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12 things to do in Brisbane and event guide for 2020

Take a scenic flight and hang out with Australian animals when visiting the Sunshine State's capital.

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Brisbane, Australia

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Brisbane boasts a booming cultural scene, offering world-renowned art and science exhibitions, an established underground music scene and a booming cafe culture the locals are proud to share.

Natural wildlife encounters and breathtaking landscapes are just a stone's throw away and attractions that reconnect you with nature can be found at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and Stradbroke Island.

This guide will provide you with the top things to do in Brisbane based on season, annual events and local favourites.

Top attractions in Brisbane

1. Visit the wildlife

Animal lovers will be happy to know that Brisbane is filled with a wide range of animals and there are plenty of place where you can go to visit them up close. During your visit to the Sunshine State, learn about Australian species and hold a koala, right in the heart of the city.

Pocket-friendly option:

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary Entry

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary Entry from RedBalloon

Enjoy entry to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary with the option to feed kangaroos and wild lorikeets.

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The ultimate experience:

River Cruise and Koala Sanctuary Tour

River Cruise and Koala Sanctuary Tour from RedBalloon

Make your way to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary with a scenic cruise along the Brisbane River.

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2. See views of Brisbane from Story Bridge

Get a spectacular birds eye view of Brisbane's skyline with the Story Bridge Climb. Climbers will be led up an 80-metre ascend and have full access to 360-degree views of iconic Brisbane attractions including the Glass House Mountains, world-heritage listed Lamington National Park and Moreton Bay Islands.

Pocket-friendly option:

Story Bridge Climb

Story Bridge Climb from finder.com.au

See 360-degree panoramic views of Brisbane city with the Story Bridge Climb. You'll receive a group photograph to remember the experience.

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The ultimate experience:

Twilight Climb

Twilight Climb from finder.com.au

For the perfect combination of seeing the sun set and watching the city come to life with lights, the Twilight Climb offers spectacular views from above. You'll also get a group photograph that can be picked up before you leave.

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3. Experience the thrill of rock climbing

View Brisbane from new heights with a rock climbing adventure. If you're looking for a way to get outdoors and stay active, Rock climbing is the perfect way to test yourself mentally and physically, but there's no doubt you'll feel accomplished when you reach the ground. Rest assured that an experienced instructor will guide you from start to finish.

Pocket-friendly option:

The ultimate experience:


Best things to do in Brisbane at night

4. Relax with a dinner cruise

Jump on board and cruise down Brisbane River while taking in views of the Southbank precinct, City Botanic Gardens, Story Bridge and Queensland Maritime Museum.

Pocket-friendly option:

City Lights Dinner Cruise

City Lights Dinner Cruise from finder.com.au

Spend a night on board a Brisbane River dinner cruise that includes a seasonal contemporary buffet, a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and a dance floor.

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The ultimate experience:

Brisbane River Dinner Cruise with VIP Romance Package

Brisbane River Dinner Cruise with VIP Romance Package from RedBalloon

This Brisbane River dinner cruise for two will put you in the good books with your other half. Expect nothing less than the best with a seafood platter on arrival, a bottle of Moet and Chandon Brut Imperial Champagne, unlimited beverages and a buffet dinner with window seating.

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5. Fight your fear with a ghost tour

Stroll the streets of Brisbane while you listen to your guide tell haunted tales about former Brisbane residents, arcade ghosts and a haunted church.

Pocket-friendly option:

Haunted Brisbane Ghost Walking Tour

Haunted Brisbane Ghost Walking Tour from RedBalloon

Discover the city in a new way with a ghost tour through the heart of Brisbane. You will hear ghost stories and visit haunted buildings during this 90-minute walking tour.

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The ultimate experience:

Boggo Road Gaol Ghost and Gallows Tour

Boggo Road Gaol Ghost and Gallows Tour from RedBalloon

Visit the most notorious Australian prison with this two-hour ghost tour. You will be given a book about the history of past inmates and your host will tell you stories about the murder and mystery surrounding Boggo Road Gaol.

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6. Let out your creativity with a night photography class

Take eye-catching images at night by learning the basics of composing night portraits, exposing for mood, capturing moving light with shutter and taking photos in low light.

Pocket-friendly option:

Night Photography Workshop

Night Photography Workshop from RedBalloon

Join this two-hour photography workshop and learn techniques for shooting after dark, including how to capture moving lights and how to take pictures in low-light settings.

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The ultimate experience:

Nightscapes Masterclass with Luke! Photography

Nightscapes Masterclass with Luke! Photography from finder.com.au

This workshop is suited for those who have confidence in shooting at night but want to advance their technique and skills. During the three-hour session, you will gain a better understanding for balancing your image, how to compose and frame your image, identifying the key focus in your landscape and perfecting low-light shots.

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Best things to do in Brisbane with kids

7. Breathe in the fresh air with outdoor adventures

You won't be short on choice for adventure parks and and outdoor obstacle courses in Brisbane. Undertake courses which include aerial challenges with ziplines that suspend above animal encounters or sightsee your way around the city on a segway.

