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Ultimate Guide to Brisbane: All You Need to Know!

View of the Brisbane Bridge with the city in the background

The Ultimate Guide to Brisbane

Brisbane, the most up and coming city in Australia. Brisbane like most other smaller cities in Australia is often outcast by the bigger and, let’s face it more famous and popular cities that are Sydney and Melbourne. In 2018/19 we were lucky enough to live in this vibrant city for four months. Following the amazing time we had in Brisbane I’m making it my mission to give Brisbane the recognition it deserves! Starting with this Ultimate Guide to Brisbane. I’m hoping that this guide may just inspire you to add Brisbane to your Aussie bucket list! So why should you visit Brisbane?

Ultimate Guide to Brisbane – The Weather!

As we touched down on Aussie soil in June 2018, despite the temperature soaring 25 degrees (yes we are British) Australia was in the height of winter. So even though we knew it wasn’t going to be ‘cold’ anywhere we picked the city we knew would be the warmest in ‘winter’ Brisbane. Located in Queensland, nicknamed the sunshine state, Brisbane is one of the hottest places to hang out during winter in Australia. It’s also the best time of year to visit Brisbane. Because of its inland position, Brisbane reaches humidity levels over 90-100% during the summer months, if you do plan on visiting Brissy then do so in winter!

Temperatures in winter remain a comfortable 14-25 degrees but it rarely drops below 16 in the daytime during June-August. The humidity is low and the sun will shine probably every day! Brisbane experiences very little rainfall so the chances are you’ll have plenty of dry weather to enjoy all Brisbane has to offer. As a guide to Brisbane in the summer months expect a more sticky situation. The temperature rises to 30 degrees with, as I previously mentioned, humidity reaching 100% some days. Picture having a shower, going outside to put the bin out and feel like you need another shower – not nice!

It only took a week living in this sunny city for us to realise what a beauty it was! We’d soon become accustomed to taking long walks along the river, having coffee and brunch out almost every day and living our most relaxed out lives to date! When they talk about the standard of living in Australia is relaxed, they mean it! It’s hard to explain why. The vibe is just a lot slower, especially in Brisbane! So if you’re looking for a winter break with slow travel in mind then Brisbane could be exactly what you’re looking for!

Guide to Brisbane: Basics

Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD)

Language: English

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Guide to Brisbane: How to Get There

So, you’ve just touched down in Australia and the excitement is flowing through your veins! The mistake you don’t want to make is not knowing how earth to get from the Airport to your accommodation! Sounds obvious right? Well, apparently not for us!

Quick Story Time

As we waltzed out of the airport we thought he had it covered! We had our air train ticket booked and headed for the station! Trouble was that’s all we had booked! We hadn’t booked a taxi or a coach from the station to our Air BnB or anything! I don’t know how we thought we were going to navigate our way to our accommodation with no idea where we were and no Wi-Fi!

Luckily, Brisbane is awesome and in the city, there are free Wi-Fi hotspots everywhere, we eventually made it to our Air BnB via BUS! Pretty impressive hey?

Air Train:

The Air Train service runs from the airport seven days a week, from 5 am – 11 pm. From the airport to Brisbane city centre it takes approximately 40-45minutes. Tickets are cheaper if bought online so book before you ride! $15 per person approximately (September 2018)
You can find the timetable and where to book tickets via the Air Train website here

Taxi:

There are taxis available from the airport if you don’t mind spending a little extra. Brisbane uses two taxi companies: Yellow Cabs and Black and White Cabs, both taxis are situated at the taxi ranks at both the international and domestic terminal. Do not use any other taxi company as these are only two that Brisbane Council recommends. Uber is big is Brisbane depending on your opinion of the service I’ll leave that up to you!

You’ll find taxi ranks located at both terminals:
Domestic terminal: in front of the domestic terminal building centrally.
International terminal: at the northern end of the terminal outside to the left.

In off-peak times it takes 20 minutes to drive to the airport costing $45-$55 (September 2018) Peak Times your looking at 30 minutes costing a little more but not much more. If it costs more than $60 you are being ripped off big time!

For more information on taxis’ take a look here!

Bus:

You can also choose between a council-run bus service and a shuttle run bus service to and from the airport. Brisbane recommends Con-x-Ion as its best shuttle bus service which will take you to a choice of destinations in and around the city, prices starting at $15!

Check out more information here

The council’s bus service runs seven days a week from the Sky Gate Centre at both terminals! You can check the Translink website for more details on that!

My advice would be to get air-train as its cheap and convenient stopping at every suburb on the way into the city! Just make sure you know exactly where and how you’re going to get to your onward destination from there!

