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Brisbane Travel Guide
Last Updated: November 2020
The third biggest city in Austalia and the capital of Queensland wasn't always the vibrant metropolis that it is today. Almost two centuries from its founding, the Brisbane River runs through a city of more than 2 million people, characterized by its exceptional city planning, the verdant open spaces, and the high-spirited cultural and artistic scene. Brisbane is also the passage to two of the most famous sights in Australia, the Golden Coast, every surfer's paradise, and the Great Coral Reef. With such an ideal location, Brisbane is also known for its proximity to weekend getaways.
How to Get There
The most common and easiest way to make it to Brisbane is by plane. Brisbane Airport, located 15km (9.3 miles) southeast of the city, is the third busiest in the country. At the airport, there are many car rental companies, if you feel like driving for the rest of your trip. Public transport is also available and regular. You can take the Airtrain, which runs every 15-30 minutes and takes 20 minutes to reach the city center. Alternatively, you can ride a taxi with the lowest rates starting at 3.40AUD.
There is also a direct rail connection to some major cities, such as Sydney, but it takes many hours. Buses are also available, but the trip is usually even longer. For example, the travel time between Sydney and Brisbane is 17 hours. The same goes for a car ride, but it is worth it if you plan to stop at some of the most beautiful places in Australia on your way to Brisbane.
Brisbane Public Transport
Moving around in Brisbane is easy with public transport. Save some money by purchasing a TransLink Go Card, which you will load with credit to cover the fare of each journey. Use the train to visit attractions or to go to the suburbs. There are also many bus services and even free ones, the City Loop and the Spring Hill Loop, which are ideal if you plan a day of visiting tourist attractions in the city center. The River City, as it's colloquially known, it's also serviced by ferries, the CityCats which will take you from one part of the city to the other.
Where to Stay
It comes as no surprise that business travelers would prefer to book accommodation in the CBD to be closer to the economic hub of the city. Holidaymakers and first-time visitors lately expressed more interest in staying in neighborhoods, such as South Bank, Fortitude Valley, Hamilton, South Brisbane, and Kangaroo Point. When you're about to reach a decision, you need to consider your preferences. Do you intend to see as many landmarks as you can or do you prefer to discover the hidden gems, the ones that only locals know? Are you all about the crazy nightlife or more into a laid-back type of entertainment? Are you traveling with your significant other, your family, or your friends? Based on these and more common preferences, we put together this list:
- tourist attractions: Brisbane CBD, South Brisbane
- cafes and high-quality restaurants: Fortitude Valley, Hamilton
- shopping: Hamilton
- nightlife: Fortitude
- beaches: Redcliffe, Margate
- family-friendly: South Bank
- solo travelers and backpackers: CBD, Paddington, Rosalie
- on a budget: Petrie Terrace
Things to Do
Brisbane's numerous attractions will keep you busy for days. The most visited ones are the Story Bridge, the Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland Museum, Brisbane Powerhouse, Riverfront, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, and dozen others. You'll be amazed by the unique way that this city blends the reminiscence of the past with today's reality while looking into the future.
- Queensland Cultural Center: The heart of Brisbane beats here! In the South Bank precinct, the huge complex of the Cultural Center is a must-visit place for every kind of visitor. The lush park and the Street Beach, the manmade beach with the white sand and the clear lagoon waters are the places where you'll see big crowds gather. In the north part of the park, there is a big concert hall, a theater, a conference center, the State Library, and the most important museums in Queensland.
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary: Travelers coming from abroad will be thrilled to see the cute koalas in person. According to the Guinness World Records, this is the oldest koala refugee in the world. Besides the adorable koalas, you can also see another 100 species. You can feed the kangaroos and look at some other wildlife creatures from a distance, such as the Tasmanian Devil and the freshwater crocodile. The sanctuary is located 12km (7.4 miles) south of the city, and it's easily accessible by bus, departing from Queen Street Bus Station.
- Gallery of Modern Art: The triangular building made of steel, glass, and concrete will capture your interest at first sight. Since 1970, this venue introduces you to contemporary Australian art, local and international artists. Some of the exhibitions are free of charge, so even if you didn't intend to visit it, you'd have to think twice.
Day Trips from Brisbane
Are you in the mood to hit the beach, visit a national park or a picturesque town? Brisbane's location is indeed very advantageous, as it's close to many beautiful beaches, natural reserves, and quaint regions.
- North Stradbroke Island: 'Straddie', as the locals call it, is the best place to swim, surf, and enjoy the relaxed vibe. The highlights of the island are the koalas, kookaburras, and kangaroos, the Blue and Brown Lakes, and whale watching during winter. The only way to reach the island is by ferry or water taxi that leaves from Cleveland. The ferry ride lasts 50 minutes and the water taxi around 25 minutes.
- Lamington National Park : Withing a 2-hour drive, you can escape from the city buzz. The thousand-year-old trees, the verdant rainforest, the walking trails, the waterfalls and bridges are all calling you to discover the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. There's also a camping site and luxurious accommodation if you wish to spend the night.
- Toowoomba day trip : Toowoomba or the 'Garden City', 125 km (77 miles) west of Brisbane, is a green city in Queensland's inland. It has maintained its country charm and traditional architecture. In September, the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers takes place to celebrate Spring.
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