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15 Best Reasons to Visit Brisbane in Australia

Southbank Parklands Brisbane Australia

A city with an attractive riverside location, Brisbane is one of Australia’s largest and most visited cities. It’s the third most popular destination for international visitors to Australia after Sydney and Melbourne and is best known for its warm sunny weather, koalas, sport and lamingtons.

Brisbane in Australia has many green spaces and lush tropical gardens alongside some lovely heritage buildings, a thriving arts precinct and several inspiring bridges over the Brisbane River. Brisbane ranks as one of the most liveable cities in the world and it’s a multi-cultural city with around a third of its inhabitants born overseas. You’ll find a selection of international cuisines and a wonderful variety of tropical fruits. Bananas, avocados, mangoes, papaya, passionfruit, macadamia nuts and sugar cane all grow locally.

Brisbane is the capital of Queensland, the Sunshine State of Australia and visitors come to relax and enjoy the sun, sand, surf and nightlife. Just an hour away from the centre of the city are Queensland’s most famous beaches, Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast and Noosa Heads on the Sunshine Coast. If you travel to Queensland, you’ll probably find yourself visiting Brisbane, even if you’re just passing through on your way further north. The UNESCO World Heritage Great Barrier Reef, the ancient Daintree Rainforest and the stunning Whitsunday Islands, are all gems of Queensland that you don’t want to miss.

Brisbane in Australia should definitely be on your itinerary and there are so many great reasons to visit. These are my top 15.

Brisbane Australia
Brisbane in Australia

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15 Best Reasons to Visit Brisbane in Australia

1. The warm sunny weather

Sunshine is one of the main reasons visitors love Brisbane in Australia. Winter is the most popular time to visit and Australians from southern states like NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, flock to Brisbane to enjoy the warmer weather.

During the winter months, the temperatures in Brisbane are balmy with warm sunny days and average highs of 22°C (72° F) and lows of 12°C (54° F) from June to August.

Brisbane summers are usually hot and humid with average temperatures from 21°C (70° F) to 29°C (84° F). Rainfall is highest in the summer, from December to February and heavy summer rain and storms can cause flooding on the Brisbane River.

2. Brisbane is a Transport Hub

Brisbane is one of Australia’s largest cities and the capital of Queensland. This means it’s a transport hub and an economic and cultural centre. Tourism is important to the local economy and all the services you’ll need to visit comfortably are easily accessible. Brisbane Australia has an international airport so you can fly there directly from overseas. Many domestic flights to the far north of Queensland stopover in Brisbane, so it’s likely you’ll pass through Brisbane airport on your way to the gorgeous Whitsunday Islands, Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.   

3. Brisbane has an Attractive Riverside Location

The city of Brisbane in Australia has many attractions and its lovely riverside location is at the forefront. The city centre spans both sides of the Brisbane River with the older part of the city and the Queen Street Mall on the north side and the popular Parklands and the Arts Precinct on the Southbank. Travelling by ferry is a popular way to enjoy the lovely river scenery and you can spend a morning enjoying a sightseeing cruise on the Brisbane River.

Keep an eye out for the Story Bridge. It’s a heritage-listed steel cantilevered bridge that crosses the Brisbane River connecting the CBD with the southern suburbs. The Story Bridge was designed by John Bradfield, the engineer who designed the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. If you feel adventurous you can abseil and climb the Story Bridge for fabulous views across Brisbane.

Great river and city views are also on offer when you take a leisurely stroll across the Kurilpa Pedestrian Bridge. The design of the Kurilpa Bridge is distinctive and it’s especially scenic at sunset and after dark when the bridge is lit up with coloured lights.  The Kurilpa Pedestrian Bridge is a great way to get to the Gallery of Modern Art and a leisurely stroll along the riverside pathway will take you further into Brisbane’s Arts Precinct.

