Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, is the 3rd most populous city in Australia. Considering its size, it’s surprisingly somewhat of a hidden gem in Australia, often overshadowed by its larger cousins Sydney and Melbourne and the infamous outback. The fact is, however, that Brisbane is a hotbed of independent and local fashion, art, and food, and has the exciting atmosphere of a city on the rise. The weather is gorgeous all year round, meaning it’s never a bad time to visit and enjoy exploring the city and what it has to offer.
Why not start the day with a lovely walk through the botanical gardens, featuring some beautiful floral displays, lily ponds, and rainforest plant-life. The gardens are also home to some wonderful river views. Since Brisbane is known as the “River City”, you don’t want to miss out on the view. From there, you can head across the Goodwill Bridge to the South Bank and the arts precinct, where Brisbane’s culture really shines. You can easily get yourself lost and confused among the interconnected art galleries and libraries that make up this area. This is where you’ll also find the Brisbane Theatre Company and the Brisbane Performing Arts Centre.
Art is everywhere, including walkways that make animal noises. Expect great art and culture, and expect the unexpected. Be sure to check out Goma, a modern art gallery. Close by is the Charming Squire, where you can grab a drink and a snack. There are tables that open onto the street, so you can watch the crowds and even interact with passersby if you wish. There are plenty of cafes and pubs along the river for you to enjoy local fare for lunch and people-watch from the patio.
After checking out the arts, it’ll be time to check out the entertainment. South Bank is the entertainment hub of Brisbane. There you’ll find rainforest gardens, children’s parks, a water playground, and a man-made beach. Spend the afternoon playing and relaxing. There’s also the Wheel of Brisbane, an enormous ferris-wheel, offering panoramic views of the city. It also happens to be air-conditioned, so it’s a nice way to beat the heat for a while.
One of the unique attractions of the area is the Segway tours. They may take a few minutes to figure out, but once you do, it’ll be more than worth it. Cruise along the river and take in the sites while motoring by. Make sure your helmet is properly fastened, though!
South Bank is home to tons of restaurants, bars, and cafes to grab dinner at the end of a busy day. The Jetty at River Quay has a nice relaxed vibe and isn’t too expensive.
Head on out to Fortitude Valley for some night-time fun in the rolling hills. This is the place to enjoy Brisbane’s seedy underbelly. Fortitude boasts a vast assortment of bars and clubs. There’s something for any of your night-time tastes. Make sure you wear your best and most revealing clubbing clothes and you’ll fit right in. Brisbane’s Chinatown is also located in Fortitude Valley, which is convenient for grabbing some late-night eats to keep you moving all night long.
After the previous evening’s blurry fun, you won’t have much time to clear out the cobwebs, but since you’ll only be there for 48 hours, you’d better get up and get going. Work on that hangover with coffee and breakfast at Brew Café and Wine Bar, and get ready to face the day!
Kayaking along the river is a great way to see the city from a different vantage point, and the exercise can release endorphins to help with that headache. After a tour up and down the river, get back on land and make your way to New Farm. New Farm is an arts hub that features the Brisbane Powerhouse, a repurposed power station that now serves as a cultural hotspot. It hosts concerts, art exhibits, comedy acts, a farmers market, and more. There are tons of restaurants and cafes to choose from for a lunch spot, and Bar Alto serves great Italian food with a view of the river.
Time to head to another arts hub, the bohemian West End. Here you can experience historic Brisbane with a heavy dose of hipster culture. Browse through second-hand bookstores, enjoy craft beer on a patio, and shop in one of the many boutiques. People watching in this area is an experience in itself, as you’ll be surrounded by all types of people, from hipsters to goths to skaters and punks. Make sure to drop some cash for your favourite buskers, and shop for some retro fashions at the many street-side stalls located throughout the area.
This area is also home to the city’s Greek community, and the arts and food choices reflect that. A highlight of the West End is the Archive Beer Boutique. You can enjoy local and export favourites while sitting at a bar made out of books. The selection is seemingly endless, so be careful you don’t spend all your time there. At dinner time, make sure to enjoy a local seafood restaurant with more views of the river.
There seems to be a Paddington located in every Australian city, and Brisbane is no exception. Brisbane’s Paddington boasts fabulous shopping and cafes, located up the steep Given Terrace. Head on up and browse for antiques and stop into one of the many cafes. You can also get a tour of the famous XXXX Brewery. Here you can enjoy local samples, so be careful if you’ve driven. The cafes, pubs, and nightspots in Paddington are a stark contrast to Fortitude Valley if you’re looking for a different flavour.
From modern to hipster to goth, Brisbane’s got a little bit of culture for everyone. There is a lot to see and experience, but by following this guide you’ll get a sense of Brisbane and what is has to offer.