‘Brissy’, as the locals call it, has a compact city centre, built on a single bend of the river and it is easy to explore on foot; museums, galleries, heritage buildings, parks and gardens are all within walking distance, even the city`s major attraction – koala bear – can be cuddled a stone`s throw of the CBD.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN BRISBANE
Brisbane is one of the oldest cities in Australia, and it boasts history and architecture. The riverbank and its surrounds are defined by stately old buildings, including the Customs House (1889), Old Government House (1862), Old Windmill (1828, the oldest surviving building in Queensland), Commissariat Store Museum (1829), (Parliament House (1867 French Renaissance Revival building), Concert Hall (Old Museum, 1890), Boggo Road Gaol (1883), Treasury Casino (1900), St John Anglican Cathedral (1901), City Hall (1920) and ANZAC Square (1930).
Most of the buildings are open to public and tours can be booked at the Brisbane Visitor Centre or directly at the sites.
PARKS AND GARDENS
Brisbane City Botanic Gardens is a tropical oasis in the city. Formerly known as Queens Park, the domain is situated right on the riverfront, not far from the campus of the Technology University. Young people and students often take refuge in the garden`s delightful greenery. This beautifully arranged, 56-hectare green area has various themed sections such as ornamental lily ponds, weeping fig avenue, bamboo grove, mangrove boardwalk and it is the oldest park in Brisbane built by convicts in 1825.
Roma Street Gardens, especially their Spectacle Garden is another beautiful example of contemporary display gardens. Their close distance to the vibrant neighbourhood of Spring Hill makes them a popular spot to unwind for both locals and tourists.
The second botanic garden of Brisbane – The Botanic Gardens – is a gorgeous parkland complex and home to the largest Australian native rainforest collection as well as a tropical greenhouse. The reserve enjoys a scented garden, cactus garden, arid zone, Japanese Gardens, duck ponds, waterfalls and it promotes cultural events, wedding & function venues, herbarium, cemetery, library, planetarium, cafes and restaurant.
There are numerouspicnic areas, walking tracks, bicycle trails and the visitors can book guided Toowong Cemetery Ghost Tours but also do other self-guided walks. Bike and rollerblade hire is also available.
Nevertheless, the highlight of the domain is undoubtedly the Mount Coo-Tha Lookout – the highest point of Brisbane (287 m). You can drive via the Sir Samuel Griffit Scenic Drive or take a bus tour to the summit and enjoy the 360-degree views of Brisbane City, either from the Observation Deck or the Summit Restaurant (best views at sunset).
Rocks Riverside Park is the largest riverfront park in Brisbane, with a good network of walking and biking trails and fantastic facilities; playgrounds, flying fox, electric barbecues, amphitheatre, a promenade and swimming pools.
These extensive parklands consist of numerous gardens, green areas, waterways, riverside walks, picnic spots, shops, cafes and restaurants. The parkland is connected to the city by the Victoria and Goodwill Bridges. There is a pretty riverfront promenade that features rainforest, grassed areas, fountains and plazas.
The Courier-Mail Piazza is a multi-purpose venue with frequent cultural events and art, craft, sport and music festivals. One of the most significant heritage buildings is the Nepal Peace Pagoda, located within the World Expo` 88 sites just at the iconic Wheel of Brisbane – a 60 metres tall Ferris Wheel installation.
Just opposite the central business district, there is a great spot for watching sunsets reflected in the city skyline. The South Bank is perfect for window shopping at the boutiques of the Little Stanley Street but also taking a stroll down the romantic Grand Arbour upon which a bougainvillaea canopy is grown.
On a hot summer day, Street Beach is much appreciated by most of the residents. The only beach in Brisbane City is located at the town`s hearth – in the South Bank Parklands. It is artificially created lagoon with soft sand, subtropical vegetation, aquatic playground, patrolled beach and freshwater pools. The beach is mostly visited by families, and it often gets overcrowded. Nonetheless, it provides well-deserved refreshment on sticky summer days in Brissy.
QUEENSLAND CULTURAL CENTRE
Located on southern banks of the Brisbane River, this sprawling complex comprises of Queensland Museum, Queensland Art Gallery, State Library and Performing Art Complex. The Queensland Cultural Centre provides a wide range of free attractions and frequently held events as well as paid music performances, film screenings, various shows and local exhibitions.
One of the best spots to go in Brissy is the Kangaroo Point. There are spectacular cliffs along the Brisbane River that can be climbed. Visitors can also walk up to the iconic Storey Bridge and get rewarded with great river views, especially at sunset. This is another Brisbane`s riverfront picnic and recreation area with pleasant vibes, good facilities, where kayaking, climbing, biking and jogging are among the favourite.
This is a perfect spot to head out at night! Fortitude Valley is a cosmopolitan area and home to Chinatown, has great restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and it offers excellent shopping. This quirky suburb is a mix of rough beauty and elegance. From Asian fast-food restaurants and vegetable markets to chick bars and stylish malls, there is always something going on.
SHOPPING & ENTERTAINMENT
One of the shopping highlights in Brisbane is the Sunday Riverside Craft Market renowned for the stylish, original material offered to shoppers. It is located at the Eagle Street Pier – otherwise aniconic waterfront precinct with world-class dining venues and unrivalled views of the Brisbane River.
West End Markets are held every Saturday morning at Davies Park, sheltered by the giant fig trees. Featuring local organic produce, food tasting, freshly cooked meals, jewellery and clothing stalls and live music, the venue is always packed.
Portside Wharf in Hamilton is home to the refined Boutique Markets that showcase high-quality, hand-made art, craft and design goods (every quarter of a year).
This is the favourite shopping spree hub. Queen Street Mall attracts millions of visitors every year a large network of retails, designer stores, luxurious boutiques and markets. With regular events, but also hotels, museums, galleries, parklands, spas, bars, restaurants and other entertainment options, the Queen Street Mall is the best place where to spend a night in Brissy. The must-visits include Queens Plaza, Wintergarden, McArthur Central, The Myer, Tattersall`s and Brisbane Arcades and the famous Treasury Casino, cannot be skipped, of course.
LONE PINE KOALA SANCTUARY
When it comes to tourism, the star of the show in Brisbane is the very symbol of the city – koala. The Koala Sanctuary in Fig Tree Pocket is the world`s oldest and largest koala reserve, opened in 1927.
Apart from getting close to other Australian native species such as kangaroos, Tasmanian Devils, wombats, echidnas, platypuses, emus, cassowaries, parrots and reptiles, the visitors can hold a koala free of charge! There are several performances and feeding shows throughout a day, and plenty of lovely souvenirs to purchase at the sanctuary shop.
ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN BRISBANE (A BRIEF SUMMARY)
Brisbane is a compact city, and the best way to explore Brisbane is combining walking and the free of charge City Hopper ferry but there are many other water taxi operators, e.g. the City Cat.
RECOMMENDED FESTIVALS IN BRISBANE
WHEN TO TRAVEL
Brisbane is a sunny place all year round, but it gets very hot and humid in summer (Dec-Feb). This is also school holiday time in Australia when prices rise, and tourism is at its peak. The shoulder season seems to be an ideal time to travel (April-May & Oct-Nov) unless you are visiting for a particular festival.
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly to Brisbane
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