Brisbane Travel Guide

Alfie WilsonRachel Carr
By Alfie Wilson  - Travel Guide Manager Rachel Carr  - Junior Travel Editor 24 Min Read
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA, SEPT 13 2016:View of Brisbane

With its undeniable charm and relaxed outdoor lifestyle, Brisbane invites travellers to escape the ordinary and experience its spirited inner-city precincts, unique neighbourhoods, and stunning natural surrounds.


Brisbane, the vibrant capital city of Queensland, is blessed with more than 285 days of sunshine every year, bolstering its natural and urban beauty.  

The city is built around the winding Brisbane River, with an extensive network of bikeways and shared pathways connecting its buzzing lifestyle and entertainment precincts encouraging locals and visitors alike to embrace the city’s sunny disposition. The inviting, outdoor culture makes exploring Brisbane on foot, by bike, or by floating down the river on one of the city’s many cruise tours an unmissable experience.  

Discover Brisbane’s trailblazing culinary scene with the likes of Gourmet Traveller’s Restaurant of the Year for 2023, Agnes, which cooks purely on flames, and newcomer, Vertigo, where guests can dine 17 metres (m) in the air before abseiling down the side of the heritage-listed facade of the Brisbane Powerhouse after their meal. Craving a nightcap? Seek out hidden gems like Saville Row, identifiable only by a bright orange door on a bustling inner-city street, or head to one of Brisbane’s vibrant rooftop bars, like Maya or Iris, and enjoy delicious cocktails under the twinkling stars with sweeping views of the city skyline. 

Beyond the city, Brisbane boasts pristine parklands, tropical islands, and hinterlands, including the Scenic Rim – a ring of dramatic volcanic mountain ranges and rainforests dotted with quaint towns.  

Just a short ferry ride from the city centre across the pristine Moreton Bay are world-famous beaches and picturesque islands, including two of the world’s largest sand islands, Moreton Island/Mulgumpin and North Stradbroke Island/Minjerribah. Here, travellers can enjoy the crystal-clear turquoise waters and spot local wildlife including dolphins, dugongs, and turtles, while kangaroos and koalas can be found in abundance on ashore. Discover the First Nations history of North Stradbroke Island/Minjerribah on a culture tour with Yura Tours, learn about the local fauna and enjoy some bush tucker on the beach, or explore the island with First Nation’s artist, Delvene Cockatoo-Collins and learn the stories and locations that inspire her work. With a thriving urban centre offering endless cultural experiences and a plethora of diverse regions to traverse, visitors can go from rooftop bars, craft breweries, and 5-star hotels to hidden waterfalls and rainforest retreats all within an hour of the city centre. Brisbane offers the best of both worlds, a quintessential Australian experience that undoubtedly promises a memorable adventure. 


The Brisbane Economic Development Agency is the official tourism organisation that promotes the region as the ideal destination for travellers who enjoy city life with additional features. Lorelle Chittick, the General Manager of Tourism, Business, and Major Events, provides expert insights on what makes Queensland’s capital an elevated experience and a precious jewel in the state’s tourism industry.


Firstly, could you talk us through the origins of the Brisbane Economic Development Agency, its initial vision, and current goals?

Lorelle Chittick, General Manager of Tourism, Business, and Major Events (LC):  The Brisbane Economic Development Agency (BEDA) is the official Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO) for Brisbane, focused on profiling the destination to domestic and international audiences to support the growth of the region’s broader visitor economy. 

The Brisbane brand, encompassing BEDA’s Visit Brisbane channels, was relaunched in 2021 to increase awareness of Brisbane as a contemporary holiday destination for travellers. 

Brisbane is Queensland’s vibrant capital city with an abundance of unique cultural, sporting, and tourism experiences, award-winning dining options, and stunning natural surroundings for visitors to soak up and explore.  

As future host city to the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Brisbane is dedicated to raising the city’s global profile and ensuring visitors stay updated via Visit Brisbane channels. 

Why, in your opinion, should someone visit Brisbane? What makes it stand out from other Australian cities?

LC: Brisbane offers the best of many worlds in one – endless year-round sunshine and a subtropical climate, unique urban experiences such as world-class shopping, award-winning dining, including Gourmet Traveller’s Restaurant of the Year for 2023, Agnes, and a thriving cultural scene – not to mention a blockbuster major events calendar boasting world-exclusives.  

