Welcome to the vibrant heart of Queensland, where the sun kisses your skin, the river winds through the cityscape, and the occasional snake turns up at your housesit.
With its unique blend of urban sophistication and laid-back charm, Brisbane is more than just a city; it’s a way of life for us presently.
Join us as we dive into the essence of living life in Brisbane, uncovering fun facts, must-see attractions, top-notch activities, and the best cafes to satisfy your caffeine cravings.
Living Life in Brisbane: Fun Facts to Pique Your Interest
Brisbane isn’t just a city; it’s a living, breathing kaleidoscope of culture, history, and natural wonders. The Brisbane River is a constant companion as it meanders through the city. The rich hinterland delivers delicious and fresh produce.
Here are a few fun facts we’ve learned about Brisbane:
1. The City of Bridges
Brisbane River’s serpentine beauty is a City of Bridges that boasts more than 15 bridges connecting different parts of the city as they crisscross the Brisbane River.
The iconic Story Bridge is a heritage-listed steel cantilever bridge lit up each night. We wouldn’t suggest walking across the bridge (like us) as it’s noisy and the fumes are toxic.
We suggest booking a Story Bridge Adventure Climb for a 360-degree view of Brisbane. Or stay beneath the bridge and grab a beer at Felons (our choice) to take in the views of the water and city skyline.
Brisbane City has embraced Green Bridges, which allow you to wander from one riverbank to the other without the traffic fumes.
- Goodwill Bridge links the South Bank with the Botanic Gardens.
- Kurilpa Bridge links Tank Street to South Bank.
- Elanor Schonell Bridge links Dutton Park to the University of Queensland
Currently, Brisbane City is adding more Green Bridges, with the opening 2024 of the Kangaroo Point Green Bridge and Neville Bonner Bridge (for the 2032 Olympics).
2. Brisbane for Subtropical Splendor
With over 280 days of sunshine a year, Brisbane enjoys a subtropical climate.
The months from April to mid-October are dry, with temperatures in the mid-20s (Celcius). The weather is perfect at this time of the year.
Perfect for walking the various National Parks (especially as the snakes are asleep) but not great if you were expecting to see gushing waterfalls.
Winters (June to August) are mild and pleasant, making it an ideal time to visit.
The summer months (December to February) can get hot and humid, so be prepared with light clothing and plenty of water.
3. Brisbane is the Koala Capital
While cuddling a koala might not be on your bucket list, Brisbane makes it a reality. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, located just a short drive from the city centre, is the world’s oldest and largest koala sanctuary. Here, you can snuggle with these furry friends.
We ventured to Daisy Hill Koala Centre to see the koalas for free and enjoyed the native surrounding bushwalks.
4. Getting around Brisbane
Getting around Brisbane is a breeze with an efficient public transportation system. Buses, ferries, and trains make navigating the city and exploring its diverse neighbourhoods easy.
Consider purchasing a Go Card for seamless travel across all modes of public transport. The TransLink card is a “tap on, tap off” card.
Go Card is available from the Central or Roma train station office.
5. Extensive Motorway System
With an extensive motorway system, hiring a car will give you the option to go north to the Sunshine Coast for fresh seafood or the Gold Coast for good beaches.
For cooler temperatures, take an inland road to Tamborine Mountain or Glasshouse Mountains for nature walks, quaint cafes and shops.
6. Travelling to and from Brisbane
Brisbane is a prime destination, not only to live but also to travel to and from.
Known as a key transportation hub for both domestic and international locations, there are various direct flights from Brisbane to Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth, as well as to Auckland, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
Virgin Australia, Qantas, and Jetstar are the most well-known airlines flying to and from Brisbane Airport daily and offer incredibly competitive flight rates. As the third-busiest Australian airport, Brisbane Airport plans to stay that way as it renovates its domestic and international terminals to accommodate its growing population.
If you are planning a holiday soon from Brisbane, be sure to book your flights at least three months in advance, and soon after, consider booking your Brisbane Airport parking with Flyparks if you plan to keep your car at the airport whilst away.
