City Guide to Brisbane, Australia
Author: Julie Thompson | Last Updated: 30 Jun 2019
Beautiful one day, perfect the next. This is the catch phrase for Queensland, also nicknamed Australia’s sunshine state. And Brisbane is the capital. On the south east coast of this northern state, Brisbane is a beautiful cosmopolitan city home to almost 2.5 million people. With nature reserves and numerous beautiful beach towns within easy reach, Brisbane is perfectly placed to explore, but with fine dining, bustling nightlife, as well as galleries, markets and endless parks and green spaces right in the city, there is something here for everyone to enjoy.
Best time to visit Brisbane
As capital of the Sunshine State, Brisbane is true to the name and is a place where you will find warm temperatures and sunny skies almost all year round. The summer months can get quite sticky though with daytime temperatures on average 28-30 degrees. Late Spring and Summer also sees more rainfall and October/November is known to locals as the “storm season” where you are likely to have balmy days followed by electrical storms in the afternoon. There are still only 7 or 8 days of rain per month on average, but when it rains it pours! So if you prefer milder temperatures you might well be advised to visit in winter where the temperatures average 21 degrees with lows of 10-12 degrees overnight and only a few days per month of rain.
Walk the story bridge
The tory bridge is an icon in Brisbane, arching beautifully from the eastern edge of the city across to Kangaroo point on the South bank of the river. You can walk across in just 20 minutes and from the other side the boardwalk stretches for kilometers along the river to the “South Bank”. With green spaces, cafes and restaurants along the way it is a beautiful way to spend a sunny morning in this relaxed city.
Rent a bicycle and ride the promenade
Stretching all the way along the river bank to the famous Wheel of Brisbane, the promenade is a brilliant place to explore by bicycle. There are public bikes available for rent in a number of places along the boardwalk so just follow the prompts on the pay machine and off you go. The promenade runs through the South Bank Parklands, 17 hectares of lush parkland with cafes, restaurants, free BBQs and beautiful views of the city across the river.
Explore South Bank and get artsy
Once you reach the South Bank, you will walk through the Arbour with it’s bougainvillea covered archway, through beautifully tended gardens and even a miniature rainforest until you find yourself once again by the water. Here you can indulge in the Australian staple meal “brunch” while you watch the world go by before you continue on with your day. Both the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art call South Bank home so if you are interested in art, this is a great place for you to stop and spend some time.
Check out the Streets Beach
While you’re on the south side, you have to check out the street beach. Possibly the strangest beach you’ll find in Australia, this man made beach is sponsored by ice-cream brand Streets. Set back but with a view of the river, the lagoon holds enough water to fill 5 Olympic swimming pools and is complete with perfect white sand, lifeguards and of course ice-cream. And it’s totally free (well not the ice-cream). Brilliant after a day exploring in the heat, and great for kids too.
James Street markets and boutiques
If you like a spot of shopping, then James street is the place for you. With countless cafes, bakeries, food and flowers fresh from the farm, designer boutiques and wine bars you are sure to be inspired. But be warned – you will want to buy everything!
Eat and then eat some more
Brisbane is fast becoming a hub for foodies, with a seemingly endless list of new and hip places to satisfy your appetite it really is a great place to do some serious eating. From fine dining on the waterfront, to authentic Italian in New Farm, to delicious gastropubs dotted around everywhere, you will be sure to find something delicious. My personal favourite is Gerard’s Bistro tucked away behind James St, Fortitude Valley. This epic little gem serves an incredible fusion of African and Middle Eastern cuisines made from impeccably fresh, local ingredients. Have an impossibly delicious cocktail at Gerard’s Bar on the other side of the laneway and you’re sure to have had a great night.
Enjoy the view from Mt Coot-tha
Just 10 minutes from the city centre, Mt Coot-tha is a worthy way to spend an afternoon in this lovely city. So named because this was originally a place where native Aborigines would collect honey, this mountain is now home to panoramic views of the entire Brisbane city skyline. Whether you stay and hike one of the many trails on the mountain, or simply grab a beer to enjoy while you sit and watch the view, this place is sure to please.
Lonely Pine Koala Sanctuary
Get up close and personal with Australia’s most famous furry creature when you visit this 18 hectare Koala Sanctuary. With over 130 koalas living in the sanctuary, and just 11 kilometers from the city this is a great way to take in some of Australia’s unique wildlife and still be back in the city for happy hour.
Just 2 hours drive south of Brisbane is the famous hippy beach town of Byron Bay. With relaxed vibes, clean sand and refreshing blue water this is well worth a visit if you have a couple of days to spare.
Visit Moreton island
One of Australia’s largest sand islands, and only 40 kilometers off the coast of Brisbane, this island is fabulously accessible by ferry or private boat. The island has a multitude of pristine beaches to spend your days, but equally you can keep yourself busy hiking, fishing, sailing, 4-wheel driving, surfing or sand tabogganning to name a few. Also a favourite spot for whale watching from June to November, this place really has a lot to offer.
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