Activities - Explore
- Getting Around
- South Bank and the Cultural Centre
- Parks and Gardens
- Story Bridge Adventure Climb
- River Cruise
- Mt Coot-tha
- Historical Buildings
- Kangaroo Point Cliffs
- Ferris Wheel
Getting anywhere in Brisbane is extremely easy. The CBD is relatively flat and condensed, which makes it perfect for walking or cycling and virtually all other areas can be reached by public transport, i.e. train, bus or ferry. All are linked by a common ticketing system, known as TransLink (+61 13 12 30). It has a handy journey planner online and all the ticket details, otherwise you can visit their information centre at King George Square Bus Station.
There is also the Brisbane City Loop, a free and convenient bus service travelling in both directions around the CBD. It operates from Monday to Friday 7am-5.50pm, arriving every ten minutes at any red bus stop.
Cycling is a wonderful and practical way to get from Brisbane-A to Brisbane-B. There are over 27 km of bike paths in the city, with many winding their way pleasantly through parks and along the river. Bicycles can be rented in the centre of the City Botanic Gardens. Brisbane City Council has also recently introduced a scheme known as CityCycle, which offers bicycles for hire at different stations around the city (click the link for details and maps of the bike paths). It’s a great way to see the city and its surrounds!
South Bank and the Cultural Centre
Formerly the site of World Expo '88, this relatively recent development is across the Brisbane River from the heart of the city. An attractive area, it features a collection of modern buildings surrounded by extensive parklands, and an artificial beach known as Streets Beach. People flock here to cool off with a swim when the temperatures get high, which is quite often, and it's a great place to hang out and swim for free! Also in South Bank are the shops, cafes, restaurants and cinemas of the Grey Street precinct and Suncorp Piazza, an open-air concert space which hosts free live events and movies.
South Bank is Queensland’s Cultural Centre, most of the city's museums and galleries are located here along the river. The Cultural Centre has its own busway stop and can be accessed by a large number of different routes. There are many places to visit, but it's also just a pretty spot to have stroll along the bougainvillea covered walkways.
Along South Bank are:
- Queensland Performing Arts Centre A concert hall with theatres, galleries and studios hosting a variety of events from comedy, to musicals, kids theatre and orchestral performance.
- Queensland Museum The museum has free entry except for specialty exhibitions, which are usually cool and worth paying for anyway.
- Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) It has wonderful exhibitions, and when you're done here you can wander down to GoMA.
- Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) Australia's largest modern art gallery, it regularly hosts exhibitions featuring internationally famous artists (such as Warhol and Picasso) as well as many local contemporary artists.
Parks and Gardens
- City Botanic Gardens A 10-15 minute walk from the city centre will place you at these delightful tropical gardens. Amongst the greenery you'll find plentiful walking and cycling trails, and from Monday to Saturday at 11am and 1pm they host free hour-long guided tours. These tours present a mix of the history of the gardens and the city, whereas the garden tours at Mt Coot-tha (see: Mt Coot-tha below) are more focused on the wide variety of plants. There’s no need to book the tours, and the gardens are free and open 24 hours a day.
- New Farm Park This historic park is famous for its long line of jacaranda trees, shady picnic areas and large rose gardens that contain hundreds of varieties of roses.
- Roma Street Parklands The world's largest subtropical garden in a city centre, and home to 1,800 individual species of plants. Experience the theme gardens such as the topiary maze and rainforest walk, with many public artworks to admire along the way. The park holds events and markets, as well as a range of guided tours.
Story Bridge Adventure Climb
Climb to the top of Brisbane's iconic bridge, enjoying inspiring 360 degree views of the city, the mountain ranges surrounding it and the Moreton Bay Islands off the coast. It costs about $100, with climbs at dawn, afternoon or night. Contact Storey Bridge Adventure Climb for more details.
There are many tours available that cruise the Brisbane River, and it's quite a serene way to take in the sights of the city. One operator is River City Cruises who have one and a half hour sightseeing tours daily for $25, departing from Jetty A in the Southbank Parklands.
- Brisbane Market Place A massive produce market held on Saturdays, a craft/trash-and-treasure market on Sundays and twilight markets on Wednesday evenings in Rocklea.
- Chandler Markets A food and craft market featuring over 350 stalls to choose from, located in Chandler. Open every Sunday 5am till 1pm (all weather).
- South Bank Markets Open Friday nights 5pm-10pm, Saturday 10am-5pm and Sunday 9am-5pm, and selling a range of arts, craft, home-wares, collectibles, designer fashion and much more.
- Jan Powers Farmers Markets Buy the freshest fruit, crispest vegetables and leanest cuts of meat from one of the four markets across the city. Check the website for times and locations.
- Alma Park Zoo A small 20 acre zoo with a range of Australian and exotic animals, including monkeys, crocodiles, red pandas, snakes, bears and, of course, the Australian favourites. It’s in Dakabin, about a thirty minute drive north of the CBD, or you can catch the Zoo Train from the city on the Caboolture line. Admission is $32 for adults, $22 for kids or $90 for a family ticket.
