Discovering the very best of Brisbane

“There’s just nothing to do in Brisbane. It’s boring. It doesn’t have the cosmopolitan feel of Melbourne or the iconic landmarks of Sydney. It’s got nothing to offer the international traveller.” I am shooting the man sitting across from me the filthiest look I can muster. His Brisbane put-downs have got my blood boiling, doesn’t he know Brisbane is the bomb!?

That’s the thing about Brisbane, it gets a bad wrap. Yes, Melbourne is cosmopolitan and yes, Sydney is host to Australia’s most iconic landmarks. But Brisbane has more to offer than a good latte or a bridge. I have seen a lot of places in the world and there is nowhere I would rather live than right here in Brissie. I have also spent a lot of time writing post’s for other cities and neglected my beloved hometown. Well BrisVegas, you sexy beast, now it’s your turn.

The best thing about Brisbane is its size. The city and surrounding landmarks and sights are all so close, it’s easy to get around and see everything. The best way to do this? Easy! Hire one of the council’s City Cycle bikes, strap on a helmet and some sunscreen and cycle around. I’d suggest a loop running through the city, across to South Bank, around to the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, over the Story Bridge and back into the city.

Brisbane can be hotter than a Victoria’s Secret model, so it’s really important you plan your sightseeing around the hottest parts of the day (11am – 2pm). I love to take my bike out for an evening ride along the river at around 8pm when it’s lovely and cool and the city is all lit up, it’s just beautiful. Another way to beat walking around in the heat is to use the free transport services available, the City Hopper is a free ferry service operating along the Brisbane River and the free City Loop and Spring Hill Loop bus services will take around the CBD.

There is a vibe, a relaxed culture, which connects everyone in Brisbane. The pace is slower and relaxed, nobody really seems to be in a rush and our catchphrase is ‘No worries!’ Immerse yourself in it, it’s divine. Take your time walking around, slow down and enjoy everything you see and strike up a conversation with some local Brisbanites. You see, we’re all really friendly and love to have a chat with out-of-towners. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll meet someone friendly enough to offer to drive you up to Mount Coot-tha at sunset to see Brisbane in all its glory.

Arguably the best vantage of Brisbane is from the Kangaroo Point Cliffs (a name my Canadian friend found most entertaining). You’ll get stunning photos of the CBD nestled along the Brisbane River and, if you’re organised, you can take everything you need for a BBQ and use one of the public BBQ’s to partake in a very authentic Brisbane past-time.

Brisbane City Phoebe Lee

South Bank also offers beautiful views of the city, river and the many bridges linking the two. You can stroll through the lush, cool greenery and stop for a delicious Fruit Shake at Champ Kitchen & Bar, tucked under the Wheel of Brisbane. A novelty which also impressed my Canadian friends is the man-made beach in South Bank, from which you can see the city. I recommend going early in the morning to get a photo of a deserted beach, set against the backdrop of city buildings. Head down to Merthyr Bowls for a game of barefoot lawn bowls and an icy cold beer and BBQ lunch.

Other places worthy of a visit and subsequent Facebook-ready photoshoot are City Hall in King George Square, New Farm Park and the Powerhouse, the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), Eagle Street Pier and the Story Bridge. After the sun sets, head down to the South Bank Night Market for some great people watching and shopping. Teneriffe is littered with cosy cafe’s and the iconic Woolstores while West End offers up the authentic Davies Park Market every Saturday.

Brisbanites love to get their chow on! There are so many great places to eat and drink in our pretty little city. The Breakfast Creek Hotel is a Brisbane institution and the best place for a steak and a pint. If you take the time to walk through West End you’ll find a huge range of bars, cafes and restaurants to meet your every need. I recommend Quan Thanh for cheap and tasty Vietnamese or give my man Smit a visit at Punjabi Palace for some downright amazing Indian.


The Bavarian Bier Cafe is more up-market and the perfect spot for an icy cold drink with a stunning view of the Story Bridge. In the evening, The Fox Hotel has a funky rooftop bar with a cracking view of the city just perfect for a cocktail. Alfred and Constance is a local hipster haunt, offering up delicious food and tasty cocktails. The Cliffs Cafe at Kangaroo Point has stunning views of the city and great food to boot.

All these amazing activities are going to have you tuckered out, so where should you stay? Anywhere in the city is great, somewhere with a view is better. The Meriton Serviced Apartments are newly built with great views of the city and come highly recommended.

Brisbane city

Getting to Brisbane is easy! I recommend using the help of a great travel site like Zuji to find cheap flights and accommodation.

Brisbane isn’t defined by a landmark or a slew of restaurants and great coffee, it’s defined by its relaxed vibe and laid-back attitude, ingrained in the locals. To really experience Brisbane you have to immerse yourself in it, see all the sights, eat all the food and drink all the drink, but do it on your time, your way.

Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.

Little Grey Box

I'm a writer and presenter and my husband Matt is a videographer. Together, we run Little Grey Box; an award-winning travel blog and YouTube channel.

13 thoughts on “Discovering the very best of Brisbane

  1. You can sugarcoat it all you want but anyone who has lived in Brisbane and also lived anywhere else (for an extended period of time, not a two week holiday) can tell you it’s a pretty lame place to live. It’s a poorly designed city and the centralisation makes it an awful place to get around – especially in peak hour which seems to grow by an additional hour every five years or so. The only “culture” is faux-fashionistas lining up for coffee everywhere by day, gym junkies and fake tan + bitchy personality girls by night, and plenty of sitting in traffic in between.
    The optimism is nice to see, but once you’ve sat through a hundred dates at South Bank / Kangaroo Point, and avoid Cootha because it’s just a tourist fest most of the time, you realise it doesn’t really have a whole lot going for it at all.
    Add in the ridiculous over policing (of everything) that only seems to be getting worse, and you have a city I would highly recommend no one live in, or visit.
    Cynical? Perhaps a little. Having spent many years abroad though (and having come back here) it’s made me realise that peoples surroundings have an effect on them, and nicer places to live also have nicer people to live with as a result. Before I get jumped on, I was offended by someone abroad telling me this initially (about Australians), enough for me to argue in defence of our lovely country and its people. But it was only after a few months that I realised it was true, I had fallen victim to thinking the best I’d seen was the best it got.
    There are definitely worse places to live, but there are most certainly better also. There’s a reason Brisbane isn’t really on anyone’s holiday destination list.

    1. Jeff! It sounds like Brisbane did you wrong and now you two have got beef, like 50 Cent and Ja Rule. That’s rough, dude! I gotta respect it though and I don’t want to get in between you and your lady when you’re fighting. I hope Brisbane finds a way to win you back.
      Where were you living abroad? And, seeing as Brisbane is officially off your Christmas card list, what places do you rate as great to live?
      I lived in London for a year and found it too hectic and unsafe, I lived in Singapore for 2 years and found it too small and I lived in Sydney for 3 years but found it too cold.
      Thanks 🙂 Phoebe

  2. Great post! I’ve just had a friend here for the weekend and hit up lots of the places you mentioned! I’d also include the Regatta bar for a relaxed drink or coffee in a great renovated Queensland hotel (also on the city cycle network), and also the Brisbane Powerhouse for lots of events, including free comedy!

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