While visitors to Australia flock to Sydney and Melbourne, Queensland’s capital Brisbane is often overlooked. With a nickname like ‘BrisVegas’ it’s understandable to wonder what to expect!
Brisbane is an interesting city, especially because in lots of ways it feels like it is still trying to decide what it will be when it grows up. The city has plenty to offer visitors, with an interesting mix of history, entertainment and the great outdoors, all in a mild climate, and usually under sunny skies.
Most tourists visiting Queensland are lured by the state’s greatest drawcard, the Great Barrier Reef. As if the reef wasn’t enough, north Queensland also has lush rainforest and beautiful tropical beaches and travellers on limited time, and budgets, need to make choices. Here’s why Brisbane is definitely worth visiting.
As with much of Australia, Brisbane is a relatively young city, certainly by European standards. While this means Brisbane’s historic buildings are not super old, it also means many original buildings are still standing. Happening upon one nestled in between the shiny modern skyscrapers is an exciting find, and they often have writing on their facades, providing a clue about their history.
Make sure you visit Brisbane City Hall. You can go up the clock tower in Brisbane’s oldest manually operated lift, and enjoy great views across the city.
|Old meets new in Brisbane CBD, Queensland, Australia|
Hit the beach in the middle of the city
As well as providing a beautiful riverside location and even an inner city beach to enjoy the city skyline from, Brisbane’s South Bank is the cultural heart of the city.
From the State Library, Queensland Museum and State Library to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre that hosts musicals, theatre productions and concerts, there’s something to keep every culture vulture happy. There’s even a Nepalese Peace Pagoda, a Buddhist temple offering a peaceful retreat right in the centre of the city.
|South Bank Lagoon, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia|
Compact city centre for easy shopping
Most of Brisbane’s city shops are on the north side of the Brisbane River in the central business district (CBD). The standard high street shops line Queen Street and Adelaide Street, which are parallel and easy to flit between. Luxury boutiques line Edward Street, and there are some great eateries throughout the city.
Not only is the CBD compact, but the live music played on street corners (all sorts from buskers playing guitar to calypso steel drums), plentiful benches and free public wifi make it a great place to spend some time.
|Farmers Market, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia|
Is Brisbane really in Australia?
While embracing the classic Aussie spirit, Brisbane also has a very international vibe. A farmers market brings fresh local produce to the George Street end of Queen Street every Wednesday as well as French, Turkish, Spanish and German cuisines. Stallholders from around the world sell national specialties and crafts, and you can commonly hear foreign languages spoken among the stalls.
Various international organisations hold regular events such as the Brisbane Alliance Francaise which hosts free French film nights on Fridays.
Weekends are often busy with international festivals that take place throughout the year, such as the Asian Festival, Paniyiri Greek Festival, Brisbane French Festival, and International Tartan Day.
|Noosa Beach, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia|
Brisbane isn't just a city though. There are some great daytrips available. Koala fans should take a boat up the river to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, where they can get up close and personal with some of the locals.
For snorkelling, diving and water sports enthusiasts, Tangalooma Island, in Moreton Bay, makes a fantastic island adventure destination.
There’s lots of fun to be had an hour away at the Gold Coast, with several theme parks on offer, beautiful Tambourine Mountain and Surfer’s Paradise offering parties into the night.
The more tranquil Sunshine Coast is only an hour’s drive north and offers some great swimming beaches and a spectacular hinterland.
Not a bad spot, eh?
The more I see of Brisbane the more I like it. I certainly find it hard to imagine anyone not enjoying time spent on Brisbane's South Bank. Its wide open spaces offer a quiet environment and a taste of the great outdoors (beach included), with an unbeatable view of the city across the river.
Brisbane is also a very accessible city with a great public transport network, making it easy to enjoy the buzz of the city centre one day, and escape to the coast the next.
If you ask me, Brisbane is a great city to visit.
What do you think?