things to do in brisbane - Brisbane city lagoon

Australia's sunny city tends to be a popular base for travellers heading north or south along the east coast, visiting Fraser Island or exploring Surfer's Paradise or Byron Bay. Contrary to popular disbelief (sorry Brisbane) this city is way more than just a 'stopover', there are more things to do in Brisbane than you may think! Think sunshine, quirky suburbs, weekend markets, a banging nightlife, islands, an inner city lagoon, ferries oh - and the most Aussie Brewery you will have the pleasure of visiting.

So here it is, our Top 10 things to do in Brisbane

1. Free Brisbane Ferry

Much like Sydney, many of Brisbane's locals make their daily city commute by ferry. Brisbane River runs throughout the city, underneath the iconic Storey Bridge and allows you to hop on and hop off at various locations. There is also a FREE 'red city hopper' ferry that provides the perfect opportunity to get some amazing views (and Instagram snaps) of the city.

TIP: Walk to Brisbane's Southbank and jump on the ferry from there. Take the ferry around to Eagle Street Pier and grab a beer at one of the many bars around the area whilst overlooking Storey Bridge.

free brisbane ferry commons

2. Explore the Outer Suburbs

Fortitude Valley gives Brisbane its creative and alternative edge. Check out the Markets, Boutique Shops, Bars, Live Music & Chinatown. You can easily catch a train from Brisbane's city centre to Fortitude Valley Station, or if you do fancy a bit of a walk Fortitude Valley is only 2km from the city centre. Westend is another of Brisbane's suburbs that is well worth a visit. Probably a little more 'hipster' than Fortitude Valley, you will find some pretty amazing bars, restaurants and of course, craft beer here.

TIP: Explore Westend's Boundary Street Markets every Friday and Saturday evening, and if heading to Fortitude Valley make sure you grab a drink at Cloudland - the open air rooftop bar is a must!

3. Southbank

Southbank is home to its very own man made beach. Yep, that's right! A sandy beach lagoon right in the heart of Brisbane city! Simply stroll across the Brisbane River to the south side of the city and you will find green park lands, a gigantic Ferris wheel, weekend markets, bars, cafes & the Museum of Modern Art. There are always a number of free events that take place at Southbank. You can check out our Aussie Events Guide here.

southbank beach commons

By Brisbane Marketing and BCEC [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

4. XXXX Brewery

An absolute Australian icon – it is pretty safe to say that XXXX Beer is the face of Australian Beer history! This activity is a cheapie and a must do. Beer tasting and brewery tours are cheap and can be organised with your Base travel agent. Mmm... beer, this is a Brisbane attraction not to be missed!

5. Head to the 'non' Fraser Islands

South of Fraser Island, sits Moreton Island and Stradbroke Island. All three of the islands are similar in shape but each have a very unique landscape. Moreton Island, unlike Fraser, has swimmable beaches and is a great place to spot for dolphins, snorkel around Tangalooma Shipwreck and try a bit of sand boarding. Stradbroke Island is really a nature lover's heaven with loads of waterfalls, rainforest, beaches and walking trails. Both islands are accessible by ferry and tours can be booked from Base Brisbane. Check out 15 Australian islands that will blow your mind here.

Moreton Island Beach

6. Bike the City

Brisbane is one of the most bike friendly cities in Australia with kilometers of dedicated bike trails that will lead you along the picturesque Brisbane River. There are bike stations located throughout the city which allow you to pick up a bike in one place, and drop it off in another.

7. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Located just a short drive from Brisbane, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is home to 130 Koalas and is Australia's first and largest Koala sanctuary. There are loads of other Aussie animals to say hello to and you can also hand feed the Kangaroos. For $18 you can also get a photo holding a Koala - a little cheaper and less busy than nearby Australia Zoo - well worth a visit. Transport and entry to the sanctuary packages are available from Brisbane.

cuddle koala lone pine koala sanctuary

8. Gardens and City Streets

Brisbane's Queen Street Mall is the hub of the city and where you can find all of the major shops, plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants. When exploring, be sure to check out the City's Botanical Gardens, Museum of Brisbane, Eagle St Pier and City Hall.

TIP: There is a FREE guided city walking tour that departs from Brisbane's Information Centre (167 Queen St) from Monday to Friday at noon, or check out the Story City App that offers a number of themed, self guided walking tours around the city (such as running from a Zombie Apocalypse). You can find more information about the app here.

9. Mt Cootha Lookout

The gardens are just a 15 minute bus journey from Brisbane CBD and home to acres of sub tropical gardens. Chill out for the day, have a BBQ and make sure that you take the walk to the top of Mt Cootha for stunning views of Brisbane.

mt cootha aifric

10. Gold Coast Hinterland

Around a 30 minute drive from Brisbane are a number of UNESCO World Heritage Listed national parks with stunning walking trails, natural swimming holes and some amazing lookouts! Some of our favourite parks to visit are Lamington National Park, Springbrook and Tamborine Mountain. You can hire a car or campervan for a day or two from Brisbane's CBD or book a day tour.

BONUS Brisbane Activity

11. Hot Air Ballooning

Do something really different and go hot air ballooning. Believe me when I say it's one of the most amazing experiences you'll ever have. There's no other feeling like floating in the sky looking down on the world below. Check out some Brisbane ballooning options here.

  • Short of cash? Check out our Guide to exploring Brisbane for FREE here.
  • For more information on activities in Brisbane chat to the staff at Base Brisbane Uptown – the local staff have stuck around in Australia’s sunny city for a reason!