Brisbane Travel Guide

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 balmsunscreenbug 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 sunscreenlip balmbug sprayfirst-aid kit and water-proof baggies.
  • Beach Gear – No matter who’s supplying the gear, look to have the following items on hand: beach bagbeach chairsbeach towelsbeach umbrella or tentbeach 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.

Brisbane Attractions

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

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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

Stradbroke Island

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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

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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.

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Springbrook National Park

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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

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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 Food, Wine & Nightlife Tours

Top Brisbane Nightlife

Laruche

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

Barbara

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

Top Brisbane Food, Wine & Nightlife Tours

Best Brisbane Hotels

Ovolo Inchcolm

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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. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Ovolo Inchcolm.

Spicers Balfour

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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. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Spicers Balfour.

The Calile Hotel

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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. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit The Calile Hotel.

Ovolo The Valley

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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. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit Ovolo The Valley.

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W Brisbane

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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. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the W Brisbane.



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32 Comments

  1. Lane Onson

    Australia. Australia. My Australia. I have wanted to go to Austalia since 2008. I even wanted to work here. The Spicers Balfour and Ovolo Inchcolm look like places that would suit me to stay. The Ovolo look like a similar place as in Ms. Fisher’s Mysteries.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Well Lane, you need to take time for yourself and take a vacation to Brisbane! The Ovolo is wonderful!

      Reply
  2. Henry

    Hi! Brisbane is a good destination to go with all the family. I wanted to go but there are a couple of things I have read in your post that have encourage me even more. 

    I didn’t know about the river sightseeing cruise. And that has made me make up my mind because I want some good family pic by the river side. And the lone pine koala sanctuary will be a thrill for the kids.

    What Brisbane beach would you recommend for kids under 5 years old? A place with calm waves.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Henry,  I would take the family and head to Suttons Beach.  This will be perfect for the little ones and they will have a blast!  Of course they will love the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary as well!  Thanks for stopping by to read my Brisbane Travel Guide.

      Reply
  3. Ranao

    Hello Leahrae,

    It’s really amazing! I really benefited by reading your informative and comprehensive post entitled ‘Brisbane Travel Guide!’ I got married for just eight months.  But due to work pressure and other activities, we have not been able to travel anywhere. Hope we can go to Honeymoon in the next September / October. We are both excited to see the natural views and landscapes of Brisbane on the charming video. I’m very excited to enjoy Springbrook National Park and Rihanna appreciation night as well. I’ll look for details about a good motel with your given link.
    Thank you sincerely for the excellent post.

    Warm wishes,
    Ranao.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome and congratulations on your wedding.  Yes, I think Brisbane will be a great destination for your honeymoon!  Please let me know if you need any additional information.

      Reply
  4. Dave

    What an great comprehensive guide to this beautiful location of Brisbane. It makes me want to investigate further.

    I loved the video and the information of when is the best time, isto visit Brisbane. The temperatures, scenery are very appealing and it’s fairly understandable why this city is so popular.

    In the list of attractions, my favorite one is the “Whale Watching Cruise”. The “What Should You Pack ” section is well put together and I an essential list for families. I also liked “Things to do in Laguna Beach “, especially “Temecula Wine Country Tasting” as I do like my wine.

    The list of Restaurants is another great help to families, especially the listed price ranges. 

    Dave

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Glad you enjoyed Dave, and I can tell you that the whale watching cruise is awesome, you will love it.  Thanks for visiting my Brisbane Travel Guide.

      Reply
  5. Louise

    Apart from the stunning beaches it looks like there is a lot of lovely things to do in Brisbane. I love the sound  Springbook National park, I would like to visit there.

    As much as I love a beach holiday it is good to see other places too, are there any public gardens that you know of in the area? I am a keen gardener and visiting them in other countries is so inspiring for me.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Louise and thank you for visiting beach travel destinations.  Yes, you will want to visit the Brisbane Botanical Gardens for sure while you are in Brisbane 🙂

      Reply
  6. Rony

    Hi,

    This is a great travel guide for Brisbane. It’s really full of information that I definitely can use when planning my vacation here. I love the beach and looks like there are quite a few that are close to the area. It’s going to be great for my friends and me to get busy and plan our trip. We are planning on visiting a few different areas in Australia. So now I am really excited!  Thanks for the great information.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Rony, glad you found what you are looking for.  Sounds like you and your friends are going to have a great vacation!  Please let me know if I can provide you with any additional information.

