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A Brisbane travel guide: The best things to do and see

Updated On 20th August, 2020

Brisbane is one of my favourite Australian cities, up there with Sydney too, and I had an absolute blast living there for just over a year.

Brisbane, for those of you unfamiliar, is the capital city of Queensland and sits on the East Coast of Australia just a 2 hour drive north of Byron Bay. 

For some reason, not everyone remembers to add Brisbane on to their list when planning a trip to Australia but Brisbane is well worth stopping off in. Even if it’s just for the morning en route to one of Queensland’s other wanders like Fraser Island or the Sunshine Coast… you gotta do it! To show you what your time in Brisbane could look like, I am here with the ultimate guide for Brisbane. The can not miss list for Brisbane.

By the end of this list, you will be moving it to number one on your list of places to visit in Australia! Personally, I love that Brisbane has something for every type of personality be it; the party animal, the artsy soul, the active soul & everything in between. My social calendar was always jam-packed, much to the dismay of my university assignments.

I’m Chelsea from A Wandering Redhead and this is my guide to Brisbane for you!

A Brisbane travel guide: The best things to do and see

A Brisbane travel guide: The best things to do and see

Getting from the airport into Brisbane city centre

By far the easiest way to get to Brisbane is to fly, it conveniently has an international airport with flights from 29 destinations. Once you land there are 3 main options in getting to the city which is around 30 minutes away.

  • Uber: Approx. $45.00
  • Train: Approx. $20 & takes 35 minutes, leaves every 10 minutes and goes straight to Central Station.
  • Con-X-ion shuttle: Approx. $25 & drops off at Roma Street Station or your Airbnb/hostel

Budgeting for Brisbane

Australia, in general, is a little more expensive if compared to say, America or Thailand. Cities get bad press about being overpriced; however, Brisbane is the cheapest and I have tested my wallet in three major Australian cities. You can keep it cheap and have the best time, or you can go super extravagant as well, it all depends on your budget and the knowledge you have to hand! Let’s tuck into my tips for you…

Accommodation in Brisbane:

I personally choose to usually stay in hostels so the below list has all the hostels that I would suggest based on location and inclusions.

Base Brisbane 462 George Street, Brisbane 

  • Close to Roma Street Station
  • Private room options
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Onsite bar

Nomads 308 Edward Street, Brisbane

  • Opposite Central Station
  • In a gorgeous heritage listed building
  • Free Wi-Fi from 7am-7pm
  • Rooftop terrace with city views

Breeze lodge 635 Main Street, Kangaroo Point

  • New property
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • 2x lounges with Netflix
  • Power point, locker & light for each bed

Central Brunswick Apartments 455 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley

  • Walking distance to the party district
  • Affordable studio or 1 bedroom units
  • Car parking spaces at a cost

Bunk Brisbane 11 Gipps Street, Fortitude Valley

  • Perfect for travellers looking for a party atmosphere
  • Daily free breakfast
  • Has staff dedicated to helping backpackers look for work
  • 24-hour reception

If you are interested in staying in an Airbnb, I suggest looking at the following areas so that you are close to transportation & all of the lively hustle and bustle that Brisbane has to offer!

  • Brisbane CBD
  • Fortitude Valley
  • Southbank
  • West End
  • Kangaroo Point
  • Roma Street
  • Newfarm

Use this link to get £25 off of your first Airbnb booking.

Getting around Brisbane:

Public transport is fantastic in the city, it’s also regular and cheap. Definitely pick yourself up a ‘GO’ card, you can buy it from the airport when you arrive or any of the main stations. It’s $10 for the card with a minimum of $20 credit then you can top up with cash or card as you go! There are also busses that run frequently in the city, but they take longer due to traffic. You can hire bikes or segway’s but more on that soon…

Places to eat and drink whilst in Brisbane

Brisbane has such a huge food culture, so you are definitely spoilt for choice on where to get amazing food and delicious, creative cocktails. Here are a few places I highly recommend trying when you are in Brisbane.

