Where to go in Brisbane

Take time to explore Brisbane and the city's surroundings for incredible wildlife, breathtaking views and unbeatable city activities.

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Brisbane is one of Australia’s highlights. It’s a city that combines culture, nature, art and food into one compact area to explore and discover. Head to Fortitude Valley for an incredible foodie and nightlife scene, spend time cruising down the Brisbane River, discover the wildlife at Australia Zoo or scenic views on Moreton Island or at Mount Coot-tha.

Brisbane has a lot to offer and it’s all on the city’s door step. It’s a city that’s perfect for all ages, showcasing everything a typical city has – and more.

We're sharing the best places to visit in Brisbane so you know where to go during your time in this fabulous city.

Where to go in Brisbane

1. South Bank

South Bank is the star precinct in Brisbane. Located along Brisbane River, it allows visitors to take in the city by day and night.

It’s a combination of recreational, educational, cultural and social aspects that create an entertainment hub which locals and visitors alike enjoy. It was once the 1988 World Expo site but now the most popular attraction is the Streets Beach, a man-made lagoon. The Wheel of Brisbane shows off Brisbane’s city skyline and there are many restaurants, walking and biking paths to enjoy.

  • Best for: City sites, walking/biking, beach
  • How to get there: South Bank is in Brisbane’s south central Central Business District (CBD) along the south side of Brisbane River. From Queen Street Mall it’s a short 8-minute bus or a 13-minute walk. From Fortitude Valley it’s a 16-minute bus or a 35-minute walk.
  • Top 5 things to see/do: Soak up the sun at Streets Beach, ride the Wheel of Brisbane, walk under the Arbour, check out the South Bank Collective Markets and see the Nepalese Peace Pagoda.
  • How long do I need? 2 hours - 1 day
  • Recommended tour: Hop on a Brisbane Segway Tour to explore the top sites in South Bank and Brisbane’s other highlights while learning about the city’s history, landmarks and architecture.

2. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary has been open since the 1920s and is the oldest and largest koala sanctuary.

Visitors today still head to the sanctuary to snap a picture with these cuddly creatures and for a chance to see them up close. Other animals you might see include a platypus, crocodiles, snakes, Tasmanian devils and more, on view here for guests to meet, take pictures and see feedings or demonstrations.

  • Best for: Animal lovers
  • How to get there: Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is in southern Brisbane and is a 46-minute bus from Queen Street Mall or a 15-minute drive. You can also take scenic cruises along the river to the sanctuary.
  • Top 5 things to see/do: Take a picture with a koala, take a scenic river cruise to the sanctuary, watch one of the animal feedings, listen to a keeper talk and catch the free flight raptor show.
  • How long do I need? 1-3 hours
  • Recommended tour: Take a river cruise for scenic river sites throughout Brisbane before discovering fun facts and insights about koalas and other animals at the sanctuary, which is included in your tour.

Image: Visit Brisbane

3. Cultural Precinct

The Cultural Precinct is in South Bank along the Brisbane River. It’s a heritage-listed area that’s packed with entertainment, including galleries, museums and venues for performances such as ballet and opera. Some of the architecture in this area is award-winning and beautiful parklands create a wonderful space to relax outdoors. Many of the exhibits are interactive, making it a great spot for all ages.

  • Best for: Art, cultural performances
  • How to get there: Brisbane’s Cultural Precinct is on the south shores of the Brisbane River and is a 5-minute walk from South Bank attractions, a 6-minute bus or a 12-minute walk from Queen Street Mall or a 16-minute bus or 38-minute walk from Fortitude Valley.
  • Top 5 things to see/do: Visit the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, watch a show at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, check out the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre, visit the State Library of Queensland and stop by the parklands.
  • How long do I need? 2 hours - 1 day
  • Recommended tour: Take a Brisbane city sights and South Bank tour to explore Brisbane’s best sites in the morning and with free time in the afternoon to visit the Cultural Precinct.

4. Mount Coot-tha

Mount Coot-tha is a mountain and a western suburb in Brisbane that welcomes visitors and locals alike to enjoy a nice city break and explore nature.

From the top, Mount Coot-tha offers scenic views over Brisbane, and activities include hiking and biking trails.

