AustraliaTRAVELBrisbane City River Aerial View

Things to do in Brisbane – Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, is Australia’s third-largest city. The city is full of modern and historical attractions. The best part is that many of the top things to do and see are easily accessible via ferry ride along the beautiful winding Brisbane River.

Brisbane City’s spectacular scenery and pleasant locals have been the draw-card for many domestic and international visitors, making Brisbane the fastest-growing city in Australia. In November 2014 the city hosted the G-20 summit, attracting thousands of media, delegates, and security staff.

Brisbane is rapidly developing yet it maintains a youthful enthusiasm and has what is arguably the most vibrant, laid back, and friendliest atmosphere of any east-coast capital city.

Brisbane City’s boundaries contain a treasure trove of things to do in CBD. From hitting busy shopping streets to quiet riverside strolls, and chic high-end restaurants to laid-back laneway beers – discover awesome things to do in Brisbane.

Brisbane City Aerial View
Brisbane City Aerial View - Queensland Australia

Here are Things To Do In Brisbane

Brisbane River & Southbank

Brisbane River offers a multitude of activities and things to see for all ages. If you’re visiting in the warmer months, South Bank Parklands is a must. Here you can take a dip at Streets Beach, Australia’s only city beach! Cool off in the crystal clear lagoon and soak in the atmosphere on the white sand beach, all with the Brisbane skyline right in front of you.

SouthBank Brisbane -Street Beach Aerial View

Nearby is the architecturally award-winning Southbank Arbour – a kilometer-long awning covered in beautiful pink bougainvillea flowers. Take a relaxing stroll underneath and dream the day away. Southbank is also home to a vast array of gardens, including the Epicurious Garden, where fresh produce and plant life are grown and looked after by dedicated gardener volunteers. Make sure you visit the awe-inspiring three stories high Nepalese Pagoda, featuring hand-carved timber that took 160 Nepalese families 2 years to build.

Southbank is also a hive of activity in the evenings. If you’re looking for something more on the adventurous side, get yourself into a kayak for a Friday Night Paddle & Prawns or Saturday Night Paddle & BBQ. This unique adventure will have you gliding up the Brisbane River on 1.5 hours illuminated kayak, allowing you to take in the twinkling lights of the city.

Further along, you will see The Wheel of Brisbane, offering a 360-degree panoramic view of the river, the city, and beyond. The wheel is open 7 days a week and there is no need to book.

Getting around Brisbane is easy, and there is no better way than on the City Hopper ferry – a free service that departs from South Bank Terminal 3 every 30 minutes. You can hop on and off as many times as you like, visiting all of the main attractions along the way. An alternative is buying a ticket on the City Cat ferry service, which runs more frequently and travels a little faster along the river.

Brisbane City Australia

Australian Wildlife

Fancy a cuddle with a koala? Just 12km from Brisbane city is the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary – the world’s largest, with over 130 koalas in its care! It is an 18-hectare koala sanctuary in the Brisbane suburb of Fig Tree Pocket in Queensland, Australia

Visiting Daisy Hill Conservation Park guarantees a sighting – primarily because there is a small koala center on-site housing education koalas that can’t be released back into the wild. Picnic by the Lagoon at Mt Coot-tha’s Botanic Gardens to spy swamp hens, ducks, ibis, and bush turkeys roaming, swimming, and diving. Explore Boondall Wetlands and discover over 170 bird species or take a bigger leap and find over 350 species in Pumicestone Passage – catch a glimpse of some migrating species not common to the area. Out in the Scenic Rim, wallabies like to hide out in the lavender bushes at Kooroomba Vineyard and Lavender Farm too.

Cheche at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
North Stradbroke Island tiger sharks - Brisbane
Grey nurse sharks at Flat Rock, North Stradbroke Island Queeensland Australia

Visit the Tangalooma Wrecks to find bottom-dwelling wobbegong sharks or the Flat Rock dive site on North Stradbroke Island for sand tiger sharks. Head to the shores of Sandgate and Shorncliffe where at low tide the shallow waters reveal a variety of marine wildlife. Spot the resident manta ray pod at Shag Rock or Flat Rock during the warmer months. And again, you can head to the end of Shorncliffe Pier and look into the watery depths below to catch a glimpse of the bright blue forms swimming through the water.  Grab your snorkel and head to Moreton Island where the Tangalooma Wrecks are teeming with marine life.

Here are some more places where you can spot Australian wildlife around Brisbane.

Gardens & Bridge Walks

For garden lovers, the Roma Street Parkland and Spring Hill are a must-see. The Roma Street Parkland is considered to be among the best display gardens in Australia. You have the option of enjoying a one-hour free guided tour or stroll at your own pace. The Spectacle Garden is bursting with color all year round and features artworks and water features.

Refresh and refuel at one of the cafés in Spring Hill, and visit the Old Windmill and Spring Hill Baths. Roma Street Parkland and Spring Hill are a unique part of Brisbane’s history and located to the north of the city center.

On the other side of the city, you’ll find the City Botanical Gardens. This is Brisbane’s oldest park, with the gardens originally planted by convicts in 1825. The garden is full of rainforest glades and exotic species, as well as ancient trees.

Mount Coot-tha Lookout

A little out of town is the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha. You can get there on the Brisbane Explorer open-top double-decker bus. You can be driven to the top of Mt Coot-tha where you can take in the sweeping views of the city. There is a café at the top, a gift shop, and toilets. Back down in the gardens, a visit to the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium will have you gazing at the night sky in the Cosmic Skydome.

For those who aren’t afraid of heights, you will not forget climbing Brisbane’s iconic Story Bridge. You can make the climb from dawn to dusk. Whatever time of day you choose, enjoy taking in the breathtaking view of the city and its surroundings. If adrenalin is what you are seeking, there is an optional 30-meter abseil back down!

Soak up the Culture & History

Brisbane also boasts Australia’s largest modern and contemporary art gallery, the QAGOMA (The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art). The gallery, which is situated in two adjacent riverside buildings in the Southbank area, has over 17,000 historical, modern and contemporary pieces of art.

If you’re planning a visit to Spring Hill, don’t miss the chance to glimpse Brisbane’s oldest building. Built by convicts, the Old Windmill is the longest surviving windmill in existence in Australia. Whilst you can’t go inside, you can learn about the tortured convicts that had to operate the treadmill in the blazing Brisbane climate.

Eat, Shop and Repeat

What’s a holiday without dining out and doing a spot of shopping? Brisbane has plenty on offer on both counts. For a lively food experience, the Eat Street Markets are a collection of food stalls full of variety, along with craft beer, cider stalls, and live music.  Do note that you have to pay a $2.50 entry fee, and be prepared for the crowds!

Brisbane boasts world-class cuisine in its fine restaurants, many of which are located along Southbank and the Brisbane River. Check out restaurant review sites to see what is on offer and which ones are popular.

For a great shopping experience, head to Queen Street Mall in the heart of the city. This popular pedestrian shopping strip offers international labels and more than 700 retailers. For something a bit more local and unique, the Collective Markets offer a diverse range of fashions by emerging designers, vintage clothing, artwork, homewares, and handmade jewelry. The markets are open Friday evenings, Saturday, and Sunday, and are located on Southbank.

Discover Brisbane’s best activities, free events, and tickets. Search for everything from yoga to festivals, from gigs to sports, from stuff for kids to adults-only. All the best events are here.

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