Best Things To Do In Brisbane, Australia | 2023 Guide

Despite being the third largest city in Australia, Brisbane sees significantly fewer tourists than its big brothers, Melbourne and Sydney. People don’t seem to know what to do in Brisbane.

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Yes, Brisbane isn’t an iconic Australian destination. It doesn’t have awesome surfing beaches, it doesn’t have too many attractions, and it doesn’t ooze with young, hip Aussie culture (although every year, more and more pockets of goodness are developing in the city).

After living in Brisbane for over 2 years during our time in Australia, we have discovered what to do in Brisbane, and there are more than a few reasons to recommend it as a stop on your adventure around Australia.

See, the thing about Brisbane is that it’s not the things to do in Brisbane City itself that make a great destination; it’s the sum of all other attractions that surround it.

Brisbane is a delight for outdoor lovers, nature enthusiasts, sustainable travellers, and hipsters (or hipster wannabes) who refuse to pay a premium for their habits.

The sub-tropical climate creates a city full of lush green parks and gardens. And believe it or not, once you get to know Brissie, you will find it hard to believe that you ever thought there weren’t many things to do in Brisbane city.

Things to do in Brisbane: Brisbane, Australia
Brisbane skyline
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Things To Do In Brisbane And The Surrounding Area

Things To Do In Brisbane City

There aren’t a ton of sights and attractions in Brisbane, but there are a few cool things to see in Brisbane and activities to take part in. Start your “things to see in Brisbane” tour by visiting the South Bank Parklands. Catch the panoramic views of the city while riding the Wheel of Brisbane.

Cool off at the man-made beach, dine at one of the many restaurants along Grey Street, pop into the Queensland Museum, or enjoy interactive installations and activities at the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) located a short walk away in Brisbane’s Cultural Centre. The Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art has hosted tons of modern art exhibitions since it opened, some of which you may know of like Marvel Creating the Cinematic Universe and an Andy Warhol display!

From South Bank, take a leisurely stroll along the river, cross the Goodwill Bridge, and you’ll find yourself in the heart of the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens. You can easily spend a few hours roaming around the Botanic gardens and enjoying this shaded oasis and themed gardens; no matter your mood, the City Botanic Gardens, Brisbane’s original botanic gardens, is a chill green space. Check out the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens for a cool indoor activity. 

You can also get a better understanding of the city like the locals do and take this 3-hour City Walking Tour that covers all the main sights, like the Story Bridge, Brisbane Botanic Gardens, and Brisbane City Hall Clock Tower, and discover hidden secrets. 

For history enthusiasts, check out the city’s history at the Museum of Brisbane, tucked into Brisbane City Hall near Queen Street Mall. Here, you can learn the contemporary and classic history of the city within a beautiful building that’s a piece of history in itself.

For an easy day out, take a stroll along the Brisbane Riverwalk; Brisbane river is the longest river in South East Queensland, flowing right through the city! Beneath the Story Bridge, you’ll find the Howard Smith Wharves, Brisbane’s newest lifestyle precinct, and the perfect spot to discover new and exciting entertainment in the city!

Things to do in Brisbane: South Bank Parklands, the heart and soul of Brisbane. Australia
South Bank Parklands, the heart and soul of Brisbane

Things To Do In Brisbane – Get Outdoors

Those who love outdoor adventures will enjoy getting active on the Brisbane River that winds through the centre of the city. Head over to Riverlife, located in Kangaroo Point, for a slew of adventure activities, ranging from kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding to abseiling.

There are lots of BBQ spots around Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park, making it a perfect spot for a little sunset picnic overlooking the city.

Near the city, you can also visit New Farm Park; it’s Brisbane’s oldest and largest park, with everything you’d want and a chill vibe! Stroll around the historic Brisbane Powerhouse right next door, which hosts live arts, weekend farmers markets, and a seasonal moonlight cinema.

If you’re interested in whale watching, Moreton Bay is an awesome place to catch a glimpse of beautiful humpback whales! Brisbane Whale Watching has been certified as an Ecotourism company – their aim is to educate all of their visitors about conservation while making a minimal environmental impact.

Another great outdoor option, and one of the top things to do in Brisbane for those who enjoy tours, is Create-A-Tour. This company has a bunch of different guided tours available all over the Brisbane area – from beaches to bushwalking. Their goal is to teach you about wildlife protection and conservation within the places you visit – and to make sure you have a great time learning about it!

Mt. Coot-tha, which is a suburb of Brisbane but also a mountain, is located approximately 6 km west of the Brisbane Central Business District. The incredible views at Mt. Coot-tha are one of the top things to see in Brisbane. There are lots of great walks around Mt Coot-tha, but can also be explored by car as you can easily drive up all the way to the lookout.

