WHERE THE LIVING'S EASY
Welcome to Brisbane, a cosmopolitan hub for arts, culture and dining, heavy on laid-back charm. With stunning natural assets, clear blue skies all year round and a subtropical alfresco lifestyle, Brisbane is an urban metropolis with a relaxed vibe. Here you’ll receive a warm welcome from the city with timeless nature in its soul. Blessed with year-round sunny skies, and a creative community and dining scene on par with its southern cousins, Brisbane boasts plenty of ways to spend your time.
Creativity equally abounds across town. The suburbs of South Bank, West End and Fortitude Valley are well-documented for their nightlife, live music scene and galleries galore. Blessed with year-round sunny skies, and a creative community and dining scene on par with its southern cousins, Brisbane boasts plenty of ways to spend your time. Need somewhere to start? Check out the best itineraries below.
Explore Brisbane's sophisticated city centre and the bohemian neighbourhood of Fortitude Valley before a day of adventure on Moreton Island.
Begin your holiday in downtown Brisbane, a mix of gracious old buildings, sleek skyscrapers and grassy parks. Browse the heritage arcades and 700-plus stores on Queen Street Mall, the city's shopping hub. Around the corner lies the elegant former Treasury Building, now home to a casino, hotel, bars and restaurants. Join a free guided tour of Brisbane City Hall, then get a bird's-eye view of the city on a tour up the City Hall clock tower. From here it’s a 10-minute walk to North Quay wharf, where you can hop on the free five-minute ferry to South Bank. The CityHopper service offers free ferries that run every 30 minutes between 6 am and midnight. Once you’ve arrived at South Bank, sit down for lunch at Otto Brisbane, and enjoy its Northern Italy-inspired menu with unbeatable riverside views.
Within the South Bank Parklands you'll find Streets Beach, Australia's only inner city man-made beach. Take a dip in the sparkling lagoon waters or just relax on powder white sand. Alternatively, submerge yourself in culture at major institutions including Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) and Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). Stay on after dusk for a ferris wheel ride on the Wheel of Brisbane overlooking the city's glittering sprawl. Or, as the sun sets, embark on the Story Bridge Adventure Climb, one of only three bridge climbs in the world. You'll find a unique - and exhilarating - new view of the city and the surrounding Glass House Mountains, Moreton Bay and Scenic Rim Mountains. Afterwards, enjoy seasonal produce and fresh seafood at Customs House. For something more casual, take a seat at Trocadero Long Bar at the Fox Hotel, or cocktails upstairs at Dandy’s Rooftop.
The bustling neighbourhood of Fortitude Valley is loved for its alfresco cafés, one-off boutiques and vibrant live music scene. From the city centre, the Valley is a 25-minute walk along Ann Street, or you can hop on the two-minute train ride from Central Station. For breakfast, try French toast with caramelised orange and vanilla mascarpone at King Arthur Café, then browse more than 130 speciality stores along the tree-lined James Street. Here you'll find high-end Australian designers such as Scanlan & Theodore, Zimmermann and Lee Mathews. On Saturdays, don't miss the Valley Markets, where up-and-coming local designers showcase their wares. Expect a mix of fashion, art, accessories and vintage.
Next, it's off to one of Brisbane's most lovable attractions, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, a 15-minute drive from the city, accessible by taxi, bus or river cruise. With over 130 cuddly koalas, it's Australia's largest koala sanctuary. Here, you're encouraged not only to view the animals but meet them. Go behind the scenes with a keeper on a Working with Wildlife tour, or hold a koala as you learn about these much-loved Aussie animals.
Brisbane's coastline is dotted with picturesque atolls - circular rings of coral reef - all within easy reach of the city centre. Moreton Island is one of the world's largest sand islands, offering uncrowded beaches, sparkling lagoons and walking trails. Ferries depart from the Port of Brisbane and take 90 minutes. Once you’ve arrived, you can chill out on sandy beaches, swim and spot flocks of waterbirds. If it's between June and November, keep a lookout for migrating whales. Grab a bite at the Castaways Store & Café, located in the small township of Bulwer. To enhance the experience, book an all-inclusive day trip tour departing from Brisbane with Tangalooma.
