What to do in Brisbane? 5 Highlights

Last updated: August 14th, 2014 | in Beyond Thailand

Unlike many other backpackers I met in Australia, Brisbane is one of my absolute favorite cities down under. While it’s true that there aren’t as many tourist attractions and that you can easily visit one after another in five days, I like Brisbane for it’s good mix between big city feeling that offers many quiet and beautiful spots not just within the city but also within very short distance and easy access by public transport. In other words, it’s great to spend some more time in Brisbane – I even took up a job there – and benefit from the various opportunities for day trips. So here are five of my favorite experiences in Brisbane:

1. South Bank and City Beach

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Probably not only my favorite part of Brisbane, the South Bank with its beautiful promenade on and behind the river is one of the city’s main attractions. It’s fun to stroll along this area at any time of the day, but especially during sunset and then during nighttime when the city skyline opposite the river turns on the light.

Let me mention another highlight here and that is cruising up and down Brisbane River on the popular City Cat. It’s so much fun and a great way to explore to just hop on the ferry and go all the way down the river, through the bridges and off the city center to the suburbs and nice parks just at the ferry stations. The City Cat is a public transport and thus it’s also cheap to cruise along the river. Coming back to South Bank, don’t miss bringing your swimming shorts and relax on the City Beach, an artificial white sand beach just behind the river promenade – amazing!


2. View over Brisbane on Mt Coot-tha Lookout

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This lookout on the top of a hill 7km southeast of Brisbane is by far the most prominent place to get the view all over Queensland’s capital and the surrounding suburbs. While sipping a coffee at the adjacent cafe you can enjoy this amazing view of Brisbane’s skyline in the center not too far from it the green and much more densely populated suburbs. The Mt Coot-tha Lookout is easily accessible by bus and you can even manage to visit it on your way to the following Brissie highlight.

Check out my full post about the Mt Coot-tha Lookout here.


3. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

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Of course everyone traveling to Australia wants to see koalas and even better: Taking a picture holding a koala. While doing this in the nature is almost impossible (you can’t just catch a koala as they are normally hanging out on top of a tree all day long) the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the place to go. A 30-45 minute bus ride from downtown Brisbane, it’s the oldest and largest koala sanctuary in the world and houses not only more than one hundred koalas, but as many kangaroos and lots of other native Australian animals.

Check out the full post about my trip to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary here.


4. North Stradbroke Island

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For sure the least traveled of all the highlights in Brisbane I write about here, North Stradbroke Island 30km east of Brisbane is the perfect destination for a relaxed one day or overnight rip from the big city to an island retreat that offers long strips of typical beautiful and seemingly endless coastlines that I love so much about the Sunshine Coast. There are also many bush walking treks all around the island, with the most popular being the walk along the rocky northern coast or right through the green interior leading to freshwater lakes.

Check out my full post about my trip to North Stradbroke Island here.


5. Surfers Paradise

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Of course a trip to Brisbane isn’t complete if you haven’t given the Gold Coast a visit, and Surfers Paradise is the best place to go on a first time visit. It’s easily accessible by train that takes you there from downtown Brisbane in just about one hour. I spent a night in a budget hostel in Surfers Paradise and just enjoyed two days walking up and down the beach, buying a bottle of wine at Coles supermarket with my friend, looking for a quiet spot to lie down (yes there are empty spots if you just walk down the beach a bit) and just enjoyed hanging out on one this beautiful beach.

I think by know you really know why I love Brisbane so much and think it’s a great place to spend more time in than just rushing through it in a couple of days. How about you – do you like Brisbane? And what are your favorite places / activities in Queensland’s capital? Get the discussion started below.

About Redcat


Redcat lives his dream by living and traveling in Thailand. On Thailand Redcat he shares his experiences and advice to all aspects of (night)life in Thailand. Redcat is also fluent in Thai both spoken and written and is author of the books Thai Beginner’s Course and Thai Love Course.

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