Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and offers something for every kind of traveller. The bar, restaurant, and nightlife scenes are bustling, as is its cultural quarter around South Bank. It’s here you’ll find some fantastic museums which delve into the history of the region, which is the spiritual home of the Jagera people. There are some pretty cool galleries too where you can admire Australian and international contemporary art.
It would be a crime to visit Brisbane without getting further out into Queensland. After all the city is just a stone’s throw from the golden sands and crystal clear waters of Moreton Bay. There are a number of other natural attractions nearby too!
In this article, we’ll introduce you to the best places to visit in Brisbane, and help you make the most out of your holiday!
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Best Places to stay in Brisbane
When deciding where to stay in a city like Brisbane, it can be a bit tricky. After all, there are lots of choices and you don’t want to pick somewhere too far out of the centre! We’ve scoured the coolest neighbourhoods in Brisbane to put together this short list of 3 places. We’re sure that one of them will be suitable for your budget and travel style!
Best Hostel in Brisbane: Breeze Lodge
If you’re thinking about the most fun and best place to stay in Brisbane on a budget, then here’s your answer: Breeze Lodge. One of the coolest hostels in town, this place has a roof terrace with a fabulous view of the city skyline. And if the weather’s not up to scratch, you can always head inside and watch Netflix in one of two big lounge areas, or prepare a meal with your new mates to keep your costs down!View on HostelWorld
For more hostels options, check out our Best Hostels in Brisbane guide.
Best Airbnb in Brisbane: CBD Apartment overlooking the river
This contemporary and recently refitted apartment is in the ideal location to help you make the most of your time in Brissy. It’s pretty cosy, but comes with high ceilings and a lot of light that add a sense of space. It’s slap bang in the heart of the CBD, providing easy access to everything the city has to offer.View on Airbnb
Best Budget Hotel in Brisbane: The Park Hotel Brisbane
It may be a four star hotel, but The Park Hotel offers some of the best prices if you’re looking thinking about where to stay in Brisbane for a reasonable price. There’s a big jump from a hostel to here, but in addition to a room to yourself, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck. Think private balconies, an outdoor pool, and an exclusive club: the 551 lounge! On top of that, it’s in Spring Hill, one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Brisbane.View on Booking.com View on HotelsCombined
Best Luxury Hotel in Brisbane: Emporium Hotel South Bank
One of the best places to stay in Brisbane. Period. The five star Emporium Hotel South Bank is close to a lot of the things on our list of the best things to do in Brisbane and is right up there in the heart of South Bank. It’s good that it’s so close, as you could easily just decide to spend all your time in the hotel’s rooftop pool, pumping iron in the fitness centre, or keeping up to date with friends and family on the super-fast Wi-Fi! This place offers a truly luxurious experience – don’t miss out!View on Booking.com View on HotelsCombined
Need a place quick? Here’s the best neighbourhood in Brisbane:
- Eat fresh and delicious dishes at Botanica Real food.
- Grab pints at Newstead Brewing Co.
- Visit the Brisbane Powerhouse for excellent events and one-of-a-kind gatherings.
These are the BEST Places to Visit in Brisbane!
#1 – Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
A very cool place in Brisbane to go for a day
- The world’s largest and oldest koala sanctuary
- 12km from the CBD
- One of the most famous places in Brisbane
Why it’s awesome: This is at the top of pretty much everyone’s Brisbane itinerary, and yours should be no different. One of the most interesting, fun, and educational days out in Queensland (especially if you’re travelling with the family), Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary has over 130 furry grey residents for you to see. Not only that, but you can feed and pet these beautiful animals too! And it’s not just koalas that call Lone Pine Sanctuary home either! There are a number of other animals native to Australia, including kangaroos, the unusual duck-billed platypus, and the Tasmanian Devil!
What to do there: Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is not just a place to admire the beautiful Australian wildlife, but to learn more about conservation and these animals’ natural habitats. Expert guides can teach you all about the creatures’ lifestyles, whilst letting you feed and pet them (although maybe don’t get too close to the Tasmanian Devil)! This is the perfect day out for solo travellers, families, or groups of friends. It’s a Brisbane must see!
