Brisbane is often mistaken as being boring with backpackers. They often think nothing is there. It’s probably one of the least known cities along the East Coast, with Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns taking the limelight. I was one of those backpackers. But in actual fact, it’s an upcoming city, full of culture, with lots to do.
If you’re in the same situation as I was, here’s a mini guide of how to spend 3 days in Brisbane.
DAY 1 – EXPLORING THE CITY
A lot of people are instantly put off Brisbane, because unlike the other cities along the East Coast, it doesn’t have a beach and is more inland. But Brisbane has brought the beach to it. Head down to Southbank, where you can soak up the sun at the lagoon, and take a dip with a view of the city skyline. It’s free!
Every city in Australia has a botanic garden, with Brisbane being no exception. If getting sand between your feet isn’t your thing, then a picnic in the park, going back to nature, might be. Hire a city bike for as little as $2 and take a ride around the park grounds.
The Big Wheel
Take a walk or bike ride down the Southbank parklands, then finish the trip with a visit up the big wheel and see the city of Brisbane from up above. At the bottom, get a picture of the well-known Brisbane sign, with the city skyline in the background.
DAY 2 – A DAY OUT
Hop on the bus if you don’t have access to a vehicle, and see the city from afar. With incredible views for miles around, this place is a gem whether you visit during the day or night. Grab a drink or a bite to eat at the cafe. Then finish with the Botanic Gardens or the Aboriginal Art Trail.
If you miss your surfboard, don’t worry, just an hour away on the train, you can get to Surfers Paradise. And you can get there for under $20.
If you were a fan of Steve Irwin, then this is the place to visit while in Brisbane. See the legacy that Irwin left behind and see the Crocs, Koalas and Kangaroos up close and personal. This is also the place everyone goes to get the typical Koala photo you’ll see on everyones Instagram/Facebook.
Lone Pine Sanctuary
If the Australia Zoo is a little out your budget, then the Lone Pine is just as good, but on a backpackers friendly budget.
DAY 3 – EXPLORE SOME MORE
Head to Queens Street Mall for all the high street stores for a spot of shopping. Or if you’re around Brisbane during the weekend, head to Southbank for the local farmers markets, which are usually on most weekends.
Street Art Tour
If art is your thing, then Brisbane is the place to head. With daily street art tours in the Valley, as well as the West End, Brisbane has some great street art to discover.
Not many people are aware, but the small red ferries along the river in Brisbane are free. Yes, free! Take a ride up and down the river, and see the city from the water. See Story Bridge from down under.
River Bike Ride
If you don’t fancy cruising the river on a boat, why don’t you hire a bike and ride down the river. Start at New Farm Park and head away from the city, past the Powerhouse up to Tenerife. It’s a lovely little ride and if you hire a city bike, it costs as little as $5 a day. The only catch is you have to return it to a station every half hour. The lucky thing is, along this route, there’s plenty.
FOOD & DRINK OPTIONS
Eat Street – Northshore
If you’re in Brisbane on a Friday/Saturday or Sunday, then get the ferry and head to Eat Street. You’ll be in foodie heaven. Doesn’t matter what your favourite food is, you’ll find it here. With live entertainment, you can easily spend a few hours, if not, a full day here.
Greaser – Fortitude Valley
On Wednesdays, enjoy a $5 burger, plus $5 drinks. With live music, this venue is great whether you’re after some greasy food, or a few drinks with friends.
Dandy’s – West End
$5 steaks on Wednesdays and a rooftop cocktail bar at the weekends. This place is a great spot, whichever day of the week you’re visiting.
Finn McCool’s – Fortitude Valley
Head to Finns, and join the Irish for a cheap Sunday sesh, with a traditional Irish band and $5 pints of Cider and Guinness. It’s not hard to see why this is a popular spot on Sundays, with both backpackers and locals.
Green Beacon Brewery – Tenerife
Brisbane has plenty of breweries if you’re keen on trying the local ales. And it’s definitely worth trying one while in the city. At night, the food truck parks outside, and the brewery lets you take the food inside. It’s a cheap option for when you get peckish in between the beer tasting. The beer is pretty cheap too!
Fridays – Eagle Street
My list of bars couldn’t be complete without recommending one at Eagle Street, one of my favourite areas of the city. Enjoy the views of the city over the river, including Story Bridge, while enjoying a cocktail, or two. If you grab one during happy hour, this place can be a cheap spot for a hangout.
Down Under – CBD
A typical cheap backpacker bar in the centre of the city.
Birdees – Fortitude Valley
Backpacker games during the week, and a DJ at weekends. This place is popular with the locals, as well as backpackers.
Retros – Fortitude Valley
If you’re not wanting a backpacker bar, then Retros is a good option if you’re a fan of the cheesy old classics. Open until the early hours of the morning at weekends, you can go here for a boogie with pals.
Prohibition Bar – Fortitude Valley
On a Thursday, ladies can get 4 free drinks on entry between the hours of 7pm-9pm. And at $1 a pizza slice, you can grab a bite to eat too. It’s also the place to be on a Friday evening in the valley.
Holey Moley – Fortitude Valley
If being on the dance floor isn’t your thing, or you just want an evening out with friends, then head to Holey Moley in the valley. It’s an indoor crazy golf course, with plenty of deals throughout the week to make it budget friendly for backpackers. Spend $7 on food or drink on Mondays, and get 9 holes for FREE. Basically buy a drink, and play crazy golf for free. It’s a win, win.
The Stock Exchange – CBD
With a fantastic rooftop bar, it’s a great spot for a night out. Head downstairs to the dance floor if you want a dance, or just chill with a cocktail on the roof with views of the city. On Sunday’s, there’s $5 drinks, so not to be missed.
FESTIVALS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Riverfire – September
If you get chance to be in Brisbane while the Riverfire is on, do it. It was definitely one of my highlights while living in Brisbane. During the day, there are air displays from the Air Force, and then the day is finished with a firework display, which is not to be missed. Do be aware it gets busy. We got a brilliant view from Wilsons Point, near the Story Bridge, and it was free. But we did have to get down there just after lunch time to get a decent spot. There is also events down at Southbank, but you do have to pay, and the view was better from Wilsons Point, in my opinion.
Valley Fiesta – October
The streets in the valley turn into a music festival area, and best of all it’s FREE. A lot of the artists you won’t have heard of, so if you’re into discovering new music talent, this will right up your street. Although in 2017 when I went, Fatman Scoop made an appearance, so they usually get an odd big name in there.
Ekka Royal Queensland Show – August
A big holiday in Brisbane. You’ll even get the day off for it if you’re working in Brisbane. (Well most do, unfortunately if you’re in hospitality, it’ll be one of the busiest days.) Held at Brisbane Showground, it’s an annual agricultural show. See wood chopping, sheep, cows, plus lots of fair ground rides and nightly fireworks.
Have you been to Brisbane? What were your favourite parts?
Post in the comment section below.