Brisbane is a lively, cosmopolitan city with excellent restaurants, beautiful riverside parks, a busy cultural calendar and a great nightlife. Its fantastic weather year-round has allowed outdoor activities to thrive and develop a vibrant café culture.
The city is surrounded by some of the state’s major tourist attractions, and there is an abundant choice of day trips whether it be to the coast for the golden beaches, or inland for some of Queensland’s serene bushland, there is something for everybody. View all of the great Brisbane beaches here.
Weather – When to Visit Brisbane
Sun seekers flock to Brisbane. The Queensland capital enjoys a subtropical climate, defined by warm or hot weather for most of the year. The best time to visit Brisbane is from March to May – autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. Temperatures during this season hover between the high 50s and mid-80s with little rainfall later in the season. The city's winter (June to August) and spring (September to November) are also popular times to visit thanks to the mild temps and dry days. But these two seasons are also the busiest, especially in September during the Brisbane Festival. If you're planning to visit during this time, arrange your accommodations well in advance. You'll find better airfare and hotel room deals during Brisbane's wet, humid season, which spans from December all the way to early March. Just note that the soggy weather might put a damper on your outdoor activities.
What Should You Pack?
When figuring out what to pack for the beach, there are two tips to keep in mind. First, forgetting an item isn’t the end of the world. Unless you’re heading for a remote, deserted island, chances are you can find a store where you can pick up the extras. Second, don’t stress out over making a packing list when there’s a stress-free beach travel essentials list for you below:
- Sunglasses and hats offer much-needed sunscreen and flip flops are perfect for navigating hot, sandy beaches. Go pack them now so you’re not kicking yourself later.
- What about those little items that make beach visits so much more enjoyable? For a little extra comfort on your trip, make sure you pack: Lip balm, sunscreen, bug spray.
- Beach toys and goggles are a must for kids. Building sandcastles and viewing the underwater wonders are perennial favorites.
- Take a first-aid kit with you. Hopefully you’ll only have to worry about a few minor scrapes from seashells, but having your own kit handy is a good precaution.
- Beach Bag – Your beach bag will likely contain a few of the items mentioned above. For a well-rounded bag, consider tossing in sunscreen, lip balm, bug spray, first-aid kit and water-proof baggies.
- Beach Gear – No matter who’s supplying the gear, look to have the following items on hand: beach bag, beach chairs, beach towels, beach umbrella or tent, beach cart and a cooler.
- Remember: Don’t wait until you’re parched to drink. When you’re out in the heat and sun, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking regularly. So take along a water bottle as well.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Visit the world’s largest koala sanctuary, which is located an easy 20-minute drive from downtown Brisbane. Home to more than 130 koalas as well as more than 100 other animal species, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary offers multiple ways to learn about native Australian wildlife. Enjoy experiences such as watching koalas and hand-feeding kangaroos and wild lorikeets under staff supervision. See platypus, sheepdogs, and birds of prey in action. Read more about Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary Day Pass
Leave busy Brisbane for a full-day tour that showcases the natural beauty of North Stradbroke Island. Swim in the surf or freshwater lakes, take a short guided hike, view whales and other marine animals from the beach and coastal lookouts, visit small towns including historic Dunwich and Amity, and go in search of the island’s population of wild kangaroos and koalas. Your small-group tour has numbers limited to 21 people, which ensures a more personalized experience with your knowledgeable guide. Read more about Stradbroke Island Day Trip from Brisbane
Sunshine Coast Hinterland & Noosa
This tour is ideal for travelers who want to see a lot of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland in one day. Get out of the city and travel with a small-group to see a ton of highlights including iconic beaches, markets, one of the world’s largest Ginger Factories, and artisan villages. Read more about Brisbane to Sunshine Coast Hinterland and Noosa Group Day Tour.
Springbrook National Park
Enjoy an in-depth experience of the World Heritage–listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia on a full-day tour from Brisbane to Springbrook National Park. Your expert guide shows you examples of subtropical and temperate rainforest, stopping at stunning lookout points and cascading waterfalls. Sit down for a picnic lunch at Purlingbrook Falls, take a refreshing dip in natural freshwater pools and see the foliage up close on nature walks. Read more about Springbrook National Park Discovery Full-Day Bushwalking Tour.
Byron Bay & Crystal Castle
Across the state line from Brisbane and the Gold Coast is Byron Bay, a coastal town with popular beaches and ocean views. Save time spent on booking rental cars and planning your itinerary with this day trip down the coast to Byron Bay. Visit Cape Byron Lighthouse and try and spot dolphins or turtles in the South Pacific Ocean and then explore the Crystal Castle and Shambala Gardens, filled with massive crystals and tropical flora. Read more about Brisbane to Byron Bay and Crystal Castle Small-Group Day Trip.
Things to do in Brisbane
Whale Watching Cruise
Experience the thrill of an up-close encounter with migrating whales on this 5-hour cruise from Brisbane, available only between June and November. Set sail around Moreton Bay on a luxurious high-speed catamaran and tuck into a delicious buffet lunch on-board as you soak up the scenery. Finally, keep your camera to hand as you spot humpback whales swimming and breaching beside the ship – a rare opportunity to spot the gentle giants in their natural environment. Read more about Whale Watching Cruise from Redcliffe, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast.
Brisbane River Sightseeing Cruise
The Brisbane River, flowing directly through the city after which it’s named, is the longest river in South Queensland. Take a relaxing 1.5-hour cruise along the river, seeing iconic sights including Kangaroo Point Cliffs, Brisbane City Center, and Story Bridge in a short amount of time. Read more about Brisbane River Sightseeing Cruise.
Brisbane Kayak Tour
Discover the Brisbane River either by day or night on a 90-minute kayak tour. Enjoy a water perspective on the Story Bridge or the South Bank Parklands after learning the basics of paddling from your expert guide. If you choose the night tour, you’ll hop into illuminated kayaks and enjoy the multicolored displays on the Story Bridge or glide past the evening lights of South Bank. Read more about Brisbane Kayak Tour.
Brisbane Bike Tour
Take a bike tour through Brisbane to see some of the city’s top sights and destinations, from South Bank Parklands to the City Botanic Gardens. With a guide, you’ll cruise down bike paths that run near the Brisbane River, and hear about the history and culture of the city. Plus, learn about some of the city’s best eateries, shops and bars from your insider guide. Read more about Brisbane Bike Tour.
Segway Sightseeing Tour
Zip around Brisbane on a fun, self-balancing Segway. Cruise past Brisbane’s riverside sights, glide around the Southbank Parklands and enjoy dramatic views of Kangaroo Point Cliffs. Choose from a 1 or 2-hour sightseeing tour, by day or night, or opt for a Joy Ride experience instead and enjoy maximum riding time to concentrate on honing your Segway skills. Read more about Brisbane Segway Sightseeing Tour.
Best Brisbane Restaurants
Allium $101 & Over
This quaint restaurant hosts an ever evolving menu with a range of dining options to please. Their dishes exhibit familiar, comforting flavors. Allium is a favorite with the locals, delivering a relaxed fine dining experience in a comfortably cozy space. Telephone: (07) 3254 0595 Web: Allium
Urbane $101 & Over
Urbane is an icon in the Brisbane dining scene with numerous awards and a substantial reputation. From the outside you will see a screen of bronze expanded mesh designed to give privacy during dining with sneaky glimpses of what lies beyond. Go inside to experience their fine dining degustation menu and exceptional service. Telephone: (07) 3229 2271 Web: Urbane Restaurant
Gerard's Bistro $75 Avg.