Gallery of Modern Art Brisbane Australia
Gallery of Modern Art Brisbane Australia

4. Brisbane is a Cultural Centre

Brisbane in Australia is the cultural Centre of Queensland and one of the best things to do in Brisbane is to visit the Arts Precinct. On the Southbank of the Brisbane River, you’ll find the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) and the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). QAG displays the work of Queenslanders & artwork from around the world and GOMA is full of quirky contemporary artworks by local and international artists. The Art Galleries are in 2 separate buildings, 150 metres apart and both are FREE to visit.

The Queensland Museum is one of Australia’s most popular museums. The natural history and human artifacts exhibits at the museum are FREE. The Queensland Museum is located next door to the Art Gallery within the Queensland cultural precinct and nearby on the South bank are a selection of cafes and restaurants.

Across the road is the Queensland Performing Arts Centre with theatres and auditoriums that host operas, ballets, and musical theatre performances such as Phantom of the Opera and Mamamia amongst others.

The Queensland Conservatorium of Music and Griffith University are located near the museum within the entertainment district on Brisbane’s Southbank.

5. Brisbane has Heritage-listed buildings

To discover historical Brisbane, just wander through the city centre. There are many beautiful restored heritage buildings that bring distinction to the city. In the centre of Brisbane in Australia, you’ll find King George Square, the Clock Tower, Brisbane’s most famous landmark, the City Hall and the Museum of Brisbane.

Customs House, Parliament House, St John’s Church and The Treasury are some other beautiful heritage buildings to look out for.

Consider booking a room at The Treasury and staying in luxury at a heritage building right in the centre of Brisbane.

The TReasury Brisbane Australia
The Treasury Brisbane Australia

6. Beautiful Tropical Gardens

Brisbane in Australia is full of stunning gardens and they are one of the city’s most attractive features. It’s a pleasure to walk around the city enjoying the many beautiful green spaces when you’re visiting Brisbane.

Southbank Parklands

The Southbank Parklands are a highlight of Brisbane in Australia. Located right on the riverfront, the promenade has picturesque river and city views. It’s lovely to stroll through the parklands and relax on a park bench soaking in the views and the atmosphere. Don’t miss Streets Beach on a hot sunny day. The man-made beach is surrounded by an aqua-blue lagoon and it’s a popular spot for a swim. Nearby, a large Ferris wheel known as the Wheel of Brisbane delivers dramatic city and river views. Brisbane’s Southbank Parklands are a pleasure to visit and should not be missed.

Roma Street Parkland

Located a short walk from the centre of Brisbane, the Roma Street Parkland is a huge subtropical garden with a variety of themed gardens and recreational areas with sculptures and artworks and an open-air amphitheatre for outdoor entertainment.

Roma St Parkland Brisbane Australia

Brisbane City Botanic Gardens

Just a short walk from Queen Street Mall you’ll find the City Botanic Gardens, another lovely green escape beside the Brisbane River.

Brisbane Botanic Gardens

The Brisbane Botanic Gardens are located 7 km from the city centre at the foot of Mount Coot-tha, Brisbane’s tallest mountain. Nearby, the heritage-listed lookout at One Tree Hill in Mount Coot-tha delivers sweeping views across the city.

7. FREE Public Transport in the City Centre

When you’re visiting Brisbane, make sure you take a ride on the City Hopper Ferry. It’s FREE and so is the City Loop Bus. Brisbane’s city centre is easy to explore on foot but when you’re tired of walking you can jump on a bus or a ferry and give your feet a rest. Brisbane in Australia has an efficient public transport system. Buses, trains, and ferries run regularly so getting around without a car is uncomplicated.

If you do have a car, driving to the centre of Brisbane is easy but parking can be expensive. You can expect to find parking metres throughout the city so plan to use public transport or explore central Brisbane on foot and leave your car at your hotel.

Brisbane Australia
Brisbane Australia

8. Hugging a Koala at The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

One of the best things to do in Brisbane is to meet the local wildlife at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. It’s one of the best places in Australia to see endangered koalas and one of the few places in Australia where you can hold a koala.

The Sanctuary cares for more than 100 koalas and other native wildlife like kangaroos, platypus, wombats, dingos, crocodiles and birds. The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a world leader in Koala welfare and research and should be at the top of your list of places to see when you’re visiting Brisbane.