Ariel view of Brisbane from Kangaroo Point

The beautiful city of Brisbane

Guide to Brisbane: Where to Stay

The city of Brisbane is small, and a lot of the hotels are in and around the CBD or on South bank/South Brisbane. But Brisbane is surrounded by beautiful suburbs with some amazing accommodation opportunities and by far my favourite option is always Air BnB.

New Farm

New farm is one of my favourite suburbs in Brisbane just a 30-minute walk from the city centre! This suburb is a lovely and quite an affluent area of Brisbane bustling with amazing coffee shops, brunch spots, yoga studios and the famous New Farm River Walk. It’s the first place we stayed in Brisbane and gave us perfect first impressions of the city. New Farm has great transport links into the city that include, two ferries, one free and one paid service (paid service is quicker), bus or of course by your own two feet. I’d say New Farm is the best option if you’re not a traditional backpacker looking to be in the thick of it, travelling with a family, are a little bit older or in general, wanting to avoid the party scene. As a couple in our mid-twenties who love walking New Farm was perfect!

If you do end up staying in New Farm some of the top things to do are:

New Farm River Walk
Eat Brunch at The Moray Cafe
Grab a free comedy show at The Powerhouse every Friday at 5 pm
Relax with skyline views of the city in New Farm Park

Fortitude Valley

Fortitude Valley is the home of the backpackers. Nicknamed ‘The Valley’ this is party central of the city where all the students, partiers and backpackers gather to let their hair down most nights of the week. Fortitude Valley is the home to most of the hostels in Brisbane, so if your down from the coast for a weekend then a hostel could be a great option for you!

The most popular hostel in the valley Bunk Brisbane Backpackers or otherwise known as Birdees located in the hub of the Valley!

Birdees is well known for its crazy pool parties in the summer months! Surrounded by shops, restaurants and bars and in a great location to get into the city! Bunk Brisbane is the ultimate go-to for backpackers and partiers alike! This hostel is full of everything you could need to host the ultimate backpacker party! Not only is this hostel in an epic location it has some of the best facilities around! Birdees comes equipped with three bars and a tiki-inspired rooftop! With plenty of dorms to choose from and the option for 4,6,10 and 20 shares I’m sure this hostel has exactly what you are looking for! & did I mention the pool? This hostel comes equipped with a heated pool open all year round! Because let’s face it, it always feels like summertime in Australia! Fortitude Valley is also the night-life queen of Brisbane which I’ll mention later on is this guide to Brisbane!

South Bank

If you want to be in amongst the action but perhaps not so much in the clubbing scene then South Bank is an amazing option for you! South Bank runs parallel the Brisbane River and is the home to Streets Beach and plenty of restaurants and cafes to feed you for a year! You won’t find too many hostels on South Bank, but you will find plenty of hotels that line the streets.

An average night in a hotel on South Bank for two people will cost approx. $100-$200 per night so it isn’t your cheapest option but it’s probably the best one if you want to stay in a hotel! Everything you could possibly need is close by, including all the transport links to get around the city!

The Brisbane wheel photographed to show off South Bank

The Brisbane Wheel located on South Bank

Brisbane CBD

Of course, you’ve also got the CBD which I wouldn’t recommend staying in unless you’re on a business trip or for some reason need to be in the city centre! There isn’t much going on in the CBD of Brisbane, most of the action happens on the river at South Bank or at Eagle Street Pier. There’s very little for the tourist to explore in the CBD but there are great shopping facilities! From Tiffany’s to H&M you’ll find a shop for you whatever your budget! So, if shopping is your thing then go for it, but you’re going to pay for it!

An average hotel night in the CBD will set you back $100-250 a night, on the plus side you will get some epic views of the river if you choose your hotel wisely! You can see where your hotel is in comparison to the river by using Google maps!

There are plenty of other suburbs that are amazing to stay in. However, if I list them all we will be here all day, literally, there are loads! West End, South Brisbane, Kangaroo Point, Morning Side the list goes on! But the ones mentioned above are my top picks for staying in Brisbane, having spent a lot of time in each of the above places I know you’ll have a blast staying there!

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Guide to Brisbane: Things to Do

Swimming in South Bank pool

Cool off in the lagoon on South Bank

As a city, Brisbane boasts energy and vibrancy whilst being one of the most laid-back cities in Australia. Whilst a lot of the main tourist landmarks in Australia are located on the East Coast and in the bigger cities such as Sydney, I mean we’ve all heard of the opera house, right? Brisbane is still bursting with things to do and has so many places that you shouldn’t be missing out on when visiting the land down under!

