A list of some fun things to do in Brisbane city, the sunny capital of Queensland.
No trip to the massive, sunny Australian state of Queensland would be complete without stopping in Brisbane.
Founded in 1825, Brisbane is full of history and is the third-largest city in Australia.
Though Brisbane is a big city, it feels quite comfortable and accessible.
Even in the heart of the Brisbane CBD the abundance of greenery and variety of different neighborhoods help make the city feel spacious and relaxing.
The Brisbane River and the Story Bridge cut through the city as well, adding beautiful scenery and more space between the skyscrapers.
So in addition to checking out the heart of downtown, there are lots of fun things to do in Brisbane that will even please city-phobic people.
There are also lots of enticing day trips to the surrounding Brisbane region, if you’re looking to escape the city for a day.
Here are 22 of the best things to do in Brisbane.
22 Fun Things To Do In Brisbane
Lovers of art and culture can sightsee at the Queen Street Mall, admire art galleries, and visit museums.
Nature lovers can hang out in New Farm Park or check out the two stunning Brisbane Botanic Gardens.
And anyone would love enjoying the view from the Kangaroo Point Cliffs or taking day trips to the islands and forests in the Brisbane region.
Here are some of the best Brisbane attractions and activities!
1. See incredible art at the GOMA
The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, also known as the GOMA, has an amazing display of art including pieces by local and international artists.
This is a great way to enjoy Brisbane on a rainy day, or if you want to escape the heat for a bit.
Also consider checking out the Queensland Art Gallery, another top-notch showcase of art and culture.
Both museums specialize in Australian, Asian, and Pacific art.
- Hours: Open every day, 10 am to 5 pm
- Address: Stanley Pl, South Brisbane
- Cost: Free but sometimes special exhibitions cost money
2. Walk across the iconic Story Bridge
The Story Bridge is a massive steel structure that spans over the Brisbane River and is probably one of the most iconic Brisbane landmarks.
Walking across the sidewalk on the bridge provides excellent views of Brisbane city, especially at night when all the skyscrapers are lit up.
You can even climb to the top of the Story Bridge for a better view of the Brisbane skyline and a bit of an adrenaline rush. Book your tickets for the climb here.
3. Stroll along the South Bank
One of the best things to do in south Brisbane is walking along the vibrant South Bank that lines the Brisbane River.
Full of archways dripping with vines and flowers, and plenty of exotic birds and lizards, walking along the South Bank gives you the greenery of the forest with the excitement of a city.
There are cafes and restaurants, museums, boardwalks, and plenty of attractions like the Epicurious Gardens, the Nepalese Peace Pagoda, and Streets Beach (all of which I’ll explain in detail later on).
At nighttime, the South Bank is illuminated in tea lights and filled with locals and tourists enjoying the area.
4. Enjoy the Nightlife in Fortitude Valley
Known as “The Valley” to the locals, Fortitude Valley is the center of entertainment in Brisbane CBD.
On weekend nights, every club, bar, and restaurant is crowded with partygoers and people looking to have a fun night out.
The streets are absolutely packed, which makes for an exciting environment on a weekend. Just be sure to bring your ID, as most nightclubs have to scan it before you can enter.
The Valley is right next to Story Bridge. It’s fun to walk across the iconic Brisbane landmark after a night of partying!
5. Pick up fresh veggies from the Epicurious Gardens
Right in Downtown Brisbane along the South Bank is the Epicurious Gardens, a sprawling web of vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, and exotic plants.
Volunteers and horticulturalists keep the garden maintained and flourishing, and a few times a week they pick the ripest foods and store them in their harvest cart.
Stop by the cart on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 7 am and 12 pm and you can take home some of the fresh produce for free!
6. Check out the view from Kangaroo Point Cliffs
The suburb of Kangaroo Point is arguably one of the best in Brisbane, and it even has its own website listing the best attractions and things to do in the area.
But the best thing to do in Kangaroo Point is to enjoy the view from the 25-meter-high cliffs.
There is a large grassy park atop the cliffs and plenty of comfortable benches so you can look across the river at the Brisbane CBD and enjoy the amazing view!
Visit at night time to see the city lights sparkling against the night sky.
7. Explore the Riverside Markets
For over 30 years, Brisbane’s Riverside Markets have been providing the public with endless entertainment.
On a Sunday morning, treat yourself to some delicious organic food and browse through the attractive crafts, fashion, and artwork on display.
- Hours: Every Sunday from 8 am to 3 pm
- Address: Between Alice Street and Edward Street in the Brisbane CBD
8. Indulge in the cafes and restaurants of the West End
The West End of Brisbane city is packed to the brim with places to eat and drink.
There are restaurants of every nationality, including Greek, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian, and more.
There are delicious bakeries, trendy cafes, vegan restaurants, food markets, delis, wine bars, whiskey bars, pubs, and more.
So if you’re in the mood for a nice dinner in a unique spot, stroll around the West End until you find a place that catches your eye.
9. Shop at the Queen Street Mall
For shopping and people-watching, the Queen Street Mall is the perfect place to go in Brisbane City.
Located right in the center of the city near the magnificent Brisbane City Hall, this pedestrians-only street has any type of shop or boutique you could ask for.
Even if you’re not into shopping, it is entertaining to walk through this hub of the city and immerse yourself right into the hustle and bustle.
10. Head to the Mount Coot-tha Lookout
Just to the west of the city lies Mount Coot-tha, a small mountain where you can enjoy a lovely lookout over Brisbane city.
The lookout is completely free and open 24/7.
So grab your camera and drive up for an excellent panoramic view.
Near the lookout at the foot of the mountain is The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium.
Here you can learn some interesting facts about our solar system. This is a family-friendly Brisbane activity that is easily combined with a trip to the Mount Coot-tha lookout.
11. Explore the Brisbane Botanic Gardens
Located just a 10 minute walk from Queen Street Mall is the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens.
There are plenty of exotic plants, flowers, and trees as well as charming ponds, rivers, and fountains.
Brisbane actually has two botanical gardens, so if you love plants you’re in luck!
The other garden is located at the foot of Mount Coot-tha in the same area as the Planetarium. This one is much bigger, but they are both worth a visit!
Brisbane City Botanic Gardens
- Hours: open 24/7
- Address: 147 Alice St, Brisbane City
Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha
- Hours: Open every day from 8 am to 5 pm
- Address: 152 Mount Coot-tha Rd
12. Sell your stuff at a second-hand market
Suitcase Rummage is a second-hand market pop-up where people can set up stalls to sell their unwanted clothes, accessories, bags, and other trinkets.
This is a great way to ensure your old clothes and possessions don’t just go to waste. You can visit their website, register a stall, and sell all your stuff easily.
If you’re looking to buy cheap clothes as well, stop by here to shop and take someone else’s junk off their hands.
- Hours: First and Third Sunday of every month, 12 pm to 5 pm
- Location: Reddacliff Place, Brisbane CBD
13. Soak in the sun at Streets Beach
Though Brisbane is located only an hour away from some of Queensland’s most famous beaches like the Gold Coast, Burleigh Heads, and Surfer’s Paradise, you can still visit the “beach” without leaving the city.
Streets Beach is a man-made beach along the river, right in downtown Brisbane.
White sand lines a long and refreshing pool with fountains and kid’s play centers, so you can swim and sunbathe while looking at the city skyscrapers in the background.
14. Visit the historic City Hall and Museum of Brisbane
Built in the early 1900s, Brisbane’s City Hall is a prominent city landmark.
You can take a guided tour through the lavish interior or head up to the clock tower for an epic view over the city.
The Museum of Brisbane is located on level 3 of the City Hall and there are always interesting art displays and exhibitions to see here.
- City Hall Hours: Every day 8 am to 5 pm
- Museum of Brisbane Hours: Every day 10 am to 5 pm, closes at 7 pm on Fridays
- Address: 64 Adelaide Street
- Website: https://www.museumofbrisbane.com.au/whats-on/
15. Check out the Collective Markets
Every weekend, the collective markets flood Stanley Street Plaza with their stalls of local vendors selling unique handicrafts.