Hugging a koala will be a highlight of your visit and you’ll also have a great time hand-feeding the kangaroos and wallabies. The outdoor eating area is surrounded by koalas so you’ll have company for lunch and you can enjoy watching the resident koalas sleeping and munching on eucalyptus leaves while you eat your sandwich.

You’ll find the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Fig Tree Pocket, a leafy suburb of Brisbane in Australia. It’s easy to drive there by car but the best way to get there is to cruise down the Brisbane River. Ferries leave from the city centre.

Hugging a Koala at the Lone Pine Loala Sanctuary Brisbane
Hugging a Koala at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary Brisbane Australia

9. The Beautiful Beaches

Brisbane in Australia is a gateway to the stunning tropical beaches of the Gold Coast & the Sunshine Coast. Less than an hour’s drive from the city centre are gorgeous white sandy beaches and tropical islands.

The Gold Coast

Famous for sun, surf, sand and nightlife, the Gold Coast is around 70 kilometres east of Brisbane in Australia. The Gold Coast has some lovely beaches and is best known for the resort town Surfer’s Paradise, with its famous skyline and high-rise buildings that tower over a gorgeous beach. As the name suggests, Surfer’s Paradise has great surf breaks and there’s also a lively nightclub scene. It’s the place to go to work on your suntan during the day and party the night away.

If you’re heading to Surfers Paradise you can transfer directly to the Gold Coast from Brisbane Airport and bypass the city.

The Sunshine Coast

Around 1.5 hours to the north of Brisbane are the beautiful Sunshine Coast and the lovely beaches of Noosa Heads and Caloundra. The beach suburbs have a laid-back vibe and the hinterland is stunning with lush forests and mountains to explore. From July to October each year, humpback whales swim past the east coast of Australia and whale watching is a favourite way to spend a warm winter day on the Sunshine Coast. Nearby in Beerwah is the famous Australia Zoo.

Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast
Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast

10. Australia Zoo

For many international visitors to Brisbane, Australia Zoo is top of the list of places to see. Australia Zoo was made famous by the Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, a larger-than-life wildlife conservationist and TV personality. Tragically, Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray while filming on The Great Barrier Reef in 2006. Australia Zoo is run by his family and is a memorial to Steve Irwin, raising much-needed funds to support wildlife conservation.

The Zoo is home to more than 1200 animals from Australia and around the world and offers some wonderful opportunities to get up close and personal with the wildlife. There are animal shows throughout the day and one of many highlights is the crocodile show in the zoo’s “Crocosseum” with Robert Irwin, Steve’s son.

Australia Zoo plays an important role in educating the public about wildlife and is a world leader in wildlife conservation. There is a wildlife hospital on-site with an animal rescue unit that treats wildlife in need. If you want to help you can become a wildlife warrior, adopt an animal or donate to Australia Zoo to support wildlife conservation.

For the best experience at Australia Zoo, book an encounter with your favourite animal and enjoy meeting them up close and learning all about their habits. The zoo raises money to fund its conservation projects through Wildlife encounters like hugging a koala or feeding a giraffe. When you book an animal encounter you’ll have a special wildlife experience and you’ll be supporting a good cause.

Australia Zoo is located outside Brisbane on Queensland’s lovely Sunshine Coast. It takes around an hour to get there by car and a bit longer by public transport.  An easy way to get there is to book a round-trip transfer from Brisbane to Australia Zoo. Skip the stress of arranging your own transport and travel comfortably by coach. Australia Zoo entrance tickets are included.

If you prefer to make your own way there by public transport, a shuttle bus from Beerwah train station takes passengers to the zoo. Put aside a full day to explore the beautifully kept grounds and enclosures at Australia Zoo. The grounds are huge and the weather may be quite hot so wear comfortable shoes, and sunscreen and pack a refillable water bottle.

Feeding a giraffe at Australia Zoo in Queensland
Feeding a giraffe at Australia Zoo in Queensland

11. Great food

Brisbane in Australia has a first-rate foodie scene and is known for its homegrown beef, avocados, bananas, sugar cane, and all kinds of fresh tropical fruits. Some of the best cafes and restaurants in Brisbane can be found in Fortitude Valley, Southbank and in the CBD.