My favourite restaurants:

  1. Riverbar & Kitchen (71 Eagle Street, Brisbane)
  2. Pochana (163 Elizabeth Street, Brisbane)
  3. Ribs & Rumps (5 Railway Terrace, Milton)
  4. The Charming Squire (133 Grey Street, Southbank)
  5. Brooklyn Depot (168 Grey Street, Southbank)

My favourite bars are:

  1. Howard Smith Wharves (5 Boundary Street, Brisbane)
  2. Sixteen Antlers (Cnr Ann & Roma Street, Brisbane)
  3. Eleven Rooftop Bar (757 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley)
  4. X-Cargo (37 McLachlan Street, Fortitude Valley)
  5. Cloudland (641 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley)
A Brisbane travel guide: The best things to do and see
A Brisbane travel guide: The best things to do and see
A Brisbane travel guide: The best things to do and see

Top things to do in Brisbane

1. Mount Coot tha lookout

Take bus 470 from Roma Street Station

It has unmatched city views and a restaurant/café with super delicious food. If you want to go with a date, it’s really romantic to get a spot & watch the sun set over the city with some wine. There is also the Mount Coot tha botanic gardens which has a Bonsai garden and is free.

2. Explore via city cat

25 ferry terminals along the Brisbane River

By far not the quickest way to get around, but oh so peaceful. It accepts GOcard & comes by every 15 minutes. Northshore Hamilton is the last stop on the route, it has some really good restaurants & is a lovely area to explore if you feel like taking an afternoon to watch the sites go by from the water. I highly recommend you stop at the Felons Brewing Co in Howard Smith Wharves for an evening cocktail and watch the sunset from under the Story Bridge.

3. Take a Segway/bike ride along the river

Segway tour 75 minutes for $100, bike hire through city cycle is approx. $20

As I was saying before, one of the best ways to explore Brisbane is to ride around along the water. Stopping off at heaps of different places from Southbank to the city botanic gardens to Howard Smith Wharves & you can get your exercise whilst you are at it, who doesn’t love a double win! There is a dedicated bike path that runs along the whole distance so you can cycle safely.

4. Explore Southbank

Within walking distance from Queen Street mall in the city, straight across the bridge

Southbank is one of the busiest hives of activity in the city, there is so much to do! Starting with the wheel of Brisbane ($16), a great way to get up high and see the sights. You can visit the Gallery of Modern Art if that’s your thing, free entry but some exhibitions cost. There is Southbank beach, man-made with the addition of sand it’s a nice way to get cool, get a tan & people watch. This is a hub for delicious food, so the choice is yours. Name a cuisine & it would be a surprise if there wasn’t a restaurant in the area. On the weekends there is a cute market pop-up in the middle of the street, definitely worth a look! 

5. Eat all of the delicious food at Eat Street markets

Catch the ferry to the Northshore ferry terminal (last stop) and take an empty tummy

I can’t even describe which stalls to try, my only advice is one of everything. It was all delicious and they also have live music, so everyone sits on lawn chairs and just eats and eats and eats. They also have a selection of local craft type stalls so it can be a great place to pick up some unique souvenirs. 

6. Climb the Story Bridge

Brisbane’s answer to the harbour bridge climb, one of only three bridge climbs in the world

One of the best ways to see the city in full, all at once! It’s $160 per adult and it lasts approx. 2 hours, you can also do ‘add on’s’ such as the lean out or walk the plank. Those are definitely not for those afraid of heights. Twilight is the most popular time of day so book in advance.

Have you been to Brisbane?

What were your favourite spots? We’d love to know!?

Brisbane is such a special place and I hope that you have the best time exploring all that it has to offer!

Chelsea from A Wandering Redhead

See more of Chelsea’s adventures on her Instagram here.

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A Brisbane travel guide: The best things to do and see




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