Sophisticated city galleries and rooftop bars, deserted subtropical beaches, cool-climate vineyards: the greater Brisbane region deals in Queensland’s most gasp-inducing contrasts. Star of the show is Brisbane itself, a lush, humid metropolis by means of flourishing restaurant, bar and cultural scenes that bear out to its coming of age. Lapping at the city’s eastern tassel is Moreton Bay, home to low-lying sandy isles that beckon with their turquoise waves, sparkling forests and passing parade of whales, turtles and dolphins. Things get even cooler (literally) further south in the vineyard-laced Granite Belt, a corner of the state where surf clubs, mojitos and palm trees are ditched for elegant reds, crackling fires and the occasional mid-year snowman.
What to do in Brisbane for 24h to 48h?
Places of Interest
Go to the lookout at the top of Mount Coot-tha
There are regular buses to the summit or to the planetarium at the base if you’d like to walk to the top through the botanical gardens. Go at sunset for fantastic 360-degree views over Brisbane to the coast. There’s a restaurant and a cafe at the summit, both of which are over-priced for the food they serve, but are still a good place to hang out for a drink with top views.
Take a ferry on the Brisbane River
There are plenty of boat tours of Brisbane and CityCat ferries to help you get around but our tip is the freeCityhopper. It links various Brisbane hot spots, including Eagle Street and the South Bank, along the inner city stretch of the Brisbane River and runs from 6am until midnight.
Promenade along the Southbank
Brisbane has long river walks on both sides of the river but the Southbank is particularly vibrant. There are free pools for the summer months.The sparkling Brisbane River sets everything off beautifully and there’s a huge range of cafes and restaurants.
South Bank Museums
Visit the Queensland Museum, Brisbane’s (free) State Museum where you can learn about Queensland’s history, geography, and native people from the hands on displays and beautiful exhibits.
The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)
GOMA across the street will give you great insights into life in Queesland including works by Queensland-born or Queensland-based artists and a colourful collection of indigenous art.
It is a green area with spectacular views of Brisbane city centre and impressive structures including Story Bridge and natural sandstone cliffs, both of which you can climb on tours.
Brisbane’s Food Scene
Set on a first floor over Brunswick Street this huge, busy Japanese restaurant has several booths as well as private rooms and traditional Japanese style rooms. With touchscreen ordering and a vast choice of dishes this is a cheap and cheerful place to eat that’s got something for everyone.
With a street level tapas bar and a stylish ground floor dining room Ortiga brings the best Spanish cuisine to the Brisbane dining scene. It’s not cheap but it is a great choice for a splurge meal or special occasion.
For gourmet burgers including beef, chicken and lamb along with three rather fine vegetarian options.
Shopping trail through Fortitude Valley!
Start at the top end of Ann St near the Brunswick St Mall and make your way north through the eclectic Fortitude Valley. On one side of the road you’ll find a string of boutiques from Brisbane label House of Ezis to the Brisbane boutiques for Akira and Babushka Ballerina. Home to some of Brisbane’s best boutique shopping, Fortitude Valley is a hive of local, independent stores filled with unique finds. Stop by the neighborhood to pick up your new favourite thing.
Queen Street Mall
It is Brisbane’s most popular shopping area with boutiques, chain stores and department stores to suit every budget. The Southbank markets on Friday evenings and weekends are fun. The Powerhouse Farmers Markets in New Farm are open on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month
Enjoy Amazing Spa’s!
iBarber offers a unique experience by including some old traditional services such as face shaves and hot towels, combined with new cutting edge styles. The direction that they aim for is to bring a unity to the barber industry. This means a client can go to any store regardless of the location and receive the same high quality work.
It is a traditional Thai spa. It offers only the finest treatments, based on traditional Thai therapies, including Thai massage, Aromatherapy and Foot massage, and it also stocks Thai Therapeutic Herbal Ointments.
Nightlife in Brisbane
There are bars and night clubs galore in Fortitude Valley.
Sky Room on Wickham Street for cocktails.
Alhambra Lounge on McLachlan St where you can shake your booty to the live music.
Emporium at the Emporium Hotel on Ann Street if you want to go upmarket and get dressed up.
Cloudland which is the place to see and be seen in Brisbane.