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9 Cool Things To Do in Brisbane, Australia

Brisbane, Australia is a city along the river that gets a lot of sunshine and is a wonderful place to live and travel to. Not to be overshadowed by the larger cities of Sydney or Melbourne, it’s also a fun area to call your home base as you explore the greater region. To experience its local attractions, cultural diversity, and fun activities for yourself, add these top things to do in Brisbane to your Australian itinerary.

Get Active with Water Sports Maroochydore Beach, Australia
Credit: Maroochydore Beach, Australia by © Zeytun Images - Dreamstime.com

Get Active with Water Sports

What Is It?: When you visit, you can spend your days surfing, sailing, diving, kayaking, and getting active in other ways in and around the water. Here you can go on a whale-watching cruise, take a day trip to Moreton Island, and have tons of fun on a snorkeling tour.

Why Do It?: Some of the biggest draws to the Brisbane area are the beaches and watersport opportunities.

Good to Know: Moreton Island day trip tours often include kayaking and sandboarding adventures, as well as a picnic lunch on the beach. Other popular areas include South Bank and the bayside suburbs of Sandgate, Manly, and Redcliffe.

Visit a Koala Sanctuary A koala at the Lone Pine Sanctuary in Brisbane, Australia
Credit: A koala at the Lone Pine Sanctuary in Brisbane, Australia by © Manon Van Os - Dreamstime.com

Visit a Koala Sanctuary

What Is It?: In addition to koalas, you can also see kangaroos, wallabies, and other native animals here too. The sanctuary is along the river, with river cruises often going by it to make a stop. It is open every day of the week.

Why Do It?: One of the most exciting things you can do while in Brisbane is to visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

Good to Know: People generally spend one to three hours here to see the 130+ koalas and many other animals, even getting the opportunity to hand-feed a kangaroo and meet a koala up-close.

Go on a River Cruise Brisbane river Kookaburra cruise
Credit: Brisbane river Kookaburra cruise by © Maythee Voranisarakul - Dreamstime.com

Go on a River Cruise

What Is It?: You can hop on a CityCat or City Ferry with hop-on/hop-off terminals. The CityHopper ferry offers free service between Sydney Street and North Quay, while CityCat service is faster but has a fee to ride. There are also numerous private cruises that will take you to various sites and past the city’s landmarks.

Why Do It?: River cruises are very popular for tourists in Brisbane and a scenic way to see the city.

Good to Know: Dinner cruises make wonderful date nights and often feature buffet menus and live entertainment. These cruises often last about three hours and let you see the sights (and snap great photos) of the city from an old-fashioned paddlewheel boat.

See the Botanic Gardens Brisbane city botanic gardens
Credit: Brisbane city botanic gardens by © Pstedrak - Dreamstime.com

See the Botanic Gardens

What Is It?: Brisbane is also known for its beautiful gardens, including the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha. Highlights are the native Australian plants, Bonsai house, and Japanese garden.

Why Do It?: It is a little outside the city but well worth the journey out. There is no fee to explore the gardens, which span about 138 acres and are open daily.

Good to Know: You can also see the City Botanic Gardens when you are in Brisbane. This botanic garden is convenient to visit and free to enter. Guided walks are offered here by volunteers, or you can grab a map to guide yourself around the gardens.

Hike Lamington National Park Tropical forest in Lamington National Park
Credit: Tropical forest in Lamington National Park by © Zeytun Images - Dreamstime.com

Hike Lamington National Park

What Is It?: Numerous parks and natural areas are accessible from Brisbane, including Lamington National Park. This is a good destination if you have rented a car because it can be reached within two hours of Brisbane to the south. The Green Mountains and Binna Burra are the two sections that make up this national park.

Why Do It?: When you’re here, you’ll enjoy seeing the dramatic waterfalls and dense forests.

Good to Know: Camping is available in the park, while hiking, remote bushwalking, guided tours, picnicking, and wildlife viewing are other popular options. To really experience the nature of the region, book a full-day tour to soak up views of the Pacific and enjoy a treetop canopy experience. Guided tours even include visiting a local alpaca farm to finish off your day in a cute and furry way!

Taste the Regional Wines Yarra Valley vineyard
Credit: Yarra Valley vineyard by © Maythee Voranisarakul - Dreamstime.com

Taste the Regional Wines

What Is It?: The Somerset Wine Trail and Tamborine Wine Trail are popular day trips for wine enthusiasts in the region

Why Do It?: There are some excellent wineries in the Brisbane region too that you can visit on a day trip. For example, O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards is about 45 minutes from the city, and Hampton Estate Wines is less than an hour away.

Good to Know: To take the driving burden off of you and your travel party, book a guided full-day wine tour that includes hotel pickup and drop-off. Tours allow you to explore the boutique wineries of Mt. Tamborine with five winery stops, a two-course lunch with great winery views, and guided tastings to help you learn more about the wines.

Check Out a Museum City Hall Museum of Brisbane
Credit: City Hall Museum of Brisbane by © Tktktk - Dreamstime.com

Check Out a Museum

What Is It?: The Museum of Brisbane is at the top of City Hall and has exhibitions about the city’s history. There is also a theater, gift shop, and café onsite. Entry is free, and the museum is open daily.

Why Do It?: There are some excellent museums in Brisbane that are worth checking out to learn more about the city and the greater region.

Good to Know: Another cultural destination to see is the Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art, which are two venues that feature art from the region and from international artists.

Eat at the Markets and Cafes Plate of food at a Brisbane cafe
Credit: Plate of food at a Brisbane cafe by © Marina Purmak - Dreamstime.com

Eat at the Markets and Cafes

What Is It?: One place to visit is the Queen Street Mall, which is pedestrian-friendly and has a farmers’ market that sells produce and artisan goods. Eat Street Markets are in Hamilton by the Brisbane River and filled with delicious flavors.

Why Do It?: Foodies love spending time in Brisbane because of all the great markets and restaurants here.

Good to Know: The trendy West End neighborhood is also a hot spot for farmers’ markets and hipster shops you’ll love to explore.

Venture Out to the Great Barrier Reef Australia’s Great Barrier Reef
Credit: Australia’s Great Barrier Reef by Bigstock.com

Venture Out to the Great Barrier Reef

What Is It?: To get here, it’s typically best to join a tour group for the epic adventure. For example, three-day Great Barrier Reef tours can also include a visit to Lady Musgrave Island at the southern portion of the reef.

Why Do It?: If you have a little more time during your time in the Brisbane area, then don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience the Great Barrier Reef nearby.

Good to Know: You can often see turtles, humpback whales, and other marine life, depending on the season.