Brisbane is Australia's third largest city and the capital of Queensland. With two million people, it is rapidly growing, creating an exciting and vibrant atmosphere.
The city oozes confidence and a positive, can-do attitude, fueled by youthful enthusiasm. It's said to be the friendliest big city on Australia's east coast, and strong migration from Southeast Asia and elsewhere has created a diverse cultural mix.
The spectacular scenery in the surrounding area, along with a comfortably warm year-round climate, friendly locals, and laid-back atmosphere make Brisbane an engaging and welcoming location.
Manly Boat Harbour connects the city to Moreton Bay, with stunning waterways and lots of islands to explore. Manly Harbour Village has a beautiful marina with lots of restaurants and interesting stores to enjoy.
Mount Coot-tha is the tallest mountain in the Brisbane area and provides great views of the city. It is also home to the Planetarium and Botanic Gardens. It has scenic drives, along with walking and cycling trails through the forest.
South Bank was the site of World Expo 1988 and has been transformed into an area of shops and restaurants with extensive parks and an artificial beach. It's a great place to hang out and enjoy a free swim on a hot day.
Roma Street Parkland is the biggest urban subtropical garden in the world, and is home to nearly 2,000 unique plant species. It has rainforest walks and many art exhibits, summing up the urban/outdoor spirit of Brisbane.
The area around Brisbane is full of national parks, vineyards, lakes, and rainforests. The McPherson Range is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers an experience of the spectacular Australian wilderness.
The world's oldest and largest koala sanctuary is set on the banks of the Brisbane River, and it has a long history of delighting tourists by arranging one-on-one encounters with these cuddly creatures. Besides the opportunity to embrace a cute koala, the sanctuary also invites visitors to learn about wombats, Tasmanian devils, kookaburras, emus, and more local species. There is even a kangaroo enclosure where you can pet and feed the hopping joeys to your heart's content!
Brisbane boasts a thriving cultural center at its heart. Tourists cannot miss the Queensland Art Gallery or Gallery of Modern Art, both featuring world-class collections and internationally renowned shows. Meanwhile, the Performing Arts Center puts on phenomenal performances. In between all this cultural immersion you can kick back on the South Bank Parklands along the river, and perhaps catch a CityCat Ferry elsewhere. The Wheel of Brisbane overlooks it all, so hop in for unforgettable views.
A feat of design and engineering, this iconic bridge is one of the most recognizable sights in the city. Connecting the northern suburbs of Brisbane with the Central Business District, it is traversed by thousands daily - whether by car, bike or foot. Walking the bridge provides gorgeous views of the surrounding area, and dare-devils can even arrange to attempt a bridge climb. After sundown, the marvel becomes even more stunning as it lights up the night sky.
Built in Italian Renaissance style, the Brisbane City Hall stands out in the heart of downtown with its regal atmosphere and assertive aura. Elegant but sturdy, a clock tower rises into the sky and chimes every quarter hour, heard as far as the neighboring suburbs. Inside, tourists enjoy tours of the historic building and tower, as well as the Brisbane Museum on the rooftop for a dose of local lore. Lovely cafés are also found on the premises, the perfect opportunity for a little break.
Spend a soothing day in the City Botanic Gardens, set along the Brisbane River and teeming with delectable sights and smells. These grounds have flourished with local species for over a hundred years, and they continue to be the horticultural pride of Queensland. Contemporary sculptures now also complement the landscape, and visitors to the park will relish in the contrasts of the natural and human-made world. For a more upbeat experience in these public gardens, rent a bicycle to get around.
One of the joys of Brisbane is its excellent year-round climate. It avoids the worst of northern Australia's wet season and stays warm when the south gets cold in summer. Summer temperatures peak around 95 degrees Fahrenheit, with winter temperatures rarely falling below 68.
The city's main airport is Brisbane Airport (BNE), which is around 12 miles northeast of the city center. It has good connections to all major Australian cities and connections via Southeast Asia to Europe and North America. The airport is also well connected to the city. The Airtrain leaves every 15 minutes and costs A$17, taking around 30 minutes to get into town. CoachTrans will take you to your Brisbane accommodation for A$20, while a taxi to the city center will cost around A$35.
Brisbane is well served by two rail networks. Countrylink connects the city to other major Australian cities such as Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney, while Queensland Rail offers services from other Queensland locations.
Visitors driving from the major southern cities can reach Brisbane via the New England or Pacific Highways. The A1 connects the city with northern Queensland, while the M1 runs to the Gold Coast.
The Premier Motor Service links most of the centers on the east coast, while Greyhound Australia has connections to almost all major cities.
Brisbane's Central Business District (CBD) is where you will find most of the city's shopping streets, parks, and historical sites. It is also home to some of the major hotel chains. Budget accommodation options include Brisbane City Backpackers. The Emporium Hotel is a good upscale hotel, with some great rooms, a spa, and a gym. Golden Chain Motels have a number of locations around the city with good quality accommodation and affordable rates.
South Bank - this area offers lots of restaurants, an urban beach, and riverside boardwalks. It also houses Brisbane's Cultural Precinct, with the Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Museum, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, and Gallery of Modern Art.
Fortitude Valley - this is the center of Brisbane's nightlife and alternative shopping district. It is also home to the city's Chinatown. You will find lots of edgy bars and clubs with some great DJs. It is widely thought to be the best district for live entertainment and music in Australia.
New Farm - this is Brisbane's upscale shopping and dining area. This is the place to see and be seen, and it is widely frequented by Brisbane's local in crowd.
Brisbane has three public transport networks, consisting of buses, ferries, and trains. They all share a common ticketing system, TransLink, which lets you transfer between the networks to complete your journey. Fares start at A$4 for a one-way journey. Another option is to buy a go card, which starts at A$10. This takes the hassle out of figuring out the correct ticket to buy and can simply be touched to the terminal as you enter the vehicle and topped up as required.
Taxis in Brisbane are plentiful and reliable. The main companies are Black & White Cabs and Yellow Cabs. They all take cash and credit cards and can be hailed from the street. The exception to this rule is Friday and Saturday nights in the city center, where they will almost exclusively pick up from taxi ranks. These are well policed by ushers and can be found throughout the city center. Alternatively, book a cab before you travel. Taxis will cost around A$22 for a five-mile journey.
The one-way system in the city center can make driving in Brisbane a little confusing. Roads in the center become clearways in rush hour and you will be fined and towed if you are parked on one. City center parking is, however, widely available, costing anywhere between A$15 and A$40 for a day's parking. There are lots of toll roads and rush hour traffic can be extremely slow. Tolls don't accept cash, so you will need a pre-paid transponder or you can post-pay on the Queensland Toll Road website. Expect to pay around A$50 per day for car hire; Avis, Budget, and Thrifty are all present.
You will find most of the major stores in the CBD. The Queen Street Mall is the main shopping destination in Queensland. It has more than 700 stores across six shopping centers. It sells everything from fashion to jewelry and hunting gear, and also has restaurants, a casino, a cinema, and street entertainment. More artsy, diverse, and local stores can be found at the West End and in Paddington.
Brisbane has a wide range of supermarkets, including Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, and IGA. Expect to pay around A$2 for a pound of Apples and A$1.5 for a quart of whole milk.
The Beach House Bar & Grill on Albert Street is a good budget eatery, serving bar food in larger portions while offering live entertainment. Expect to pay A$15 for a dish with a drink. Little Tokyo is Brisbane's oldest Japanese restaurant, with some fine and authentic food. For the best steaks in town, and maybe in Australia, head over to Cha Cha Char Wine Bar & Grill on Eagle St. Expect to pay around A$75 for a three-course meal for one without wine.