Let’s be honest, a trip to the airport doesn’t usually conjure up images of a fun few hours. Whether you’re in-transit or waiting for a flight, your time in the airport is probably spent shuffling from one gate to another, counting down the minutes to board. But, you guys, it doesn’t have to be that way! Matt and I recently headed out to Brisbane International Airport to film a guide to some of the best things to see, do and eat. I was shook! There are so many things I didn’t know you could do! To help make your next visit a good one, here are my tips on 17 of the BEST things to do at Brisbane International Airport.
First things first, if you’re more of a visual learner, you should watch our video guide to the BEST things to see, do and eat at Brisbane Airport’s International Terminal.
1. Plaza Premium Lounge
Unlike other lounges where you need a fancy plane ticket to get inside, the Plaza Premium Lounge is open to everyone. It’s pay per entry and you can select the package that matches how much time you have. For pre-departure, the two-hour package will most likely be the best fit and for a layover, the five-hour package will be just what you need to refresh and recharge. There’s great quality wifi, loads of spaces to sit, shower facilities as well as food and drink available all day and they make some hot items to order (the pasta is great!). Best of all, you also get access to the ultra-lush Wellness Spa chillout areas and they have big, cosy chairs in there that recline all the way flat, so you can stretch out and get a good rest before the next leg of your journey.
2. Wellness Spa
For anyone looking to bliss out pre-departure, the Wellness Spa offers fantastic spa treatments ranging from a 15-minute hand or foot therapy through to a one-hour full body massage. Oh my goodness, yes, sign me up! Each treatment heroes Jasmin Organics chemical free, organic and natural products – all grown on the Jasmin Organics owner’s property at Mt Tamborine. The Wellness Spa is open to anyone but if you have purchased entry into the Plaza Premium Lounge you’ll be treated to 25% off the cost of treatments.
3. 100 Whisky Tasting Bar
Wander through JR Duty-Free and you’ll spot the 100 Whisky Tasting Bar offering visitors a chance to sample the finest whisky from all over the world. We were lucky enough to encounter dapper whisky expert, Shane Batchler (You can find Shane’s epic whisky blog here) who took us through our complimentary tasting. He was so knowledgeable and welcoming, sharing in-depth knowledge and insight into each whisky we tried. Don’t worry, if you’re a whisky novice like me, Shane and the team don’t judge! In fact, they can get you started on your whisky education and help you find something you like.
Pro Tip: For anyone wanting to speed things up a little, you can use JR Duty-Free’s Buy Fly Collect service. Simply place an order in any JR/ Duty-Free Departures Airport store and pick it up after your trip, in Arrivals. You can also use the pre-order service online and conveniently pick up your shopping at the airport in the Departures stores!
4. Coretto Cafe & Bar
I had no clue you could get amazing food at Brisbane International Airport. Honestly, I thought it was all fast food and overpriced bites that don’t live up to the hype. Well, spots like Coretto Cafe & Bar are out to prove that theory totally wrong! You can get your hands on a great cup of coffee and delicious breakfast or sample truly diving Woombye cheese paired with a glass of wine or gorgeous cocktail. They serve everything from breakfast bowls and Buddha bowls (two of my favourites!) through to espresso martinis and epic burgers. Seriously though, the Woombye cheese is life-giving.
5. Brow Makeover
Get your brows on-fleek before you fly with a visit to the Benefit Brow Bar and a complimentary brow makeover. I was a little intimidated at first because it’s so pretty and fancy but the lovely ladies who work there, like Katie who took care of me, are so welcoming and friendly. Katie talked me through shaping my brows, filling them in a little, adding some powder then slicking them up with a brow mascara. It was great to learn from an expert (her brows were perfect!) and get some in-person advice, as opposed to my usual tactic of watching 50 YouTube brow tutorials in one night and feeling very confused afterwards. Of course, the Benefit store is stocked with a wide range of their divine products so you can stock up on anything you need before you fly (duty-free discount, anyone?!)
6. Burger Urge
If you love burgers, you’re going to love the menu at Burger Urge! You can get your hands on a whole range of mouth-watering bites including Angus beef and maple bacon, buttermilk fried chicken and a divine kale and smoked paprika vegetarian option. They also serve Philly cheesesteak and a pulled beef with maple bacon option, along with many more. The sweet potato fries are fantastic but, of course, the regular fries and great too, all thick and chunky – yaaaasss!
7. Hand Massage at Jo Malone
Wander through JR Duty-Free‘s beauty section and you’ll stumble across the divine Jo Malone counter. Here, you can indulge in a complimentary hand massage treatment! I was lucky enough to have Nancy treat me and she was so kind and funny, taking me through a range of scents and sharing her personal favourites with me. Then, she gave me the most heavenly hand and forearm massage using Jo Malone scents. I’m not usually one for perfumes as they irritate my allergies but Jo Malone scents smell like real things, kind of similar to essential oils if you know what I mean. It’s the perfect way to unwind pre-flight!
