35 Unique and Fun Things to Do in Brisbane | 2023 (with Photos)
Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland, Australia, is a bustling metropolis that offers plenty of unique activities for visitors to enjoy.
With its stunning architecture, lush green parks, and cultural landmarks, Brisbane is sure to capture your heart.
In this article, we'll explore 35 of the most exciting things to do in Brisbane, from discovering hidden gems in the city's neighborhoods to exploring the natural wonders of the surrounding area.
So, let's get started and discover the best of the River City.
Most Recommended Thing to Do
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Top Choice Hotel
Emporium Hotel South Bank
Our Top Choice Restaurant
Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife
Best Time to Visit
Sunny days, mild winters: visit Brisbane year-round.
Generally warm with mild winters and hot summers.
Buses, trains, ferries, bikes, taxis, ride-sharing, walking.
Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)
My Top Recommendation
Brisbane, Australia offers a delightful blend of vibrant city life and breathtaking natural wonders. Take a leisurely stroll along the South Bank Parklands, where you can soak in the buzzing atmosphere of cafes, markets, and street performers while enjoying stunning views of the Brisbane River.
For a truly unforgettable experience, venture to the nearby Moreton Island and dive into its crystal-clear waters to explore the vibrant underwater world of the Tangalooma Wrecks, where you can swim alongside colorful fish and playful dolphins in their natural habitat. Whether you're exploring the city's bustling streets or immersing yourself in the wonders of nature, Brisbane promises an unforgettable adventure filled with cherished memories.
What You'll Need to Bring
Passport, travel adapter, sunscreen, comfortable shoes, hat, insect repellent, swimsuit, lightweight clothing, travel guidebook, camera, and a sense of adventure.
Brisbane City Highlights
Queen Street Mall, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, South Bank Parklands, Story Bridge Adventure Climb, Mount Coot-tha Lookout, City Botanic Gardens, Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland Museum and Sciencentre, Wheel of Brisbane, and Riverlife Adventure Centre.
Local Foods to Try
Tim Tam, Lamingtons, Vegemite, Pavlova, Barramundi, Kangaroo, Anzac Biscuits, Moreton Bay Bugs, Finger Lime, and Macadamia Nuts.
Where to Stay
South Bank, Fortitude Valley, Kangaroo Point, New Farm, Milton, Spring Hill.
Best Time to Visit
Spring (September to November) and Autumn (March to May).
Local Transportation Options
Brisbane CityCat ferry, TransLink buses, Citytrain, e-scooters, and rideshare apps such as Uber or DiDi.
Stay hydrated, use sunscreen, be aware of your surroundings, secure your belongings, and follow any local safety advisories and guidelines.
Table of Contents
1. Kayak Around the Waters of the Brisbane River
For a more active way to experience the Brisbane River, kayaking is a great option. Several companies offer guided kayak tours, allowing visitors to paddle through the city's waterways and explore its hidden gems.
As you paddle along the river, you'll be treated to stunning views of the city skyline, the iconic Story Bridge, and other landmarks. Kayaking is also a great way to get some exercise and fresh air, and see local wildlife, such as dolphins and turtles.
2. Shop and Dine at the Queen Street Mall
The Queen Street Mall is Brisbane's premier shopping destination, boasting over 700 retailers. Here, visitors can find everything from high-end fashion boutiques to souvenir shops, as well as plenty of dining options and entertainment venues.
The Queen Street Mall is a bustling hub of activity, with street performers and live music. Whether you're looking for a shopping spree or just a place to soak up the energy of the city, the Queen Street Mall is a must-visit for anyone exploring Brisbane.
3. Taste Everything at the Eat Street Northshore
Eat Street Northshore is a foodie's paradise, with over 180 dining options in one unique location. This bustling night market is located on the banks of the Brisbane River and offers a variety of cuisines, from Asian street food to gourmet burgers and everything in between.
With live music, a Ferris Wheel, and stunning river views, Eat Street Northshore is a great place to spend an evening with friends, indulging in delicious food and soaking up the vibrant energy of the city.
