Downtown Brisbane in Australia
Brisbane is the state capital of Queensland and is the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane is a “business city.” Unlike Sydney or Melbourne, there isn’t a lot of culture here. It’s a place where people work and then go to the coast on the weekends. Southbank has some nice restaurants and there are some good pubs but overall, the city isn’t one of the most exciting cities in Australia. However, it’s worth a visit for a few days before moving on, especially if not at least to hangout on Southbank (which I loved). There are several major cultural events in August and September so this may be an ideal time to visit.

Typical Costs

  • Hostel Prices: Dorms begin at $25 USD and private rooms at $70. Bunk hostels have $10 USD beds during the first part of the week.
  • Budget Hotel Prices: A budget hotel room will cost you about $90-150 USD per night.
  • Average Cost of Food: Cheap meals can be found for under $10 USD. Most restaurant meals will cost between $20-30 USD. If you cook you own food, you can spend between $50-80 USD per week for your meals.
  • Transportation Costs: The absolute best option for using public transport is the Go Card. Go Card is an electronic pre-paid ticket that automatically calculates the cheapest fare for your journey. They cost $20. Go Cards never expire, but you can turn in your card before leaving the city and be refunded any unused credit.

Read more on the costs of traveling Australia.

Top Things to Do

  • Visit the Southbank Parklands – Featuring a stunning inner-city beach, miles of tree-lined walks, fabulous shopping and restaurants, Southbank is the one place you do have to see in Brisbane. Located a short hop over the river from the CBD, it’s easy to get to 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 Koala Sanctuary has over 130 koalas for you to look at it. If cuddling a national icon isn’t your thing, you can feed the rainbow lorrikeets and kangaroos, or even hold a snake. Moreover, you can also see beautiful Australian fauna like wombats, echidnas, tasmanian devils, dingoes and much 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 simply a coffee and look out over the city and its surroundings. Catch the local 471 bus from the city or buy a pass for the hop-on, hop-off CitySights bus.
  • The City Botanic Gardens – These gardens are in a fabulous spot beside the river. They have a great mangroves area and are really 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 Southbank and has a lot of museums and art galleries. There is the Queensland Art Gallery and 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 bored. Do what the locals do and head out 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 and is 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.
  • 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 will enjoy, at an affordable price. Consider checking out anything from biking or rollerblading to abseiling and rock climbing. Activities will 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, this is an awesome place to spend several hours.
  • 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 and its surrounding suburbs. This is an awesome way to take beautiful photos and pass the time.
  • 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.’ There is a lot of interesting history to check out here and the guided tour is recommended by most. Even the local schools go on field trips here.

Budget 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 – Cineplex Cinemas movies are $8.50 (about 50% off) on Tuesdays.

Other Destinations in Australia

Alice Springs Cairns The Gold Coast Fraser Island Melbourne Perth Sydney
Whitsunday Islands