If you find yourself with two days in Brisbane - you are in luck! Brisbane is Australia's third-largest city and is a happening, thriving place with a vibrant cafe and outdoor scene.
You will be enjoying Brisbane in the same way a local person enjoys their weekend in Brisbane. You will be filling it with sun and scenery. Brisbane is on a river, aptly named the Brisbane River. Much of the sights covered in this Brisbane itinerary take you along and around the river.
If you are visiting the Brisbane region, I would recommend staying in the Central Business District (CBD) of the city. Staying in the CBD will give you the best access to all the main attractions. Suburbs just on the outskirts of the CBD but close enough to walk into the city are Spring Hill and Fortitude Valley. Brisbane hotels in these areas are usually cheaper than the hotels in the CBD. For Airbnbs, New Farm is a great location. It is a 30 min walk to the CBD or a 10 min public transportation ride.
Getting around Brisbane City is relatively easy as most of the sights are within walking distance. To get around the central city area, the Brisbane City Council provides a free City Loop bus.
On the first day of this itinerary, you will be exploring the Central Business District (CBD) and the surrounding sights. You'll be north of the Brisbane River.
To make the most of this day, I would recommend you wear a comfortable set of walking shoes. You will be walking in and around the city, which is the best way to see all of the sights and to enjoy Brisbane's warm climate. Spring in Brisbane is delightful, not too cold or hot, so consider coming here in September or October.
The first day of this itinerary covers some of the best parks in Brisbane and the city's history at the Brisbane Museum. You will also be able to experience Brisbane's culture by visiting some of its most famous cafes, restaurants and nightlife areas.
The Botero House is where your day is going to kick off. It is a modern, contemporary cafe located within the city. The cafe is a popular breakfast spot but also does lunch and dinner.
The reason why I am recommending the Botero House is not just because of their food, but their coffee! It is the flagship restaurant of Botero Coffee. Botero Coffee is a speciality coffee roaster that produces high-quality roasted beans.
I recommend picking up a flat white and their Avocado on Wholegrain. If you are not vegetarian, their Breakfast Gnocchi is also a delicious option.
Around the corner from breakfast is Anzac Square. I don't recommend spending long here, but it is on the way to your next destination, so it is worth pausing here for a few minutes and enjoying the park.
Construction of the square began in 1928 and completed in 1988. The square hosts the Dawn Service every year on April 25th. The Dawn Service commemorates the fallen soldiers of historical wars.
Below the memorial structure is the Anzac Square Memorial Galleries. The galleries contain a curated collection of exhibits that showcase Queensland's military history.
The Old Windmill is the oldest surviving European structure in Queensland. It has been in existence since 1825. Initially, the mill was used to grind grain.
Humans first powered the mill - convicts turned the millstones. Sixteen men worked together to operate it while another ten were on standby to provide relief.
In 1861, the mill was repurposed to be a telegraph signal station. In the 1890s, it was repurposed again, this time as an observation tower for the fire brigade.
The Brisbane City Council has been managing the mill since 1922, and it has gone through multiple restorations. The mill now serves as a tourist site.
Located west of the CBD are some beautiful gardens known as the Roma Street Parklands. The gardens are easily accessible, and I recommend taking a self-guided tour through them.
You can start your walk at the Roma Street Parkland Information Booth located in "The Hub", which is right in the middle of the parklands.
I recommend passing by the Spectacle Garden in Colin Campbell Place, The Lookout, The Rainforest and Fern Gully, and on your way back, make sure you walk through the Lakeside Meadow.
On your way back towards the CBD, you will pass by King George Square. The square lies between Ann Street and Adelaide Street. It often plays host to markets, entertainment, and during "Christmas in July", an ice-skating rink.
When passing through the square, take note of the City Hall building, which was built between 1920 and 1930. This building is one of the most prominent and oldest buildings in the city. It is no longer used as a city hall and currently hosts various events.
After all the walking through the parklands and the walk back into the CBD, you are most likely starving.
