What are the best things to see and do in Brisbane?

Jennifer Kester

Whether you’re a culture fiend, sports fan, foodie or beach-lover, you’ll have no shortage a diverse range of attractions and activities in Brisbane. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors chose five must-dos:
 
1. Relax in the South Bank Parklands. Once the site of Brisbane’s World Expo ’88, the South Bank Parklands now provide locals and visitors with acres of green space in the heart of the city. Spend a sunny afternoon strolling along the riverfront promenade, take a spin on the soaring observation wheel, or catch one of the many festivals and events that are held here throughout the year. Feeling the heat? Cool off at the man-made Streets Beach, Australia’s only inner-city beach.
 
2. Check out the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). These two galleries, located on the same site adjacent to the South Bank Parklands, boast an impressive display of Australian and international art works. The permanent collections include a diverse range of sculptures, indigenous, Asian and pacific art, while past temporary exhibitions have included works by renowned artists like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. The galleries also offer free guided tours.
 
3. Catch a game at a world-class sporting venue. From rugby league in winter to test cricket in summer, Brisbane is home to some of the country’s best sporting action. Visit Suncorp Stadium to catch a home game of the Brisbane Broncos rugby team in the winter or Brisbane Roar soccer team in the summer. For a game of Aussie rules football or a cricket match, head to the Brisbane Cricket Ground, known by locals as The Gabba. Missed out on a game? Both venues also offer tours year-round.
 
4. Take a XXXX Brewery Tour. XXXX is as quintessentially Queensland as sunshine and surfing, so what better way to get acquainted with this iconic beer than with a brewery tour? The Castlemaine Perkins Brewery, home of XXXX, was first established in 1878. On the tour, you’ll learn about the company’s rich 130-year history as well as brewing and production processes. The tour is finished off with some icy cold samples of the beer itself.
 
5.  Scale great heights on a Story Bridge Adventure Climb. For an unbeatable view of the city and surrounding areas, there’s nothing quite like the vantage point from the top of Brisbane’s Story Bridge. On the way up, you’ll learn about the history of the city and the bridge itself. Feeling particularly daring? Try the new Abseil Climb, in which you can abseil back down one of the piers into the park below.

  • On August 2, 2013
    Shitika Anand answered the question: Shitika Anand

    What are some of the day trips to take from Brisbane?

    The advatage of setting base in Brisbane is being able to see so many places outside of it, that are only an hour or so away from Brisbane central. Here are my top five short trip destinations from Brisbane: 

    Theme parks in the Gold Coast - A popular one with the kids and family, there are a three theme parks, Dreamworld, Movieworld and Wet n' Wild located only an hour south of Brisbane. They cater to the adrenaline junkies and the ones outside of that as well.

    Mount Tamborine - Mount Tamborine is 2190 metres high above sea level that can offer you hours and hours of fun out of nature. "Tamborine" which is "wild lime" in the local Yugamba language, refers to the finger lime trees that grow wild on the mountain. There are options to go wine and beer tasting in town, sit at an organic cafe and drink beautiful tea or go for a few nature hikes. 

    Surfer's Paradise - Known as the party place of the country, surfer's paradise is located an hour and a bit south of Brisbane. Head down to the beach for a surf, or head to the Palazzo Versace hotel for a luxurious cocktail under a chandellier made with 80-crystals. 

  • On June 1, 2013
    Kerry Heaney answered the question: Kerry Heaney

    What is public transportation like in Brisbane?

    Brisbane is a large, sprawling city with a public transport network of bus, train and ferry options.

    From Brisbane's international or domestic airport you can catch a train that links to through the suburban network into the heart of the city. 

    Most transport options travel through Brisbane's CBD area to and from the outer suburbs and you can access all public transport timetables and maps at Translink

    Another way to make your way around inner city areas is via a City Cycle bicycle. There are around 150 CityCycle stations  across Brisbane’s city centre, stretching from Newstead to West End and Toowong. You first need to subscribe to the service but then it is free to use as long as the bikes are returned within half-hour intervals. After this half-hour of free use expires, a service charge applies.

    For a scenic view of Brisbane, travel on the Brisbane river on a CityCat network which stretches from The University of Queensland at St Lucia to Northshore Hamilton.
  • On June 1, 2013
    Kerry Heaney answered the question: Kerry Heaney

    What are the best food gifts to buy in Brisbane?

