The Getaway
30 Things to Do in Brisbane

Welcome to Brisbane, where the sun (usually) shines, and the opportunities to explore are endless. This stunning Australian city delights tourists and locals with its vast collection of things to do, from discovering the local arts scene to pushing yourself to the limits in outdoor adventures. With lush parks, dynamic street scenes and a unique cultural sophistication, this city is the perfect gateway to both urban adventures and natural getaways. Whether you're an arts enthusiast, a nature lover or someone in between, you'll find all sorts of ways to keep the excitement rolling in this city.

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01 Climb Story Bridge

view on interesting modern bridge at night with city skyline in the background (story bridge,brisbane,queensland,australia)

Story Bridge is a must-see while in Brisbane, but beware of heights. You'll find yourself climbing the bridge between Kangaroo Point and Fortitude Valley over the Brisbane River. If driving over a bridge that tall doesn't have your heart pounding, try braving the climb. Walking along the rails, you'll reach heights of around 260 feet over the river below and be treated to some of the most amazing views of the surrounding areas.

For an even more memorable occasion, make the trek at night. The city lights twinkle like stars as you look over them from the strategically placed platform. Whether you simply want the adrenaline rush or you're looking for that perfect photo opportunity, you'll find it.

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02 Visit South Bank

BRISBANE, AUS - DEC 29 2016: Streets Beach in South Bank Parkland. It's inner-city man-made beach next to city center. Martin Valigursky/Shutterstock

South Bank is a bit of a cultural and recreational hub in Brisbane. In fact, it's home to both the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, two neighboring art galleries that comprise QAGOMA. Statues, modern artwork and indigenous art all demand your attention.

You'll also find Streets Beach in the area. This manmade beach boasts sparkling white sand, tropical plants and a lagoon for swimming. Families, art lovers and casual visitors will love spending an afternoon here.

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03 Explore Brisbane's markets

Brisbane's markets make for unique opportunities to discover local artists, vendors and foods. You'll find them sprawling across the city.

You won't want to miss the Eat Street Northshore Markets. This unique experience blends carnival-style markets with over 180 shipping containers that have been transformed to create the stands. World cuisines, from Japanese pancakes to Mexican burritos and American ribs, fill the air with tantalizing scents.

Jan Powers Markets operates four locations across Brisbane, but City Markets takes the cake. Enjoy a culinary journey as you savor the city's flavors and discover artisan crafts.

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04 Dine at Howard Smith Wharves

Howard Smith Wharves brings the best of Brisbane's vibrant dining and lifestyle to one location just 10 minutes away from the city's heart. In recent years, it's been transformed into a bustling boardwalk.

Dine like the locals do while soaking in some sunshine and enjoying the riverside sights with Brisbane CBD's skyline in the background.

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05 Discover Brisbane's art scene

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA -27 JUL 2017- View of the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), an art museum located in the City of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Brisbane's art scene runs deep in the city's streets. QAGOMA is the star, offering free entry to all permanent exhibitions. However, it runs well beyond this. The Queensland Museum has natural and cultural attractions, including a myriad of artwork, alongside scientific discoveries. The HOTA Gallery is a six-level art gallery where a number of Australian contemporary art pieces evoke awe in all who behold them. Even the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre highlights the art scene, with over 50 works where you'll find Indigenous contemporary artwork.

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06 Animal encounters at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Have you ever hugged a koala? You can at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the world's first and largest koala sanctuary. While you'll have to pay extra for photo opportunities, it's an experience every tourist needs.

Beyond the koalas, you can encounter several other species, getting face-to-face with owls, snakes, sheepdogs, dingos and farm animals. If there's an animal lover in your group, they're bound to love this activity.

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07 Outdoor activities in the city

The city's comfortable weather and close proximity to sea, river and mountains make for innumerable outdoor excursions. Prepare to hike unforgettable trails or take to the Brisbane River on a kayak. Take a walk through stunning parks or botanical gardens. You could spend your entire vacation in Brisbane outdoors and not even come close to exhausting the list of possibilities. 

