We started our second visit to Australia in the beautiful city of Brisbane. We came to Australia six years ago and saw many of this country’s top sites. But not Brisbane. So on this visit, which will be for two entire months, we began in Brisbane. What a delightful surprise it was. Here are my tips to Visit Beautiful Brisbane Australia.
Where to Stay
We spent four nights in Brisbane and wanted to be in the center of town, so booked a room at Royal Albert Hotel/Apartments in the CBD. In a historic building, we chose the Royal Albert for its location but what a nice surprise it was. A huge room with a small kitchen and a washer dryer were a big bonus for us. At only $114USD per night we were really happy with this choice.
We did not do and see everything in this beautiful city, but we did as much as we could. Brisbane is undergoing a big transformation in preparation for hosting the 2032 Summer Olympic Games, so there is a lot of construction. But we easily managed around it and enjoyed everything we saw. Below is our day by day recommendations to Visit Beautiful Brisbane Australia.
Our overnight flight from Manila had us arriving in the morning – too early to check in to our hotel. So we dropped off our bags and headed out to wander and get a feel for the city.
We were hungry so we headed down to the Brisbane Riverwalk area, one of the best things this city has going for it. On the way we enjoyed a stroll through the City Botanic Gardens, a beautiful space right in the CBD. Next we wandered the Riverwalk, but we did need to dodge some construction, before arriving at the Riverbar and Kitchen for lunch. Absolutely delicious and healthy lunch at this riverside open air restaurant.
Feeling revived we wandered away from the river and made brief stops at the Anzac Square Memorial, Jacobs Ladder and the beautiful City Hall at King George Square. Definitely go inside and check out this gorgeous building. We headed back to check-in to our hotel and had an early night with some much needed rest.
Day One Highlights
I got up early and did a long run on the river walk enjoying the sunrise on this remarkable and well-used space. Runners, walkers, cyclists all enjoying a beautiful early Sunday morning.
Back to the hotel for a shower than off we went. This was going to be a full walking day but we were rested and ready. We had yet to pick up any groceries, so we began with a delicious healthy breakfast at Felix For Goodness, just a few blocks from our hotel. Fantastic food. Don’t miss it.
After breakfast we crossed over one of several pedestrian bridges to the South Bank of Brisbane. We spent the next several hours walking for miles admiring the sun, the river, the impressive architecture and the clean and sparkling skyline. We made brief stops at the iconic BRISBANE sign, Nepalese Peace Pagoda, Rainforest Walk and Kangaroo Point.
We had walked about 8 miles so it was time to try the City Cat Ferry, one of the best things Brisbane has going. A dash into the convenience store to purchase the GO Card (also works for buses) and then on board the ferry. Just for fun we rode down river away from the city to admire some of the well appointed homes before disembarking and grabbing the next boat back towards the CBD and an afternoon rest at our hotel.
The City Cat Ferry offers efficient, inexpensive and abundant boats up and down the river all day every day. Cost is minimal. A much smaller boat called the KittyCat hops back and forth across the river, and the City Hopper runs a limited route to some of the central stops – both are free! They are all frequent, clean, and easy to use.
After a quick refresh at the hotel, we grabbed an Uber to a restaurant recommended to us called Kick’in Inn to try Australia’s famous “bugs”, similar to crawdads. It’s a fun spot especially if you are with a group where you can order a wide variety of Cajun style foods dumped directly onto your paper covered table.
Day Two Highlights
Breakfast at Felix for Goodness
After another morning run on the Riverwalk we were off to visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. We had booked our visit a few weeks ago, including an opportunity to hold a koala. Queensland and Lone Pine are one of the only places where holding koalas are allowed.
It was after we had booked our Lone Pine visit that we realized there is a boat you can take right from South Bank Brisbane up the river to the sanctuary. Most people book both the boat and the sanctuary tickets together, but if you are like us and already have your sanctuary tickets, you can book the boat separately with Mirimar Cruises. I’m really glad we took the boat. It offered an interesting narrated hour-plus boat ride. The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary was established in 1927 when Queenslander Claude Reid realized that the fur-trade was decimating the koala population. Starting with just two, he began his life’s work of protecting, rehabilitating and breeding Australia’s unique marsupials (no they are not bears!) Today the sanctuary is also home to a large collection of native birds, kangaroo and wallaby, tree kangaroo, amphibians, reptiles, dingo and 130 koalas.
Back to the hotel for a quick refresh and then we go back on the City Cat to ride at sunset in hopes of seeing Brisbane’s Flying Fox. Brisbane is home to a large population of Flying Fox (also known as Fruit Bats) and dusk is the time to see them. The City Cat is a great way to enjoy viewing these animals that are so important to the balance of the ecosystem.
We disembarked after dark near the beautiful historic Story Bridge built in 1935 and enjoyed the Brisbane night skyline as we walked to our dining destination of Greca. Definitely eat at Greca, located under the Story Bridge and offering delicious Greek food and wonderful service all at a great price.
Day Three Highlights
There aren’t many hiking opportunities near Brisbane, but we had heard about Mount Coot-tha, so on day four we headed that way. Back on the City Cat just a few stops to Regatta, where we admired the historic Regatta Hotel. We then walked more than two miles to the Brisbane Botanic Garden detouring unexpectedly through a very old cemetery. We were happy for the detour though because the cemetery offered some outstanding bird spotting opportunities.
We arrived at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, a wonderful large garden space and we were amazed it was free. The 56 hectare gardens are part of the city of Brisbane since 1970. A definite must-visit. The hike up Mount Coot-tha Reserve begins at this park. Starting at the Botanic Gardens visitor center the climb to the lookout is about two miles. The dirt path with several stair climbs meanders through native trees and flora and we spotted so many common and one rare bird.
Reaching the summit you are rewarded with a spectacular view back down to the city. If you aren’t up for the climb, it’s possible to drive or take a bus to the summit. We caught the bus back to the CBD.
Our final night in Brisbane we walked back to the South Bank and enjoyed a wonderful seafood dinner with a lovely view of the river at River Quay Fish. Another perfect way to end another great Brisbane day.
Day Four Highlights
Time to Go
Our four days in Brisbane was only the beginning of a two-month visit that will include Tasmania. As part of a visit to Brisbane it is an absolute must to head up to the Australia Zoo. We did this on day five as we headed out in our RV for a month on the road. I’ll talk about the Australia Zoo in next Friday’s blog post. But it would be easy to add it when you Visit Beautiful Brisbane Australia.
Visit Beautiful Brisbane Australia
Brisbane was so much better than I expected and I would love to visit again when all the construction has wrapped up. There are numerous museums we did not make it to, and wonderful performing arts of all kinds. One of Australia’s largest cities, I have to say it is now one of my favorite cities in the world.
Check back next week to learn more about our visit to the Australia Zoo and keep following as we continue our Australian journey.
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