    Brisbane is surrounded by exceptionally fertile food bowls and during Australia’s warm winter months, feeds the nation from its fields. 

    While it’s not practical for travellers to stock up on the area’s wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables, it is still possible to take a taste of the region home with you to relive your trip.

    One of the best places to shop is local farmer’s markets and while you won’t want their bright red tomatoes and ocean caught seafood, you will love the range of preserves, pastas, biscuits and other pantry items that should transport well.

    Start with a visit to Jan Power’s markets at the Powerhouse and Brisbane CBD and browse the huge variety of stalls for your own foodie finds. 

    For a taste of the Australian bush, head to Tukka Restaurant at West End and try some of their bush food products.  You’ll discover glace lilly pilly, desert limes and quandongs, ground lemon myrtle leaves and mountain pepperleaf to add a to your cooking.  Do try making a wattle seed pavlova.

    Most delicatessens or specialty food stores will have products from the Granite Belt, Scenic Rim or Sunshine Coast that you can also add to your food stash.
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  • On April 30, 2013
    Kerry Heaney answered the question: Kerry Heaney

    What are the best attractions in Brisbane?

    Brisbane is a large but friendly city with plenty to do and see, especially outdoors taking advantage of the great weather.

    If you’re an action type, suit up and climb to the top of the Story Bridge, one of only three bridges in the world you can climb and the only one you can abseil down.

    For more action and adventure, try your hand at kayaking, abseiling, rock climbing and paddle boarding on the Brisbane River and Kangaroo Point Cliffs with Riverlife Adventure Centre.

    For a more sedate look at the river, hop on board a River City Cruise past some of Brisbane’s icons. You can also cruise up the river to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and see cute, furry critters.

    The Queensland Cultural Centre Art Gallery & GoMA, with their blockbuster and permanent exhibitions, is the place to start for anyone with an interest in art and history

    Discover more Brisbane delights at www.eatdrinkandbekerry.com.au
  • On April 24, 2013
    Kerry Heaney answered the question: Kerry Heaney

    Where is the best shopping in Brisbane?

    Shopping in Brisbane just keeps getting better with a host of high-end international stores opening branches in Brisbane’s CBD. Check out the shopping in Queens Plaza, the newly refurbished Wintergarten, and stroll down Edward Street for all the latest fashions and names including Canturi, Gucci, Hermès and Louis Vuitton.

    For more local flavour, try James Street in inner city Fortitude Valley where local and national designers including  Sass & Bide, Camilla, Dirtbox and Zimmermann have set up shop creating a fashion bonanza.

    Walk the length of Latrobe Terrace in Paddington to find quirky pieces or Racecourse Road, Ascot to discover more local shops filled with the latest fashions.

    Markets are a great way to pick up local bargains and there’s plenty of fashion at the South Bank Lifestyle Markets held from Friday to Sunday or the Young Designers Market which is held on the first Sunday of every month in South Bank.
  • On April 24, 2013
    Kerry Heaney answered the question: Kerry Heaney

    What are the best bars in Brisbane?

    Brisbane has a vibrant bar life with everything from small and cosy haunts to large, well-loved pubs.

    For a traditional Brisbane pub experience prop yourself at the bar at the Normanby or The Breakfast Creek Hotel.

    If you prefer your cocktails stirred, not shaken head to some of Brisbane’s new small bars.  Seek out Canvas at Woolloongabba, Junk Bar at Ashgrove or The Lark, Paddington while Cabiria, Petrie Terrace has a focus on freshly shucked oysters and European wines with many available in 120ml pours.

    For a premium beer boutique experience try Scratch at Milton, Bitter Suite at New Farm, or Archive, West End.

    You’ll feel the wind blowing through your hair at Lime’s Rooftop Bar which, not so strangely, is located on the rooftop of the small Limes Hotel in Fortitude Valley. 

    Hip Brissy cafe Brew in Burnett Lane, which is known for its great coffee and oh-so-cool aesthetic also turns into a bar at night. Don’t let the dishevelled exterior of Super Whatnot located on the other side of Burnett Lane, fool you as this New York cool inner city bar offers craft beer, gourmet snacks and an eclectic sound track.

    Here’s more on Brisbane’s small bars.
  • On April 24, 2013
    Kerry Heaney answered the question: Kerry Heaney

    What are the best things to do in Brisbane?

