After living in Brisbane Australia for six months I wouldn’t call myself an expert on the city but I’d say I’m pretty close. After a lot of exploring we quickly learnt that there’s a lot of things to great things to do in this city despite its ‘unpopularity’ score with a lot of backpackers in Australia. Brisbane is definitely one of the less famous cities down under. The majority of people visiting Australia head to the likes of Sydney or Melbourne, just passing through Brisbane perhaps on an East Coast road trip. Brisbane lives in the shadows of the bigger cities but I hope that I can convince more people to give Brisbane more of a chance starting with sharing The Ten Best Things to Do in Brisbane City!
Granted the city of Brisbane is somewhat smaller than those of Melbourne and Sydney but its got a lot going for it. I like to describe Brisbane as a cultural haven. If you’re into brunch, coffee shops, getting up early for walks along the river, food markets and live music then Brisbane is the city for you! There are also heaps of free things to do in this city, I have a whole other post dedicated to the best free things to do in Brisbane here.
The Ten Best Things to do in Brisbane City
1. Visit Streets Beach on South Bank
“Everyone’s favourite, South Bank” the words of the sailors as the free city hopper anchors on the end of the jetty.
South Bank is the entertainment hub of Brisbane with a buzz about the air no matter come day or night. South Bank is one of my favourite places in Brisbane. Lined with cafes, restaurants, shops, and bars it’s the social capital of the city. Its also home to Streets Beach.
The one thing that drags Brisbane down in comparison to other Australian cities is that it isn’t on the coast. Brisbane is located over one hour inland from the East Coast. Whilst you can easily get to the coast on public transport or by car the city decided to take matters into its own hands and build a man-made beach. This little beach is definitely on the best things to do in Brisbane city and is loved by so many.
Locals, travellers you name it those living or staying in Brissy for a little bit of time are in that lagoon cooling down come summertime!
2. Indulge at Eat Street Markets
Do you love food? Then Brisbane is your city! The ultimate favourite foodie haven in the city is Eat Street Markets! I actually think I could write a whole blog post on how amazing this place is! The Eat Street Markets sit at the end of the ferry route in Northshore Hamilton and is easily accessible by the City Cat ferry. Imagine all your favourite food cuisines in one place and I mean hundreds of different cuisines, all sat on the edge of the river in huge shipping containers!
You’ve got everything from starter to dessert and curry to fish and chips, there is something for everyone! But Eat Street Markets is more than just a place to go and eat it’s an experience. The market is only open Friday – Sunday but there’s a live stage with different acts performing every week. It’s mostly music but the atmosphere is amazing. Kids get up and dance on the grass whilst adults watch on and by late Saturday everyone is up singing and dancing after knocking back a few beverages!
3. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
What animals do you think of when you think of Australia? Kangaroos? Crocodiles? Koalas? Me too! And you can see all of these at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane! It’s hands down one of the best things to do in Brisbane city even though it’s about an hour away but I’m still counting it!! The sanctuary first opened its doors way back in 1927 to sick and injured Koalas. Although Koalas aren’t yet an endangered species in Australia they are hunted for their fur a lot in the wild and their future definitely isn’t 100% certain.
You can get up close and personal with these Australian natives and even hold a Koala if you would like to. I don’t personally agree with this practice because Koalas are a wild animal and not supposed to interact with humans. The sanctuary do say that they put practices in place to protect the Koalas whilst being held but it’s something you should research first. There are also a variety of other Aussie natives at the sanctuary including injured joeys, kangaroos and dingoes.
4. Walk or Cycle The New Farm River Walk
This walk comes up in most of my posts about Brisbane probably because it’s one of the nicest walks in the city! This walks runs from the suburb of New Farm back into the city centre suspended on a bridge above the water. The New Farm River Walk was rebuilt after the previous walkway was destroyed in the disastrous 2011 Brisbane floods! It’s just over a mile long and super easy. You’ll walk around the winding river taking in views of Kangaroo Point and the Story Bridge.
If you want to mix up a little then grab a city cycle and cycle instead of walking! Cycling is a popular option in Brisbane and you can literally hire city cycle bikes for free around every corner! Brisbane is quite flat so it’s easy to cycle around which is why I think people would say that cycling is one of the best things to do in Brisbane city.
5. Kangaroo Point Cliffs Broadwalk/ River Activities
Kangaroo Point is home to some great cliff edges and along the top, you can follow a Broadwalk which will take you along the top of the cliffs and then down to the waterfront. This walk is host to some of the best views of the city so make sure you have your camera in tow! Sunrise is the best time to go and watch the city come alive from the cliff tops. The sun will rise behind the Story Bridge so you get a gorgeous warm reflecting over the city.
As well as being one of the best places to capture great shots of the city Kangaroo point is home to River Life Adventure Centre where you can hire kayaks, climb and abseil down the cliffs. Again sunrise kayak will give you an amazing view of the city.
6. Cruise Brisbane River
Seen as Brisbane is built upon the river it would rude not to appreciate the natural wonder and cruise along! Brisbane has so many options when it comes to exploring the river! The City Hopper and City Cat are Brisbane’s public transport ferries that go up and down the river. The city hopper is free and only covers the main stops around the CBD. The city cat, however, stops for miles along the river and you can hop on-off for two hours without having to buy another ticket!
Brisbane also offers tonnes of private boats that you can enjoy on the river. The two most popular are the Seadeck, seen as Brisbane’s river party boat and the Kookaburra Showboat a more relaxed dine and cruise experience!
The Best Things to Do in Brisbane City!
7. Visit or Hike Mount Coot Tha
A mere twenty-five minutes bus journey out of Brisbane and across the city towards the suburb and mountain of Mount Coot Tha. Mount Coot Tha is a great lookout for the whole city! You can see the whole of Brisbane river, the CBD and you can even see Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island in the distance! North Stradbroke Island is a wonderful island for a day if you have extra time in Brisbane, I wrote a post on that here! Make sure you head up on a clear day, which isn’t hard to get in Brisbane! There are two restaurants at the summit of Mount Coot Tha so you can enjoy a spot of lunch with a fantastic view!
8. Ride The Brisbane Wheel
This is the only thing that we haven’t actually done! I was sceptical as to whether I even include this or not. But even though I don’t share the same opinion people seem to love big wheels! Other than the London eye I haven’t really embarked on any big wheel experiences and when I did take a ride on the London eye I was massively disappointed! The prices of these things are silly! Sure the views are good from the top but I bet you can find a great rooftop bar with the same view and you get to enjoy a lovely cocktail or two! What could be better?
That said people who visit love the Brisbane Big Wheel so if you’re a fan of seeing some great views then apparently this is the place to be! It costs $21 so it’s not going to break the bank! The architecture of the wheel itself is brilliant! Its located on South Bank so you won’t miss it!
9. Free Yoga under The Story Bridge!
This is a fairly new addition to Brisbane but if you happen to be in the city on a Monday night you have to take advantage of a free yoga session! This yoga class isn’t just any class but a yoga and beer class! Hosted by Felons Brewery underneath the Story Bridge it’s a great thing to enjoy. Take your travel partner or go it solo and stretch off. The views are wonderful and the bonus is of course that it’s free.
10. Visit the Brisbane Botanical Gardens
The botanical gardens in Brisbane are beautiful. With lush green lawns and gorgeous water features, the botanical gardens are a great place to relax. It’s the perfect spot in Brisbane for a picnic or just a walk around. I recommend walking all the way around the botanical gardens to reach South Bank on the other side.
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