If you’re feeling adventurous, join the Story Bridge Adventure Climb and experience the heights with a 2-hour climb of Brisbane’s iconic landmark, the Story Bridge. 

View from Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, Australia
View from Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, Australia
Learn about Australia's adorable wildlife.
Get to know Australia’s adorable wildlife in Brisbane

Areas To Shop In Brisbane

The shopaholics visiting Brisbane will be delighted to know that what Brisbane lacks in brand-name stores, it makes up for in unique shops, awesome street fairs, and markets. Our favourite was always the Young Designers Market in South Bank, but this list of 10 Best Markets in Brisbane by Concrete Playground lists lots of others worth checking out. 

If you’re in the Balmoral area, check out Biome – an eco-store that features Brisbane’s first naked beauty bar that allows you to create your own shampoos, conditioners, and soaps with all raw ingredients.

A trip to Brisbane isn’t complete without some shopping! So treat yourself to retail therapy at Queen Street Mall, where you can find everything from sustainable products and luxury items to great bargains, giving you the best of both worlds.

West End Market, Davies Street, West End
West End Market, Davies Street, West End. Brisbane. Australia

Things To Do Outside Brisbane City

Brisbane itself may not be the hub of activity in Australia, but there are some really cool attractions located just outside of Brisbane that are worth a visit.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and the Australia Zoo

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary with over 130 koalas, while Australia Zoo is known as one of the biggest and best wildlife conservation facilities in the entire world.

Australia Zoo offers exciting experiences, but we suggest skipping zoos for ethical reasons, and though they do conservation, keeping animals captive isn’t something we support. 

Instead, check out wildlife in their natural habitat, and support conservation efforts, sanctuaries, and rehab centres that prioritize animals’ well-being in their natural homes.

Fish Lane in South Brisbane

For outdoor dining on the southside, Fish Lane is the spot to eat under the stars. Many local favourites are on this busy lane, but it’s not just about the food. South Brisbane has become a hub for international street artists to show off their skills, with Fish Lane at its creative core.

A Great Base For Exploring Queensland

And if you’ve got a few more days in the area, Brisbane can serve as a great base for exploring many of Queensland’s beautiful destinations.

Check out this guide to Brisbane Walks That Will Take Your Breath Away by Urbanlist to get a glimpse of just a few of the day trips you can embark on from Brisbane, including Lamington National Park, Springbrook National ParkStradbroke Island, Bribie Island, and Moreton Island, to name just a few.

Here is a more comprehensive list of Brisbane’s top day tripsby Visit Brisbane, that will give you lots of other ideas for what to do in Brisbane and day trips in the Greater Brisbane Region.

If you want a local’s perspective on the best things to do in Brisbane and the best things to see in Brisbane, check out this awesome article 20 things that will surprise first-time visitors to Brisbane for some great insights that are worth checking out during your visit.

Things to do in Brisbane: Lamington National Park, Queensland, Australia
A visit to Lamington National Park makes for a great day trip from Brisbane

Best Time To Visit Brisbane

Amazing Year-Round Weather

Brisbane boasts amazing weather all year round. It’s actually one of the reasons we choose to base ourselves here vs. Melbourne or Sydney.

Even in the peak of Australian winter (June – August), the daytime temperature in Brisbane rarely falls below 20°C. You can still enjoy the outdoors, and on a sunny day, even the beach.

 Brisbane's city beach
Brisbane city beach. You’ll find it busy even on a winter day

Our Favourite Time Of Year In Brisbane

But to make the most of your time in Brisbane, we suggest that you plan your visit for the shoulder season. The best time is April – June, just as the wet season comes to an end and the daily highs are still hovering around 25-27°C.

The alternative is September – October, with warm days and breezy nights, which are great since things to do in Brisbane at night are never off-limits. Spring in Brisbane is a lovely time of the year filled with festivals, events, and activities.

The Heat Can Be Unbearable In Summer

Avoid visiting Brisbane in the summer (December – February). The heat during this time of the year can be unbearable (think upwards of 30°C), it’s humid, and rain is very common, often causing flooding and making it difficult to get excited about going outside, let alone taking advantage of all the things do in Brisbane outdoors.

Find monthly temperatures and rainfall guides in USA Today’s post on the Best Time to Visit Brisbane.

Sunset in Brisbane
Sunset in Brisbane
Things to do in Brisbane city: We loved visiting the beach on hot summer days!
Everyone loves visiting the beach on hot summer days!

