Equal parts enviable subtropical climate, riverside charm, and booming gastronomic scene, Brisbane is alive with bold confidence—and rightly so.
From luxury hotels that make you feel like you’re in Palm Springs and seriously lavish restaurants serving fresh Moreton Bay bug rolls to indulgent spas and island paradises, this sun-soaked city is abuzz with fresh and exciting energy. Pair this with 283 sunny days each year and an average high temperature of 26.4 degrees—we wouldn't blame you for wanting to stay a little longer.
To help you get a taste of it all, we teamed up with Visit Brisbane to curate only the most ‘Grammable travel itinerary. Read on, because this is winter in Brisbane, but not as you know it.
Grab A Drink
First Of Its Kind
Carved beneath the iconic Story Bridge on the banks of the Brisbane River with watering holes and eateries lining a fully licensed boardwalk and parklands: Howard Smith Wharves is always a party. The prize of the precinct? Mr. Percival’s, a dramatic overwater bar that’s the first of its kind. The octagonal bar is modelled after European beach clubs with a strong Morrocan vibe and seafood-heavy menu. For a taste of Brisbane, order the Moreton Bay bug roll, zucchini flowers stuffed with crab and ricotta and wash it down with a Vida cocktail. Here, it feels like summer all year long.
Kick Back With A Local Brew
For the chilled traveller, wander further down Howard Smith Wharves to Felon’s Brewing Co. The brewery finds its namesake in four escaped convicts that were shipwrecked on Moreton Island in 1832, and are credited as the first settlers of Brisbane. Inspired by their spirit for freedom and discovery, Felon’s inspiration to craft the perfect beer comes from those before them. The brewery, restaurant, and Fish ‘N’ Chippery are all housed within the original Howard Smith Wharves sheds with a sunkissed beer garden out back and seating along the river. The wharf is fully licensed, so you can hire a rug, grab a beer, fresh fish and chips and kick back on the lawn and get your dose of warm weather. Here, it’s a true celebration of Brisbane’s history and lifestyle.
Views From The Top
For one of the best views in Brisbane, head to the new Emporium Hotel in South Bank, ride the futuristic elevator to the top floor and step out onto the rooftop terrace. Boasting over-the-top opulence, bold confidence and arresting views, you could easily be fooled to think you were in Dubai. Order the Koji Hardshake (a wintery cocktail topped with a toasted marshmallow), pull up a stool and watch as the sun falls behind the river and dusk paints the sky pink. Upload a few Instagram Stories and your mates will be green with envy back home.
Fill Your Fork
Prep for the day’s adventures with breakfast at Felix For Goodness. A small hideaway cafe, restaurant and bar down Burnett Lane in the city, Felix For Goodness is serving us fierce New York laneway vibes with a seriously chilled-out atmosphere. Feel good knowing they source their products ethically and select the best produce from as close to home as possible.
For a decadent dinner, neo-Chinese eatery Donna Chang is calling your name. Every single nook and cranny of this restaurant is Instagrammable—sparkling chandeliers drip from the ceiling, stunning marble tables fill the space and patrons recline on blush pink velour couches. The whole place oozes lavish drama and we are here for it. The menu is extensive but our pick goes to the cloudy bay clams with salted chilli, beer and fried bread. Downstairs, a flamboyant table-service bar awaits. Step through the original bank vault doors (they had to fly a guy in from Switzerland just to unlock them) to The Boom Boom Room and enjoy the live tunes in this old-world bunker. Clearly, this is not just any dining experience.
Treat The Senses
Arts and Music
From seriously cool exhibitions by local artists to under-the-radar gigs and legendary festivals, there’s plenty going on in Brisbane. Feast your ears on epic beats at The Triffid, a repurposed WWII hanger. It’s the lovechild of Powderfinger bassist John Collins (who obviously knows a thing or two about live music) and is well-known for fostering emerging bands. There’s also a beer garden out the back to quench your hard-earned thirst.
Humbly underrated, Brisbane’s thriving art scene has made way for notable homegrown talent and attracts an impressive rotation of international exhibitions. Drop into the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) in South Bank and feast your eyes on works overflowing with colour and life. There’s plenty of smaller galleries littered around the city, and TWFINEART in The Valley is well worth a visit.
Tropical Island Paradises
A bevy of white-sand isles sit just off the coast of Brisbane and are the perfect way for weary travellers to relax and unwind. Whether you’re hiking Straddie’s rugged headland or kayaking around Moreton Island's shipwrecks, these islands will give you that exotic overseas feeling minus the jetlag. Blessed with warm sunshine throughout the year, we wouldn't fault you for planting a parasol at the beach and diving beneath the waves. For day-trippers, Straddie is close by and offers surreal natural beauty. To get there, drive 40 minutes to Cleveland and catch a 20-minute ferry. Head to Fishies At The Point for lunch with a spectacular view, and if you’re there in the afternoon you’ll spy wallabies grazing above the cliffs as the waves crash below. You’ll never want to leave.
Stay A Little Longer
70s Palm Springs Vibes
There’s plenty of accommodation options to suit every traveller, from the new luxury W Brisbane and Emporium Hotel to glamping in the Scenic Rim and Brisbane’s first urban resort, The Calile—it’s our answer to Palm Springs in the river city. Featuring a palm tree-lined pool, lavish art deco rooms, 70s inspired breezeblocks and sophisticated indoor-outdoor living—we won’t blame you for wanting to stay a little longer. An overwhelming sense of cool is breathed into every detail of this hotel, from the eco-friendly heaters that turn on as you open your hotel door, the sustainable cork floors and marble bathroom finishes, right down to the housekeepers’ trendy linen jumpsuits. The hotel is located on James Street with plenty of alfresco dining, sun-drenched bars, and high-end boutiques right at your fingertips. Here, you’re invited to experience a resort stay with the convenience of an urban setting.
Once you’ve checked in, you can spend your days lazing beneath the poolside cabana with a cocktail in hand. It’s full service, with friendly waiters traipsing up and down the pool terrace, taking orders and delivering zucchini fries and spritz from the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, Hellenika so you never have to leave the suns warm embrace. Even during the cooler months, you’ll be tempted to slip into the heated pool, gaze up at the clear skies and revel in Brisbane’s enviable subtropical climate.
Start packing your bags because your dream escape is closer than you think. This is winter in Brisbane, so why not stay a little longer?
Image Credit: Sean Fennessy
Editor’s note: This article is sponsored by Visit Brisbane and proudly endorsed by Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.