Brisbane is a vibrant modern Australian city, with a friendly laid back attitude. This riverside city has so much to offer from incredible nature, to shopping, and some amazing dining experiences. If you are based in this beautiful city on your next trip to Australia, we have written this article to help inspire your perfect 1 week Brisbane itinerary. We answer all your pressing questions such as where can I see kangaroos to what are the best road trips from Brisbane. So sit back, relax and let us help you plan your week in Brisbane.
- About Brisbane
- How long do you need in Brisbane
- How much money do you need for a 1 week in Brisbane
- Climate in Brisbane
- Where to stay in Brisbane
- Getting around in Brisbane
- Best things to do to fill your 1 week Brisbane itinerary
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
- Climb the Story Bridge
- South Bank Parklands
- The Cultural Precinct
- Mount Coot-tha Botanical Gardens
- Mount Coot-tha Lookout
- Ride the CityCat
- New Farm Park
- Kangaroo Point
- Experience Chinatown
- Fortitude Valley
- Eagle Street
- Go to the Markets
- Go shopping
- Experience drinks Aussie style
- XXXX Brewery Tour
- Boggo Road Gaol Ghost Tour
- Eating in Brisbane
- Romantic things to do in Brisbane
- Weekend trips from Brisbane (or the best day trips from Brisbane if you are short of time)
- Gold Coast
- Sunshine Coast
- Looking to travel further
- Planning your trip
Brisbane is the capital of Queensland, often referred to as the Sunshine State. It is also the 3rd biggest city in Australia, after Sydney and Melbourne. The city sits along the Brisbane River which snakes through the city. It is a clean city with a lot of green spaces, cultural experiences, and most importantly a lot of places to just relax and have a BBQ. Brisbane is often overshadowed by the likes of Sydney or Melbourne, but with a perfect sub-tropical climate and a laid back welcoming atmosphere, Brisbane is a must visit on any trip to Australia.
Languages Spoken: English
Currency: Australian Dollar $ AUD
Famous for: It’s good weather and sunshine
Visit if you like: relaxed places with a laid back vibe
How long do you need in Brisbane
The amount of time you need in Brisbane depends on what you want to see and do. We have come up with this 1 week Brisbane itinerary because we think that is the perfect amount of time to make the most out of your time in the city. Keep in mind Brisbane is a big place as well and getting from one place to another is not as quick as you might think. On top of that Brisbane or ‘Brissie’ to the locals is the kind of place you want to take your time to explore. That being said, you could probably see a lot of the main tourist sights in about 3 – 4 days so we have also included some ideas for the best road trips from Brisbane too.
How much money do you need for a 1 week in Brisbane
In terms of Australian cities and cost of living Brisbane is a lot cheaper than the likes of Melbourne and Sydney. That being said things in Australia can be expensive. Obviously your costs will be dependant on what you want to do during your week in Brisbane, but keep in mind that things like petrol or even eating out in Brisbane can get expensive. A meal for 2 in a standard restaurant could set you back somewhere between $40-$50. For a decent week where you eat out, visit tourists attractions and catch public transport you probably need a little over $2000 between two. Of course this can either go up or down depending on your spending habits.
Climate in Brisbane
So you might be wondering what to pack for a holiday in Brisbane? Well the climate is certainly on the warmer side. Temperatures average to about 30 degrees Celsius in the day in the summer, although sometimes it can get hotter. Summers in Brisbane are very humid so t-shirts and shorts are very much a staple. Also make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen and a good hat to avoid being sunburnt.
Winter is a lot milder though and temperatures during the day average to about 20 degrees Celsius, although in the evenings it can get a lot colder. If you are visiting in the winter (June, July, August) do pack a jumper and it might even be worth bringing a light coat for those winter nights.
The good news is that Brisbane gets on average, around 300 days of sunshine each year. In the summer the humidity can cause some pretty intense thunderstorms, but there are also a lot of warm sunny days. Which is perfect for some al fresco dining or picnics.
Where to stay in Brisbane
Ideally you want to stay somewhere central such as the CBD or even in the South Bank area. If you have a car make sure your accommodation comes with parking.
Getting around in Brisbane
It is pretty easy to get around Brisbane with buses, trains, and ferries helping you commute through most parts of the city. We do recommend renting a car if you can. Most people in Australia have cars as it is such a large place and in Brisbane it really makes seeing the sights that much easier. Parking isn’t an issue in Brisbane as you will find public car parks in most areas of the city as well as at all major tourist attractions.
Best things to do to fill your 1 week Brisbane itinerary
There is so much to see and do in Brisbane to suit everyone, these are some of our top picks when it comes to sights as part of your 1 week Brisbane itinerary.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Most tourists coming to Australia want to get up close and personal with some of the wildlife Australia is famous for. Enter Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. It is a great place to go to see Koala’s up close munching on Eucalyptus leaves, or even better you can hand feed a Kangaroo. The Kangaroos are kept in a really large enclosure so there is a lot of space for them to hop around, and they will eat right out of your hands.
It is definitely a very Australian experience and a must when visiting Australia. At Lone Pine you can learn a lot about the unique Australian wildlife. You probably need about half a day to explore properly, particularly as there are a lot of wildlife presentations and activities you can participate in.
Climb the Story Bridge
Sydney of course has the Sydney Harbour whilst Brisbane has the Story Bridge. The bridge is an iconic structure in the city, and a great way to get a bird’s eye view of the Brisbane River and the skyscrapers is to do the Story Bridge Climb. This is not for the faint hearted, but if you are brave enough it truly is a memorable experience. You can book different packages such as evening or day climbs and they start at around $119 for the express climb and go up depending on the experience you want.
South Bank Parklands
Located on the banks of the Brisbane River you will find the South Bank Parklands. Sprawled out over 17 hectares of prime riverside land you will find this inner city oasis. The Parklands are a great place to have a BBQ or even better go for a swim. There is a public swimming facility which resembles a beach with the stunning CBD as a backdrop.
It is such an amazing contrast between the CBD on one side of the river and the very chilled South Bank Parklands on the other. The food around here is amazing as well and it is a perfect place to enjoy some al fresco dining. You could spend the good part of a day here relaxing by the water, enjoying a BBQ, and exploring the beautiful Parklands.
The Cultural Precinct
If you are feeling a little bit more cultural then also located in South Bank is Brisbane’s cultural precinct. Here you can visit the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), The Queensland Museum and Science Centre, The State Library and the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). The Queensland Art Gallery is certainly worth a visit especially as a lot of the art work has a focus on Australia, Asia, and the Pacific. It is also a great place to see some Indigenous Art which is an important part of Australian history.
Mount Coot-tha Botanical Gardens
This is where your car comes in handy as the Mount Coot-tha Botanical Gardens are located outside the city centre. The gardens showcase a range of diverse themes, from the serene Japanese Garden to the Australian scrubland ready to explore. The gardens are a great place to sit and relax so bring a picnic rug if you can.
They also provide ample opportunity to come into contact with some of the Australian wildlife. In fact Dave was absolutely perplexed looking at the Ibis. A black and white bird with a really long twig like beak. And don’t even get me started on the water dragons!
Mount Coot-tha Lookout
Another must on your 1 week Brisbane itinerary has to be the Mount Coot-tha Lookout. Unlike the Story Bridge climb, you don’t have to be a thrill seeker to enjoy some spectacular views of Brisbane. We loved visiting at night because you get to see the city all lit up, but visiting in the day is amazing too.
There is a cafe near the lookout serving everything from ice-cream to warm drinks so no matter what time of year you visit you will find a treat to accompany the view. Mount Coot-tha itself is a national park and there are a ton of walking trails and BBQ spots along the way. The good thing is that when having a BBQ in Australia, parks already have BBQ’s so you just have to bring your meat and cook (and don’t forget to give the BBQ a good clean before and after!).
Ride the CityCat
As mentioned above Brisbane is a river city, so it would be only right to schedule a trip on the CityCat. You can glide down the Brisbane River with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face whilst standing at the front of a blue and yellow painted catamaran as part of the Brisbane ferry network.
You get some incredible views of the city and it even takes you to one of the prettiest parks in Brisbane which is also our next point. To plan your City Cat journey, visit the Translink website.
New Farm Park
New Farm Park is one of the most beautiful parks in Brisbane. At least in our opinion anyway. It is a heritage listed public park and is also one of the grandest and oldest parks in the city. The park covers 15 hectares and sits just along the Brisbane River. We recommend taking the Ferry from South Bank to New Farm Park particularly as it is a beautiful trip that takes you right under the Story Bridge.
The park is perfect for exploring. You have a scented rose garden, a bandstand and so many picnic or BBQ spots. And the best thing is if you manage to visit in October you will be greeted by a carpet of blue as the Jacaranda trees are in full bloom and the flowers start to fall. It really is a beautiful sight. Just note though if you are having a picnic check for ant nests as we managed to sit right on top of one and I was bitten several times.
Another exquisite BBQ spot has to be the Kangaroo Point cliffs. You get a wonderful view of the city and it is especially charming at sunset. We visited in the evening and even then it was beautiful looking at all the skyscrapers lit up.
If you are a little more adventurous you can abseil down the 20 metre high cliffs. You need to book in advance but no experience is necessary. A professional guide will help you make your way safely down the cliffside. The cliffs make a gorgeous location to do this as you can take your time and observe the many boats float on by on the Brisbane River.
