“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 City Sights tour bus will take you on a free loop of 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 to 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.
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.
If you’re from the northern hemisphere and really want to mix it with the locals, head down to my all time favourite coffee shop, The Little Prince Espresso. There is a live band on Sunday, you can sip great coffee in the street and watch the world pass you by. If you really want to live la vida Brisbane, take your shoes and shirt off (men only, of course), walk into the Little Prince and watch in wonder as you still get served!
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.
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.
Watch our Living Local in Brisbane video!
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.