There are a lot of things to do in Brisbane – some great, some average. I lived in Brisbane for more than 3 years, and over those years, I scoured the city through and through for some of what I think are the best things to do, eat and drink in Brisbane.
Look, there are a lot of things to do in Brisbane, including visiting many touristic places. I deliberately haven’t added all of them, such as some of the museums and art galleries, because to be honest I have seen better ones elsewhere.
My list of things to do in Brisbane includes the experiences that I have personally enjoyed – some of which I have done a few number of times. Some are touristic and some are things that the locals do… and of course as I like to eat, I have included some of my favorite food options. In no particular order, here goes!
Table of Contents
- Visit the Eat Street Markets
- Sunset Views at the Kangaroo Point Cliffs
- Delight in a 5 course degustation menu at Montrachet
- Enjoy a picnic at New Farm Park
- Shop at Queen Street Mall
- Walk along the Brisbane river walk
- Eat, Eat, and Eat Some More
- Enjoy river views from Eagle St Pier
- Spend the day at South Bank
- Go on a Day Trip to the Gold Coast
- Kayak along the Brisbane River
- Cuddle a Koala at Lone Pine
- Watch a footy game at Suncorp Stadium
- Climb the Story Bridge
- Watch a performance at Qpac
- Watch the Brisbane Riverfire
- Explore Brisbane on the City Cat
- Attend a Diner en Blanc event in Brisbane
- Enjoy the panoramic view from Mt Coo-tha
- Have fun at the Ekka in August
- Stay at the TRYP Fortitude Valley hotel
Visit the Eat Street Markets
The Eat Street Markets, located at Hamilton is a great food market, and my favorite thing to do on the weekend. Many of the food stalls are set in containers and food trucks. Why I love the Eat Street Markets is because there is a huge array of different foods to try and it has a fun atmosphere. The markets are open on Friday and Saturdays from 4pm – 10pm. During the winter it will also sometimes open on Sundays.
My favorite stalls are Malaysian St (Malaysian food, the roti and chicken curry is my favorite), Miss Claudes (crepes galore), Funnel Cake (unique dessert), and Hierba Santa (delicious fresh iced teas).
Here are some tips for the most memorable experience:
- Go as early as you can. The Markets open at 4pm on Friday and Saturdays, so try to get there by 4pm. This way you skip the line-ups and you are more likely to get a table to sit and eat.
- If you are looking to try the delicious crepes from Miss Claudes, I would eat dessert first. Miss Claudes can get pretty busy as the evening moves on and it can take a while to get your crepes.
- Watch the team at the Funnel Cake stall – they place great music and dance while making funnel cakes. Plus their funnel cakes are delicious.
- Bring a picnic blanket. The Eat Street Markets has a lovely grassy area that overlooks the Brisbane River. This is a wonderful eat to at during the sunset.
Sunset Views at the Kangaroo Point Cliffs
One of the best views of the Brisbane skyline is from the Kangaroo Point Cliffs. It gives you a bird’s eye view of Brisbane and how the river runs through the city. There is also a café at the cliffs, which you can grab some food and drinks from during the day.
The view is lovely at all times of the day, but my favorite is during the sunrise and sunset times as the sunrays hitting the skyscrapers looks beautiful.
Run by Chef Shannon Kellam and Clare Wallace, the dining experience at Montrachet is world class. The service is impeccable – highly professional and 5 star – and the food is just out of this world.
Shannon Kellam has won over 80 medals and has previously competed numerous times internationally for Australia, including at the Bocuse d’Or culinary Olympics. Now he is bringing his talent to Montrachet.
I highly recommend visiting Montrachet for their Supper Club which happens once a week. For $99 per person, you get an incredible 5-course degustation menu, featuring seasonal and regional flavours. It’s an incredible experience leaving you in awe by how good the food and service is. It gets busy, so make sure you book ahead of time.
Enjoy a picnic at New Farm Park
New Farm Park is a public park at the fringe of Brisbane city. You can easily access it via the city cat. It’s a huge park area; a great spot to walk around, do some exercise, and relax over a picnic.
New Farm Park is filled with beautiful flora and fauna, including a variety of rose bushes and jacarandas.
Shop at Queen Street Mall
I prefer shopping at Queen Street Mall, because it is open air and there is so much entertainment happening along the mall. It’s better then going to some of the big shopping centers, which is just like any other one.
You can do most of your shopping in this area, with many of the major brands present here. It is located in the heart of Brisbane city, and is easy to access by foot and public transport.
Walk along the Brisbane river walk
The Brisbane river walk is a walkway bridge that is built over the Brisbane river and is 870 meters long. Both pedestrians and cyclists can enjoy the bridge, which connects New Farm to the city.
I would recommend starting your walk from the New Farm end and walking towards the city. Here you’ll really get to soak in the views of the Story Bridge and Brisbane cityscape.
Eat, Eat, and Eat Some More
Brisbane has really grown over the past years and there have been many incredible foodie destinations that have popped up around the city and suburbs. So one thing’s for sure, you’ll never be short of food choices. Here are 40 delicious bars and restaurants in Brisbane that you need to check out and explore.
Enjoy river views from Eagle St Pier
From Eagle St Pier you’ll get great views of the Story Bridge. There are many lovely restaurants along this area, which lets you enjoy the river views.