Relax on South Bank

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again South Bank is the life and soul of the party. The entertainment hub of this city sits on the edge on the river dazzling with shops, bars, restaurants and even a man-made beach! Make sure you hit up South Bank as much as you can because there is always something going on!

Head down on a Sunday to enjoy Social on the Green a free event every Sunday hosting live music and drinks galore. South Bank is perfect for everyone whether you’re a family of four or a backpacking circle of friends you can enjoy what South Bank has to offer. There are also markets on at South Bank every Friday – Sunday for a spot of shopping promoting local small businesses!

Visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Not far from the city just a little journey down the river sits Fig Tree Pocket. The lovely little suburb of Fig Tree Pocket is home to a few furry Australians natives. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is one of Australia’s only koala sanctuary which helps sick and injured koalas. The sanctuary first opened it’s doors way back in the 1920s and continues to help these furry creatures today. As well as koalas you can roam around the huge open spaces with Kangaroos, Emus, Joey’s and Dingoes! But of course, that’s not all you’ll crocodiles and a very friendly platypus within the park too! You don’t want to miss taking a visit to the sanctuary during your visit to Brisbane!

Check out some more information about the sanctuary here!

Kangaroo Point Cliffs and River life

On the other side of the river to the city lays Kangaroo Point, now Kangaroo Point is residential but right down by the river it has a great walk along with some brilliant activities! Take a stroll along the Kangaroo Cliffs Broad Walk, Climb and Abseil down the Cliffs with the River life centre!

Story Bridge

Not as iconic as the Sydney Harbour Bridge but still pretty impressive and at the heart of the city. As you wander down the river walk you won’t be able to miss it. For the best views head of the Story Bridge make your way to Wilsons Outlook Reserve. A great place to watch the sunset and capture some amazing shots of the Story Bridge. If you’re looking for an adrenaline activity then you can also climb the bridge.

Views of the Story Bridge

The Story Bridge

Hike up Mount Coot Tha

Hike up to the top of Moot Count Tha for some epic views of the city below. These views are amazing at any time of day but if you have a car go for sunrise or sunset for some amazing views that will stay with you forever! The hike to the top of Mount Coot Tha is fairly easy if you have a good level of fitness but there is a bus that runs right to the summit as well. There’s a restaurant at the top which is reasonably priced but I’d take a picnic and lay out on the grass – maybe treat yourself to ice cream?

Guide to Brisbane: Day Trips From Brisbane

Whale Watching from Redcliffe

In the months of June-November, the humpback whales migrate to the warm Australian waters. Luckily for us, we can take this opportunity to try and spot some of these magnificent creatures in their own habitat! Brisbane Whale Watching company runs various tours from the months of June to November where they guarantee sightings! After using this company, I wouldn’t want to use any other I cannot recommend them enough!

Shorncliffe Pier

The quaint little seaside town of Shorncliffe is just thirty minutes away from Brisbane and well worth a visit if you have a chance! It’s an excellent place to go for a walk, fishing, a splash in the sea or enjoy some brilliant fish and chips!

Glass House Mountains National Park

The Glass House Mountains National Park is situated above Brisbane in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and gives some amazing views when you reach the top! Get outside and breathe some fresh air into your lungs as you hike upwards to the top of the glass house mountains!

The view from the top of the Glass House Mountains

Enjoying the scenic views at the summit!

For the low down on what’s happening in Brisbane bookmark these pages!

Urban List Brisbane 

Visit Brisbane

Guide to Brisbane: Where to Eat

Brisbane is foodie central! If you’re into food markets, then Brisbane has got you covered! We haven’t even been able to scratch the surface when it comes to enjoying some of the culinary delights Brisbane has to offer, but here are our some of our favourites!

Eat Street Markets

I think I talk about this in every Brisbane related post! Think small food market with a few stalls, then multiply by a thousand! Eat Street is the place to be! With over a hundred different food stalls and every cuisine going you are spoilt for choice!

Couple at Eat Street Markets

Eat? Okay if you insist!

The Moray Cafe

This perfect cafe in New Farm does the best brunch in the city! We ate here on our first morning in Brisbane and have gone back continuously!

Superbowl Chinese Restaurant

In need of a little updating from the outside but once inside this place will get your taste buds tingling! As always go where the locals go and they all go here!

Zeus

Now more a casual dining experience come fast food option Zeus does the best Greek wraps in the city! Try the Hermes wrap if you like things a little spicy!

PNut Noodles

We became a little bit addicted to these noodles since we arrived! We just can’t resist a Pad Thai!

