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.
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.
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!
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. Why not check out our Aussie Events Guide.
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 Stradbroke Island or Moreton Island
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.
6. Do a Skydive
There are loads of places to choose from in Australia and New Zealand for spectacular views when skydiving. If you choose Brisbane you'll get to land on the beach after enjoying amazing views of the city, the coastline, the sunshine coast and even Moreton Island.15,000 ft with 60 seconds of freefall to get your adrenalin pumping! Amazing!
7. Australia Zoo
Is any trip to Australia complete without visiting the home of the crocodile hunter himself Steve Irwin, as well as his family, Bindi, Terri and Robert? No! Australia Zoo is around an hour away and there are numerous ways you can get there. Probably the easiest is to book a tour if you don't have your own transport. The best place to learn about crocodiles with plenty of shows and feedings to watch throughout the day. Of course it's not all about crocodiles, they have loads of other animals as well.
8. 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.
9. Mt Coot-tha 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.
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 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.