A to Z of Brisbane

Looking for inspiration? Planning a mini-break? Need something to do on your weekend? Consider this your encyclopedia to Brisbane in one volume - from A to B and all the way to Z.  Make plans to explore the Ekka, find your favourite Fortitude Valley hang out or get going to the Gabba - the choices are endless, plot your own path. See what we did there...   

A is for...

Alfresco lifestyle – With nearly 300 days of sunshine a year, there’s a reason we like to get out and about. Coffee, dinner, drinks? We’ll take an outside table.

The Arbour – Architecturally designed, award-winning. There’s a couple of bonus ‘A’s for you. This South Bank walkway blooms three times a year, so chances are bougainvillea will be bright pink when you walk the 1km path.

South Bank

B is for...

BRISBANE sign – The eight letters that launched a thousand selfies. This temporary sign constructed for the G20 proved so popular that the bright, colourful artwork was replicated permanently and is now an essential stop. 

Beach in the heart of the city – Locals take it for granted, but Streets Beach with its shimmering water, white sand and a cracking view of the CBD skyline is a highlight for visitors.

Streets Beach

Breakfast – We’re a city that wakes up early, and why not when your local cafe is dishing up food from five or six in the morning that wouldn’t be out of place in a fancy restaurant?

Broncos – The city’s most successful and most-loved sporting franchise also happens to be the NRL’s most successful team. It’s rare to see them not still hanging around come finals time.

C is for…

Coffee – There’s specialty coffee EVERYWHERE in Brisbane. Try John Mills Himself, Edward, Frankie & George and Coffee Anthology for some of the best beans in the world. And that’s just in Brisbane’s CBD.

Image credit: Savannah Van Der Neit

CityCat – Pay a couple of bucks to jump aboard and discover why Brisbane is nicknamed the River City.

Clock tower – It’s free and only takes 15 minutes to ride the old lift up City Hall’s 92m high clock tower for a bird’s eye view of the CBD.

Craft beer - With home to some of the country’s best craft breweries, the city’s taps are overflowing. Newstead, West End and Milton all have cracking craft beer precincts.

Caxton Street – It’s damn good street to find a drink or a feed late at night. Lefty’s, Brewski, and the good ol’ Caxton are heaving every weekend but particularly any time there’s a game on at nearby Suncorp. 

D is for….

Darren Lockyer – Our raspy-voiced idol. For 17 years, the rugby league star carried the hopes of our city, state and nation on his back as he won game after game for the Brisbane Broncos, Queensland Maroons and the Kangaroos.

Dolphin feeding – As if pure white sand, beautiful snorkelling and island time wasn’t enough of a reason to visit Moreton Island, you can flick Flipper a feed of fresh fish while you’re there.


E is for…

EKKA  – Strawberry sundaes, rides, showbags, strawberry sundaes, big farm animals, farmers at the Stockman’s Bar and strawberry sundaes. Queensland’s biggest agricultural show pops up for 10 days every August. And did we mention strawberry sundaes?

Strawberry Sundae at the Brisbane Ekka

Expo ‘88 – In Brisbane there is Before Expo and After Expo. The massive event was legitimately transformative, birthing the brilliant South Bank precinct and showing us off to the world.

Eat Street – The tastes, sights and smells make for a sensory overload in every way. This marketplace of bars, container restaurants and entertainment keeps stepping it up and is a must-visit for tourists and locals every weekend. 

F is for…

Fortitude Valley – The country’s first dedicated entertainment precinct becomes a buzzing hive the second the sun goes down. Bars, pubs, nightclubs, live music – you’ll find some of the country’s best here. 

Winn Lane, Fortitude Valley

Fish Lane – Arrive hungry to this growing laneway. If you want beer, wine, cocktails, pan-Asian, or Italian, you’ll find one of the city’s best options in each category. Plus the drool-inducing, boundary-pushing restaurant Gauge is around the corner, and kitchen incubator Wandering Cooks always has something interesting happening.

Fridays at Friday’s – A great alfresco happy hour and an even better view of THE bridge (see S). Plus, you’re in the middle of downtown Eagle Street so whether you want fine dining or a bar hop, you’re sorted for the night.

G is for ….

Gabba - Hear the roar of the Gabba when the Brisbane Lions play or be bowled over this cricket season by the scheduled program- it will hit you for six!

Go Betweens - They know the ‘streets of this town’ better than anybody. This iconic indie Brissie band has their very own bridge named after them connecting South Brisbane to Milton. Listen to The Go Betweens on The Go Between - so meta.

GOMA – Have you been to GOMA? You should go to GOMA. It's amazing. GOMA.

G20 – We all got a bonus holiday when the leader’s of the world’s 20 biggest economies popped in to say hi. Best remembered for German Chancellor Angela Merkel grabbing a selfie in a Caxton Street bar.

H is for…

Hashtagging #BNEstorm – on any cloudy pictures during summer. Pro Brisbane tip, if a storm hits and you need to get somewhere, just wait five or 10 minutes until it clears. Don’t be that guy sprinting through the rain only to see the clouds disappear once you get onto the train.

Hungry Jacks on Albert Street - The meeting place of choice for any Brisbanite out on the town in the CBD since time immemorial. Or at least whenever the fast food joint opened there.

I is for…

Islands - We have two really great ones, and both are made of sand. If you’re after dolphin-feeding, snorkelling, great swathes of national park, four-wheel driving, camping and a comfortable resort option, Moreton is your best bet. But if boating, fishing, surfing, whale watching and gelato is more your style, take the ferry to North Stradbroke.

Stradbroke Point Lookout

Ibis at South Bank – According to a recent poll they are Australia’s second-favourite bird, but inarguably its most divisive. Most Brisbane residents dislike the native Australian bin chicken, but the tourists love these big, white birds.

J is for…

Jacarandas – The sea of springtime purple signals different things to different people. For students it’s nearly exam time. For others, pack a picnic and invade a city park with a camera at the ready. 

Jazz Club – If you’re not a jazz fan, you might not even know this place exists. If you are, you’d know its prime location across from the CBD, smoking live music four nights a week and cheap, good food makes it worth a visit.

K is for…

Koalas – Come to Brisbane and hold a koala at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the world’s oldest and largest. For an international visitor, that’s really all you need. Just ask Roger Federer, Taylor Swift, Eric Clapton and the former Pope!

Kayaking at night – around old ship wrecks on Moreton Island. Grab a clear-bottomed kayak from Australian Sunset Safaris to spot those adorable turtles swimming around underneath you plus other sea life of the Tangalooma Wrecks.  

Kayaking in crystal clear waters

Kangaroo Point Cliffs – Sunset, park, barbecue, city views. Need we say more?

L is for…

Local produce – You know how all of these Brisbane chefs are championing the idea of local produce? Beyond being a trend, it’s because we have the incredibly fertile Lockyer Valley in our backyard and the clear waters of Moreton Bay on our doorstep.

Jan Power Markets City Image Credit: Jared Vethaak

Live music – For the last few years Brisbane has been riding the next wave of awesome bands (stalwarts Violent Soho and newcomers WAAX spring to mind). That might have something to do with our epic music venues: Black Bear Lodge, Crowbar, The Tivoli, The Triffid. 

M is for.... 

Mount Coot-tha – Your mum/brother/mate/fourth cousin-in-law is coming to visit? First stop, the views over the city from Mount Coot-tha. Ta-da! That’s Brisbane. Bonus point if you get up before dawn to catch the sunrise.

Moreton Bay bugs – These delicious fruit of the sea is named for the gorgeous Moreton Bay off the coast of Brisbane. Keep an eye out for them on menus around the city.

N is for…

New Farm Park – We love to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon lolling about in this big park. Giant jacarandas, riverfront grass and close to everything, including fancy delis and coffee for picnic supplies.

NRL – Sure, we passionately support our AFL and soccer teams (so long as they’re winning) but Brisbane will always be an NRL city. Caxton Street is something special after a big match.

Nightlife – The city comes alive on Friday and Saturday nights. Hit the Valley for everything from small bars to mega clubs, or check out Newstead’s breweries, West End’s local music and chilled bars, Caxton Street’s great pubs and bars, and Eagle Street’s fancy hotspots.

Next Hotel

Neville Bonner – Australia's first Indigenous MP went from stockman to state Parliament and is due to be honoured with a pedestrian bridge across the river in coming years.

O is for…

Origin –  You just can’t beat Brisbane at State of Origin time. The city floods with the colour maroon, supporting our boys to demolish the blues. #EightInARow #NeverForget 

Oktoberfest – Yes, it’s not Munich. But Brisbane’s two-week 30,000-person festival is the biggest Bavarian celebration in Australia and regularly features on lists of the best place to celebrate the festival outside of Germany.

