Sunny Brisbane is one of the most walkable cities with nature and wildlife at its doorstep. The meandering Brisbane River serpentines around the city and there are plenty of neighborhoods to explore.
Known as an “open-air, relaxed but active city and locals with a can-do Queensland attitude” many choose Brisbane for a vacation or layover. We stayed in the heart of the city and explored the surrounding area, taking day trips to the Gold Coast and even up to the Whitsunday Islands & Great Barrier Reef (GBR).
Sharing the Best of Brisbane with our list of favorites places to go, stay, dine, spa and how to get around.
Sofitel Brisbane Check into the Sofitel for French luxury in the heart of Brisbane with 433 elegant rooms, a fitness center, outdoor heated pool & spa, 3 restaurants, an outdoor pool & a gym, plus meeting rooms.
Located within walking distance of the city centre, acclaimed Eagle Street Pier, South Bank Parklands and the Convention Centre, Sofitel Brisbane Central also offers direct access to Central Station.
Every room blends contemporary design with French elegance, and includes stunning views of either the mountain ranges or city.
Ovolo Inchcolm Boutique Hotel Located in a historical building in Wickham Terrace, this quirky, comfy & fun hotel has a friendly, helpful staff.
We loved the rock n’roll decor, funky artwork adorning the walls, and the restored 1930’s wooden elevator. Central to the Southbank, Story Bridge and Queen’s Mall, this unique hotel is the perfect stay in Brisbane.
Don’t Miss! The “Loot Bag” treats and the mini-fridge drinks & goodies are free, restocked daily.
How to Get Around:
Public transportation is excellent in Brisbane, but our time was brief, so we booked transfers with two excellent limousine companies who offer services in Brisbane, South East Queensland & Northern New South Wales & the Gold Coast. Whether you need a transfer for business trips to airport transfers, wedding cars to sightseeing tours, contact Prestige Limousines & LIMOSO.
- Prestige Limousines Gold Coast – Ride in style with Prestige Limos who offer transportation around Brisbane and its surrounding areas. We enjoyed a smooth ride cruising the Gold Coast in a beautiful automobile with our chauffeur Graham.
He shares local insights throughout our day along the Gold Coast. Prestige offers punctual, personal, professional and affordable service aboard their fleet of luxury sedans.
- LIMOSO – Limoso provided our airport transfers and also offer a comprehensive variety of limousine services. Our chauffeurs Stuart & Roman we’re professional, on time and personable.
Their fleet includes luxury Audi and Mercedes cars, stretch limousines for formals, weddings, and corporate chauffeurs.
Brisbane offers many dining options with restaurants lining the river fronts at both Eagle Street Pier and the Southbank.
Our list of favorites:
- Stokehouse Q This breezy riverfront restaurant features upmarket seafood dishes, plus river & city views.
Fine dining has never tasted so good. Excellent service and a relaxed elegant setting. You can enjoy the seasonal menu that highlights local food purveyors while gazing at the stunning Brisbane skyline.The menu is inspired by flavours from the Mediterranean, Australia & Europe.
Don’t Miss! Kangaroo Carpaccio, an Australian culinary experience.
- Privé249 Located on the ground floor at Sofitel, Privé249 is the quintessential fine dining experience.
Gourmet dishes with a seasonal à la carte menu, blending the best of Queensland’s rich produce with France’s traditional cuisine for a sensational union of flavors, accompanied with impeccable service.
Don’t Miss! Breakfast at Thyme2 is the buffet of your dreams with everything from eggs Benedict to pastries to a “create your own juice” bar.
- Salon de Co: Dine at Ovolo Inchcolm with creative flair. Each dish is whimsical! Chef Andy Ashby adds style with his favorite flavors, ingredients and techniques, Andy brings together a fun and modern offering.
