Best Things to Do in Brisbane, Australia

Planning a visit to Queensland on your Australia trip? Start by exploring the array of fun things to do in Brisbane, Queensland’s capital city and Australia’s third-biggest city. Brisbane offers plenty of interesting attractions for travellers of all ages, including museums, art galleries, botanical gardens, parks, restaurants, bars, and beaches. Get started exploring with this quick & easy guide!

What to see & do in Brisbane

Hold a koala bear at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Australia is home to a diverse variety of unique wildlife, most of which are found in the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. The 18-hectare sanctuary is the oldest and largest of its kind in the world. The koalas are the main attraction, but the sanctuary also holds other wildlife. You’ll see kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, echidnas, wombats, and more.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Lone Pine also allows visitors to hold koalas for a fee. If you plan on holding a koala, sign up online before you go. The sanctuary limits interaction to 30 minutes per koala each day.

It’s about 20 minutes away from the centre of the city. If you don’t want to pay for a taxi, hop on the Brisbane Transport bus.

Climb Story Bridge to get a panoramic view of the city

A trip to Story Bridge is a must for first-time visitors. Crossing the bridge provides a sweeping view of Brisbane and the harbour as it spans the Brisbane River. The bridge has lanes for bicycles, vehicles, and pedestrians, offering several ways to get to the other side.

Story Bridge

While most tourists ride or walk across the bridge, daring travellers can sign up for an adventure climb or plank walk. The adventure climb allows you to climb the scaffolding and abseil down. With the plank walk, you’re attached to a harness and allowed to lean out over the bridge.

Get lost in subtropical foliage at Brisbane Botanic Gardens

Visit the refreshing Brisbane Botanic Gardens for an escape from the urban jungle. Located in the Toowong neighbourhood about seven kilometres from Brisbane CBD (Central Business District), the botanic gardens provide a relaxing experience for your vacation.

Botanic Garden Brisbane

As you tour the gardens, you’ll pass through rainforests, lagoons, and several houses with distinct themes. Visit the bonsai house to view carefully cultivated trees or the cactus house for a wide range of cacti and succulents. The most unique feature of the gardens is the Tropical Display Dome. It stands about nine metres tall and houses a tropical ecosystem.

Browse hundreds of retailers at Queen Street Mall

Travel budget burning a hole in your pocket? Slide down to Queen Street Mall, one of the city’s best places to go shopping. This open-air shopping area lines Queen Street in the middle of the CBD.

Queen Street Mall

The main strip of the Queen Street Mall is a pedestrian-only thoroughfare between George Street and Edward Street. The pedestrian mall contains over 40,000 square metres of retail space and more than 700 shops and vendors. With hundreds of places to shop, you’ll find a little bit of everything from designer clothing to kitchenware and gadgets. It’s also one of the most crowded spots in the city on weekends.

Ride a Ferris wheel after exploring the South Bank Parklands

Surrounded by harbours, rivers, and the eastern coast of Australia, many of the top tourist attractions in Brisbane are found outside of the central business district. When you visit South Bank Parklands and other scenic destinations, you get to experience the beauty of Australia.

Brisbane Wheel

The South Bank Parklands are on the southern bank of the Brisbane River and contain a mixture of wetlands, rainforest, and grassed areas. While it’s a beautiful spot, the riverfront promenade and various plazas are the main attractions.

If you’re planning an itinerary with just one day in Brisbane, you may not have time to visit the parklands. It’s a large area with lots to explore, requiring a good portion of the day. Along with the scenery, you’ll have the chance to shop, eat, and enjoy its various attractions.

The area is home to the Wheel of Brisbane, a 60-metre Ferris wheel with views of the parklands and the city. You may also catch a performance at the Courier Mail Piazza open-air amphitheatre.

Appreciate priceless art at the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) and Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)

For art lovers, no trip is complete without a visit to the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) and the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). The museums are just 150 metres apart, making it easy to add both locations to your Brisbane sightseeing tour.

Queensland Art Gallery

The QAG is an art museum with art from almost every period, including Indigenous Australian art from hundreds of years ago to the present. The GOMA is a modern art museum with over 25,000 square metres of exhibition space. The museum has many separate exhibits for different modern art movements, including surrealism. You’ll also find works from notable artists such as Picasso and Warhol.

Indulge your taste buds during a trip to Eat Street Northshore

Thanks to its vast selection of quality restaurants, pubs, and diners, there’s no shortage of good food in Brisbane. If you can’t decide where to eat, head to Eat Street Northshore. This large food court is housed in old shipping containers, making it an eclectic destination and hip hangout for the younger crowd.

Eat Street

Head to Eat Street Northshore to enjoy an afternoon or evening of eating and listening to live outdoor music. The open-air food court includes dozens of vendors serving all types of delicious treats and meals. Are you in the mood for Japanese, Greek, or Vietnamese cuisine? Eat Street Northshore has you covered. After dinner, you’ll have no problem finding dessert or drinks. The food options are endless.

Where to stay in Brisbane for sightseeing

Despite being the third-largest city in Australia, choosing where to stay in Brisbane is quite simple. For most travellers, the areas in & around the Central Business District (CBD) are the best options. It’s home to many of the city’s most popular hotels and is close to many of the top points of interest in Brisbane.

  • Meriton Suites Herschel Street: Featuring a large selection of self-catering suites, this hotel is perfectly located in the CBD and near the Brisbane River.
  • Next Hotel Brisbane: A great mid-range hotel that offers spacious modern rooms and excellent amenities, including an on-site restaurant, bar, and swimming pool. The Queen Street Mall is located next door.
  • W Brisbane: A delightful 5-star hotel that’s one of the top luxury picks in Brisbane. The rooms and common areas here deliver spectacular views over the river, mountains, and the Brisbane skyline. 

Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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