The Best Things to Do For an Unforgettable Day in Brisbane, Australia
Brisbane is one of Australia’s most fascinating cities, and even if you’re short on time and only have one day in Brisbane to spend, you can still make the most of it. This detailed Brisbane itinerary will show you exactly how to do so.
Brisbane is the Capital of Queensland (one of Australia’s seven states and territories) and is located in the South East corner of the state not far from the Gold Coast and the border to New South Wales.
Brisbane, known as Brissie to the locals (pronounced Brizzy) has a subtropical climate and boasts beautiful sunny weather all year round.
You should plan your visit to Brisbane by staying within walking distance of South Bank Parklands. South Bank is conveniently located close to the center of the city as well as to all the major tourists spots and is a great location for families.
If not staying overnight, you can park your car for the day in the South Bank Parklands underground car park or you can catch either a train or bus to South Bank Station or South Brisbane Station.
Start Your Day in Brisbane with Breakfast
To build up energy for your big day exploring Brisbane, enjoy a relaxing breakfast in one of the many cafes along Little Stanley Street in South Bank Parklands.
Walk Along South Bank Arbour
After breakfast, walk into South Bank and make your way along the arbour. The arbour is easy to find, just look for all the bright pink flowers!
The South Bank Arbour is a 1km long path that winds its way through South Bank Parklands.
The Arbour is a stunning place to take a stroll thanks to the 443 curly steel posts covered in vibrant magenta bougainvillea. The South Bank Arbour was one of the many aspects used to rejuvenate the area of land after the completion of Brisbane’s World Expo ’88.
Walk along the Arbour till you reach the Wheel of Brisbane; the wheel is a great landmark to help orient yourself throughout the day.
Brisbane River & Clem Jones Promenade
Turn right at the Wheel of Brisbane and for a relaxing walk along the Brisbane River.
The Clem Jones Promenade, which spans the length of South Bank Parklands, is popular with tourists and locals and provides uninterrupted views of the Brisbane Central Business District (commonly referred to as CBD).
A large portion of the promenade is lined with magnificent fig trees, which along with the river breezes, creates a beautiful cool and shady place to spend some time.
Continue walking past the Goodwill Bridge and the Maritime Museum towards Kangaroo Point Cliffs.
Kangaroo Point Cliffs and Lookout
Kangaroo Point Cliffs is a popular recreation area with the locals for abseiling and rock climbing as well as lovely place to enjoy a picnic.
The cliffs were created by convicts in the early to mid 1800s when they were mining the cliff face for volcanic rock. The entire area is now Heritage Listed.
Climb up the stairs and admire the Brisbane city views from the Kangaroo Point Lookout, then follow the path along the top of the cliff.
Cafe Stop for More Views of Brisbane
You may be ready for a snack or lunch by this point during your one day in Brisbane, so stop at Joeys, located on the top of the Kangaroo Point Cliffs. Joeys has stunning city views and is the perfect spot to stop for a coffee, breakfast, lunch or even dinner.
After you’ve checked out the view, head down the narrow stairs just near Joeys and walk along the path through the Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park.
The stairs at Kangaroo Point Cliff are a popular training location for Brisbane fitness fanatics so be careful to watch out for all the athletes racing each other up to the top of the cliff.
Riverlife Adventure Centre – Optional Excursion Stop
If you are looking for a bit of excitement, make an optional stop at the Riverlife Adventure Centre.
Riverlife takes groups on kayaking tours along the Brisbane River, offers rock climbing and abseiling classes on the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, as well as takes adrenaline junkies to the top of the Story Bridge.
When you reach the Thornton Street Ferry Terminal it is time to leave the river and head up the hill towards the Story Bridge. Enter the tunnel and cross under the road and then walk across the bridge on the opposite side to the city. When you reach the end of the bridge, turn right towards Wilson’s Outlook Reserve.
Views from Wilson’s Outlook Reserve
Wilson’s Outlook Reserve is a small strip of parkland that has stunning views overlooking the Story Bridge and Brisbane’s Central Business District. Wilson’s Outlook Reserve is a great place to sit back and enjoy the sunset or the Story Bridge lit up at night.
Walk along to the end of Wilson’s Outlook Reserve and catch the second elevator down the cliff to Howard Smith Wharves.
Brisbane Entertainment at Howard Smith Wharves
Howard Smith Wharves is a relatively new entertainment precinct in Brisbane.
The area has several popular restaurants, bars and breweries. Howard Smith Wharves is a popular location for both lunch or dinner, although with dinner comes the added bonus of stunning views of the city and Story Bridge lit up in lights.
Brisbane City Botanic Gardens
The Brisbane City Botanic Gardens started out as a farm in 1825 for Brisbane’s growing penal colony. It later became the site of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens until the official gardens had to be moved to Mt Coot-tha. During the space of 140 years the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens experienced ten floods resulting in plants repeatedly being destroyed and washed away.
The 49 acres of gardens located within Brisbane’s CBD is heritage listed and is a popular location for workers to spend their lunchtime.
Fun Fact: The gardens are home to what is thought to be the first commercially grown Macadamia Nut tree in the world which was planted in 1858.
Queens Street Mall for Some Shopping in Brisbane
On your way back to South Bank, stop by the Queen Street Mall for some shopping and pick up a few souvenirs to remember your day in Brisbane by. The mall has about 40,000 square metres of retail space so there are plenty of options for you to choose from.
Walk to the top of the Mall and then across the river via the Victoria Bridge and back into into South Bank Parklands. Just in front of the Qld Performing Arts Centre you will see the Brisbane sign.
The Brisbane sign is a great place to stop and take the obligatory vacation selfie. Click here to see more Brisbane photography locations.
For how you spend your afternoon in Brisbane, you have a few options:
Spend More Time at South Bank
Hang out at South Bank Parklands and spend some time soaking up the sun at Street’s Beach (Australia’s only inner city beach) or explore Brisbane’s cultural precinct with a visit to either the Queensland Museum or the Gallery of Modern Art.
Visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is Australia’s oldest koala sanctuary and was opened in 1927 as a refuge for sick or injured koalas.
The most popular activities at Lone Pine are getting your photo taken holding a koala or hand feeding a kangaroo.
There are several options for getting to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary:
- Car: 708 Jesmond Road, Fig Tree Pocket, Brisbane
- Bus: There are regular City Council buses to Lone Pine from the City – 430 from Platform 2C (Queen Street Station) or 445 from Stop 41, Adelaide Street.
- River Cruise: A boat departs twice a day from South Bank Parklands and does a 75 minute cruise up the Brisbane River to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
If you decide to spend more time exploring South Bank or if you catch a bus or boat back from Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary then you should plan to finish your day with a drink at the Emporium Hotel in South Bank. The Emporium’s rooftop bar has stunningly impressive city views.
Alternately, head back over to Howard Smith Wharves and enjoy the party atmosphere. This is a great spot to head to if you have 24 hours in Brisbane and are spending the night.
If you are driving a car, then take a short detour on your way back from Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary up to the Mt Coot-tha Lookout. From the Mt Coot-tha Lookout you can see gorgeous views over Brisbane and out towards Moreton Bay.
The Summit Restaurant at the top of Mt Coot-tha is a very scenic location to enjoy a relaxing meal after your busy day in Brisbane.
Found this article helpful? Pin to read again later!