Things to Do in Brisbane
The Brisbane River winds its way through the heart of the city, from the neighborhoods of South Brisbane all the way to Moreton Bay. The river is also a center of local life, and residents and visitors alike enjoy the many waterfront parks and landmarks, riverside walks, and sightseeing cruises.
With its miles of sun-bleached sandy beaches, towering sand dunes, shimmering lagoons, and pockets of wild bushland, Moreton Island feels a world away from nearby Brisbane. As the third largest sand island in the world and a national park, Moreton Island makes for a perfect day trip when you want to get in touch with nature.
Story Bridge is Brisbane’s answer to Sydney’s Harbour Bridge. Iconic in its own right, Story Bridge is a heritage-listed, steel cantilever bridge that allows access between the northern and southern suburbs of Brisbane.
Story Bridge was built between 1935 and 1939, and was known as Jubilee Bridge until mid 1940. The main attraction of Story Bridge, as splendid as it is to view from afar, are the bridge climbs which began in 2005. A guided tour takes visitors up the bridge to stunning panoramic views of the city, out to Moreton Bay, and west across the aptly named Scenic Rim as they stand 80 metres above sea level. It’s also possible to abseil down one of the bridge’s pylons and into Captain Burke Park.
Just across the river from Brisbane’s central business district, Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park offers sweeping views of Brisbane’s skyline, as well as excellent rock climbing and rappelling—suitable for all skill levels—on its cliffs. The cliffs were formed by convicts mining the volcanic rock in the middle of the 19th century.
Water, sand and sun make for a good combination pretty much anywhere in the world. Put them all together to create a man-made beach right in the middle of Brisbane, and you’ve got the must-visit Streets Beach.
Australia’s only inner-city, manmade beach, this site has a chlorinated lagoon surrounded by sandy beaches and sub-tropical plants that makes for a great spot to head to whether you have kids in tow or not. An extra bonus—this beach-like spot enjoys a view of the city skyscrapers and Brisbane River, which will keep you from forgetting you’re not out on a tropical island somewhere.
One of the best places to spot native Australian animals is the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which has been devoted to wildlife conservation since 1927. As well as being the oldest and largest koala sanctuary in the country with more than 130 resident koalas, the sanctuary is home to kangaroos, wombats, emus, dingoes, Tasmanian devils, and platypus.
Hovering above Brisbane to its west, Mt Coot-tha offers a natural lookout point with views across the city and the winding Brisbane River all the way to Moreton Bay and the Glass House Mountains on the horizon. At the foot of the mountain, the lush Brisbane Botanic Gardens provide a leafy escape.
Opened in the 1840s and stretching from Gardens Point on the Brisbane River to the grounds of Parliament House, Brisbane’s City Botanic Gardens is the oldest green space in the city. The gardens were originally planted in 1825 by convicts who needed to provide food for the penal colony, but three years later the colonial botanist Charles Fraser decided that this would be the perfect spot for conducting plant experiments to see which cash crops could grow well in Australia. Mango, ginger, tamarind and mahogany trees were all planted, and even sugar was produced in the gardens.
Formerly known as the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, the City Botanic Gardens front Alice Street and George Street. Full of rare and unusual flowers and plants including cycads, palms, figs, and bamboo, the gardens stretch for 20 acres and are popular with CBD workers and visitors looking to relax on the lawns and walk by the ornamental ponds. There are often boxing and pilates fitness class going on in the park, and in the historic curator’s house, The Gardens Club cafe is a popular spot for a bite to eat. Free guided walks of the gardens are also available.
Located at the entrance to the South Bank Parklands and towering 197 feet (60 meters) over the river, the Wheel of Brisbane has been part of the skyline since 2008. The giant Ferris wheel is one of Brisbane’s most memorable landmarks as well as a popular attraction and boasts unbeatable views of the city.
On a hill overlooking Brisbane City, you will find a sprawling garden oasis known as Roma Street Parkland. This subtropical parkland boasts bamboo thickets, sunny picnic patches, calming waterways and meandering paths through botanical bliss.
The happy result is an inner-city retreat that can whisk you into another world, despite being only a few minutes’ walk from the central bustling business district and Brisbane Transit Centre.
Designed and realised by Australian gardening celebrity, the late Colin Campbell of the ABC’sGardening Australia, Roma Street Parkland was established in 2001 as a horticultural wonderland, using the former goods yard for the adjacent train station. Since opening, the parkland has become a popular outdoor space, hosting entertainment events in the natural amphitheatre at the top of the park, as well as festivals and other recreational events.
Free guided tours are offered to show visitors around the Australian subtropical gardens and distinct globe-inspired horticultural displays. Between Friday and Sunday, a mini train, known as the Parkland Explorer, runs from 10am to 3pm for a gold coin contribution.
More Things to Do in Brisbane
Home of the Brisbane Broncos Rugby League, the Queensland Reds Rugby Union, the Brisbane Roar Soccer, and host to national and international sporting events and concerts, Brisbane’s famous Suncorp Stadium is a state-of-the-art arena located in the inner-city suburb of Milton. Formerly Lang Park, the site of Suncorp Stadium has a long and rich event history.
With a capacity of over 52,500 people and a site area of over seven hectares, Suncorp Stadium transforms from an echoing shell to a pulsing entertainment hub on event days.
Keep an eye out for the famous bronze statue of Queensland sportsman, Wally Lewis, outside Brisbane stadium.
For an authentic Australian sporting experience, take yourself along to The Gabba (Brisbane Cricket Ground).
Known as The Gabba because it's in the suburb of Woolloongabba, the 42,000-seat sports ground hosts Australian Football League (AFL) games and international cricket matches.
Summer is the time for cricket, with matches held between January and March. In winter, March to October, AFL games hit the turf, often under the lights at night. Tours run daily, but not on match eve and match days. You get to view the stadium from the upper levels, then take a walk on the hallowed ground, see the memorabilia in the members’ dining room, see the corporate and media facilities, view the practice wickets and take a stroll through the players’ locker room.
North Stradbroke Island, the second-largest sand island in the world, is a beach and nature lover’s paradise. Known as “Straddie” to the locals and traditionally known as “Minjerribah,” this picturesque island is famous for its white sandy beaches, freshwater lakes and wetlands, and scenic headlands, and is a popular day trip from Brisbane.
Shiny and modern, Eagle Street Pier is the riverside corporate entertainment precinct of Brisbane City. Beneath the glass facades of the city’s law firms and commercial offices, overlooking the Brisbane River, are many of the city’s most loved bars and restaurants.
Local favorites at Eagle Street Pier include Jade Budda for cocktails, the Bavarian Bier Café for a hearty feed and Matt Moran's ARIA for fine dining. The precinct is popular on Friday nights in particular, when end of week celebrations transform the calm riverside into a cosmopolitan hotspot.
Every Sunday between 8am and 3pm, Eagle Street Pier hosts a waterfront market for the weekend wanderer to browse stalls selling clothing, arts and crafts, jewellery and gifts.
If you’re looking to discover the rugged coastal cliffs and serene beaches of Stradbroke Island, the North Gorge Walk makes a good place to start. The 1.5km marked trail curls its way around Point Lookout on the island’s northwestern coast and is renowned for its dramatic ocean views and landmark ‘Blow Hole’ rock formation. Hugging the coast and hemmed in by dense bushland, the popular walk takes around 45 minutes and is suitable for all fitness levels.
The North Gorge Walk is also the top spot for whale watching on Stradbroke Island and humpback whales are a frequent sight during the June-November migration period. Dolphins, sea turtles and manta rays are also abundant along the coast, while kangaroos and myriad birdlife can be seen inland.
With its striking green dome and colonnaded façade looming over the riverside, Brisbane’s grand Customs House stands out as one of the city’s most iconic heritage buildings. Dating back to 1889, the Customs House originally served to collect the custom duties on imports brought in Brisbane port, but today, the historic building is run by The University of Queensland and best known for its glamorous ballroom and function rooms.
The architectural gem is also open to the public, with visitors able to stroll around the building, view the Stuartholme-Behan exhibition of Australian Art and admire the collection of artifacts and memorabilia on display. There’s also an on-site restaurant, with terrace seating overlooking the Brisbane River and the Story Bridge.
In the heart of Brisbane’s Cultural Centre precinct, the Queensland Museum is a rich and ever-evolving exhibition space for art and culture, which celebrates more than 150 years of recording and exhibiting Queensland and global culture through world-class collections.
As well as hosting traveling exhibitions and the permanent museum collections, the Queensland Museum is home to the Sciencentre, a favorite attraction for families and school groups.
Take time to wander outside the museum, along the river front, past the fountains and sculptures and enjoy a break in the two museum cafes.
With more than 16,000 works dating from the 19th-century to modern-day, the Queensland Art Gallery is one of Australia’s leading art institutions and it’s the top ticket for art lovers visiting Brisbane. The gallery is split over two sites, the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG), which opened its doors in 1982, and the glass-fronted Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), inaugurated in 2006, and the neighboring museums form the focal point of Brisbane’s South Bank Cultural Precinct.
The gallery’s vast permanent collection features works from all over the globe, with a particular focus on contemporary Asia-Pacific art. Highlights include works by Australian artists like Arthur Boyd, William Dobell and George Lambert; a varied collection of Indigenous Australia art; and a dedicated Children’s Art Centre. There’s also a cinema, several temporary exhibition spaces, gift shops and a café-restaurant.
Offering more than 50 rides and attractions, Dreamworld is Australia’s largest theme park and one of the most popular Gold Coast family attractions. With big-thrill rides, live shows, the adjoining WhiteWater World water park, and animal residents—including tigers, koalas, and crocodiles—there’s something to entertain all ages.
Dominated by the poignant ANZAC Square War Memorial, Anzac Square is one of Brisbane’s most important military monuments and it’s a scenic spot, with its grand memorial fronted by landscaped parklands and tree-lined walkways. Opened to the public on Armistice Day in 1930, the memorial serves as a worthy tribute to Australia's military heritage, devoted to the memory of the Australian and New Zealand troops that lost their lives in WWII. Today, the square serves as the backdrop to Brisbane’s annual ANZAC day and Remembrance Day services, when wreathes and candles are traditionally placed around the memorial.
The dramatic focal point of the memorial is the Shrine of Remembrance, a Greek-style pavilion housing the ‘Eternal Flame’ and reached by a flight of steps at the north end of the park. Beneath the shrine, a pedestrian tunnel features interactive touch screens, honor rolls and unit plaques, alongside a mosaic of soils taking from World War II cemeteries around the world.
Brisbane's cultural precinct is on South Bank, opposite the city center on the Brisbane River.
The highlight of the Queensland Cultural Centre is the inspiring Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), which hosts a regular program of visiting and local exhibitions. It's the largest contemporary art gallery in Australia, and includes drama and film.
Housed in another building is the Queensland Art Gallery and its collection of Australian and international art. Queensland Museum – South Bank documents the changing face of Brisbane and Queensland over the centuries, from culture and history to flora and fauna.
You’ll also find the State Library of Queensland, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and the Queensland Theatre Company in this lively arts hub.
Housed in the historic Treasury Building, where in 1901, the proclamation of the Australian Commonwealth was read from one of the balconies, Treasury Casino is the glitzy heart of Brisbane’s gambling and nightlife. As the only casino in Queensland’s capital, visitors looking to strike it rich all cluster together in the game room, where poker, roulette, craps, and slots help keep the excitement at a high. There’s much more than simply gambling, however, to the notorious Queensland hot spot, as visitors will also find five restaurants, seven bars, and a nightclub, in addition to the adjoining Treasury Hotel that houses Brisbane’s high rollers. Eventually, there are plans for Brisbane’s Treasury Casino to move to a modern venue, but until that time comes and dice are still rolling in the historic Treasury building, visitors will still flock to the glamorous hub as they’ve done since 1995.
Admire historical glamor and civic pride at Brisbane City Hall, which was built between 1920 and 1930 and reopened in 2013 after an extensive $215 million heritage restoration.
Located in the heart of the city, next to King George Square and close to Queen Street Mall, the heritage-listed Brisbane City Hall is Australia’s only city hall and is the home of Brisbane society, culture and governance. As well as hosting community events and civic ceremonies, Brisbane City Hall accommodates the Brisbane Lord Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Brisbane Council chambers and the world-class Museum of Brisbane.
The gem of City Hall is the stunning circular auditorium, with an impressive fluted Corinthian pilasters, overhead dome, an organ built in 1892, restored gallery seating and gilded elegance. A tour of the marble halls, auditorium and 70 metre tall clock tower is a Brisbane tourism must, followed by an indulgent serve of tea and cake at the locally-loved Shingle Inn café, which is located within City Hall.
Explore the sights of the iconic Brisbane River by taking a relaxing ride on the city catamaran service, the CityCat.
Travelling on water is undoubtedly the best way to soak in sunny Brisbane’s skyline and admire the vivid suite of colourfully-lit city landmarks by night. As you cruise along the inner city stretch of the river, look for the ultra-modern Kurilpa Bridge, the glowing Brisbane Wheel, the historic Treasury Casino, the famous Story Bridge, the impressive Kangaroo Point cliffs.
Popular CityCat sightseeing itineraries include embarking from the cultural, entertainment and parkland precinct at South Bank, winding along the river past the City Botanical Gardens and stopping at the Brisbane Powerhouse in New Farm for a glass of wine and an exhibition, or a picnic in the sprawling parkland by the CityCat terminal.
CityCats operate every day of the week as a reliable commuter service, running every 15 minutes in peak times. The fleet of 19 CityCats stop at 24 terminals along the Brisbane River, located from the University of Queensland, upstream at St Lucia, to Northshore Hamilton.
- Things to do in Queensland
- Things to do in Gold Coast
- Things to do in Noosa & Sunshine Coast
- Things to do in Byron Bay
- Things to do in Rainbow Beach
- Things to do in Hervey Bay
- Things to do in Port Stephens
- Things to do in Hunter Valley
- Things to do in Sydney
- Things to do in New South Wales
- Things to do in Victoria
- Things to do in South Australia
- Things to do in Tasmania