  • Best for: Active travellers, scenic sites, nature
  • How to get there: Mount Coot-tha is in western Brisbane and is a 25-minute drive from the CBD or a 40-minute bus from Adelaide Street.
  • Top 5 things to see/do: Take in the views from the top, visit the Brisbane Botanical Gardens, see stars at the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, find a trail to hike/bike and take a cemetery ghost tour at Toowong Cemetery.
  • How long do I need? 1 hour - 1 day
  • Recommended tour: Hop onto a helicopter for a scenic flight to Mount Coot-tha where you’ll get the best views of the city, with the option to fly with the doors on or off.

5. Brisbane River

Brisbane River doesn’t just run through the city, it’s a star attraction bordered by many of the city’s best areas.

It’s the longest river in southeast Queensland and provides a perfect backdrop on river cruises, as well as scenic views for guests dining along the river or rappelling down cliffs. The river flows under the heritage-listed Story Bridge, where visitors can participate in some adrenaline action on the Brisbane Story Bridge Adventure climb.

  • Best for: Active travellers, city sites
  • How to get there: The Brisbane River runs through the Brisbane CBD and is a 1-minute walk from South Bank or the Cultural Precinct. Story Bridge is a 28-minute walk from Fortitude Valley.
  • Top 5 things to see/do: Take a scenic cruise, visit Kangaroo Viewpoint, climb Story Bridge, go rock climbing/abseiling and kayak down the river.
  • How long do I need? 2-5 hours
  • Recommended tour: Take a cruise on the Brisbane River that includes dinner, sparkling city lights, live music and dancing.

6. Fortitude Valley

Fortitude Valley is Brisbane’s trendiest neighbourhood and is well-known for its eclectic mix of culture and popular for nightlife ranging from dive bars to high-end clubs. It may seem gritty on the outside but spend some time in this neighbourhood and you’ll discover unique cocktail bars, plenty of eateries, Chinatown, boutiques selling a bit of everything and trendy galleries.

  • Best for: Nightlife, food and drinks
  • How to get there: Fortitude Valley is in the north of Brisbane’s CBD and is an easy 15-minute bus from Queen Street Mall or a 26-minute walk. From South Bank it’s a 20-minute bus or a 47-minute walk.
  • Top 5 things to see/do: Experience the nightlife, explore Chinatown, shop the boutiques, bar hop, enjoy brunch
  • How long do I need? 2 hours - 1 day
  • Recommended tour: You don’t need one! The best way to visit Fortitude Valley is to explore on your own.

7. Australia Zoo

Australia Zoo is a widely popular day trip from Brisbane with buses and tours leaving from the city daily for the zoo, made famous by Steve Irwin. The 100-acre property is home to many animals and uniquely built attractions such as the Cambodian-style Tiger Temple or the Crocoseum. Plenty of native animals are available to see as well as a range of other wildlife from regions around the world.

  • Best for: Animal lovers
  • How to get there: Australia Zoo is in Beerwah, north of Brisbane. It’s an hour drive but coach services between Brisbane and the zoo are available. The train is another option because a complimentary shuttle picks up guests for transfer to the zoo. Day tours are also available.
  • Top 5 things to see/do: Visit Roo Heaven to feed kangaroos, see Tiger Temple, explore Bindi’s Island, learn about Steve Irwin’s research at the Croc School and adopt an animal.
  • How long do I need? 1-day
  • Recommended tour: Join an Australia Zoo Day Tour from Brisbane where you’ll not only get to see animals but can also watch scheduled shows. Entry and transportation are included.

8. Moreton Island

Moreton Island is a protected sand island off of the southeastern coast of Queensland. 95% of the island is apart of Moreton Island National Park which is home to Mt Tempest, the highest sandhill in the world. Moreton Island has an abundance of activities and natural sites such as sand dunes to explore, coral sites and wrecks for diving, beaches to lounge on and bushland to find your way through.

  • Best for: Water activities, scenic sites
  • How to get there: Moreton Island is off of the southeast coast of Queensland and is accessible from Brisbane by ferry (75 minutes) or flying (15 minutes).
  • Top 5 things to see/do: Dive and snorkel the Tangalooma Wrecks, go sand tobogganing, visit the Champagne Pools, visit the Cape Moreton Lighthouse and go whale or dolphin watching.
  • How long do I need? 1-2 days
  • Recommended tour: Head out on a Brisbane to Moreton Island day tour that includes water activities such as snorkelling, kayaking and sandboarding.

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