Brisbane’s stunning regions are home to ancient rainforests and pristine tropical islands, Moreton Island/Mulgumpin, and North Stradbroke Island/Minjerribah, are brimming with iconic Australian wildlife – all this within an hour of the city, it doesn’t get much better than that!

What kind of travellers does Brisbane appeal to the most?

LC: Brisbane is a city that excites and entices visitors of all ages and demographics. From family stays to luxury escapes, adventure enthusiasts to social buzz seekers – there’s something for everyone in our city.  

With the continuation of the Year of Accessible Tourism (YOAT) in Queensland, BEDA is working with industry to support the growth of accessible and inclusive businesses and experiences, and make Brisbane an all-abilities destination of choice. 

What is Brisbane’s most underrated attraction?

LC: Brisbane is connected by the iconic winding Brisbane River. The landmark connects multiple entertainment hubs, from the cultural centre in South Bank to the renowned riverside precinct, Howard Smith Wharves, set under the Story Bridge and stretching beyond to the likes of Eat Street Northshore, where over 70 venues serve up international dishes from vibrant shipping containers, and the idyllic, leafy suburb of New Farm with cosy cafés.  

Each of these riverside precincts showcase some of Brisbane’s best dining and bar offerings, from upmarket Italian at Otto Trattoria to the laid-back al fresco dining and local brews at Felons Brewing Co.  

Home to Agnes, as well as several rooftop bars and al fresco riverside venues – Brisbane’s dining scene is thriving. 

What activities would you recommend for visitors travelling to Brisbane in the autumn?

LC: Whether searching for adventure, beachside luxury, 5-star urban stays, or acclaimed restaurants and bars, there’s plenty to do in Brisbane.  

Embrace the city’s endless summer with a trip to nearby islands, such as North Stradbroke Island/Minjerribah or Moreton Island/Mulgumpin.  

Enjoy the al fresco lifestyle at Brisbane’s premium riverside precinct, Howard Smith Wharves, or dare to dine 17m in the air at Vertigo, perched off the side of Brisbane Powerhouse, overlooking the city skyline.  

Wander through UNESCO World Heritage rainforests in the Scenic Rim or explore the river on a three-storey entertainment vessel, Oasis, or a self-captained picnic boat. 

Revel in Brisbane’s jam-packed events calendar, from sporting showdowns like the Brisbane Cycling Festival and NRL Magic Round to cultural movements such as the Brisbane Comedy Festival and exclusive art exhibitions at the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art.

What trends are currently transforming tourism in Brisbane, and how are you harnessing them?

LC: An integral part of our work at BEDA is to increase and enhance our tourism product in Brisbane. This ultimately boosts our visitor economy by enticing people to stay longer and experience more. 

In 2023, as part of YOAT, BEDA helped deliver the Access Accelerator programme, which is aimed at enhancing the accessibility and inclusivity of the tourism industry in the Brisbane region.  

18 businesses participated in the programme, which featured one-on-one mentoring, free accessibility and inclusion audits, and disability awareness training. 

Additionally, as home to one of the world’s oldest living cultures, BEDA plays an important role in supporting and growing First Nations tourism experiences and operators across Brisbane. 

What can travellers in search of luxury expect from Brisbane?

LC:  Brisbane has an array of 5-star luxury hotels with rooftop pools and wellness spas, from Emporium Hotel and Crystalbrook Vincent positioned on the river, to hinterland retreats set on sprawling acreage like Beechmont Estate and Spicers Peak Lodge.  

Embark on private helicopter tours to local vineyards or day trips to stunning tropical islands.  

Stroll down Brisbane’s iconic outdoor shopping strips, James Street and Queen Street Mall, and browse Australian fashion labels, boutique stores, and hidden arcades. Indulge further by staying at chic 5-star property, The Calile Hotel, which came 12th 12 in the World’s 50 Best Hotels list for 2023. 

Female Couple staying in a Villa at O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat

How do you promote tourism whilst also respecting the traditional custodians of the land?

LC: BEDA ensures that tourism activity within the First Nations realm is aligned with the Queensland First Nations-led Tourism Strategy and Cultural Protocols Framework.  

We work closely with First Nations tourism businesses as they continue to develop and grow their incredibly immersive and educative experience offerings.  

BEDA also facilitates a First Nations Tourism Relationship Building Programme that involves our First Nations tourism businesses in extending cultural learning activities to the wider tourism industry. 

