Your essential guide to Queensland’s definitive city of culture
Wedged between the ocean and rugged national parks, Brisbane’s buzzing cosmopolitan is a haven to explore. Whether you want to delve into the latest art collection at the Gallery of Modern of Art, sample the delightful flavours of Fish Lane, or simply soak up the city’s stunning riverside views, Queensland’s capital is a weekend destination to get excited about.
So, to plan your next weekend getaway, we’ve put together the best things to do in and around Brisbane CBD. Here’s our handpicked edit of where to eat, sleep, drink and play in Queensland’s definitive city of culture.
From the team behind Sydney’s award-winning Apollo, GRECA’s traditional style Greek taverna serves up a moreish meze worthy of the Gods. The food is here is seriously next-level, with plates of oven baked lamb and creamy tzatziki, Saganaki cheese baked with honey, oregano (an Apollo signature favourite) and crispy calamari served with peppers and saltbush. If you’re hungry, opt for the set menu. You’ll be served a banquet of GRECA favourites, and we guarantee you’ll love every dish on the menu.
3/5 Boundary Street, Brisbane
Nestled on James Street in Fortitude Valley, Harveys Bar + Bistro is considered somewhat of a Brisbane breakfast institution, dishing up on point potato rostis, pancakes, tortillas and moreish fruit bowls, along with plenty more delightful morning libations guaranteed to put in a spring in your step. When the weather’s nice, be sure to grab a seat outdoors in the foliage-filled terrace.
4/31 James Street, Fortitude Valley
Little by name, but certainly not by nature – this darling dumpling joint pulls out all the stops, yum cha style. Dim sum is the order of the day, so come lunchtime, nibble on soft pillowy parcels of chicken wonton, lamb hoisin buns and melt-in-the-mouth pork Xiao bao. For those with heartier appetites, feast on brimming plates of aged roast duck with chicken fat and rhubarb, followed by kingfish cutlet served with lap cheong, brown butter and preserved olive.
6 Warner Street, Fortitude Valley
Look forward to a unique blend of artful flavours and native ingredients at Josue Lopez’s first solo project. An unassuming neighbourhood eatery, but believe us, there’s nothing ordinary about this cult Brisbane gem. Award-winning chef-owner (of ex-GOMA fame) Josue, goes way beyond the realms of modern European cuisine. Displaying the same imaginative flair as GOMA’s two-hatted fare, native ingredients at The Wolfe take centre stage, each dish crafted elegantly but with little fuss, and each plate brimming with flavour.
989 Stanley St, East Brisbane, Brisbane
Modern Greek oozing with poolside charm. Hellenika is one of Brisbane’s finest. Part of the achingly cool Calile hotel – you’ll want to come here for the pool deck cabanas, but once you see the menu, your taste buds will take over. Look forward to deliciously authentic Greek cuisine, served inside the dusky peach, wooden-clad restaurant, or outside in the olive tree-lined alfresco terrace which overlooks the glamorous hotel pool.
48 James Street, Fortitude Valley
Inspired by the beautiful French region of Burgundy, this slick wine bar-cum-bistro comes drizzled in European charm. Boasting an impressive collection of over 150 wines, mostly sourced from Europe or local drops made in an old-world style, wine buffs can sample an array of wonderful aromas and unique blends – there's something to suit every taste and budget. Grab a seat at the bar to pair your wine with cheese, charcuterie and oysters, or take a set in the restaurant and delve into decadent plates of raw kingfish with fermented tomato and lime, wagyu steak, and crispy confit duck served with tangy red cabbage, black garlic and hazelnuts.
Shop 3, 109 Melbourne Street, South Brisbane
The crowning jewel of the Howard Smith Wharves, Mr Percival’s pastel-hued palace scores top points for ambience and style. Set right on the water, you’ll be treated to showstopping views overlooking the river, whilst inside, the stunning indoor-outdoor space comes splashed with salmon pinks, retro upholstery and Moroccan-style floor tiles. Interiors come courtesy of Anna Spiro – the brains behind the beautiful Halcyon House – and the seafood-heavy Mediterranean-inspired menu is helmed by former Fish House chef, Damien Styles. Start off with calamari and oysters on ice and finish with a Sonny Spritz.
Howard Smith Wharves, 5 Boundary Street Brisbane
This hole-in-wall wine bar-bistro is as charming as they come, set in an intimate, elegant space with a dining room, cellar door and a separate events space for private groups. Drop in to taste their delicious range of local drops and sample the hand-picked matching cheese plates that they serve from the cellar door.
22 Wyandra Street, Newstead
Matt Moran’s waterside oasis, this alfresco spot comes with front row seats overlooking the river and Story Bridge. Laidback with a quintessential Queensland fitout – distressed, bleached woods and vintage coastal décor – and a nifty menu of pub classics with a Matt Moran cheffy twist. Think crumbed chicken tenders with kewpie and tonkatsu sauce, kingfish ceviche and crispy Moreton Bay bug burger topped with mango salsa and spicy mayo. Swing by for sunset drinks in the tropical garden terrace
Riparian Plaza, Promenade Level 71 Eagle Street
A hidden gem that will transport you straight to the streets of London, Savile Row’s vintage décor and classic cocktail list will have you hooked instantly. Hidden behind an unassuming orange door in Fortitude Valley, this sultry speakeasy comes decked out in dark woods, giant chandeliers and swathes of brass and leather. If you want a taste of London circa 1930, this is where you’ll find it.
