Brisbane is a vibrant city with a youthful atmosphere, located on the Gold Coast on the eastern side of Australia. While it lacks the rich history found in Sydney or Melbourne, Brisbane stands out as the best destination in Australia for fun in the sun. It’s known for its perfect weather throughout the year, sprawling beaches, and access to the Great Barrier Reef.
The crystal-clear water and fresh air are great reasons to visit. The only challenge is deciding where to stay in Brisbane.
As the third most populous city in Australia, Brisbane has lots to see and do. Most of the attractions are clustered around the central business district (CBD), but the surrounding suburbs have their own highlights.
Need help deciding where to stay? Start comparing accommodations with this guide to the best places to stay in Brisbane…
Where to stay in Brisbane: The best areas & neighbourhoods
From the bustling CBD to the dozens of nearby neighbourhoods, the lively city of Brisbane has something for everyone. If you’re looking for art and culture, travel to the centre of the city. Skyscrapers and a few historic sites surround various commercial districts with shopping malls, restaurants, and clubs.
While first-time visitors typically travel straight to the inner city, locals often spend their weekends exploring the suburbs. Unlike many other major cities, some of the best places to visit are found outside the city centre.
Most of the outer districts border the Brisbane River and the central district. It’s not the best place for sightseeing, but you can easily fill your trip with fun activities. You’ll have access to beaches, river cruises, and a wide assortment of dining and shopping options.
A few of the best areas to stay in Brisbane for travellers include:
- Brisbane CBD
- Fortitude Valley
- New Farm
✔ Best area to stay in Brisbane for sightseeing and first-time visitors
If you only have one day in Brisbane, stay in the centre of the city. The Brisbane central business district (CBD) contains most of the top attractions, including various museums and a few historic sites.
The central area contains tall buildings, public parks, and the city’s main landmarks. Locals refer to the area as The City. It’s where you’ll find the city’s major businesses and commercial districts. It contains the largest selection of malls, shops, cinemas, and restaurants in Brisbane.
Climb to the top of the iconic clock tower at the Brisbane City Hall for a view of the city. You’ll see the various seafood restaurants near the Brisbane River, the architecture of the Museum of Brisbane, and the rows of shops on Edward Street.
When you need some fresh air, travel to the Brisbane Botanical Garden and smell the roses or take a stroll through the peaceful Roma Street Parkland.
While the CBD is almost always bustling, the nearby districts are starting to overshadow it. It’s still a popular place to stay, allowing you to hop on the bus and check out some of the other parts of the city.
Recommended hotels in Brisbane’s CBD
As the most popular area in the city for travellers, the CBD has some of the best hotels in Brisbane. You’ll also find the largest selection of accommodations, including many hotels with views of the inner city or the river.
- W Brisbane: Located on the North Quay, this high-end hotel has views of the river, mountains, or city, depending on which side of the hotel you stay in. It’s a short walk from City Hall and the central station. Along with a convenient location, enjoy drinks at the urban oasis on the top of the hotel while looking out over the city.
- Meriton Suites Herschel Street: This luxurious hotel offers a wide range of rooms to cover almost any budget. It’s located near Roma Street Parklands and has spacious rooms stocked with modern appliances.
- Next Hotel Brisbane: Located next to Queen Street Mall, this hotel offers large accommodations, a swimming pool, and its own restaurant and bar. Have drinks or a meal without needing to set foot outside. It’s also near several shops, public parks, and the botanical gardens.
- Art Series – The Fantauzzo: The unique architecture of this hotel stands out due to its modern design. It’s located near Story Bridge and New Farm Riverwalk, making it a top choice for those that want to spend time at the public parks. The rooms are comfortable and well-furnished, with some of the rooms offering views of the river.
✔ Top-rated place to stay in Brisbane for nightlife and boutique shopping
Staying in Fortitude Valley allows you to cross everything off your Brisbane itinerary. It borders the CBD, Spring Hill, and New Farm. Along with a convenient location, Fortitude Valley offers its own attractions and reasons to stay.
If you’re looking for nightlife and quirky attractions, Fortitude Valley has you covered. There’s plenty to do during the day and even more to explore at night. The vivacious neighbourhood is north of the city centre and includes the biggest variety of bars, pubs, and clubs. Find solitude at a dive bar or listen to live music at one of the trendy nightclubs.
During the weekend, it’s one of the busiest parts of the city. In fact, the younger crowd tends to prefer Fortitude Valley over the CBD.
The eclectic neighbourhood also has a wide range of shopping and dining options to suit any taste, style, or budget. Discover small indie markets and large commercial shopping malls. Eat at a traditional seafood restaurant or find something new at one of the gastronomical diners.
Along with nightlife and alternative shopping, the district contains a few art galleries, wine cellars, and public parks. It also connects to Story Bridge, taking you across the river to Captain Burke Park.
