Insiders Guide to Brisbane
It’s almost impossible to think that Brisbane was once a ‘stop-over’ city. But over the years, it’s transformed into a great capital for the sunshine state. Snuggled into the great South-East of Queensland, Brisbane is now a bubbly, bustling city that seems to be a perfect blend of friendly people, always-warm climate and unique culture. No wonder it’s the capital of the sunshine state.
Now we KNOW you’ve got a trip planned to the sunny, sandy oasis of the Sunny Coast, Gold Coast and or Byron Bay… but make sure to leave a few days for Brisbane too because it has SO much to offer!
As a river city, the best way to see Brisbane for all it has to offer is, you guessed it – on the river. The brand spanking new City Hopper’s are a FREE hop on hop off ferry service that run every day of the week and connect Brisbane’s hot spots. And with the circuit looping every half hour, you won’t ever find yourself stranded! If you’re running a tight schedule and half an hour isn’t frequent enough, Brisbane’s ferry terminals are also connected by the iconic city-cats.
There’s also a land equivalent called the City Loop (yes, this one is also free), covering the CBD of Brisbane by bus. Pick a clockwise or anticlockwise circuit and hop on and off to your heart’s content!
Aside from public transport, Brisbane is super pedestrian and cycle-friendly… but keep in mind that it’s also very spread out. If you’re exclusively hanging around the city, you can do so on your feet or a pair of wheels – there are plenty of hire options. Jump on an URB-E, strap on those rollerblades or snag a bike and be on your merry way.
It’s the journey, not the destination
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Brisbane is a river city. So it’s no surprise that there are a handful of stunning metro walks that really show you how gorgeous she glows. My favourites are: the Southbank promenade, Brisbane River Walk (New Farm to Eagle Street) and the Kangaroo Point Walk. If you’ve booked your stay to cover a weekend, be sure to hit up some eclectic weekend markets, conveniently located in Southbank and Eagle Street.
If you find yourself on the southern bank of the city (AKA Southbank), meander around the museum district for some inspiration. From modern to classical art, science and prehistoric museums, its got it all. Even a state library for you to hang around and tap into that free wifi!
It’s all about perspective
See Brisbane from a more unique viewpoints, like down on the river or up on the cliffs of Kangaroo Point! Conveniently connected via the (free) City Hopper (Thornton Street ferry terminal), Riverlife is your one-stop shop for all things adventure in Brisbane. So forget the hotel gym and say hello to functional fitness at Riverlife. With a great menu of adrenaline inducing activities, from rock climbing and abseiling, to kayaking and SUP-boarding… Brisbane is your oyster!
Have a hug with a Koala
Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia are the only states where you can get close and personal with these iconic fur-balls. There are a few spots in QLD where cuddling a koala is possible and in Brisbane, it’s at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Nestled in the leafy suburb of Fig Tree Pocket, Lone Pine is an easy 12km from the city. This makes for a 15-20 minute drive, but it’s also connected by some public bus routes and ferry cruises!
Make like a local
Brisbane has some super cool eclectic suburbs. A patchwork of cafes, bars, op-shops, art murals, boutique stores and live music. Biggest culprits for these are:
- Boundary Street (West End)
- Fish Lane (South Brisbane)
- Brunswick Street and Bakery Lane (Fortitude Valley)
- LaTrobe Terrace (Paddington)
Jump on that Brisbane Brunch Scene
Brunch is universally recognised as that amazing godsend of a meal that meshes together breakfast and lunch as a beautiful hybrid. Brisbanites are loyal devotees of brunching and the calibre of brunch spots dotted throughout Brisbane is a testament to this. My favourite brunch spots are:
- Isle Lane, CBD
- Sourced Grocer, Teneriffe
- Northshore Harbour, Hamilton
- BillyKart Kitchen, West End
- Naim, Paddington
- PawPaw, Woolloongabba
- Corner Store Cafe, Toowong
Nightlife: top tips on where to drink, dance and party
If you’re looking for a boogie or a big night out, head to Fortitude Valley. Dubbed by locals as ‘The Valley’, the whole postcode is dedicated to night-clubs, bars, pubs, live music venues and the like. The Valley is home to bars that give you a ‘mates backyard’ feel (Ric’s Bar) and right across the road, you’ll be transported to something more Gatsby vibe (Cloudland). This, that and everything in between is a stone’s throw away in the Valley.
After something a bit more low key? Trade in your dancing shoes for river views! Eagle Street and the Howard Smith Wharves precinct are gorgeous and a guaranteed good time. Frequented on a Friday by those clocking-off work, these venues are always popping. BONUS: the views of Brisbane from these spots are awesome!
Jump over to the other side of the river and head to Kangaroo Point, Southbank or West End and explore the abundance of BYO restaurants, or slip in to one of the many bars sprinkled along Grey Street and Boundary Street! For awesome views of the city skyline and story bridge, head to Sea Legs Brewing!
Drinking has reached new heights
Take advantage of Brisbane’s year-round good weather and good looks and make for a rooftop bar. The W Hotel (CBD), Eleven (The Valley), Soleil (CBD) and the Emporium (Southbank) are among my absolute faves.
With so much to do, see, eat and drink in Brisbane, be sure to pop in for a few days!