A travel guide to Brisbane, Australia
This article was originally published on the City Girl Network website in 2019. I reworked it for this blog in 2023.
Australia, Oz, Down Under: The almost 26 million people strong continent is a dream holiday destination for many. Few other countries are as versatile as this beautiful place, and wherever you go, there are completely different things to see, do and explore.
In 2007, I was lucky enough to live in Brisbane for six months, which was easily one of the best experiences of my life. So, when the chance arose to visit again in 2018, I didn’t have to think twice.
If you find yourself in Brisbane any time soon — a stone’s throw away from the Australian East Coast —, take a look at this travel guide for tips and tricks to make this the holiday you’ve always dreamed of.
Where to stay
As you’ll most likely stay for a little while to make the long journey worth it, Airbnb is your best option. There are plenty of areas in and around Brisbane to choose from, with different quirks and feels to them. For example, Toowong is a lovely neighbourhood, about a 20-minute drive from the airport, and it doesn’t take long to get into the city or up and down the coast, either.
A word of warning: Whichever neighbourhood you choose, be prepared. The streets in Brisbane are no joke — it’s like climbing mountains!
I recommend getting a go! card for public transport in and around Brisbane. They’re like Oyster Cards and make getting around much cheaper. One way all the way up to Australia Zoo or all the way down to the Gold Coast, for example, is just over AUD 10.00 per person.
For just over AUD 3.00 per person, you can take the bus or Citycat into the city. It’s easy to use and saves you some pennies, too. To plan your trip, use the Translink journey planner.
What to do
Of course, there are plenty of things to do in and around Brisbane. These are the top three activities I recommend.
1. VISIT AUSTRALIA ZOO If you’re coming from Brisbane by public transport, take a train up North to Beerwah Station where a free shuttle is waiting for you. Admission to the zoo is AUD 64.95 per adult, the prices for animal encounters vary (check out prices and options here).
The grounds are quite big, so you’ll need at least half a day to see it all. As ‘the home of the crocodile hunter’, the zoo honours Steve Irwin everywhere. You can really feel his presence without it being too exploiting. The koala encounter was my personal highlight, but even without that, the zoo is well worth a visit. Oh, and they have a great food court with delicious food and reasonable prices.
Bonus tip: The last shuttle back to Beerwah station leaves at 3:20pm, which is a bit early considering the zoo doesn’t close until 5pm. There’s a public bus leaving the zoo at 4:30pm, which takes you to Caboolture station. Trains will take you back into Brisbane from there.
2. TAKE A TRIP TO THE GOLD COAST Whether it’s for a beach day or a surfing course, visiting the Gold Coast should definitely be on your list of things to do. I recommend going on the weekend, as there’s not much going on during the week, and definitely head there early enough to spend an entire day (or weekend, if you can).
Trains leave from Roma Street Station every half hour or so; change at Helensvale and take the tram to Surfers Paradise. Takes a while but it’s worth it!
3. A RIDE WITH THE CITYCAT For no other reason than the sheer coolness of getting around by boat. Other recommendations: See a rugby game at the Suncorp Stadium (Brisbane Broncos are the local rugby team!); go to South Bank; have a stroll through the city centre; try Vegemite on toast (and tell me if you thought it really was the same as Marmite); overdo it on TimTams (and make sure you try the different flavours while you’re at it).