July 26, 2020

City Guide: Around Brisbane in 3 Days

There are so many cities, national parks, and rural areas in Australia that are worth visiting. But you cannot miss a visit to the river city and the capital of the country’s Sunshine State, Brisbane. So, when in Australia, you should come here and take your shoes off because this city is all about the outdoors, food, art, and adventure. As Robert Friedler of Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary said, ‘with almost 300 days of sunshine per year, Brisbane is the perfect spot to spend lots of time enjoying the outdoors with family and friends’. And that is exactly what you will do in the city.

Brisbane is often overlooked in favour of Melbourne and Sydney, but this Queensland capital has been named as one of the top 10 cities to visit in Australia in 2018 by Tripadvisor. Though admirable for its outdoor allure, Brisbane boasts cultural precincts, museums, markets, gardens, parks, cafes, malls, restaurants, and easy access to the amazing Moreton Island. Its dining and drinking scenes are not to be missed, with chefs featuring local Queensland produce in their dishes and concoctions. From multi-awarded bars and specialty restaurants to bistros and rooftop restaurants, you’ll surely find something that will suit your discriminating taste.

Another fascinating facet of Brisbane is its shopping scene, composed of markets and designer boutiques. Fortitude Valley has tons of independent stores, which is considered as the best shopping precinct in Brisbane. Stroll along James Street and you’ll be greeted by over 130 specialty stores that include those of high-end Australian designers. Continue to Wynn and Bakery lanes and find quirky boutiques such as Babushka Ballerina, The Outpost, and Stock and Supply. And as for markets, the city centre has The Collective Markets on Friday evenings, Saturdays, and Sundays at the Stanley Street Plaza where more than 100 local creatives sell antiques, vintage fashion, photographs, and jewellery.

Brisbane’s Islands

a boat anchored on the shore of Moreton Island

And speaking of the outdoors, you can make the most of your visit to Brisbane by conquering some of its idyllic islands. Moreton Island, the most famous one, is only a 70-minute ferry ride from Brisbane and is the world’s third largest sand island. Come here and feel its blissful paradise of bush, lagoons, and sandy beaches that compose a huge national park. And if you are an avid diver, the Tangalooma Wrecks is popular for diving and snorkelling, with underwater sceneries that you shouldn’t miss seeing.

an aerial view of the Tangalooma Wreck

About 40 minutes away from the coastline is the North Stradbroke Island that has three villages thriving on it. If you come between June and October, you can have the chance to see migrating whales and enjoy magnificent surf beaches.

Koalas

A sleeping koala

Now, seeing koalas in Brisbane or elsewhere in Australia may not be anymore surprising simply because koalas thrive in the country. But if seeing more than 100 koalas in one setting is not news to you, then, I don’t know what is! When in the city, it’s a must visiting the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary to meet a koala, handfeed the kangaroos, and engage with a large variety of Australian native wildlife in a natural setting.

The list can go on endlessly because Brisbane is simply just among the best to visit in Australia. And if you’ve got at least five days for sightseeing, then, you’ll surely find yourself mesmerised by all its offerings. It’s the perfect place to bring your family and make memories in a city that’s peaceful and calm, with attractions that are perfect for all ages and tastes. However, if you’re pressed for time or have a tight budget, worry not because you can always spend just three days seeing the best of Brisbane. The key is in knowing where to go, planning the day, and prioritizing destinations according to your preferences.

We offer you our 3-day itinerary that gives you the opportunity to explore Brisbane. It’s designed to fill each day with sights and destinations and have you experience the best of river city. Of course, you can tweak the itinerary to suit your preferences.

Day 1 An overview of Brisbane: Brisbane City Hall, Clock Tower, Museum of Brisbane, Brisbane Botanical Garden, Queen/Elizabeth St Pedestrian Mall, Brunswick Street, Newstead, Caxton Street

Facade of the Brisbane City Hall with the clock

Upon arriving in Brisbane, it’s just right to first explore the city and get an overview of it. You can go cycling or walking, depending on how you want to go about your day. So, after dropping off your luggage at your hotel, waste no time and start your exploration of Brisbane at the pathway and boardwalk along the river.

First stop is the Brisbane City Hall, which is one of the important highlights and most important buildings in the CBD. The good thing is that it’s not the only place to see in the area because there are also many markets and events nearby to keep you busy. Make sure to see a bird’s eye view of the panoramic views of Brisbane by getting a ticket to go up the Clock Tower. There are free tickets given on a first-come, first-served basis, so you have to be the early bird to catch the worm. Otherwise, you can come back the next day.

Then, proceed to another can’t-miss destination in the city, the Museum of Brisbane where you can enjoy an hour of tour to see its exhibitions and learn different aspects of the city. After the tour, you can let yourself enjoy a break by visiting the Brisbane Botanical Garden situated between the CBD and the river. If you love spending time with nature, you will definitely love the sight of the massive banyan trees around you.

one of the exhibits at the Brisbane Museum

Brisbane: a part of the Brisbane Botanical Garden

Of course, no vacation is complete without a shopping session! You can go and explore the Queen/Elizabeth Pedestrian Mall. Shop till you drop as this is the main shopping district in Brisbane.

Your day isn’t over yet because after lunch, you can catch a bus to Brunswick St. in Fortitude Valley where another pedestrian mall waits to be explored. Explore the shops and treat yourself to some refreshments at the Yard Bird Ale House, a restaurant known best for their chicken wings.

one of the old structures of Brisbane Fortitude Valley

Continue your day’s adventure with a visit to Newstead, an off-the-beaten-track destination that every traveller to Brisbane should see. If you’re a beer drinker, this place is really a must-visit because breweries are found here such as the Newstead Brewing Co and the Green Beacon Brewing Co. What attracts visitors to these places is the way they put large, steel fermenters at the bar area. It’s kind of a nice thought that your drink has only moved about 10 metres from production to distribution! Isn’t that pretty amazing?!

A line of 3 beers by the river

Then, later in the day or early in the evening, head over to Caxton Street to enjoy its lively and vibrant nightlife. Find a seemingly unending strip of bars and restaurants that surely suits every discriminating taste and preference. The good thing is that the strip is really not that long and you can easily walk down and back up to find something that you really like. Remember, it’s the part where you need to make up your mind that’s more challenging because the options are all too good to miss!

There are restaurants that serve craft beer, while some others invest on ambiance by adding western American themes and jazz bands playing live music on stage. And to cap the night, you can enjoy New York-style pizza at the New York Pizza Slice shop.

Day 2 Breakfast in CBD, Day in Mt Coot Tha, and Exploration of West End

view over Brisbane from Mt. Coot Tha

Welcome your second day in Brisbane with a bountiful breakfast in the CBD. As the old adage goes, ‘eat breakfast like a king’, Brisbane won’t disappoint you even in that area. So, there are many options in the CBD alone and you might want to base your choice on these options.

You can go down Gresham Lane. It’s one of the often missed but growing laneways in the city, so you can expect less people here. You can go into the Red Hook restaurant located at the mouth of Gresham Lane to experience New York ‘street food’ style breakfast. You’ll be fascinated to see yellow bottles of mustard on the tables, as well as their American-style breakfast menu featuring bacon, eggs, and cheese roll.

Then, after making sure you’ve had a really hearty breakfast, it’s time to embark on a journey to Mt Coot Tha that offers magnificent views of the city. You can also pack a picnic from the restaurant before taking the 471 bus. The journey of 8 kilometres takes an hour so be ready. Though the bus takes you to the top of Mt Coot Tha, you can also opt to get off at the foot of the mount and enjoy a heart-pumping walk through the park to the top. This is why you should get a big breakfast back at Gresham Lane.

At the top, enjoy the panoramic vista over Brisbane while enjoying your picnic.

After imbibing the sweeping views, you can take the bus back to the city and head to the West End. It’s a neighbourhood to the south of Southbank that’s dotted with restaurants. If you come here before dinner time, it’s worth taking a walk through the Boundary Street Markets to enjoy the night market vibe of the area.

the famous purple trees in Brisbane

Then, if you are up for some Korean barbecue, you can visit the Hong Depot. And for pizza, Archive Beer Boutique makes excellent-value pizza every Thursdays.

You can enjoy the entire night exploring this place, and you’ll definitely want to stay here every night!

Day 3 Southbank, Eagle Street Pier, Eat Street Market

evening in Southbank

Every day of your stay in Brisbane deserves a different kind of breakfast. And on your third day, Southbank should be your choice. The place is packed with restaurants and cafes that are open to serve you. And after enjoying a hearty meal, you can relax at the Southbank Parklands where you can take a dip in Streets Beach, which is a free, beach-style lagoon.

Afterwards, you can make your way to Kangaroo Point to enjoy some of the best views of the CBD.

Then, later, head over to Eagle St Pier, a precinct of cafes and restaurants offering unparalleled views of the Story Bridge and the river.

night sight of Eagle Street Pier

In the evening, Eat Street Market is a must-see! Though it’s a bit out of the way, its unique dining experience is something you won’t be able to experience anywhere else. There are more than 60 old shipping containers that have been amazingly turned into restaurants.

And there goes your 3-day itinerary in Brisbane. It’s a special city with its own unique style and identity. Explore it, enjoy it, own it!

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