Having been stationed in Noosa on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia for some time now (while we await visa stuff), we’ve got to know our nearest city quite well by now. Less than 2 hours drive away, Brisbane is the capital of the state of Queensland and as such, brings with it all the sights, sounds and smells of a lively metropolis.
Much as we love the relaxed and beachside feel of Noosa, it is always nice to get a bit of city excitement from time to time. In particular, the cultural and culinary offerings of Brisbane far outweigh the choices of anything in Noosa and for me, this is a particularly big drawcard.
With a relatively small population of just over 2 million, Brisbane is not renowned for its cutting edge artistic output, but it nevertheless has a fairly sizeable number of galleries, museums, exhibitions spaces and theatres which we’ve explored on numerous weekends and daytrips there. It also has a burgeoning music scene and a delightful array of different suburbs offering some great world cuisine and wonderfully tucked away markets. As such, we’ve compiled our list of the best areas to explore in Brisbane to help you get the most out of your time there.
Situated in South Brisbane, this trendy suburb is easily accessed from the centre of the town by the delightful CityCat – a riverboat that is part of Brisbane’s wonderfully cheap public transport network. As such, speeding up the river on an open-top boat to this happening hideaway is a delight. Originally home to a sugar mill and brewery, this leafy enclave is now full of cute cafes and lovely bookshops, making it a clear hit on our list of best areas to explore in Brisbane. Try the independent RiverBend Bookstore if you’re looking to pick up a good read and then relax with a cold drink and a riverside view at the Oxford 152.
Notorious until the 1990’s for its dangerous and seedy activity, Fortitude Valley is now the place to be in Brisbane if you want to party. Full of bars, clubs, restaurants and backpacker hostels, the Valley, as its known, also boasts a lovely Sunday morning market and a historic Chinatown. It’s full of live music venues and has some fun pubs with great atmospheres and super craft beers on top. Our favourite is the Bloodhound Corner Bar and Kitchen, which offers some incredible Latin American food including gluten-free and vegan options (the nopale cactus tacos are a must!) You can also enjoy a great selection of beers there and last time I got subtly tipsy after just 1 pint of their 7% 4 Pines Citrus IPA.
Something of a yuppie suburb, it’s still hard not to fall in love with the appeal of New Farm, which is why it’s on our list of best areas to explore in Brisbane. With a delightful park situated on the edge of the river, Sunday afternoons in New Farm all about getting together to enjoy a picnic and a stroll. There is also the wonderful Brisbane Powerhouse, now a fun arts venue, which has regular, free live music, outside cinema events, art exhibitions and more. In addition, there is a great paleo café – the Primal Pantry – nearby here, which is a great, healthy breakfast spot.
The cultural and touristic hub of the city, South Bank is undoubtedly one of the best areas to explore in Brisbane and should be on any visitor’s list. Littered with cafes and parklands, it also boasts the largest collection of the city’s mainstream artistic venues including the QPAC (Queensland Performing Arts Centre) and our favourite, the GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art). Site of the infamous Expo 88, which really catapulted Brisbane from a country town into world city, there are also scattered remnants along South Bank of this global event, as well as some newer additions including a large ferris wheel and a wonderful riverside swimming pool and manmade beach. For an Australian city sadly built along a river rather than the coast, this is a godsend in Brisbane and everyday it’s full of backpackers and families enjoying the sunshine under a view of the city’s skyscrapers.
Also known as the rather more eclectic and alternative end of town, West End is another part of Brisbane that has under gone large-scale urban regeneration in recent years. Saying this, it’s still full of quirky cafes and characters and, being populated by many students and artists, remains one of the best areas to explore in Brisbane. West End is also wonderfully ethnically diverse, which can be a rare delight in many areas of Queensland even in this day and age. If I was going to live in Brisbane, West End would the place. Discover more of this area on foot and happily stumble upon great street art, interesting vintage shops and delightful vegetarian cafes.
So that’s our list of the best areas to explore in Brisbane, Australia – hopefully you'll agree that Brisbane is a wonderful and fun city to visit