How to spend a week in Brisbane and beyond
Like an all-you-can-eat buffet, Brisbane and its surrounds offers a little something for everybody. So before you go typing ‘what should I do’ into Google, we’ve got you covered with this south-east Queensland itinerary.
We’ve done some intensive *research* to pull together this list of local favourites, new gems and an all-round cracking list of the best ways to spend a week in Brisbane and beyond.
DAY 1: BRING IT ON BRISBANE
Making your grand entrance at Brisbane Airport (approx. 30 minutes away) and head to Brisbane City for the start of your week-long adventure in Queensland’s capital.
Book yourself into one of the city’s newest digs and make a beeline for Brisbane’s City Cat service to get your bearings. These water taxis wind their way from the southern reaches of St Lucia to the northern banks of Hamilton, with 25 stops in between. A ride will cost you as little as $2.60 (or, free if you opt for the red City Hopper free ferry), and you’ll have the best seat in the house.
If you’re wondering where Brisbane’s postcard-worthy photos are taken, a trip to South Bank will answer your question. Simply get off at the South Bank CityCat stop and greet the 17 hectares of parklands overlooking the city.
You’ll find every sort of landscape cleverly manicured along the riverfront from edible gardens to an unexpected lush rainforest, which you can explore using this guide.
To truly tick this icon off your Brisbane-bucket list, take a photo against the Brisbane Sign and #thisisqueensland to share your photos with us.
Picture this: You, by the pool, cheese board in front of you, an icy jug of sangria and nothing but time ahead of you. Bliss, right?
Free of stuffy interiors and full of fresh air, Emporium Hotel’s rooftop bar, The Terrace, needs to be on your weekend line up.
Sitting pretty at 21 floors high and open from 6:30am, The Terrace makes for one hell of a dinner, the perfect backdrop to sunny afternoon drinks, and the best view of Brisbane come sunset. (Psst! If you’re on the hunt for other spots to booze with views in Brisbane, check out our round-up here).
If you consider yourself a culture vulture, then you’ll want to book ahead for a show at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC). Home to the Queensland Theatre Company, Queensland Ballet, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, and Opera Queensland, the centre features a year-round menu of productions from circus shows to Broadway performances.
DAY 2: CITY SLICKIN’
Sunshine and shopping and secret laneways… oh, my.
Kick-start your adventures in the fastest growing ‘mature’ world city (facts) by getting acquainted with Queen Street Mall. It’s located directly in the centre of the city and is home to over 700 retailers ranging from international brands to local designers.
When your feet need a rest, search for the nearby (and almost hidden) laneways to find speciality coffee and delicious eats, like Felix for Goodness on Burnett Lane.
Next up: See the city from a different perceptive and climb to the top of City Hall to visit Brisbane’s clock tower museum. Sitting 92m high (with an elevator to access it) the clock has been keeping Brisbane on time since the 1930s. From the Museum of Brisbane, you can take a free tour every 15 minutes, promising sweeping views of the city from a building that for many decades wore the title of Queensland’s tallest tower.
Catch the City Cat to Kangaroo Point at dusk for a stunning view of the cityscape. Those with an appetite for adventure can choose to scale up then abseil down the cliffs for some spectacular views of the city before settling back for a true alfresco dining experience.
Enjoy a waterfront picnic with The Picnic Co or opt to take in the sights from a different point of view at GRECA or ARC Dining and Wine Bar at Howard Smith Wharves. (Check out why it’s the hottest place to be right now here 😉)
DAY 3: EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
Three days into your south-east Queensland holiday and we can guarantee you’ll be feeling like a bonafide local.
Luckily for you, today’s all about exploring the lesser-known sides of Brisbane.
Start the day right at Sourced Grocer in Newstead, 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.
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.
Hold onto your
hats axe people, we’re going axe-throwing.
Described as something like darts – just with cleavers, tomahawks and axes – the sport of axe throwing is a definite lesser-known Brisbane quirk.
Venture to Lumber Punks in West End and you and your friends can happily throw axes at a target, developing your skill and precision while shrugging off any stress.
Think Brisbane isn’t in sync with arts and culture? Think again.
Tonight you’ll be spending a night at the theatre and, the best part? You can choose between two options that are so good you’ll want to be in two places at once.
Fancy a movie night under the stars? Moonlight Cinema set up shop in Roma Street Parkland until 30 April to bring you all the best new movies and cult favourites in this unique setting.
Pack a picnic or grab drinks and nibbles from the food trucks and fully licensed bar onsite.