Once you pass through the traditional Chinese gates you will be met with an abundance of Chinese grocers, and asian cuisine. Located in Fortitude Valley it is a great place to eat. Our absolute top pick is to go to a Yum Cha restaurant. You get to sip tea and pick your food from a trolley pushed around the dining floor by staff. Make sure you save room for the mango pancakes!
Fortitude Valley or “The Valley” as the locals call is is certainly full of contrasts. Chinatown is located in this area but beyond that you will find a mix of elegance, grunge, and the contemporary. Some parts you might look at and wonder where you are, and other streets have trendy boutique clothes and coffee shops. The Valley is Brisbane’s main entertainment district so if you are looking for a fun night out, from sipping cocktails, to dancing all night long this is the place to come. Also if you are a music lover like us this is a good place to see some obscure bands from around the world.
Eagle street is another riverside area in Brisbane perfect for exploring on foot. It is located in the heart of the CBD but is also known for its upper class dining and drinking. It is the perfect place to go to sip drinks by the river as well as enjoying a more expensive meal.
Go to the Markets
I am probably biased but Brisbane really knows how to put on a good market. From your farmer’s markets to your more eclectic craft stalls you will be able to find a market to suit your needs. For a full list, checkout the Visit Brisbane website.
One of our absolute favourite places to shop in Brisbane has to be in the suburb of Paddington. There are a ton of vintage stores you can checkout covering all different price ranges. West End is also a great place to go for vintage and retro shopping. If you are more into boutique stores and one of a kind clothing pieces, then Fortitude Valley is your best bet. Those with more mainstream tastes can head to the Queen Street Mall for all the best high street stores.
Experience drinks Aussie style
Drinking is a big part of the Australian culture, so if you do fancy the odd tipple then you need to try an Aussie pub. Our favourite has to be the Regatta located outside the city centre in the suburb of Toowong. Set in an old Victorian style hotel, the Regatta has been around since 1874. You can sip your drinks in a typical Aussie pub courtyard as you listen to live music. If you are more into the rough and ready student scene head down to the Royal Exchange which is only a 5 minute walk away.
XXXX Brewery Tour
Right, so beer in Australia is a pretty big deal. And each state is quite competitive in producing their own local beer. Queensland’s contribution is XXXX (said 4 X). The tour is a great way to get to grips with how it is made, as well as how to pour a perfect beer. On top of that you do get to do some tasting which is always a bonus.
Boggo Road Gaol Ghost Tour
Boggo Road Gaol was one of the most notorious prisons in Australia. It is also said to be haunted. Executions took place here until 1913. What made it so notorious though was the fact that the conditions the prisoners lived in were quite harsh. Some parts of the prison had no electricity and as you can see with the picture below of my Dad exploring a gaol cell, your only light is via a torch.
Cells also did not have any forms of sanitation and prisoners had to use buckets. If you get the opportunity to do a ghost tour we highly recommend it, as it provides a fascinating insight into life in the prison.
Eating in Brisbane
Brisbane is starting to make a name for itself as a foodie favourite. And where to go all depends on the kind of evening you are after. South Bank is perfect for a more casual al fresco dining experience. There are a lot of specialty restaurants and it is a great place to sit outside whilst sipping wine and watching the world go by.
If you are after something a little more up market head over the Eagle Street Pier. A lot of places here have spectacular views of the story bridge and a really elegant atmosphere. From seafood restaurants to fine dining, if you are after something a little bit more special, this is the place to come.
One of our favourite areas though has to be West End. Located just on the outskirts of the city centre, here you will find some truly culturally diverse food from Vietnamese Bakeries to contemporary cuisine. It can feel a little rough around the edges but this just adds to the charm, and the food here is quite affordable.
Romantic things to do in Brisbane
If you are visiting Brisbane with your significant other than you might be looking for some date ideas. Here are some of the most romantic things to add to your 1 week Brisbane itinerary.
- Watch the sunset at Mount Cootha
- Do a river cruise
- Have a picnic at Kangaroo Point
- Do the Story Bridge climb
- Have some drinks around Eagle Street
Weekend trips from Brisbane (or the best day trips from Brisbane if you are short of time)
One of the best weekend trips from Brisbane has to be the Gold Coast. The drive takes about an hour or a bit longer depending on traffic and which part of the Gold Coast you want to visit. The Gold Coast is famous for its sandy Golden Beaches, laid back lifestyle, and sparkling ocean water. Popular with locals and tourists alike, this really is a must see destination. If you are short on time it really is one of the best day trips from Brisbane.
If you have a car then it is a pretty smooth drive from Brisbane to the Gold Coast. The multi lane highways will get you there in no time. You can also hop on the train either directly from the Airport or from the city centre. Keep in mind though that depending on which part of the Gold Coast you intend to visit you will probably need to get a bus from the train station to your destination.
Where to stay
The Gold Coast has so many incredible places you can stay. You can either book your standard hotel room, or rent out a holiday apartment. We recommend going the apartment route because it means you can make your own food, and you get so much more space. It is also so much more relaxing and you don’t feel guilty for lounging around. When booking your accommodation you want to get as close to the beach as possible. Ideally you also want a sea view. Most apartments have balconies where you sit and listen to the sound of the ocean. Another bit of advice is to try and get a higher floor because the views are way better.
We stayed at the ultra modern Q1. It is the 7th tallest residential building in the world, and boasts some pretty epic views. There are two outdoor pools, and one indoor pool. The indoor pool is perfect especially in the winter months. As well as this there are BBQ facilities, and a sauna. If you do get the chance, stay overnight at the Gold Coast as it does make for one of the best weekend trips from Brisbane.
Surfers Paradise is where most of the action is so it does make for a great place to stay. The nightlife is lively and there is a lot to see and do. If you are looking for something a little more relaxing and family orientated though head to Broadbeach which is only a short distance away.
Things to do
Visit the Q1 observation tower – At 230 meters in height, Q1 is certainly the best place to get some 360 degree views of the Gold Coast. If you are brave enough you can also do the outdoor climb which looks amazing and terrifying at the same time.
Feed the Lorikeets at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary – Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary provides you with ample opportunity to get up close and personal with the Australian Wildlife. Like Lone Pine you get the opportunity to feed Kangaroos and learn all about other Aussie wildlife.
The main attraction for us though has to be the lorikeet feeding. Like clockwork, the birds turn up towards the end of the day and you can pay a small fee for a plate of specially mixed food. You hold the plate out and wait for the birds to come swarming over to feed. It is a really special experience and what makes it even better is that the birds are wild and they come to you by choice as opposed to being caged.
Visit one of the theme parks the Gold Coast is famous for – The Gold Coast is famous for being the home to some of Australia’s best theme parks. You have Dreamworld, which is a theme park designed for thrill seekers who love rides. Movie World, which is a Warner Bros themed park with a mix of rides and film studios. And you also have Wet n Wild, a theme park totally dedicated to water slides.
Enjoy the beach– Obviously a must when visiting the Gold Coast is to make time to enjoy the beach. The sand is white and the water is so inviting especially on those hot days. When you do go, make sure you always swim between the flags.
Enjoy a rainforest retreat– Located in the Gold Coast hinterland you will find O’Reilly’s. It is a great place to escape to nature. You can do guided bird walks or the famous treetop walk. It really does make for a beautiful day and the scenery is just incredible.
Another place to add to your weekend trips from Brisbane folder has to be the Sunshine Coast. It is about an hour and a half to two hour drive to get here, again times vary depending on traffic and which part of the Sunshine Coast you want to visit. The Sunshine Coast is located North of Brisbane and this is the complete opposite direction from the Gold Coast. While it is a popular tourist destination you don’t get as many tourists as the Gold Coast.
Driving really is your best bet for the Sunshine Coast as this gives you the opportunity to see all the sights. You can get the train but again you will need to get more public transport to get to your final destination.
Where to stay
Similarly to the Gold Coast, you will find a lot of accommodation options from hotels to holiday apartment rentals. Two of the more popular areas have to be Noosa and Caloundra.
Things to do
Enjoy the beaches– The number one thing to do on any trip to the Sunshine Coast is to enjoy the beach. There are so many different spots and the beaches here are far more picturesque than those on the Gold Coast. At least in our opinion anyway.
Australia Zoo– Steve Irwin certainly did a lot for wildlife conservation in Australia and you can visit the zoo he created. It is a great chance to get up close and personal with some slimey, scaley and even furry natives Australia is famed for. The Zoo does put a lot of time and money back into conservation projects around the world, which is good to know especially because we have very mixed feelings about the purpose of zoos.
Glasshouse Mountains– You will see the Glasshouse Mountains on your drive up from Brisbane, and you can even drive through parts of the National Park. There are a ton of hikes you can do here with accredited companies, and it is a great opportunity to enjoy the natural Australian landscape.
Visit one of the National Parks– The Sunshine Coast has a lot of incredible scenery that can be explored in one of its many National Parks. The Sunshine Coast actually has more National Parks then any other place in Queensland. Apart from the Glasshouse Mountains National Park, the Noosa National Park and the Fraser Island Great Sandy National Park are must sees.
Looking to travel further
If you are planning longer in Australia then there really is so much more to explore, like Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmania and Adelaide. Here is a really handy article that will help you plan a 2 week Australia itinerary.
Planning your trip
We hope this article inspires you to plan your next trip to Brisbane. As you can see it is a city with a lot to see and do and is a great place for some of the most amazing weekend or day trips. Sydney and Melbourne tend to be the cities that get the most attention, but Brisbane is really worth a visit. From its friendly atmosphere to its perfect weather, there is something here for everyone. If you are looking to travel further afield then here is an article all about other places in South East Queensland you should visit.