667 Ann St, Fortitude Valley
Tucked away at the end of Fish Lane – Brisbane’s bustling food and wine strip – Maker offers an eclectic mix of molecular cocktails and delicious treats served fresh from the in-house charcuterie cabinet. A winning combo.
9 Fish Lane
Make the most of Brisbane’s balmy climate with an amorous picnic for two. The city has an abundance of green open spaces, so there’s endless choice for alfresco fun – Kangaroo Point and the City Botanic Gardens are two of our favourites. But if you really want to impress and indulge, order in from the Vintage Picnic Company. They’ll prepare a lavish picnic feast complete with woollen blankets and comfy cushions, together with a table laid out with china, silver and glassware. This is a fancy kind of picnic affair. Inside your wicker basket you’ll find a delicious selection of sandwiches, canapés and cakes, plus a bottle of bubbly chilling on ice. Simply choose the location, pick a playlist on the retro stereo and enjoy.
Three-course picnic, $275
Stroll along the South Bank
A visit to Brisbane wouldn’t be complete without a stroll along the city’s iconic South Bank. The city’s cultural and entertainment hub, here you’ll find the Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Streets Beach (Australia’s only inner-city, man-made beach), and the 60m-high Wheel of Brisbane. Walk along the riverside South Bank strip, then stop off at the Epicurious Garden where you can pick your own herb and plants and take them away with you.
Stock up on wholesome fresh goodness for the week, or sample some of the incredible street food stalls, serving up tasty eats from all corners of the globe.
Reddacliff Place, George Street, 8am-6pm every Wednesday
Cathedral Square (corner of Wharf & Ann St, The City), every Thursday 8am-2:30pm
For a spot of culture, take refuge inside the Queensland Performing Arts Centre for a spectacular live ballet performance. With a mix of classic and contemporary dances, we guarantee you won’t leave disappointed.
Cnr Grey and, Melbourne St, South Brisbane
Scoot around the city
The easiest (and most fun) way to explore the city is by scooter. Download the Lime-S app and scoot around the city with ease. For the best views, be sure to take the riverside route.
$1 to unlock the scooter then 38c per minute
Shop up a storm
For shopping, there’s plenty of choice. Queen Street Mall and neighbouring Edward Street is the place to head for high end, designer luxe, or for more unique finds, take a stroll to James Street. Here you’ll find the city’s best boutiques sitting alongside a selection of chic bars and cafés. The perfect way to will away an afternoon.
Brisbane has an array of micro-breweries, so for any hops buffs, a craft beer crawl is an absolute must. That way you can sample some of the best local brews in the city. Visit Brisbane have put together their top three crawls – Newstead to Fortitude Valley; West End to South Bank; and Milton to Paddington. Take your pick of the pints!
Offering a taste of underground Brooklyn in the heart of Brisbane CBD, this late-night New York-style haunt hosts live music sets almost every night of the week. Offering a mix of blues, funk and jazz, cocktails, tapas and a basement Doo Bop Jazz Bar that promises brassy sounds until 3am, this is the place to come for an after-dark dance off.
Eagle Ln, Brisbane City
With sun-bleached pinks, sandy-beiges and gilded décor throughout, the Calile's self-styled 'urban resort' has ‘Insta-worthy’ written all over it. But it's the outdoor pastel-hued pool, chic cabanas and exotic surrounding palm trees that give it that added tropical elegance – this architectural gem has Palm Springs written all over it. Cool in every sense of the word, the rooms are on point, the pool is positively dreamy, and it's also home to one of Brisbane's best Greek restaurants, Hellenika, which overlooks the pool deck and James Street.
From $386.10 per night
48 James Street, Fortitude Valley
Undeniably one of Brisbane’s coolest boutiques, TRYP Fortitude Valley is the city’s very first street art hotel. And believe us, it more than delivers. Setting the tone before you even step foot inside, graffiti artworks adorn almost every nook and cranny of this city-fringe hotel, inside and out – from the face motif painted on the exterior of the building to the Picasso-inspired courtyards. Art buffs will relish in the creativity of these design-forward digs. Industrial-chic to the max with a buzzing rooftop bar that boasts impressive views of the city along with a tasty cocktail list and live DJ sets. Step outside and you’ll find plenty of hipster dining spots and trendy bars to keep you fed and entertained. Alternatively, book a private spa room where you can sink into the balcony hot tub with a glass of fizz, as the city comes alive below.
Rates from $152 per night
14-20 Constance St, Fortitude Valley
If you like your hotels with a splash of bling, the Emporium Hotel overlooking the city’s South Bank ticks every box. Sprawl out in their ultra-modern suites with luxury spa baths, Bose audio and wide-screen TVs, plus you’ll be treated to a relaxing pillow menu that will guarantee a blissful night’s sleep. Don’t miss the Insta-worthy rooftop, where a glistening infinity pool, palm trees and panoramic skyline views await.
Rates from $319 per night
267 Grey Street, South Bank
An oldie but a classic, the Treasury Hotel is one of Brisbane’s few heritage-listed buildings, and its design; ornate and timeless. Rooms are spacious with plush furnishing and heritage features, and the casino is located just around the corner, where you have your pick of restaurants and bars to choose from. Fat Noodle and Black Hide are worth booking. It’s also the perfect base for exploring the city – it’s located one block from the Queen Street Mall shopping precinct, and just a five-minute walk across the Victoria Bridge to the restaurants of South Bank. Plus, it also boasts stunning views of the Brisbane River.
159 William Street