When was the last time you went to hear opera in a theatre built in 1871?
Test the acoustics of Spring Hill’s Reservoirs with a performance by the Underground Opera Company, who make use of the cavernous spaces that once held the city’s water supply until 1962 (on April 26 – May 5).
DAY 4: A CHANGE OF SCENIC-ERY
Want a touch of greenery that’s close to the city? Look no further than the Scenic Rim.
Only a hop, skip and jump away from Brisbane, road trips here are perfect for commitment-phobes who want to get off the grid… but not too far.
Ditch the sleep-in and head south-west into Lamington National Park. As the city falls further into your rearview mirror, wind down the car windows and breathe in a big gulp of the fresh air. You’ll feel like you are a world away as you drive through the dense rainforest with nothing but good tunes and great mates.
Drive through Canungra, where you can turn off for the O’Reilly’s Green Mountains section. After you’ve documented the occasion (because pics or it didn’t happen), head along Lamington National Park Rd to Tamborine Mountain where you can grab a feed at the Spice of Life Cafe & Deli on Main St, or if you’re daring, hang glide off the mountain. Not your flavour? Relish in the digital detox and visit Mount Tamborine National Park nearby for a picnic in Mother Nature’s backyard. (Psst! Want route inspo? Check out this.)
*PS. Save yourself the hassle and hire a car to tackle your day trips out of Brisbane like a pro. You can find out more here.
If you’re looking to extend your stay a little longer, camp out under the stars at Lake Moogerah Caravan Park in the Scenic Rim and share stories by the fire, soak up the sun during the day and spend quality time with friends and family.
DAY 5: STRADDIE AND STREET FOOD
When exploring Brisbane and surrounds, you need to do as the locals do and catch the passenger ferry ($14 return) or vehicle ferry ($150 return) across to North Stradbroke Island AKA Straddie, AKA Minjerribah, AKA your much-needed break from reality.
Breathe in the fresh salty air as you stroll along the North Gorge Walk. Keep your eyes on the water and you may even see dolphins, manta rays, turtles and (in the cooler months) whales as they migrate north.
Dive into the tea-tree infused waters of Brown Lake, a sacred site for the local Quandamooka people. And, then spend the rest of your day kayaking or relaxing on its shady banks.
Grab a tasty cone at North Point and then walk across the road to watch the waves roll in from your private spot on the cliffface.
Psst! If you want to keep exploring, here’s how you can spend 48 hours on North Stradbroke Island.
Spend your evening at Eat Street North Shore; a foodie’s Disneyland built from shipping containers.
From savoury snacks to mains and right through to delicious desserts, you can taste cuisines from nearly every corner of the world. If your night starts here, you’re doing something right.
DAY 6: MORNINGS, MORETON AND MAINS
The early bird catches the worm so spread your wings and flock up to Mount Coot-tha for a glowing panorama of the city.
This pocket of nature in Brisbane is home to more than 1500 hectares of open eucalypt forest just waiting to be explored post-sunrise Insta missions.
Think picnic areas, creeks, waterfalls and over 31km of tracks to be conquered.
If you want to linger longer, check out these seven ways to explore this inner-city mountain now.
Take a morning ferry across to paradise – AKA Moreton Island. Tickets are $28 each way and the trip is about 1.5 hours from the Port of Brisbane. On board, the Micat Ferry has a café and viewing deck to keep you entertained until you reach the sandy shores.
If you want a break from snorkelling (not sure why?), head to shore and go on a Segway tour with Tangatours. Introductory tours are $55 per person for 25 minutes and it beats walking.
Before jetting back to Brisbane, climb and (attempt to) ride one of the island’s iconic sand dunes. The views from up here are amazing so bring your GoPro.
If you haven’t had enough time in the sunshine, stay longer. Here’s how you can spend 48 hours on sunny Moreton Island.
Catch the Micat Ferry back to Shorncliffe for golden hour along the Shorncliffe Pier (if you need convincing, see above).
If you want a slower pace for dinner tonight, head to Queensland Cruising Yacht Club on the waterfront to soak up the last few rays of the day.
For city slickers who are itching to get back to the action, pop into the newly opened Mr Percivals or Felons Brewing Co for a drink, both overlooking the Brisbane River at Howard Smith Wharves.
LOOKING FOR MORE BRISBANE ITINERARY IDEAS:
- Here’s everything you need to know about holidaying in Brisbane
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- If you find it raining on your parade, go undercover with these ideas
- Catch sunrise at these epic locations