City Guide: Brisbane — Cosmopolitan Vibes on the Sunshine Coast

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Brisbane is a city of wonderful contrast, where glittering skyscrapers tower over subtropical beaches, and commuters share their morning bus ride with holidaymakers ready to hit the sand.

The self-proclaimed capital of the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane has long been popular thanks to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, with millions of tourists making the city their base-of-operations during a trip to Australia’s sun-kissed west coast. But make no mistake — it’s not just its nearness to the fabled reef that makes it such an endearing holiday destination. A string of world-renowned museums and galleries, coupled with a burgeoning café culture, now mean that Brisbane is one of Australia’s most desirable destinations — and the perfect place for an exciting stopover as part of an unforgettable Australian cruise holiday.

Here, we offer a cruise-goer’s guide to Brisbane, including what to see, where to eat and how to get around during your visit to this wonderful Australian city.

How to get around in Brisbane

Brisbane has one of the most efficient public transport networks in Australia, with a mix of buses, trains and ferries making it extremely easy to get from point A to point B across the city. Transport here is also cheaper than in Sydney and Melbourne, so you won’t need to set quite as much currency aside to cover travel expenses.

Brisbane is covered by Queensland’s super-efficient TransLink network, which services towns and cities along the Sunshine Coast. Travel cards are available to purchase from their website for a specific date, so you can buy your tickets and passes upfront before you arrive, making things easier for those looking to explore the city on their own. We’d recommend the seeQ card, which covers travel on all transport services in Brisbane and its surroundings.

brisbane train transport

Things to see and do in Brisbane

Brisbane is a hotbed of cultural attractions, with some of Australia’s leading galleries and museums appearing across the city. For art lovers, the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art is an absolute must, with the centre housing many of Australia’s finest contemporary art installations. Other art galleries and exhibition spaces in Brisbane that are worth visiting include the REDSEA Gallery and the QUT Art Museum.

In terms of museums and heritage centres, Brisbane offers ample choice, helping you unearth both the colonial and indigenous heritage of Queensland. Start your exploration of the city’s timeline at the Museum of Brisbane, which is home to thousands of artefacts detailing the history of the city, and is easily accessible in the Brisbane CBD. Alternatively, make for the Queensland Maritime Museum, which showcases the region’s proud seafaring heritage through a number of interactive exhibits.

For those travelling with youngsters, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary promises an unforgettable experience. First opened in 1927, this is the largest koala sanctuary in Australia, and gives visitors the chance to experience these majestic and gentle native animals up close. The sanctuary lies in the Brisbane suburb of Fig Tree Pocket, and is easily accessed by public transport from the city centre.

If you like to stay fit and healthy during your holidays, or simply enjoy a good view, why not begin your visit to Brisbane by climbing the city’s beautiful Story Bridge? With the help of an experienced guide (and, of course, a safety harness), you can enjoy a bracing climb to the very top of the bridge, where you’ll enjoy breath-taking panoramic views of the Brisbane seaboard — for a truly unique travel experience.

Of course, with this being the Sunshine Coast, you could just bring a beach towel and choose to laze on one of Brisbane’s many beautiful sandy beaches. One of the most peaceful and beautiful stretches of sand located close to the centre of Brisbane is Suttons Beach, though there are many others to choose from. Take a look at this Visit Brisbane guide to choose the right beach in the area.

brisbane museum

Where to Eat in Brisbane

Owing to its cosmopolitan character, Brisbane has a diverse culinary palate that promises fresh, local flavours for all tastes and budgets. Add to that a burgeoning café culture to rival the likes of Melbourne and Sydney, and Brisbane is paradise found for the day-tripping epicure.

Start your foodie tour of Brisbane the right way — with a delicious, and surprisingly authentic, premium homemade burger at the Miel Container. Dealing in American-inspired street food, this beloved vendor doles out a range of patties of all shapes and varieties, earning a devoted fan base who claim these are the best burgers in the city.

If a burger isn’t native enough for your tastes, take a trip to Bacchus, one of Brisbane’s oldest and most celebrated eateries. Marrying authentic local dishes with the nostalgia of afternoon tea, this bistro-cum-restaurant is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the best in fine Australian food and service. Bacchus is particularly well known for its ‘Quintessential High Tea’ offering, in which diners can sample a selection of teas and entrees that showcase some of Queensland’s most beloved flavour combinations.

Like other Australian cities, Brisbane has a tangible Asian influence, and this is best showcased by the variety of high-quality Chinese, Thai and Japanese restaurants which have emerged across the city over the past century. One of the best Asian eats in the city is Sono, a traditional Japanese restaurant serving up fresh sushi and noodle dishes. One of the biggest attributes of this authentic Japanese eatery is its location overlooking Brisbane River, of which the owners have taken full advantage of with a wall of elegant glass windows, perfectly framing the view.

Brisbane

Keen to tick Brisbane off your travel wish-list and find out why the city is fast becoming Australia’s go-to destination? Take a look at our collection of cruise breaks in Australia or give us a call on 0808 115 6963 to start planning your once-in-a-lifetime trip down under today.

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City Guide: Brisbane  Cosmopolitan Vibes on the Sunshine Coast
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City Guide: Brisbane Cosmopolitan Vibes on the Sunshine Coast
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Find out all you need to do whilst visiting Brisbane
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Cruise1st UK
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Claire Wilde

Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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