Brisbane Itinerary: 3 Days in the City
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Brisbane is often considered as the getaway to Queensland. It’s true that it’s an exciting Australian region to explore. Brisbane is the start and terminus for a lot of road trips, including the Brisbane to Sydney road trip. But don’t be in a hurry to leave the capital city behind you. If you have time to include Brisbane in your time in Australia, do it. Spending three days in Brisbane is ideal to get a taste of why life is so good in this city reputed for its lovely climate and relaxed lifestyle.
3 Days in Brisbane Itinerary
Day 1: An overview of Brisbane
The best way to get to know Brisbane is by walking or cycling around the city. The pathway and boardwalk along the river is an excellent place to start. You can sign up for a CityCycle Casual Pass to get access to the 150 bike stations of the public bike hire scheme.
Joining a Brisbane Greeter’s free walking tours is also a great introduction to the city and a perfect opportunity to get insights from a local. However, it’s something you will have to plan ahead as these tours can last up to four hours and require booking.
Brisbane City Hall is one of the most significant buildings in the CBD. There are often markets or events nearby, but don’t get too distracted. Once you’re there, start by trying to get a ticket to go up the Clock Tower to admire the fantastic bird’s-eye view of the city. The free tickets are allocated on a first come first served basis every day. If you arrive too late,
you may need to go back the next day.
If you have time, allow a short hour to visit the Museum of Brisbane. The exhibitions often give a chance to learn more about some aspects of the city. Make sure you take a break in the Brisbane Botanical Garden, between the city and the
river. The massive banyan trees are always surprising.
If you are visiting Brisbane during the Jacaranda season (October or sometimes early November), do not miss the purple madness at the beautiful New Farm Park. Although it’s a bit out of the CBD, the colours are lovely at that time of the year.
You can finish your first day at South Bank, on the other side of the river. Walking across the bridge is your fastest option. The scenic option is to catch a ferry so you can enjoy the views from the river. The red ones, called City Hopper, are free. The City Hoppers arrives every 30 minutes.
You’ll have to walk a few minutes along the river from the Botanic Garden to find a City Hopper Stop (Eagle Street Pier on one side or North Quay on the other). If you opted to go to New Farm, you would have to walk to Sydney Street. Alternatively, you can catch a CityCat from New Farm Park. The blue boats are quicker and available in more places, but they aren’t free.
At South Bank, you’ll find artificial lagoons and beaches just in front of the city, and also a short but pleasant rainforest forest walk. The Art Galleries of QAGOMA are open until 5pm. If you’re not too tired, try to catch the sunset from Kangaroo Point Cliffs.
Day 2: A different view of Brisbane
How about adding even more fun to your Brisbane itinerary? You can use your second day in Brisbane to experience the city differently.
A kayaking tour on the Brisbane River is a fun way to explore Brisbane. Tours leave from Kangaroo Point Cliffs, and you paddle on the river with a guide for about 90 minutes.
If you’re up for some adrenaline, add another 90 minutes for abseiling or climbing Kangaroo Point Cliffs. It’s rare to have a natural outdoor rock climbing wall just in front of a CBD!
Climbing the Story Bridge is another appealing idea for thrill seekers looking for the best views. You can do it in one or two hours.
More interested in the views than the adrenaline rush? Catch a bus to Mt Coo-Tha Lookout for a 30-minute ride to the heights of Brisbane. The view of the city from up there is unbeatable, and you can admire it from a comfortable seat at a café.
On the way to Mt Coo-Tha, you may want to stop at the XXXX Brewery in Milton. It’s an iconic Australian brand often positioned as “Australia’s number one beer”. And beer is important for Australians, so it’s somehow a cultural visit.
If you’re not too tired when you’re back in the CBD, finish the day having a drink with a view at the Eagle Street Pier.
Day 3: Brisbane is more than a city
For your third day in Brisbane, you can opt for a day trip just out of town. One of the best things about Australia’s third biggest city is the beautiful region where it is located. The Brisbane region will cover almost all your wishes:
- If you want to explore stunning waterfalls in the rainforest, go for a hike in Springbrook National Park or Lamington National Park
- If you want to experience the aboriginal culture, catch a cruise from South Bank to Stradbroke Island or attend the Spirit of the Red Sand show
- If you want to see turtles, dive at Flinders Reef or Cook Island
- If you want to snorkel surrounded by fish, check out the Tangalooma Wrecks at Moreton Island
- If you want to see koalas and kangaroos, take a chance to spot them in the wild on Stradbroke Island or visit Daisy Hill Koala Centre
- If you want to drive a 4WD on the beach, head to Moreton Island or Bribie Island
- If you feel like a scenic drive in the countryside, hit the tourist road in the Scenic Rim
Food & Nightlife in Brisbane
First of all, don’t forget to bring your ID when you’re going out in Brisbane as they operate ID scanners in all licensed venues after 10pm.
If you want to party hard and dance all night, Fortitude Valley is the place you’re looking for. Brisbane nightlife is at its peak on Brunswick Street or not far from it. That’s where you’ll find most of the dance clubs, but Fortitude Valley also has stylish rooftop bars (Eleven and Elixir, both on Ann St), cocktail bars, live music venues and pubs.
Not far, closer to the CBD, the Eagle Street Pier has many restaurants, bars and cafes where you can enjoy the views of the Story Bridge and the river.
Located near the Suncorp Stadium, Caxton Street is the go-to place after a sporting event. On the other side of the river, South Bank hosts many restaurants for all kind of tastes and budgets. West End isn’t far and the go-to place at night for those who find the Valley is “too much”. West End style is more vintage and relaxed. Like in Fortitude Valley, you’ll find restaurants, cafes, bars and live music in West End, but in a different atmosphere.
On the weekends from Friday night until Sunday, the colourful and vibrant Eat Street in Hamilton brings together more than 70 vendors with a selection of delicious food from all over the world.
Beer lovers will be interested in checking out Newstead and its two local micro-breweries, Green Beacon and Newstead Brewery.
Finally, New Farm is home to restaurants that are often mentioned in the locals’ best: the best burgers at Da’Burger (including a delicious vegetarian burger), the best bakery at Chouquette, the best pizza at Beccofino, the best Asian at the Himalayan Café, and even the best restaurant for Gerard Bistro… But all these may not be the best for your wallet.
Where To Stay in Brisbane
Whether you’re after budget hostel style accommodation, or something a bit more luxury; there’s plenty to choose from in Brisbane.
Budget Pick – City Backpackers HQ
This is a really chilled yet fun hostel, perfect for meeting some travel mates. There’s a huge roof terrace and an on-site bar, and $10 meals are cooked up every night. There’s also a pool and movie lounge, and for those who are driving around Australia, free parking! The hostel is in walking distance to most of the attractions of the city centre, and offers dorms of various sizes. Click here for rates and book today.
Mid-Range Pick – Ibis Styles Brisbane
Ibis Styles is the perfect place to rest at after a busy day exploring Brisbane city. Rooms come kitted out with a kettle, flat screen TV, en suite bathroom and comfy beds and the hotel has a fitness centre, bar and restaurant on site. Complimentary breakfast is available to guests of the hotel. It is in a central location, and many rooms have city views. Click here for rates and book today.
Luxury Pick – Next Hotel Brisbane
After a busy day exploring in the heat of Brisbane, you’ll love cooling off in Next Hotel’s rooftop pool! The hotel also has a a fitness centre, a restaurant and a bar. With luxury rooms with en suite bathrooms, power showers, complimentary toiletries, iPod docks and a flat-screen TV, you’ll have everything you need for a night of luxury in the capital of the Sunshine State. Check here for rates and to book.
Other Accommodation Alternatives
- AirBnbs are sometimes a great option for groups. Click here for money off your first booking.
- There are free camp spots around Brisbane, although none too close to the city centre. Here’s some more information about free camping in Australia.
- There are also many paid for campsites in Brisbane, some of which are in beautiful locations.
Must-take items to visit Brisbane
You’ll be walking a lot when you visit Brisbane in three days, so wear comfortable shoes. Brisbane is the capital of the Sunshine State. Don’t wander there without sun protection, you can get sunburnt in 10 minutes down under. Always carry a water bottle, you will be able to find water fountains for a refill almost anywhere in town.
The summer months are humid in Queensland. It’s a good idea to download the Bureau of Meteorology app on your phone for your stay. Afternoon storms are frequent, so you’ll want to have wet weather gear and maybe an umbrella.
Although it’s warm almost all year long, you will love your jumper to survive the aircon in restaurants and buses. If you’re travelling to Brisbane in winter, try to prepare clothes that you can layer. There can be a huge difference in temperature when the sun is gone, and it gets chilly at night.
If you plan to use public transport a few times, buy a Go Card at a station or a 7-eleven store. It is cheaper than the cost of a paper ticket.
Are you ready to visit Brisbane?
With such a great mix of activities and lovely weather most of the year, it is not surprising Brisbane attracts more and more visitors every year. And it’s only the beginning. The city will get a bigger airport in 2020 and the Howard Smith Wharves and Queens Wharf developments will make the city even more appealing!
Eloise lives in Brisbane (Australia), but you won’t find her often in the city. When she is not disconnected underwater or in a national park, she loves sharing her travel tips on her blog My Favourite Escapes and inspiring her readers to take care of our beautiful planet. She considers every weekend as a two-day holiday break. Her approach: you don’t always need to go far to travel. Still, she also enjoys exploring the world and discovering new cultures. Follow her adventures on Facebook and Instagram!