I’ve lived in Brisbane for most of my adult life. Some people say it’s just an overgrown country town and that it’s boring and there’s nothing to do here. I love that it’s an overgrown country town, I love the relaxed pace of life and that when you make a new friend, you probably already know each other through your brother’s best friend’s sister’s ex-flatmate’s cousin, Macca. It’s just how it goes here and that’s what’s so awesome about it.
Even though I’ve lived in a number of different places and travelled a lot, I know there’s nowhere else I’d live. Brisbane is my home and I really love living here! It seems weird that I haven’t written a massive ‘Things to do’ guide for Brisbane sooner, I guess you just forget when it’s your home. However, today is that day, so here it is… my list of 68 Things to do in Brisbane.
Also, it took me a really freaking long time to write this so you mofos should read every word of it, okay.
Watch: our ‘Best things to do in Brisbane, Australia’ video
1. Say thank you to the bus driver
When you visit Brisbane it is essential you say thank you to the bus driver, city-cat operator, taxi driver or even the person driving your airport shuttle bus. Why? Because we’re polite mother-flippers up in here! I remember the first time I yelled out a big THANK YOU to the bus driver when I lived in London, every passenger swung around to look at the crazy person and the driver was floored. Just say thank you when you get off, okay. It’s the done thing. Find out about Brisbane City Public Transport here.
2. Watch tourists photograph the majestic Ibis
There are rumours in Brisbane of dodgy food outlets selling people teriyaki Ibis in place of chicken. We don’t like the Ibis. They smell, they rip the bins apart and they make you feel weird when you see one. Get your buns down to the Botanical Gardens or sit in the Queen Street Mall and watch tourists photograph them as they think they’ve found a rare and magical creature. Find out more about the Ibis here.
3. Watch my friend Andy’s band play at Irish Murphy’s
My friend Andy plays in a band called Berst and they gig regularly at Irish Murphy’s in Brisbane CBD. It’s a pretty cool venue and legend has it another one of our friends fell off the second-storey verandah, dusted himself off then walked straight back in to keep drinking. Find Andy and Berst at Irish Murphy’s here.
4. No shoes, no shirt and I still get service
This one is especially for those of you from overseas. Take off your shoes and sit down at a local cafe and marvel at your ability to still get served! I wouldn’t recommend trying this one at a fancy place, but a local cafe won’t have an issue with it. Try a spot in West End, South Brisbane or on the Gold Coast, just to be safe. For bonus points, have your fella take his shirt off before going into the petrol station, bottle shop or supermarket… he’ll still get served. Find shirtless inspiration here.
5. Drive-thru bottle shop
Another one for overseas folk. Get yourself into a car and go directly to the drive through bottle-o (a.k.a liquor store). Yep, we have those! And you don’t need shoes to get served! Find a drive-thru bottle shop here.
6. Go kayaking or stand-up paddle-boarding in the big brown river
Yea, we know our river is brown and we’re sort of proud of it. You can book yourself on a kayaking tour of the river or go stand-up paddle boarding in it too. The locals will tell you horror stories about an angry mutant breed of bull shark residing in the river but don’t listen to them, we only have 99 confirmed bull shark abductions in the river so you don’t have that much to worry about. Find out about kayaking and SUP in the Brisbane river here.
7. Catch a show at QPAC
No, it isn’t Queensland’s version of Tupac, it’s the Queensland Performing Arts Centre. Brisbane isn’t exactly the centre of culture and performance, but we do our damn best. Find out what’s in town and showing at QPAC and give it a go! Worst case scenario you got a reprieve from the heat for a few hours. Find out what’s on at QPAC here.
8. Bike ride around Southbank
Wait until the scorching heat of the sun dies down, then head out for an afternoon/early evening bike ride around the river. There’s a great loop you can do which takes you through Southbank, over the Goodwill Bridge, along the river in front of the city then back across again. It’s an easy route and a great way to get yourself among Brisbane life. Find cycle routes here.
9. Drinks at The Eagles Nest
For awesome views of the city, head directly to The Eagles Nest which is located on top of The Point. They have live music, awesome cocktails and a really great vibe. It’s the perfect place to watch the sunset with friends and bliss out in the warm Brisbane afternoon sun. Find The Eagles Nest here.
10. Jungle in West End
Visit the quirky, cool West End and go to awesome Tiki Bar, Jungle. Get your hands on ‘The Don’ made of Don Julio tequila, honey dew melon liqueur, fresh lime juice and sugar syrup muddled with fresh mint and blueberries. It’s the ideal spot for losing a few hours to a cocktail menu. Trust me. Find Jungle here.
