Brisbane Travel Guide

Lounging on the main pedestrian street in Brisbane, Australia
Brisbane, Australia is the state capital of Queensland and is the third most populated city in Australia. Brisbane is a “business city”, so unlike Sydney or Melbourne, there isn’t a lot of culture here. It’s a place where people work during the week, and then go to the coast on the weekends. South Bank has some nice restaurants, and there are some decent pubs, but overall, the city isn’t one of the most exciting places to visit in Australia. However, it’s worth a stop to hang out on South Bank (which I loved) and meet travelers heading north.

Typical Costs

Hostel prices – Dorms begin at $25 USD and private rooms at $70 USD. Bunk hostels often have $10 USD beds during the first part of the week. I love Tinbillys in the city center.Budget hotel prices – A budget hotel room will cost you about $60 USD for a single room, and can range $90-150 USD per night for a double room.

Average cost of food – Cheap meals can be found for under $10 USD, but most restaurant meals will cost between $20-30 USD. If you cook you own food, you can spend between $50-80 USD per week on groceries.

Transportation costs – The absolute best option for using public transport is the Go Card. Go Cards are an electronic pre-paid ticket that automatically calculate the cheapest fare for your journey. They cost $20 USD and never expire, but you can turn in your card before leaving the city and be refunded any unused credit, as well as your $10 USD deposit.

Read more on the costs of traveling Australia.

Money Saving Tips

Buy a Go Card — Users save about 30% on a single priced ticket, so if you think you will do lots of traveling around the city, this pass would be worth the purchase. It can be used on any train, bus, or ferry in South East Queensland. If you don’t use all of the funds on your Go Card, you can get a refund on what you have left.See movies on Tuesday — If you need a break, Cineplex Cinemas movies are $8.50 USD (about 50% off) on Tuesdays.

Top Things to See and Do in Brisbane

Visit the South Bank Parklands – Featuring a stunning inner-city beach, miles of tree-lined walks, fabulous shopping, and plenty of restaurants, South Bank is the one place you do have to see in Brisbane. Located a short hop over the river from the CBD (Central Business District), it’s easy to spend a full day among the many attractions. Don’t forget to jump on the Wheel of Brisbane to get a birds-eye view of the city.See Koalas at the Koala Sanctuary – The world’s first and largest koala sanctuary, Lone Pine has over 130 koalas for you to observe. If cuddling a national icon isn’t your thing, you can feed the rainbow lorikeets and kangaroos, or even hold a snake. Moreover, you can also see beautiful Australian fauna like wombats, echidnas, Tasmanian devils, dingoes, and many more.

Enjoy the view from Mt Coot-tha – Mt Coot-tha offers beautiful panoramic views of the city and on a nice day, Moreton Bay. A favorite for locals and visitors alike, you can enjoy a meal or coffee and look out over the city’s surroundings. Catch the local 471 bus from the city or buy a pass for the hop-on, hop-off City Sights bus.

The City Botanic Gardens – These gardens are in a fabulous spot beside the river, close to the CBD. Spend a few hours strolling here away from the madness of the city center.

The Cultural Center — The Cultural Center is right in South Bank and includes the Queensland Art Gallery, as well as the Gallery of Modern Art. The Queensland Museum is a good place to learn about natural history and cultural history of the area. If you want to see an opera, ballet, or other theater, there is also the Queensland Performing Arts Center.

Head to the Beach — After a few days, you might find yourself looking for things to do. In that case, think like a local and head to the beach. The Gold Coast, with its surfing, white sand beaches, and lush rivers, is only 30 minutes away.

Roma Street Parklands – This is the world’s largest sub-tropical urban garden, located only 5 minutes walk from city hall. I personally like it better than the park by the river, but both are very good if you have the time to hit both.

Riverlife Adventure Center – The Riverlife Adventure Center is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area—they offer various outdoor activities that everyone can enjoy, at an affordable price. Consider checking out anything from biking or rollerblading to abseiling and rock climbing. Guided groups can take you everywhere from the riverside to the Kangaroo Point Cliffs.

XXXX Brewery – An interesting and fun way to spend a couple of hours, this brewery is considered to be a strong part of local heritage. Learn the story behind the beer, check out the inner workings of the brewery, and finish with an awesome tasting session.

Queensland Performing Arts Center – This excellent exhibition and performance space is considered one of Australia’s best. Home to a performing art complex, art gallery, state library, museum, and more.

The Wheel of Brisbane – Located in the South Bank Parklands, this ferris wheel stands at nearly 200 feet tall and overlooks the central business district.

St. Helena Island – The first historic national park of Queensland, this island is host to the ruins of a colonial prison that was once known as ‘the hell hole of the South Pacific’. I definitely recommend the guided tour—even the local schools go on field trips here.