Brisbane is also the home of the lamington, a traditional Australian cake made from vanilla sponge coated in sweet chocolate and coconut. Named after Lord Lamington, a former Governor of Queensland, Brisbane is the perfect place to enjoy a lamington served with a cup of tea.

12. Buzzing Nightlife

Fortitude Valley, the suburb that never sleeps is the place to go for nightlife when you’re visiting Brisbane. Some of the hip and trendy nightclubs in Fortitude Valley that may take your fancy are Suzi Wong’s Good Time Bar and X Cargo. Head to The Zoo for live music, or to The Beat Megaclub if you’re looking for an LGBTI-friendly bar. Sixes and Sevens is popular on Sundays when the bar is packed full of revellers spilling out into the courtyard.

Fortitude Valley also has great restaurants, cafes, and some of the best shopping in Brisbane Australia.

13. Shopping

Queen Street Mall in central Brisbane is the city’s main shopping centre and you’ll find a selection of well-known national and international labels and some great places to eat.

If you enjoy shopping at markets, head to Brisbane’s Southbank Parklands on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays.

Fortitude Valley has a selection of designer boutique shops on James Street. And in the hip laneways, you’ll also find street art and street markets in Fortitude Valley.

The Kurilpa Pedestrian Bridge in Brisbane Australia lit up at night
The Kurilpa Pedestrian Bridge in Brisbane Australia

14. The Gabba Sports Stadium

Like other capital cities in Australia, Brisbane has its own sporting venue to host the most popular sports events. The Gabba is one of Australia’s most famous stadiums hosting football, AFL, cricket, and Rugby League. The Gabba can accommodate huge crowds of sports fans and the venue seats more than 50,000 spectators.

Brisbane is famous for hosting the 1982 Commonwealth Games and is preparing to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2032.

15. Stunning National Parks

Another great reason to visit Brisbane in Australia is to explore the hinterland. Just outside Brisbane are some stunning mountains and National Parks with some truly magnificent scenery.

The D’Aguilar National Park is a gem right on Brisbane’s doorstep. Just over an hour northwest of Brisbane, there are vast areas of bushland, sub-tropical rainforests, deep gorges and mountains with spectacular views all the way to Moreton Bay on the coast.     

Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast hinterland has ancient trees and dense rainforests. It’s a great place to get outdoors for some bushwalking.

Nearby Springbrook National Park is known for its rainforest, spectacular waterfalls, and stunning views.

In the Tamborine National Park south of Brisbane, the air is cooler and the landscape is full of charm. Quaint villages, wineries, cafes and boutiques are waiting to be discovered. And there are huge trees, platypus and even glow worms.

North of Brisbane you’ll find the Glasshouse Mountains National Park and nearby, in the shade of the mountains Beerwah, and Australia Zoo. The Glasshouse Mountains are sacred to the local Aboriginal people and there are some stunning bushwalks and lookout points with views all the way to the Sunshine Coast.

West of Brisbane, Main Range National Park has stunning views, waterfalls and walking trails.

And off the coast, Stradbroke Island, Moreton Island and St Helena Island have National Parks that protect the history and unique biodiversity of the islands. St Helena Island was Queensland’s first penal settlement, Stradbroke Island has sand dunes, lakes, and endangered heathlands and Moreton Island is a large protected sand island with no sealed roads.

Visit Morton Island or Stradbroke Island on a day trip from Brisbane

Cuddly koalas
Cuddly koalas at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

The Best Things to do in Brisbane Australia

  • Wander along the Promenade in the Southbank Parklands and enjoy the riverside views. Stop for a swim at Streets Beach and browse the weekend markets
  • Visit the Arts Precinct – Museums & Art Galleries are FREE. For a fee, you can book a ticket to the latest Music Theatre show at the Brisbane Performing Arts Centre.
  • Stroll through the city centre past heritage buildings
  • Shop in Queen Street Mall
  • Catch the free City Hopper Ferry to get around
  • Cruise on the Brisbane river
  • Cuddle a koala at the Lone Pine Koala sanctuary. Cruise down the Brisbane river to Fig Tree Pocket and the Koala sanctuary
  • Spend a day at the world-famous Australia Zoo. Watch a show at the “Crocosseum” and enjoy an encounter with your favourite animal for the best wildlife experience
  • Relax in the City Botanic Gardens, enjoy the beautiful Roma Street Gardens and visit the Brisbane Botanic Gardens at Mt. Coot-tha
  • Enjoy sweeping city views from the heritage-listed Mt Coot-tha lookout
  • Dance the night away in Fortitude Valley
  • Go rock climbing or Abseiling at Kangaroo Point cliffs
  • Discover the New Farm River Walk
  • Escape the city and visit the Gold Coast to relax on the golden sands of Surfers Paradise
  • Hike in the beautiful Springbrook and Tamborine National Parks or around Glasshouse Mountain.
Brisbane Australia
Albert St. Uniting Church Brisbane Australia

Where to stay in Brisbane Australia

Brisbane in Australia has a selection of accommodation options for all budgets and these are a few that may be of interest:

Budget: Brisbane City YHA is affordable, comfortable and friendly providing dormitory and private rooms close to the city.

Mid-Range: Soho Brisbane Hotel I enjoyed staying here! It’s good value and I loved the location next to the beautiful Roma Street Gardens and the train station. This hotel is just a short walk from the Queen Street Mall, the Brisbane River and the ferry to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

Luxury: The Treasury Brisbane is a luxury hotel in a beautiful heritage building. Located right in the centre of Brisbane beside the river, this hotel gets exceptional reviews.

Essentials for Travel in Australia

A Travel Guide for Australia will help you to plan your visit and always comes in handy. I rarely travel without my trusted Lonely Planet Guide.

Travel Insurance is essential for peace of mind while you travel in Australia. I always use World Nomads so I can concentrate on enjoying my trip without worrying about something going wrong.

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17 thoughts on “15 Best Reasons to Visit Brisbane in Australia”

  1. I adore Brisbane city wandering Southbank and surrounds is a favourite as are the historic buildings. It is just the heat that I can’t take… but we travel there in winter…so always a way around…

    1. Fantastic Post. Very Nicely Written Brisbane looks like such a great and beautiful place to visit. Great Recommendation. Thank you for sharing my friend.??

  2. When I visited Brisbane years ago it was such a quick trip I hardly remember much! I missed out on so much this this has reminded me that I should make it back over sometimes soon, I’d love to explore the national parks and also the architecture!

  3. Heh! You the reason I would like to visit Brisbane wasn’t even in the top ten! The food! I am glad you included it though. 😉

    I had no idea there was so much cool old architecture and it’s really cool that public transit is free within the city!

  4. Wow, what a vibrant city! I love that it’s riverside. I’d love to see the national park nearby. Saving for a future trip – thanks!

  5. I was lucky to spend a week in Brisbane about a decade ago attending a business conference. I fell in love with this city. This is a great guide about what to see and do Linda!

  6. Great post! I’ve never traveled to Australia, but will definitely have to check out this destination on my first trip! I love that there is free public transportation in city center! Thanks for sharing.

  7. This is a timely post as I will be in Brisbane for 4 days in January on my way home from New Zealand. A comprehensive post that has given me some great ideas of things to do, where to stay (I fancy The Treasury), and where to go to eat.

  8. I was an exchange student at UQ in Brisbane in 2014 and this post brought back so many sweet memories. Brisbane is a great city and surely deserves more attention!

  9. Wow! Brisbane sounds like a great destination city! I love nature so I’d go just for the fruit trees, beaches, and national parks! My daughters and I used to watch the Crocodile Hunter so that would make my itinerary as well! My grandmother was Australian, my dad was born there and we still have family but sadly I’ve not made it to Australia yet. I’ll save this for when that time comes! -Angie, We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

  10. I love Brisbane´s riverside location and the cultural side, hope to visit one day! But my kids would be ready to travel there only for hugging a koala lol Thanks for the inspiration!

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