4. Explore the Brisbane City Business District on a Segway
Exploring the Brisbane CBD on a Segway is a fun way to see the city's sights. Segway tours are offered by several companies and provide a thrilling way to glide through the streets and alleys of Brisbane.
The tours typically cover highlights, such as Queen Street Mall, South Bank Parklands, the Botanic Gardens, and the Brisbane River. Riding a Segway allows you to cover more ground in a short time than a walking tour while enjoying the fresh air and sunshine of the Queensland capital.
5. Walk the Brisbane Riverwalk
Walking the Brisbane Riverwalk is a great way to get some exercise while enjoying beautiful river views. The Riverwalk stretches along the Brisbane River for 870 meters, connecting New Farm to the Howard Smith Wharves.
The walkway is separated from traffic and offers stunning views of the city skyline and the water. Along the way, visitors can stop at one of the many parks or cafes located along the river or take a break at one of the scenic viewpoints.
6. Stroll Around South Bank
Located in South Brisbane along the Brisbane River, South Bank was the site for the Brisbane World Expo in 1988. South Bank is also where you'll find iconic spots such as the Brisbane Wheel and the Brisbane Conservatory.
In the South Bank Cultural Precinct, you'll find the Queensland Science Center & Museum, the Queensland Performing Arts Center, and the State Library. South Bank Parklands also features a man-made beach, playgrounds, and acres of outdoor gardens.
7. Walk Through Brisbane Botanic Gardens in Mount Coot-tha
The Brisbane Botanic Gardens is a stunning attraction in the suburb of Mt Coot-tha, just a short drive from the city center. The gardens are spread over 52 hectares and boast an impressive collection of native and exotic plants.
Visitors can explore the Japanese Garden, the Bonsai House, and the Fragrant Plants and Herbs Garden. The highlight of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens is the Tropical Display Dome, a towering glass structure that houses a range of tropical plants from around the world.
8. Explore Kangaroo Point Cliffs
Kangaroo Point Cliffs are located on the southern side of the river and rise 20 to 30 meters above the water. Visitors can walk or cycle along the cliff-top paths, take a picnic, or simply sit and admire the views.
The cliffs are also home to the popular Story Bridge Adventure Climb, which offers a thrilling climb to the top of the iconic Story Bridge. At night, the cliffs are illuminated, creating a romantic atmosphere that is perfect for a night-time stroll.
9. Drive Up to the Brisbane Lookout Mount Coot-tha
Mt Coot-tha Lookout is the highest point in Brisbane with panoramic views of the city and Moreton Bay. Located just 7 km west of the city center, the lookout is easily accessible by car or public transport.
You can take a scenic drive to the summit, or hike one of the many trails that lead to the top. You can enjoy a meal or a drink at the Summit Restaurant and Bar, which offers stunning views of the area and the city skyscrapers.
10. Meet Friends at the Howard Smith Wharves
Meeting your friends for a nice evening in Howard Smith Wharves is a great way to experience Brisbane's trendy dining and entertainment scene.
Located under the iconic Story Bridge, Howard Smith Wharves is a vibrant destination that features a variety of restaurants and bars. Visitors can enjoy a range of cuisines, from wood-fired pizzas and gourmet burgers to fresh seafood and sushi.
11. See a Show at the Brisbane Powerhouse
The Brisbane Powerhouse is one of the busiest performing arts centers in the region. Located just a stone's throw from the Brisbane Riverwalk, the Powerhouse is housed in a beautifully restored industrial building.
The Powerhouse features live music performances, theater productions, art exhibitions, and comedy shows. It also hosts the popular Brisbane Comedy Festival and the MELT Queer Arts Festival.
12. Visit the Queensland Performing Arts Centre
The Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) is a world-class entertainment venue in the heart of Brisbane's Cultural District, which offers a diverse range of ballets, operas, theater productions, and musicals.
The Queensland Performing Arts Centre hosts award-winning Broadway productions, as well as performances by emerging local talent.
With its stunning architecture and state-of-the-art facilities, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre is a great way to experience the city's rich cultural heritage.
13. Meet the Koalas at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a must-visit destination located just a short distance from central Brisbane. It's a great place to get to know Australia's famous furry icon and get up close with more than 70 species of other lovable Aussie animals.
Located in the suburb of Fig Tree Pocket, Lone Pine is the world's first and largest koala sanctuary, home to over 130 koalas, as well as other Australian wildlife such as kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, and emus.
14. Take a Day Trip to Enjoy the Gold Coast Theme Parks
The Gold Coast is home to some of Australia's most thrilling theme parks. Dreamworld, Sea World, Warner Bros. Movie World, and Wet'n'Wild all offer a range of attractions, from roller coasters and water slides to animal encounters and live shows.
They are perfect for a fun-filled family day out or a thrilling adventure with friends. With so many different experiences to choose from, you're sure to find something that suits your interests and adrenaline levels.
15. Take a Day Trip to North Stradbroke Island
North Stradbroke Island, also known as "Straddie," is a beautiful and accessible island located just off the coast of Brisbane. Visitors can easily reach the island via a short ferry ride, making it an ideal day trip from the city.
North Stradbroke Island boasts stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and abundant wildlife, including kangaroos, dolphins, and sea turtles.
The North Stradbroke Island National Park offers many hiking trails and opportunities for wildlife spotting.
16. Enjoy the Views from the Story Bridge
The Story Bridge is an iconic landmark in Brisbane and one of the city's most recognizable structures. This impressive steel structure spans the Brisbane River, connecting the northern and southern parts of the city.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the bridge and climb to the top for panoramic views of the city skyline and river. For those seeking an adrenaline rush, there is also an option to do the climb at night or at dawn.
17. Hike to the Waterfalls of Springbrook National Park
Springbrook National Park, located in the hinterland of the Gold Coast and easily accessible from Brisbane, is a stunning destination that boasts some of Australia's most beautiful waterfalls.
One of the highlights of Springbrook National Park is the Natural Bridge, a natural rock arch that forms a waterfall and a stunning glowworm cave.
Other popular waterfalls in the park include Purling Brook Falls, which drops 109 meters into a gorge, and Twin Falls, which cascade over two levels into a deep pool below.
18. Take a Tour of Fortitude Valley
Fortitude Valley is a lively neighborhood located just northeast of the Brisbane CBD. The area is home to a range of trendy bars, clubs, and live music venues, as well as a diverse array of restaurants serving cuisine from all over the world.
Fortitude Valley is also a hub for the arts, with numerous galleries and studios showcasing the work of local and international artists.
You can explore the colorful street art and graffiti in the area, or take a stroll through Chinatown and explore the markets and specialty stores.
19. Visit the Museum of Brisbane
The Museum of Brisbane is one of the best free Brisbane attractions. It showcases a range of exhibitions that explore the city's past, present, and future, as well as its people, places, and stories.
The Museum of Brisbane is housed in the iconic Brisbane City Hall building, which dates back to 1930. Visitors can see the permanent exhibition, "Brisbane Now," which features a range of interactive displays that explore Brisbane's history, culture, and identity.
20. Cruise Along the Brisbane River
The Brisbane River winds its way through the heart of the city, and a leisurely cruise offers a unique perspective on Brisbane's rich history and modern culture.
You can take a relaxing ride on a CityCat ferry, which stops at South Bank Parklands, Kangaroo Point, and New Farm. Along the way, you can admire the impressive architecture of the Story Bridge and the striking lights of the Riverside Centre.
21. Take a Trip to Moreton Island
Moreton Island is the third largest sand island in the world. It is just a short ferry ride away from the Northshore Hamilton Ferry Terminal and the perfect spot for a Brisbane day trip.
You can take a 4WD tour of the island to explore its sand dunes, freshwater lakes, and lush forests. Snorkeling or diving in the Tangalooma Wrecks is also a popular activity, where you can witness an artificial reef of sunken ships.
22. Go Whale Watching in Moreton Bay
From June to October each year, humpback whales make their annual migration along the east coast of Australia, passing through Moreton Bay. You can embark on a whale-watching tour from Brisbane and witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
The tours also offer the opportunity to spot other marine life, including dolphins, turtles, and sea birds. In addition to the thrilling wildlife encounters, the tours provide stunning views of the surrounding coastline and islands.
23. Visit Queensland Art Gallery
The Queensland Art Gallery is one of Australia's premier art museums. It showcases some of the most exciting and innovative contemporary artists from Australia and beyond.
The gallery features Australian artists such as Sidney Nolan and Emily Kame Kngwarreye, as well as international artists such as Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, and Henri Matisse.
With its world-class collection, the Queensland Art Gallery is a must-visit destination for art lovers in Brisbane.
24. Visit the Gallery of Modern Art
The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) is part of the Queensland Cultural Centre. Located in the heart of South Bank, the gallery features contemporary and modern art from around the world.
The exhibitions include paintings, sculptures, installations, films, and digital media. The Gallery of Modern Art also hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year, showcasing new and thought-provoking contemporary art from around the world.
25. Stroll through the Lush New Farm Park
New Farm Park is an expansive park located in the inner-city suburb of New Farm. The park is a popular destination for both locals and visitors, offering a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city.
You can stroll through the park's lush gardens and find exotic plants and trees, including figs, jacarandas, and palms.
The park also has a large lagoon and an impressive rose garden, providing plenty of opportunities for picnicking and enjoying the natural beauty of the area.
26. Visit the Stunning Roma Street Parkland
Roma Street Parkland is the world's largest subtropical garden. Located in the city center and spread over 16 hectares, the Roma Street Parkland is home to an impressive array of plants, flowers, and trees from around the world.
You can stroll through the themed gardens, relax by the waterways, or enjoy stunning views of the Brisbane skyline from the elevated boardwalks. Roma Street Parkland also hosts concerts, outdoor cinema screenings, and food festivals.
27. Explore the Bustling West End Neighborhood
The West End in Brisbane is an eclectic area known for its diverse range of attractions. Located just minutes from the CBD, the West End offers a unique blend of old and new, with historic buildings alongside modern developments.
Visitors can explore the vibrant street art, enjoy some retail therapy at the quirky shops and boutiques, or dine at one of the many trendy cafes and restaurants.
The area is also home to the iconic Boundary Street Markets.
28. Take a Day Trip to the Sunshine Coast
Located just an hour north of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast offers pristine beaches, stunning national parks, and hiking trails. You can also enjoy water sports like surfing, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
The Sunshine Coast is also home to a vibrant arts scene, with galleries, theaters, and festivals showcasing local talent.
Foodies can indulge in the delicious seafood of the Sunshine Coast region, while families can visit the famous Australia Zoo, owned by the Irwin family.
29. Explore the Elegant Brisbane Arcade
The Brisbane Arcade is a shopping destination in the heart of Brisbane's CBD, running from 160 Queen Street through to Adelaide Street.
This heritage-listed arcade was built in 1924 and still retains its original elegance.
The arcade is a haven for shoppers seeking high-end jewelers, antique stores, and specialty retailers. Visitors can take a break from shopping at one of the arcade's quaint cafes, including the famous Chocolate Soldier tearooms.
30. Visit the Heritage-Listed Brisbane City Hall
The Brisbane City Hall is a heritage-listed landmark that is steeped in history and architectural beauty. Completed in 1930, the building's grand façade features classical elements such as columns, domes, and ornate sculptures.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the Brisbane City Hall to learn about its history and enjoy the stunning panoramic views of Brisbane from the clock tower.
One of the highlights of the City Hall is the iconic Father Henry Willis organ, which boasts over 4,000 pipes.
