11 must-do things to do in Brisbane

Visiting Brisbane: what to do in Brisbane, Queensland’s capital? Discover our must-sees

Brisbane is Australia’s third-largest city, and may seem less effervescent than Sydney and Melbourne. In a way, this is true: Queensland’s capital is not as cosmopolitan and lively as Australia’s other two major cities. However, there’s plenty to do in the region, and you’re bound to spend a few days here if you want to travel around.

Here are the best places to visit in Brisbane to organize your stay.

Also read on the Brisbane guide :

1. CBD

The first step to visiting Brisbane is to lose yourself in the city center. Brisbane’s urban crossroads, economic hub and main thoroughfare, the CBD is home to the city’s main cultural attractions. Tall buildings, shops, museums, monuments, parks and gardens adorn this modern yet authentic area. On foot or on a fully guided tour, take a few hours to explore the CBD and discover Queensland’s oldest church, City Hall (which houses the Brisbane Museum and an auditorium), Anzac Square, Eagle Street Pier and Saint Stephen Cathedral, among other attractions! Brisbane’s astonishingly contrasting heritage boasts a mix of styles that makes the city one of a kind.

Finally, there are several streets in Brisbane that are well worth a visit. For a shopping spree, head for Queen St, which is entirely pedestrianized and bustling all day long. The casino at the end of Queen St is also worth a look for its architecture. In short: whichever direction you take, there’s something for everyone.

2. City Botanic Gardens

City Botanic Gardens, Brisbane

Photo credit: Flickr – Harley Katz

In Brisbane’s CBD, on the other side of South Bank, there’s a lovely walk along the river. The City Botanic Gardens are Brisbane’s green lung, and for good reason: they cover almost 18 hectares. Whether you prefer jogging, cycling or lounging, it’s up to you! For a daytime drink or bite to eat, take a break at the Eagle Street Pier.

3. South Bank

SouthBank, Brisbane

Photo credit: Flickr – Axon Imagery

Brisbane’s inner-city playground for young and old alike, South Bank Parklands is a wonderful place to explore, preferably on sunny days. It’s incredibly popular with locals and tourists alike.

Located in the heart of the city, on the South Bank as its name suggests, South Bank is an ideal setting for a day or afternoon out. Swim in the artificial lagoon facing the buildings, stroll through the lush gardens and along the hiking and biking trails. Barbecue or dine in one of the countless restaurants, go shopping and much more! It’s also a beautiful place at night.

4. Brisbane River

There are several companies in Brisbane offering cruises on its eponymous river. But the cheapest way to explore the city center and surrounding area by boat is to use the boats of the public transport company, CityCat. With your hair blowing in the wind, you can admire the city’s skyscrapers and riverbanks without spending too much. The boats run on a regular schedule, so you can stop several times to see what’s nearby before getting back on board and continuing your discoveries. Grab a ticket, and off you go!

If you’d like to enjoy the area in a different way, you can explore the surrounding area on foot or by bike. The artificial Streets Beach is not far away: it’s here that you can soak up the sun, go for a swim and even take a ride on the Ferris wheel for a lovely panoramic view of Brisbane.

A word of advice: from the Botanical Gardens to the New Farm Promenade, let yourself be carried away by the various walks you can take along the Brisbane River!

5. Fortitude Valley

Long maligned, Fortitude Valley is now a must-see if you’re visiting Brisbane. Home to the city’s Chinatown, Fortitude Valley has gone from strength to strength in just a few years, becoming a benchmark for trendy places. As bohemian as it is underground, the district boasts its own special atmosphere: cinemas, boutiques, music and art scenes, bars and restaurants… all come together in the heart of this place to be, which is very popular after dark.

If you’re wondering what to do in Brisbane for an evening, let yourself be carried away by Fortitude Valley! This is where the Brunswick Street Market takes place every weekend. From vintage nuggets to designer creations, one thing’s for sure: you’ll be hard pressed to leave empty-handed.

6. Story Bridge

This is THE iconic bridge in Brisbane. You can walk to it from the Fortitude Valley district and admire this great steel structure leading to Kangaroo Point. You can also climb or abseil down the Story Bridge for a thrilling experience.

7. Mount Coot-Tha

Mont Coot-Tha, Brisbane

Photo credit: Flickr – Tatters ✾

Mount Coot-tha offers some of the best panoramic views in Brisbane, and is only a 15-minute drive from the city center. You can also take a public bus, or hire a bike for a more sporty ride. If you have the time, explore the 52-hectare subtropical botanical gardens. Admission is free.

8. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

What to do in Brisbane to discover the emblem of its local wildlife? Located around 20 minutes from the center of Brisbane, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary has been in existence since 1927 and is now the world’s largest koala reserve. Here, you can hold a koala, feed kangaroos and wallabies and have rainbow lorikeets on your head.

Although the park is dedicated to koalas, Lone Pine is home to many other species of Australian animals. If Brisbane is your first visit to Australia, this will be your first contact with the local wildlife.

