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Brisbane City Guide

Feed dolphins in the surf of nearby Moreton Island, see Indigenous art dating back to the 1880s and dine at one of the country's best restaurants.

Where to Stay  /  Where to Eat and Drink  /  What to Do  /  How to Get Around

Where to Stay

Next Hotels, Brisbane

Next Hotels

For the smart technology

Located right in the central business district at the top of the Queen Street Mall, this is possibly the most high-tech hotel in Australia. You can use an app to check in, access your room and even pre-order a cocktail for your arrival. If you show up before your room is ready, the 24-hour In Transit Zone is equipped with showers and futuristic sleep pods.

72 Queen St., Brisbane, QLD, 61-7-3222-3222, nexthotels.com/next/brisbane

Spicer’s Balfour, Brisbane

Photo: Spicer’s Retreats

Spicer’s Balfour

For a romantic getaway

A repurposed 1910 Queenslander (a type of home distinctive to the state) and an adjacent Georgian apartment block make up this award-winning boutique hotel. The rooms are outfitted with standard amenities, like a mini-bar stocked with craft beers and a De’Longhi coffee maker. But there are also surprisingly thoughtful touches, like sunscreen and health kits (complete with Berocca vitamins, often used as a hangover remedy).

37 Balfour St., New Farm, Brisbane, QLD, 61-3-0059-7540, spicersretreats.com/retreats/spicers-balfour-hotel

The Johnson

For the artsy style

The Johnson is named after celebrated Australian artist Michael Johnson, whose bright, nature-inspired abstract prints and originals adorn the walls; there’s even an in-house art library to browse. Each of the 96 suites has a kitchenette and balcony, a custom-made bed by Australian company A.H. Beard, and access to the Olympic-sized outdoor pool.

477 Boundary St., Spring Hill, QLD, 61-7-3085-7200, artserieshotels.com.au/johnson

Ovolo Inchcolm, Brisbane

Photo: Ovolo Hotels

Ovolo Inchcolm

For the complimentary extras

With art deco details dating back to its time as a medical practice (see the historic cage elevator), this 1930s building is bigger than it looks: Each of the individually decorated 50 guest rooms averages 375 square feet. Beyond the spaciousness, every stay includes Ovolo’s standard perks: complimentary breakfast, mini-bar and happy hour, as well as other freebies (such as a take-home yoga mat).

73 Wickham Tce., Spring Hill, QLD, 61-7-3226-8888, ovolohotels.com.au/ovoloinchcolm

W Brisbane

Photo: W Hotels Wordlwide

W Brisbane

For the trendy scene

At the city’s current It spot (the Living Room Bar buzzes with locals for post-work cocktails), the bold design pays homage to Brisbane River and Queensland iconography. There’s neon in the elevator, pineapples in the bedrooms, carpets inspired by the river’s shifting tide, and a truly psychedelic-looking pool bar.

81 N. Quay, Brisbane, QLD, 61-7-3556-8888, marriott.com/hotels/travel/bnewh-w-brisbane

Where to Eat and Drink

Gresham Bar, Brisbane

Photo: The Gresham - Declan Roache

Gresham Bar

For the whisky selection

Much like a good cocktail, you shouldn’t mess with the recipe for a good whisky bar. The Gresham has nailed it with its historic interior, including sandstone and New Zealand limestone walls, Victorian fireplaces and dark leather chesterfields. At the bar within the bar, the Drawing Room, each cocktail is named after a moment in Queensland’s history.

308-322 Queen St. (Gresham La.), Brisbane, QLD, 61-4-3736-0158, thegresham.com.au

Madame Wu

For modern Chinese share plates

There’s no shortage of restaurants near Riparian Plaza, all offering impressive views of the river and Story Bridge, but there’s a reason people line up for Madame Wu. The lure is the modern Chinese fusion — including dumplings stuffed with Moreton Bay bugs, or pan-fried Mooloolaba prawns with nori butter — which can be ordered à la carte or banquet style.