      Reply
  7. Emmanuel Buysse

    Great post and this looks so beautiful!  Looks like the best time to go definitely coincides with when I can take my vacation.  From the packing list to the hotel and restaurants you suggested, along with the things to do and see, I should have a great vacation and an easy time planning.  Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Glad you enjoyed Emmanuel.  thanks for visiting my Brisbane Travel Guide.  Let me know if you need any help with your vacation planning.

      Reply
  8. Felicity

    Australia has been one of my favorite countries which I would love to visit. Reading your review on Brisbane travel guide has quicken my desire to fast track my family vacation to Australia and Brisbane beach would be the perfect place to go. The list of items to pack is cool and really helpful. Good job!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Felicity!  I am glad you enjoyed my Brisbane Travel Guide.  Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  9. Peace

    Hi Leahrae, 

    Brisbane Australia seems like a lot of fun It’s surprising that their winter time falls into the summer time for most of the world and their wet season falls in December which is the coldest and driest time of the year where I come from. 

    That means that I have a great place to run to when I need to escape the terrible weather some seasons come with here in my country. 

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes you do Peace 🙂  Plus what a great way to vacation!  Thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.com

      Reply
  10. ODavid

    Wow! What a beautiful and interesting holiday beach travel destination it is. i am definitely going to get in touch with your company and plan a beach vacation trip this summer. Thank you so much for sharing this great adventurous opportunity with us. I love vacations, i love traveling…. i am glad your shared this article.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I will look forward to hearing from you David.  Sounds like you are going to have a wonderful time in Brisbane.  I will help you have a dream vacation!  Thanks for visiting my Brisbane Travel Guide.

      Reply
  11. Antonio

    Thank You Leahrae

    I an very impressed about your Review of Brisbane, a place that has been on my holiday bucket list. The places to visit and the Australian hospitality makes  this an ideal location. I would visit Brisbane for one reason above all else and that is the Gabba, as I am a huge cricket fan. I would like to watch an one day international.

    I appreciate all your efforts 

    Thanks

    Antonio

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great Antonio, Glad you enjoyed reading my Brisbane Travel Guide!  Thanks for visiting.

      Reply
  12. Kevin Deaney

    What a great informative post. I have always wanted to go to Australia but haven’t gotten that far yet, but is still time. After reading your post about Brisbane has definitely reignited that desire, and including the beach guide was a great idea. I love the beach and live near them here in Florida, but I always seek out the beaches when I travel. I am also a foodie as was a chef for 30 years or so, I am guessing is some amazing food on offer in  Brisbane?

    Now i might just have to reorganize my bucket list LOL. But that isn’t a bad thing.

    Once again thanks for an easy to read informative post.

    Peace 

    Kevin

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome Kevin, and yes you will find some great cuisine in Brisbane as well as everything else they have to offer.   Glad I added a bucket list item for you!

      Reply
  13. Tracy cole

    This article is absolute gold, 
    This really is the best travel guide that I have come across all the information necessary. I’m super impressed. I love Brisbane because of its wonderful weather. I have decided to visit Brisbane in September during spring because this is one of the best periods to enjoy myself at the beach. I cant wait to visit such a lovely place.  Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I am glad you enjoyed Tracy and have a wonderful time!

      Reply
  14. Salim

    Never heard of Brisbane before but I think catching the sight of a kangaroo or koala ain’t bad, lol. Stradbroke Island is one place I’ll love to be though, this review is really making me change my plans for my next vacation. I think I’ve found a nice place to spend my holidays at last. Nice job pulling all these information together. Have a nice day

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great Salim, I am glad you have a new and wonderful vacation destination!  I hope you can vacation here soon!  Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  15. Daniella

    Hi Leahrae,

    Awesome article!

    I’ve never been to Brisbane, but after reading your article, I will put this place on my bucket list. I am planning a trip in September, so this is perfect! The packing list you have provided is fantastic. I never know what to pack when I go on vacation. I either bring too much or not enough:) Is there something you would suggest not to bring? For example, I would love to take my hair drier, is this will be OK?
    Thank you !

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I would most certainly check with the hotel. I would say most hotels have a hair dryer on hand for you. I know I just check ahead of time, as that is something kind of bulky you can probably leave at home. Glad you enjoyed my Brisbane Travel guide.

      Reply
  16. Effie

    Kangaroos and koalas are the main reasons I always wanted to visit Australia. But Brisbane seems a great destination for two reasons : not only its beaches are stunning but the nightlife sounds exciting. I was wondering if the prices are in Australian or US dollars.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Effie and great question. All the prices I list are going to be in U.S. Dollars 🙂 Kangaroos and Koalas are my top reason as well….well right behind the fact that I can visit beautiful beaches!

      Reply

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