Moreton Island is home to 15 sunken shipwrecks, creating spectacular snorkelling sites with colourful fish and marine life. For diving, Flinders Reef has more than 100 different coral species about five kilometres (3.1 miles) north-west of Cape Moreton. If you haven’t brought your own snorkel, book an activity with Australian Sunset Safaris who offer snorkelling, kayaking and sandboarding. Alternatively, Tangalooma also offers an exclusive dolphin-feeding experience, for those after an intimate encounter with sea life. Upon your return to the city, indulge in a night of multicultural dining in Brisbane’s West End – tuck into pan-Asian street food at Chop Chop Chang’s.
Feeling artsy? Brisbane's packed full with art exhibitions, street art and cultural experiences - so where are you?
The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (take a breath) or APT9 for short is taking over the Gallery of Modern Art and the Queensland Art Gallery from 24 November until 28 April with a unique mix of visual spectacle and cross-cultural insight – and it's definitely not one to be missed.
There's no better excuse than to plan a Brisbane long weekend and get a greater taste of all the art, culture and food the Queensland capital has to offer.
This diamond in the crown of Brisbane's art scene is the city's pride and joy. Over three levels,the 2006-built Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) offers continuous hallways of galleries, purpose-built cinémathèque, children’s art centre, research library, restaurant and retail facilities. But the best thing about it, the air-conditioning is permanently set to a crisp 18 degrees, ideal for expanding your cultural knowledge in the Sunshine State’s capital.
It's easy to get lost here for hours, and being the art lover that you are – allow time to explore the various floors and changing exhibitions. The Asia Pacific Triennial is a must see - pencil it in your diary too.
Rest your walking legs and head straight into GOMA Restaurant for a dining experience as fresh and forward-thinking as the artwork that surrounds it.
If you’re wanting a break from the gallery, head across the road to Gauge and find some of Brisbane’s best and most imaginative food. The modern spot feels like what would happen if a fine-dining restaurant was casual in vibe and without the price tag. A place for good eating and good drinking – step right this way.
Head back to GOMA or into QAG (Queensland Art Gallery), which is also in the Cultural Precinct, to continue exploring the exhibitions or take yourself on a self-guided street art trail. The back streets of South Bank, South Brisbane and West End are packed to the brim with local street art. Discover the Pillars Project on the corner of Merivale Street and Montague Road in South Brisbane, wander down Boundary Street in West End and finish with the unmissable artworks on Fish Lane.
Brisbane’s Fish Lane is quickly becoming the city’s coolest laneway. As new buildings pop up, restaurants, cafes and bars are moving in beneath them – making the journey from West End to South Bank an adventure in itself. Design your own progressive food crawl – stop for cheese at La Lune Wine Bar, snacks at Wandering Cooks, noodles at Chu The Phat, wings at Big Roddy’s Rippin’ Rib Shack, rice paper rolls at Hello Please and duck ragu pasta at Julius. Full guide and map here.
After eating everything along Fish Lane, roll into the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) for big shows and big names whether it be music, theatre, ballet or opera. Look online to see what's on and book ahead.
If you’re a bottomless pit, then we won't judge if you want to keep eating and drinking your way along Fish Lane or through South Bank. Stop in for a tipple at micro-brewery The Charming Squire, a classy cocktail within the heritage-listed walls of Little Big House or rooftop views at Soleil Pool Bar. Still hungry? Head to Little Stanley Street for international cuisine or River Quay for river view dining.
Step up the beat and seek out live music around Brisbane. Not only a destination for many touring artists, Brisbane breeds excellent local bands and musicians. Here’s your guide to venues big and small, sweaty and intimate, DIY and otherwise in Brisbane.
While you’re in South Bank, see if the pop-up Flowstate, a unique open-air pavilion and creative space, has anything on. The space is hosting a curated program of live performances and gallery-style exhibitions throughout 2018.
Before you take on a day of arts, culture and shopping, fuel up with brunch along James Street. Settle in the leafy surrounds of Harvey’s, the petite loft warehouse King Arthur or feast on the east west fusion of Chow House.
Fortitude Valley is home to some of Brisbane’s best boutique shopping. Shop the designers on James Street, find laneway gems in Winn Lane or Bakery Lane and wander the eclectic stores on Ann St. Check out our shopping trail through Fortitude Valley to find the location of specific stores.
One must tick this venue off any dining bucket list in Brisbane. Head chef Ben Williamson celebrates Middle Eastern and North African cuisine with a European influence. Take friends, it’s a share concept and you’ll want to order lots of dishes, or take yourself and order lots of dishes anyway.