There is an exciting and diverse range of authentic First Nations tourism experiences within the city and surrounding region. These include Nyanda Cultural Tours, Aboriginal Art Co., BlackCard Cultural Tours, Birrunga Gallery and Dining, Yura Tours, Delvene Cockatoo-Collins Art Studio, Matt Burns Cultural Experiences, Yarriba Dreaming, and Dreamtime Kullilla-Art. Additionally, Minjerribah Camping and Maiala Park Lodge are stunning First Nations-owned and operated accommodation experiences. 

How do you foresee Brisbane’s tourism sector developing in the coming year?

LC: At BEDA, we are passionate about elevating Brisbane’s national and global profile to ensure widespread economic prosperity. 

We’ve had a strong start to the year, with Brisbane named one of the top places in the world to visit by The New York Times, Frommer’s, and TIME Magazine thanks to its incredible diversity of experiences.  

These accolades are fuelling an unstoppable momentum for Brisbane’s tourism sector in 2024, with Tourism Research Australia data for the year ending September 2023 revealing record-breaking visitor spend, with AUD$7.2 billion in total domestic overnight expenditure, up 35 percent year-on-year and 36.8 percent from 2019. 

We’ve seen a strong rebound from the Chinese market with the commencement of China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines late last year. Singapore Airlines is also set to increase to four weekly flights into Brisbane from November 2024. By Christmas this year, Brisbane will also be home to four giants of North American aviation: Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Air Canada.  

There’s never been a better time to be in Brisbane. Our popularity as a year-round holiday destination is soaring, with people visiting our beautiful city in record numbers to live, work, explore, and invest.




Just one of Brisbane’s many rooftop bars, Lina Rooftop has a breathtaking 180-degree view of the city skyline – not to mention a pool you can take a dip in while sipping a signature spritz. Savour the flavours of the French Riviera with their decadent à la carte menu or enjoy nibbles from lounge and pool deck menus as you relax with a cocktail in hand.  


Howard Smith Wharves is buzzing with life from dusk until dawn. There are restaurants, trendy bars, themed pop-up bars, an award-winning brewery, and even a pop-up outdoor cinema. Sit along the Brisbane River overlooking the city and choose from cuisines such as Cantonese, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Greek, and more.  



Rugby league football is popular in Queensland, and the local professional team, the Brisbane Broncos, competes in the National Rugby League (NRL). Commonly referred to as the Broncos, the club was founded in 1987 and has won six NRL premierships. The secret of their success lies in their hard work, persistence, and dedication.  

Traditionally, the colours of the Broncos have been maroon, white, and gold, which have long been linked to the history of rugby league in Queensland, with the gold symbolising Brisbane’s renowned sunny skies. 

The home of the Broncos is Suncorp Stadium and guided tours are available on non-event days. As one of Queensland’s largest and most important stadiums, Suncorp Stadium has a capacity of more than 50,000. For a fun and exhilarating day out, visitors can see the Broncos in action by attending a game, witness an incredible display of talent on the pitch, and discover why they have become a dominant force in the league. 

The world’s largest rugby league festival, NRL Magic Round, also returns to Brisbane from 17th to 19th May, where 16 teams will compete against each other across three mammoth days of sporting showdowns. Come experience the magic!


Anzac Square and Memorial Galleries is a significant site that honours the memory of Australians and New Zealanders who have served in wars and conflicts. The heritage-listed town square is a place of reflection, often hosting ceremonies to commemorate their sacrifice, with the Shrine of Remembrance and Eternal Flame burning at its heart. Meanwhile, the galleries showcase stories of the country’s armed forces.  



Positioned on the banks of the Brisbane River is the stunning 5-star Emporium Hotel South Bank. The hotel boasts not only luxurious rooms, but also two on-site restaurants and a patisserie and wine bar, not to mention an extensive list of amenities, from a rooftop infinity pool overlooking the city to a sauna, steam room, and full-service day spa offering. 


In the leafy inner-city suburb, New Farm, just 10 minutes from Brisbane’s city centre is Miss Midgley’s boutique hotel. Having had many lives, this heritage-listed property was once a private home, school, and even a hospital before being transformed into the stunning, pink-hued accommodation it is today. Miss Midgley’s has an old-world charm with luxe facilities – the rooms have French doors that open out onto private verandas, and there’s even a pool to take a dip in.   


