There's not much Australians despise more than being away from the beach. So when they find themselves living in a place like Brisbane, they simply build an artificial one right in the middle of the city. The white sand and azure lagoon of Streets Beach have become a hallmark of Brisbane summers, with crowds drawing in to lap up the sun and splash about with views of the city's skyline. Found beside the Brisbane River in the city's hub of South Bank, the beach is even manned by a genuine Life Guard, making it one of the most popular things to do in Brisbane for travellers looking for an authentic Aussie beach experience.
Watch a comedy show at the Brisbane Powerhouse
The transformed 1920s power station of the Brisbane Powerhouse is home to a ground-breaking curation of events and exhibitions. A multi-disciplinary space, you may find yourself admiring any form of cultural expression, such as music, dance, film, literature, visual arts, cabaret, circus, and theatre. Of most acclaim is their line-up of adults only comedy shows, held for free every Friday for an hour from 6pm. Follow the LOL session with wine and pizza at the on-site Bar Alto for the perfect start to your weekend in Brisbane.
Ride the old lift up City Hall’s clock tower
Between the hours of 10am and 5pm, the near 90-metre high clock tower at City Hall sees a parade of visitors ascend in the old lift for unique views of Brisbane. Operating since 1930, the activity has become a signature feature of Brisbane travel and a highlight of the city for both visitors and locals. Part of the Museum of Brisbane in the city's centre, the clock tower is often referred to as the heartbeat of Brisbane, while the City Hall more generally is dubbed the finest building in the city, its creamy stone structure and surround palms sitting as a nod to the timeless architecture of the 1920s.
Watch the Sunrise at Mt Coot-tha
Drive less than half an hour out of the city in the early hours of the morning and you'll be rewarded by the area's most breathtaking sunrise and one of the best Brisbane activities. Mt Coot-tha offers panoramic views across the entire city, which turns a picturesque shade of gold at the break of each day. A culturally significant place, the mountain was once a place for collecting honey for the Aborigines, long before the arrival of the manicured Botanical Gardens, Planetarium, kiosk, cafe and souvenir shop.
See koalas in their natural habitat
Brisbane attractions don’t get much cuter than this. Take a short drive out of the city and you'll find yourself in protected bushlands known to host many koalas, Australia's adorable eucalyptus eating, tree-dwelling marsupial. Sleeping for about 18-20 hours per day, including much of the daytime, it's not easy to spot the cuddly koala up and about. Determined travellers should put on their boots, pack some binoculars and prepare to spend some time lurking in the wild. Those looking for an up-close koala experience can visit Daisy Hill Koala Centre, where their natural habitat remains intact and protected for admirers to visit.
Swim at Wynnum Wading Pool
With an average high of 29 degrees through summer and 21 degrees through winter, Brisbane is a balmy city that calls for many swims and day trips to the ocean. Nearby Moreton Bay, located just over half an hour drive east of the city, is a local favourite thanks to the heritage-listed tidal swim space known as Wynnum Wading Pool. Built in 1932, the sand based pool offers an enclosed place to cool off without the need to consider such ocean nasties as sharks, stingers and big waves.
Things to do in Brisbane
St Jerome's Laneway Festival
An important element of the Australian music festival lineup, St Jermone's Laneway is an international event that first took place in Melbourne in 2005. Held for one day in February, the Brisbane edition is now held in the Brisbane Showgrounds of Bowen Hills, and celebrates the best of Australian and international indie music.
Every September Brisbane explodes into a playground of theatre, music, dance, circus, opera and more for the annual cultural celebration that is Brisbane Festival. With a vision to embrace the non-traditional and speak of contemporary ideals, it is an event much loved by both the local community and international visitors, and a reason of its own to visit Brisbane.
Brisbane Street Art Festival
A new addition to the city's growing festival line-up, Brisbane Street Art Festival engages a range of artists and art forms to take over the outdoor spaces of Brisbane. Over 50 works can be found scattered throughout the city by both local and internationally acclaimed and up and coming artists in an eclectic display of colour and culture.
Brisbane Comedy Festival
Running for almost a decade and drawing in over 70 hilarious comedians both national and international, the Brisbane Comedy Festival is a side-splitting feature of the city’s annual calendar. Held for a month over February and March at various locations across the city, it’s a highlight of Brisbane travel.