31. Admire the City Botanic Gardens
The City Botanic Gardens are Brisbane's oldest public gardens and were established in 1855.
The gardens feature a range of native and exotic plants, as well as historic features such as the Walter Hill fountain and the ornamental ponds.
This serene oasis and prime picnic spot sit smack bang in the center of the city. Lily-topped ponds, fountains, bamboo groves, river views, and giant fig trees provide the perfect escape from the city buzz.
32. Visit the Queensland Museum and ScienceCentre
The Queensland Museum and Sciencentre in South Brisbane is dedicated to the natural history and cultural heritage of Queensland and explores the state's biodiversity, geology, and cultural history.
At the museum, you can see dinosaur fossils, learn about the Great Barrier Reef, and discover the stories of Queensland's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The science center is also a great place to conduct experiments and participate in hands-on activities.
33. Have Fun at Streets Beach
Streets Beach is Brisbane's man made urban beach which has enough water to fill five Olympic-sized swimming pools. It is free to enter and is a safe and family-friendly destination.
This beach offers a unique experience for visitors who want to enjoy the sun, sand, and water without leaving the city. It features a lagoon and a crystal-clear blue pool that is perfect for swimming and relaxing.
34. Explore the Boondall Wetlands Reserve
The Boondall Wetlands Reserve is located just a 20-minute drive from the Brisbane Airport. It covers an area of 1,000 hectares and is home to a variety of native wildlife, including more than 190 species of birds.
You can explore the mangroves, salt marshes, and other wetland habitats, and also enjoy the reserve's walking trails, picnic areas, and bird hides, or take a guided tour to learn more about one of the lesser-known Brisbane attractions.
35. Take a Helicopter Tour of the City
A helicopter tour of Brisbane is a unique chance to enjoy a scenic flight over the Brisbane River, Story Bridge, Mount Coot Tha, and the impressive Brisbane skyline.
The tour offers an unparalleled perspective on the city's top attractions and hidden gems. This experience is perfect for anyone looking for a memorable adventure in Brisbane and is a great way to capture stunning photos of the city from a unique angle.
FAQs; Fun Things to Do in Brisbane
In this section, we'll look at and answer the most frequently asked questions about fun things to do in Brisbane.
How can I spend 3 days in Brisbane?
You can easily spend three days in Brisbane. On day one, you can visit the South Bank Parklands and check out the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium. On day two, visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and Queen Street Mall. On the last day, check out Mount Coot-tha, or explore the trendy New Farm District.
What is Brisbane best known for?
Brisbane is home to several famous landmarks, including South Bank Parklands, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the Queen Street Mall, and Mount Coot Tha. The Brisbane region is teeming with cascading waterfalls and lovely lakes that are perfect for a day trip.
What is there to do in Brisbane with friends?
Brisbane offers a range of activities to enjoy with friends. The Fortitude Valley District offers vibrant nightlife while a scenic ferry ride along the Brisbane River is a relaxing way to see the city. You can also abseil at Kangaroo Point or sample delicious food at Eat Street Northshore Market with friends.
What are the cultural attractions in Brisbane?
Brisbane is rich in cultural attractions. The South Bank boasts world-class art galleries and theaters. Check out the Gallery of Modern Art or Brisbane Museum, and enjoy a performance by the Queensland Ballet in the evening. You could also watch a rugby league game at Suncorp Stadium.
Summing Up: 35 Unique and Fun Things to Do in Brisbane
As you can see, there is no shortage of awesome, fun things to do in Brisbane.
The city offers a wealth of exciting attractions that are sure to appeal to visitors of all ages and interests.
From exploring the South Bank Parklands and Fortitude Valley to Brisbane River cruises and stunning views from Mount Coot Tha, there is no shortage of fun things to do in this vibrant metropolis.
And for those who want to venture further afield, a day trip from River City to the nearby Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast offers even more opportunities for adventure and fun.
So why wait? Start planning your visit to these amazing Brisbane attractions today.