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08 Visit local islands

An aerial view of the shipwrecks and ferry on Moreton Island, Queensland, Australia

If you want to get out of Brisbane for an afternoon, the local islands offer the perfect escape. Hop on a local ferry and head over to Moreton Island or North Stradbroke Island, where your adventures will continue. You'll find top-notch beaches, amazing and unique wildlife and leisure activities galore.

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09 Cultural tours

Brisbane's ancient cultural roots run deep, and they're greatly celebrated. Aboriginal cultural tours can be found all around the city, offering a unique peek into traditions and beliefs.

Check out the Birrunga Gallery and Dining, an Indigenous-owned venue where Aboriginal artistry shines. Nyanda Cultural Tours will take you through a smoking ceremony, fire-making and other practices.

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10 Performance at Brisbane Powerhouse

The brick facade of Brisbane Powerhouse might not look like much from the outside. After all, it's a 1920s-era power station that's since been repurposed into a contemporary performing arts venue. However, you'll find the most amazing shows inside. From live music and theater to comedy and arts festivals, there's always something fun going on. Check out their schedule to discover your next favorite performance.

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11 Explore Brisbane Botanic Gardens

Brisbane City Botanical Gardens, Queensland, Australia

Picturesque gardens and sprawling green spaces make Brisbane Botanic Gardens a must-see in the city. Take an afternoon to meditate in the tranquil Japanese garden or go on an urban nature walk with the kids through the Hide 'n' Seek Children's Trail. Sensory gardens feature fragrant scents and vivid colors to the sound of birds chirping around you.

This garden's most unique feature is the Tropical Display Dome, a massive glass dome with climate control that allows it to house tropical plants and fish. Water lilies, palms and other tropical species create awe-inspiring scenes you won't want to miss.

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12 Shopping in Queen Street Mall

Retail therapy never looked so massive. At the Queen Street Mall, you'll enter Brisbane's premier shopping district. In fact, this area is considered the heart of Brisbane, featuring over 500 stores across several businesses and city blocks.

While you'll find several well-known national brands here, they're intermingled with local boutiques and amazing cuisine opportunities.

Over 1,000 events take place annually throughout the mall. With that kind of track record, there's always something new to do here.

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13 Nightlife in Fortitude Valley

Brisbane, Australia - 08-03-2008 : Situation of Fortitude Valley, is an inner suburb of Brisbane, known as commercial and entertainment district, destination for tourist to dine and shopping. Sony Herdiana/Shutterstock

When the sun starts to set, but you're not ready for the fun to end, look no further than Fortitude Valley for a truly phenomenal nightlife scene. Lively nightclubs thrum with bass and energy when the sun sets. Music venues bring live performers to the stage to serenade you while you sip drinks. You'll find bars of all kinds, from rooftop to cocktail, throughout the area, so you're bound to find the perfect scene for you.

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14 Weekend at West End

Walking path under jacaranda trees in the Brisbane suburb of West End

West End feels like its own separate world, rich with culture and with a welcoming community to match. The eclectic, artsy vibe is unparalleled here and if you like exploring the road less traveled, you're bound to find it here. As you wander the area, you're just as likely to find an alternative cafe as you are a shop selling artisan wares.

Boundary Street is the place to be to partake in delectable dining opportunities or discover live local music. It's the place to be for aspiring artists, and witnessing the community support their ventures is awe-inspiring.

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15 Take a river cruise

ferry cruise on brisbane river with city skyline background

The Brisbane River snakes through the city before meeting the ocean. See the city from a whole new perspective on a river cruise, where you'll see stunning sights like the Brisbane Wheel, Victoria Bridge and the city's skyline as the boat meanders through the water.

Some tours offer packages including tea, coffee, sunset or skyline departure times for a more customizable experience. No matter what time of day you take your tour, however, it's sure to be breathtaking.