8. The Village Green
If you like to limber up before you board a long-haul flight or need to stretch out after one, you can head to The Village Green. Located in the middle of the terminal, you won’t be able to miss it, with the bright green astroturf calling you over. Get comfortable on the faux-lawn and stretch out your legs, hips, back and upper body with some of your favourite yoga poses or post-workout stretches. It’s a nice way to relax your body and feel connected to nature.
9. JR Duty-Free
I’ve mentioned JR Duty-Free already for the whisky tasting and Jo Malone hand treatment but you can also wander through and stock up on electronics, sweets, watches, sunglasses and so much more! A little bit of Duty-Free shopping is good for the soul, am I right? And what better way to pass the time than swatching a whole load of lipsticks on the back of your hand (me).
10. Bicycle Phone Charger
One of my favourite, quirky things at Brisbane Airport’s International Terminal has to be the bicycle-powered phone chargers. You’ll find them located in the departures hall just before you head through the iconic yellow departure gates. Plug in, jump on and peddle your phone to full power! It’s a fun way to get your heart rate up and stretch your body out before jumping on your flight. Of course, this one is only for those departing, not those in transit. Oh, and you’ll need the wall adapter for your phone charger (not just the USB cable).
11. Books, books, books!
Book lovers (me) might like to grab a few new novels to take on the journey with them. I love reading a book when I travel because you always associate the trip with the story you read, they sort of become intertwined and each inspires memories of the other. Before you board, take some time to peruse the huge range of books on offer at News Travels or stock up on sweets for the flight. They also stock all your last-minute travel necessities from basic medicinal and personal hygiene remedies to reading glasses, notebooks, pens, travel adapters and audio accessories.
12. Windmill & Co.
I had no clue you could get a delicious meal at Brisbane Airport’s International Terminal until the food event we attended a little while back. Until then, I’d been eating before I went to the airport or skipping the meal altogether but those days are over! Head to Windmill & Co. and you can get your paw on a delicious pizza, pasta, amazing garlic bread loaded with parmesan cheese, arancini balls and fantastic cocktails. The menu is stacked with loads of other tasty options too and it’s great to take a mental break from the whole airport vibe for a minute and feel like you’re in a restaurant, having a great bite to eat, instead of hanging around waiting for a flight.
13. Brisbane River Grill
Another fantastic spot for food is Brisbane River Grill which I had walked past loads of times without really noticing. Now I’m aware, I’ll be stopping in for food more regularly. What I love about this spot is they aim to bring the best of Queensland’s fresh produce to the International Terminal, sharing a taste of the region with visitors who may not get the chance to leave the airport while in transit. For locals, it’s a pre-departure taste of home. You can stop in for a breakfast of Tambourine Mountain eggs or pop in for lunch, feasting on local pan-fried snapper, Darling Downs eye fillet or Moreton Bay bug spaghetti.
14. Hudson’s Coffee
When you think of airport coffee, you probably imagine terrible tasting, overpriced cups of yuck that you have to queue for ages for. Well, the team at Hudson’s are shattering the airport coffee stereotype by serving up delicious cups of coffee, prepared quickly and prepared well at reasonable prices. When I worked in Brisbane CBD I actually used to go to Hudson’s every day for my morning coffee because it was so quick and consistently good!
15. The Botanist
What’s that? MORE good food? Yes, thanks! You’ll find The Botanist Kitchen and Bar in the Departures Hall before security serving up fantastic modern Australian food with great views over the International Terminal and runway. To get the day started, you can grab a barista-made coffee on beans from Merlo (yum!) as well as fresh pastries, sumptuous avocado and feta on toast and delectable pancakes. Later in the day, get stuck into an ice cold beer and a delicious burger or a fantastic salad.
16. Aussie shops
There are some great, iconic Aussie brands with stores set-up in the International Terminal, including R.M Williams, Merino Collection and Billabong. For any overseas visitors who won’t get the opportunity to leave the airport, this where you can get your Aussie apparel fix! Snatch up a pair of R.M Williams iconic boots, a cosy pair of Uggs from Merino Collection or that most beloved footwear option, a pair of pluggers (flip-flops) from Billabong. Of course, you can also shop the wide range of clothing, accessories and more at each spot too.
17. So much Wi to Fi!
Look, I’ve visited my fair share of airports and I can honestly say, not all wifi is created equal. The team at Brisbane Airport have not skimped, you guys, they’ve shelled out for some good quality wifi. The kind you can use to stream stuff! Best of all, it’s free, so you can get cosy in a comfy seat near The Village Green and spend some time catching up on news, checking-in with loved ones or just zoning out in-between flights or pre-departure.
Keen to learn more about Brisbane? Check out the Local’s Guide to Brisbane City I filmed with Visit Queensland (they’re kind of a big deal!)
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.