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Brisbane travel guide

Only got a couple of days to get to know a new city? Our Big Five City Guides can help. We break each destination down into culture, history, dining, shopping and relaxation must-sees and dos. Bec Walsh and Adam Ford check in from beautiful Brisbane...

Brisbane basks in glorious sunshine most of the year.

However, it’s not just the great weather that makes the Queensland capital such a fabulous place to visit. There is so much happening in the city right now. From an amazing arts and cultural scene, to slick and sophisticated eateries, vibrant nightlife and world-class shopping — the city has a whole lot to offer visitors.

You can use Brisbane as a base to explore further afield too. All of Southeast Queensland’s stunning natural landscapes — including the Gold and Sunshine Coasts — are within easy reach.

Enjoy this Brisbane travel guide.

Ten top things to do in Brisbane

Brisbane travel guide
Brisbane travel guide: Visit the popular Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

Need to know

Capital of: Queensland
Base yourself: City, South Brisbane, Spring Hill, Kangaroo Point
Average hotel price per room/per night: AUD $170
Best breakfasts: South Brisbane, New Farm, Balmoral
Great coffee: Paddington, Bulimba, West End
Top spots for a beverage: New Farm, Breakfast Creek, Fortitude Valley
Must-dos: Koala river cruise, Stradbroke Island day trip, Mount Tamborine wine tour

Best times to visit

Southeast Queensland’s warm sunshine is always inviting but autumn and winter strike the right balance for outdoor activity without the crowds or humidity.

Autumn temperatures average in the low to mid 20s and you’ll enjoy mild, sunny days. For the mostly sunny days of winter, temperatures remain mild in the mid to high teens. Expect some rain and fresh early mornings. You’ll definitely need a warm layer in the evening.

During spring, temperatures reach the mid 20s, relieved by refreshing breezes in the evening. In summer, expect temperatures of 30+ most days.

Brisbane travel guide
Brisbane travel guide: The River City basks in warm sunshine most of the year.

Brisbane tours & experiences



Brisbane has come of age and today it’s a buzzing, culturally diverse metropolis.

The Boundary Street Markets in West End are a great place to start your cultural exploration. West End has always been Brisbane’s bohemian enclave, and it has retained its edgy feel. Head for the markets on Friday, Saturday or Sunday and feast on delicious international cuisines, shop for vintage outfits at SWOP or grab a drink and rock out to great local bands at The Motor Room.

Brisbane travel guide
Image courtesy of Boundary Street Markets

Culture vultures, make a beeline for Brisbane’s South Bank cultural precinct. Here you’ll find the excellent Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), the Queensland Museum, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) and the State Library of Queensland. All have a huge amount to offer visitors.

Across town at New Farm you’ll find the Brisbane Powerhouse, which has been at the forefront of the city’s contemporary arts scene since it opened almost two decades ago.

Brisbane travel guide
Brisbane travel guide. Image courtesy of Brisbane Powerhouse


Habitation of the greater Brisbane region by the First Peoples dates back over 40,000 years.

To learn more about white settlement and how it affected the local Indigenous population, pay a visit to kuril-dhagun at the State Library. It’s a space where all Australians and visitors can engage with Aboriginal history, culture and ideas, and there are many different activities on offer.

To experience the city’s colonial history, join a day tour to historic St Helena Island in Moreton Bay. The island was the site of a maximum-security men’s prison for 60 years from 1867. It’s now a national park. The cruise to the island departs from the bayside suburb of Manly, with its many cafes, boutiques and picturesque marina. Get there early and enjoy a stroll.

Brisbane travel guide
Brisbane travel guide: Step back in time on St Helena Island. Image: Bigstock


With the luxury of great weather all year round, there are some fabulous farmers’ markets to check out in Brisbane.

Eagle Farm Markets and New Farm Markets are a couple of the top options.

Stroll over the Story Bridge at some point during your stay in the city and grab some classic Aussie pub grub at the famous Story Bridge Hotel in Kangaroo Point. If you want to check out another of Brisbane’s finest historic watering holes, a visit to the Breakfast Creek Hotel is a must. The building dates back to 1889.

Brisbane travel guide
Brisbane travel guide. Image courtesy of Breakfast Creek Hotel

For taste sensations from around the world, Brisbane has you covered. Experience Japanese gyoza and sake, izakaya-style (they yell at you!) at Harajuku Gyoza in Fortitude Valley.