    Brisbane is a large but friendly city with plenty to do and see.  The wonderful sub-tropical climate really encourages you to get out and do things, so here’s your list.

    Start with the Brisbane River which winds its way right through the city twisting and turning through city and suburban areas.   Use your Wi Fi to access timetable information and hop onto a Brisbane City Council CityCat ferry service. You can also download an interactive online city tour for your smart phone.

    Still on the river, talk a walk along the extensive network of walks and boardwalks which follow the river banks.  On the south bank you can walk from the West End ferry terminal at Orleigh Park to Dockside at Kangaroo Point and on the other side of the river you can walk from University of Queensland Campus at St Lucia to Teneriffe. 

    Check out the latest exhibitions at Queensland Cultural Centre Art Gallery & Goma at South Bank. The blockbuster events often have admission fees but large parts of the galleries are free and open to the public. Don’t miss the Queensland Museum at the same location. Relax afterwards in the gardens of South Bank Parklands where there is a beach-like swimming pool with life savers on duty.

    Discover more things to do in Brisbane at www.eatdrinkandbekerry.com.au
  • On April 1, 2013
    Kerry Heaney answered the question: Kerry Heaney

    What are the best restaurants in Brisbane?

    Brisbane’s restaurant scene is packed full of great dining options but our ‘best’ dining list is not the exclusive realm of white table cloths and fine silver. Instead, as befits Brisbane’s sophisticated but relaxed atmosphere, it’s more about a fine quality dining experience created by adventurous chefs using premium local product matched with a hand-picked wine list. Here are my top five where you are guaranteed a memorable food experience.
    1. Esquire – Enjoy the exquisite attention to detail on their degustation only menu filled with food that surprises and delights. Great river views.
    2. Urbane – Minimalist décor focuses attention on the cleverly crafted food available as a  la carte or degustation by an exciting young chef fresh from Noma.
    3. Ortiga – Robust Spanish flavours, a head-to-tail ethos, relaxed and congenial atmosphere and an enviable wine list.
    4. Aria – Perfectly positioned for river views, chef Matt Moran makes good use of premium Queensland produce with excellent service. 
    5. Montrachet – Full of French bistro flavour from owner-chef Thierry Galichet’s homeland. 

    Discover more great Brisbane restaurants at Eat,drink+beKerry
  • On March 31, 2013
    Kerry Heaney answered the question: Kerry Heaney

    What are the best restaurants in Brisbane?

    Brisbane’s restaurant scene is packed full of great dining options but our ‘best’ dining list is not the exclusive realm of white table cloths and fine silver. Instead, as befits Brisbane’s sophisticated but relaxed atmosphere, it’s more about a fine quality dining experience created by adventurous chefs using premium local product matched with a hand-picked wine list. Here are my top five where you are guaranteed a memorable food experience.
    1. Esquire – Enjoy the exquisite attention to detail on their degustation only menu filled with food that surprises and delights. Great river views.
    2. Urbane – Minimalist décor focuses attention on the cleverly crafted food available as a  la carte or degustation by an exciting young chef fresh from Noma.
    3. Ortiga – Robust Spanish flavours, a head-to-tail ethos, relaxed and congenial atmosphere and an enviable wine list.
    4. Aria – Perfectly positioned for river views, chef Matt Moran makes good use of premium Queensland produce with excellent service. 
    5. Montrachet – Full of French bistro flavour from owner-chef Thierry Galichet’s homeland. 
  • On November 13, 2012
    answered the question:

    What are some of the day trips to take from Brisbane?

    With the popular Gold Coast to the south and the family-friendly Sunshine Coast to the north, Brisbane makes an ideal base for exploring South East Queensland. The Gold Coast is about an hour’s drive from Brisbane, and as the theme park capital of Australia (Movie World, Dreamworld and Sea World are all located here) it’s a great option for a fun family day out. An hour in the opposite direction are the pretty beachside towns of the Sunshine Coast, including Maroochydore, Mooloolaba and Noosa. The Sunshine Coast is a popular holiday destination for locals and visitors alike, with myriad water sports, family attractions, national parks and restaurants. Closer to the city, you can explore Moreton, Bribie and Stradbroke Islands, all of which are well connected to the mainland with regular transport services from Brisbane.
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