11. Gallery of Modern Art
There are usually free exhibitions on at GoMa and sometimes cool events involving live music too. It’s an awesome way to experience part of Brisbane’s art scene and mix it with the locals. GoMa also doubles as an icy refuge on scorching hot and humid Brissie days. Find out what’s on at GoMA here.
12. Practice your Brisbanian language skills
Walk into a bottle-o and ask if you can get directions to the nearest servo, cos you’re meeting your mate Macca there before you go out in the tinny later that arvo. Tell the guy you need to get your hands on some double pluggers, a pair of decent ruggers, a goon bag and some spewmante. Then, explain to him you’re frustrated as you couldn’t find a park at Indro or Cherm, so you went to Garbo but that wasn’t any better. Also, outline that you’re trying to avoid looking like a dero at your bro’s barbee tomoz. He’ll know exactly what you mean. Watch this video of shit Brisbane people say.
13. State Library of Queensland
Another spot that’s ideal for cooling down is the State Library of Queensland. It’s a great place to just zone out, read a book and have yourself a hard-core wifi session. You can even play games online, like Angry DoDo Birds or… Candy Animal Love Crush Rescue or… whatever it is… Don’t act like you don’t want to. Find the State Library of Queensland here.
14. Eat a Dagwood Dog
Eat a what? I’m not a monster! …. yea, yea so the name is a little off-putting and, well, I guess the look of the thing is a bit off-putting too, to be honest. It’s our name for a corn dog, a wiener covered in thick batter then deep fried like a mother-flipper. You can definitely get your hands on one at the EKKA, if not try a local cafe with a greasy old hot box. Find the EKKA and Dagwood Dogs here.
15. Jan Powers Farmers Market
Hosted on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month, the Jan Powers Farmers Market have loads of great food, fresh produce and other bits and pieces. Get down to New Farm’s Powerhouse and stock up on all the stuff you need for a killer picnic, then pull up a patch of grass in New Farm Park and feast. Find Jan Powers Farmers Market here.
16. City Hopper
The Brisbane City Hopper is free! Which means you can ride the loop around the river from North Quay in the city to Sydney Street and back again. It’s a great way to see the city at a different angle and really helpful if you’re from out of town. Find the Free City Hopper here.
17. Eat Street Markets
Food upon food upon food. Visit the permanently set-up Eat Street Markets over at Hamilton and have yourself a fancy little food tour. They sell heaps of yummy things to eat of all different cuisines and some really great sweets too. Get there early to beat the crowds! The market is on every Friday and Saturday from 4pm. Find the Eat Street Markets here.
18. Yatala Drive in Theatre
Jump in your car and drive to the Yatala Drive-in Theatre. Yup, we’ve still got one and it’s pretty awesome. Watch a movie from the comfort of your car, make out with your lover and be transported way back in time. Find the Yatala drive-in theatre here.
19. Sunset at the Kangaroo Point cliffs
I don’t care if it’s cliche, I bloody love the Kangaroo Point cliffs! They’re part of our Brisbane identity, yo. So, grab some takeaway food or pack a picnic, then head up to the cliffs and sit on the wall to watch the sunset. It’s a really pretty spot and if you’re lucky you’ll get one of the really beautiful sunsets that are a mix of pink, orange and blue. Find the Kangaroo Point Cliffs here.
20. Run the Kangaroo Point Cliff Stairs (then proceed to die)
While you’re there, strap on your running shoes and take on the dreaded Kangaroo Point Cliff stairs. It’s a vertical hell. Good luck. Find the Kangaroo Point Cliff stairs here.
21. Eat Govindas in West End
One of my favourite places to eat really well-priced and tasty vegetarian food is at Govindas! There’s one in the city too but the West End one has a more authentic, earthy feel to it. They serve great food in a really low-key, chilled out space with no frills. Yum. Find Govindas here.
22. Noosa Chocolate Factory
For the best mocha of your life go directly to the Noosa Chocolate Factory on Adelaide Street. They also sell copious amounts of delicious chocolate that will make your tastebuds feel like they’ve died and gone to heaven. Find the Noosa Chocolate Factory here.
23. Visit the Regretta
The Regretta? Don’t you mean, The Regatta? Why yes, yes I do. The Regatta has been around since the dawn of time and the name ‘Regretta’ hasn’t come about by accident. Many a young, drunken fool has gone to The Regatta and lived to regret their actions. It really is a fun spot for a night out though, so get down there for drinks and food and dance the night away. Find The Regatta here.