Gerard’s Bistro is a hidden treasure and an indulgent experience. Combining the flavors of the Maghreb and Middle East, Gerard’s Bistro’s menu offers a modern take on classic dishes using locally sourced ingredients with traditional technique. Gerard’s menu is designed to be shared along with their carefully curated wine list to enhance the experience. Telephone: (07) 3852 3822 Web: Gerard's Bistro
Aria $101 & Over
Located on Eagle Street Pier, with striking views of the Story Bridge across the Brisbane River. Here their passion for performance and delicate touches are presented in a perfectly balanced seasonal menu, featuring only the best produce, sourced locally and internationally with an award winning wine list and served by a dedicated and talented team. Telephone: (07) 3233 2555 Web: Aria
Guage $16 – 35
Open daily for breakfast and lunch and four nights a week for dinner, this timber minimalist space across the street from the Queensland Museum slips easily between avocado toast and innovative multicourse meals. At brunch, Coffin Bay oysters come sluiced with fermented rhubarb juice and diced golden shallots, and brioche toast is topped with pork Bolognese, cabbage and a fried egg. At night, things get serious. It's here that you're privy to wildly creative dégustation dishes. Wine pairings, chosen from the mostly Australian list, are deeply considered, and you're unlikely to find staff anywhere more thoughtful or committed. Telephone: (07) 3638 0431 Web: Guage
Top Brisbane Nightlife
As soon as you walk in the door to Laruche, you find yourself conveniently in the middle of their dance floor, so you know this place means business (of the dancing variety). Laruche is the ultimate nightclubs in Brisbane, with hot-to-trot DJ sets that will have you letting loose as soon as you arrive. Be sure to make your way to one of their LOLA nights for the ultimate night of self-expression and busting shapes. Telephone: (07) 3666 0880 Web: Laruche
Not only is this a hipster hot-spot, but they also host one hell of a theme night and guest DJs to get you swaying (did someone say Rihanna appreciation night? YAS). They’ve also got Vinyl Nights where you can bring and play your own vinyl (noice), as well as ‘Cover to Cover’, where the team at Barbs will play a complete album from legends like Stevie Wonder or Prince for a night. Telephone: 61 423 976 895 Web: Barbara
The Press Club
If old school RnB is what it takes to get you out of your seat then make a beeline for The Press Club in Fortitude Valley. Soon enough, booths that were meant for sitting become overrun with dance-aholics cutting shapes like a grade three class and screaming the universal party chorus: ‘from the windoooow, to the wall’. Telephone: (07) 3852 5000 Web: The Press Club
The Flying Cock
Live music, all the energetic youngsters of the town, some headache-inducing cocktails, and a HUGE dance floor—we’re talking about The Flying Cock. They’re open until 3 am on Friday and Saturdays which is one of the reasons why they’re one of the best nightclubs in Brisbane and a quintessential venue to end your night on the right note. Telephone: (07) 3172 6109 Web: The Flying Cock
Lefties Old Time Music Hall
Do-si-do to the live rockabilly sounds thumping at Lefty’s on Caxton Street. Drop those inhibitions and let your inner country music fan out! When you need a breather, be sure to head to the front bar where you can get a bag of popcorn and sample the house cocktail: a whisky apple made with Sailor Jerry’s and fresh apple juice. Web: Lefties Old Time Music Hall
Best Brisbane Hotels
Top features of the hotel include babysitting, a 24-hour front desk, restaurant, facilities for disabled guests, and Wi-Fi in public areas. Guests can choose from 50 rooms, all of which exude an atmosphere of total peace and harmony. The hotel's host of recreational offerings ensures you have plenty to do during your stay.
Located in the fashionable suburb of New Farm, Spicers Balfour Hotel is an award-winning boutique hotel just 7 minutes’ from the Brisbane city center. The luxurious rooms at Balfour Spicers include a flat-screen TV, DVD players, and a Nespresso coffee machine. Some suites offer 1940's style art-deco style décor with a separate lounge area.
The Calile Hotel
The Calile Hotel offers generous guest rooms, including city and pool view rooms. Each room is designed with the guest experience in mind, with most offering an individual balcony or terrace and all featuring Chromecast and Bluetooth sound bar, automated blackout blinds, Grown Alchemist bathroom amenities, a locally curated mini-bar, 55 inch UHD television and complimentary WiFi.
Ovolo The Valley
Located within the Emporium Precinct of Fortitude Valley, this luxury boutique hotel features a rooftop lap pool, sauna, fitness center and business center. Guests can enjoy 24-hour in-suite dining, drinks at the cocktail bar and Belle Epoque Patisserie which serves coffee and French-style pastries.
W Brisbane is located on North Quay with views over the Brisbane River. Offering 312 spacious guest rooms, W Brisbane features three restaurants and bars, a spa and fitness center. The 5 star hotel is within walking distance to South Bank and Brisbane's public transport system. Complimentary Wi-Fi is offered throughout the property.