Whether this is your first time in Brisbane, you’ve been here before or even if you’re a local, here are some of the places we feel visitors must see in Brisbane to gain an insight into Brisbane and its people. Please note that these are in no particular order:
Mt Cooth-tha Summit
Take a drive to the top of Mt Coot-tha (7km west of the CBD) where you’ll get a spectacular panoramic view of the whole of Brisbane city and surrounds. On a clear day you can see all the way to the distant ranges in the south-west and Moreton Bay to the east. Here you can spend time at the cafe sipping a latte, cool down with a gelato ice-cream or enjoy the famous Summit restaurant on the mountaintop. For a real buzz come here at night and you’ll see the city ablaze with lights (very romantic indeed!)
Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens
While you’re at Mt Coot-tha Lookout, visit the Botanic Gardens. These 52 hectare gardens contain subtropical and Australian flora in a setting of lakes, ponds and streams. Mt Coot-tha also hosts a planetarium, the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, a particular favourite of children.
For the more adventurous, take a two and a half hour climb to the top of Brisbane’s iconic Story Bridge. Here you’ll experience uninterrupted 360 degree views of Brisbane, its river and surrounding mountains. Dawn climbers will capture the beauty of sunrise over the bay, while dusk climbers will see the setting sun reflected in the glass and steel of the city’s high-rise apartment and office buildings. If you happen to be visiting Brisbane on New Year’s Eve, one of the things to do on New Years Eve in Brisbane is to head down to Southbank and watch the fireworks explode around the Story Bridge.
Take the one hour brewery tour at the Ale House at Milton where you’ll get a glimpse into the history of the Castlemaine Perkins brewery and its world-famous beers. Only minutes from Brisbane’s CBD, you can experience an entertaining and interactive brewery tour, pick up some souvenirs and sample some ales at the Ale House bar – a true experience. And what could be more Australian than beer!
It’s hard to imagine Brisbane without South Bank. Just across the river from the CBD, you can enjoy South Bank’s sandy beach (Streets Beach), open grassy picnic areas, shops and a plethora of eating spots. Free live entertainment, festivals and fireworks throughout the year add to the vibrancy you’ll experience here. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, visit South Bank Art & Craft Market where you’ll find crafts by local artisans including fashion, jewellery, homewares, tarot, and even a massage. It’s at South Bank where you’ll also find Queensland’s arts and theatres. Places to visit include the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art. The Queensland Museum Sciencentre is popular with children.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
If you are wanting to experience Australian wildlife without leaving the city, then Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is for you! Hold a koala, feed a kangaroo, hear a talk about our reptiles. You can the RiverCat from the city to Lone Pine for a truly Brisbane experience.
Many say that Brisbane River defines Brisbane, after all, we’re known as the RiverCity! A great way to see Brisbane is to take a ride on the CityCat – a cheap and easy way to get around. Take a cruise up and down the river, stopping where ever you like along the way – South Bank, University of Queensland, New Farm. Another way to see the sights of Brisbane is with an entertaining cruise down the Brisbane River on one of the Kookaburra River Queens.
Brisbane CBD Historic Walking Tour
Brisbane hasn’t had a great reputation for preserving its heritage buildings. The drive to modernize the city for economic purposes saw a large number of historic sites torn down in the 1970’s and 1980’s. There are still a number of them around, particularly in the CBD districts, but a day or two’s walking will be enough for you to see most of the really old sites.
Queen Street Mall
In the heart of Brisbane’s CBD, Queen Street Mall is a busy half kilometre pedestrian open air thoroughfare including al-fresco shopping and dining. With wide swooping sails to provide necessary shelter from the sun and rain, Queen Street mall draws over 26 million visitors annually. Queen Street Mall is considered to be the largest retail precinct between Sydney and Singapore, and is home to an outstanding choice of high fashion labels, national and international retail chains, independent boutique outlets, jewelry designers, bookstores, shoe shops and more. If you like to people-watch, come here as the mall is a hive of activity. A purpose built performance stage features regular free live entertainment, and buskers never fail to delight passers by with their antics. There are several 24 hour eateries and bars to be found along the mall’s central spine for those that want to party on.
City Botanic Gardens
Brisbane’s (original) botanic gardens stretch out to the river on three sides where you can walk or cycle your way around to take in the exotic plants that flourish in our sub-tropical climate. An easy and relaxed walk from the CBD, a must do is to take a walk through the mangroves on the boardwalk. If you’re here on a Sunday, continue along to Eagle Street pier to browse the many stalls at the Riverside Markets, open every Sunday from 7am.
Fondly known as ‘The Valley’ it has made a name for itself with locals and visitors alike and continues to be at the forefront of alternative and emerging fashion, music and entertainment. Walk into any main street in the Valley and you’re sure to find a selection of trendy locations for drinks, dance or food. Try James Street, Brunswick Street, or Ann Street. There are dozens of venues on offer, each with their own style and atmosphere. Some compare the Valley to Sydney’s Oxford Street for nightlife. Take your pick of designer nightclubs and be sure not to miss Family Nightclub, recently awarded Australia’s best nightclub. The Valley is also at Brisbane’s forefront in live music experiences. A good place to start a visit to The Valley is the Brunswick Street Mall which is lined with cafes, bars and eateries. Right next to Brunswick Street is Ann Street, with many avant garde fashion boutiques which feature cutting-edge and retro designs.