Oysters - Some Brisbaneites don’t know that they’re sitting on a shellfish bonanza. Moreton Bay serves up some of the best oysters in Australia, so find some and get shucking.

Olympus Halloumi – If you’re eating a certain pan-fried cheese originating from Cyprus while in Brisbane, you’d better hope it’s Olympus. Stock up on a 2kg tub direct from the factory.

P is for…

Parks and Picnics - Sunshine all year round makes picnics a must in the plush green leafy precincts of Brisbane. New Farm Park and Captain Burke Park boast stunning river views or for something central Brisbane Botanic Gardens make a relaxing city escape.

Powerhouse – Theatre, comedy, music, food and wine, right on the banks of the Brisbane River. This stunning former power station is a must-visit for fans of culture and the arts.

Planetarium – What would a city named after an astronomer be without a kickass planetarium? Drop into the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, at the bottom of Mount Coot-tha, to tour our solar system.

Pancake Manor – Winding down from a night out in the wee hours of the morning but don’t feel like a kebab? Surely, pancakes are the obvious answer. It’s just an early breakfast, right? This 24/7 eatery has been a Brisbane institution for longer than we can remember.

Q is for…

Queenslanders – No, not the people but the adorable old houses that dot just about every hill in Brisbane. Cool in summer, warm in winter, and adorable when surrounded by jacarandas and wrap-around verandas.

QUEENSLANDER – That immortal cry first used by Billy Moore to gee our boys up for Origin. This is about the people.

R is for…

River that defines us – from the floods, to creating borders for our suburbs, to its beautiful banks. Brisbane is a city of north-south river rivalries, of riverviews and river rides on the ferries.

Restaurants – Take a look around and jump for joy at the ever-increasing proliferation of delicious food. Wander down Fish Lane, Eagle Street, Grey Street, Little Stanley Street, James Street, Boundary Street or Caxton Street to find a few gems.

Rooftop bees – A swarm of amateur and professional beekeepers have colonised our rooftops to turn pollen into sweet, delicious, local honey. Pick up a jar while here.    

S is for…

South Bank (and Streets Beach) –  This 17-hectare riverside parkland is perhaps Brisbane’s greatest park. Within it find big festivals, a sand beach, edible garden, giant wheel, aqua playground, free barbecues, live music, restaurants, bars and more. It’s all there. 

Stefan's Eye Needle – Built for Expo ‘88, the Sky Needle took on cult status when everyone’s favourite hairdresser, Stefan Ackerie, bought it the following year. We’re not totally sure why, but we love it.

T is for…

Tamborine Mountain – Just an hour south, swap the urban jungle for an elevated rainforest paradise with walking trails galore and a cute town with enough fudge and wine tasting to last all year.

Rainforest Skywalk

U is for…

Underdog – we know, Sydney and Melbourne will always be bigger, but we cherry pick the best bits of both and add picture perfect Queensland weather.

Underground Opera – And musicals, carols and more. Anything we write won’t do justice to the experience of an intimate live concert under the earth, strings and voices booming off the old reservoir that used to supply the city’s water.

V is for…

The Valley – It’s no longer the only place to go on a weekend night but in BrisVegas Fortitude Valley is still one of the country’s premier nightspots. There’s something for every speed, from BYO Vietnamese through to nightclubs and Irish pubs, via intimate cocktail bars and live music havens. During the day, three cute laneways offer a mix of cute boutiques, great cafes and delicious desserts.

Winn Lane Fortitude Valley

(Brisbane) Valley Rail Trail - A completely different valley, and no longer anything to do with trains either. Cycle, walk or ride a horse through farmland and forest on this picturesque former rail route that stretches for 161km, starting south-west of Brisbane.

W is for…

West End – The suburb that’s like your artsy mate who’s a little bit odd in all the best possible ways. Find Brisbane’s creative heart in this inner-city village.
Wally Lewis – The King.

West End Markets

X is for…

XXXX – Ah the Milton Mango, the Castlemaine Cranberry. Where would we be without Mr Fourex keeping a watchful eye over the city from his perch on top of the famous XXXX brewery in Milton.

Y is for…

Yatala Pies – Even if we didn’t love the beach, it would be almost worth a day trip to the Gold Coast to jag a famous Yatala Pie on the way back. Surely the only pie shop in the world to be listed as an official “icon”.   

Z is for…

Zipline – It’s been talked about for years, but finally Mt Coot-tha is getting an eco zipline. 

Did we nail it? Did we miss something crucial? Let us know at [email protected] 

Explore more of Brisbane...