Since we’re here for art, the art trail through Fortitude Valley and New Farm showcases many of Brisbane’s boutique art galleries. Check out the map here.
Whether you’re hungry, thirsty or looking for a bit of entertainment, Brisbane Powerhouse offers it all at this riverside location. Dine in at one of the two restaurants, sink a few brews while watching the sunset over the river or wait around for a show that will unfold inside the graffiti-heavy walls. Look online to see who and what will be gracing its many stages.
If you’re wanting more live music, Live Spark occurs every Sunday afternoon for an ever-changing line up of eclectic local and national artists. If comedy is more your thing, pop by late Friday afternoon for a free laugh with Knockoff.
Escape the hustle and bustle of Queen Street Mall and retreat to Felix for Goodness. Serving up a wholesome menu using local organic ingredients that changes seasonally, sit on stools overlooking the lane and watch the world go by, or soak up the relaxed atmosphere inside.
Just around the corner, dive into a bit of Brisbane history at the Museum of Brisbane. Take the vintage, hand-operated elevator to the top of City Hall’s clock tower for a bird’s eye view of the city before you explore the museum and learn about Brisbane’s history. The exhibitions change regularly telling different sides to Brisbane's evolving story. The gift shop is also a highlight - filled with locally made artisan and gourmet goods.
Whether you’re a local or a tourist, learn something about the art, architecture and history of City Hall on a City Hall tour – there’s even a World War II signature wall in the basement that contains signatures, names and dates of soldiers stationed in Brisbane.
After a big morning of cultural learning, it’s time to treat yourself to a fine dining experience in Brisbane City. Located four storeys up in 480 Queen Street with panoramic views overlooking the river and the Story Bridge, Otto is dishing out Italian cuisine inspired by southern Italy. Every course is a delight, the wine list is extensive and the service is all-star. Can you tell we are fans?
If your budget is tighter, the neighbouring Bar Otto serves tapas style plates a rotating pasta.
You may have already had a small dose of Brisbane’s street art scene, but there’s more to be found in Brisbane City. To make things easier, book a free Brisbane Greeters contemporary art and architecture tour and have a knowledgeable guide take you through the city, while showing and explaining the story behind each artwork. You'd be amazed at how many hidden sculptures and artworks are dotted above, below or in front of your eyes.
The Elizabeth Picture Theatre delivers on the promise of Hollywood glitz and glamour with its Golden Age visage. Step back in time to the hayday of motion pictures in the Tara Room, formerly a ballroom whose roof has been preserved so you can feel that little closer to the stars. Help yourself to a schooner in the cinema and catch a mix of general and limited releases.
Wanting something a little different? Metro Arts plays movies in the Lumen Room. Settle into an old-school chair and catch a program of quirky films. This is the place in Brisbane to experience documentaries, iconic cult and independent films, both local and international.
Just one last restaurant, we promise. Madame Wu is definitely one to write home about. Sink your teeth into the Moreton Bay bug-stuffed dumplings and we guarantee you'll revisit this Asian-fusion restaurant.
When it comes to cool boutique hotels, Brisbane has great options. In Spring Hill, The Johnson is a gorgeous Art Series Hotel celebrating the abstract works of Michael Johnson. Nearby on the city fringe, the New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites is a charming one set in an old 1920s art deco building. Then there is graffiti-covered Tryp Hotel in the heart of edgy Fortitude Valley, or renovated Queenslander Spicers Balfour in nearby suburban New Farm. Take your pick.
Where to begin? Perhaps in Albert Lane with dumpling and sake shots at Harajuku Gyoza or tequila and tacos at Latin American Comuna Cantina. Then happy hour at Brew, cocktails at small bar Super Whatnot, hop to award-winning whisky house The Gresham.
The city is built around the Brisbane River, so what better way to explore than to see it from the water. Brisbane’s shipping container street food village is located at the closest ferry stop to the bay – so sit back and soak in the sunset and boat ride as you pass New Farm Park and the old woolstores of Teneriffe. At Eat Street, take your pick from hundreds of dishes and do save room for dessert.
Rise and shine early birds. It’s the sunrise not the sunset that’s most spectacular from Mt Coot-tha. Drive up pre-dawn to watch the bright globe rise behind the skyline. Take a rug, pop yourself down and wait for golden hour to arrive.
Post-sunrise, you’ll be first in line for breakfast at your favourite cafe – if you don’t have a favourite, visit one of ours.
