Why you should visit Brisbane: here’s everything you need to know
Brisbane may be underestimated in Australia’s city stakes, but we don’t hold grudges. Our reputation as a ‘big country town’ no longer applies; sure we’re country at our core, but today we’re plenty cosmopolitan with a shiny collection of cultural offerings to match.
Residing within our city’s walls aren’t just 2.4 million people, but a burgeoning population of cafes, restaurants, bars, galleries, green spaces and more, all worthy of any of our southern cousins. That’s not mentioning the multiple multi-million dollar precincts arising, from Howard Smith Wharves to Queen’s Wharf.
If that’s not enough justification as to why you should visit Brisbane, read on.
Why visit Brisbane?
We’re not ones to brag, but our River City these days gives the likes of Sydney and Melbourne a run for their money. Some of the country’s best restaurants reside within Brisbane, neighbouring a plethora of cafes, coffee houses, bars, pubs, and clubs that wouldn’t be out of place in a far larger metropolis. And that’s not mentioning the collection of craft breweries we have up our sleeve; Brisbane is after all, home to the biggest collection of them in Australia.
Consider us culturally devoid? Not only is Brisbane home to one of the country’s most revered art galleries (GOMA of course), but a flourishing live music community, and annual festivals to incubate local talent. Especially in West End and Fortitude Valley, which houses the annual BIGSOUND and Valley Fiesta.
But it’s not just what’s inside our city’s borders that will tempt you to visit. Our surrounding natural wonders are plentiful, with three sand islands off the neighbouring coast, and the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast both within arm’s reach (or around 100km anyway).
When should you plan a trip?
We’re rather lovely year-round, if we do say so ourselves. Brisbane boasts warm weather and sunny skies the majority of the time; 261 days of sunshine to be exact. We are located in the Sunshine State after all.
Summer runs from November through March. This period is hot and muggy, with temperatures hovering between 31-33°C, so don’t forget to pack your swimwear. You will be relieved to hear, however, that summer storms are common, offering a welcome reprieve from the lingering humidity. If you tend to gravitate towards cooler weather, save your visit for winter (June through August), when the thermometer reads 20-25°C (68-77°F). Conveniently, this also means you won’t need your jacket.
Those armed with a camera should wait for spring. This is the most picturesque time of year, with the Jacaranda trees in bloom, sending a sea of purple flowers across the city.
How to spend your time
Choose your own adventure; Brisbane has something to cater to every interest and every budget.
Foodies will find themselves in a city armed with a blossoming number of fine diners, specialty bars and craft breweries. While the culturally inclined will find solace in the impressive array of artistic precincts in South Bank and Fortitude Valley; GOMA, QPAC, Judith Wright Centre, and Brisbane Powerhouse are just the beginning.
Or perhaps working up a sweat in the great outdoors is more up your alley. There’s plenty on offer here for the adventurous. Hike or cycle your way to Mt Coot-tha summit, cool off with a dip in a local waterfall, or abseil your way down the iconic Kangaroo Point Cliffs. That’s not forgetting the city’s most famous resident, the Brisbane River. Get better acquainted with the watery stretch with a kayak down its length, day or night.
Where to eat and drink
We have no shortage of eateries here in Brisbane, so we hope you’ve brought your appetite. Cafes, bars, and restaurants reside in clusters, not just in the inner city, but further afield in the suburbs.
Cafe culture is alive and well in the Sunshine State, with brunch a particular specialty. Make your way to New Farm, Fortitude Valley or Paddington for a quality coffee and a morning meal. James Street, Latrobe Terrace, and Merthyr Road are awash with options for all budgets.
Casual bites? We’ve also got them in ample supply. Forage through the Valley’s laneways for a quick bite, or West End for a bevy of BYO options. And then there’s the growing collection of fine diners, clustered among Howard Smith Wharves, James Street, and the heart of the CBD.
Drinking holes? We’ve got them too. An impressive population of craft breweries line the streets of Newstead, West End, and Albion. But specialty bars are just as bountiful, from the clandestine alley of Burnett Lane to the outer suburbs of Ashgrove.
Best day trips
We conveniently sit on the doorstep of two of Australia’s favourite coastal stretches; to the north is the Sunshine Coast and south is the Gold Coast. Those eager to venture a little further for a swim can choose to escape the mainland to splash about in the shallows at nearby islands Stradbroke, Moreton or Fraser. But if you’re feeling lazy you need not travel far; Brisbane’s bayside sits just a 25 minute drive away from the CBD.
Outdoor types will be relieved to hear that a day trip visit from Brisbane isn’t limited to seaside escapes. A saunter west will see you greet a gathering of quaint regional towns, and hinterland well worth a day’s exploration.
Where to stay
The more discerning of guests will want to take a look at Fortitude Valley, where suave new additions The Calile Hotel, and Ovolo The Valley reside. Nearby in the midst of the CBD sits the lavish new W Hotel (the brand’s first in Australia), and The Westin. Just slightly further afield is Emporium South Bank, and Art Design Hotels’ The Fantauzzo in the Howard Smith Wharves.
If the concrete jungle isn’t for your, don’t fret. There’s ample accommodation scattered across the beaches and hinterland fringing our borders, cabins and cottages included. Forgoing the city altogether is an option too; Brisbane’s outskirts offer plenty of potential for those who prefer to sleep under the stars. Some of the city’s best campsites are just a 30 minute drive away.
What’s the best way to travel?
We’re not short on space in this city, which means if you’ve come armed only with your own two feet, you may find yourself in trouble.
Brisbane winds its way around a river, which means a car can be handy for covering ground. If you do find yourself without a set of wheels, follow the locals’ lead and utilise the CityCat ferry system which makes its way throughout. The CityHopper in particular will even take you throughout the inner-city circuit for free.
If you are less inclined to take to the waterways, grab a Lime Scooter or City Cycle and make your own way.