Sage on Ann is a modern cafe that serves sandwiches and pasta all day long. It is a trendy choice for the city's workforce, and the queues around noon can get quite long.
The restaurant has tables lined against large glass windows, making it a great spot to sit down, relax, eat and people watch.
After lunch, with another coffee in hand, I recommend visiting the Museum of Brisbane. This museum showcases the city's unique art, culture and history.
Their exhibitions change every few months and usually feature local artists. The museum also has a permanent collection on display. The museum collection is made up of domestic artwork, historical ceramics and fashion designer Easton Pearson's archive.
The CBD's main attraction is most definitely Queen Street Mall. The pedestrian-only street features local shops and international brands.
If you don't have anything to buy, I still recommend wandering down the street and enjoying the vibrancy in the area. There are usually street entertainers singing or playing instruments, and on a sunny afternoon, it can give you a pleasant sample of Brisbane life.
Located on the eastern end of the CBD are the City Botanic Gardens. The gardens run along the Brisbane River and end at Queensland University of Technology. They feature majestic ponds and shady paths that take you along Alice Street and to Bunya Walk.
I recommend entering the park at Alice Street and walking towards The Gardens Club. Once at the Gardens Club, follow the Bunya Walk along the riverside. The path will allow you to see the beautiful river and the various boats moored on the river's edge. The walk will end at Gardens Point Boat Harbour.
Located near Eagle Street Pier, the Riverbar & Kitchen has fantastic views of the Story Bridge. The best part about this restaurant and bar is the cityscape views of Brisbane.
I recommend getting a table right on the footpath as it allows you to have unobstructed views of the river and bridge. The best time of day to be at the restaurant is in the late afternoon or early evening as this allows you to observe the river as the day transitions into night. Do note, if you're here in the spring or fall, it can get chilly by evening - so bring a coat!
If you are looking for a venue to round out your day, I recommend visiting the Treasury Brisbane Casino. The casino first opened its doors in 1995. It is open 24 hours a day but comes to life in the evenings.
If you are not into gambling, the casino still has a lot to offer. There are bars and restaurants within the casino itself which liven up during sporting events or when a DJ is performing at one of its bars.
The second day of your 48 hours in Brisbane will take you to the southern banks of the Brisbane River. South Bank and the surrounding parklands are some of the most beautiful parts of Brisbane City.
In 1988, the South Bank area was developed for World Expo 88. Since then, the district has been renovated several times, which has turned it into a sprawling green parkland adorned with restaurants, entertainment and gardens.
Similar to your first day in Brisbane, this day will be filled with lots of walking and exploring. To ensure you are comfortable, I recommend you wear a comfortable pair of shoes once again and pack loose-fitting clothing for the warm Brisbane climate.
Located in the West End, the Gunshop Cafe is just outside of the popular South Bank precinct. It is a 5 to 10-minute walk from where the majority of today's sights are.
The cafe has been around for several years and is well-loved by the locals in the area. It is bustling during breakfast on the weekend. They do not take bookings, so if you are planning to have breakfast here (I recommend it), you should arrive early and grab one of their first tables - before the morning rush.
The cafe serves a typical breakfast menu with great coffee.
The Gallery of Modern Art, or "GoMA" for short, is an art museum that features modern art from international and local artists. The museum is located on the Brisbane River and has exquisite architecture.
This art museum is a great way to kick off your second day in Brisbane as the museum is located on the western end of South Bank. Your walk throughout today will take you further east.
There are several exhibition galleries in the building, and the museum usually features two or more exhibitions at a time. The museum is child-friendly and is a popular destination for families.
I recommend spending an hour here, as it is the first of two museums you will be visiting today.
The Brisbane Sign was initially installed for the 2014 G20 summit that was held in Brisbane. The sign is beautifully coloured and is perfect for taking that "one memorable photo" of your time here.