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary The world's first and largest koala sanctuary, with over 130 of the fluffy critters. Cuddle a koala, hand feed kangaroos and encounter a large variety of Aussie wildlife in a beautiful natural setting. To get there catch the hourly 445 or 430 bus from the city, the daily Mirimar boat cruise from South Bank at 10.20am, or it’s a 15 minute drive from the city via the Western Fwy to Fig Tree Pocket. Entry is $30 for an adult, $21 for kids and $80 for a family ticket.
Visit the Mt Coot-tha Forest to admire the spectacular view over Brisbane from atop Mt Coot-tha. At 287 m above sea level, it is Brisbane's highest point, although not actually a mountain! It forms the eastern extent of the Taylor Range and is the most northerly part of Australia to record snow. It's only 7 km to the south-west of the CBD, making it visible from much of the city. A popular make-out spot with a view, it’s home to the wonderful Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens, which has an extensive array of blooms and a glass tropical dome, the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium and a good (but expensive) cafe and restaurant, Summit.
To get to the peak you can take a scenic drive through the forest, or trek the marked walking trail from the foot of the mountain. Try and arrive just before dusk or dawn to enjoy the transition from day to night and the almost 360 degree views of Brisbane and the surrounding region. There are numerous bike and walking tracks throughout the forest.
There are many exquisite historic buildings throughout the city. Those of particular note are:
- Brisbane City Hall and King George Square Located between Adelaide and Ann Streets, this is the city's most significant historical landmark. There's a Visitor Experience Centre inside City Hall, which you access via the Adelaide St entrance. It's free of charge and you can see a virtual tour of the building whilst it's being restored. Events are often held in the square next to it, check the council website for a calendar of events. Next to City Hall is the Museum of Brisbane (MoB) which is open 10am-5pm daily, also with free admission. It features one floor of exhibits about the history of the city, and another floor exhibiting the work of local artists.
- University of Queensland This is one of Australia's oldest and most prestigious institutions, situated on a bend of the Brisbane River in St Lucia. Its majestic sandstone buildings are surrounded by ornamental lakes, Jacaranda lined boulevards and some of the finest architecture in the city. Visitor attractions include the Great Court, the UQ Art Museum at the James and Mary Emelia Mayne Centre, the Eleanor Schonell Bridge, the Schonell Theatre and Wordsmiths Cafe. The university can be reached by bus from George St on bus numbers 412 and 109, or via the CityCat ferry.
If you'd like further listings of Brisbane's historic buildings see: www.brisbanelivingheritage.org.
Gain an aerial perspective as you float over Brisbane in a hot air balloon. It's often possible to see as far north as the magnificent Glasshouse Mountains, the fabulous Gold Coast to the south and the Moreton Bay Islands out to the east. Try Balloons over Brisbane who have one hour flights for $255 per person.
Kangaroo Point Cliffs
The walls along the Brisbane River at Kangaroo Point are known as the Kangaroo Point Cliffs. They are a popular spot for rock climbers and supply excellent views of the CBD skyline and the botanic gardens just across the river. When the sun goes down the walls are beautifully well-lit, allowing climbing and picnicking activities to carry on after dark. Abseiling and rock climbing classes with an instructor are available from Riverlife Adventures, as well as kayak, kick-bike, rollerblade and bicycle hire to assist your further enjoyment of the area. There are many other operators in the area, as well as barbecue and picnic spots.
The Wheel of Brisbane is a ferris wheel in South Bank that allows you to touch the sky! Well, reach 60 m above the city. It provides gorgeous views of the river and the surrounding area, as well as a fair bit of adrenalin. The trip is a 15 minute ride in an enclosed, climate controlled gondola and open every day from 10am-10pm. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children and $2 for children aged between one and three.
ToursTours are plentiful in and around Brisbane, and can considerably enhance your enjoyment of the city, as well as add some bite to your holiday adventures. They are particularly convenient if you're short on time or transport, but who needs an excuse to take a leisurely sunset cruise or a thrilling skydive?! The following attraction passes, tours and cruises can help you get the most out of your stay, and experience something a little different on the way. Enjoy!
- Brisbane Story Bridge Day and Night Climbs Enjoy the views atop the bridge on this 2.5 hour climb, including safety demonstration and audio commentary as you climb! It's $89-$99 depending on time of day.
- Brisbane Tandem Sky Dive Have a safety and training session before you strap on a parachute, soaring to a height of 11,000 or 14,000 ft between Moreton Bay and the Glasshouse Mountains. From $275.
- Brisbane River Dinner Cruise a three hour seafood buffet dinner sightseeing cruise with onboard entertainment starting from $75 per person.
- Brisbane Story Bridge Climb and Koala Sanctuary Tour Two of Brisbane's most popular activities combined into a day-tour including transfers and entrance fees from $186 per person.
- Best of Brisbane Full-Day Sightseeing Tour A full-day cruise and coach tour of the river, historic city centre, and Mt Coot-the, with a visit to a wildlife sanctuary and a ride on the Wheel of Brisbane for $143.
- Brisbane Sightseeing Tour and Cruise A three hour morning cruise and coach tour of the city centre, river and Wheel of Brisbane for $107-$114 per person.
- Brisbane Afternoon City Tour A 3.5 hour afternoon tour through the city, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and Mt Coot-tha from $76.
- Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast Great Sunshine Way Attraction Pass Choose either a 3 or 5 ticket package to use within a three month period, or a pass of either three or five consecutive days that allows you unlimited access to all the top attractions.