My favorite spots for food and drinks include Blackbird (great steaks and cocktails), the Bavarian (beer and schnitzel), and Riverbar (great for drinks). These spots can get very busy on Friday and Saturday evenings, so if you want to avoid the crowd, best to visit them during the week.
Spend the day at South Bank
South Bank is a Brisbane precinct that is filled with lovely cafes and restaurants, parks and a man-made city beach. You’ll also get a lovely view of the Brisbane city as you walk (or jog) along the river’s edge. I also love the walkways at Southbank because the roof is filled with beautiful purple bougainvillea.
There is quite a lot to do at South Bank, which includes a ride on the Brisbane wheel, walking through many parks, swimming at the city beach, eating at the many restaurants and visiting the market. During the weekend, there is usually something taking place at South Bank.
Go on a Day Trip to the Gold Coast
There’s plenty to discover on your Australia road trip itinerary, but not far from Brisbane, just a short 45 minute drive is the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast is renown for it’s beautiful beaches and is an absolute mecca for tourists, because there is plenty to do and explore. To help you plan your trip to the Gold Coast, you can learn more about this fantastic beach town from a 30-year Gold Coast veteran.
Kayak along the Brisbane River
If you are up for some exercise and another great way to enjoy the Brisbane river, head to Riverlife at the bottom of the Kangaroo Point cliffs. I would recommend the guided kayaking tour.
Cuddle a Koala at Lone Pine
When in Australia, you have to at least see a Koala. At Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, you can take a picture holding a koala. It’s a cute experience and makes for a great souvenir.
You can also see other Australian animals throughout the park, including the Kangaroos sunbaking. Get up close and personal with the kangaroos by buying some kangaroo food from the gift shop at Lone Pine and feed them.
Watch a footy game at Suncorp Stadium
Rugby is an important sport in Australia and what better way to experience this game than to watch it live. Especially for the bigger games, hearing the roar of the crowd at Suncorp Stadium is pretty cool. Aim to watch a Wallabies or Broncos game…even better if you get to go to one of the State of Origin games.
Climb the Story Bridge
This is such a unique experience where you get to climb the Story Bridge right to top. Apparently there are only 3 bridges in the world where you can climb them and the Story Bridge is one of them.
Look, I have a fear of heights and my legs do go all jello, but I sucked it up and climbed the bridge. And I am so glad that I did because it was such a fun and unique experience. When I did this experience, I did it during the sunset, which was just so beautiful.
Watch a performance at Qpac
Qpac is the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and it is located in South Bank. They host a range of great performances, including Broadway style musicals. Check out their box office for more information on what shows are running. I have watched Mary Poppins and the Lion King here and they were great.
Watch the Brisbane Riverfire
The Brisbane Riverfire is a great evening at the end of September, where fireworks light up the city all along the river… it’s even bigger than the fireworks displayed during New Years…waaayyy bigger.
The event is part of the month long Brisbane festival. In the afternoon/early evening, watch as the Super Hornets and military helicopters do a fly by – the super hornets are amazing. Then into the night, the fireworks go off, usually around 7pm.
There are various vantage points all along the river where you can catch a glimpse of the fireworks. My favorite spots are from Eagle Street Pier and the South Bank parklands. Get there early because a) it get super busy and b) so many major streets close making it impossible to get around.
Explore Brisbane on the City Cat
The best way to see and get around Brisbane is by taking the city cat along the river. Along the river you’ll see great views of the Brisbane city, South Bank precinct, Kangaroo Point cliffs, Story Bridge and so on.
If you plan to take the city cat a few times, look at purchasing yourself a ‘Go Card,’ which you can easily get at places including news agencies and the train stations. It will give you slightly discounted travel on Brisbane’s public transport.
Also, if you are looking to visit spots including University of Queensland and Hamilton, the city cat is an easy way to get there.
Attend a Diner en Blanc event in Brisbane
The Brisbane chapter of Diner en Blanc has been running for several years now and it has been growing in popularity in Brisbane. I was lucky enough to be part of the 2015 Diner en Blanc and it was a fantastic experience.
The concept of Diner en Blanc started in France – basically every single attendee has to wear white (no exceptions), you bring your own picnic and table/chair set (these can be rented) and everyone meets in a secret location. The location is not revealed until just before the event starts.
The 2015 event was fantastic – it was held at Queens Park, right near the Treasury Casino.
Enjoy the panoramic view from Mt Coo-tha
Not far by car from Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the Mt Coo-tha lookout. Here you get to enjoy a panoramic view of Brisbane and beyond.
There is a restaurant and café that serves up a variety of food and drinks. To be honest, the food is pretty average, but it is more the views that make it worth the trip.
Have fun at the Ekka in August
The Ekka is the annual Royal Queensland Show that runs for about 10 days in August… it’s like a festival.
There are so many attractions at the Ekka. There are heaps of food options (more during the day), lots of animals to see, various amusement rides and games and a whole hall full of show bags you can buy. And do stay for the evening as well because the fireworks are really great.
On the weekends and the Ekka public holiday, the show can get really packed. And I mean REALLY packed. So I recommend visiting the show during the daytime on a weekday.
Stay at the TRYP Fortitude Valley hotel
The TRYP Fortitude Valley hotel is super cool, it’s funky, yet modern. It is located on Constance Street in Fortitude Valley, and is located close to a variety of cool food and drink options. I loved staying at the TRYP – it is inspired by street art and they have linked with some local artists to add street art throughout the hotel.