More restaurants we want to try next trip:
- Tai Tai
- Za Za Tha
- Phat Boy
- 1889 Enoteca
- Gerard’s Bistro
- Long Time
- Cru Bar
- Eat Street
- Howard Smith Wharf
- Eagle St Pier
- Story Bridge Adventure Climb: for a unique perspective of Brisbane, climb the Story Bridge.
- Shop the 1 mile promenade at Queen’s Street Mall
- Ride the Wheel of Brisbane
- Visit the Nepalese Pagoda on South Bank Parklands
- Cool down with a swim at Streets Beach
- Take River Ferry Cruise and go to Market
- Enjoy the art at GOMA, Gallery of Modern Art
- Walk along the River Quay Green
- Check out “eclectic designers” in The Valley neighborhood
- Indulge yourself at the award winning Stephanie’s Day Spa For girl’s getaways or a romantic escape – book Massages & Treatments like “Opal Rasul Steam Temple” a DIY clay masques & steam or Sacred Queen Journey at Sofitel Brisbane.
- Visit the Australian Zoo and the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
- Go Whale watching Hike Mt Coot-tha
- Explore Kangaroo Point & South Bank Brisbane neighborhoods
- Sign up for a rainforest walk at O’Reillys
- Take a walk through the city’s Botanical Gardens
- Explore 180 National Trust locations in Australia Power House
- Stroll along the Southbank promenade and take in the sights ending your evening with an exquisite meal at Stokehouse Q
- Gold Coast – hold a koala bear, pet a kangaroo, feed a Tasmanian Devil at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, catch a wave at Surfer’s Paradise Beach, go on a ride at a Gold Coast Amusement Park, hike the trail to the easternmost point of Australia to Byron Bay Lighthouse a prime spot to watch whale migration, dine at Raes on Watego Beach.
- Moreton Island Day Tour
- Great Barrier Reef (GBR) – We flew with two companies over the Whitsunday Islands (a group of 74 Islands in the Great Barrier Reed). Both companies are excellent and offer a variety of scenic flights.
This flight is the perfect activity for those who have already sailed or snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, visited Whitehaven Beach or simply for those who don’t like to get their feet wet.
Good to note: we flew to Proserpine (PPP) for the day and heard these flights are sometimes canceled due to high winds, so always best to confirm your flight and check before flying in for the day.
Air Whitsunday Seaplanes – We were booked for one of the most comprehensive scenic flights in the Whitsunday Islands. Our seaplane flew over the Whitsunday Island National Park and the breathtaking expanse of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park World Heritage Area.
During the course of this 1 hour 20 minute scenic flight, we saw the sights of Conway National Park, Hamilton Island and the Whitsunday Passage before flying to Whitsunday Island. As we approached Whitehaven Beach, we saw the stunning swirling sands of Hill Inlet and then crossed the Coral Sea to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to see Bait Reef, home of the amazing stepping stones, Hook Reef and Hardy Lagoon. A highlight was seeing the natural wonder – the perfectly shaped Heart Reef.
Weather depending, the flight will descend to 500 feet whilst at the reef so you can possibly spot a turtle, rays or in the right season, pods of humpback whales. Air Whitsunday also offers a touch and go water landing at the reef so you can experience the sensation of landing on the oceans surface.
GSL Aviation – GSL operates a range of flights by helicopter and by plane with a guaranteed window seat. We enjoyed the Reef & Island signature scenic flight with amazing views of the Whitsunday Islands & Great Barrier Reef. Included is the iconic Heart Reef, Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet.
Whitsundays Transit: Reserve a transfer to/from the Proserpine Airport to Airlie Beach with Whitsundays Bus Transit. Only a 30 mins drive to the Airlie beach town where you can find cafes, shops and a lagoon to swim in, walk along the beach but don’t swim in the ocean waters (beware of saltwater crocodiles).
Written and Photos By: Patricia Stone & Melissa Stevenson
See more photos on the Global Adventuress instagram account, click here!
Acknowledgements: Global Adventuress thanks those mentioned above for hosting us, or offering a discounted rate, during our stay.