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 November 13, 2012
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    What is the best thing to bring home from Brisbane?

    As the home of iconic Australian fashion labels like Sass & Bide (designers Sarah-Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton started out selling their designs at Fortitude Valley’s Valley Markets), every visitor to Brisbane should try and go home with a unique piece from a local fashion designer. The Young Designers Market, held in South Bank on the first Sunday of every month, is a great place to find a statement piece for your wardrobe. Here, you can browse the fashion, accessories and jewellery of up-and-coming designers who could well be starring on the catwalks of Paris and Milan in just a few years’ time.
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    What are the best Brisbane food experiences?

    From fine dining to farmers markets, Brisbane has got it all. The city is perfectly placed to make the most of Queensland’s best produce, including fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood, all of which you’ll be able to enjoy with these top five food experiences chosen by Forbes Travel Guide.
     
    1. Indulge in a degustation. It’s hard to pass by the degustation menus on offer at some of Brisbane’s top restaurants. Head to Esquire on Eagle Street or to venerable Urbane on Mary Street.
     
    2. Visit a farmers market. Queensland is often described as Australia’s fruit bowl, providing the rest of the country with pineapples, mangoes, avocados, bananas and more. What better place to hit up a local farmers market? Jan Powers Farmers Markets is one of the most famous in Brisbane, held in Queen Street Mall every Wednesday and at other locations on weekends. Visit the market to pick up fruit, vegetables, flowers, breads, meat and other artisan products.
     
    3. Brush up on your cooking skills. James Street Cooking School in the inner city suburb Fortitude Valley offers a range of cooking classes as rich and diverse as the neighborhood itself. Choose from courses including French cuisine, chocolate desserts, cupcakes, seafood and more. After class, you can sit down and enjoy the results of your hard work with wine pairings.
     
    4. Eat seafood by the water. Queensland is synonymous with seafood, so any trip to Brisbane has to include some tasty delights from the ocean, especially the local specialty, Moreton Bay bugs (a type of shellfish). Spend a sunny afternoon in a bay side spot like Manly Harbour Village, Redcliffe or Bribie Island enjoying fresher than fresh seafood washed down with an icy cold beer or crisp white wine.
     
    5. Take a gourmet food tour. Already checked out the local restaurants and cafés? Now let the experts take you behind the scenes with a food tour. Try Food Tour T’s Gourmet Garden Tour, which includes a visit to a farmers market, a fine-dining restaurant and other gourmet producers. Like Asian cuisine? Try Taste Trekkers’ Asian shopping treks, which are available in three different city locations.
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    Where is the best nightlife in Brisbane?

    These days there is no shortage of nightlife in Brisbane, which boasts a thriving live music scene and emerging small bar culture. The latter has seen a range of venues open up across the city in recent years catering to just about every type of night owl. For live music, Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest you head to the inner-city hubs Fortitude Valley and West End, where you’ll be able to find everything from indie rock to jazz. Looking for a slightly quieter night? Many of the boutique Fortitude Valley hotels offer rooftop bars where you can make the most of Brisbane’s balmy evenings and sip cocktails while enjoying unbeatable views of the city. Make sure you also pay an after-dark visit to the city center, where sophisticated venues like The Laneway, located above Urbane restaurant on Mary Street, offer fun and innovative cocktails.
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    What is the best way to see Brisbane in one day?

    A great way to cover as much ground as possible is to hire a bicycle through Brisbane’s CityCycle bike, in which you can rent a bike from one of 100-plus locations throughout the city. Once you’ve got your set of wheels, Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest you head to the trendy inner city suburbs Fortitude Valley or New Farm to grab breakfast at one of the many popular cafés perfect for people-watching. Spend the morning browsing the boutiques of up-and-coming designers before jumping back on your bike to head over to South Bank. Have a wander through the Parklands and, if it’s the weekend, browse the arts and crafts at the South Bank Lifestyle Market or grab a bite to eat at one of many nearby cafés and restaurants. While away your afternoon at the South Bank Cultural Centre, where you’ll find the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland Museum and Queensland Performing Arts Centre. Once the sun goes down, head back to Fortitude Valley to dance the night away at one of the suburb’s numerous clubs and bars.
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    What are the best places to eat in Brisbane?

    Brisbane’s dining scene has flourished in recent years, with award-winning restaurants helmed by some of the country’s best chefs. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors chose some of the best restaurants to try while you’re in town:
     
    1. ARIA Restaurant. The Brisbane counterpart of celebrity chef Matt Moran’s Sydney dining juggernaut features the same chic design and focus on fresh Australian produce, and its location on Eagle Street Pier provides stunning views of the Brisbane River and Story Bridge. Be sure to sample some of the top Australian drops on their award-winning wine list.
     
    2. Moda. The menu at this trendy city restaurant includes contemporary Aussie favourites like barramundi, lamb and sirloin steak, but they are made with a Mediterranean twist. Want the true Moda experience? Order chef de cuisine Javier Codina’s signature paella, made with fresh Queensland seafood, or Javier’s Table Experience, three courses of chef’s specials created from the best seasonal produce of the day.
     
