If I’m being completely honest, Brisbane didn’t initially strike me as a great city. It doesn’t have the beaches of Sydney or the lively culture of Melbourne and I struggled to see its appeal. But, after spending a few days there visiting friends, and then again as part of the Contiki BEACHES AND REEFS tour, I realised there were plenty of things to do in Brisbane and it started to really grow on me.
EXPLORE QUEENSLAND WITH CONTIKI…
…AND HAVE NO REGRETS
Brisbane was just a short stop on our Contiki’s tour, but there was time to get a feel for the city and to see its main sights. If you’re into adventure sports, great weather and partying (and let’s face it, who isn’t?!), it’s the best tour out there.
But I digress. Back to Brisbane. Here are some of my top recommendations…
THINGS TO DO IN BRISBANE
Mt Coot-tha provides one of the best views of Brisbane City and is only a 15-minute drive from the city centre. You could also take a public bus, or hire a bike. If you have time, explore the 52-hectare subtropical botanic gardens. Entry is free.
LONE PINE KOALA SANCTUARY
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is one of Brisbane’s top attractions. Here, you can hold a koala, feed kangaroos and wallabies, and experience several rainbow lorikeets landing on your head! While the focus is on koalas, there are plenty of other native Australian species to see.
Take a stroll south from the CBD and you’ll reach the City Botanic Gardens. Take care after dark though as these areas are often poorly lit.
THE WHEEL OF BRISBANE
An adult ticket to ride the Brisbane wheel costs $17.50. The gondolas are fully enclosed, air conditioned and seat up to six adults and two children. A ride will provide you with 360 degree panoramic views of the city and take you almost 60 metres above the ground.
Streets Beach is a Brisbane icon. As it’s a bit of a mission to the nearest real beach, the city had one imported on the Southbank. There’s a lagoon for swimming and the white sand is surrounded by tropical plants to provide some privacy from the adjacent roads and footpaths. It’s free to visit and patrolled by lifeguards, and has to be one of the best things to do in Brisbane on a sunny day.
Built between 1920 and 1930, Brisbane City Hall is open to the public seven days a week. Following a three-year restoration period from 2010 until 2013, the heritage-listed building is once again being used to host a range of free, ticketed and private events. Markets are frequently held in the adjacent King George Square, as well as a monthly games night with giant and normal-sized popular games.
A popular adventure pastime is to abseil down the Kangaroo Point Cliffs on the riverbank. They’re not massively high, but it’s a great experience with pretty views of the city if you dare to look around you. Other sporty activities include renting roller blades, cycling, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and the Brisbane Story Bridge adventure climb.
EAGLE STREET PIER
If you fancy a drink or a bite to eat, head to Eagle Street Pier for the best riverside views in Brisbane. There’s plenty of outdoor seating and heaters are provided for the colder months – not that Queensland ever really gets that cold…!
As you wander the streets of Brisbane, keep your eyes open, and don’t forget to look up! This odd sculpture was spotted above the Collective Markets on the Southbank. Thanks to the Art Built-in policy, Brisbane is a city full of public artwork.
I visited Brisbane as part of Contiki’s Beaches and Reefs Tour. These photos are a combination of shots from that day and a separate weekend trip when I stayed with my friend Lucy. While Contiki sponsored my journey up the east coast from Sydney to Cairns, the topic of articles was left entirely up to me and any opinions are a genuine reflection of how I felt about the experience. Thanks also to Lucy for acting as my personal tour guide and for her generous hospitality!