The sign is extremely popular with tourists. On a typical day, there will be a small to a large group of people patiently queuing to take a photo with it. If you happen across the Brisbane sign when there are no other people, then enjoy the moment! However, if you are there when it is crowded, take your time and respect the tourists that have arrived before you - allow them to take their photos first.
The Queensland Museum, representing the state that Brisbane is the capital of, showcases culture, natural history, science and human achievement. Within it, you will find exhibitions on dinosaurs, animals and more. It also has a science centre for children and a new rotation of seasonal exhibits.
The museum displays Queensland's past, present and future. It is also a child-friendly venue that provides lots of facilities, activities and exhibits to keep children entertained.
During the school holiday season, the museum can get quite busy, so try to visit outside of those times. A quick search online will tell you when the holidays are happening every year.
The Wheel of Brisbane is an iconic landmark of South Bank and often features prominently in photos of the area. It takes you quite high up into the air, 60 metres to be exact. At that height, you will be able to gaze up and down the river and enjoy a sweeping view across the CBD and South Bank.
As you ride the gondola, an audio guide will explain the various sights and landmarks that will be visible to you as you complete your rotation. As you reach the highest point, the gondola will pause for a moment before it continues going around.
A gondola can fit up to 6 people. There is an option to rent a VIP gondola that can fit up to 4 and comes with a complimentary Sirromet or Sparkling Wine.
The Plough Inn is a 19th-century style pub and sports bar serving typical British-influenced Australian pub food. Located on one of the busier boulevards in South Bank, I would recommend sitting outside in their patio area facing the mall. That way, you can watch as the crowds of people go by.
The parklands in South Bank are beautiful. It can get crowded on the weekend, but that shouldn't stop you from enjoying the space. I recommend taking your time, strolling along the pavements that take you through the human-made, landscaped gardens.
When walking through the Parklands, be aware that there are two pathways. The first pathway takes you along the river, giving you a view of the CBD on the other side. The second pathway brings you through the inside of the parklands, taking you past markets, restaurants and shops.
Streets Beach is a human-made swimming lagoon in the middle of South Bank. The human-made beach is patrolled during day time hours by lifeguards and is a safe place for young children to swim. There is also a small sandy beach where you can relax and soak up the atmosphere and rays.
Around the lagoon are several seating and barbeque areas. It can get jam-packed on the weekend if you are looking to spend a few hours here. Try arriving early to secure a comfortable spot.
After an hour or so walking through the parklands and past Streets Beach, you will eventually reach the southernmost end of South Bank. To get to Kangaroo Point Cliffs, follow the Cliffs Boardwalk as it will take you there. Cliffs Boardwalk is a well-maintained walkway that takes you along the river and passes by mangroves, barbecues, picnic areas and gardens.
The lookout at Kangaroo Point is one of the most popular lookout spots in Brisbane. At the bottom of the cliffs, at river level, you will need to walk up several flights of stairs to get to the top of them. At the top of the viewpoint, there is a cafe, a children's playground and a large metal monument.
Once at the lookout, you will be able to look down both ends of the Brisbane River. The views toward the left (when facing the river) consist of the Brisbane Botanical Gardens, South Bank and Goodwill Bridge. The views toward the right (when facing the river) show the Eagle Street end of the CBD.
If you have been following this Brisbane guide since Day 1, you will be able to see the location I recommended dinner at for the first night - the Riverbar and Kitchen.
The Pineapple Hotel is located just around the corner from Kangaroo Point Cliffs. It is a lively pub and restaurant with several bars inside. Depending on the day, the hotel provides entertainment - whether it be local music or live sportscasting.
The food offered at the restaurant is typical Australian food, but they have a signature steak list and offer several pub favourites with a modern twist.
At the end of your two days in Brisbane, no doubt you will be drained but fulfilled. Two days is not a long time anywhere, and in Brisbane, this is also true - there is always more to do and see!
If you have more time in the city, I recommend getting out of Brisbane and exploring more of what Queensland, like the Gold Coast, has to offer.
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