Flyparks is known for offering low-cost yet highly secure airport car parks that won’t break the bank whether you are travelling for a weekend or a few weeks.
Best Things to See: Brisbane’s Visual Feast
7. South Bank Parklands: A Riverside Oasis
Step into South Bank, a sprawling parkland on the banks of the Brisbane River. From the stunning Streets Beach, Australia’s only inner-city beach, to the epic Wheel of Brisbane, South Bank is a haven for relaxation and recreation.
There’s plenty of shade here to escape the summertime heat and a diverse range of dining options lining the promenade.
8. Queensland Cultural Centre: Art and Science Unite
Nestled in South Bank, the Queensland Cultural Centre is a hub of creativity. Explore the Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Queensland Museum, and the Sciencentre. It’s a cultural journey that seamlessly blends art, history, and science.
This is also an excellent place for children as they have a number of activities to keep them entertained. Otherwise, here are 15 Free Family Activities in Brisbane to explore.
9. Mount Coot-tha Lookout: Brisbane’s Panoramic Vantage Point
For a panoramic view of Brisbane City, head to Mount Coot-tha. The lookout offers a vista of Brisbane, especially stunning at sunrise or sunset. Don’t forget your camera!
You can drive here, take the bus 471 or walk up from Chapel Hill, where we have a regular housesitting gig.
10. Brisbane Botanic Gardens: Nature in the Heart of the City
Escape the urban hustle and find tranquillity in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens set along the Brisbane River. The gardens provide plenty of shade, picnic spots, a children’s playground and places to sit and watch.
The river walkway connects the gardens to the south bank. On Sunday, you can stop by for something to eat at the Market. And if you are looking for somewhere to stay, here are a couple of options.
Brisbane hosts two botanical gardens – Central City and Mt Coot-tha.
Looking for somewhere to Stay
11. Meriton Suites Adelaide Street, Brisbane
For an inner city mini break, we grabbed a Booking.com deal and stayed at the Meriton Suites.
The suite was close to Story Bridge and the Brisbane River walkway with cafes and bars. The one-bedroom suite had a lounge and kitchenette.
12. Sustainable B&B by the Bay – Wynnum Beach
If you want to escape the city centre, take the 45-minute Cleveland Line train to Wynnum. Situated in Moreton Bay, this coastal spot has lovely shoreline walks.
We had a mini break at this lovely accommodation – Sustainable B&B by the Bay featuring two bedrooms, a lounge/kitchen and a sprawling deck.
Ron is a very generous host and offers a sumptuous breakfast. You can make a booking directly with Ron.
Best Things to Do: Unleashing Your Inner Explorer
13. Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha
Nature lovers, this one’s for you. The walks here are picturesque, with a variety of fauna and flora and diverse plant life thriving in the subtropical climate.
The Japanese Garden is a favourite for us, along with the Bonsai House, but we also ventured off away from the famous walking paths (as we do) to the lake and walkway with a view of the city.
Parking is free within the Gardens or across the road.
14. River City Cruises
Experience the city from a different perspective with a river cruise. Whether it’s a daytime sightseeing cruise or an evening dinner cruise, the Brisbane River becomes your scenic highway to the city’s landmarks.
City Cat Ferries is how we travelled the river to see Brisbane city from a different perspective.
We purchased a Brisbane Travel Card from the Central train station to use the “tap-on” facility. It allows you to travel up and down the river for a small expense (2023: AUD2.78).
15. Street Art Safari: The City as a Canvas
Brisbane is a canvas for street artists, with vibrant murals adorning laneways and buildings. Take a self-guided street art tour through Fortitude Valley and West End, discovering hidden masterpieces around every corner.
There are also quirky boutiques in this bohemian neighbourhood treasure trove.
16. Brisbane Powerhouse: Where Arts and Entertainment Collide
Situated in a former power station, the Brisbane Powerhouse is a cultural hub hosting live performances, art exhibitions, and eclectic events. We happened upon a night market and loved the vibe and music.