#2 – South Bank
Cool place to see in Brisbane with friends
- Home to some of the best museums in Brisbane
- The heart of bars, restaurants, and nightlife
- Impossible to be bored here!
Why it’s awesome: South of the Brisbane River (hardly surprising given its name), this area is the place to be when visiting Brisbane. Set across 17 acres, you’ll find some pretty lovely parks to have a stroll around in during the day. Or, you can head to one of the state’s top museums or galleries, before enjoying one of the world-class eateries for dinner. Then, it’s onto one of the coolest night time hotspots in Brisbane to dance the night away! You certainly won’t be bored in the coolest neighbourhood in town.
What to do there: There’s plenty! Art lovers should stop at the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of modern art (QAGOMA for short) as there are over 17,000 Australian and international works of art being shown at any one time! If you’re travelling with kids, then the Queensland Museum and Science centre is a great bet – as there are some cool natural history exhibitions shown here too. If you get a bit fed up of cultural sites, maybe it’s time to get some food or a drink at one of the fantastic restaurants or jazzy wine bars!
#3 – Brisbane City Botanic Gardens
A beautiful outdoor place to visit in Brisbane
- Heritage listed botanical gardens
- Great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city
- One of the best places in Brisbane to relax
Why it’s awesome: You wouldn’t think that you’d be able to find such a peaceful atmosphere so close to the beating heart of Brisbane’s CBD, but this fantastic city just keeps on bringing up surprises! Queensland’s tropical climate is perfect for plants and trees to thrive, and when visiting Brisbane, you simply have to stop off at the Botanical Gardens.
The city’s oldest park dates all the way back to 1825 when it was used as a garden for convicts to plant vegetables for food! Nowadays, they’re just a lovely place to hang out, loved by both tourists and locals alike so it does get busy if you are visiting Brisbane for the weekend.
What to do there: Taking a leisurely stroll through the Botanic Gardens is a must while you explore Brisbane. You could also bring a book and relax on a bench, or even a picnic and chill out with your travelling companions! There are guided tours of the gardens too, where you’ll learn lots about the flora and fauna present. One last thing – don’t confuse Brisbane City Botanic Gardens with Brisbane Botanic Gardens. They’re located at our next stop – Mount Coot – Tha!
#4 – Mount Coot – Tha
A beautiful and scenic place to check out in Brisbane
- A great chance to get outdoors
- One of the top Brisbane vacation ideas
- Check out the scenic lookout – the views are awesome!
- Bring your camera and snap pictures
Why it’s awesome: This Brisbane must-see is one of the most popular tourist attractions in town, and it’s not hard to see why. The scenic lookout at Mount Coot – Tha offers views of not only the CBD skyline but all the way to Moreton Bay! It’s a great spot to get your legs working too, as the mountain offers a number of hiking and biking trails. You can really make a day of enjoying one of the coolest places in Brisbane!
What to do there: The first stop has to be the awesome Mount Coot – Tha lookout. Spend some time up there snapping pictures or just enjoying the view! But how are you going to get up there? Well, there are over 70km of trails on the mountain, so if you’re a keen hiker, you’re sorted. You can take bikes up too, but they’re probably a lot more fun on the way down! If you’re feeling peckish (and no-one would blame you after getting to the peak), enjoy some food or drink at the Summit Restaurant or Kuta Café!
#5 – Eat Street Northshore
A must-see for foodies
- Enjoy eating in a shipping container
- Discover some of the best places to eat in Brisbane
- There are music and movies too!
Why it’s awesome: Unfortunately, if you’re visiting during the week you won’t be able to enjoy the fantastic Eat Street Markets. However, if you’re visiting Brisbane on a weekend then head down to sample cooking from around the world and fantastic views of the Brisbane River! These shipping containers are brimming with world food from wood-fired pizzas, to Thai street food, to Japanese dumplings! And of course, what could be better than enjoying delicious food with your mates or your significant other to the backdrop of some cracking live music?!
What to do there: You can’t go to Eat Street without trying the food. It’s basically the whole point! There are over 180 restaurants to choose from, and all we can recommend is that you go there and get stuff from as many places as possible! Of course, there’s the live music for you to enjoy too. Check out Eat Street’s events calendar to see if your favourite artists are playing any time soon!
#6 – New Farm Park
Awesome place to visit in Brisbane with kids!
- One of the biggest and oldest parks in Brisbane
- Right next to the Powerhouse Farmer’s Markets
- Relax and connect with locals
Why it’s awesome: Another of Brisbane’s lovely green spaces, New Farm Park is a great spot if you’re travelling with kids. There are loads of little amusements throughout the park that kids will love! It’s good fun if you’re travelling solo or with mates though too. There are plenty of wide-open spaces to play a bit of sport or just relax. You can even just curl up on a bench with a good book and while the afternoon away!
What to do there: As with many of Brisbane’s parks, New Farm Park is a great place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Take a ball or a frisbee and some friends, and you’re sure to have a great time. Also, right next to New Farm Park is the brilliant Brisbane Powerhouse. Here, you can visit the farmer’s market to pick up some tasty artisan breads, cheeses and more. Or, you can witness a live arts show, or even a movie at the open-air cinema! The possibilities are endless!
#7 – Story Bridge
- Climb Brisbane’s iconic bridge
- Get amazing views of the city and its skyline
- One of the most famous landmarks in Brisbane
Why it’s awesome: If you make a list of iconic landmarks in Brisbane to put into your itinerary, then Story Bridge has to be on there. You can just take a walk or a drive across it, but if you’re really daring then why not consider a bridge climb? This is the best way to get spectacular views of not only the CBD, but the city surroundings too. In one direction, you’ll see the sandy islands and blue waters of Moreton Bay, while in another you can gaze at the landscapes of the Glasshouse Mountains!
What to do there: If you’re not afraid of heights, then the bridge climb is one of the top activities in the whole of Brisbane. It’s a real bucket list activity, and the best part is you can pick the time of day you want to do it! So, a dawn climb will let you see the sun rise over Moreton Bay. A day climb will mean you can see as far as the Glasshouse Mountains, while a twilight climb will show you all the twinkling lights of the CBD! The choice is yours, and we’re sure that you’ll love it!
Quick Note – Staying Safe in Brisbane
Australia, in general, is quite a safe country and Brisbane is no exception. The most common thing you’ll be looking out for in Australia is snakes and spiders, rather than crime! Of course, because Brisbane is a big 24 hour city, that does mean that crime can sometimes occur. The most common crime is petty theft and pick-pocketing, so always be aware of where your personal belongings are. Other than that, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about. Most travellers leave Brisbane with all the stuff they arrived with, and no venomous animal bites to worry about!
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
#8 – James Street
A great place in Brisbane if you love to shop!
- Explore Brisbane’s best shopping!
- Over 130 stores
- A surprisingly relaxed atmosphere
Why it’s awesome: You might not have much space in your suitcase (or budget) for the trendy fashion on offer at James Street, but it’s a great place to spend some time. After all, nobody said you can’t window shop! There are over 130 stores here showcasing the coolest lifestyle stores the city has to offer, as well as some of the best places to eat in Brisbane too! It doesn’t always feel like the centre of town though. The leafy suburban area gives a relaxed and laidback atmosphere, which we think you’ll love!
What to do there: First and foremost, people come to James Street to shop. If you’re on a broke backpacker budget you might want to skip a few of the high-end designers, but there are plenty of cool Aussie concept stores where you can pick up a cool gift or two for friends and family back home! Walking around and shopping is bound to work up an appetite, so head to one of the nearby eateries to fuel up for your next activity!
#9 – Suncorp Stadium
- Take in a game of rugby or soccer
- Over 50,000 seats!
- One of the most recognisable landmarks in Brisbane
Why it’s awesome: If you’re in town when there’s a game on at the Suncorp Stadium, you won’t want to miss being a part of it! Home to rugby league and international rugby, fans of the oval-shaped ball should definitely check out the stadium’s events calendar. It’s not all about sport though – the stadium, which holds over 50,000 people, also has some great concerts with world-famous artists. So, there really is something for everyone at one of the best places in Brisbane!
What to do there: If you don’t have time or money to fit a gig or game into your Brisbane itinerary. Don’t fret though, as you can still get to know the Suncorp Stadium! Take a tour of the stadium to find out about its history from its humble beginnings as a cemetery to what it is now! The home of rugby league, international rugby, and soccer in Queensland. Of course, you can also head to a gig, with acts such as U2 and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds having played here lately.
#10 – Cedar Creek Trail
- A great place to get out into the Aussie bush
- Climb the waterfall
- Take a dip in the pools
Why it’s awesome: Cedar Creek Trail is a great place to really get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. 30km outside of Brisbane, this pretty nature trail will make you forget about the noise and bright lights. And have you even been to Australia if you haven’t got out into the bush?! The hike is a great way to see waterfalls, rockpools, and even some native wildlife! There is a restaurant in the vicinity too in case you forget to bring a picnic!
What to do there: Well, for starters we’d recommend bringing your swimsuit! Not only can you take a dip in the rockpools, but you can climb the waterfall too. You’re bound to get wet doing that! The hike along the Cedar Creek Trail isn’t too challenging, so you can do this whatever your fitness level. Just make sure you bring some sunscreen as the rays can be pretty relentless!
#11 – Yatala Drive In
Great place to visit in Brisbane for couples!
- The perfect date night in Brisbane
- Shows a film every night of the week
- Make sure you don’t forget the popcorn!
Why it’s awesome: If you’re looking to step back into the past while you explore Brisbane, then check out this place. Obviously, it’s best if you rent (or have) a car, but Yatala drive-in cinema is a magical place that you can enjoy with your other half! Showing films every night of the week, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a romantic date. It’s a great place to come with family or friends too. To be honest, it doesn’t matter who you’re with, nothing beats a night under the stars with popcorn and the big screen!
What to do there: If you don’t come to a drive-in cinema to watch a movie, it’s a bit pointless really! There are a few things to sort out before you arrive though. Load up on popcorn and a few drinks, and get a blanket to make the night really magical. Lie back in your seat and watch the stars through your sunroof or open roof (if you’ve got one!) It’s a quirky option, but still one of the best places to visit in Brisbane!
Get insured for your trip to Brisbane!
Remember, when you are traveling you need insurance! World Nomads is our highest recommendation for travel insurance. Fill out the form below to get a quote.
So, that concludes our list of the best things to do in Brisbane. Hopefully, you’ve found this list useful and informative and have a few more ideas up your sleeve for your upcoming trip! You’ll also be clued up on the best neighbourhoods in Brisbane too, and may already have a place to stay in mind.
Brisbane is a great place for a city break, as it combines great places to eat and sample the local nightlife. It’s also got rich art and culture, as you can see in the South Bank area. Add in friendly locals and how easy it is to enjoy some outdoor activities, and you’ve got a perfect few days lined up.
We hope that this list has not only given you an insight into the best places to visit in Brisbane but has also given you a bit of an idea of how to live like a local. So, thanks for reading our comprehensive guide to the best places to visit in Brisbane and we hope you have a fantastic holiday!
Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps me keep the site going.
Need More Inspiration?
- Backpacking Australia on a Budget – Maps, Itineraries, and Things To Do
- 20 Best Backpacker Hostels in Brisbane
- Where to Stay in Sydney
- EPIC Brisbane Itinerary
- EPIC Gold Coast Itinerary
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Writer and Editor, Ana Pereira is a California native, inspired by Earth exploration and introspection. Recently, she spent several months exploring Africa and South Asia. She spends most of her “down-time” out in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, and beyond, and is feverishly passionate about travel and health.