READ NEXT: 14 Exciting Day Trips From Brisbane, Australia

Where To Stay In Brisbane

If you’re wondering what to do in Brisbane when it comes to accommodation, we recommend you stay near the Brisbane CBD or the surrounding areas. The City, South Bank, Paddington, West End, and Fortitude Valley are all good options that will allow you to be in close proximity to the top things to do in Brisbane city.

Accommodation in Brisbane isn’t cheap. Beds in hostels start at $20 AUD ($15 USD) for a 10-15 person dorm room with a shared bathroom and go up to $28- $40 AUD ($22-30 USD) for a more manageable 4-person room with an en-suite. Budget hotels start at $85- 90 AUD ($65-70 USD) and go up from there.

Clem Jones Promenade runs along the river in South Bank. Brisbane
South Bank, view from Victoria Bridge

Eco-Friendly Accommodation In Brisbane

If you’re looking to go green with your accommodation options, most are going to come with a price tag. But you can rest assured that where you’re staying has implemented a bunch of sustainable practices that ensure a minimal environmental impact.

Hotels in the City Centre

Emporium Hotel

One great example of this is The Emporium Hotel, located in Fortitude Valley. This luxurious hotel makes sure its facilities don’t damage the surrounding environment. They provide all organic food and even have a functional herb garden and beehive on the roof of the hotel that acts as their source for dishes and cocktails! They will also be opening another location in South Bank in July 2018.

Best Western Astor Metropole

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly hotel that won’t break the bank, Best Western Astor Metropole has made serious strides in the sustainability space in the last several years. Their hotels are all required to have energy-efficient lighting, water systems, and recycling systems. Check out Best Western on Wickham Terrace Street in Spring Hill. 

YHA Brisbane City

For affordable and eco-friendly lodging in Brisbane, check out Brisbane City YHA. Overlooking the Brisbane River and CBD, it offers award-winning accommodation with shared dormitory rooms and private rooms totalling 373 beds, some with en suite bathrooms. They have an onsite bar and cafe, a shared TV room, a fully equipped communal kitchen, and a chill-out games room.

where to stay in Brisbane australia
Private room at Brisbane YHA

Just Outside of the City

Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort

If you’re looking to splurge – we recommend Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort. It is located within a strictly enforced ‘Green Zone’ – meaning the marine and wildlife within the area are protected, as is the portion of the Great Barrier Reef located within the zone. The resort itself has been certified as a Climate Action Leader – fully committed to environmental sustainability and protection.

Near The Airport

Kingsford Hotel

For accommodation near the airport, we recommend the Kingsford Hotel. They are leading the way in sustainable and socially responsible business practices. Some of their key initiatives include utilizing solar panels and water-efficient fixtures. A Queen room will set you back $154/night AUD ($116 USD)

Another great alternative for accommodation in Brisbane is Airbnb, where private rooms start at $30 AUD ($23 USD) and offer a unique way to experience the city from a more local perspective.

Where To Eat & Drink In Brisbane

There are no shortages of restaurants to check out in Brisbane. We spent 2+ years eating our way through Brisbane and still feel like we have barely scratched the surface. So, if for some reason, you’re stumped for things to do in Brisbane… why not eat!?

Green Food Options

If you’re looking for sustainable/organic/green restaurant options, try some of our favourites below. We are all about supporting local, ethical and organic food options whenever we can!

Otherwise, here’s a great comprehensive list of places you can try!

What to do in Brisbane: Eco-friendly restaurants can be found all over the city.
Eco-friendly restaurants can be found all over the city.


Let’s start with breakfast. If breakfast is not provided in your hotel, you are in luck because Brisbane sure knows how to do a good breakfast. Sunday morning breakfasts/brunches were always one of our favourite things to do in Brisbane while we were living there.

Our favourite spot was the Gunshop Cafe in West End (conveniently located just 15 minutes from our house), and coincidentally also listed as one of the Best Breakfasts of Brisbane by Must Do Brisbane.

Wilde Kitchen

Wilde Kitchen has outdone itself with a completely health-focused, vegetarian, and organic menu. They create dishes using natural and unprocessed ingredients from local suppliers.

Raw Juicery

Raw Juicery is the place to go for a light breakfast of raw, organic smoothies or pretty acai bowls.

Things to do in Brisbane: West End, Brisbane. Australia
West End, a great neighbourhood for cheap eats and budget accommodation in Brisbane


Our preference for lunch in Brisbane has never been a sit-down restaurant. With a plethora of great farmers markets and some awesome food trucks, it there are plenty of other dining alternatives that support small local businesses and family-run shops.

West End Market in Davies Park

We suggest a visit to the West End Market in Davies Park for an opportunity to catch our favourite food trucks, like The Bun Mobile.

