Live like a local: 48 hours in Brisbane
Brisbane is a friendly city loved for its chilled-out metropolitan heart and social locals. Follow this weekend itinerary that explores the top spots and things to do in Brisbane on any given week.
We guarantee this is where the locals will be – see you there.
Afternoon: Check into an edgy hotel
When it comes to cool boutique hotels, Brisbane has great options. In Spring Hill, The Johnson is a gorgeous Art Series Hotel celebrating the abstract works of Michael Johnson. Nearby on the city fringe, the New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites is a charming one set in an old 1920s art deco building. Then there is graffiti-covered Tryp Hotel in the heart of edgy Fortitude Valley, or renovated Queenslander Spicers Balfour in nearby suburban New Farm. Take your pick.
Apperitivo: Embark on a laneway bar crawl through the city
Where to begin? Perhaps in Albert Lane with dumpling and sake shots at Harajuku Gyoza or tequila and tacos at Latin American Comuna Cantina. Then happy hour at Brew, cocktails at small bar Super Whatnot, hop to award-winning whisky house The Gresham.
Dinner: Catch the CityCat to Eat Street
The city is built around the Brisbane River, so what better way to explore than to see it from the water. Brisbane’s shipping container street food village is located at the closest ferry stop to the bay – so sit back and soak in the sunset and boat ride as you pass New Farm Park and the old woolstores of Teneriffe. At Eat Street, take your pick from hundreds of dishes and do save room for dessert.
Early morning: Watch the sun rise over Brisbane CBD from Mt Coot-tha
Rise and shine early birds. It’s the sunrise not the sunset that’s most spectacular from Mt Coot-tha. Drive up pre-dawn to watch the bright globe rise behind the skyline. Take a rug, pop yourself down and wait for golden hour to arrive.
Breakfast: With the locals
Post-sunrise, you’ll be first in line for breakfast at your favourite cafe – if you don’t have a favourite, visit one of ours.
Get to know what grows around Brisbane at the local weekend farmer markets. One of the city’s best is the Saturday Jan Powers Market at the Brisbane Powerhouse. Graze on samples at artisan stores, pick up fresh local fruit and grab a coffee.
Lunch: Picnic in New Farm Park with bounty from markets
Laze around on a picnic rug in New Farm soaking up rays and good company with a picnic bounty of local produce purchased at the morning markets. New Farm Park is super popular with locals (and their dogs).
Afternoon: Explore a neighbourhood or shop the city
Atticus Finch, Paddington
Plan your own historic pub crawl through Woolloongabba or shop the Valley laneways. In Teneriffe, wander between the Woolstores of yesteryear, and in Bulimba catch a flick at the historic (and cheap) Balmoral Cinemas. Experience the boutiques and cafe scene of Paddington, or plan a late night out hopping between bars, lounges or clubs in Fortitude Valley. Explore Brisbane’s neighbourhoods here.
If shopping is more your speed, head into the City to explore more than 1000 international retailers and local boutiques along Queen Street Mall and surrounds.
Dinner: Cheap and cheerful in Fortitude Valley, or dive into a hatted dining experience
Brisbane is home to Queensland’s highest number of National Good Food Guide hatted restaurants. A high number of the city’s top restaurants are in the CBD, so prepare for the degustation at Persone or Donna Chang with high-end shopping along the Queen Street Mall and Edward St.
Fine dining taste buds and a student budget? Fortitude Valley is home to Chinatown and has plenty of cheaper Asian restaurants to try like Happy Boy, The Vietnamese, Fat Dumpling, Bird's Nest Yakitori and Wagaya. Then there's Ben's Burgers and Eiffel Restaurant.
After dinner: Catch a gig in an old WWII hangar at The Triffid
In nearby Newstead, former Powderfinger bassist John Collins opened his venue The Triffid. The renovated World War II hanger has incredible sound quality, pulls killer acts and has a top beer garden. Alternatively, there are plenty of smaller live music venues in Fortitude Valley such as The Foundry and Black Bear Lodge, or speakeasy style bars to hop between like Savile Row and Press Club.
Morning: Explore the halls of QAGOMA
“Have you been to GOMA?” will be one of the top three questions any local will ask. We’re proud of our modern art gallery. It’s the largest in Australia, it recently turned 10 and when you finish exploring the international and other incredible exhibitions there pop into QAG, the Queensland Art Gallery next door.
Lunch: Go on a food safari along Fish Lane
South of the river, but in the heart of it all and across the road from QAGOMA, Fish Lane is quickly becoming Brisbane’s coolest laneway. As new buildings pop up, restaurants, cafes and bars are moving in beneath them – making the journey from West End to South Bank an adventure in itself. Build your own long lunch by hopping from venue to venue.
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