Top 4 Festivals In Brisbane
The city of Brisbane takes its festival curation seriously, using it as an opportunity to express its values, culture and good nature. Find yourself in a gaggle of laughs, a dazzle of arts, or one of many nationally touring music events that stop of in the Queensland capital.
Museum of Brisbane
The Museum of Brisbane is an award winning gallery space found on the rooftop of Brisbane City Hall. Open for less than 15 years, the impressive modern space explores Brisbane's past and present through an innovative line-up of art and social history exhibitions, talks, workshops, tours and more.
Queensland Gallery of Modern Art
Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, known more commonly as GOMA, is the largest gallery of contemporary art in the country, known for hosting prestigious exhibitions by artists such as Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol and Picasso. Found in South Bank on the banks of the Brisbane River, it attracts over 600,000 annual visitors.
Queensland Museum & Sciencentre
Peel back the layers of Queensland at the Queensland Museum & Sciencentre, where the state's natural history, culture and science is presented in an awe-inspiring fashion. From dinosaur fossils to Aboriginal artworks, photos of snakes to microscopes of the early settlers, the collections found here span a huge range of interests and eras.
Step back to Brisbane in the 1930s and 1940s, when war was an omnipresent aspect of daily life. The MacArthur Museum is held at an important site, which offers visitors the chance to sit in the office of important military figures where plans and decisions were made. Located on Edward Street in Brisbane's centre, this museum shines new perspective on the now easy-going and peaceful city.
The Commissariat Store is Queensland's second oldest building, standing in Brisbane since 1828 when it was completed by early convicts. The Royal Historical Society of Queensland now occupies most of the building with permanent and rotating exhibitions that tell the story of how the state came to be.
Top 5 Museums And Galleries in Brisbane
Stepping into the museums and galleries found here gives insight into Brisbane’s past, present and future. From progressive art spaces to exhibitions of natural history, visitors will learn that the recent urban history of Brisbane is just one small fraction of this area’s incredible tale.
When a naughty treat and fresh Australian fruits collide, you know you are onto a good thing. Layers of meringue and whipped cream make for a textured dessert delight, topped with numerous berries, passionfruit and occasionally kiwifruit. It's an iconic Australian dessert you'll want to dive into again and again.
Best eaten at Botanica Real Food, 9/1 Enoggera Terrace, Red Hill QLD 4059
When not devouring oversized serves of pavlova, Aussies love a good lamington, the butter cake dessert rolled in chocolate sauce and coconut. Best teamed with a glass of merlot - from Victoria's Yarra Valley, no less - at Libertine Restaurant & Cocktail Bar found in the centre of Brisbane.
Best eaten at Libertine Restaurant & Cocktail Bar, 5/61 Petrie Terrace, Brisbane City QLD 4000
Traditionally this may be an Italian dish, but parmigiana has well and truly established itself as an Australian favourite. Settle yourself in at Awesome Parmigiana & Steakhouse in New Farm for a slab of chicken lathered in a tomato sauce and topped with grilled cheese. Hot tip: The Aussies have abbreviated its name, look out for the word "parma" or "parmy" on pub menus.
Best eaten at Awesome Parmigiana & Steakhouse, 4/455 Brunswick St, New Farm QLD 4006
The Australian take on the Chinese spring roll is a hallmark snack of building sites and football matches, filling Aussie tummies for almost 70 years. Despite the fact that Chiko is an abbreviation of chicken, the Chiko roll is usually filled with vegetables and beef, deep fried and eaten strictly without cutlery, not a hint of chicken in sight.
Best eaten at CHU THE PHAT, 111 Melbourne St, South Brisbane QLD 4101
The meat pie, a baked pastry snack stuffed with minced meat, has become an icon of Australia despite its history dating back as far as the Neolithic Period of 9500 BC. The Aussie pie is usually enjoyed with a layer of tomato sauce during an Aussie sports match. When visiting Brisbane it should be sampled at Coorparoo’s Piefection - their gourmet sides and fillings make them a local favourite.
Best eaten at Piefection, 11 Clarence St, Coorparoo QLD 4151
Food in Brisbane
With its tropical climate offering great access to fresh produce, Brisbane is a city to sample Australian fruits and vegetables aplenty. But when real hunger strikes something more serious is in order. Something sweet or something traditional to hook you into Australia’s favourite foods. Think pavlova, parmigiana or a classic meat pie.