Get to know what grows around Brisbane at the local weekend farmer markets. One of the city’s best is the Saturday Jan Powers Market at the Brisbane Powerhouse. Graze on samples at artisan stores, pick up fresh local fruit and grab a coffee.
Laze around on a picnic rug in New Farm soaking up rays and good company with a picnic bounty of local produce purchased at the morning markets. New Farm Park is super popular with locals (and their dogs).
Atticus Finch, Paddington
Plan your own historic pub crawl through Woolloongabba or shop the Valley laneways. In Teneriffe, wander between the Woolstores of yesteryear, and in Bulimba catch a flick at the historic (and cheap) Balmoral Cinemas. Experience the boutiques and cafe scene of Paddington, or plan a late night out hopping between bars, lounges or clubs in Fortitude Valley. Explore Brisbane’s neighbourhoods here.
If shopping is more your speed, head into the City to explore more than 1000 international retailers and local boutiques along Queen Street Mall and surrounds.
Brisbane is home to Queensland’s highest number of National Good Food Guide hatted restaurants. A high number of the city’s top restaurants are in the CBD, so prepare for the degustation at Persone or Donna Chang with high-end shopping along the Queen Street Mall and Edward St.
Fine dining taste buds and a student budget? Fortitude Valley is home to Chinatown and has plenty of cheaper Asian restaurants to try like Happy Boy, The Vietnamese, Fat Dumpling, Bird's Nest Yakitori and Wagaya. Then there's Ben's Burgers and Eiffel Restaurant.
In nearby Newstead, former Powderfinger bassist John Collins opened his venue The Triffid. The renovated World War II hanger has incredible sound quality, pulls killer acts and has a top beer garden. Alternatively, there are plenty of smaller live music venues in Fortitude Valley such as The Foundry and Black Bear Lodge, or speakeasy style bars to hop between like Savile Row and Press Club.
“Have you been to GOMA?” will be one of the top three questions any local will ask. We’re proud of our modern art gallery. It’s the largest in Australia, it recently turned 10 and when you finish exploring the international and other incredible exhibitions there pop into QAG, the Queensland Art Gallery next door.
South of the river, but in the heart of it all and across the road from QAGOMA, Fish Lane is quickly becoming Brisbane’s coolest laneway. As new buildings pop up, restaurants, cafes and bars are moving in beneath them – making the journey from West End to South Bank an adventure in itself. Build your own long lunch by hopping from venue to venue.
Book yourself into one of the city’s best hotels and then do the full loop onboard Brisbane’s CityCat ferry service to get your bearings. It’s the cheapest ‘tour’ of the river city you’ll find! A two-hour ticket will cost you $5.60, or if you choose the red hop-on hop-off CityHopper ferries, it’s free.
If you’re looking for a beach in the middle of the city, South Bank is a must. Simply get off at the South Bank CityCat stop and greet the 17 hectares of parklands overlooking the city (find your way using this guide). From Friday night to Sunday afternoon, you can wander the Collective Markets for local artwork, handmade gifts and fashion and vintage clothing, as well as food stalls.
For some air-conditioned reprieve from all that sunshine, duck into the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art to lose yourself in Australia’s largest gallery of modern and contemporary art.
Photo by @jenniferat58
Think Brisbane isn’t in sync with arts and culture? Think again. Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) is home to the Queensland Theatre Company, Queensland Ballet, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, and Opera Queensland. The centre features a year-round menu of productions from circus shows to Broadway performances so do your research before you come and make a booking.
After dark, Fish Lane is the place to go for a good feed and a great night out.
Kickstart today’s adventures by getting acquainted with the open-air Queen Street Mall. It’s located directly in the centre of the city and is home to over 700 retailers ranging from international brands including Chanel, Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton, to Australian designers like Aje, Alice McCall, Camilla and Sass & Bide.
When your feet need a rest, search for the nearby (and almost hidden) laneways to find specialty coffee and delicious eats, like Felix for Goodness on Burnett Lane whose organic menu is full of guilt-free goodness to keep you going.
Next up: See the city from a different perspective and climb to the top of City Hall to visit Brisbane’s clock tower museum (bonus: it’s free!).
Photo by @thesoulecho via @thepicnicco_ and @christiesutherl
For a paddock to plate feast tonight, go to Lamberts. Their seasonal menu of innovative modern Australian cuisine tastes as good as it looks. In the mood for seafood? Kangaroo Point’s One Fish Two Fish is not your average fish and chips shop - it’s so much better.
Photo by @kaylaellisphoto
What you may not have realised when you booked your Brisbane city getaway is that an island paradise is just a 25-minute ferry ride away. North Stradbroke Island - also known as Straddie or Minjerribah - is your much-needed break from reality.
Breathe in the fresh salty air as you stroll along Stradbroke Island’s easy yet spectacular North Gorge Walk. Keep your eyes on the water and you may spot dolphins, manta rays, turtles and (in the cooler months) whales as they migrate north.
Reward your efforts with a double scoop of homemade Italian ice cream from Oceanic Gelati Bar at Point Lookout, then walk across the road to watch the waves roll in from your private spot on the cliff face.
Next up, dive into the tea-tree infused waters of Brown Lake, a sacred site for the local Quandamooka people. Spend the rest of your day kayaking or relaxing on the lake’s shady banks; or head to the secluded Frenchman Beach or the patrolled Cylinder Beach if you want to go for a swim.
If you want to keep exploring, here’s how you can spend 48 hours on North Stradbroke Island.
After a long but lovely day in paradise, you’re probably looking for something low-key (but delicious) for dinner. Howard Smith Wharves along the Brisbane River is a historic site under the Story Bridge that’s been turned into the ultimate foodie destination that has a bit of everything. Head to the shed for brewery and gastro-pub Felons; sip cocktails at the cool Mr Percivals while you munch on Moreton Bay bug rolls; or take your taste buds to Greece at contemporary Greek taverna, GRECA - the latest venture from restaurateur Jonathan Barthelmess from Sydney’s famous The Apollo. Or simply enjoy a waterfront BYO picnic.
Want a touch of greenery that’s close to the city? Look no further than the Scenic Rim. Only a hop, skip and 1.5-hour drive away from Brisbane, road trips here are perfect for getting off the grid, without spending the whole day in the car.
Ditch the sleep-in and head south-west into Lamington National Park. (Pick up a takeaway cup of Brisbane’s best coffee from one of these places before you hit the road). As the city falls further into your rearview mirror, wind down the car windows and breathe in a big gulp of the fresh air. You’ll feel like you are a world away as you drive through the dense rainforest on your way to this World Heritage site.
Drive through the historical country town of Canungra, where you can turn off for the O’Reilly’s Green Mountains section. Now you have some choices: Take the 4.6km return walk from O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat to Morans Falls; wrap yourself in the rainforest’s canopy on the Tree Top Walk; or find true peace and serenity - and one of the best views around - during a spa treatment at the Lost World Spa.
Next up, you’re going to start heading back towards Brisbane, but don’t worry, you’re not going ‘home’ just yet. Follow the scenic Tamborine-Lamington Circuit and head to Tamborine Mountain where you can grab a feed at the Spice of Life Cafe & Deli on Main Street, or if you’re daring, hang glide off the mountain. Not your flavour? Relish in the digital detox and visit Mount Tamborine National Park nearby for a picnic in Mother Nature’s backyard.
Nightfall Wilderness Camp 2019 Photo by Lauren Bullen (@gypsea_lust)
Today’s all about exploring the lesser-known sides of Brisbane and getting a sense of the local lifestyle.
Start the day right at Industry Beans in Newstead. They take their coffee seriously (they even have their own coffee greenhouse) and the Brunch Menu heroes native Australian ingredients in spectacular, mouth-watering form, such as the signature dish, fruit sashimi with a wattleseed rice crisp topped with coffee caviar. If you’ve started the day off with a sleep in and don’t arrive until after 10am, no one will bat an eyelid if you wanted to order an espresso martini with your breakfast.
From Industry Beans, it’s a 10-minute walk to the start of one of Brisbane’s best walks and cycling routes, following the curve of the Brisbane River and Brisbane’s own millionaire’s row from Vernon Terrace, Teneriffe to James Street in Fortitude Valley.
Along the way, you’ll find yourself in the leafy suburb of New Farm. New Farm Park is a favourite local spot for a picnic, so grab yourself a gourmet spread from New Farm Deli and find a shady spot under one of the vibrant purple jacaranda trees. Or, if you’re feeling thirsty, wander a little further to the Brisbane Powerhouse. On the ground level of the converted historic power station is Mary Mae’s. The well-stocked bar has Brisbane brews on tap from the likes of Ballistic, Slipstream and Green Beacon, and those uninterrupted river views will entice you to sit and stay awhile.
If you made it all the way to the end of your river walk, you’ll have landed on James Street - Brisbane’s stylish fashion and lifestyle precinct. Post-shopping, there are plenty of chic places to stop for a tipple. The Calile Hotel’s elegant Lobby Bar has a refined menu of signature cocktails, while Gerard’s Bar is always buzzing with locals.
For a night out that’s a little left of centre, how about listening to opera in a theatre built in 1871? Test the acoustics of Spring Hill’s Reservoirs with a performance by the Underground Opera Company, who make use of the cavernous spaces that once held the city’s water supply until 1962.
Fancy a movie night under the stars instead? Moonlight Cinema set up shop in Roma Street Parkland during summer to bring you all the best new movies and cult favourites in this unique setting. Pack a picnic or grab drinks and nibbles from the food trucks and fully licensed bar on-site.
Take a morning ferry across to the world’s third largest sand island, Moreton Island. The trip is about 1.5 hours from the Port of Brisbane onboard the Micat Ferry, which has a café and viewing deck to keep you entertained until you reach the sandy shores.
While you’re on Moreton Island, be sure to visit the wrecks. All 15 of them have created a popular dive site just metres from the beach. If you want a break from snorkelling, head to shore and go on a Segway tour with Tangatours. Introductory tours are $75 per person for 30 minutes and these zippy modes of transport ensure you can see more of the island when you’re only here for the day.
Before jetting back to Brisbane, climb and ride one of the island’s iconic sand dunes.
If you haven’t had enough time in the sunshine, stay longer. Here’s how you can spend 48 hours on Moreton Island.
We’ve saved one of the best till last. Spend your last evening at Eat Street Northshore; a foodie’s paradise built from shipping containers. Eat from any corner of the world, grab a few cocktails to wash down all that amazing street food, and save room for dessert: The Golden Gaytime conut is what happens when culinary creatives decide to step up an Aussie classic a couple of notches.
The sheer amount of food options can be overwhelming, so check out this first-timer’s guide to Eat Street Northshore before you go
Photo by @adventuresofsophh
The early bird catches the worm so spread your wings and flock up to Mount Coot-tha for a glowing panorama of the city.
This pocket of nature in Brisbane is home to more than 1500 hectares of open eucalypt forest just waiting to be explored post-sunrise. Think picnic areas, creeks, waterfalls and over 31km of tracks to be conquered.
If you want to linger longer, check out these six ways to explore this inner-city mountain.
The best way to get your bearings of the River City is to get a bird's eye view (especially if its your first time to Brisbane). Jump on The Wheel of Brisbane in South Bank Parklands for a 360-degree view of her glistening glory.
This southern side of the river has become the cultural and lifestyle hub of Brisbane. And the jewel in its crown? Australia’s only man-made CBD beach. Streets Beach is a lagoon of epic tropical proportions, complete with white sand and palm trees, and patrolled all year round. The nearby Aquativity water-play park will keep kids amused, and after a dip you can hop over to the Riverside Green playground before checking out the giant Epicurious Garden.
There's no doubt that South Bank was designed for kids. It’s here you’ll find the Queensland Museum and interactive Science Centre. The Gallery of Modern Art and Queensland Art Gallery (QAGOMA) are also super kid-friendly, with hands-on activities year round. For more museum-fun, Brisbane’s best museums as the low-down.
There's plenty of dining options throughout South Bank, so really the choice is yours. Queensland Performing Arts Centre’s (QPAC) Melbourne Street Green has plenty of open space plus live music Friday evenings.
You'll find some of the city's best accommodation along Grey Street if you want to stay and play close to the action (including the Emporium Hotel South Bank).
You've seen the heart of the city, but it's time to discover its real heart with a tour of its indigenous culture and history. BlackCard Cultural Tours' local Aboriginal tour guides will take you on a 90-minute walking tour through the cultural precinct galleries and public artworks, or take the 3-hour bush tucker trail from riverside to local parklands.
It's time to put your feet up. But in Brisbane, that's not quite what you think.
If the kids still have energy to burn afterwards, you can also hire scooters, rollerblades or bikes to explore the riverside paths.
There's a reason Eat Street Northshore makes every 'must-do' list. It's one of the best things to do in Brisbane with kids if you're in town Thursday to Sunday.
