3 Days in Brisbane: the ultimate Brisbane itinerary

Brisbane is the capital city of Australia’s Sunshine State, Queensland. Ideally positioned between two of the nation’s most popular coastal destinations, the Gold CoastOpens in a new tab. and the Sunshine CoastOpens in a new tab., Brisbane is a vibrant urban city, only a stone’s throw from breathtaking beaches and ancient rainforests.

As Australia’s third largest city, Brisbane offers a diverse metropolitan centre built along the peaceful Brisbane River. It has a fine mix of charming colonial buildings and modern skyscrapers. With different districts catering for art, culture, food, shopping, nature, and relaxation, there is something for everyone to enjoy when visiting Brisbane.

Since Brisbane has so much to see and do, I suggest spending at least three days when visiting Brisbane. So you can get a taste of all the different aspects Brisbane has to offer.

To help you plan the trip, I have compiled a detailed 3-day itinerary for visiting Brisbane based on my recent east coast road trip. I hope it’s helpful to you. Happy travels!

Where to Stay in Brisbane

As Australia’s third largest city, Brisbane offers an excellent selection of accommodations to suit every type of traveller.

In a nutshell, Brisbane CBDOpens in a new tab. and South BankOpens in a new tab. are the best spots for easy access to attractions, eateries, nightlife, and public transport. Brisbane’s inner suburbs, such as Spring HillOpens in a new tab. and Fortitude ValleyOpens in a new tab., offer more budget-friendly options with great access to Brisbane CBD and South Bank.

To help you choose, here is a list of my suggestions:

  • For a hostel stay, check out City Backpackers HQOpens in a new tab.. It is close to the metro station & within easy walking distance to Brisbane CBD and South Bank.
  • Conveniently located in the heart of Brisbane City, ibis Styles Brisbane Elizabeth StreetOpens in a new tab. is the best budget-friendly option if you are looking for a standard double room.
  • Travelling with family or friends, why not check out Meriton Suites Adelaide Street, BrisbaneOpens in a new tab.? In addition to standard 1-bedroom suites, you can also find a selection of 2-bedroom & 3-bedroom suites. It is perfectly located near Howards Smith Wharves, offering convenience and stunning city views.
  • For a luxury stay with 5-star service, Emporium Hotel South BankOpens in a new tab. is your calling! Located on Grey Street, South Bank, Emporium Hotel South Bank offers a superb stay with an impressive riverfront view.

Day 1: Brisbane CBD

For the first day of your Brisbane trip, it is best to walk around town to get acquainted with this beautiful city and its landmarks.

Since I stayed in Spring HillOpens in a new tab. during my visit, I started my morning with a walk around Roma Street Parkland before venturing into Brisbane’s CBD. After visiting the landmarks within Brisbane CBD and the beautiful Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, I followed the riverfront walk on its CBD side to check out Howard Smith Wharves before visiting Fortitude Valley around dinner time.

If preferred, guided tours are available for your to get a good understanding of this beautiful city before exploring on your own. It can be a great starting point when visiting Brisbane for the first time.

To make it more fun, why not check out this Brisbane Segway Sightseeing TourOpens in a new tab.? It offers various starting times to meet different needs. Shorter toursOpens in a new tab. are available too.

Roma Street Parkland

Roma Street Parkland is a beautifully manicured park, featuring colourful subtropical gardens, lush green rainforests, stunning waterways, and a large amphitheatre. This expansive park covers 16 hectares of land and is conveniently located at the northwestern corner of Brisbane city.

With well-equipped picnic facilities, toilets, and playgrounds, Roma Street Parkland is the perfect spot to wander around for an hour or two.

Free guided tours of Roma Street Parkland are available. You can check out its most up-to-date tour time & make a reservation hereOpens in a new tab..

Old Windmill Observatory

From Roma Street Parkland, it is only a 10 minutes walk to Brisbane CBD. Along this walk, you will likely be walking along the tree-lined Wickham Park. So make sure you also check out the Old Windmill Observatory at the eastern end of Wickham Park.

The Old Windmill Observatory is Queensland’s oldest surviving structure from its European settlement. It was first built in 1825 as a grain mill, operated and powered by convicts. It was later repurposed as a telegraph signal station, then an observatory for the fire brigade.

Nowadays, this heritage building has been restored and repurposed as a tourist attraction. However, when I visited, the windmill observatory was closed. But the architecture is quite eye-catching and worth checking out if you are in this area.

Brisbane City Hall

Only a short 10 minutes walk from Roma Street Parkland & you will arrive at the heart of Brisbane and be presented with the impressive Brisbane City Hall.

Brisbane City Hall is a grand Italian Renaissance building, with a 64-metre-tall clock tower. With construction completed in 1930, Brisbane City hall was the tallest building in Brisbane for 30 years. Nowadays, even with all the skyscrapers around it, Brisbane City Hall still looks rather majestic with its massive columns and Italian Renaissance design.

After admiring its impressive feature from the outside, make sure you also head inside the Brisbane City Hall to check out its interior designs.

Entry to Brisbane City Hall is free. Visitors can also join a free guided City Hall Tour to learn more about all the fascinating facts and stories of this grand architecture. The City Hall Tour operates a few times per day & takes about 45 minutes for each session. It can be booked onlineOpens in a new tab. in advance to secure your preferred tour time.

There is also a Clock Tower Tour, which can take you to the city hall’s stunning clock tower for a spectacular panoramic view of Brisbane. The Clock Tower Tour will take about 15 minutes for each session. It is also a free tour and can be booked onlineOpens in a new tab. (highly suggested as it is usually in high demand).

Museum of Brisbane

Tucked away on the third floor of Brisbane City Hall, you will find a small museum, the Museum of Brisbane.

The Museum of Brisbane houses a good collection of paintings, drawings, and photographs featuring the transformation of Brisbane from its early settlement era to its current days. It is one of the best places to learn about Brisbane’s land and culture.

Entry to the Museum of Brisbane is free. However, some temporary exhibits may require a ticket.

Queen Street Mall

Queen Street Mall is a pedestrian-only shopping street just down the road from Brisbane City Hall. It covers the entire city block along Queen Street, between Edward Street to George Street.

Along Queen Street Mall, you can find a wide variety of shops, from fashion boutiques to electronic stores. Whether you are after those well-known household names or luxury brands, there is something for everyone.

In addition to shopping, you can also find a good selection of food options along Queen Street Mall. This makes it the perfect place to grab lunch before heading to the next attraction.

Cathedral of St Stephen

After some retail therapy and lunch, we will head off to the beautiful Cathedral of St Stephen.

The Cathedral of St Stephen is a stunning Gothic Revival-style catholic cathedral & has served as the heart of the Archdioceses of Brisbane for over 160 years. Elegantly decorated with tall arches and colourful stained glasses, the Cathedral of St Stephen is one of the architectures you should definitely visit when in Brisbane.

Entry to the Cathedral of St Stephen is free, and donations are encouraged.

Free guided tours are available on weekdays at the Cathedral of St Stephen at 10.30 am. But you will need to call the cathedral ahead of time to reserve a spot.

If you happen to miss out on the guided tour, don’t sweat it. Volunteers are available within the cathedral & are more than happy to show visitors around this magnificent catholic cathedral.

There is also a peaceful chapel adjacent to the cathedral. It is interesting to check out as well.

Brisbane City Botanic Gardens

After spending half the day walking around Brisbane’s buzzing city centre, you will now mix things up a little & visit Brisbane City Botanic Gardens to escape from the hustle and bustle of Brisbane CBD.

Brisbane City Botanic Gardens offers idyllic subtropical gardens, soft bowling greens, and lush green rainforests in the heart of Brisbane. Nestled along the peaceful Brisbane River, with a fantastic view of the city centre, it makes the perfect location for an afternoon stroll.

Benches, a children’s playground, public toilets, and a cafe are all available at Brisbane City Botanic Gardens. So you can spend the whole afternoon relaxing here if desired.

If you are here on Sunday morning or early afternoon, you can also find the lively Riverside Sunday Market near the front entrance of Brisbane City Botanic Gardens. It offers a good number of pop-up stalls selling a variety of foods, fresh produce, and artisan gifts. With the relaxing atmosphere of the botanic gardens, a visit to the gardens and the market makes a perfect day out for the whole family.

City Reach Boardwalk

After relaxing and recharging at Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, follow the riverfront boardwalk towards Howard Smith Wharves to check out more of the Brisbane River and its vibrant riverfront promenades.

City Reach Boardwalk is the section of Brisbane riverfront walk between Eagle Street Pier and Howard Smith Wharves. It offers a spectacular view of the Brisbane River, South Bank, and the iconic Story Bridge.

The walk should only take about 15 minutes (one-way), and you will likely want more time along the promenade to take in the beautiful views and enjoy the laid-back vibe of Brisbane.

Once you have arrived at Howard Smith Wharves, you can continue this riverfront walk and join the New Farm River Walk to explore the views on the other side of Story Bridge. This walk should take just under 20 minutes one way.

Howard Smith Wharves

Tucked under the northern end of Story Bridge, Howard Smith Wharves is a buzzing hub brimming with riverfront restaurants, bars, and breweries. It is among the best places to grab dinner and a drink, with a stunning view of the Brisbane River.

Among all the eateries and bars along Howard Smith Wharves, Felons Brewing stands out the most, with its sprawling venue and industrial yet quirky decorations. It offers a good selection of beers and a chilled vibe, making it an excellent spot for a cold drink along the water.

Story Bridge

Story Bridge is a massive steel bridge spanning the Brisbane River, connecting Fortitude Valley to Kangaroo Point. Its superb location also makes it an excellent spot for obtaining a breathtaking view of Brisbane River, Brisbane City, South Bank, and New Farm.

For an even more spectacular view of Brisbane and beyond, Story Bridge Adventure ClimbOpens in a new tab. is available to provide you with an unobstructed panoramic view of the Brisbane River, Moreton Bay, and the distant mountains.

Story Bridge Adventure Climb is a guided climb to the top of Story Bridge. It is available multiple times throughout the day. Twilight climb & night climb are available too. But they are usually in high demand. So be sure to book the ticketOpens in a new tab. in advance to secure a desired visiting time.

Fortitude Valley

After admiring Brisbane’s beautiful skyline from Story Bridge, you will now head back to the city end of Story Bridge & check out the nightlife at Fortitude ValleyOpens in a new tab..

Fortitude Valley is Brisbane’s most popular nightlife district. It is home to a variety of trendy bars and clubs. Being home to Brisbane’s Chinatown, you can also find a great selection of cuisines to satisfy everyone’s tastebuds.

So if you still need to have dinner, this is the place to be! After dinner, why not visit one of the trendy rooftop bars here for a drink?

Day 2: South Bank & Kangaroo Point

South BankOpens in a new tab. is the riverfront neighbourhood, along the beautiful Brisbane River, across from Brisbane CBD. It is Brisbane’s cultural and social hub, brimming with museums, galleries, theatres, and Brisbane’s best eateries and bars. It also offers an artificial city beach where everyone can chill and enjoy.

For the second day of this 3-day Brisbane Itinerary, you will spend the morning exploring South Bank’s quirky culture district before chilling out along its cosy promenade. In the late afternoon, you will head to the picturesque Kangaroo Point to capture one of the best sunset views in Brisbane. After sunset, you can then head back to South Bank to enjoy its vibrant nightlife, with a stunning view of Brisbane’s spectacular skyline.

Victoria Bridge

Victoria Bridge is one of the bridges that connect Brisbane CBD and South Bank. The bridge itself is nothing special, but you can obtain a spectacular view of Brisbane River, South Bank, and Brisbane CBD from above the bridge.

On the South Bank end of Victoria Bridge is a tall stone arch, the abutment for the original Victoria Bridge at the South Bank end. In addition to its historical significance, this abutment provides a great view of Brisbane CBD from across the river.

Brisbane Sign

Right beside the Victoria Bridge Abutment & just in front of the Queensland Performing Art Centre, you will notice the iconic Brisbane Sign.

The Brisbane Sign was installed in 2014 in preparation for the G20. Although intended only as a temporary installation, its popularity among locals and tourists has made it a permanent fixture and landmark in South Bank.

With its beautiful colours and the impressive Brisbane CBD as a backdrop, a photo with the Brisbane Sign is one every visitor should capture!

Also, the views from here are drastically different by day and night, so make sure you come back after sunset for another photo. And it will not disappoint!

After taking in the picturesque views of Brisbane River, we will head to South Bank’s Culture Precinct to check out its famous museums and galleries.

Since there are multiple museums, galleries, and performing centres in the Culture Precinct, it is not practical to visit them all. So it is best only to pick one or two to explore today, and you can always check out the rest on your future visits.

Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art

Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) are my two favourite places within the South Bank Culture Precinct.

QAGOMA are popular art galleries along the Brisbane River in the Culture Precinct. They are located a couple hundred metres apart, with the State Library of Queensland wedged between these two contemporary buildings.

Entry to Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art are both free, but certain temporary exhibits may require a ticket.

Within the galleries, you can find a wide range of art collections, from the colonial era to contemporary artworks, from fascinating Indigenous art to priceless international masterpieces. Many exhibits are also great resources for learning the history of Australia and Queensland.

On the third floor of the Gallery of Modern Art, you can find a Riverside Lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows to offer visitors a spectacular view of Brisbane River and Brisbane City, all within the comfort of a gallery. It is the best spot to take a break during your visit to the Culture Precinct.

The Brisbane River CruiseOpens in a new tab. departs daily from the riverfront area near QAGOMA. It is a 90 minutes cruise along the Brisbane River to check out iconic landmarks like Kangaroo Point Cliffs, Customs House, and Story Bridge.

After spending a few hours exploring the Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art, you will likely be hungry for lunch.

There are cafes within the galleries if you are short on time. Alternatively, plenty of cafes and restaurants are available around the buzzing Fish Lane.

After lunch, you will now take a leisure stroll along South Bank’s promenade to check out its beautiful parklands and famous Streets Beach.

The Wheel of Brisbane

The Wheel of Brisbane is an iconic landmark of South Bank. Standing 60 metres tall, this giant ferris wheel provides visitors with a sweeping view of Brisbane CBD and South Bank.

The Wheel of Brisbane also lights up beautifully at night and becomes a prominent part of Brisbane’s skyline.

Ticket to the Wheel of Brisbane is AUD 21 per adult & a small discount is available when purchased on their website. Discounts are also available for children and family tickets. It operates from 10 am to 10 pm. So you can join the ride to check out all the city landmarks during the day or admire the city lights at night.

Arbour Walkway

Right next to the Wheel of Brisbane, you will find the starting point of the bougainvilleas-lined Arbour Walkway. It is a roughly one-kilometre-long walkway parallel to the riverfront promenade.

To me, the Arbour Walkway looked a bit out of place during the day, as its bougainvilleas are still yet to fully cover its steel arches. However, with beautiful lighting at night, a walk under the Arbour Walkway is like a walk in a fairytale.

Rainforest Walk

Following the Arbour Walkway south, you will first come across a lush green parkland with tall tropical plantations. This is the Rainforest Walk.

The Rainforest Walk is a man-made tropical rainforest in the heart of South Bank. With the busy shops and restaurants nearby, the Rainforest Walk is an oasis for people who want a temporary escape from the hustle and bustle of this modern city.

With the tall trees and thick vegetation, the Rainforest Walk also provides the perfect shaded spot on those scorching days.

Nepalese Peace Pagoda

When exploring the Rainforest Walk, make sure you also check out the gorgeous Nepalese Peace Pagoda, nestled on the river side of the Rainforest Walk.

Nepalese Peace Pagoda is a heritage-listed, handcrafted timber pagoda, originally commissioned for the 88 World Expo. With its intricate details and close resemblance to the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, this pagoda has gained huge popularity and eventually became a permanent fixture on South Bank.

Being one of the only three Peace Pagoda outside Nepal, the Nepalese Peace Pagoda is definitely not to be missed when visiting Brisbane.

Also, the views of this Nepalese Peace Pagoda are distinctively different during the day & at night. So make sure you come back to revisit it after sunset.

Streets Beach

Streets Beach is one of the most famous and popular attractions in South Bank, if not Brisbane.

Since Brisbane city is built along the Brisbane River instead of the coast, there are no city beaches like those in SydneyOpens in a new tab.. So, the solution? Brisbane made an artificial public beach, with real sand and water, right alongside the Brisbane River, in the heart of South Bank.

You know the Streets Beach is a very successful creation just by looking at the number of people swimming and relaxing here, especially on school holidays and those hot days.

With varying water depths and lifeguards on duty, Streets Beach offers a safe swimming environment for all ages. Toilets, showers, picnic facilities, and playgrounds are all available right next to the water. Various cafes and restaurants are also open nearby. These all make Streets Beach the perfect spot to spend a relaxing afternoon.

For those who do not want sand stuck on their skin, a smaller Boat Pool can be found beside the Streets Beach. There is no sand in and around the Boat Pool, but it still offers a cool swimming environment.

South Bank to Kangaroo Point

The riverfront area south of Victoria Bridge in South Bank is essentially a massive parkland.

After you have relaxed at Streets Beach, continue further south along the promenade, you will be walking by a couple more peaceful gardens and parks along the river before strolling under Captain Cook Bridge & join The Cliffs Boardwalk to check out the picturesque views from Kangaroo Point.

Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park

Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park is a lovely public park built along the Brisbane River, right under the sharp cliffs of Kangaroo Point. With the charming Brisbane River and Brisbane city on one side and the rocky cliffs on the other, Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park offers many brilliant vantage points for admiring Brisbane, especially around sunset.

Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park also offers picnic areas with BBQ facilities, playgrounds, and toilets. This makes it an excellent spot to spend the entire afternoon too.

Although Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park is one of the best spots to watch the sunset over Brisbane, make sure you head up to the clifftop just behind the park for an even more spectacular sunset view!

Kangaroo Point Cliffs Lookout

Right behind Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park, along the bottom of the cliffs, you will find a couple of sets of stairs to bring you to the top of Kangaroo Point Cliffs.

The stone stairway near the river bend/ Captain Cook Bridge will bring you to Kangaroo Point Cliffs Lookout with a breathtaking panoramic view of the Brisbane River and Brisbane City. Around sunset, the entire city will be glowing with a beautiful golden hue & making it an incredible spot for watching the sunset.

There is another set of staircases a bit further down the park. It will take you to a cute restaurant, Joey’s, on the edge of the clifftop. Its cosy outdoor dining area offers a direct view of the Brisbane river and the city. It is the perfect location to enjoy dinner while watching the sunset & the skyline gradually lights up at night.

If you arrive at Kangaroo Point too early, plenty of activities are around here to keep you occupied until the sun sets.

Rock Climbing at Kangaroo Point CliffsOpens in a new tab. is a very popular activity at Kangaroo Point Cliffs. It is catered for both beginning and experienced climbers with the help of their professional guides. It is an exciting outdoor adventure and a memorable way to admire Brisbane’s skyline.

Guided Kayak Tour along the Brisbane RiverOpens in a new tab. is also available from Kangaroo Point. It is a 90-minute guided tour to admire Brisbane from a water perspective.

Day 3: Explore Brisbane’s Nature & Wildlife

On the third day of your Brisbane visit, you will head out of the bustling Brisbane City to check out its cute wildlife and fantastic nature reserves.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Lone Pine Koala SanctuaryOpens in a new tab. is the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary. It is conveniently located only 20-minute drive south of Brisbane City Centre.

Having lived in Australia for over a decade and had a lot of encounters with koalas, I thought I wouldn’t get overly excited when visiting here. Boy, was I wrong!

It truly is a KOALA sanctuary. There are koalas left, right, and centre. I have never seen these many koalas in my entire life. The enclosures are all perfectly designed so that you can admire these cuties intimately and safely. There were also posters everywhere providing interesting facts and stories about the koalas residing here.

Another big drawing card of Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is that visitors can touch and even hold some of the koalas here (under a safe, supervised environment, with a small additional fee). You can also take photos while cuddling with this cute Aussie icon.

In addition to the countless koalas, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is home to many unique Australian wildlife. Here, you can find kangaroos, wallabies, emus, wombats, Tasmanian Devils, platypuses, crocodiles, dingos, and even a cassowary!

I was so thrilled when I finally saw a cassowary. It is such a fascinating and hard-to-spot creature. I was so delighted to finally have the chance to admire its bright colours, glossy furs, and dinosaur feet in close proximity!

To make your visit even better, you can hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies here. Various interactive shows, such as Wild Lorikeet Feeding Show, Free Flight Raptor Show, Sheep Dog Show, Koala Talk, and Crocodile Talk, are available and scheduled throughout the day.

Cafes, picnic facilities, and toilets are available at the sanctuary. So you can easily spend an entire day here if desired.

Ticket to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is AUD 49 per adult & valid for the entire day. It can be pre-purchased onlineOpens in a new tab. to save you from waiting in the long queue at its front entrance. It is highly recommended, especially when visiting during the peak seasons.

Driving or taking a Uber/Taxi is undoubtedly the most time-efficient way to visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. There are designated free car parks right in front of the sanctuary. However, it was relatively full when I visited (I visited during a school holiday). So you may wish to arrive here nice and early on those busier days to secure a car park.

Direct bus services between Brisbane City and Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary are available. It is a budget-friendly option for visiting the sanctuary while avoiding the headache of driving and parking.

Another popular option for visiting Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is to purchase a combined ticket for Brisbane River Cruise and Lone Pine Koala SanctuaryOpens in a new tab.. This half-day tour takes you on a leisure cruise from South Bank, following the beautiful Brisbane River, to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. It includes a return cruise ticket and a Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary admission ticket. It is a great way to check out Brisbane River’s iconic landmarks and visit the sanctuary.

Mount Coot-Tha Summit

After spending half the day chilling at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, let’s now head to Mount Coot-Tha for some greeneries and an unparalleled panoramic view of Brisbane.

Mount Coot-Tha is a lush-green mountain, less than 20-minute drive east of the Brisbane CBD. Being the highest point in Brisbane, Mount Coot-Tha Summit provides a sweeping view of Brisbane and beyond, which makes it one of the must-visit spots in Brisbane.

Depending on your preference, Mount Coot-Tha Summit can be visited by car, bus, or hiking.

Mount Coot-Tha Summit is only a short drive from Brisbane CBD and Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Car parks are available at the summit. You can also find a cafe, a souvenir shop, and public toilets at the summit.

Direct bus service is available between Brisbane CBD and Mount Coot-Tha Summit. The bus stop is right next to Mount Coot-Tha Summit car park. It is a very convenient and budget-friendly option when you don’t have a car.

When visiting Mount Coot-Tha Summit from Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary by bus, you will unavoidably need to take a bit of a hike from the base of Mount Coot-Tha to its summit. So I do suggest taking a taxi or Uber instead.

Speaking about hiking up Mount Coot-Tha Summit, you can also hike up to Mount Coot-Tha Summit via various walking tracks, such as the Summit Track. Although they are not really long walks, they can be challenging as you will be walking uphills.

If you still have some time to spare after visiting Mount Coot-Tha Summit, why not also check out the gorgeous Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-Tha (not the same as the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens you visited on Day 1 of this itinerary)?

Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-Tha has a diverse collection of gardens at the foot of Mount Coot-Tha.

Here, you can find both native and exotic gardens covering a massive 56 hectares of land. To help get your head around this expansive place, free guided tours are available twice daily from its visitor information centre (free entry too).

Check out these Brisbane attractions on YouTube

Bec's Travel Itinerary

I'm passionate about travel. I would like to use this platform to share my travel experiences. Please support me by subscribing to this blog. You can also find more travel related contents on my YouTube channel and Instagram. Thank you :)

Recent Posts

Discover more from Bec's Travel Itinerary

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading