my home town. I might be able to convince you to add it to your Australian itinerary so you can see just how much of an up-and-coming city Brisbane really is.
1. How to get there
Brisbane has an International airport so it is possible to fly straight in from overseas. Most people however will arrive in Sydney.
From Sydney there are plenty of budget airlines that fly regularly from Sydney to Brisbane, the flight takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes so it’s easy peasy. There are also buses, but they will take 16+ hours and will cost over $100 bucks – PASS.
You can also check out forums like Couchsurfing or Thorn Tree and see if anyone is doing a road trip to Brissie. By car the trip is about 10-12 hours and if you stick to the coast there are some great places to stop along the way. Most Aussies however, just fly. Check out these budget airlines for cheap fares:
(Note. booking well in advance will generally get you the best deals. And, they are budget airlines – you get what you pay for.)
2. Where to stay – Accommodation in Brisbane
Australia is an expensive place to visit and it can be hard to find a dorm bed in any major city for less than $15 AUD a night. But there are certainly some awesome options to choose from around town.
- Couchsurfing – There is a great Couchsurfing community in Brisbane. If you’re a decent sort of person it shouldn’t be too hard to find a couch to sleep on for a few nights. For more information about Couchsurfing check out our Short Introduction to Couchsurfing article.
- Airbnb – Similar to couchsurfing as you are staying in someone’s house. However, with airbnb it’s not a free exchange. You pay for your room. But you certainly should be getting more than just a couch.
- Brisbane City YHA
- Somewhere to Stay
- Aussie Way Backpackers
- Kookaburra Inn
If you are looking for more hotel or hostel options in Brisbane, we prefer to use HotelsCombined. They have a great selection and help you get the best possible price!
3. What to do? Brisbane Attractions
Ride the City Cat
The City Cat is how pedestrians get from one side of the Brisbane river to the other. For tourists it’s a great river cruise that costs less than $5. Jump on board at Hamilton Warf and the City Cat takes you all along the Brisbane river, taking in all the sights along the way. Ride at sunset/early evening to get the best pics of Brisbane city and the Storey Bridge.
There is a shorter, free ferry ride around the central part of the river. Check out our 10 Fun (but super cheap) things to do in Brisbane for more info. Going out after sunset, you get great views of the city lights.
The latest Must Try place for all you foodies out there. Head out to Hamilton Warf on the weekend and enjoy a feast of the senses at Eat Street. Featuring a selection of international food served in shipping containers which have been converted into restaurants. There’s also local market stalls and live music. Eat Street is the hippest place to be seen in Brisbane at the moment. Opening hours Friday (4pm – 10pm), Saturday (4pm – 10pm) and Sunday (11am – 7pm)
Stroll around the Weekend Markets
Brisbane is a melting pot of up and coming stars of the culinary and design world. The local weekend markets is the best place to check them out and maybe even find yourself a souvenir or tasty treat. The best markets to visit are:
- Davies Park Market – West End (Saturday 6am – 2pm)
- Eagle Farm Markets (Sunday 7am – 12:30pm)
- Twilight Market – (last Friday Night of the month 5pm – 9pm)
Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art – GOMA
If you enjoy strolling around, enjoying both local and international art then make sure you visit the art galleries in Brisbane. You can honestly spend hours wandering around the different exhibits, losing yourself in the beauty of the art that surrounds you. Entry is completely free, fees apply only to enterr special exhibits.
Featuring contemporary Australian Artists, and also Indigenous, Asian and Pacific art, the galleries offer something for everyone.
After you’ve exhausted yourself with art viewing, then head across the road to Southbank Parklands.
Here you can find an assortment of restaurants to fill your hungry bellies including the ever popular chocolate restaurant Max Brenner. On weekends you can find live music, movie festivals, street performers and a local market. It’s also a great place to pack a picnic or a few snags (sausages, in Australian) and spend the afternoon in the sun. Or bring your swimmers and take a dip at the man made beach.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
If your heading to Australia, you’re gonna want to check out some of our crazy animals. The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the place to get up close and personal with those cuddly, sleepy and oh so cute koalas. There are also other animals that you can check out at Lone Pine including kangaroos, platypus’s, wild birds, snakes, reptiles and more.
For more information on what to do in Brisbane check out our article: 10 Fun (but super cheap) things you can do in Brisbane .
4. Best spots for a cold beer – Craft Beer
The weather in Brisbane is sub-tropical. This makes it an ideal place to go out any time of year and enjoy a refreshing, cold beer. Lately the craft brewing scene has started to explode in Australia. Brisbane is certainly getting on board. Here’s some of the best places to wet one’s whistle:
- Archive Beer Boutique – offers 22 constantly rotating draft beers on tap and over 400+ bottled beers, both from local and international craft beer brewers. Make sure you check out Loft above Archive as well – not so much for beer but because it’s funky.
- Tipplers Tap – a sublime small bar that offers 10 beers on tap and a wide selection of bottled beers. This place also has a fantastic food menu with plenty of tasty creations ready to be consumed. (The chicken wings are awesome!)
- The Scratch – cozy little bar that offers a rotating selection of 6 draft beers and also a great selection of bottled beers and ciders. Ranked number 9 on TripAdvisor’s restaurants in Brisbane even though they don’t really have a full food menu – mainly beer ice cream.
- Green Beacon Brewing Company is a boutique brewery that features all hand made and natural beers. With 7 varieties to choose from, your bound to find a favourite. They also offer brewery tours on the 3rd Thursday of every month.
- Bitter Suite – on a nice sunny day head here, grab a seat outside and enjoy a brew or two. Bitter Suite offers up a choice of 7 different drafts, 55 bottled beers or you can choose from their selection of ciders, wines and cocktails. They also offer free wi-fi so you can catch up with the rest of the world while enjoying a locally made brewski.
If you’re looking for somewhere that’s a bit more of a traditional Aussie pub. Head to either the Breakfast Creek Hotel or the Storey Bridge Hotel. Both of these pubs have a lot of history in Brisbane, Breakfast Creek is known for still using wooden kegs.
Take a look at our Brisbane pub crawl to get a drunk’s eye view on some of these quality establishments. Includes map & video.
5. Getting around
Brisbane is set up with a bus and train system that you can ride to almost anywhere in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The bus/train system is good, not great, so a bit of planning can be involved. Although you can pay a surcharge (about 35%) for a paper ticket, it’s better to get a Go Card if you are going to make more than one or two trips. These can be purchased at selected bus and train stations and also at 7 Eleven convenience stores.
The Go Card also works for transport around the neighbouring Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast regions.
Alternatively, consider using the city bikes around central Brisbane. Rental starts from $2 per day for unlimited trips. View the official website for full details.
6. Night Life
There’s a broad selection of places to head to on a night out in Brisbane. Everything from elegant cocktails to live bands is on offer…
Here you’ll find a variety of bars to choose from. Head to the riverside and you’ll find a great selection of bars including the Bavarian Bier Cafe, The Pig and Whistle and also Brisbane’s famous restaurant Aria owned by celebrity chef Matt Moran (this is obviously NOT a budget option). Others in the CBD to check out are:
- The Exchange Hotel
- The Victory Hotel (Who do some great food and drink deals)
- The Laneway
- Treasury Casino
- For a bit of Irish fun head to Irish Murphys where you’ll often find live music blasting away until late into the night.
Fortitude Valley (The Valley)
This is the main ‘go to’ place for a night out. The Valley offers sophisticated bars and clubs nestled right along side grungy live music bars, and pounding nightclubs.
There is certainly something for everyone. Some of the best bars to check out are:
- Kerbside Lounge Bar
- Laruche bar
- Elephant and Arms
- Crowbar (Live Music)
- Family (nightclub)
There are also some awesome bars if you head around to James street (not far from the Valley) here you’ll find Sixes and Sevens, and Cru Bar.
Another area offering a melting pot of different bars all hanging out together in one place. Places to check out include:
- Archive (we mentioned them before but it’s our fav place in town)
- Lychee Lounge (their lychee Martini’s are to die for, if you can afford them)
- The Bearded Lady
- The Hi Fi – bar and live music venue
- Lock n Load
Caxton street is a place that always seems to be reinventing itself and so it’s popularity tends to rise and fall. It is certainly a popular place to head during the annual Seafood and Wine Festival held in June. Some of the bars to check out:
7. Where to Eat?
Australia is a heaving multicultural nation and because of this you can find international cuisine here like nowhere else in the world. There are also some local restaurateurs having a bash at creating dining awesomeness. A few of our all time favourite restaurants in Brisvegas:
- Bamboo Basket
- Little Greek Taverna
- The Vietnamese (the crispy duck is divine)
- Harajuku Goyza
- Superbowl Chinese Restaurant and Noodle bar
8. Photography Points of Interest
- Kangaroo Point Cliffs. Here you get great views of the city and the Brisbane river
- Mt Cootha. Head up here day or night for amazing city views
- Brisbane Botanical Gardens
- Roma Street Parklands
- Wellington Point – You will need a car to get out there. There are some great views of Redland Bay and there’s plenty of bird spotting to be done.
The main shopping area is in and around The Queen Street Mall in the heart of the CBD. You will find plenty of little boutiques opening all over town. Some major shopping centres are:
- The Myer Center – Queen Street Mall
- Chermside Shopping centre
- Carindale Shopping Centre
- Westfield Garden City
For more boutiquey stores head to Latrobe Terrace in Paddington, The Barracks on Caxton street or wander around the streets of The Valley. Also as we said earlier, do the rounds of the local markets. Here you can find design student’s threads being sold on weekends.
10. What’s nearby?
There’s quite a few attractions outside of Brisbane that are great to checkout – most of them however will require having access to a car.
- Steve Irwin’s – Australia Zoo
- Theme Parks: Movie World, Dream World, Wet n Wild, Sea World, White Water World
- Burleigh Heads Beach
- Tambourine Mountain, for those that enjoy scenic walks and hikes and also local arts and crafts. There’s also MT brewery and cheese factory.
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Looking to visit Brisbane and other parts of Queensland for yourself? We recommend Intrepid Travel – They have some fantastic tours to this region
Is there something else you want to know about Brisbane? leave us a comment below