One day in Brisbane gives you time to get to know this laid-back city. Brisbane is one of the best destinations in Australia for those wanting to escape the crowds in Melbourne or Sydney.
It’s the capital of Queensland and located on the eastern coast, offering access to sweeping beaches with clean sand. Not only that, the city offers up a flourishing bar and restaurant scene.
Brisbane is also known for its pleasant weather. It’s beautiful outside throughout most of the year, allowing you to explore the city’s eclectic mix of landmarks, riverside bars, and unique markets.
There’s even vineyards just south of the city, allowing you to sip and savour in sub-tropical climes.
Don’t know where to start? Begin planning your trip with this complete 1-day Brisbane itinerary.
What to do in Brisbane in 24 hours: A complete one-day itinerary
As with most of our travel itineraries, this Brisbane itinerary takes you to the most important attractions and a few interesting sites. Most of the itinerary is walkable, but there are a few spots where you’ll want to hop on a bus to save time.
You’ll start near the centre of the city before crossing Victoria Bridge and working your way around the Brisbane River. You’ll also have a chance to ride a 60-metre tall Ferris wheel with views of the city before finding a spot near the river for food and drinks.
Stroll through the expansive Roma Street Parkland
Roma Street Parkland is a sprawling park with various gardens and waterways featuring contemporary designs. It’s located west of the central business district (CBD), a short walk from some of the top things to do in Brisbane.
Before travelling through the park, check the map. It’s posted in a few different spots, including all the entrances.
The park covers 16 hectares and includes multiple areas with different themes. Walk the various pathways and boardwalks that take you through the park and across various rocky outcrops.
The different areas include a fern gully, various water features, and a large amphitheater used to stage plays by the Queensland Theatre Company. You’ll also see native wildlife, including the eastern water dragon and the black flying fox.
Climb the bell tower at Brisbane City Hall
Roma Street Parkland exits to Albert Street, taking you all the way into the heart of the city and to the steps of city hall. On the way, you’ll pass King George Square.
The public square is a popular meeting place across the street from city hall. It’s a good spot to snap a few pics of the iconic bell tower atop the government building and find something to eat.
You should be able to find a café or coffee shop surrounding the square. Get something to eat or drink and then walk around the large open square before crossing the street to city hall.
While a trip to the city hall may not appear interesting, it’s one of the best destinations for your Australia itinerary. It has a massive bell tower that you can climb for a panoramic view of Brisbane.
The city hall offers tours of the clock tower. You’ll need to take the tour to reach the top of the tower. Luckily, the tour is free and held at multiple times throughout the day.
When you reach the top, you can stare out over the city. You get views of the central business district and the city’s skyline.
Learn about the city at the Museum of Brisbane
You don’t have to travel from the city hall to reach the Museum of Brisbane. It’s located inside the government building. The museum has various artifacts and treasures that help showcase the history of the city.
The museum is on the third floor of the city hall and currently has over 5,000 items, including modern works from local artists and various historical items.
Before walking to the third floor, check the clock. The museum doesn’t open until 10 am. Entry to the museum is free, but you may need to pay to take a tour. Some of the tours are free while others require advance bookings and a small fee.
With a wide variety of exhibits and events, it helps to check the official museum website before you go. A paid tour is the preferred way to view the collection. The tour guide offers useful information as you browse original displays, including video art and modern paintings.
Some of the exhibits are intended specifically for children and include hands-on, interactive features. Depending on the time of the year, you may even find a few children’s activities.
Visit Queen Street Mall and shop til you drop
From the Museum of Brisbane, you don’t need to walk far to reach Queen Street Mall. With just 24 hours in Brisbane, it’s important to move quickly between stops. The mall covers a city block, located diagonally opposite the museum.
It’s not an indoor mall. It’s a shopping district with multiple buildings and six major shopping centres. It extends from Edward Street to George Street and includes over 40,000 square metres of retail space.
Browse a wide variety of shops. You’ll find everything from clothing to electronics at the more than 700 retailers located in Queen Street Mall. The largest shopping centre is the Myer Centre, with close to 200 stores located inside the six-story department store.