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16 Visit the Museum of Brisbane

The Museum of Brisbane sits in Brisbane City Hall (which is a sight to behold on its own, by the way). Here, exhibitions showcase the city's social history and artistry. Collections of ceramics showcase the extensive history this area is known for.

Alongside permanent exhibits, temporary installations change things up and offer insight into specific topics, like the history of photography or floral imagery in Aboriginal and Australian art.

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17 Relax at Roma Street Parkland

Roma Street Parkland in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Roma Street Parkland's sprawling gardens and green spaces attract families in droves, and for good reason. Not only are they beautiful, but they also frequently host events. A playground, lakes, an amphitheater and even cafes all reside within the park, which is open 24/7.

Attend a free guided tour through the land, but be sure to register in advance. Along the way, you'll learn more about the gardens and amenities throughout the park.

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18 Attend a sports event at The Gabba

Brisbane, Queensland Australia 10 04 2020: Aerial view of The Gabba Stadium in Brisbane

Sports lovers, there's something for you in Brisbane too. The Brisbane Cricket Ground, commonly called the Gabba thanks to its location in Woolloongabba, hosts Australian rules football, cricket and a myriad of other sports in its circular field.

If you want to immerse yourself in local culture, attending one of these games will show you the community spirit this city is known for in spades. It's capable of seating 42,000 people, making for a truly unbelievable experience when you're in the stands. In particular, this venue is home to the Brisbane Lions, Brisbane Heat and Queensland Bulls.

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19 Enjoy seafood at Eagle Street Pier

Brisbane, Australia on 10th Jan 2016:Eagle Street Pier is an iconic waterfront precinct in Brisbane with world-class dining options and unrivalled views of the Brisbane River and Story Bridge

One of the best parts of exploring new cities is diving into their food scenes. In Brisbane, you can expect world-class dining. If you're a seafood lover, you're in luck because this city by the sea has an abundance of fresh options. Head to Eagle Street Pier for an unforgettable dining experience.

16 different restaurants, bars and cafes line Eagle Street Pier, offering a little taste of everything. Even better, most of the restaurants grant you riverside views that manage to elevate the flavor.

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20 Hike Mount Coot-tha

Views from Mount. Coot-Tha

Mount Coot-tha might look imposing on the horizon, but it's definitely worth climbing. It's just as iconic to the area, and as soon as you start hiking its trails, you're in for a world of fun. Along the way, you're bound to find some of the best lookout points, offering mindblowing vistas of the city below.

Here, you can make your way through gum trees and as you try to spot native wildlife or find the hidden gem waterfall, Slaughter Falls, along the way. If you're visiting the waterfalls, though, it's best to go after it's been raining for the most impressive flow.

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21 Visit the Queensland Museum

BRISBANE -JAN 02 2019:Life-size skeleton of Muttaburrasaurus langdoni dinosaurs in Queensland Museum.Muttaburrasaurus was a large, plant-eating ornithopod from the Early Cretaceous of eastern Australi ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock

As the custodian of the state's natural and cultural heritage, the Queensland Museum is positively brimming with new things to discover. Whether you're with your family or it's an adults-only excursion, the exhibits are plentiful, covering a vast expanse of topics and, most importantly, are enjoyable.

Within its halls, you'll see animals that once walked the lands you're standing on and those that do today through the Animals of Queensland exhibit. If you're bringing children along for the journey, they'll discover the SparkLab, where they can delve into STEM topics. Regular revolving exhibitions celebrate other topics, like learning about the diversity of insects.

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22 Explore New Farm Park

New Farm Park, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

18,000 people couldn't be wrong about the excitement awaiting at New Farm Park. That's the number of weekly visitors this park brings in, and many of them come from around the world to marvel at its beauty.

More conveniently, it's right next to Brisbane Powerhouse. Here, you'll find sprawling lawns and stunning gardens that remind you, quite literally, to stop and smell the roses. If you can, plan your visit during one of the free live music festivals at the Rotunda.

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23 Visit the Wheel of Brisbane

Illuminated Ferris wheel at sunset, Colorful sky and Ferris wheel.

For a birds-eye view of the city, you can't miss the Wheel of Brisbane. This iconic landmark on South Bank helps define the city's skyline and also takes you up nearly 200 feet into the air, rain or shine. Don't worry; no matter what the weather is outside, you'll be nice and cozy in the air-conditioned gondola.

This activity is worth doing any time you're in the city if you want unforgettable views of the skyline, but it's particularly memorable for special events or at night. You can book VIP experiences like the Cupid's Gondola package, which transforms your ride into a full-fledged date, complete with drinks and decorations.

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24 Attend the Brisbane Festival

South Brisbane Queensland, Australia - September 24 2022: Brisbane Festival 2022 Sign with the Wheel of Brisbane in the background POC/Shutterstock

The city comes alive at the annual Brisbane Festival. For three weeks, the city becomes a full-fledged party with live performances, stunning fireworks displays and endless possibilities.

This multi-arts program is a testament to the city's dedication to artistry in all forms. Dancers, visual artists, and performers take the stage to display their prowess and delight the crowds. Light installations and interactive exhibits attract people from around the nation and even the world to this awesome celebration.

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25 Explore the Brisbane Riverwalk

Brisbane waterfront

For a break from the action, try a leisurely stroll down the Brisbane Riverwalk. With fresh air and beautiful riverside views, it's a favorite destination for walking and cycling.

This particular path takes you between New Farm and Kangaroo Point, crossing over the river.

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26 Picnic at Kangaroo Point Cliffs

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 27 2012: A group of young people climb on the rocks the Brisbane River. Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, Australia.

The dramatic cliffs of Kangaroo Point are worth marveling over, and they're worth picnicking on or under as well. You'll have to do some hiking or climbing to get to the top, but you'll be greatly rewarded with amazing views of the river, city and mountains.

If you don't feel like hiking or rock climbing, Captain Burke Point, under the end of Story Bridge, is a local favorite for picnicking. It's right next to the river, and mature trees across verdant lawns make for perfect shady spots to spread your picnic blanket.

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27 Visit the Treasury Casino

The Treasury Casino is like an adult's amusement park, featuring the greatest in hospitality. Two heritage buildings bring the opulence of five-star hotels with constant action in the only 24/7 casino in the city.

Play your way or enjoy the several fine dining opportunities you'll find throughout. You'll find it all, from grilled steaks to Asian fusion. Many of the restaurants and bars also offer live music. LiveWire 24/7 Sports Bar is a favorite here, with live music and DJs at night and all the sports games you could possibly want to watch by day.

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28 Scuba diving at Moreton Bay

Drone shots of Moreton Bay in Australia Near Brisbane

Try your hand at scuba diving in Moreton Bay to see the area from a whole new perspective. Nearby, you'll find the Tangalooma Wrecks, the remains of a shipwreck that's since been reclaimed by local wildlife.

If you'd rather avoid the wreckage, you'll still find over 100 species of marine life, from coral and sponges to shimmering fish darting about. With such pristine waters, you'll feel like you're looking right into an aquarium as you take in the sights.

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29 Skydiving over Redcliffe

Aerial drone view of Settlement Cove Lagoon, Redcliffe, Brisbane, Australia

If trekking across Story Bridge wasn't enough adrenaline for you, try skydiving over Redcliffe. You'll get unbeatable aerial views of Moreton Bay and the surrounding areas and a journey worth writing home about.

This isn't for the faint of heart. You'll be brought up 14,000 feet into the air by plane and then jump for a massive free fall. After you get closer to the ground, you'll be guided into a gentle landing by parachute on the beach's sandy shores.

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30 Attend a concert at the Tivoli

One of the oldest music venues in Brisbane is The Tivoli. The entire venue retains its original Art Deco vibe and its smaller size creates an intimate setting to enjoy music or comedy shows. Whether you're sitting on the balcony or on the main floor, there's not a bad seat in the house, and the energy is infectious. Tickets sell out frequently, so you'll want to plan ahead to check this one off your Brisbane bucket list.

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