    3. Stokehouse. Located on the riverfront at South Bank, Stokehouse offers enviable river and city views from both its indoor and outdoor dining areas. Relax with a drink in Stoke Bar before dinner, or head to the restaurant and dive straight into the Mediterranean menu which includes dishes like squid ink linguine, Daintree barramundi and free-range duck breast.
     
    4. Esquire. Esquire has a long list of awards and its easy to see why — chefs Ryan Squires and Ben Devlin are known for their skilful, creative degustation menus, which can range from six to fifteen courses.
     
    5. Urbane. Inner city restaurant Urbane offers a selection of degustation menus – choose from four, seven or eleven courses, all with the option to add matching wines. Their fresh, creative menu has been a go-to for foodies since the restaurant first opened in 2001.
  • On November 13, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to stay in Brisbane?

    Brisbane offers the usual range of accommodations, from luxury international brands to cheap and cheerful motels. Here are some of our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the best places to stay in Brisbane:
     
    1. Emporium Hotel. It may only be five years old but the Emporium Hotel has already garnered a long list of awards. Located in the trendy inner-city suburb Fortitude Valley, this luxury boutique hotel features 102 custom-designed suites and facilities including a chic cocktail bar, French bistro, outdoor terrace and heated lap pool.
     
    2. Treasury Casino & Hotel. Located close to the Brisbane River, right in the centre of the city, Treasury Casino & Hotel offers luxury rooms in a unique heritage building. Once you’ve had a flutter in the casino or made the most of the on-site bars, restaurants and entertainment, head back to your room to enjoy the modern in-room facilities, including exclusively-designed pillow top beds.
     
    3. Chester’s Hotel. What this family-owned boutique hotel lacks in size (it only has 10 rooms), it makes up for with its contemporary design and luxurious facilities. It’s in the heart of the Fortitude Valley entertainment precinct but if you fancy staying in, the rooftop bar is open from 5 p.m. each night for the exclusive use of guests.
     
    4. Limes Hotel Brisbane. It’s considered one of the trendiest hotels in Australia and it’s not difficult to see why. Designed by Argentinean-born Alexander Lotersztain, the boutique hotel in Fortitude Valley features a rooftop bar and cinema, and all rooms have individually hand-painted feature walls.
     
    5. Stamford Plaza Brisbane. Every single room has a view of the Brisbane River in this beautiful grand hotel, which also features an outdoor pool and multiple restaurants and bars and is located between the river and the city’s gorgeous Botanic Gardens.
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    Where is the best shopping in Brisbane?

    Brisbane’s shopping scene may not be as famous or robust as Sydney’s or Melbourne’s, but Forbes Travel Guide editors think fashionistas will likely be more than satisfied with the retail therapy options in the Queensland capital. Queen Street Mall in the heart of the city boasts more than 500 specialty stores, including a mix of chains and boutiques. If you’re looking for more unique pieces, head to the Elizabeth Arcade on Elizabeth Street in the city, or to the trendy suburbs Fortitude Valley and New Farm to browse the wares of up-and-coming designers. Love markets? The South Bank Lifestyle Market is held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday and boasts arts, crafts, fresh produce and live music. On the first Sunday of the month, keep an eye out for the South Bank Young Designers Market, the place to go for fashion, accessories, jewellery and homewares.
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    What are the best things to do with kids in Brisbane?

    In addition to the range of family-friendly activities, Brisbane is easy to get around and lacks the frenetic pace of bigger cities like Sydney and Melbourne, making it an ideal destination to visit with kids. Forbes Travel Guide chose five top things to do and see with children in tow:
     
    1. Riverlife Adventure Centre. Active kids over the age of eight will love Riverlife Adventure Centre for the range of outdoor and water activities; their parents will love it for tiring them out. Choose from paddleboarding, kayaking, rock climbing, cycling and rollerblading—all activities have qualified and experienced instructors.
     
    2. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. With more than 130 of these adorable animals, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary. As well as cuddling a koala, kids can also handfeed kangaroos and lorikeets, get up close and personal with other Aussie wildlife, and even hold a python if they’re feeling brave.
     
    3. Sciencentre. Young Einsteins can indulge their science obsessions at Sciencentre, part of the Queensland Museum. Along with its extensive range of interactive displays and exhibitions, it also holds a rotating program of live theater shows in which kids can help bring science to life.
     
    4. Children’s Art Centre at QAGOMA. An art gallery may seem an unlikely attraction for kids, but if you’ve got a budding Picasso in the family make sure the Queensland Art Gallery’s Children’s Art Centre is on your itinerary. The gallery collaborates with Australian and international artists to develop programs for families, offering a range of exhibitions, projects, installations and workshops for children of all ages.
     
    5. Visit Moreton Island. Just 75 minutes from the center of Brisbane by ferry, Moreton Island is the world’s third largest sand island and a natural playground for big and little kids alike. Book a stay at Tangalooma Island Resort to take part in sunset dolphin feeding, where guests have the opportunity to hand-feed the pod of wild bottlenose dolphins that visit each night.
  • On November 13, 2012
    answered the question:

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

    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.