When you think of Australian destinations, you often think of Sydney, or Melbourne, or one of the many resort islands like Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef. However, it’s certianly worth adding Brisbane to your Austalia itinerary.
There is an unbelievable amount of things to add to your Brisbane Bucket List, suitable for every type of traveler to Australia.
Unmissable things to add to your Brisbane itinerary include staying in some of the country’s most luxurious accommodation, whale & dolphin spotting, world-class shopping as well as a multitude of sightseeing opportunities and adrenalin activities.
Brisbane is also an amazing base camp for your further adventures in Queensland, with the Sunshine Coast to the north and the Gold Coast below.
So, how many of these bucket list ideas are you going to be adding to your Brisbane itinerary?
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A Quick Guide to Brisbane; What To Visit
In a hurry? then here’s the lowdown of the 15 best places to go in Brisbane which feature in this article. You can also download this Brisbane bucket list for offline viewing and get it straight to your inbox by clicking here.
- Stay in one of Brisbane’s Luxury Hotels
- Meet a Koala Bear at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
- Venture into Museums and Galleries
- See the City on the Brisbane River Cruise
- Relax in the Botanical Gardens
- Admire the View from On High
- Step Back in Time to the 1988 World Expo
- Retail Therapy at Queen Street Mall
- Try local produce at the Farmers Market
- Climb or Jump from the Story Bridge
- Feast on Food From Around the World
- Go Snorkeling or Diving On Moreton Island
- Dolphin and Whale watching
- Try out adventure sports
- Learn About Aboriginal Culture
Get this FREE Brisbane Bucket List printable straight to your inbox to download and keep.
The Brisbane Bucket List: 15 Essential Things to Add to Your Brisbane Itinerary
Stay in one of Brisbane's Luxury Hotels
Luckily for you, Brisbane is home to some of the best 5-star hotels in the world, which will pamper and please you during your entire stay.
The top three hotels for you to choose from are:
- Emporium Hotel South Bank – The Emporium is right in the heart of the Brisbane CBD. It offers everything you need in luxury and class. You’ll love the infinity pool on the roof and its spectacular city view.
- The Inchcolm by Ovolo – Set in a 1920’s heritage building, it offers old-world elegance; however, everything has been updated and renewed to give you a fabulous experience. The Inchcolm is perched above the CBD, so you are close enough to do everything but have some privacy and quiet when you need to relax.
- The Calile Hotel – The Calile is all about relaxing. You can still walk to the Brisbane CBD; however, you can also just stay in 5-star luxury, be pampered at the spa, and enjoy a private cabana by the pool. The Calile is everything you want from a resort but in an urban setting.
Meet a Koala Bear at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
With their adorable bushy ears and cute faces, getting to see a Koala Bear up close certainly needs to be on your Brisbane Bucket list. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary allows you to meet their Koalas and have your photograph taken next to these fuzzy marsupials.
The sanctuary is also home to 70 species of other native Australian animals that you can see and interact with. One of the top experiences here is to hand-feed the kangaroos and as well as getting to interact with the resident dingos or even one of the snakes.
You can see kookaburras in old gum trees as well as rainbow lorikeets coming in to be fed. You’ll also be able to see wallabies,
wombats, and even crocodiles. So whatever Australian animal you’ve always wanted to see, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary has you covered.
Venture into Museums and Galleries
Brisbane is home to a plethora of museums and art galleries for you to spend your days exploring. The Australian heritage-listed cultural centre in South Bank is home to many of them within walking distance of each other, and if you’re into anthropology, certainly one of the most popular things to do in Brisbane.
If you’re visiting Australia with children, then a top pick for inquisitive kids is the interactive Queensland Museum and Sciencentre.
Alternatively, if you’re after a cultural fix then head to the Queensland Art
Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art. These galleries are filled with over 20 000 pieces of thought-provoking artwork from Australia and around the world.
Finally, watch a show at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre which hosts performances ranging from ballet to opera to comedy shows, and everything in between.
See the City on the Brisbane River Cruise
The Brisbane River runs right through the city, and one of the best ways to get a feel for the layout of the city and see a lot of landmarks is by cruising in a boat along the river.
Many of the cities attractions or locations can be accessed from the river, so it’s a great way to get around as you relax and enjoy the scenery.
Options range from booking a ride on one of the cruises, whilst enjoying food and drink. If you’re into a more hands-on approach, then you can hire your own boat and captain it along the river to go anywhere you want.
Relax in the Botanical Gardens
Although Brisbane does have a multitude of well-manicured parks to enjoy, one of the most beautiful places to see in Brisbane is the Botanical Gardens.
The Botanic Gardens themselves offer a diverse range of themed gardens spread over 128 acres of land. Some of the highlights include the Japanese gardens, as well as the most extensive collection of Australian rainforest trees in the world.
Admire the View from On High
After visiting the botanical gardens, head up towards the Brisbane Lookout on Mount Coot-tha. This is also a great place to get stunning panoramic views of Brisbane.
The two ways of getting there are by the hop-on-bus, or the more scenic option, by foot taking the nearby trails.
You can visit the lookout tower at any time of the day, however, the most spectacular time is during the evening, where you’ll get to watch the sunset over the city.
Step Back in Time to the 1988 World Expo
South Bank was the original site of the 1988 World Expo. However, the most recent addition to the area is the giant Ferris wheel that you can ride, which gives you great views over the city.
The area also boasts parklands, plazas, and promenades. The area is a great place to spend en evening as there are a multitude of trendy bars and excellent restaurants here. The South Bank is also where you might catch some exciting events and movie screenings for you to watch.
If it’s a hot day, cool off in the nearby lagoon. There are also free
fitness classes as well as biking and hiking trails you can explore in the area.
Retail Therarpy at Queen Street Mall
If you can’t resist shopping, and in particular, for high-end and designer brands, then venture over to the Queen Street Mall. There are over 700 shops for you to peruse with options ranging from local or international designers.
Some of the local designers represented in the mall are R.W. Williams, Lorna Jane, and Zimmerman. The top international stores in the mall are Chanel, Dior, Tiffany & Co, and Loius Vuitton.
Try local produce at the Farmers Market
There are numerous farmers markets popping up in locations all over Brisbane. This is thanks to the Brisbane region being home to some of the best farmlands in the country.
One of the most popular ones takes place t Brisbane Square from 8 am-6 pm where you can buy locally produced goods such as flowers and artisan products as well as bread, cheeses, jams & chutneys, fruit and vegetables. There are also plenty of foods to try before you buy.
Climb or Jump from the Story Bridge
Something Brisbane has in common with Sydney is the ability to climb its major city bridge. However, in Brisbane, you don’t
have to walk back down. You can opt to abseil or jump from the bridge. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, this is certainly worth adding to your Brisbane Bucket list.
Whatever you decide, you will be with an expert guide, who will keep you safe and informed. You don’t need to be amazingly fit to do the climb, which takes about 2 hours.
One of the highlights from the Bridge Climb is the great views of Brisbane from up there. If the idea of abseiling is a bit too extreme, you can still give yourself an adrenaline rush, either by walking out on a plank over the
speeding traffic below you, or the guides will hold your harness, and you lean out over the street below.
Feast on Food From Around the World
If you’re a bit of a foodie, then head towards Eat Street Northshore. This is a great nightspot especially if you want to sample a variety of food from around the world whilst listening to some great live music playing in the background. There are multiple stages, each hosting different acts or some kind of activity for you to immerse yourself in.
Hundreds of shops offer food from different countries for you to sample. It’s certainly not fancy or high-end food, but it’s an interesting and fun experience and worth adding to your Bucket List for Brisbane if you want to try international foods.
Go Snorkeling or Diving On Moreton Island
If you’re looking for some natural adventure for the day, one of the best day trips from Brisbane is to take the ferry out to Moreton Island.
You could just opt to enjoy the sandy beach, but one of the top things to do here are diving and snorkelling as there are some wrecks just off the shore to explore.
While you’re on the island, it’s also worth visiting the Cape Morton Lighthouse and taking in the spectacular views from there.
Dolphin and Whale watching
Two of the ocean giants reside close to the waters off Brisbane. A popular day trip for wildlife lovers is to go whale or dolphin spotting.
There are several places to spot these aquatic mammals and most tours take place on a catamaran or speedboat. Some tours give the option of feeding the local dolphins and swimming with them. Although the dolphins are wild, there are always considerations and ethics to bear in mind when interacting with wildlife.
Try out adventure sports
Brisbane is a bit of an adrenalin hub. If you’re looking to get your adrenalin juices flowing try out some of the local adventure sports.
There are too many to list, however, some of the most popular options are quad-biking, kayaking, sandboarding, and 4WD adventures around Moreton Island.
Learn About Aboriginal Culture
Australian indigenous people were the Aboriginals who have a rich and exciting culture closely linked to nature and the earth. One of the best places to get a more in-depth insight into their fascinating and ancient culture and to learn more about them is by visiting the Spirit of the Sands.
Spirit of the Sands offers a 1 ½ hour interactive journey, which takes you through Dreamtime stories and cultural events. You can listen to a didgeridoo, sample some bush food, participate in traditional events and even paint boomerangs.
In the evening you can attend a traditional dinner and show incorporating cultural song and dance. The show also displays the struggle between the Aboriginal people and the colonisation of Australia.
Final Thoughts on Visiting Brisbane
Brisbane is an exciting and diverse city where you will find plenty of activities to add to your Brisbane itinerary regardless if you’re on a luxury, adventure or family holiday.
Which of these items are at the top of your Brisban Bucket List?
Don’t forget, you can get this FREE Brisbane Bucket List printable straight to your inbox to download and keep.
About the Author
Catalin Geangos is the Founder and Editor of TravelTrained and a travel blogger who mainly focuses on nightlife, beach resorts, hostels and party experiences while travelling in Southeast Asia. He moved from Romania to the UK 6 years ago and since then he travelled to over 35 countries. Currently, he is documenting the backpacker’s lifestyle in party/social hostels.
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