Pocket-friendly option:

Flying Fox High Ropes Adventure Park

Flying Fox High Ropes Adventure Park from Adrenaline

Get ready for the ultimate aerial adventure with more than 80 aerial challenges across five courses.

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The ultimate experience:


8. Try something new with indoor activities

Although Brisbane is notorious for its great weather and outdoor activities, if you're looking for something different to do, there's a long list of indoor activities that can occupy your time. Whether it's a solo indoor skydiving experience where you'll learn to do perfect twists and intricate moves, or a high intensity group escape room experience with challenges to solve, going indoors does not limit the fun.

Pocket-friendly option:

Escape Room Experience For Groups of 2

Escape Room Experience For Groups of 2 from Adrenaline

Compete with your friends and family to solve crimes in sixth themed escape rooms in the heart of Brisbane.

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The ultimate experience:


9. Take a journey off the shore to whale watch

Head out to the sea to explore a different side of Brisbane. Spend a day off shore discovering the scenery and wildlife from the ocean. Spot dolphins and whales amongst other marine species, and if you're really game, you can even swim with humpback whales.

Pocket-friendly option:

Swim with Whales

Swim with Whales from Adrenaline

This whale watching and swimming trip is something that you don't want to miss while in the Sunshine State. This four-hour trip provides guests with a wet suit and snorkeling equipment before heading out on the water. Spot whales along the way before stopping to swim with the friendly mammals.

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The ultimate experience:

VIP Whale Watching Cruise

VIP Whale Watching Cruise from RedBalloon

Join this four-hour whale watching adventure with return transfers to Brisbane CBD. You will receive priority boarding, a complimentary beverage and priority serving at a gourmet buffet lunch onboard with the VIP package.

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Best adventurous things to do in Brisbane

10. Enjoy a thrill adventure from the sky

Whether a scenic helicopter ride or an unforgettable skydiving experience is more your style, you'll be happy to know there are a copious amount of options available to you in Brisbane.

Budget-friendly option:

Helicopter Scenic Flight

Helicopter Scenic Flight from Adrenaline

Get a birds eye view of Brisbane from the window seat of this thrilling scenic helicopter flight.

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The ultimate experience:

Skydiving Over Redcliffe Beach Brisbane

Skydiving Over Redcliffe Beach Brisbane from Adrenaline

Arguably one of the most exhilarating adventures you can experience, get suited up to skydive from up to 15,000 feet with breathtaking views.

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11. Experience the unknown with a driving experience with a twist

Head off on an adventure with an unique driving experience around the city while seeing the most popular attractions along the way. If driving a Harley Davidson around the city doesn't scream adventure to you, turn it up a notch by driving around a circuit in a Ferrari before taking a helicopter flight overlooking Brisbane.

Pocket-friendly option:

Rally Driving Brisbane

Rally Driving Brisbane from Adrenaline

Take 16 laps in two different cars around a rally driving dirt circuit, with a professional rally driver by your side throughout the experience.

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The ultimate experience:

Ferrari Drive and Helicopter Lesson Thrill Combo

Ferrari Drive and Helicopter Lesson Thrill Combo from RedBalloon

If you like speed and heights, this one is for you. Take a Ferrari F430 Spider out for a spin and fly high with a flying lesson in a helicopter over Brisbane.

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12. Build your skills with a kayaking and paddle boarding session

If you don't mind taking a dip in the ocean, look no further than a fun day out in Brisbane's waters. Test your balancing skills and get a fun workout in with a paddle boarding sessions or stroll up Brisbane River in an illuminated kayak, before returning back to shore and enjoying dinner with a deck setting by the river.

Pocket-friendly option:

Stand Up Paddle Boarding Rental

Stand Up Paddle Boarding Rental from RedBalloon

Test your balancing skills with an hour of stand-up paddle boarding in Moreton Bay.

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The ultimate experience:

Saturday Night Kayak Tour and BBQ Dinner

Saturday Night Kayak Tour and BBQ Dinner from RedBalloon

See Brisbane from a new perspective with an illuminated kayak tour on Brisbane River. You will be accompanied by a qualified instructor, and when you return to shore, you will be met with a barbecue dinner with chilled beers on a deck setting with views of the river.

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More things to do in Brisbane

Seasonal events in Brisbane

Things to do in Brisbane in summer

  • Brisbane International
  • Laneway Festival
  • Catch a Queensland Reds game at Suncorp Stadium
  • Feast at Great Australian Bites

Things to do in Brisbane in winter

  • The Ekka
  • State of Origin
  • Regional Flavours Festival
  • Brisbane Kite Festival
  • Brisbane Marathon Festival

Things to do in Brisbane in autumn

  • Brisbane Comedy Festival
  • World Science Festival
  • Fish Lane Festival
  • Anywhere Theatre Festival

Things to do in Brisbane in spring

  • Brisbane Festival
  • Listen Out Festival
  • Jungle Love Festival
  • Wonderland Festival

Book your flights

Feeling inspired? Book your flights to Brisbane here:

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