My Favorite 15 Things to do Brisbane
My Favorite 15 Things to do Brisbane - Understand
Brisbane is a city of two million on Australia's east coast. Brisbane is just an hour inland from the sun-kissed Gold Coast that has tons of beaches (as you'd expect in Australia).
Brisbane has a beautiful location along the Brisbane River and the city council seems hell-bent on adding cycle lanes, walking paths and river vistas everywhere. The city reminded me much of Calgary and Perth. It just works so well but it is also a city that does without any social life.
Australia is arguably overpoliced and Brisbane is likely the worst. Dare to bring a Starbucks drink (yes, even with a lid) on a river ferry and get a fine. Walk in a bike lane - you get a fine. Jaywalking - you get a fine... You get the picture.
I felt that Brisbane is like a beautiful prison - it's so pretty but everyone is just itching to get out.
Coolest job in town: Construction or Meat Worker.
Weather: Dry and sunny with cold nights in winter, hot and humid with plenty of thunderstorms in summer.
Price level: Cheap for Australia, still very high from a global perspective.
My Favorite 15 Things to do Brisbane - Get Around
Uber is in Brisbane but rides price out at AUD 10 per mile, making it impractical for most rides. The river area in Brisbane is walkable and once you master the many bus and train routes the city is fairly well covered by public transport. It's a great idea to have a car if you venture a bit further out but parking is expensive anywhere close to the CBD.
My Favorite 15 Things to do Brisbane - Safety & Pollution
There is a reason why Australian cities show up so high in the rankings for living quality. Crime and pollution basically don't exist in Brisbane.
My Favorite 15 Things to do Brisbane - Connectivity
The story goes that there was no Internet in Brisbane until 10 years ago. At least not anywhere public. It still seems the case and most coffee shops would rather cut off their fingers than provide free, fast Internet. Your best bet is your hotel or Regus to have fast Internet.
My Favorite 15 Things to do Brisbane - Sights
For an urban area, it does not get much prettier than this - take a river ferry (just about AUD 5 for two hours) and trundle along the river to see it all. Stop, walk along it and do it all over again. This isn't Queenstown but any way you choose - walk, bike, run or take the ferry - you will love it.
Kangaroo Point Cliffs
I also really liked the cliffs just below Kangaroo Point; you guessed it, there is a well-maintained boardwalk too.
A city beach sounds cheesy and touristy but boy is it done well here. There is real sand, cold water to jump into and lots of grass. The best thing is that it is all part of the South Bank riverfront and there are no annoying fences anywhere.
City Botanic Gardens
Rounding up the city center riverfront attractions is the botanical gardens, which offers even more views.
Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)
Well, the building's architecture and views are indeed modern and grand but I found the exhibition to be a letdown. AUD 18 for 10 minutes seemed like burning money.
My Favorite 15 Things to do Brisbane - Eat & Drink
West End Coffee House
Located in the hipsterish West End, this place became my favorite but not because of the coffee - no, because of the delicious Thai dishes that are made fresh at lunch. I loved the specials that I felt couldn't have been done any better.
Blackstar Roastery Works
Right across the street is Blackstar Roastery Works, which has all the ingredients of a great coffee shop. I indeed liked the roast but the staff are weird and the Internet always had a 'sudden outage' when I was there.
Baba Ganouj (multiple locations)
Baba Ganouj makes delicious Lebanese food, like the shawarma chicken wrap I had. The Grey St shop is right behind the city beach area in a lovely outdoor location.
Brendan's Cafe on the Goodwill Bridge
With many pedestrian bridges, wouldn't you want a cool coffee cart serving fresh coffee, allowing you to enjoy the views even more? Well yes, Brisbane has you covered. The location may look odd at first but Brisbane residents love their morning outdoor activities and afterward it is time for Brendan.
Most CBD coffee shops (like Anthology) cater to the quick to-go crowd in the city. Coffee Anthology is a cut above the rest, with a lovely outdoor patio, good breakfast items and great coffee for a surprisingly small amount of money (well, this is Australia after all).
Brisbane Brewing Co
Most of the breweries in Brisbane are on the outskirts (unsurprisingly) but Brisbane Brewing Co is right in the heart of West End. I really liked the German-style pretzel and also liked the chill outdoor patio. I wasn't a big fan of the beers - they seemed overly bitter and had less taste than I was expecting.
Davies Park Market
Davies Park Market is the place to go for a weekend farmers market.
Ltd Espresso & Brew Bar
Fortitude Valley is the small creative enclave in Brisbane and this espresso bar delivers, with a quirky interior design and friendly folks.
Bellissimo Coffee (multiple locations)
The Bellissimo Coffee on Oxford Street is in the heart of the forming gourmet ghetto in Bulimba, Brisbane. The coffee is indeed great but the breakfast items aren't and the setting and WiFi are both failures.
My Favorite 15 Things to do Brisbane - Where to Stay
Swiss Bellhotel Brisbane
Hotels in Brisbane are surprisingly affordable and I found the Swiss Bellhotel a modern, positive surprise. The Internet is fast and the rooms are spacious and brand new. There are serious service issues with this hotel but if you can overlook them, you can enjoy the new hardware and location quite a bit.