A list of some fun things to do in Brisbane, the sunny capital city of Queensland.
No trip to the massive, sunny Australian state of Queensland would be complete without stopping in Brisbane.
Founded in 1825, Brisbane is full of history and is the third-largest city in Australia.
Though Brisbane is a big city, it feels quite comfortable and accessible.
Even though it has towering skyscrapers and massive bridges, the abundance of greenery and variety of different neighborhoods help make the city feel spacious and relaxing rather than crowded and claustrophobic.
So in addition to checking out the heart of downtown, there are lots of fun things to do in Brisbane that will even please city-phobic people.
Here are 22 of the best things to do in Brisbane.
22 Fun Things To Do In Brisbane
1. See incredible art at the GOMA
The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, also known as the GOMA, has an incredible display of art including pieces by local and international artists.
This is a great way to enjoy Brisbane on a rainy day, or if you want to escape the heat for a bit.
- Hours: Open every day, 10 am to 5 pm
- Address: Stanley Pl, South Brisbane
- Cost: Free but sometimes special exhibitions cost money
2. Walk across the iconic Story Bridge
The Story Bridge is a massive steel structure that spans over the Brisbane River and is probably one of Brisbane’s most iconic landmarks.
Walking across the sidewalk on the bridge provides excellent views of the city, especially at night when all the skyscrapers are lit up.
You can even climb to the top of the Story Bridge for an even better view and a bit of an adrenaline rush. Book your tickets for the climb here.
3. Stroll along the South Bank
One of the best things to do in Brisbane is walking along the vibrant South Bank that lines the Brisbane River.
Full of archways dripping with vines and flowers, and plenty of exotic birds and lizards, walking along the South Bank gives you the greenery of the forest with the excitement of a city.
There are cafes and restaurants, museums, boardwalks, and plenty of attractions like the Epicurious Gardens, the Nepalese Peace Pagoda, and Streets Beach (all of which I’ll explain in detail later on).
At nighttime, the South Bank is illuminated in tea lights and filled with locals and tourists enjoying the area.
4. Enjoy the Nightlife in Fortitude Valley
Known as “The Valley” to the locals, Fortitude Valley is like the center of entertainment in Brisbane.
On weekend nights, every club, bar, and restaurant is crowded with partygoers and people looking to have a fun night out.
The streets are absolutely packed, which makes for an exciting environment on a weekend. Just be sure to bring your ID, as most nightclubs have to scan it before you can enter.
5. Pick up fresh veggies from the Epicurious Gardens
Right in Downtown Brisbane along the South Bank is the Epicurious Gardens, a sprawling web of vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, and exotic plants.
Volunteers and horticulturalists keep the garden maintained and flourishing, and a few times a week they pick the ripest foods and store them in their harvest cart.
Stop by the cart on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 7 am and 12 pm and you can take home some of the fresh produce for free!
6. Check out the view from Kangaroo Point Cliffs
The suburb of Kangaroo Point is arguably one of the best in Brisbane, and it even has its own website listing the best attractions and things to do in the area.
But the best thing to do in Kangaroo Point is to enjoy the view from the 25-meter-high cliffs.
There is a large grassy park atop the cliffs and plenty of comfortable benches so you can look across the river at the Brisbane CBD and enjoy the amazing view!
Visit at night time to see the city lights sparkling against the night sky.
7. Explore the Riverside Markets
For over 30 years, Brisbane’s Riverside Markets have been providing the public with farmer’s markets, pop up cafes, artisan goods, and an overall positive atmosphere.
Head here on a Sunday morning to treat yourself to some delicious organic food and browse through the attractive crafts, fashion and artwork on display.
- Hours: Every Sunday from 8 am to 3 pm
- Address: Between Alice Street and Edward Street in the Brisbane CBD
8. Indulge in the cafes and restaurants of the West End
The West End of Brisbane is packed to the brim with places to eat and drink.
There are restaurants of every nationality, including Greek, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian, and more.
There are delicious bakeries, trendy cafes, vegan restaurants, food markets, delis, wine bars, whiskey bars, pubs, and more.
So if you’re in the mood for a nice dinner in a unique spot, stroll around the West End until you find a place that catches your eye.
9. Shop at the Queen Street Mall
For shopping and people-watching, the Queen Street Mall is the perfect destination.
Located right in the center of the city near City Hall, this pedestrians-only street has any type of shop or boutique you could ask for.
Even if you’re not into shopping, it is entertaining to walk through this hub of the city and immerse yourself right into the hustle and bustle.
10. Head to the Mount Coot-tha Lookout
Just to the west of the city lies Mount Coot-tha, a small mountain where you can enjoy a lovely lookout over the city.
The lookout is completely free and open 24/7, so bring your camera and drive up for an excellent panoramic view.
11. Explore the Botanic Gardens and Planetarium
Located at the foot of Mount Coot-tha is the Brisbane Botanic Gardens.
There are plenty of exotic plants, flowers, and trees as well as charming ponds, rivers, and fountains.
The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium inside the Botanic Gardens is another cool place to visit to learn some interesting facts about our solar system.
