Guide to backpacking in Brisbane

Whether you are coming from north, south, east, west, across an ocean or from the other side of the world, Brisbane is an absolute safe haven for backpackers year-round. It’s a city of fun, sun and enough thrills to satisfy even the most motivated of adrenaline junkies.

Read on to find out the best approach to this metropolitan paradise in the Pacific.

Transport in Brisbane

Brisbane Airtrain

Congratulations! You have just landed in Brisbane and a fantastic adventure awaits you. Getting from Brisbane Airport and into the heart of the city is a simple 20-minute ride on the Airtrain. The train departs every 15 minutes in peak hours, alternatively there are taxis readily available outside the terminals.

If you are travelling to Brisbane via bus or coach, you will arrive in the Brisbane Transit Centre in the CBD and should not be far from your hostel. Taxis are affordable and available on Level 3 inside the building or can be hailed outside. 

Getting around Brisbane is easy. Purchasing a TransLink go card will give you the freedom to travel on any TransLink-operated bus, ferry, or rail service. Go cards are available at Queensland Rail stations, online or at a wide variety of retailers, and the balance is added in similar fashion to a pre-paid mobile phone. 

For $2 a day, hire a CityCycle bicycle and see Brisbane your way. CityCycle bays are in abundance around the CBD and are a perfect option for those looking to spend a day exploring the city! You just need to check the bike in to a station every 30 minutes.

Best backpacker accommodation

"Winging it" is one of the best experiences about backpacking. If you have landed in Brisbane and are looking for a place to put your feet up, find some of the best options here. All located near the CBD, these hostels represent a fantastic option for nomad travellers on a budget.

Things to do

Whether you are a thrill seeker, wildlife lover or avid adventurer, Brisbane has something for every type of traveller. Find something adrenaline charged to splurge the daily budget on, strap those shoes on tight and dive into nature or even experience Brisbane as a local and take in some culture.

Tourist activities 

Australian Sunset Safaris

Provider of some of Australia’s greatest and most unique experiences, Australian Sunset Safaris is an absolute must-do for locals and travellers alike. Offering all-inclusive, one-day or multi-day trips to Brisbane’s Moreton Island, visitors can snorkel with turtles, race down sand dunes, and four-wheel drive through rainforests – spoilt for choice is an understatement!

Lone Pine Sanctuary

Be a part of a truly unforgettable and irreplaceable moment at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (Australia’s oldest and largest koala sanctuary). If holding a koala or feeding a kangaroo is on your bucket list, this is the best place in Brisbane to meet some furry new friends. 

Story Bridge Climb

Don’t look down! Catch a spectacular sunset high above the city lights with the Story Bridge Adventure Climb. An unbeatable way to see the city and one of only three bridge climbs in the world.

Looking for more tourist attractions? Discover more top major attractions in Brisbane.

Local experiences

The Summit

Take the road less travelled, peel back the layers of the city and find experiences that leave a lifetime of memories. Perfect for an afternoon picnic and offering a gorgeous, unbridled view of Brisbane, Mount Coot-tha Lookout should definitely be on your list. Easily accessible, you can drive, catch a local TransLink bus from Adelaide St in the city any day of the week, or join the red Brisbane Explorer bus tour.

South Bank Parklands

Rejoice fellow backpackers! As you have found the jewel in the crown of Brisbane. Nestled on the south side of the Brisbane River is South Bank, the home of food and culture. Join a free, guided tour of the area with the Brisbane Greeters, a comprehensive tour on two wheels with Brisbane by Bicycle or take off on your own and find Streets Beach, the only inner-city beach in Australia and a favourite of travellers the world over. 

From music to food and everything in-between, try the five totally free, totally blissful experiences in South Bank.

Riverlife

Riverlife is Brisbane’s premier lifestyle and entertainment company, just a short ferry ride away, offering some of the most unique, Instagram-worthy adventures the city has to offer. If you are looking for adventure, we definitely suggest its rock-climbing, kayaking and Segway tours. Brisbane has no shortage of free activities, guaranteed to keep you moving.

Boundary Street Markets

Be immersed in the city’s culture. The Boundary Street Markets gather together an unbelievable crowd of designers, musicians and specialty chefs presenting travellers with a much more intimate look at Brisbane. Wander through food stalls, catch a free live gig at The Motor Room and do a spot of late-night shopping all in alternative West End. 

Nightlife

No great backpacking trip was ever done completely sober, and when it comes to partying with fellow travellers, there are a number of great options. Down Under Bar has left the others behind, filled every weekend with travellers, students and backpackers. You will find people from all over the world and all walks of life here all week.

Birdees

Literally sharing a wall with Bunk Backpackers Hostel, Birdees is a favourite for backpackers and locals alike. With an outdoor bar and pool section, it is always a good time here.

If you’re chasing cool places where the locals frequent, try visiting one of Brisbane’s rooftop bars, cool laneway bars or catch a gig and discover why Brisbane is the best place to party like a rock star. 

Cheap eats in Brisbane

Eat Street Markets
You’ve arrived and dropped the bag, now let’s find some tucker! (Aussie slang for food). Brisbane has some of the best tasting and varied options in Australia when it comes to filling the belly on a budget. From Asian to Greek, American to Mexican, you will be able to sample it all with Brisbane’s best cheap eats.

If you would rather take advantage of your hostel’s kitchen facilities, the Queen Street Mall in Brisbane’s CBD is home to both of Australia’s biggest supermarkets chains, Woolworths and Coles. Pick up some local produce and cook up a storm!

Need to Know

  • Drinking age: You must be 18 years or older to legally drink in Australia
  • Smoking areas: Smoking is banned in all enclosed public places. This includes restaurants, bars and clubs. The Queen Street Mall in the city is a totally smoke-free area.
  • Driving information: You can legally drive in Queensland if you have a valid foreign driver’s licence.
  • Wi-fi access: Find free wi-fi access around Brisbane.
  • Weather: With a perpetually warm and wonderfully welcoming subtropical climate, the weather is just another reason visitors cannot get enough of Brisbane.
    – Summer (December to February) average temp is 21°C and max is 30°C
    – Autumn (March to May) Min average temp is 16°C and max is 26°C
    – Winter (June to August) Min average temp is 10°C and max is 21°C
    – Spring (September to November) Min average temp is 16°C and max is 26°C
  • Storage options
  • Visitor essentials

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