We also explored further along from the Powerhouse and found a WWII submarine base and The Refinery, an old warehouse now a wedding venue.
Stroll the Weekend Markets
Brisbane has a number of markets scattered around the city and surrounding suburbs.
Here are a few of our favourites for fresh produce or a bite to eat. The markets below were free to enter, except for the Saturday Fresh Market at Rocklea, which charged $2 per adult.
17. Find a Market to Browse and Shop
Brisbane City’s Premium Markets
If you are staying within the city centre, you can eat and browse at one of the city markets held at:
- St Stephen’s Cathedral – every Tuesday, 8 am to 2 pm
- Reddacliff Place – every Wednesday, 8 am to 6 pm
- Cathedral Square – every Thursday, 8 am to 2 pm
The alternative is to wait until the weekend to browse one of the following:
West End Markets – 6 am to 2 pm Every Saturday
Davies Park, Cnr Montague and Jane St, West End
This is one of our favourite markets set down by the Brisbane River. There are a large number of fresh produce, baked goods, food carts, clothing and accessories.
Spending a few hours here enjoying a good coffee and a tasty croissant is easy.
Charged parking is available, or you can park on neighbouring streets.
Manly Farmers Markets – 6 am to 12 noon on the First and Third Saturday of each month
Manly Harbour Royal Esplanade
Yet another find while house-sitting in Wynnum and a pleasant 2km stroll along the waterfront.
We tried fresh, locally grown pineapples, had the best sourdough and browsed a variety of giftware and clothing stalls.
Riverside Sunday Market – 8 am to 3 pm every Sunday
Brisbane City Botanical Gardens – Alice Street and Albert Street
It’s one of the smaller markets but the most picturesque. You can grab a bite to eat or relax in the shaded gardens, or if you have kids, the playground is nearby.
Cleveland Markets – 7 am to 1 pm every Sunday
115 Bloomfield St, Cleveland
It is one of the oldest markets in Brisbane for fresh produce, food, and artisan and craft stalls, where Bloomfield Street is blocked off for this pedestrian family market.
Take the Cleveland Line train from Brisbane Central for a day out at the market and local beach.
And for this market, you’ll need to hire a car for easier access.
Saturday Fresh Market, Rocklea – 6 am to 12 noon Every Saturday
385 Sherwood Road, Rocklea
Rocklea’s Fresh Market is one of the largest markets in Brisbane, and it’s all uncovered. The front half of the market is fresh produce, meats and baked goods. The back of the market has food stalls and seating if you have also come for breakfast.
There is paid and unpaid parking; however, there is a $2 per adult entry fee.
What You Need to Know: Insider Tips for Brisbane Bliss
18. Brisbane is a City of Events
Brisbane is a city that loves to celebrate. Check the Brisbane City local event calendars for festivals, markets, and cultural happenings during your visit.
You might stumble upon the Brisbane Festival in September, which started with an airshow display and fireworks. Or The Enchanted Garden Lightshow at Roma Street Parkland in December.
19. Learn the Local Lingo
Aussies have a unique way of expressing themselves, so don’t be surprised if you hear some unfamiliar slang.
If you are looking for a petrol station, ask, “Where’s the servo?
A Barbie is not a doll playdate – it’s an invitation to a barbecue.
Don’t be surprised to be called “Darl” as a greeting.
20. Waking up Early to Birdsong, Squawks and Daylight
Staying in and around Brisbane, the variety of birdlife is impressive. The birds’ colours, mannerisms, and sounds have kept us enthralled as we identified the breed.
It is not such a thing in the inner city, but travelling to national parks and wetlands is where you can see so many interactions of birdlife.
If you love a sleep-in, then Brisbane may not accommodate it. Not only does the sun shine early (there’s no daylight saving here), but also the birds.
We have added a variety of Australian birds to our 2024 calendar.
Best Cafes: Where Coffee Culture Thrives
Brisbane is a melting pot of flavours, reflecting its multicultural population. From Asian street food markets to trendy riverside eateries, the city’s culinary scene is as diverse as its people.