From fashion and jewelry, to paintings and ceramics, to skincare and health products, to woodwork and other handmade items, it is very cool to shop or just browse through the interesting products here.
- Fridays from 5 pm to 9 pm
- Saturdays from 10 am to 9 pm
- Sundays from 9 am to 4 pm
16. Cruise along the Brisbane River
A fun way to see the city is by taking a boat tour along the Brisbane River.
Sail along the water and enjoy a different perspective of the city. You’ll also get an incredible view of the city skyline.
This river cruise from Get Your Guide also includes a visit to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and has top ratings from past travelers.
17. See some live music
Brisbane has a thriving entertainment scene, with live music and concerts happening constantly.
For intriguing jazz music, hit up the Doo Bop Jazz Bar or the Brooklyn Standard, and head to Johnny Ringo’s for country music.
The Brightside Brisbane is a bustling live music venue that always has performances on, as is the Milk Factory, Crowbar, and the Zoo.
For big concerts, see what’s playing at Riverstage, a beautiful venue located in the City Botanic Gardens.
18. Admire the Nepalese Peace Pagoda
When Brisbane hosted the World Expo in 1988, the Kingdom of Nepal contributed this exquisite pagoda to the city’s South Bank. Nowadays, it is an iconic part of the city.
The detailed timber structure is one of just three Nepalese peace pagodas outside Nepal, and it is a stunning landmark to see.
It is completely free to walk through, admire the design, and read about the making of the pagoda.
19. Relax in a park
There are so many lush green parks in Brisbane where you can relax in the grass, have a picnic, and watch the world go by.
Along the South Bank, there are lots of small patches of comfy grass for a quick picnic spot.
But Brisbane also has a few large parks that are lovely to visit.
New Farm Park, Rocks Riverside Park, and King Edward Park are three local favorites.
New Farm Park is one of the city’s oldest parks, complete with a rose garden and a historic rotunda.
20. Go on a free walking tour
While exploring Brisbane, you may notice some enthusiastic people in red shirts. You’ll see them taking people around the city and spilling interesting facts and history.
These are the Brisbane Greeters, locals that volunteer their time to host free walking tours through the city.
Check out this page for more information on the tours they run and the times they are available.
21. Seek out some street art
Brisbane is a very vibrant city with lots of art on display. Rather than visiting a museum, you can just wander through the streets to find plenty of impressive graffiti art and murals.
There are countless unexpected and random displays of art throughout the city, but you can definitely find some murals on Brunswick Street, Melbourne Street, McLachlan Street, and Elizabeth Street.
22. Take a day trip to Moreton Island or a nearby national park
For a quick escape from the city, take a day trip to one of the gorgeous islands off the coast of the Brisbane region.
For example, you can take a day trip to Moreton Island and explore the stunning Moreton Bay.
Day trips here often include snorkeling around a shipwreck in Moreton Bay, sliding down sand dunes, and kayaking through crystal-clear waters.
You could also take a day trip inland to one of the national parks. Some of the best include Springbrook National Park, Glass House Mountains National Park, and Lamington National Park.
There is plenty of hiking and exploring to be done in the wilderness of the Brisbane region.
Another option is a day trip to Stradbroke Island, which includes swimming and sunbathing on picturesque white-sand beaches, hiking and spotting wildlife, and learning about the island’s aboriginal culture.
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In addition to what I listed, there are honestly so many more things to do in Brisbane!
The Brisbane CBD is exciting, the city skyline is beautiful, and there is enough delicious food, entertainment, art, and culture to satisfy any traveler.
I recommend checking out the official city website for more detailed information.
Brisbane is conveniently located between Byron Bay and the Gold Coast, making it any easy stop in an East Coast Australia road trip.
A few things to note before traveling to Australia:
- For the best affordable accommodation in Brisbane, check Hostelworld.com.
- You need a visitor visa to enter Australia; visit iVisa.com to get your visa online!
- Consider buying travel insurance. I recommend Squaremouth Insurance!
For more articles about places to visit in Queensland, check out these articles:
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