Things To Do In Brisbane – An Insider’s Guide
You’ll never run out of things to do in Brisbane when you visit. The city of Brisbane has something for every traveller. Whether you are a foodie, into live music, festivals and nightclubs, bar hopping, poking around farmer’s markets, hiking or shopping. Brisbane awaits you, ready to be explored.
Brisbane city is very user-friendly and has a public transport system that includes utilising the river that runs through the inner city suburbs.
The City Cat & ferry system, bus and train services generally run like clockwork. For easy access and no delays that make jumping on and off easy, grab a Translink Go Card.
The cards are available at 635 locations around the city including 7 Eleven stores, Railway stations, some busway stations and selected newsagents where you see the ‘buy’ or ‘top-up’ symbols.
One card gives you access to all public transport. Simply top it up using a credit card here or by calling 13 12 30.
A fun day out can be viewing the city from the water jumping on and off the City Cat as you go. The Riverside Pier is where you will find many cafés and some of Brisbane’s best fine dining.
If you feel like a spot of shopping then you could take a short 10-minute walk from the pier to the Queen Street Mall. The mall is located in the heart of Brisbane where you’ll discover 700+ retailers in Brisbane’s premier shopping destination.
Within the Mall, you’ll find Brisbane Arcade, Tattersall’s Arcade, The Myer Centre, Queens Plaza and MacArthur Central. With a mixture of local, interstate and international labels, a day could easily whizz by!
If shopping isn’t your thing and you would rather hone your poker skills, then the Treasury Casino sits at the top of the mall. Ladies can shop till they drop and guys can try their luck on the tables.
If you opt to keep travelling on the river, Southbank will keep you busy for hours too. You can enjoy various picnic areas, Brisbane’s only beach (be it man-made) or one of the many walking tracks.
There’s also a cinema at Southbank in case it’s raining during your stay. Plus pubs, restaurants, café’s and bars. Do you love live music? Southbank is home to the riverside stage where many local and international acts have performed.
Or there is Suncorp stadium a short bus or train ride from the city centre where (Ed Sheeran recently played).
Local football games of soccer and rugby league are played at the stadium. The very popular AFL (Australian Football incase you didn’t know) is played at the Gabba. It’s also where local, interstate and international cricket is played. The Gabba is only a few minutes bus ride from the city centre.
Brisbane locals love their markets. There are farmers markets, held around the river’s edge in various locations. Whether you are looking for cooked or fresh food, fashion, souvenirs, homewares or knick-knacks you’ll find it at a market in Brisbane.
If you are a die-hard foodie then visiting the Eat Street Markets are a must. A disused wharf now turns into a feast of the senses every Friday and Saturday nights from 4pm-10pm.
Will you have a hire car? If so, leave it back at your accommodation as the traffic is bedlam with limited access to the markets. Best if you catch the city cat, it’s the quickest and easiest entry and exit to the area.
It’s a complete night out at the Eat Street Markets. Apart from the delicious food from international cuisines, there’s boutique & craft beers, live entertainment, pop-up fashion stores and homewares too.
In fact, the entire market could be classed as a pop-up as all the stores are in old shipping containers!
Brisbane Day Trips
One of the things to do in and around Brisbane is to visit a winery near Brisbane. Or take a day trip to the surrounding islands. Didn’t know Brisbane had islands off its coastline?
Just off Redcliffe, a northern suburb of Brisbane lies Flinders Reef, the most southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. If you are a keen scuba diver then you’ll enjoy an easy dive or two. The water in no more than 15m and will probably spy the most turtles you’ve seen on any dive! Even during the lunch break as you sit on the deck, you’ll see them coming up for air as you munch on your sandwiches.
It’s fairly tidal there and on the day we dived, our second dive resembled a mini drift dive as the current grew stronger as the tide rose.
Day trips (or longer stays if you have the time) to North Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island are always a fun day out.
Moreton Island is a short 75 minute trip from the mainland. Moreton is the 3rd largest sand island in the world and very popular with 4wders, campers, whale watchers, day-trippers and people who love to fish. Use this link to find out how you can travel there.
Moreton has some interesting history too. Housing 5 lighthouses over the years, it was the main passage into Brisbane and notoriously dangerous passage with many ships wrecked from the rugged coastline in the late 1800s. There’s also remnants of the old whaling station together with the old telegraph line.
Tangalooma resort is home to the popular Tangalooma wrecks. I highly recommend snorkel around them to see an assortment of fish and even a few wobbegong (harmless) sharks.
North Stradbroke Island
North Stradbroke Island is very popular with locals for a weekend away, a well-earned break or just a day trip. Only a 45-minute ferry trip makes the island very accessible and if you’ve hired a car you can drive it right onto the ferry as it is a vehicle and passenger ferry.
You can spend your time on Straddie (as it’s known by us locals) taking in the scenery, surfing, swimming, diving, eating (the seafood is great) or if you are there in the right season Whale Watching!
Things to do in Brisbane vary at night depending on your interests and tastes.
Brisbane is home to some of the best breweries and bars. Don’t be fooled by the constant bickering between Sydney and Melbourne as to who holds the title to the best city in this category. Brisbane shines through and could easily take the prize.
Yes, I may be a tad bias!
Brisbane’s Boutique Breweries and Craft Beers
I’m not a beer drinker. However, my son is a connoisseur, here are his top recommendations to try out Australia’s best craft beers
Archive Beer Boutique, West End – home to over a thousand beers from micro beers all around Australia. Very trendy bars throughout with some good pub food on offer.
Newstead Brewing Company, Newstead – a microbrewery, pub and restaurant inside formally an old warehouse, art gallery and bus depot.
Tipplers Tap, Southbank – they don’t have a phone in case you try to find it but you can contact them through their Facebook page
Brewski Bar, Paddington – great lunchtime specials available too
Kerbside, Fortitude Valley – beer, pub grub and DJ’s in a Bohemian bar
Visit Brisbane has a comprehensive list of boutique beer drinking places here
Brisbane’s Bar Scene
If bars are more your scene you’d need several months to visit every bar Brisbane has to offer. From all points of the compass, inner-city, city rooftops and bay areas there’s probably one just around the corner from where you are staying.
Check out this comprehensive list from Must Do Brisbane.
There are two main areas in Brisbane to go clubbing, Brisbane CBD or “The Valley” (Fortitude Valley). The Valley is also home to most Gay & Lesbian nightclubs too.
This list from ‘Get A Night Life’ covers all clubs, plus other things to do at night in Brisbane.
It would be remiss of me not to include safety if I’m advising you about things to do in Brisbane
If you are venturing out to The Valley please be careful. There have been several incidents involving unprovoked violence.
There is always a large police presence on the busy nights of Friday and Saturday and there is a “Police Beat” manned 24/7 at the end of the Mall.
Brisbane is considered a fairly safe city, however I would still exercise caution visiting main hubs where alcohol tends to be the focus as you can’t control other people stupidity. If you use the same common sense you do visiting your hometowns night scene, then you’ll be just fine in Brisbane.
Tell me, are you visiting Brisbane soon? What sort of things to do in Brisbane will make your list?