Brisbane, the sun soaked capital of Queensland, is one of those cities that keeps getting better with age. Rather than resting on its laurels, it continues to push its colourful dining and cultural scenes into new and often unexpected directions. And yet, it somehow retains that distinct Brisbane vibe that brings us back again and again.
With Brisbane officially named as the host city of the 2032 Summer Olympic Games, the city’s evolution is about to enter a rapid new phase. Think new hotels, new sporting venues, and new ways of enjoying the great outdoors. However, there’s still a lot to see right now too!
From trendy South Bank in the heart of the city, where the restaurants and bars spill onto streets adorned with vibrant street art, to the container wharf dining precinct of Eat Street Northshore, here are some of the best places to eat, drink, sashay and play in the city of Brisbane today.
A city of arts and culture
South Bank Parklands
You can’t visit Brisbane without visiting the South Bank Parklands at least once. It’s an outdoor paradise! Draped along the southern bank of the Brisbane River (hence the name), it features beautifully landscaped gardens, a gorgeous man made beach, impressive 60-metre high ferris wheel, three-storey Nepalese pagoda (which was originally brought to the city by the Kingdom of Nepal for World Expo 88), and multiple places to picnic and play with family and friends.
Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Brisbane’s home of the arts. Its cultural heart and soul. Located adjacent to the South Bank Parklands, Queensland Performing Arts Centre (better known as QPAC) unites the state’s leading performing arts companies – Queensland Theatre Company, Queensland Ballet, Queensland Symphony Orchestra and Opera Queensland – under one impressive roof. Whether it’s live music or a midsummer night’s dream you seek, chances are you’ll find it here.
Image Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland
After a fun night out? Brisbane Powerhouse is your go-to for side-splitting comedy, cheeky cabaret, live music, dance spectaculars and so much in between. With two stages, three performance venues and gallery spaces, the former power station hosts over 1200 live shows a year, making it one of the busiest performing arts centres in Asia Pacific. Not a small feat!
Image Credit: Brisbane Powerhouse
Mount Coot-tha Reserve
And now for something completely different. Mount Coot-tha is where Brissie locals go to get back to nature, swapping the urban jungle for scenic bushland, winding walking trails, epic mountain bike paths, and sensational views at the summit lookout. The Brisbane Botanic Gardens is here too, giving you plenty of time to stop and smell the roses.
Where to eat, drink and be merry
Howard Smith Wharves
Beneath the steel skeleton of Story Bridge, with a sweeping view of Brisbane River on one side and five-star luxury hotel Crystalbrook Vincent on the other, Howard Smith Wharves is a perfect meeting of the past and present. Once a derelict shipping yard, the heritage site is now home to multiple dining options and a boutique brewery, as well as ample green spaces where you can soak up the Queensland sunshine. Grab a seat at Greca, Ciao Papi, Stanley Restaurant or Yoko Dining, raise a glass at Felons Brewing Co, kick on after sunset with cocktails at Mr Percival’s, and round out the evening at Goodtimes Gelateria. Bellissimo!
Image Credit: Richard Greenwood
Eat Street Northshore
Speaking of shipping yard transformations, Eat Street Northshore is another success story that has breathed new life into a once-neglected part of town… but it hasn’t forgotten its roots. Built from 180 repurposed shipping containers, the quirky site now houses an exciting array of micro restaurants that’ll take your tastebuds on a journey right around the globe. Only 15 minutes from the CBD, and down the road from Portside Wharf, it’s a convenient spot for a tasty bite.
Image Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
Looking for a destination, not just a restaurant? You’re in luck! James Street is the complete package, with enough restaurants, cafes, bars and fashionable boutiques to keep you occupied from sun up till sun down. Some of our favourite options are SK Steak & Oyster and Hellenika, both from acclaimed restaurateur Simon Gloftis; Italian trattoria BIÀNCA and the modern Thai restaurant sAme sAme; Harvey’s Bar + Bistro and Spoon Deli Cafe… actually, they’re all good!
Image Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
Art, culture and cuisine collide at Fish Lane in South Bank – a theatre-side dining precinct with nine bars, twelve restaurants and six cafes, surrounded by a visual feast of amazing street art. Julius Pizzeria, Chu The Phat asian street food, and Gelato Messina are our pick of the bunch! Situated just across the Victoria Bridge from Brisbane CBD, over the road from Queensland Museum and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, it’s great any time of the day or night.
Image Credit: Chris Ashton
Beyond these locations, there’s still so much more to uncover in beautiful Brisbane too. Live gigs in Fortitude Valley, colourful markets in West End, hidden laneway bars off the Queen Street Mall and more. And, like a fine wine, it’s only just going to keep getting better and better.
Bring on 2032!