Recommended hotels in Fortitude Valley
As with the neighbourhood itself, the selection of hotels in Fortitude Valley is diverse. You’ll find small boutique hotels with quirky décor and stylish luxury hotels with views of downtown Brisbane in the distance. Many of these options are also just one or two kilometres from the inner city.
- Ovolo The Valley Brisbane: The décor in this hotel takes inspiration from the eclectic atmosphere of the neighbourhood, featuring interesting, unique styles in each room. Enjoy free breakfast each morning and swim in the rooftop pool in the evening.
- The Calile Hotel: This is a high-end hotel, located a short walk from Emporium Brisbane and The Zoo. The luxury suites have their own balconies and views of the pool while some of the more affordable rooms have views of the city.
- Amelia Boutique Hotel: Located a couple of hundred metres from the train station and Chinatown, this boutique-style hotel has the best rates in the neighbourhood. It’s also further from the CBD, allowing for a more restful night.
✔ Best district to stay in Brisbane for fine dining and river cruises
Hamilton is one of the closest districts to the airport, so you’ll likely pass it on your way to the central business district. It’s also a great place to find the top dining spots in the city.
The East Street Northshore Market has original dishes with every type of cuisine that you can imagine. You’ll also find takeout restaurants, steakhouses, creameries, and various fine-dining establishments.
Next to Hamilton is the older neighbourhood of Ascot. These two areas are often grouped together, as they perfectly complement each other.
During your stay, you’ll likely cross back and forth between the two neighbourhoods. Ascot is full of tradition, with old homes and the historic Eagle Farm Racecourse. Hamilton contains more modern developments, including towering apartments, riverside hotels, and Portside Wharf.
The Wharf is one of the main commercial areas in Brisbane, with upscale retail areas full of restaurants, shops, cinemas, and a supermarket. If you’re coming to Brisbane for an excursion from a cruise ship, you’ll likely dock at the wharf.
Hamilton and Ascot maintain relaxed atmospheres compared to some of the other parts of the city. It’s an affluent area with lots of high-end shopping.
Recommended hotels in Hamilton
Hamilton is an area with lots of condos and apartments, along with several hotels. The hotels are mostly found near the waterfront and provide convenient access to the airport. These options include a couple of business hotels.
- Brisbane Riverview Hotel: Located on the riverfront, this boutique-style hotel has large outdoor pools, an onsite restaurant, and a fitness centre. Many of the rooms have views of the city. Depending on which way the window faces, you may see parts of Brisbane CBD from your room.
- The Kingsford Brisbane Airport Hotel: A short drive from the airport and the CBD, this hotel mostly caters to business travellers. The décor is interesting, featuring work from local artists. It’s also just a short walk from Portside Wharf, giving you quick access to the waterside attractions.
- Airport International Hotel Brisbane: This mid-range hotel is also a quick trip from the airport and the city centre. You can walk to Portside Wharf, Eagle Farm Racecourse, and other sites within a few minutes. The rooms are incredibly spacious and well-furnished, helping you feel at home.
✔ Top area to stay in Brisbane for shopping and relaxation
Located east of Fortitude Valley, New Farm sits on a peninsula formed by the Brisbane River. It’s a small neighbourhood and quickly becoming one of the trendiest spots in the city.
New Farm is a top destination for those seeking relaxation, coffee, and shopping. Coffee lovers flock to the local cafes while shoppers can find what they need at the various upscale markets.
When you’re ready to relax, take a stroll through New Farm Park or Teneriffe Park. Both locations offer walking paths through forested areas. To the south, you’ll find Merthyr Park. The park borders the riverfront and provides gorgeous views of the Brisbane River at sunset and sundown.
It’s also a great area for families. Take the kids to New Farm Cinemas to check out the latest movies before walking to the nearby Wilson Outlook Reserve for a picnic with views of Story Bridge.
If you stay in New Farm, you’ll likely spend time in Teneriffe. The two neighbourhoods blend, making it difficult to determine where one ends and the other starts. This area is also just around the corner from the central business district, making it easy to see all the top attractions in Brisbane.
Recommended hotels in New Farm
New Farm doesn’t have a lot of hotels. If everything is booked for your travel date, you may need to check out the accommodations in neighbouring Teneriffe. Between the two suburbs, you have a hotel and a couple of apartments to choose from.
- Spicers Balfour Hotel: Located a short trip from the city centre in the heart of New Farm, this boutique-style hotel has a rooftop lounge that looks out over the city. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, equipped with a Nespresso coffee machine and a flat-screen TV.
- Goldsborough Place Apartments: While this location contains apartments, you can still rent a room for a night. It’s a luxurious place to stay, with rooms that have their own private balconies with views of the river.
- Kirribilli Apartments: Overlooking the parkland, this popular hotel has many outdoor facilities. If you don’t want to go sightseeing, go for a swim at the pool, relax in the sauna, or play a match on the tennis court. The rooms are reasonably-priced, even for the accommodations with views of the river.