Brisbane is the third largest city in Australia but it is not your typical, huge and always bustling metropolis.
What to expect
Days are different here – at 6 am cafes are open and people are walking their dogs but at 9 pm everyone is sleeping. Shops close early and the nightlife is not very exciting. For some, Brisbane seams boring but we would rather say it has found a good balance between being a big city and an overgrown country town. It is a good place to live, with a relaxed pace of life. If you travelling then two days will be enough to discover the city itself and for the next few days you can do days trips – there is heaps to see around Brisbane.
Brisbane is located on the Brisbane River, not on the coast. There is no easy and quick access to the ocean – if a beach holiday is what you are looking for, you need to drive at least an hour to get to the Gold Coast or the Sunshine Coast, or catch a ferry to one of the islands.
Brisbane has a subtropical climate and it gets 261 days with sun a year. But it also gets very warm, humid and rainy summers. January and February are probably the worst months to visit. March, April, October and November are the best.
Getting to Brisbane
Brisbane has one airport with international and domestic terminals. If you are travelling by yourself, the best way to get from the airport to the city is by catching a train. Otherwise, UBER will be cheaper and more convenient.
You can also fly into Gold Coast. Gold Coast airport is the only 1,5hr drive from Brisbane. From there you can catch a train or a bus.
Getting around Brisbane
Unfortunately, Brisbane has expensive public transport but parking a car in the city is even worse. We would recommend renting a car only if you plan to do day trips. Otherwise, public transport, UBER and walking will be the best option.
Brisbane’s public transport might be expensive but at least it is well organised. Check Translink’s website for details.
If you are staying longer you should get a “go card” – it is an electronic ticket which is cheaper than the cost of a paper ticket and is easy to top-up (check here where you can get it). With a “go card”, after 8 paid journeys on the same card in a week (Monday to Sunday) you receive half price travel on every additional trip made during the rest of the week.
As Brisbane is a river city, it is worth to see it from that perspective. Ferries are part of the public transport network which is very convenient. They are called City Cats. There is also a free ferry in the CBD – the City Hopper (older, red boat).
Brisbane CBD is not very big and all the interesting spots are within walking distance.
Where to stay in Brisbane
Brisbane City YHA. Brisbane City YHA has a great location in the Brisbane CBD, not far from the main train and bus stations. It’s the neighborhood where all the backpackers stop. There is a lot of bars and travel agencies around. A bed in a dorm costs around $30 AUD and a private room, $80 AUD.
Kirkland House Bed & Breakfast. It is an old style, romantic bed & breakfast, located in an old and stylish Queenslander, 5km out of CBD. Room for two is around $150 AUD.
Next Hotel Brisbane. Centrally located opposite Queen Street Mall in Brisbane’s CBD, with a pool on the roof (a pool is always a good idea, especially in sunny Brissy). Prices start from around $250 AUD for a standard queen room.
What to do in Brisbane
Southbank, with its’ restaurants, parks, museums, yoga classes and a Beach, is the place to be and you should start your sightseeing there. And yes, there is a beach in the middle of the city. It is man-made, next to the river, but still pretty awesome – you can take a dip overlooking the city’s skyline.
There is not only a beach in the city, there are also cliffs, this time made by nature. If you are an adventurous person – go and climb the cliffs and then watch the sunset from the top. If you are not, just take the stairs.
Another “thing” to climb – the bridge. The Story Bridge is the little sister (or brother) of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and yes, you can also climb it. Again – recommended during sunset.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Rescued kangaroos, koala, wombats, dingos, emus – they all live here. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the first and the largest koala sanctuary in the world and it’s located just 12km from the city. If you are dreaming of cuddling a koala or feeding a kangaroo, then this place is for you. Open every day from 9 am till 5 pm.
The views from Mt Cooth-tha are great, especially during sunrise or sunset (yep, sunset again). Just grab a cup of coffee, sit down, relax and look at this lovely city from a different angle. There is also a restaurant at the top – a good choice for lunch or dinner with a view.
North Stradbroke Island
North Stradbroke Island is our favourite place for a day trip and you will love it too! Straddie is just a 40min ferry ride (or 20mins for a water taxi) from the south side of Brisbane and you don’t need a car to get there, as there is public transport on the island. It has beautiful beaches and is great for wildlife spotting.
Where to eat in Brisbane
Samson & Sophie. It’s a small cafe in the beautiful suburb of Teneriffe. They focus on fine, fresh, local food done well. Samson & Sophie is open everyday from 6 am. Avo & Co is our favourite choice.
Naim (formally Shouk). Naim is located in Paddington – the old, hilly and very picturesque suburb of Brisbane (the suburb is worth visiting in itself). They don’t have a big menu and it might not be for everyone. Naim is open every day from 7:30. Hummus Kawarma is our choice.
Strauss. Strauss is located in the heart of Brisbane city. They serve simple but tasty food and good coffee. Strauss Bruschetta is our choice.
Nom-Nom Korean Eater. Nom-Nom Korean Eater is a Melbournian-style place, hidden in Fortitude Valley, on Bakery Lane laneway. Great place for a quick feed.
Harajuku Gyoza. Harajuku Gyoza is for dumpling lovers. It offers tasty and not too pricy Japanese food. They have four restaurants in Brisbane. All of the dumplings are delicious.
Eat Street Markets. If you are in Brissy for a weekend, you should definitely visit Eat Street Markets and taste street food from all over the world. Open on Friday and Saturday evenings, from 4 pm. If you don’t have a car, it would be best to catch a ferry from the city to get there.
Where to drink coffee in Brisbane
John Miles Himself. John Miles Himself has been our fav for a long time. It is located in a historic CBD building but it’s not so easy to find – do some Google Maps research beforehand.
LTD Espresso. The perfect spot in Fortitude Valley to grab your take away flat white and start exploring.
Bramble Cafe. Bramble Cafe is located in the northern suburbs, in Sandgate Village, next to the bay. If you are heading to the Sunshine Coast, it is worth stopping by on your way.
Where to go for drinks in Brisbane
Mr & Mrs G Riverbar. If you are after the fancy cocktails, go to Mr & Mrs G Riverbar and also get some nice views.
Green Beacon Brewery. If you are craving for an ice cold beer, visit Green Beacon Brewery in Newstead.
Fitz+Potts. If you are looking for a place where locals go, there is Fitz+Potts in Nundah. “Once upon a time a boy met a girl… and they decided they should open a bar”. And they opened a dam good bar!