Keep cool in Brisbane - Visit Brisbane

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11 ways to keep cool in Brisbane this summer

Updated: 14 December 2021

Brisbane is the ideal summer location, with our open blue skies, crystal clear water and sun-drenched surroundings, however if you need a break from the heat, we have excellent ideas to keep you cool and your power bill down. Read our 11 ways to keep cool this summer.

1. Indoor Exhibitions

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Take it slow and get cultured in the air-conditioned indoor exhibitions. Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art’s air-conditioning is permanently set to a crisp 18 degrees, which is ideal when you need a break from the sun. The exhibitions are constantly changing, so there's always something new to discover, like this summer’s ‘10th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art’ (APT10) - see how to navigate through time and space, reimagine histories and explore connections to culture and place. The Museum of Brisbane’s City in the Sun exhibition’s large-scale contemporary artwork is one way to enjoy our sunny city, without needing to reapply SPF.

2. Theatre

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Whether it’s a matinee or evening show, you’re bound to feel cooler enjoying a performance at QPAC. Home to world-class musicals, music and theatre, there’s something for everyone. The upcoming musical, American in Paris (8 - 30 Jan), and the Ballet International Gala (26-30 Jan) are hitting Brisbane just in time for summer.

3. Pools and Water Parks

Go for a dip in one of Brisbane’s many public pools or water parks.

The heritage-listed Valley Pool is a 50m oasis in the hustle and bustle of Fortitude Valley, while iconic Streets Beach at South Bank screams summer, right down to the red and yellow clad lifeguards.

Just outside of Brisbane City, you’ll find Robelle Domain in Ipswich which boasts a zero-depth water park and tipping bucket with jet sprays and spurts – a day of fun for the family.

Take a trip north to Redcliffe where you’ll find Settlement Cove, a water wonderland perfect for families keen for a barbecue by the bay. Kids will love this free water attraction, which features a playground, water jets and play equipment as well as a wading pool and swimming area.

4. Live Music

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Live music, in air-con - yes, please. Nothing says summer like groovy tunes, which is why Open Season is playing at the Tivoli and Princess Theatre for your gig-needs. If you’re keen to get jazzy, head to The Sound Society for live jazz on the first Sunday of every month.

5. Explore National Parks

If you like to cool down without having to crank up your air-con, then we suggest escaping to the rainforests for some of nature’s coolants. Walk underneath a thick canopy of trees at one of the many national parks surrounding Brisbane. For an experience like no other, try the rainforest skywalk at Mt Tambourine. Lamington National Park’s Gondwana Rainforest has been listed amongst the World-Heritage rainforests, also conveniently located near O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat and Binna Burra Lodge so book in for a relaxing night away in paradise after your hike.

Learn more about our favourite bushwalks around Brisbane, HERE.  

6. Island Escape

We really aren’t lying when we say you’ll never run out of things to do in Brisbane and its surrounds. Venture from the inner city for a day or two to visit Minjerribah / North Stradbroke Island for the ultimate island holiday. Whether it’s camping, exploring, or diving into the rich history of the island, Minjerribah has all bases covered. Tangalooma on Moreton Island is another gem just off the coast of Brisbane, with snorkelling, dolphin feeding and clear kayaking - you’ll find it difficult to leave!

If you’re keen to cool down with the sea breeze, hop on board one of the speed boats from River to Bay and take advantage of their incredible express day trips out to the islands - with lunch included.

For a sea breeze closer to the shore, pop to Sandstone Point at Bribie Island, or one of the many beaches dotting along the Redlands coast.

7. Rooftop Bars

With almost 300 days of sunshine every year, it’s easy to see why rooftop bars have popped up all over Brisbane. Celebrate the sunshine and the coastal Italian vibes at the Cielo Rooftop bar or make your way to the super sleek Iris Rooftop Bar, and book into Hotel X if you’re wanting to sip a cocktail poolside. Fiume Rooftop perched above the Howard Smith Wharves, is perfect for that pre- or post-lunch cocktail. And If you haven’t already, check out the new local Valley Hops Brewery, conveniently situated on top of Cloudland.

8. Lakes and dams

Whether you’re after a lake, lagoon, or waterfall, Brisbane’s got it all. Lake Wivenhoe is the largest lake in South East Queensland, which also happens to be the perfect spot for all family and couple friendly activities like picnicking, visiting playgrounds, fishing or swimming. If water activities like water skiing are your thing, Lake Somerset and Lake Moogerah are for you. If you’re looking for somewhere with great facilities, Lake Samsonvale is a picturesque and Instagram-worthy destination that always lives up to the hype.

A little closer to home, you'll find Enoggera Reservoir, where recreational activities keep families occupied. Enjoy a swim, bring a canoe or kayak for some peaceful paddling, or cast a line if you're feeling lucky.

9. Picnic in the park

Brisbane’s brilliant weather year-round means its parkland spaces get plenty of use. Relax by the river and enjoy spectacular views from New Farm Park, South Bank Parklands, Roma Street Parkland or the City Botanic Gardens. Make it an afternoon affair with drinks and a barbecue lunch.

10. Shopping

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Shop ‘til you drop in Brisbane with our ‘fashion districts’ all around the city. If the heat gets too much for you to handle, escape to the Queen Street Mall where shopping can be comfortably done indoors. James Street and Paddington are other options with a heap of breezy cafes for that pit-stop iced latte, and restaurants to long-lunch at after. If you’d like to discover the shopping districts like a local, book your private personal shopping appointment or group tour with Spree With Me.

11. Ice-cream and gelato

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Head to one of Brisbane’s best ice-cream or gelato vendors for a delicious way to cool off this summer. Cult favourite La Macelleria serves up traditional Italian gelato, while the well-known ice-cream shop Messina in South Bank often has limited-time flavours. If you’re keen to try a new trend of ice-cream, try Happy Pops popsicles in South Bank. Originally from Noosa, their ice creams will not disappoint, both look and taste wise.

Check out our list of Brisbane’s best ice-cream and gelato here.

Summer in Brisbane