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The Best Places to Visit in Brisbane

When Australians first started calling Brisbane ‘Brisvegas’ it was a bit of a friendly dig at a city that wasn’t the most exciting spot to visit at the time.

But oh how times have changed. Now Brisbane is cool. So cool that when some pilots say ‘welcome to Brisvegas’ when the plane lands it’s met with more of a ‘yeah baby’ vibe than a condescending chuckle.

Brisbane has left its big country town image far behind and has levelled up to become a fun, modern city that can hold its own against Sydney and Melbourne.

The best place to find accommodation in Brisbane is in the city centre, which is within easy walking distance of lots of the city’s top attractions, and an easy hop on a ferry down the river ride to others.

So what should you put on your Must Do Brisbane list when you visit Queensland’s sunny capital city?

South Bank for a dip at Brisbane’s beach

Say the words Expo 88 to Australians of a certain age and they’ll immediately flash back to family trips to Brisbane to go to the World Expo. Oh the memories of getting our passports stamped in the pavilions of the world, and queuing for ages to get into the New Zealand pavilion (totally worth it).

These days the old World Expo site is known as South Bank and it’s one of the most popular places in the city.

Streets Beach is one of the best places to visit in Brisbane on a sunny day, image Brisbane Marketing

While Brisbane may not be next to the ocean it’s not letting that get in the way of having its own beach. Streets Beach is Australia’s only inner city, man-made beach and offers a chance to lie in the sun on the sand or take a dip in the lagoon.

Streets Beach is free to use and there are even lifeguards on patrol to keep people safe with an added bonus of looking good in Instagram photos.

At South Beach you can visit a sub-tropical rainforest, take a slow spin on the Wheel of Brisbane, eat food from around the globe, do some shopping or try zipping along on an X-Wing which is a smaller and lighter version of a Segway.

It’s also where you can get a cultural fix at…

The Cultural Precinct for the arty side of Brisbane attractions

Part of South Bank, the Cultural Precinct is home to the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre, the State Library of Queensland, and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.

It’s also where you’ll find the Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) in two adjacent but very different buildings on the waterfront.

The QAGOMA is free to visit and has more than 1,700 artworks from around the world across all mediums including painting, sculpture, photography and video.

Get an art fix at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, image Brisbane Marketing

Fortitude Valley for an eclectic adventure

Known to locals as The Valley, this once rundown part of the city still has a bit of the gritty going on, but it’s also where you’ll find designers like Camilla Franks, Akira Isogawa and Zimmerman among the retro boutique offerings.

In The Valley you can spend hours pottering around, oscillating between the raw and sophisticated energy of the area. Even the buildings are a happy mish mash of heritage listed properties and contemporary architecture.

Refuel with Yum Cha in the Chinatown Mall, potter down interesting laneways and pop into pubs and Tiki bars along the way.

The first dedicated entertainment district in Australia, at night The Valley is where you can catch live music, hit a nightclub or just have fun discovering cocktail bars and people watching.

Hamilton for the Eat Street Markets

When the weekend rolls around and we’re talking about great places to visit in Brisbane the riverside suburb of Hamilton has something nowhere else has.

The Eat Street Markets brings more than 70 food stalls from around the world into the one place in a mix of old shipping containers, cabins and wagons.

Entry is a whole $3 (free for children 12 and under) there’s live entertainment on the stages and great city and river views.

And speaking of that river…

Go Rolling Down Brisbane River

One of the best and most relaxing ways to see Brisbane is by boat, and you can either hop on a free CityHopper service or catch at CityCat ferry if you’d like to venture further afield.

From the water you can see riverside mansions and parks as well as landmarks like Story Bridge.

New Farm Park is a good stop to hop out and explore and is where you can visit the Brisbane Powerhouse as well as a Farmers Markets on the weekend.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the place to visit in Brisbane to see kangaroos and cuddle a koala, image Tourism Australia

And if you’ve ever wanted to cuddle a koala or see a Tasmanian devil you can also take a river cruise down to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. As well as being home to Australian animals including kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and dingoes they also have sheep dog demonstrations for a glimpse at Aussie farmer life.

Visit Both Botanic Gardens

If you agree to meet someone in the Botanic Gardens when you’re visiting Brisbane it’s best to check you’re both talking about the same one before you start making your way there.

Brisbane’s City Botanic Gardens are right there in the CBD and are a beautiful spot to feel the serenity that bamboo groves and weeping fig avenues can provide.

The City Botanic Gardens are the original ones, but Brisbane also has the Botanic Gardens at Mount Coot-tha which are 7km away and a few minutes’ drive from the Brisbane Lookout Mount Coot-tha where you’ll find the best views of the city.

The Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha has more than 20,000 plants spread over 56 hectares, and there’s a Bonsai House, a Rainforest and a geodesic dome to visit, as well as a Planetarium for a tour of Brisbane’s night sky.

For nature lovers the Botanic Gardens are the place to be in Brisbane, image Brisbane Marketing

Explore Queen Street Mall

When you’re ready to combine window shopping with a light cardio workout, head to the Queen Street Mall in the heart of Brisbane City.

There are more than 700 retailers to check out with a mix of international and local names, but the best thing is some of the shops can be found in beautiful old buildings.

Heritage listed arcades including the Brisbane Arcade and worth crossing the pedestrianized street for, and the mall also plays host to around 1000 events each year.

And if you’re more interested in hearing stories than hitting the shops, the city has a great ambassador service that lets you meet up with volunteers for a free walking tour.

The Brisbane Greeters programme has more than 100 greeters who can share stories about their city and take you on a heritage, nature or art themed tour.

And once you’ve made your way through this list of places to visit in Brisbane, they’re bound to have some great new suggestions tailored just for you.

This post has been brought to you by Accor Hotels but all opinions and Expo 88 flashbacks remain my own.

Heading to Brisbane? Love trains? Check out The Spirit of Queensland Train which travels from Brisbane to Cairns and has seats like you’ve never seen before on a train. Or if you’d prefer an old school sleeper train, the Spirit of The Outback lets you see the Aussie outback all the way from Brisbane to Longreach.

A Brisbane river cruise is a great way to see the city and landmarks like Story Bridge, image Tourism Australia

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