Embrace Brisbane’s outdoor lifestyle and discover its beautiful beaches and secluded havens away from the city’s mainland. You can experience exciting island-hopping adventures by helicopter, relax beachside, or delve into the country’s rich First Nations history. 

The Moreton Bay Region is a picturesque blend of coastal towns, vast national parks, and towering mountain ranges. Though under an hour from the city centre, this idyllic region will feel worlds away from Brisbane’s bustling urban landscape. The area offers a diverse range of dining options, including wineries, quaint cafés, and beachside fish and chip shops, as well as plenty of fun activities, such as whale watching, llama walks, and trail biking. 

Redlands Coast is a stunning area famous for its scenic landscapes, charming villages, and diverse natural beauty. It is popular for its outdoor activities, such as bushwalking, birdwatching, and water sports. Journey across the water to the white sand beaches of North Stradbroke Island/Minjerribah, or embark on an adventure along the North Gorge Walk, which offers a scenic route through rocky outcrops and the chance to spot dolphins, manta rays, whales, turtles, fish, and sharks. While there, join a First Nations cultural tour and learn about the history of the Quandamooka people from a local guide. 

Island hop with a visit to Moreton Island/Mulgumpin, which can be reached via a quick ferry ride, or arrive in style with a helicopter ride. Explore the island’s pristine coastlines with a quad biking adventure, sand dune tobogganing, or a leisurely stroll. Snorkel or kayak through the crystal-clear waters of the Tangalooma Wrecks with Australian Sunset Safaris and discover unique marine life, from turtles to brightly coloured fish, wobbegongs, and starfish.


Story Bridge

With dazzling lights, which reflect along the length of the Brisbane River, the Story Bridge is impressive by day and spectacular at night. The steel cantilever bridge, which is listed on the Queensland Heritage Register, spans from Fortitude Valley to Kangaroo Point, connecting the city’s north and south. After opening in 1940, it became the longest structure of its kind in Australia, carrying vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic. As one of only three of the world’s bridges that can be climbed, Story Bridge Adventure Climb offers an unforgettable experience, allowing you to reach the top of the structure and witness incredible views of the city and beyond.

Queensland Cultural Centre

Positioned along the banks of the Brisbane River is the Queensland Cultural Centre, and at the heart of this thriving precinct is the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art. Discover the rotating roster of world-exclusive art exhibitions and unique permanent pieces across the two galleries. Continue your exploration with a trip to the Science Museum to challenge your mind or Queensland Performing Arts Centre to enjoy one of Brisbane’s renowned stage shows.

Mount Coot-Tha

Before hiking up Brisbane’s tallest mountain, be sure to visit the city’s botanic gardens at the foot of Mount Coot-Tha. A sensory symphony, the wildlife oasis boasts 52 hectares (ha) of plants from Australia and around the world. The climb to the top of the mountain takes around 90 minutes to complete, however, you will be rewarded with a stunning view of the city skyline and can treat yourself to a coffee or a light bite from the Summit Café.


The primary international hub serving Brisbane and Southeast Queensland is Brisbane Airport (BNE), which supports 31 airlines flying to 50 domestic and 29 international destinations. Visitors can travel to the city by Airtrain, which takes 20 minutes to reach the inner suburb of Fortitude Valley, or via a 35-minute taxi ride.  

Once in Brisbane, it is easy to travel around as the public transport system is well-connected, and the Metropolitan area has various options. An extensive public transport system of buses, trains, and ferries can be best accessed with a TransLink GoCard purchased from designated retailers.

Take advantage of the Brisbane River and hop on a CityCat and travel around Brisbane by ferry, or catch a KittyCat – the free ferry service in the city. Both offer fantastic views of the skyline and are great ways to travel. Buses cover most areas of the city and suburbs, and are equipped with modern amenities, ensuring a comfortable ride. Journeys and routes can be planned through the TransLink website or mobile app, where you can check the schedule with ease and accuracy.  

Taxis are readily available and can be hailed on the street or booked in advance through local companies or ride apps such as Uber or Bolt. There are also taxi ranks at the airport, train stations, and shopping centres; alternatively, hiring a car can give you the flexibility and freedom to explore Brisbane and its surrounding areas at your own pace. Companies like Hertz, Avis, and Budget have branches in the city and at the airport, with the option of booking vehicles online or at a rental location.


Read Issue 15 of Outlook Travel Magazine
By Alfie Wilson Travel Guide Manager
Travel Guide Project Manager