Adoration 4 Adventure’s local guide for visitors to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Local guide posts provide recommendations for destinations from locals who are currently living or have lived in that particular place. Including information on the top places to eat, drink, stay and how to get around with an emphasis on saving money.
I lived in Brisbane for most of my life. Growing up, I took for granted what I had – glorious weather, an easy lifestyle and great public services. However the more I travel, the more I love my home city and realize how great it is.
These are my personal recommendations based on local knowledge as well as information shared from my visiting friends.
Overview of Brisbane
Brisbane is the third largest city in Australia and capital of the state of Queensland.
Brisbane has a lot to offer its visitors in terms of attractions, festivals and public events. The Visit Brisbane website provides a guide to what is happening, including a section on free activities which should please any budget backpacker.
Top 5 places to visit
5. West End
An inner city suburb, West End is walking distance from the city center and South Bank Parklands. For a fusion of hole in the wall cafes, cheap and exotic cuisines, grimy pubs and funky bars with live music – head straight to West End.
The Davies Park Market is held every Saturday and is a great place to go for locally farmed produce or to just soak up the vibe. There is also the Boundary Street Markets which has night markets over the weekend, street food and pop up vendors. Around the intersection of Boundary and Vulture Street, there are many interesting and local stores that are worth checking out even if you are just window shopping.
4. City Botanic Gardens and River Walk
The City Botanic Gardens is located on Alice Street and has free guided tours. A great walk is to start in South Bank crossing the Goodwill bridge, then continue through the City Botanic Gardens following the paths until meeting the River Walk.
The River Walk starts in the Brisbane CBD and leads all the way to the suburb of New Farm, along the river. There are various CityCat ferry terminals along the way, if you choose to switch from foot to sea.
3. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, located within a twenty-minute drive from the Brisbane CBD, is the oldest and largest koala sanctuary in the world.
There is a lot to take in at the sanctuary, including a number of daily talks with a focus on education and conservation. Make sure to check the schedule online or grab one upon arrival to plan the day around the various wildlife shows. I have been multiple times and have loved each visit.
2. Mount Coot-tha
The Mount Coot-tha lookout holds the ultimate view of Brisbane city and is magnificent at day or night. There is also the larger and grander Botanical Gardens as well as a planetarium lower down the mountain.
1. South Bank
Bustling with food vendors, market stalls, children’s playgrounds and a man-made beach, South Bank is a great place to meet people or just unwind on the luscious green grass.
Home to the Wheel of Brisbane and “Brisbane” sign, it provides spectacular views of the Brisbane CBD and casino. There are also free walking tours available in South Bank.
Close by is the Queensland Museum, Queensland Art Gallery and Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), all free for general admission (entry fees may apply to certain exhibits at GoMA). The Science Centre is a fun place to take kids and Queensland Performing Arts Centre features world-class musicals, plays and ballet.
Eating and drinking
In addition to West End, there are various places within the city to grab a bite to eat. Queen Street Mall, known as “The Heart of Brisbane” is a paved road transformed into a shopping haven for those so inclined. There are many restaurants within the mall and intersecting streets including George, Albert and Edward St. Be sure to check out some of the bars and cafes hidden away in Burnett Lane.
If nightclubbing is your style, then Fortitude Valley is the place to go. Brunswick Street Mall, like Queen Street Mall, has been closed to road traffic and is filled with bars, nightclubs and fast food restaurants. The bars and nightclubs spill into the intersecting street of Ann and in both directions of Brunswick.
Metropolitan Brisbane is serviced by a network of trains, buses and ferries (referred to as CityCats). To reduce your transport costs, consider purchasing a Go Card from a train ticket booth or newsagent. There is a deposit required, however it is refundable upon return of the card and will reduce your public transport costs significantly.
Hostels in Australia can be expensive. When traveling, I have often found it cheaper to use hotel alternatives (such as Air BnB), especially when traveling with a partner. Read more on 6 tips for finding travel accommodation on a budget.
There are a number of hostels within Brisbane City, Fortitude Valley and West End, so you can choose your accommodation based on the area you prefer as they all have a distinct feel and atmosphere.
For visits of a month or longer, you may also wish to consider subletting a room through the Gumtree website (Australia’s version of Craigslist).
3. Sunshine Coast
With too many beautiful beaches to name, the Sunshine Coast is approximately two hours north of Brisbane. Also close to the lush green towns of Maleny and Montville. Well worth spending a day to explore.
2. Gold Coast
It is almost a straight shot from the city south on the Pacific Motorway (M1), take the Smith Street exit and follow it until reaching the world-famous Surfers Paradise. With golden sand and clear water beaches stretching down to the state border of New South Wales, it will be hard to decide which Gold Coast beaches to spend your days lying on.
1. Springbrook Mountain
Breathtaking waterfalls, crisp mountain air and hikes full of wildlife spotting, Springbrook Mountain is one of my favorite day trips and place to take out-of-town visitors. There is also the nearby Natural Bridge which will complete this perfect day trip from Brisbane.
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