How to spend the perfect day in Brisbane

Brisbane is an outside city all year round, with daytime winter temperatures rarely getting below 20 degrees. Slap on some sunscreen and start exploring the sunny, humid, beer-loving city.

Take advantage of Brisbane’s warm climate and explore what the city has to offer. Credit: iStock

Previously referred to as a big country town, Brisbane has carved itself out as a strong center of Australian local music and bar culture. As the country’s third most populous city, Brisbane is big enough to have great shopping, wonderful restaurants, and world-class entertainment, whilst still maintaining a friendly atmosphere. Its approximately 2 million residents generally have a better work/life balance than in Sydney or Melbourne. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Get arty

Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art is known for punching above its weight. Situated on the banks of the Brisbane River in the city’s cultural precinct, this gallery has become one of the state’s premier cultural institutions in just 12 years. Entry to the gallery and its permanent collections is free but you’ll have to pay for the special exhibitions, which are usually well worth the expense. Around 1.4 million people visited this gallery last year. Not bad for, a city of about 2 million people.

If you want a quieter and more demure experience, head across to the adjacent riverside building housing the Queensland Gallery of Art. This older gallery attracts far fewer visitors than GoMA but is home to an important Australian collection.

Relax on the grass by the river once you’ve had all the art you can take in for a day. Or, head to one of the galleries’ cafes if you’re hungry or in need of a drink.

Enjoy South Bank

No visit to Brisbane is complete without a trip to South Bank. Home to the city’s sprawling cultural precinct, the area is known for its architecture, dining and inner-city man-made Beach.

South Bank gives visitors plenty of opportunities to enjoy a cocktail with river views. It’s also where you’ll find some of the city’s most high-end restaurants, including Stokehouse Q and glamorous pool-side joint Bacchus. Feel free to take a stroll along South Bank’s paved trails and take in its beautiful parklands, cultural institutions, and bars. Take a quick dip at the Streets Beach if the Brisbane heat is really getting to you.

The Wheel of Brisbane along South Bank. Credit: iStock

De-stress in stylish bars

Australians love to drink in style and Brisbane residents are no exception. Despite its modest size, the city is awash with trendy bars where young professionals, artists, and students kick back and relieve stress. Head down one of the city’s rebuilt laneways to discover some of its best drinking spots.

Brew Cafe & Wine Bar, which turns into a funky bar at night, was the first cafe to reclaim a city laneway. You’ll find it right in the middle of the city across the road from King George Square station.

The laneway-bar scene has exploded in the years since Brew opened up. The Laneway, Super Whatnot, and Brooklyn Standard are among the most popular.

If you want to soak up the sun while you enjoy a drink, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Brisbane. Most Queensland pubs have an outside area – it’s just part of the culture. Blackbird Bar and Grill or recently opened Mr Percival’s are great up-market options with water views.

For something on the more casual end of the scale, try out one of the city’s microbreweries like Brisbane Brewing Co.Newstead Brewing, Green Beacon Brewing, or Ballistic Beer.

Explore Brisbane’s Markets

Brisbane residents love markets and every region of the city has its own. Head to Eat Street Northshore for an expansive stall market, offering food options from all over the world. These aren’t your usual weekend produce markets.

Eat Street Northshore is made up of 180 dining and entertainment shipping containers, well-designed signs and fairy lights. Keep in mind they are only open from Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

If you want a more traditional market experience, try out Davies Park Market in the trendy suburb of West End. This Saturday market is full of fresh produce, crafts, and food stalls.

Take in the city from the water

Catching a public ferry is one of the best and most scenic ways to see the sunny river city. The CityHopper is free and runs every 30 minutes between 6AM and midnight. The boat docks at eight stops along the city’s river. Enjoy the steady pace and the peaceful sound of the water lapping the boat. The Cityhopper is free but other ferries require passengers to have a Go Card, which is used on all Brisbane transport.

Treat yourself to a picnic in the park

Grab your favorite fruits, cheese, and wine before heading to one of Brisbane’s gorgeous parks for a picnic. New Farm Park and the Kangaroo Point cliffs are Brisbane’s’ favorite spots to lay down a blanket. The leafy and evergreen New Farm Park borders the Brisbane River and is home to the Brisbane Powerhouse. If you’re lucky, you may be able to see the city’s purple jacaranda trees in their glorious bloom.

The Kangaroo Point Cliffs are the city’s optimal romantic picnic spot. With amazing views of the city and river, you’ll also see people use the cliffs for exercise. There are companies that offer guided abseiling down the cliffs for the adventure inclined.

Climb Mt Coot-tha

The view from Mt Coot-tha. Credit: iStock

Have you ever smelt a eucalyptus forest? These scented trees dominate Mt Coot-tha, 15 minutes’ drive from Brisbane’s city center. There a number of walking tracks that weave through the 16,000 hectares of eucalyptus forest, gullies, and creek lines.

If you want to experience it yourself, book a Blacklane car service in Brisbane and have your driver park at JC Slaughter Falls. From there, watch out for kites, owls, and possums as you walk 2km to the lookout. Brisbane is already a very hilly city so running up Mt Coot-tha is usually only attempted by the most conscientious residents. Make sure you plan ahead and take plenty of water and sunscreen.