However, for a good cup of coffee we have found here in Brisbane, we need to pay a little extra for the enjoyment. Their standard espresso shot is a lot smaller than New Zealand’s.
And when we eat out, we have found some of the local cafes away from the city centre are worth a visit.
21. Brisbane’s Culinary Delights
Moselles Cafe and Restaurant, Springfield Lakes
The ambience, coffee and food are exceptional at Moselles. Maura had her birthday brunch here, and we are always keen to return.
The Summit Cafe, Mt Coot-tha
The view of the city skyline and the food and coffee are fantastic. It is a little pricey, probably because tourists frequent it. And make sure to avoid the weekend as it’s extra busy.
Wellington Point Farmhouse Restuarant
If you need a cool breeze, head to Cleveland to sample the great food at Wellington Point Farmhouse Restaurant.
Not only is the food delicious, but you can also purchase local produce grown in the gardens, viewed from the restaurant.
Vizzeto Woodfire Pizza, Tarragindi
As they say on their website, they combine “the best of the Brazilian, Italian and Australian wood-fired pizza.”
Our favourite is the pulled pork Carne Seca. They are now open for lunch as well as the evening. You can sit on the long tables out front to savour one of their yummy pizzas.
Need a Good Burger
Two franchises we have tried and found reasonably priced for a quality burger are:
- Betty’s Burgers
- Hello Harry
Hire a Car for the Hinterland
The Sunshine Coast, Tambourine Mountain and Glass House Mountain are all within an easy drive from Brisbane. We have listed some of our favourites for short stays and activities.
22. Take a Break at Glasshouse Mountains
We loved our stay at the Glass House Mountains Ecolodge. Here, you can sleep in a rainforest on a property that embraces sustainable living.
Nearby there are walks within the Glass House Mountains National Park, and it’s only a short drive to Steve Urwin’s Australia Zoo.
23. Spend Three Days at Monteville
Monteville is a quaint village in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast.
You can browse the various shops along the main street and enjoy the views of the Sunshine Coast, or take a 30-minute drive to the famous Eumundi Markets held every Wednesday and Saturday.
Two of our favourite walks:
- Kondalilla National Park and Falls walk is relatively easy compared to the valley walk, which is steep and entirely within the bush canopy.
- Mary Cairncross Reserve starts at the discovery centre and cafe. The walk is easy; look for the Pademelons (rainforest wallabies). They are very small.
Eat at The Barn at Flaxton for fresh and delicious food for brunch or lunch. We can’t wait to return.
24. Beer and Pizza at Tamborine Mountain
We have visited Tamborine Mountain for mini breaks when not housesitting. There are a variety of cafes, restaurants, wineries and shops.
The Tamborine Mountain Country Market is held on Sunday from 9 am to 1.30 pm.
For a bush walk on a well-maintained track, the Witches Fall lookout is an option. You can walk the circuit back up to the carpark or return the same way.
Then, cool off with a locally brewed beer at Fortitude Brewing Co. with one of their wood-fired pizza before shopping for locally made cheeses at the Tambourine Cheese Shop.
25. Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast
Any trip to Brisbane needs a mention of the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.
Both coast airports have direct flights and are also accessible by train from Brisbane City. The Sunshine Coast is less hectic without the casinos and theme parks of the Gold Coast. However, both are perfect to sample the seafood at seaside restaurants.
That’s another reason to enjoy living in Brisbane.
Living Life in Brisbane
Life in Brisbane is easy, with so many sunny hours making planning any activity within the city or the hinterland easy.
Brisbane has a blend of city life with so many great bars, cafes and restaurants. Or you can travel a little further to national parks, wetlands and a stunning coastline.
Travelling in and around Brisbane with its public transport system (which includes the City Cat ferries) extends your access to explore more of Brisbane.
We are loving our life in Brisbane, and we hope your next visit to Brisbane can add some of the best things to do in Brisbane.