Brisbane South Bank Beach
Swimmers at South Bank, Brisbane (Photo credit: Siggy Nowak)

Brisbane Travel Guide

QUICK FACTS

  • The capital city of Queensland, Brisbane is home to about 2.2 million people.
  • Australia’s third largest city, Brisbane is a diverse melting pot for culture, with nearly 22% of its residents born overseas and speaking a language other than English at home.
  • The city of Brisbane was built on the floodplain of the Brisbane River – as a result, the city has suffered major flooding on several occasions, the latest being in 2011.
  • Nickname: Bris-Vegas, The River City, Brisneyland, Brissie

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

  • Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD)
  • Spoken languages: Australian English, although Chinese, Japanese and several European languages are represented by their growing communities.
  • Best time to visit: from November to March, for sunshine and gentle evenings. Expect high temperatures and high levels of humidity.
  • Arriving via airport: Brisbane Airport (BNE) links to the city centre with a 20 minute ride on the Airtrain for $16 one-way or by CoachTrans with fares of $20 per singles. Taxis charge $35-$45 and can be hailed from the taxi rank outside the arrivals hall.

WHERE TO STAY

The CBD or City is the centre of all Brisbanite activity and the ideal base for those wanting to be close to it all, from award-winning institutions to local favourites. Its hotels, hostels and guesthouses are just as prominent as its restaurants, bars and cafés but for a quieter, more intimate stay the neighbourhoods of Paddington and Rosalie each offer their distinctive scene, whether it’s traditional tin and timber architecture or vintage hang outs.

GETTING AROUND

  • SeeQ Card is a tourist pass that allows travel on any TransLink bus, train or ferry service plus over $700 value of discounts at participating attractions and service providers. Purchase is worth $79 for 3-days or $129 for 5-days.
  • Go Card is the prepaid, contactless smart card used to pay for fares. It incorporates a 30% discount on tickets and grants free weekend travel after a minimum of 9 trips made Monday through Friday. A deposit of $5 is necessary to secure the card at any train station.
  • TransLink operates the excellent public transportation network that extends to the outer villages and suburbs through buses, ferries and trains using a common ticketing system. Fares are distance dependent and allow for free transfers. A single fare in Zone 1 starts at 2.20 AUD. A daily pass allows unlimited transport and will cost 4.40 AUD.
  • Taxis charge a flagfall price of $2.90 and $2.06 per each kilometre thereafter. Dial 13-1924 or 13-2227 to book.

BRISBANE NIGHTLIFE

  • Drinking age is 18, and last call is 3 AM.
  • Fortitude Valley is renowned for its hip music scene and elegant bars.
  • West End is the laid-back, bohemian neighbourhood with quaint lounges and funky pubs.
  • Toowong and Woolloongabba redefine trendy and are the best destinations for weekend partying in company of Brisbane’s young, rich and beautiful.
  • South Brisbane is more laid back, although you will find a dress code in all venues that enforces a strict “no thongs” (flip-flops) policy.

UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT

  • Queensland Museum documents the natural and cultural patrimony of the state. It first opened in 1862 and recently celebrated its 150th year of service to Brisbanites.
  • Museum of Brisbane or MoB is a gallery located inside the Brisbane City Hall and plays a major role in documenting the city’s historic and cultural progress.
  • The Gabba refers to the Brisbane Cricket Ground and is a major sports stadium home to the Bulls, Queensland’s state cricket team.
  • Queensland Maritime Museum holds an extensive collection of maritime artefacts including books and photographs that portray the rich history of Queensland’s and Australia’s relationship with the sea.
  • South Bank: boutiques, cafes, bars and restaurants surround this parkland. The (artificial) beach and surrounding picnic areas make this place a much loved landmark in Brisbane.
  • Sydney has the Harbour Bridge, and Brisbane has Story Bridge. Climb this iconic piece of Brisbane infrastructure and admire the view from above.
  • Moreton Bay: located just 25 minutes from the CBD, this is a great place to spend a day snorkelling, diving, surfing, or even sand tobogganing.
  • Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a unique zoo where visitors can touch and feed the wildlife animals which include koalas, kangaroos, Tasmanian devils and wombats among others.

INTERESTING WALKS

  • Located just across the Brisbane River, the South Bank Parklands offer an expanse of lush foliage, a riverfront promenade busy with restaurants and cafés as well as Queensland Conservatorium.
  • Mt. Coot-tha offers incredible views of the city and comes complete with a café that serves what is reputed to be Brisbane’s best ice cream.
  • Story Bridge: you’ve climbed it, now walk it! Stroll across this bridge and admire the view as you make your way from Fortitude Valley to Kangaroo Point.

LOCAL WISDOM

  • Brisbane is one of the most laid-back cities in Australia and one of the most tourist-friendly.
  • Exercise caution when swimming in Brisbane River, as the waters are home to a large population of bull sharks.
  • Sunburn is very common in the city no matter the season. A campaign called “Slip, Slop, Slap” aims to promote safe practices in the sun, including protective clothing and sunscreen.  
  • Where to find good cheap eats: Chinatown has excellent choices for economic lunches while West End offers meal deals during the working week.
  • Dangerous areas: late night crowds, particularly in the Fortitude Valley, can get rowdy. In any case, there areas are heavily policed. By world standards, Brisbane is very safe.

Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days


SEE ALSO:
Brisbane Travel Guide was last modified: September 2nd, 2016 by Nick
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