Forget trying appease fussy eaters, this food market mecca has more than 150 colourful shipping containers serving bites from around the world, from Asian street food to American barbeque. There's also market stalls, live entertainment, bars and a dessert alley that must be visited at least twice while you're here.
Holidays are usually about avoiding screen time, but you should make an exception today. A 10-minute walk from the city centre is The Cube: 48 interactive touch screens featuring scientific and educational games and activities for the whole family. It's open every day at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), and admission is free.
When you’re done, take a leaf out of the locals' book and take a stroll through the nearby City Botanic Gardens, fringed by the Brisbane River. It has one of the best all-abilities playgrounds going around.
For more budget-busting ways to see Brisbane, check out this post.
Photo by @bridge2brisbane
From one garden to another. Catch the free City Loop bus, changing to Spring Hill loop to dsicover an inner-city oasis.
Roma Street Parkland on the north side of the city features 16 hectares of sprawling lawns, gardens, lakes and even waterfalls. A cute kiddy-size train will take you around the park for just a gold coin donation and there are two playgrounds to choose from.
A short journey from here will have you at Victoria Park Golf Course and an 18-hole putt-putt sporting views over the city. It’s open every day, no bookings required.
Victoria Park Golf Course Bistro has a great menu for kids and adults featuring produce from their very own garden, and a lovely alfresco dining area to enjoy it.
Photo by @lonepinekoala
Get back on the river, today you're off to see some wildlife at the iconic Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Take in the view from Mirimar Cruises on the way there, because you’ll be admiring your snaps of cuddly koalas, cheeky kangaroos, crocs, dingoes and devils all the way back.
It's the world's first and largest koala sanctuary, and you'll have the chance to meet some of the 130 koalas that call it home, as well as hand-feed kangaroos and wild lorikeets, and say hello to other cute and cuddly creatures.
Head to the Botanic Gardens at the base of Mt Coot-tha (5km from the city centre) for a tropical-inspired geodesic dome and hide ‘n seek children’s trail. The gardens also house the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, open every day with free entry.
Take in the city views as you dine at Kuta Café or Summit Restaurant, at Mt Coot-tha. On a clear day you can see across the bay to Moreton Island.
But do you want a closer look?
Photo by @hb.adventures
Cast away from the city to one of the most special places on earth, where you'll find some of the best sunsets and best adventures Queensland has to offer.
Moreton Island, traditionally named Moorgumpin (place of sandhills), is nature at its very best. The island is 4WD access only (unless you visit Tangalooma Island Resort), but the MICAT car ferry will take you there in just under two hours.
Moreton’s famous wrecks are not far from the landing and teeming with marine life to explore. Australian Sunset Safaris can show you this underwater wonderland via transparent kayak or snorkel tours, or book a guided tour through Tangalooma.
If you're staying at Tangalooma Island Resort, settle into your accommodation and get ready for your kids to experience an encounter they'll remember forever. Each evening at sunset, wild bottlenose dolphins visit the jetty to say hello and accept a few hand-fed fishy treats.
Adventure awaits on all sides of the island, so after another morning swim it's time to explore further afield.
Moreton’s Blue Lagoon (accessed via Bulwer-Blue Lagoon Road or surfside) is a 42-hectare, tea-tree-infused freshwater lake perfect for family-friendly swimming. Pack a picnic; you’ll be relaxing on the white sands for a while.
Head to the northern tip of the island for naturally formed Champagne Pools which fill with bubbles as waves crash over the rock wall. Not far from the pools is the iconic Cape Moreton Lighthouse and Harper’s Rock with desert-inspired red rock formations.
Hitch your dinner wagon at locals’ fave Castaways café in Bulwer. They also have glamping accommodation options if your kids and camping don’t mix, but you want something a little more back-to-basics for your final night on island time.
Photo by @the_travelling_tribe_
Moreton is the third largest sand island in the world, so it should come as no surprise that its sand holds as many thrills as its sea. This morning, head inland to The Desert for some serious sand boarding fun.
Little Sandhills is accessible from the eastern surf beach and Big Sandhills from the western side. BYO boards, or book with a local tour operator (you can do so at the resort).
Check out some WWII relics at Rous Battery via the walking tracks, before heading back to Brisbane. Ferries generally leave around mid-afternoon with additional services during school holidays. If you want to stay a little longer, it’s worth reading up on how to spend 48 hours on Moreton Island.
if you've got a few more days up your sleeve in Brisbane, here's some ideas to get you started: