Brisbane is known to locals as the River City and after the recent floods, those outside of the city also know the infamous Brisbane River. The city is spread along the banks of the river, so an alternative way to view the city is by ferry or city cat (high speed ferry).
Brisbane is much easier to see if you hire a car, however parking in the CBD (central business district) is very expensive. If you are staying in the CBD, see if you can get a deal with your hotel. If you aren’t and are visiting the CBD for the day, make sure you arrive early and take advantage of the early bird parking rates. You will need to arrive before 9am for most parks. Have a look at this website for more information. Cheap parking Brisbane, the prices are a little out of date but google the car parks for updated info.
The public transport system is getting better but is not as good as many of the cities we have visited. If you chose the public transport option, make sure you purchase a go card. It costs $5 and you can load it with credit. After a few trips on a bus, ferry or train you will have recovered the deposit fee.
The Airport is a few kms north east of the city. You can pick up hire cars, get a taxi or take the train to your accommodation. Bear in mind that if you aren’t staying in the city centre, the train network isn’t extensive so you may need to change to a bus to get to your final destination.
There are a number of hostels in the city centre and they tend to be located near the train stations either Central Station or Roma Street Station. There are also LOADS of hotels as well. I would recommend checking out Wotif.com for last minute hotel and hostel deals. You’ll get it a lot cheaper than booking directly.
I lived in Brisbane for 23 years before heading overseas for 6 years. When people asked me about Brisbane and what there was to do, I always responded, “Brisbane is a great place to live but not brilliant for tourists”. Now that I have come back and brought my foreign fiancé home, I’ve had the chance to experience the city from a tourist’s eyes. I am pleasantly surprised at how wrong I was, Brisbane has a lot to offer.
If you are a bit of a foodie or enjoy going out for coffee, check out Milton, Paddington, Rosalie and New Farm. They are all inner city suburbs with great cafés and restaurants. My favourite place for breakfast is Gun Shop Café in West End.
The Valley is the place to go for good nightlife. It is located just outside of the CBD. There is a good variety of clubs and bars from house, R&B through to gay clubs. This area is fairly safe, although as always don’t head down dark alleys and be aware of you and your belongings.
There are a number of things to see and do around the city. Story Bridge is as iconic to Brisbane as the Harbour Bridge is to Sydney. The Story Bridge was opened in 1940 and took 5 years to build. It created employment during the Great Depression in Brisbane and sadly 4 men lost their lives during construction. You can climb the bridge and costs from between $89 to $130 for adults, see our review via the following link. Story Bridge Brisbane Review
Brisbane’s only sand beach is man-made and located just south of the city on the river at South Bank. On the weekends this area comes to life with stalls, street entertainment along with a number of events. Bordering South Bank is the cultural heart of the city with the Performing Arts Centre, Queensland Museum, and Conservatory of Music. For a little more alternative entertainment head to the Powerhouse, it has everything from comedy to politics.
If you fancy a bit of colonial history, there are a couple of sites in and around Brisbane to check out. Newstead house, located in the inner city, is oldest residence in Brisbane. It was built in 1846 for Patrick Leslie. You can visit Sunday to Thursday between 10am to 4pm. Also check out St Helena Island.
Check out a free self guided Brisbane walk you can do here - http://www.publicworks.qld.gov.au/brisbaneheritagewalk/Pages/default.aspx
Here’s a list of other things to do in Brisbane and around the city…
If you are into flora and fauna:
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
- Alma Park Zoo
- Botanical Gardens in the City
- Mount Cootha Botanical Gardens
- Roma Street Parklands
- New Farm Park (particularly nice in the summer months when the Jacaranda Trees are in bloom)
- Whale Watching (June through to November)
- XXXX brewery, Milton
- Dreamworld, Sea World, Wet ‘n’ Wild, MovieWorld (all located on the Gold Coast, roughly an hour’s drive from the city depending on where you are staying) Click on the following link to read our Dreamworld Theme Park Guide
- The Ekka, is a country comes to the city style exhibition. There’s rides, show bags, food stalls and lots of animals. It occurs in mid August each year
- RiverFire beginning of Sept every year. For the best vantage points check out - http://www.brisbanefestival.com.au/Free/Sunsuper-Riverfire-Vantage-Points we’d recommend heading to the Cliffs of Kangaroo Point, check out the Brisbane Riverfire video below.
If you have a car and have time to venture outside of the city I would recommend the following:
- Day trip to Tangalooma Island
- Natural Arch Springbrook
- Mount Tamborine
- Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
- Fraser Island
- Australia Zoo in Beerwah
- Stanthorpe for a wine tour
- Sunshine Coast & hinterland, and particularly Maleny. It’s great for arts and crafts and pottery stores.
Would you recommend this City: Yes
Overall rating: 4 out of 5