48 hours: What to do in Brisbane
If it’s been a while between visits to Brisbane, you’re in for a surprise. This New World City has had a steroid-like growth spurt with a skyline that’s growing in size every day.
In fact, nine new hotels are set to pop up over the next 18 months, with six set to open their doors in 2018 alone – proving the winds of change have been kind to Queensland’s capital.
Unsure what to do in Brisbane? Make a weekend out of discovering Brisbane’s precincts both the old and the new with this itinerary.
2pm: Unleash your creative side
Bursting onto the Brisbane hotel scene with as much colour as its namesake Michael Johnson’s paintings, The Johnson Hotel opened in Spring Hill in 2016 as the first Art Series Hotel in Queensland.
Offering 96 rooms, you can choose between five types or throw down the big bucks to score yourself a three-bedroom penthouse with panoramic city views.
It’s not just the artwork that’s impressive here, though. The hotel delivers guests the Art Series difference with an in-house art library and dedicated art channel. It’s sure to ignite your creativity and step up your art appreciation beyond mindful colouring-in books.
Set on the city fringe, which in Brisbane means a 10-minute walk to the Queen Street Mall (hardly a fringe compared to other big cities), you’ll benefit from quieter bedtimes here. You’ll also be a stone’s throw (pun intended) from all the restaurants on Boundary Street Spring Hill – not that you have much excuse to leave with their onsite restaurant Tumbling Stone downstairs.
If you’re looking for something a little different this time, here’s our favourite accommodation picks in the River City.
6PM: Stay up late with GOMA
You might’ve seen Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art by day, but have you seen it at night?
Stop wondering what to do in Brisbane. Each Friday from 5:30pm, you can wander the current exhibitions and watch live music performances. It’ll only cost you the $20 in your pocket for a real-life night at the museum.
Featured exhibitions rotate approximately every 3-6 months but it’s well worth timing your visit for an opening night. There are extra performances, activities and that first-day hype (read: all the champagne).
Drinks are all part of the package, which will make you realise other galleries have been doing it wrong for all these years.
8PM: Eat with the cool kids
From GOMA, follow the fairy-lit road to Chu The Phat. The hip Thai-fusion restaurant enjoys two street frontages between Fish Lane and Melbourne Street, connecting South Brisbane to the funky suburb of West End.
On the menu you’ll find pork dumplings, noodles, rice, and a selection of meat dishes from duck to beef. But you won’t be alone if you find it hard to choose just one thing.
Take the pressure down and opt for the banquet which offers 10 dishes to share. It also makes bill-splitting easy with a fixed fee of $45 or $60 per person.
8am: Tuck into breakfast at the stalwart of hip
Start the day right at Sourced Grocer, whose paddock-to-plate philosophy runs deeper than just their menu. This cafe also doubles as a boutique grocery store if you’re inclined to pick up some self-catering supplies too.
On the menu, you’ll find light bites like bircher, granola, fruit toast, and the classic avocado on sourdough. For something more substantial, there are cabbage pancakes, hard eggs, pastrami sandwich, and salad options that change daily.
Their coffee menu is just as exhaustive. The daily filter is always a safe choice and comes served in the cutest little teal-coloured cups.
9AM: Take a stroll, New Farm style
From Sourced, it’s a few hundred metres to the start of one of Brisbane’s best walks, following the curve of the Brisbane River and Brisbane’s own millionaire’s row.
Winding from the Teneriffe Ferry Terminal all the way to the city – there’s approximately 6km of footpath suspended over the water for the exploring.
Don’t worry if you haven’t packed your walking shoes – this leg of the journey is only 2km and there’s wine at the end of this tunnel.
10AM: Hit the Powerhouse Farmers Market
After putting 2km of distance between you and breakfast, grab a bite to eat from Powerhouse Farmers Market. Snacks come in the shape of omelettes, crepes and Japanese chicken skewers to name a few. They’re all handheld so you can wander while you eat.
You don’t have to consult the calendar to find out when these markets are on. Every Saturday the former powerhouse of Brisbane transforms its concrete playground into this farmers market, with over 120 stalls from 6am to 12noon.
Brisbaneites go with a basket, filling it with fresh produce to fuel their week. It’s got everything from fruit and vege, seafood to homemade sauces and chutneys.
12 noon: Lunch, riverside, at the Powerhouse
If a pastry snack at the market didn’t cut it, tuck into lunch at WATT at the Powerhouse.
On the menu you’ll find salmon, trout, and steak, as well as a wine list that covers some of the best wine-growing continents – an ideal setting for a long lunch.
2PM: Rest or roses
If the tropical humidity has triumphed (don’t worry, it happens to us too!) head back to your Spring Hill base for a nap. We’re laid-back in Queensland, after all. If you’re keen to push on, discover New Farm Park whose 37ha of gardens are a green thumb’s dream.
Each spring, its rose garden bursts into a sea of pink – completely colour coordinated thanks to the landscaping and town planning that happened here some 70 years ago.
If you’re ever at loss for what to do in Brisbane, you can easily spend the afternoon wandering around New Farm Park. Doss down with a good book under one of the fig trees, which cast shade wide enough for three families to picnic in peace.
The good news is, good coffee isn’t far away – New Farm is well known as the Italian capital of Brisbane if you wish to continue grazing.
8PM: Give a nod to Brisbane’s roots with your restaurant choice
If you want to discover the historic heart of Brisbane while you eat, you can’t get much closer than Survey Co. in Burnett Lane, both named after the man who sketched the first map of the River City.
It’s not just the name that will take you on a trip down memory lane, the interior design is industrial chic, complete with historical maps of Brisbane.
Choose to share, graze or be greedy with the menu. It features plates large enough to share or go alone – there are no rules here.
They’re best known for their Death Row dish, which does just what it suggests – dishes up comfort food worthy of your last night on earth.
9AM: Discover another ‘burb of Brissie
Breakfasts that extend into lunch never look as good as the ones you find in Paddington, in Brisbane’s west.
Latrobe Tce is Paddington’s main artery, best defined by Queenslander homes and not a highrise in sight.
Aside from coffee shops, you’ll find boutique dress stores and op shops galore. So it’s best to lock up your credit card if you’re on a budget.
For breakfast worth writing home about, choose Anouk. On the menu there’s eggs benedict, omelette, and a breakfast bruschetta. Their daily specials board is where the magic lies – think okonomiyaki pancakes with Korean BBQ sauce.
Not only is it a great spot for food, it’s next door to two Brisbane shopping favourites – Sasha Drake and Marimekko – with boutique designs to suit every kind of body shape from lollypops to pears.
Want more Brisbane itinerary ideas?
- Get outta town with this guide to Redcliffe, spend 48 hours in Ipswich, or venture across the water for a couple of days at Moreton Island or North Stradbroke Island.
- Blend into your city surroundings with this local’s guide to Brisbane.
- Explore Brisbane’s bayside with this 48-hour guide.