- Hours: Open every day from 8 am to 5 pm
- Address: 152 Mount Coot-tha Rd
12. Sell your stuff at a second-hand market
Suitcase Rummage is a second-hand market pop-up where people can set up stalls to sell their unwanted clothes, accessories, bags, and other trinkets.
This is a great way to ensure your old clothes and possessions don’t just go to waste. You can visit their website, register a stall, and sell all your stuff easily.
If you’re looking to buy cheap clothes as well, stop by here to shop and take someone else’s junk off their hands.
- Hours: First and Third Sunday of every month, 12 pm to 5 pm
- Location: Reddacliff Place, Brisbane CBD
13. Soak in the sun at Streets Beach
Though Brisbane is located only an hour away from some of Queensland’s most famous beaches like the Gold Coast, Burleigh Heads, and Surfer’s Paradise, you can still visit the “beach” without leaving the city.
Streets Beach is a man-made beach along the river, right in downtown Brisbane.
White sand lines a long and refreshing pool with fountains and kids play centers, so you can swim and sunbathe while looking at the city skyscrapers in the background.
14. Visit the historic City Hall and Museum of Brisbane
Built in the early 1900s, Brisbane’s City Hall is a prominent city landmark.
You can take a guided tour through the lavish interior or head up to the clock tower for an epic view over the city.
The Museum of Brisbane is located on level 3 of the City Hall and there are always interesting art displays and exhibitions to see here.
- City Hall Hours: Every day 8 am to 5 pm
- Museum of Brisbane Hours: Every day 10 am to 5 pm, closes at 7 pm on Fridays
15. Check out the Collective Markets
Every weekend, the collective markets flood Stanley Street Plaza with their stalls of local vendors selling unique handicrafts.
From fashion and jewelry, to paintings and ceramics, to skincare and health products, to woodwork and other handmade items, it is very cool to shop or just browse through the interesting products here.
- Fridays from 5 pm to 9 pm
- Saturdays from 10 am to 9 pm
- Sundays from 9 am to 4 pm
16. Cruise along the Brisbane River
A fun way to see the city is by taking a boat tour along the Brisbane River.
Sail along the water and enjoy a different perspective of the city.
This river cruise from Get Your Guide also includes a visit to the Koala Sanctuary and has top ratings from past travelers.
17. See some live music
Brisbane has a thriving entertainment scene, with live music and concerts happening constantly.
For intriguing jazz music, hit up the Doo Bop Jazz Bar or the Brooklyn Standard, and head to Johnny Ringo’s for country music.
The Brightside Brisbane is a bustling live music venue that always has performances on, as is the Milk Factory, Crowbar, and the Zoo.
For big concerts, see what’s playing at Riverstage, a beautiful venue located in the City Botanic Gardens.
18. Admire the Nepalese Peace Pagoda
When Brisbane hosted the World Expo in 1988, the Kingdom of Nepal contributed this exquisite pagoda to the city’s South Bank and it still there today.
The detailed timber structure is one of just three Nepalese peace pagodas outside Nepal, and it is a stunning landmark to see.
It is completely free to walk through, admire the design, and read about the making of the pagoda.
19. Relax in a park
There are so many green spaces in Brisbane where you can relax in the grass, have a picnic, and watch the world go by.
Along the South Bank, there are lots of small patches of comfy grass, but Brisbane also has a few large parks that are lovely to visit.
New Farm Park, Rocks Riverside Park, and King Edward Park are three local favorites.
20. Go on a free walking tour
While exploring Brisbane, you may notice some enthusiastic people in red shirts taking people around the city and spilling interesting facts and history.
These are the Brisbane Greeters, locals that volunteer their time to host free walking tours through the city.
Check out this page for more information on the tours they run and the times they are available.
21. Seek out some street art
Brisbane is a very vibrant city with lots of art on display. Rather than visiting a museum, you can just wander through the streets to find plenty of impressive graffiti art and murals.
There are countless unexpected and random displays of art throughout the city, but you can definitely find some murals on Brunswick Street, Melbourne Street, McLachlan Street, and Elizabeth Street.
22. Take a day trip to a nearby tropical island
For a quick escape from the city, take a day trip to one of the gorgeous islands off the coast of Brisbane.
You can take a day trip to Moreton Island that includes snorkeling around a shipwreck, sliding down sand dunes, and kayaking through crystal-clear waters.
Another option is a day trip to Stradbroke Island, which includes swimming and sunbathing on picturesque white-sand beaches, hiking and spotting wildlife, and learning about the island’s aboriginal culture.
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For more inspiration about the best things to do in Brisbane, check out the Visit Brisbane website.
There are honestly so many more things to do in addition to the list I provided, so if you have a while to spend in Brisbane definitely check out the website and try to do more activities!
A few things to note before traveling to Australia:
- For the best affordable accommodation in Brisbane, check Hostelworld.com.
- You need a visitor visa to enter Australia; visit iVisa.com to get your visa online!
- Consider buying travel insurance. I recommend Squaremouth Insurance!
If you are interested in living and working in Australia, check out my Guide To Working Holiday Visas In Australia (First and Second Year)
For more articles about places to visit in Queensland, check out these articles: