Brisbane is a big city nestled on Australia's east coast about half-way between Sydney and Cairns. Brisbane was actually a pleasant surprise and I immensely enjoyed my weekend in the city, thanks mostly due to the beautiful nature I found in South Bank and the ease I felt in getting around the city and the abundance of things to spend my time doing.
How to Get to Brisbane
Brisbane, along with Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney are the major international destinations to fly in to. Hundreds of flights arrive daily from all around the world at Sydney International Airport. I arrived from Ayers Rock after a dusty and hot few days in the outback.
From the airport, the Airtrain provides quick and direct access into the city for $19 one-way. You can use the Go Card system for getting around on buses and ferries, but I highly recommend just walking everywhere and taking the free City Hopper ferry if you need to cross the river.
Where to Stay in Brisbane
There are an abundance of hostels with this being one of the major cities on the east coast for backpackers to visit. I stayed at the Breeze Lodge just behind Kangaroo Point which, while a trek from the airport involving the train, a bus and a 20-minute uphill trek, was in a decent location for getting around the city right by the free City Hopper ferry. The facilities are clean, even if the kitchen is a bit small, but they make up for that with free wi-fi and plugs and lockers for each person by their bed.
Things to Do in Brisbane
I only spent a weekend here so just did the main highlights, but it seems like there's enough to do to warrant a few more days, especially if you have your own car to go exploring the hinterland!
Probably the best view point of the city, you can access Kangaroo Point via the free City Hopper ferry to Thornton Point. There's a sweet river front walk here, too. (also pictured above)
South Bank Parade
The most beautiful part of the city has to be the walk from Kangaroo Point along to Streets Beach where in the summertime bright pink flowers bloom over a stunning archway. Restaurants and an abundance of seating places beckon and the entire vibe is enticing.
What Brisbane lacks in natural beaches, they make up for with the man-made Streets Beach on the river in South Bank. The blue water beckons over real sand and sunbathers snooze on the surrounding grass and beach.
Do the touristy thing and stop at the Brisbane sign, perfectly propped against the backdrop of the city and the river.
Roma Street Parkland
A subtropical oasis in the middle of the city, Roma Street Parkland is a lovely place to wander around, enjoying the seasonal displays and spotting plenty of lizards and wild birds running around!
Brisbane City Botanic Gardens
Right along the river, the beautiful Botanic Gardens boast plenty of green space, a beautiful forest to walk through and markets on Sundays. It is the city's oldest park.
Pronounced Mount "Cootha" (not "Coot-a" as I said to the bus driver!), this spot is home to the Brisbane Lookout with wide-reaching views over Brisbane City. There isn't much to do at the top aside from visit the summit restaurants so since the 471 bus that travels between the city and the summit only comes once an hour, be prepared to sit at the top enjoying the view for quite a while! The journey takes approximately 25 minutes from town and stops right at the summit.
North Stradbroke Island
Stradbroke Island is split into two, North and South. The North Island is the more popular one, a quintessential island getaway, a sleepy place where organic food and a slow lifestyle reign supreme. Heading over to Stradbroke Island, or "Straddie" as the locals call it, is the perfect way to escape Brisbane for the day. There are plenty of beaches all around Stradbroke Island, with some campgrounds available too for you to stay at. A huge draw to Stradbroke Island are the water activities - from surfing to swimming and snorkeling to diving, you'll find it all here and many avid participants. Check out my detailed guide on how to spend a day on Stradbroke Island here.