24. Down Under Bar
Many a payday has ended at the Down Under Bar (DUB). It’s a backpacker bar that absolutely goes off and if you go there, you’re definitely going to find yourself making some memories you won’t soon forget. Matt once won a vibrator race. If you find yourself at the DUB, prepare for a horrific hangover. Find the Down Under Bar here.
25. Daiquiris at the Casino
Ahhh the old Cas. Fight your way through the throngs of gamblers and get yourself a daiquiri. I’m not saying they’re the best drinks in the world, but it’s kinda fun to have on there because it’s a bit dodgy and the old-school way to kick off your night. Find the Brisbane Treasury Casino here.
26. Pub Parmy
A pub what? A parmy, you clown! Find a local pub that’s doing a chicken parmigiana special for dinner and order it. You get bonus points if you’re able to follow it down with a local beer that IS NOT a craft beer. Find Brisbane’s best chicken parmy here.
Get on down to Fortitude Valley for a stroll around Chinatown and stop in at one of the local restaurants for dinner. There are quite a few to choose from, including King of Kings and Golden BBQ. Find Brisbane’s best Chinatown restaurants here.
Watch: our ‘Colour of Queensland. Australia’ video
28. Fluffy night at The Family
Every Sunday is Fluffy night at Family Nightclub in The Valley. It absolutely GOES OFF, a great way to experience Brisbane’s LGBT scene. Find Fluffy Night at Family Nightclub here.
29. Breakfast Creek Hotel
Visit Brisbane intuition, The Breakfast Creek Hotel for a real pub lunch with fantastic steaks and icy cold beers. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Find The Breakfast Creek Hotel here.
30. Food and drinks Riverbar and Kitchen
Located right along the river in Brisbane’s CBD with great views of the Storey Bridge, Riverbar and Kitchen is the perfect place for a yummy cocktail, glass of wine and delicious food. Try their Pavlova Martini of West Winds gin, strawberry, vanilla, lemon, egg whites and passionfruit. Sink your fangs into a bite to eat by ordering a whole bunch of stuff to share, like crispy fried chicken tacos with coleslaw and chipotle mayo and grilled scallops with hazelnuts and chives. Find Riverbar and Kitchen here.
31. Beach in the city
The rumours are true, we really do have a beach in the middle of our city. Okay, so it’s man-made but it still counts. There’s so much chlorine in it you can smell the blasted thing a mile off, though I have to say it is a great way to get a free chemical peel. Jokes aside, it’s pretty sweet. You can get some awesome photos, especially at night. Find Streets Beach at Southbank here.
32. Free walking tour with Brisbane Greeters
If you’re on a budget, take a free walking tour of Brisbane with the friendly and knowledgeable volunteers, the Brisbane Greeters. It’s a free public service run by good folk who just really love Brisbane. Find the Brisbane Greeters here.
33. Sixes and Sevens
Head to Sixes and Sevens in The Valley to really get yourself immersed with the Brissie locals. This awesome space serves up great food and drinks. Try ordering a whole bunch of stuff to share, including Poutine, BBQ short ribs, fish fingers and prawn pick-up sticks. Delicious. Find Sixes and Sevens here.
34. Drinks at Cove Bar and Dining
Go to Cove Bar and Dining at Southbank. It’s a great spot for people watching and offers awesome views of the city and river, a great place to chill out with a glass of wine on a lazy afternoon. Find Cove Bar and Dining here.
35. Open-air cinema
Visit Limes Hotel and catch a movie showing on the rooftop bar. No further explanation needed. Find Limes Rooftop Cinema here.
36. Worship The King of Brisbane
In Brisbane, it is illegal not to visit the shrine to the King and lay your unworthy body down in front of it. So, get your bad self down to Suncorp Stadium and pay tribute to King Wally. He was a fearless leader who led many brave annual battles held in a 3 stage tournament against the south. Find out about King Wally here.
There are loads of great places to get your second-hand shop on in Brisbane. Try the Lifeline Supa Stores dotted all over town, the best one is at Acacia Ridge, or get down to Annerly and cruise the main drag of Op-Shops along there. Find Brisbane’s best op shops here.
38. Breakfast crawl in Paddington
Paddington is famous for two things; being full of steep hills that make reverse parallel parking and hill-starts near impossible AND great breakfast spots. If you don’t fancy trying out the first one, I suggest you go for an all out breakfast crawl instead. Eat your way through the bakeries, yummy cafes and great coffee shops in this cool part of town. Find Paddington’s best cafes here.
39. Free show at the Powerhouse
The Brisbane Powerhouse in New Farm often has free events and shows on, which is great for anyone visiting Brisbane on a budget. Find out what’s on at the Powerhouse here.
40. Flour and Chocolate
For the very best baked goods Brisbane has to offer, go to Flour and Chocolate in Morningside. Be sure to take your gangsta roll and/or fat stacks as you will most definitely be buying a lot of food. Try the absolutely amazing danishes and their signature cronuts. Find Brisbane’s best-baked goods at Flour and Chocolate here.
41. Food truck hunt
There are so many great food trucks in Brisbane now, selling everything from tacos and wings to pizza, pasta and Brazilian food. Find your favourite cuisine at a food truck in Brisbane and save yourself a few bucks on dinner too. Find Brisbane’s best food trucks here.
42. Da burger
My absolutely all-time favourite burger joint has got to be Da Burger in New Farm. This place is small but mighty, serving up really really delicious burgers and chunky fries. It’s a great spot for lunch or dinner and they let you write on the walls. Cool, huh! Find Brisbane’s best burgers at Da Burger here.
43. Stalk Stefan and his Sky Needle
You haven’t truly lived in Brisbane until you’ve seen Stefan roaming free in his natural habitat, The Queen Street Mall. Who or what is a Stefan? Nobody really knows. All we know about him is that he has a killer smile, very bouffant hair that’s a mix of Danny and Rizzo from Grease and he, for reasons totally unknown, erected a giant sky needle in the middle of bloody nowhere. Legend has it that if you find him, you get magical rainbow powers. Stalk Stefan here.
44. Ask someone what school they went to
Nobody really knows why, but one of the first questions you ask someone in Brisbane when you meet them for the first time is, “What school did you go to?” I guess that one question tells you everything you need to know about them. Are they a private school wanker or a public school bogan? You’ll know soon enough.
45. Punjabi Palace
My favourite place to get my Indian feast on has got to be Punjabi Palace in West End. The service is great, thanks to Smit who runs the joint and puts really funny jokes on his Facebook account every week, and the food is delicious and well priced. My favourite is the vegetable paneer tikka masala. It’s the business! Find Punjabi Palace here.
46. Street art spotting
The street art scene in Brisbane has come a long way thanks to awesome artists like Fintan Magee and, of course, to businesses and council giving these talented people the platform and space they need to create their work. Take a walk down Burnett Lane to discover some really cool pieces or You can catch some awesome work, including Fintan’s, here.
47. Finders Keepers Market
The Finders Keepers Markets are held intermittently so you’ll need to check when the next one is on. When they are on, they’re pretty epic as they house a LOT of awesome artists and other folk selling things they’ve created or sourced. There’s also some really great food to be had too. Find out about the Finders Keepers Market here.
48. Really great food at Spicers Balfour
For a bit of a fancy meal in an unsuspecting street, visit Spicers Balfour hotel. They serve really great food and wine, like all Spicers locations, and they’re tucked into Balfour House which is totally understated and completely comfortable. Find Spicers Balfour here.
49. Barefoot Bowls
A great way to spend a Brisbane afternoon is to visit a bowls club and play a few rounds of barefoot bowls. My favourite spot is Norman Park bowls club, they sell drinks at old-school prices and have the very best views of Brisbane city from the green. Find Norman Park Barefoot Bowls club here.
50. Harajuku Gyoza
If you love gyoza then you should definitely visit Harajuku Gyoza in The Valley. This cool little space serves up really delicious Japanese dumplings and icy cold beer that make it well worth the visit. Find Harajuku Gyoza here.
51. Jocelyn’s Provisions
For the very yummiest of cakes, tarts and other treats, you have to visit Jocelyn’s Provisions in New farm. I love to pick up their passionfruit butter cake as a treat to share with my sister-in-law when I visit her. It’s so dang good. Find Jocelyn’s Provisions here.
52. Jet Black Cat in West End
Visit Jet Black Cat in West End and shop for records! It’s a really cool experience and, as usual, no shoes required. Find Jet Black Cat here.
53. Try to find a park at a Westfield
Take your pick… you won’t get a spot at any of them. You can try Indro, Chermo and Garbo but you definitely won’t find a carpark and you will get road rage and be asked to leave the carpark. Find Brisbane’s Westfield shopping centres here.
54. XXXX factory tour
Ah no, it isn’t a porno factory… it’s our state’s beer of choice and it’s pronounced ‘Four Ex’. If you want to feel like a real Queenslander, you should definitely go and do something none of us has ever done. Which is to take a guided tour of the XXXX brewery. Find the XXXX factory tour here.
55. Bar crawl along the river
Get down to the Eagle Street Pier area and take yourself on a bar crawl. Be sure to stop in at the Belgian Bier Cafe, Pony and Mr and Mrs G. Then, head on over to Jade Buddha and Shadow Lounge. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon with friends while the sun sets and you’re sure to get the best views. Find Eagle Street Piers best bars here.
56. Cheap Vietnamese food at Quan Thanh
For really cheap Vietnamese food that tastes good, mix it with the Brissie locals at Quan Thanh in West End. The menu is great and two people can have dinner and drinks for $30. Also, it’s BYO. Find Quan Thanh in West End here.
57. Caxton Street
Caxton Street is a pretty famous precinct in Brisbane and is a great place to visit for restaurants and bars. The Caxton Street seafood festival is held annually, though can get a bit over-crowded so go in there wearing at least 2 pairs of underpants. Stop in for dinner at Gambaros seafood restaurant and definitely have a pint at the Caxton Street hotel. Find out more about Caxton Street here.
58. Picnic in the Roma Street Parklands
Pack a picnic and get down to the Roma Street Parklands. The gardens there really are beautiful and it’s a peaceful space away from the hustle and bustle of the city. We’re pretty lucky to have such a beautiful place right in the middle of it all. Find the Roma Street Parklands here.
59. Drinks at NEXT Hotel
Visit NEXT Hotel located on the Queen Street Mall. It’s a great place to stay, you can read my review here, but it also has a really awesome poolside bar that overlooks the mall. It’s a chilled out space that serves great drinks and the best place for Friday night drinkies. Find NEXT Hotel Brisbane here.
60. Grilled Chicken Burger from Hungry Jack’s in the mall
If you’re from Brisbane you have, at some point in your life, arranged to meet someone at the Hungry Jack’s in the Queen Street Mall. Why? Because everyone knows where it is. Why? Because they’ve probably been drunk and bought a grilled chicken burger from there at some point. It ain’t pretty, but it is authentic. Find Hungry Jacks in the Queen Street Mall here.
61. The Pineapple Hotel
Stroll on down to The Piney in Kangaroo Point. It’s one of those places that just ooze Brisbane, with its Queenslander style hotel appearance and old-school interior. They have a great lunch menu, especially on weekends and it’s a top spot to watch sport. Find The Pineapple Hotel here.
62. Rocklea Markets
Visit the Rocklea Markets and get your hands on loads of fresh produce, second-hand items at great prices, fresh flowers, market food and really great plants. It’s a real locals market and it isn’t there just to be a ‘cool market,’ which is a nice change. Find Rocklea Markets here.
63. Sit on the grass and watch the world go by
Find a nice patch of grass in front of the restaurants near the Goodwill Bridge, stretch out and just watch the world go by. This area is known as River Quay and they quite often have live music on, which is a great way to spend an afternoon. Once you get hungry, walk up to the restaurants just waiting there for you. Perfection. Find River Quay here.
64. Southbank Night Markets
Visit The Collective Markets held at Southbank every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They sell loads of things from food and jewellery to arts, crafts and dog collars. It’s not the cheapest market in town, but it’s a cool place to visit. Find The Collective Markets at Southbank here.
65. Outlet shopping at DFO
Never visit DFO with a specific purchase in mind, because it’ll never work out for you. Instead, visit this slew of factory outlet shops with an open mind and an open wallet. You’ll either hit the jackpot and come out with bags of gear or you’ll find absolutely nothing and leave with a bottle of wine and a kebab. Find the DFO outlets here.
66. Beers at the Pig N Whistle
Get yourself down to the Pig N Whistle in Fortitude Valley for a really fun afternoon. The place is pretty new and has loads of cool spaces to chill out, including an awesome beer garden for those balmy summer nights. They’ve also got heaps of great craft beers on tap, live music, trivia nights and some of Brissie’s BEST pub food! YUM! Find Pig N Whistle Brunswick Street here.
67. Eat sweet treats at Chester Street Bakery
Visit Chester Street Bakery and Bar in Newstead for their awesome all-day menu but also for their incredible selection of cakes and other treats. They have awesome things you’ll want to eat like ice cream sandwiches and snickers cheesecake. All the noms. Find Chester Street Bakery here.
68. Catch the view from Mt Coot-tha
Yes, I know it’s another cliche thing to do but the views up there are pretty sweet. It’s a great place to grab a cup of coffee and sit and watch the sunrise or sunset and you really do get see our pretty city from a great angle. It’s always fun trying to spot your suburb too. Find Mt Coot-Tha here.
What have I missed, Brisbane dwellers? Do you have any tips and suggestions on things I should add to this list? I’d love to hear from you, so please share your thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook.
Watch our video “48 hours in South East Queensland, Australia”
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.