Upper Plaza Level, Riparian Plaza 71, Brisbane, QLD, 61-7-3229-5070, madamewu.com.au

Stokehouse Q, Brisbane

Stokehouse Q

For drinks riverside

While the food at Stokehouse Q has earned two hats (Australia’s answer to the Michelin star system), this riverside spot is just as beloved for its DJ-ed Sunday sessions, oysters and bubbly. On balmy days, the gin-based Short Stack, made with quince syrup, is the perfect cooldown.

Sidon St., South Bank, South Brisbane, QLD, 61-7-3020-0600, stokehouseq.com.au

Gauge

For the all-day brunch

Local produce, an ambitious young chef and everything made in-house: The recipe here may sound familiar, but the dishes are far from predictable. Sit down at the communal table to order the famed sourdough waffles with rhubarb, liquorice ricotta, yuzu and yogurt sorbet from the all-day brunch menu.

77 Grey St., South Brisbane, QLD, 61-7-3638-0431, gaugebrisbane.com.au

Aria, Brisbane

Aria

For the fine dining

Owned by celebrity chef Matt Moran, Aria is among Australia’s best restaurants. The menu changes seasonally, with an emphasis on local seafood (think Moreton Bay bugs, an Aussie lobster), and the wine list is more than 1,000 bottles long.

Eagle St. Pier, 1 Eagle St., Brisbane, QLD, 61-7-3233-2555, ariabrisbane.com.au

What to Do

Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane

Photo: Falcon View

Brisbane Powerhouse

For the arts and culture

Once a pre-war industrial power station, the Powerhouse building in New Farm Park is now a contemporary centre for the arts. Events include free photo exhibits, circus performances, live music and a seasonal moonlit cinema. If everything’s sold out, it’s still worth dropping by for a meal at Bar Alto, or a glass of wine on the patio.

119 Lamington St., New Farm, QLD, 61-7-3358-8622, brisbanepowerhouse.org

Biome, Brisbane

Biome

For eco-friendly lifestyle goods

Biome has been selling environmentally friendly, cruelty-free gifts and homewares since 2003. There are four locations in Brisbane, but Balmoral is where you’ll find Biome’s Naked Beauty Bar. With mason jars and around 30 raw ingredients, you can mix your own natural skincare and cleaning products, such as honey and clay face masks, and seaweed and salt bath soaks.

216 Riding Rd., Balmoral, QLD, 61-7-3399-3040, biome.com.au

South Bank Parklands, Brisbane

South Bank Parklands

For the family fun

This 17-hectare riverfront area is made for wandering, and you’ll see families doing just that any day of the week. At the historic Stanley Street Plaza, you’ll find the Wheel of Brisbane ferris wheel, a free swimming lagoon, and the Arbour, a picture-worthy 1-km walkway covered in bougainvillea.

Little Stanley St., Brisbane, visitbrisbane.com.au/south-bank

Empire Revival

For vintage everything

Housed in a heritage-listed 1929 theatre, Empire Revival was until recently known as the Paddington Antiques Centre. With the rebranding came the addition of contemporary wares, but Empire remains a favourite of interior designers and film-set decorators for its vintage furniture, jewellery and memorabilia.

167 Latrobe Tce., Paddington, QLD, 61-7-3369-8088, empirerevival.com.au

Stradbroke Island, Brisbane

Stradbroke Island

For the nature

Nearby Moreton Island — one of the largest sand islands in the world, where you can hand-feed dolphins in the surf — gets most of the tourist attention. But “Straddie” is where locals go to surf Cylinder Beach’s soft peeling waves, snorkel and eat seafood. There’s plenty here for visitors, too, including the chance to spot koalas and migrating humpbacks, purchase Indigenous handicrafts, or spend the night glamping beachside.

stradbrokeisland.com

Green Tangerine

For Australian homewares

Before opening Green Tangerine, artist Diane Lopes travelled the world, collecting and selling unusual trinkets. Now, she’s refocused her efforts closer to home, selling ethically made wares by Australian artisans. Stop here for Mud Australia’s minimalist porcelain tablewares, or the popular Face Vases designed in Sydney by Jones & Co.