Top spots for a coffee include West End, Paddington, Rosalie, Bulimba and New Farm.


The place to shop in Brisbane is right in the heart of the central business district.

Here you’ll find all the big name fashion brands, to suit any style and budget.

For something a little more organic, try Suitcase Rummage. Check their website for dates and locations. You’ll find cool items from pre-loved retro jackets to crocheted cactuses, and everything is sold out of open suitcases.

Brisbane travel guide
Brisbane travel guide. Image courtesy of Suitcase Rummage

For cutting-edge designer fashions and up-and-coming labels, make your way over to James Street in Fortitude Valley. The thoroughfare is lined with clothing and homeware boutiques. You’ll find plenty of one-off pieces.


Brisbane offers plenty of things to do that will leave you feeling refreshed and revitalised.

For starters, make the most of the great weather! Two of Australia’s most famous beach destinations — the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast — are only an hour’s drive away, but you don’t even have to go that far. Soak up some rays at Streets Beach in South Bank. It’s not often you can laze in the sand right in the heart of a bustling city!

Brisbane travel guide
Brisbane travel guide: South Bank. Image: Bigstock

Experience a taste of the incredible natural beauty surrounding Brisbane by taking a bushwalk in Mt Coot-tha Forest. The Summit Track gets you to the mountain top, where you can enjoy a meal and a coffee or a glass of wine, while taking in the panoramic views of the city.

Cruises on the mighty Brisbane River are understandably popular with visitors to the city. The famous Koala Cruise from the city centre to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary has been a popular activity for decades, while the famous Kookaburra Queen paddle wheelers offer superb lunch, dinner and high tea cruises.

Brisbane travel guide
Brisbane travel guide: Kookaburra Queen

Beautiful Mount Tamborine, conveniently located half-way between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, harbours lots of delicious delights — not least of all a flourishing wine scene. It could well be one of the region’s best kept secrets. Book a wine tour and taste some of the region’s best drops.

Brisbane travel guide
Brisbane travel guide: Enjoy a wine tour to Mount Tamborine.

The tranquil waters of Moreton Bay are tantalisingly close to the city, and a day tour to North Stradbroke Island is a relaxing way to see the best of the bay. The Sunshine Coast is another top option as a day tour destination. It’s located 90 minutes’ drive north of Brisbane, and offers access to stunning beaches and quaint hinterland towns. The Gold Coast and its popular theme parks lie south of Brisbane. If you have a car, take the M1 from the city and follow the signs. It’s also possible to travel to the theme parks using public transport.

Five of the best day trips from Brisbane


Gambaro Hotel

The name Gambaro has been synonymous with Brisbane dining for decades. The family opened a humble fish and chip shop on Caxton Street back in 1953, and today Gambaro Restaurant reigns as one of the city’s top seafood eateries (it was named Queensland Restaurant of the Year at the 2017 Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering Awards). The family’s pursuit of excellence carries through to the sublime Gambaro Hotel, located next door. Managed by TFE Hotels, it offers superb luxury boutique accommodation, and easy access to everything the Caxton Street entertainment precinct is famous for. Suncorp Stadium is a just a two-minute walk from the hotel.

Take a look around Gambaro Hotel:

Take a look around Brisbane’s luxury Gambaro Hotel – The Big Bus

We were thrilled recently to take a look around the fabulous Gambaro Hotel in Brisbane, and to put together this video preview. If you are looking for somewhere special to stay in Brisbane, this boutique luxury accommodation option on Caxton Street in Paddington offers stylish rooms and suites, and superb amenities.

Gambaro Hotel offers 68 rooms over four levels. From the moment you walk through the front door, the hotel exudes a sense of refined, contemporary elegance. Rooms feature plush furnishings and striking artworks. Many have balconies overlooking the suburb of Paddington. Amenities include free Wi-Fi and valet parking. Guests have access to MG Bar, Black Hide Steakhouse, and of course — Gambaro Restaurant.

Do you have any tips to add to our Brisbane travel guide? We would love to hear from you. Please send us a message.

Additional images: Bigstock

Bec Walsh

About the writer

Bec Walsh is a Brisbane-based travel writer and blogger. She has travelled through Europe, Asia and Africa. Bec views life as a series of stories and experiences, and she can’t resist her inner yearning for adventure!


Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.


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