If you believe the old saying that Brisbane is really just a big country town, the joke’s on you. In the last few years Brisbane has grown into a sophisticated city with stellar views, great places to eat and drink, and so many awesome things to do. And the good news is that despite being all grown up, Brisbane still has perma-sunny weather and a friendly pace that makes it one of the most pleasant Australian cities to hang out in.
Whether you’re a born and bred Brisbanite, or if you’re thinking it’s high time you stopped by the Queensland capital, here’s a jam-packed 48 hours worth of fantastic things to do in Brisbane. We've even created a key to match things to do in Brisbane perfectly with your personality. Nice, huh?
First things first, let’s get you some great food. If you’re arriving in Brisbane from the airport the great news is that you’ll be passing the Eat Street Markets in Hamilton on your way into town. Win! Here you’ll find all manner of delights including freshly sucked oysters, Japanese pizza, Golden Gaytime doughnuts and the food truck run by legendary Masterchef runner-up Matt Sinclair.
We all know where you stay matters and as of mid-September you can stay somewhere truly unique. The Johnson Hotel in Brisbane’s Spring Hill is the newest member of the Art Series Hotel Group and features the artwork of master colourist Michael Johnson throughout the new hotel. Taking service to the next level, there’s also a 50 metre pool and Lekker bikes for guests to ride around on.
Rise and shine! Brisbane is a city for early birds and exercisers. So get those walking shoes on and take a stroll through the tree lined New Farm Park. Set the GPS to finish up at nearby cafe Sourced Grocer which is all about awesome food in a chilled atmosphere. Fill up for the morning on the baked porridge with quince and cream, or the famous cabbage pancakes with charred Brussels Sprouts and poachies.
Every holiday requires some pampering, does it not? Let me fill you in on one of Brisbane’s ultimate hidden gems: the One Wybelenna spa in Brookfield. It’s around a 20 minute drive from the centre of town but once you get to there you will be amazed by the gorgeous architecture, Zen interiors, heated pools and calming gardens. The spa offers a smorgasbord of relaxation-inducing treatments, but I recommend the divine custom facial.
Brisbane has a few awesome paddock-to-plate venues and one of the best is Wild Canary in the Brookfield Garden Centre, a mere 2 minute drive from One Wybelenna! Feast on delights like the Lockyer Valley pumpkin and goats curd soufflé and feel guilt-free knowing that the blistered tomatoes and leafy greens on your plate were sourced in the kitchen gardens just metres from your table. Ahhhh, health.
It’s time for some drinks! If you’re looking for a slice of true Brisbane pub culture, look no further than The Regatta Hotel. Set in a majestic old Queenslander facing the Brisbane River in Toowong this traditional Queensland pub is the perfect place to relax over some craft beers.
A Brisbane culinary must-do is Gerard’s Bistro in New Farm. Nailing Middle Eastern meals with a modern twist, take it from us that you’ll want to include the Bekaa Wings and Slow-Cooked Brisket in your order. If Middle Eastern is not your cup of tea, there’s also superb Italian at Bucci next door and delicious woodfired pizza at Tinderbox around the corner.
If you’ve still got some fuel in the tank, head to cool music venue The Triffid in nearby Newstead. With a stellar line up of gigs and an equally great bar, it’s always a good time.
Get us some coffee already, you say? Well, West End cafe Morning After is a good spot to blow away last night’s excesses and get in a big brunch and lots of coffee. The pick of the bunch is their Breakfast Carbonara: it’s decadent and delicious whether you have a hangover or not.
Queenslanders are known for being good at lots of things: rugby league, swimming and sunny weather, yes. But culture? Not so much, right? Wrong! A trip to the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) will turn that fallacy on its head. GOMA has been producing some incredible exhibitions that have garnered international attention (Sally Gabori, David Lynch and Cindy Sherman to name a few) and there is always something amazing to check out. Hot tip? The GOMA Cinematheque specializes in really unusual films that you can’t find anywhere else.
Everyone knows that money spent on a holiday doesn’t count, right? So why not fit in a last minute retail therapy session at shopping mecca James Street in New Farm. James Street is lined with some of the city’s best boutiques and beauty stores including Aesop, Mecca Cosmetica, Scanlan & Theodore and sass & bide. Obviously follow it up with a few cheeky last drinks at Sixes and Sevens up the road as you sadly realize the weekend is almost over. See you next time Brisbane!
There are a few fun ways to get around Brissie that don’t involve a car (or, more to the point, parking). The CityCycle scheme lets you ride a bike around for as little as $2.20 an hour, while the CityCat catamarans are one of the prettiest ways to get around the city via the Brisbane River.
If you’re planning on walking around town in Spring and Summer may we suggest bringing a hat and some SPF 50+ sunscreen? You and your skin will thank us.
If you’re tossing up which area to stay in for your Brisbane jaunt, the most central Brisbane suburbs are New Farm, Fortitude Valley, South Bank, West End and Spring Hill.
If you have a bit more time than 48 hours in Brisbane, we highly recommend adding these activities to your itinerary:
Hipsters head to secret cinema gem, the Schonell Theatre at The University of Queensland for the latest art house movies.
There’s nothing better than packing a picnic and heading to New Farm Park in the summer to soak up the river breezes on a sunny day. And when you’re ready for drinks just head to the Brisbane Powerhouse next door for a wine on the deck at Bar Alto.
Take a dip in the historic and charming Spring Hill Baths. The super cute 25-yard (23 metre) pool will have you breaking your PB in no time.