The Manhattan Line, Oxford Street, Bulimba

The best value for money when it comes to American dining! I’ll drop a picture below of all the food we ate here for just $50!

Korilla BBQ

BBQ for yourself in the middle of your table! This amazing Korean BBQ restaurant brings out your meats raw and you cook yourself on the BBQ plate which we think is pretty cool! The food was delicious, and it brought a little bit of fun to our dinner too! Located in China Town & Queens Street Mall.

The Brunswick Project

One of our top picks for breakfast/brunch!

Night Noodle Markets

Now this will 100% depend on when you’re visiting Brisbane but if you’re lucky enough to be here in July, then hit the night noodle markets on South Bank for some amazing choice of Asian food from noodles to pork buns!

Top Tip – Fear Not! If you are visiting at a different time of year, then South Bank will have you covered you can follow @eatsouthbank on Instagram for the latest updates of amazing street food coming to Brisbane!

The Munich – Not the cheapest of options but if your looking for something close to a Sunday lunch then grab a German banger’s, mash and gravy from The Munich, you won’t go home hungry that’s for sure!

As well as some superb eatery’s Brisbane is also full of quaint and quirky cafes to feed those caffeine cravings! Some of our favourites: The Moray Cafe (yep again!), The Brunswick Project, Miss Jones, King Arthur Café, The Coffee Club (because the opening hours are great!), Who Shot the Barista and Jimmy’s on the Mall and the list again could go on and on!

Guide to Brisbane: Nightlife

Brisbane is a pretty family-friendly city but that doesn’t mean the nightlife isn’t just as good! Brisbane has some epic party spots for all round banger of a night out! And the majority will stay open until the sun rises!

Howard Smiths Wharf

New to Brisbane in 2018 Howard Smiths Wharf is located on the New Farm Riverwalk directly underneath the Story Bridge. Complete with a brewery, 2 sophisticated cocktail bars and private venue areas it’s the new place to be! With a perfect view out onto the river, it’s ideal for daytime or nighttime drinking! If you’re a Yoga fan you can also enjoy free beer and yoga on a Monday night from 5:30 pm.

Eagle Street Pier

This is one of the places to be for a sophisticated night out with cocktails by the river or to start off! The many bars look out onto the river making perfect scenery to start your night off! I recommend Riverbar and Kitchen and Riverland which are the two best bars to kick off your evening on the town.

Fortitude Valley

This is where your party will end up if you want clubs and late bars this is your place. Usually most busy on a weekend but you can have a fun night out in the week too! The top places in the valley for dance are, The Woolly Mammoth, TBC, Cloud-land, RG Hotel and The Osborne!

South Bank

For a chilled evening out with friends for a beer and a good conversation then you want to hit up South Bank with plenty of bars to choose from and live music every night of the week, it’s the perfect spot to catch up with friends or hang with fellow travellers.

Guide to Brisbane: Transport

Finally, I thought I’d give a very brief overview of how you can around the city because it’s super important, I think anyway!

Brisbane has great transport links including, bus, ferry and train being the easiest. The CityHopper is a free service along the river and The CityCat is paid, if you’re just visiting Brisbane and staying central then you can get everywhere you need to go via the CityHopper! If you are venturing out a little further one of the other options may be more suited! The trains and very regular as are the buses!

If you’re in Brisbane for an extended period, I highly recommend getting a GoCard – go here for more information!

These cards will reduce your cost of travel, for example, single fare without GoCard $5 with GoCard $2, it’s well worth the $10 deposit (which you can get back if you hand your card back to a ticket office at the end of your trip!) Other than that Brisbane is quite small, and a full loop of the city would only take you a few hours to walk, and by your own two feet is a perfect way of exploring!

Sharing is Caring

So, I really hope you’re excited about your upcoming trip to Brisbane and if you’re not heading to this sunshine city then I hope you enjoyed learning a little about it! If you have visited or know Brissy well and think I’ve missed something super crucial, then I want to hear from you! Comment below or send me an email at [email protected]

If you’re heading to Australia you might enjoy some of my other Aussie posts too:

24 Hours in Melbourne 

Free Things to Do in Sydney 

Best Beaches in Australia 

You can also find all my other Australia posts by clicking here too!

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  • Reply
    Joannda | A Zest For Travel
    08/10/2018 at 04:03

    Wow! This is a super comprehensive guide, Alicia!! Love it!
    Would you believe Brisbane is actually the only city I’ve visited in Australia? Granted, it was a long time ago and tacked on to a few days on the Gold Coast. But, I loved it there! Such a nice vibe! Hoping to get back there relatively soon as one of my best friends lives there now – will definitely refer back to your guide when I do! 🙂

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