157 Latrobe Tce., Paddington, QLD, 61-7-3367-3511, greentangerine.com.au

Howard Smith Wharves, Brisbane

Howard Smith Wharves

For a waterfront walk

Originally constructed under the Story Bridge as a relief work project in the 1930s, these wharves have been largely abandoned since the 1960s. Now, the 3.4-hectare area is being reimagined as an entertainment and lifestyle hub. Once fully transformed in late 2018, it will be home to a new boutique hotel, event venues in heritage buildings, a microbrewery and more.

5 Boundary St., Brisbane, QLD, howardsmithwharves.com

The Cloakroom, Brisbane

The Cloakroom

For bespoke menswear

For more than a decade, the Cloakroom has been dressing the men of Brisbane, with made-to-measure leatherwear, outerwear and suiting. It also has a following in Canada: Montreal is home to its first international store. The only thing more popular than its bespoke suits? Its bespoke cocktails, which can be ordered in the adjoining speakeasy-style bar of the same name.

215 Elizabeth St., Brisbane, QLD, 61-7-3210-1515, thecloakroom.com.au/brisbane

The Queensland Art Gallery & The Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Brisbane

Photo: Mark Sherwood, QAGOMA

The Queensland Art Gallery & The Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA)

For modern and historical artwork

In 2002 — long before Yayoi Kusama’s infinity rooms became an Instagram sensation — QAGOMA commissioned the artist to create the Obliteration Room. While the gallery has long been forward thinking, there’s plenty of the past in its 17,000-piece collection, including Indigenous artwork dating back to the 1880s.

Stanley Pl., South Brisbane, QLD, 61-7-3840-7303, qagoma.qld.gov.au

Violent Green, Brisbane

Violent Green

For eclectic streetwear

A Brisbane institution since 2004, Violent Green has developed a cult following for international and Australian fashion and accessories. Look here for effortlessly romantic dresses from Australian label Lover, enamel lapel pins by U.K.-based Lazy Oaf, feminine workwear from Kiwi designer Karen Walker, and handcrafted jewellery from Sydney’s Petite Grand.

Level 1, 105 Albert St., Brisbane, QLD, 61-7-3003-0078, violentgreen.com.au

How to Get Around

Getting from the Airport

It’s an easy 20-minute trip from Brisbane Airport to the central business district by taxi, which will run between $45 and $55. A designated ride-share pickup spot also exists at both the international and domestic terminals. Public transit runs to and from the airport, but the most affordable shared option is the Con-x-ion shuttle-bus transfer service, which will drop you at your door for $15.


Public Transportation

Buses are free in the inner city, with the City Loop and Spring Hill Loop services coming every 10 minutes and stopping at destinations in the central business district. Also free: the CityHopper ferry, which travels along the river from North Quay to New Farm. TransLink’s reloadable Go card (the cheapest option, with fares starting at $2.60) allows visitors to move seamlessly across bus, ferry and rail services in southeast Queensland, with fares based on zones.


Taxis

It’s easy to hail a cab in Brisbane’s central business district, but for other areas, pre-book your taxi or order using an app. Both Black & White Cabs and Yellow Cab offer their own, and Uber is also available throughout Brisbane and the surrounding suburbs.

Black & White Cabs: 133-222
Yellow Cab: 131-924


Bikes

Biking is the perfect way to explore Brisbane’s winding riverside and streets, some of which have marked bike lanes. CityCycle’s bike share is an easy way to get started, with free maps and casual memberships starting at $2 for 24-hour access. However, riders are required by law to wear a helmet, which is not provided. For the full kit, contact Bike Obsession or another rental company catering to tourists.

Tags

ADVENTURE TRAVEL     BRISBANE     CITY GUIDE