Planning a solo trip to Brisbane, Australia? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The capital city of Queensland, Brisbane is home to around 2.5 million people (metro area).
- 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.
- 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 $18 one-way ($34 return) or by CoachTrans with fares of $20 one-way ($38 return).
- Taxis charge $45-$55 and can be hailed from the taxi rank outside the arrivals hall. The ride is approximately 20 mins.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best hostel for solo travelers: Selina Brisbane. Very close to the train station, this is a centrally located place that’s perfect for exploring the city. On the expensive side (like many things in Australia), but safe, clean, and convenient. Not a party hostel – more for the relaxed traveler. Pro tip: you get one free welcome drink at the bar (before 5 PM).
- 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.
- For a quieter and 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.
- go SeeQ card is a tourist pass that allows travel on any TransLink bus, train or ferry service (includes two Airtrain journeys to/from Brisbane airport). Purchase is $79 for 3-days or $129 for 5-days (consecutive calendar days). See the official site for more information.
- 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 $5 AUD (pre-paid paper ticket), or $3.45 if paid via go card.
- For faster trips, you can call a taxi (13cabs number: +61 132227) or get a quote from Uber (check inside their app).
- 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” (aka no flip-flops) policy.
- Great bars to start your night: The End Bar, Dr Gimlette Brisbane, Brooklyn Standard, Cindy Chows, Death and Taxes ($$$), and Netherworld (pinball machines / arcade bar).
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Great restaurants for solo travelers: Maeve Wine Bar, Creole Soul Kitchen, Alba Bar & Deli (tapas), Wagaya (Japanese), honto (fancy Japanese), Madame Wu ($$$).
- 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, these areas are all heavily policed. By world standards, Brisbane is very safe.
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days