Vege Rama

However, if that’s not really your thing, then try Vege Rama. It is a crazy good vegan restaurant with two locations in the downtown core and a long menu of meat alternative dishes.

Putia Pure Food Kitchen

Putia Pure Food Kitchen is a real standout in Central Bayo. They have tons of truly delicious vegetarian, vegan, and raw vegan meals on the menu. The restaurant is part of the cooking school, which is training the next generation of socially conscious chefs. One of their classes is the Love Food No Waste workshop, which provides great tips on using leftovers and reducing food waste in your home or workplace.

Things to do in Brisbane: Farmers market selling vegetables and food in Brisbane. Australia
Farmers markets are the way to go in Brisbane!


Wondering what to do in Brisbane for dinner? Your options range from cheap eats (pick any from this amazing list of Brisbane’s Best Cheap Eats put together by The Urban List) to dining in one of Brisbane’s Top Nine Restaurants and everything in between.


If you are looking for an iconic Australian dining experience and are willing to pay a premium for fresh, locally sourced ingredients to craft innovative, modern Australian dishes, check out Lamberts. It provides a laid-back evening with a contemporary Australian menu featuring fresh, seasonal flavours.

Walnut Restaurant

Walnut is one of Brisbane’s oldest, serving guests for over half a century. With a view of the City Botanic Gardens and near the Brisbane River, they focus on sustainability, using fresh, seasonal local produce in their dishes. They have won a multitude of awards for their food and have set a worldwide standard for vegetarian fine dining.

It’s Mirchi

If you fancy a night of takeaway, then It’s Mirchi will hit the spot. They offer a generous selection of Indian dishes made with organic vegetarian and vegan ingredients.

Things to do in Brisbane: Make the most of Brisbane nights.
Make the most of Brisbane nights.

A Night Out On The Town

For a great night out in Brisbane, head to either the Fortitude Valley or the City. The valley is a happening spot on a Saturday night, while the City is more popular on Fridays and throughout the week. If you want to make sure you hit up the best bars in Brisbane, check out Good Food’s article listing Brisbane’s Best Bars, which gives a good outline of upscale establishments, neighbourhood watering holes, and everything in between.

Alternatively, this article on “Nightlife in Brisbane: where to drink, dance and party” on Visit Brisbane’s website outlines other entertainment options, including live music venues, dance clubs, and alternative clubs.

Things to do in Brisbane: Southbank by night
Southbank by night

Every Season Is Patio Season

Thanks to great weather, Brisbane boasts a great selection of outdoor patios and rooftop bars that make it all that more enjoyable to go out in the city. The Stock Exchange, or “the Stocky” as the locals refer to it, has always been one of our favourites, but there are many others worth crossing off this list of Rooftop bars in Brisbane.

How Much Time Do You Need In Brisbane

The time that you choose to spend in Brisbane, should really depend on the length of your overall stay in Australia.

You don’t need more than 1-2 days to check out Brisbane itself, but if you want to explore beyond the city’s boundaries, then plan to stay for at least 3-4 days.

For a short stay, use these suggested itineraries as a guide for your visit:

If you are travelling around Australia for a few months, then you may want to consider a longer stay in Brisbane to give yourself time to explore the city itself and the nearby destinations on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.

Things to do in Brisbane: Burleigh Heads Beach, Gold Coast, QLD
Burleigh Heads Beach, Gold Coast,  just an hour south of Brisbane

And when it comes time to continue moving along the coast, consider following this Ultimate Brisbane to Sydney Itinerary, for what to do in Brisbane and beyond. It was one of our favourite road trips in Australia.


Have You Ever Been To Brisbane? What Tips And Advice Would You Give To First-Time Visitors To Queensland’s Capital?



6 thoughts on “Best Things To Do In Brisbane, Australia | 2023 Guide”

  1. This was such an amazing article! I am currently a nanny living on the southwest side of the city and have been here for 2 months now. I found all of the links incredibly helpful, so thank you for putting together such a comprehensive resource. Cheers!

    1. Hope you are enjoying your time in Brisbane, Amber! Be sure to take some time off to explore the nearby attractions as well. There are so many awesome National Parks and cool little towns within just 1-2 hours from Brisbane.

  2. These photos are fantastic, my favorites are the photos from Kangaroo Point and Burleigh Heads Beach. The way the clouds reflect on the water is just amazing! With my limited free time, I can only afford around 2 to 3 days and your itinerary definitely covers everything I need. Thank you again for sharing.

  3. Awesome article 🙂 I absolutely love living in Brisbane, it’s a great little city 🙂 Recently my parents visited so I had a chance to do some tourist attractions for a change which made me love Brisbane even more!

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