Local Escapes

Treat Yourself To A Long Weekend With These City Escapes

By Morgan Reardon

The Brisbane Story Bridge with the sun setting behind it.

Interstate travel might be off the cards right now, but we’re big on silver linings, and we reckon the biggest one right now is the chance to explore our stunning backyard. Read: long weekends in Brisbane. That’s right, just a short road trip up the highway and you’ll be immersed in a bustling cultural hub with a thriving foodie scene, adventures aplenty and epic dayscapes.

Not sure where to start? We teamed up with our mates at Visit Brisbane to curate the perfect long weekend escape for you. Fire up the group chat, it’s time for a vacay. You deserve it.

Get Your Culture Fix

The first stop on any art buff's vacay list has to be a visit to the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). With film screenings to catch, award-winning exhibitions to marvel at and a mouth-watering restaurant to dine at, don’t be surprised if you lose hours here. Or, lose yourself in the multi-sensory world of Van Gogh Alive for an artistic experience unlike any other. Continue your art journey with a visit to Birrunga Gallery & Dining, the only Aboriginal-owned and operated gallery within Brisbane’s CBD. Check out incredible First Nations art exhibitions, as well as tours and classes before tucking into a meal at the gallery’s eatery. The seasonal menu boasts eats like damper, dorrigo pepper croc, matcha emu burger and wattleseed brownies. And finally, if you’re a wine lover, you have to check out City Winery’s wine blending class. Over an hour and a half, you’ll learn all about the art of blending wines and the techniques winemakers use to achieve the perfect taste and texture profile. And yes it absolutely involves snacks and a custom bottle of wine to take home with you. 

A gif featuring Van Gogh Alice and QAGOMA

Amp Up For Adventure

Are you a thrill-seeker? Gather your mates and turn your weekend away into a serious adventure escape. Kick it off by stretching your legs with a Story Bridge Climb. Arguably Brisbane’s most iconic structure, you’ll score jaw-dropping 360 degree views of the city, the Glass House Mountains and even out to Moreton Bay. While you can climb any time of the day the twilight tour is seriously breathtaking. Next up, get your heart racing by scaling the Kangaroo Point Cliffs. That’s right, you can rock climb and belay along the Brisbane River. Perfect for both beginners and experts, this two-hour guided tour is one of those bucket list experiences that you’ll rave to your mates about for months to come. After all that action adventure, it’s time to unwind on the water with a GoBoat—an environmentally-friendly, self-drive picnic boat. Yep, bring on the IG spam because this is truly epic. Cruise along the river from either Breakfast Creek or Kangaroo Point, BYO booze and a picnic and soak up the good times. Who needs the canals in Amsterdam right? 

Views from atop Story Bridge in Brisbane at night

Dig Into Brisbane’s Best Bites

Brisbane’s foodie scene is positively booming right now, so if a gourmand escape is what you’re craving then you’re in for a mouth-watering treat. Take your tastebuds on a trip around the world—no passport required—at Eat Street NorthShore. Comprising over 70 stalls and micro restaurants, plus five themed bars all housed on a historic wharf over the Brisbane River, make sure you arrive hungry. Whilst you peruse the various stalls and smash dumplings, loaded cheeseburger fries and churros, you can bless your ears with an excellent line up of the best local live entertainment Queensland has to offer. If you want to treat yourself (you really do), make tracks to Bianca, Brisbane’s hottest new eatery. The perfectly pink (and oh so grammable) Italian trattoria is the ultimate long lunch venue. Tuck into plates of grilled king prawns and delicate hand-made pasta and let the holiday vibes roll. To ring in the season in style, head to the Moët & Chandon Rosé Garden at Customs House where you can sip riverside while enjoyin a taste of France. For a nightcap, head to Mr Percival’s at the uber cool Howard Smith Wharves. The over-water bar serves top notch espresso martinis, spritzes and incredible views of the sparkling city skyline. 

A Gif featuring EatStreet, Bianca and Mr Percival's

Relax And Rewind  

If your ideal holiday is all about taking it nice and slow, we’ve got the perfect itinerary for you. Every vacay should kick off with a trip to the day spa and it just so happens that Brisbane specialises in some of the best. The AWAY Spa at the W Brisbane is definitely a treat-yourself kind of spot, but with facials, body scrubs and massages on the menu, why wouldn’t you? Pre or post-treatment you can make the most of the spa’s vitality pools, relaxation pods, rain showers, saunas and aromatherapy steam rooms. Next up, stretch your legs with these incredible walks around the river and city, before heading to this paint and sip class. Create a masterpiece (no matter your skill level), while sipping vino and nibbling on a cheese board. Finally, get up close and personal with some of nature's most incredible creatures—whales. This awesome tour will see you cruise out to the clear blue sea of Moreton Bay to witness the magnificent southern humpback whales as they migrate to and from Antarctica.

A neon-lit lounger at Away Spa

Go Island Hopping 

Yes you can get a slice of island paradise while in Brisbane. First on the list is Moreton Island. The departure terminal is a 30 minute drive from the CBD, and just a short ferry ride later you’ll feel like you’ve arrived in the Mediterranean. Think sugar white sand, sparkling azure waters and palm trees. Better yet, book in a tour with River To Bay on which you can bliss out meeting sea turtles and snorklelling the Tangalooma Wrecks. Or, check out Sunset Safari's to paddle under the stars with on an evening kayak tour. Another beautiful spot you need to check out is stunning North Stradbroke Island/Minjerribah, the traditional home of the Quandamooka People. You can jump on a water taxi or ferry from Cleveland to get there and trust us when we say you might not want to leave. Home to incredible swimming spots like the Amity Enclosure and Adam’s Beach, you can also go whale watching, surf, and camp overnight. To make the most of your visit, we recomend booking in with Yura Tours to learn about the rich history of Quandamooka Country from a Traditional custodian. 

A gif featuring North Stradbroke Island/Minjerribah, Sunset Safari kayaking, and River To Bay tours over the Tangalooma shipwrecks

Where To Stay

With all these good times and epic adventures coming your way, you need somewhere equally awesome to rest your head. Oozing Palm Springs vibes, The Calile Hotel, in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley is the chic hotel you deserve. With a pool you won’t want to leave, an award-winning Greek restaurant and an uber chic interior, this is the ultimate vacay spot. Another excellent city bolthole is the brand new Hotel X. A sanctuary of luxury in the heart of Fortitude Valley, the hotel boasts a rooftop pool and bar that will be hard to tear yourself away from. Perched above Brisbane’s CBD Inchcolm by Ovolo is the boutique hotel of your dreams. One of the best parts about this quirky accommodation? The awesome perks—including martini hour, free sweet treats and much more. Finally, for luxury in the heart of the city, check into the Emporium Hotel South Bank. It has a rooftop pool that offers sweeping views of the sparkling Brisbane skyline, immaculate service and luxurious finishes, this is the perfect spot to treat yourself. 

A gif featuring The Calile Hotel, Hotel X, Incholm By Ovolo and Emporium Hotel South Bank

Packing your bags? Same here. Plan your long weekend now escape with Visit Brisbane. Head here to get started.

Editor’s note: This article is sponsored by Visit Brisbane and proudly endorsed by Urban List. To find out more about who we work with and why read our editorial policy here.

Image credit: Supplied, Biance Restaurant, Mr Percivals, Away Spa, The Calile Hotel, X Hotel, Emporium Hotel South Bank, Incholm by Ovolo 

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