9. Brisbane Powerhouse

A popular meeting place for Brisbane residents, the Powerhouse paints an artistic portrait of the town.

A former thermal power plant transformed into a cultural center, the Powerhouse is the main hub of local culture. Decked out in a revamped industrial decor, the Powerhouse warmly invites you to discover the talents of the city and beyond through its exhibitions, musical performances and other artistic events. More than just a venue, the Powerhouse has become a major echo of Brisbane’s art scene, and could even claim to have ousted its Sydney and Melbourne rivals for a few performances.

10. Queensland Cultural Centre

Queensland Cultural Centre, GOMA, Brisbane

Photo credit: Flickr – Sherwin Huang

Art, history, science… Brisbane has a superb cultural heritage that would be a shame not to discover during your stay. To help you discover the city’s main assets, Brisbane has grouped its main cultural centers in one place: the Queensland Cultural Centre. Located on the other side of the Victoria Bridge, it houses :

GOMA (Gallery Of Modern Art): Australia’s largest gallery of modern and contemporary art

Queensland Art Gallery: home to several collections by artists from around the world

Queensland Museum: dedicated to Queensland, this is a portrait of the state. From local culture and traditions to flora and fauna, discover the history of Queensland.

Sciencentre: the little ones will love this playful interlude, where science and technology are explored through a variety of discovery workshops.

Queensland Performing Arts Centre: a year-round stage for musicals, theater, dance, concerts and operas.

In addition to museums and art scenes, the Queensland Cultural Centre is also home to the Queensland State Library.

11. Things to see and do around Brisbane

Fraser Island, Australie

Photo credit: Flickr – fabcom

Australia is a big country, and you don’t have to be afraid of long distances. In the Brisbane region of southern Queensland, there are many destinations to explore, especially if you’re a fan of adventure and nature. Here’s a list of places to visit around Brisbane:

  • North Stradbroke Island

Perfect for a relaxing break, North Stradbroke is all white sandy beaches, natural lakes and unspoilt flora.

  • Moreton Island

A popular spot for water sports enthusiasts, Moreton Island is a must if you’re wondering what to do in Brisbane in terms of activities. It’s here that adventure sessions are held, where for the duration of a day, you’re invited to enjoy the leisure base, from paddle sessions to volleyball matches.

For snorkeling enthusiasts, a special cruise in the bay’s crystal-clear waters will allow you to observe the dolphins, humpback whales and giant turtles of the Marine Park!

  • Fraser Island (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
  • Gold Coast south of Brisbane
  • Glass House Mountains National Park
  • Byron Bay (New South Wales)

How do I get to Brisbane?

Brisbane has an international airport and, from Paris or Europe, it’s relatively easy to find a flight with a stopover in Dubai or Asia. On average, you should expect a flight time of around 20 hours, depending on the number of stopovers. Whichever airline you choose, be aware that flying to Brisbane requires a bit of a budget (on average 1000 euros each way). To help you plan your departure, take a look at our partner site Skyscanner: as a flight comparator, it will suggest the cheapest flights according to your departure period.

Once at the airport, a number of shuttles and cabs are available to take you downtown (schedules depend on the company, but are regular): on average, you should expect to pay between $35 and $45 for the trip.

Getting around Brisbane

  • Public transport

If you plan to stay in Brisbane during your stay, we advise you to use the city’s public transport system managed by TransLink: from buses to trains to ferries, Brisbane benefits from a very good network to which the majority of travelers turn. Although public transport operates by zone, Brisbane city center and the surrounding districts all belong to Zone 1 (cost: $4.80 per adult and $2.40 per child per journey).

Good to know:

– To save on your commute, consider the GoCard. Valued at $5, it entitles you to a 30% discount on all public transport in the city. You can buy it in person at a newsagent or train station, or directly from the Translink website.

– While ferry journeys are subject to a charge, CityHopper Ferries are free and run from shore to shore between North Quay, South Bank, the CBD, Kangaroo Point and Sydney St (New Farm).

  • The car

Would you like to visit Brisbane and the surrounding area? For greater freedom of movement and to discover the country’s treasures on your own, opt for a rental car. As soon as you arrive at the airport or in town, there are numerous rental agencies offering several types of vehicle to suit your activities.

Good to know:

– If you choose to travel by car, be sure to use a GPS to get around, as you’ll soon realize that Brisbane’s traffic flow is not so easy.

– As far as parking is concerned, the majority of parking lots are of course chargeable. So, to avoid excessive charges, opt for the West End or South Bay car parks, which will cost you less than the CBD. In the evening, parking is free, but make sure you have your ticket, as there are plenty of controls!

Where to stay in Brisbane?

In Brisbane, there is a wide choice of accommodation, depending on the area of your choice. There’s no shortage of backpacker hostels: a night costs around $25-30, with the possibility of a discount if you book a whole week. Alternatively, more upmarket hotels and apartments can be found in and around the CBD. To find a good-value hotel in Brisbane, visit this hotel comparator, which offers a wide choice of accommodation, from the most comfortable to the most budget-friendly.

Map of hotels and accommodation – Brisbane,au