View the river and cityscape from Victoria Bridge
After your shopping trip, walk southwest on Queen Street to Victoria Bridge. The bridge crosses the Brisbane River and takes you to South Brisbane, home to the city’s top museums, galleries, and restaurants.
The bridge offers a path across the river for vehicles and pedestrians. It’s often incredibly busy and you should keep your eyes open for cyclists and e-scooter riders zipping past.
As you cross the bridge, you’ll reach a lookout spot at about the halfway point. From the standing space, you can look up or down the river and see more of the riverfront.
If you look north, you’ll see the Pacific Highway in front of the skyline of the CBD. To the south, you can see the riverfront promenade and the streets of South Brisbane.
Browse artwork at the Queensland Art Gallery
Reaching the other side of Victoria Bridge, you’ll find yourself in front of Brisbane’s Cultural Precinct and the Queensland Art Gallery.
The gallery was established in 1895 and includes a mixture of artwork. The collections include work from Pablo Picasso and offer up many modern exhibits, including an exhibit dedicated to hats. There’s also art for children and a wide selection of contemporary art.
Queensland Art Gallery isn’t the only place to view priceless art in this area. The Gallery of Modern Art and Queensland Museum are each one block away. Other cultural attractions include the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, the State Library of Queensland, and various theatres.
Unfortunately, you may not have time to visit all the cultural sites when trying to explore Brisbane in one day.
For now, visit the Queensland Art Gallery or skip it in favour of one of the other options. Spend some time browsing the art before crossing the street to the giant Ferris wheel.
View the skyline from the top of the Wheel of Brisbane
When you’re done browsing art in the cultural precinct, continue south on the riverfront until you get to the Wheel of Brisbane. The large Ferris wheel gives you another chance to get a panoramic view of the city.
The Ferris Wheel stands 60 metres tall and offers 360-degree views. It has several dozen capsules that can each seat six adults and two children, so your entire group can ride together. It’s also air-conditioned.
The ride lasts for about 12 minutes and includes multiple revolutions, allowing you to see the skyline several times before the ride ends.
The wheel is closed during certain holidays and events. You may want to check the official website for the Wheel of Brisbane before getting your hopes up.
Seek out a restaurant or bar along River Quay Green’s south bank
From the top of the Ferris Wheel, you should see the waterfront promenade just south of the attraction. It’s the perfect spot to find a restaurant or bar to close out your tour of Brisbane in 24 hours.
The River Quay Green is a large park on the south bank of the Brisbane River. It’s lined with five of the most renowned restaurants in the city:
- Stokehouse Q
- Popolo Italian Kitchen & Bar
- The Jetty
- Aquitaine Brasserie
- River Quay Fish
Depending on when you visit, you may also get to enjoy live music. The Green hosts various events and performances throughout the year, especially on Sundays.
If you’re not in the mood for fine dining, you can find a wide selection of bars, clubs, and family restaurants in the surrounding streets or further down the riverfront.
Walk around until you find a suitable establishment and order food or drinks. Find a seat with a view of the river and unwind until it’s time to call it a night.
Where to stay: The best hotels for 24 hours in Brisbane
Although it’s the third biggest city in Australia, choosing where to stay in Brisbane isn’t too difficult. For most first-time travellers with a quick layover in Brisbane, the areas in & around the Brisbane Central Business District (CBD) offer the best selection of accommodations in the city’s top location. Here are a few ideas…
- Meriton Suites Herschel Street: A well-appointed hotel that offers a large selection of fully-stocked suites appealing to a wide array of travel budgets. The location in the heart of the CBD and close to the Brisbane River is excellent for sightseeing.
- Next Hotel Brisbane: This fantastic mid-range option, located next to the Queen Street Mall, features spacious modern rooms and a host of awesome amenities including an on-site restaurant, bar, and swimming pool.
- W Brisbane: One of the top luxury picks in Brisbane, this 5-star hotel delivers spectacular river, mountain and city views from all angles. You’ll absolutely love relaxing to evening cocktails on the rooftop WET Deck, featuring superb views over Brisbane.