Brisbane may not be the largest city in Australia, but it’s undoubtedly a unique capital city with a river curling its way around the spectacular landscape. It boasts a laid-back lifestyle and atmosphere and an abundance of sunshine, drawing in visitors worldwide. Due to its wonderful weather and glorious sunny days, this River City is alive with fun activities year-round, from whale watching on Moreton Island and hiking the Glass House Mountains to relaxing at the New Farm Park.
An hour from Brisbane city are endless beaches, breathtaking marine life, and some of the world’s biggest sand islands. Within the Central Business District are lakeside parks, beautiful gardens, world-class restaurants, and cafes, among other things. To the east, you’ll find Moreton Bay Marine Park. Head west in the Scenic Rim, and you’ll be amazed at the mountain ranges, sweeping valleys, waterfalls, and rivers.
With so many things going on in and around the city, having only 3 days in Brisbane may seem insufficient. Sure, it would be great if you had a week to immerse yourself fully in the culture and explore its diverse neighborhoods. But three days are all you need to get a taste of life here and enjoy its lovely climate and natural paradise.
If you’ve already booked your travel, the next step is organizing a luggage storage solution in Brisbane. It’s an excellent way to keep your bags out of the way but still accessible when needed.
Brisbane itinerary – Day 1
Morning: Tour at Brisbane City Hall
Commence your 3-day Brisbane itinerary at the historic Brisbane City Hall. Located in King George Square in the city centre, this heritage-listed City Hall is the ideal place to learn about the Queensland capital’s history. It is Australia’s largest city hall and the second-biggest construction project in the country, next to the majestic Sydney Harbour Bridge. It features a 92-meter Clock Tower with an observation deck that offers a bird’s eye view of the city.
The City Hall was built between 1920 and 1930 and has undergone renovations, which were completed in 2013. It is open daily for tours, providing visitors an opportunity to delve deeper into the city’s colorful past and the building’s history. The tours are free and open to anyone who wants to come along. If you come at the right time, you might witness an event, as it has served as a backdrop to a number of social, civic, and cultural celebrations.
Besides the iconic Clock Tower, the City Hall is home to the Museum of Brisbane, an intriguing cultural attraction that reopened in 2013. This museum may be small in size, but it’s definitely big in stories, bringing the city’s vibrant culture, art, and history to life through its exhibitions, tours, workshops, special events, and activities.
Afternoon: Cruise at the Brisbane River
You can always walk or cycle around the city to get acquainted with Brisbane, but what’s more exciting than spending a sunny afternoon cruising the Brisbane River? An informative and relaxing tour of the city from the river is undoubtedly one of the best and most memorable things you can do here for both visitors and locals.
Numerous cruises and tours await you in Brisbane, and you can pick from daily cruises to special charters for events, parties, or private celebrations. Try the midday cruise that starts around 12:30 pm or the Cruise to Lunch, offering a five-star experience with personal service and a lavish lunch at the Breakfast Creek Hotel.
Guided tours usually last for an hour and a half, where you’ll be entertained by informative guides while taking photos of some of the city’s gorgeous attractions. You can relax as you cruise along the calm waters, taking in the spectacular sights, including the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, The Powerhouse, the Story Bridge, the City Centre, and other historical landmarks.
Night: Party and Dinner at Howard Smith Wharves
End your first day at the ultimate foodie and lifestyle precinct in Brissy. Nestled between the New Farm Cliffs and Story Bridge and a short walk from the Brisbane CBD, Howard Smith Wharves is an institution in its own right, lined with bars, restaurants, hotels, and event venues.
What used to be an abandoned site under the bridge is now one of the must-visit dining places in Brisbane. It doesn’t matter whether you’re craving some Japanese and Chinese cuisines or Greek dishes and yummy fast food. There’s a place to enjoy a sumptuous dinner with friends here or by yourself as you take in the views of the river and the city skyline.
If you’re organizing a party, a corporate event, or a fun social celebration, there are dedicated even spaces that match your requirements. You can treat your guests to great, mouthwatering menus or head to the Fiume Bar, a stylish outdoor bar with a terrace and infinity pool to cool down on a hot and humid summer night.
Brisbane itinerary – Day 2
Morning: Stroll at the City Botanic Gardens
Start your morning right by having a nature walk at the City Botanic Gardens. This serene oasis is a paradise for garden lovers, featuring fountains, giant fig trees, bamboo groves, ornamental ponds, and river views. It’s an ideal escape from the city hustle you can explore at your own pace.
There are also many areas in the gardens perfect for picnics, where you can take your breakfast or lunch. If you haven’t packed any food, head to the Gardens Club café for a refreshing meal or a picnic basket. Nestled among the Botanic Gardens, the café is open seven days a week from 7 am to 3 pm on the weekdays and extends for an hour on the weekends. It has outdoor seating for visitors to enjoy the beautiful scenery. It also boasts a great seasonal menu, providing a selection of delicious food for snacks, breakfast, and lunch.
Afternoon: Visit to the Queensland Cultural Centre
Your three-day trip to Brisbane won’t be complete without visiting the Queensland Cultural Centre. Located on South Bank, across the river from the central business district, the Centre is the city’s arts and cultural hub. It is home to the leading cultural and arts institutions in the state, such as the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), the State Library, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, and the Queensland Museum.
Along with Brisbane Convention and Exhibition, South Bank Parklands, and other neighboring institutions, the Centre creates a collection of educational, cultural, retail, and recreational facilities worth exploring in the city. They are within walking distance from each other, so you can spend your afternoon discovering the thousands of displays, artworks, performances, and exhibitions. Visiting them is a dream come true for art lovers and history buffs.
You can take public transport to get to the Centre. It is accessible by car, train, bus, and ferry or by foot from the city centre via the Kurilpa footbridge or the Victoria Bridge. Due to its central location, it is close to numerous points of interest in the city.
Night: Markets at South Bank
South Bank won’t fail you day or night, so an evening walk is a must during your three days in Brisbane. The world-class eateries, casual and fine-dining restaurants, remarkable river views, and hundreds of events happening here year-round make it a wonderful place to unwind and relax. It’s also home to the famous Streets Beach, allowing you to walk on the white, sandy beach while waiting for the sun to set.
If you’re here on Friday or Saturday evening, you might be able to catch the Collective Markets. It features an exciting array of arts, crafts, exotic items, collectibles, and homewares. It’s a fantastic place to buy some unique gift items for your loved ones at home or souvenirs to remind you of your Brisbane adventure.
You’ll find the Collective Markets in South Bank every Friday from 5 pm to 9 pm, between 10 am to 9 pm on Saturday, and 9 am to 4 pm on Sunday. The Market is also an excellent destination to find some local organic produce, homemade items, and delicious treats. You’ll be treated to an inviting atmosphere, fabulous music, and fun entertainment as you discover some hidden gems to take home.
Brisbane itinerary – Day 3
Morning: Breakfast at Fortitude Valley
Fortitude Valley has long been recognized as the city’s nightlife district with numerous live music venues, bars, hotels, and restaurants. But it’s also an excellent spot for breakfast or brunch, with multiple cafes and coffee houses scattered throughout its discreet laneways and streets.
Check out The New Black Coffee, where you can indulge in a hearty brekky at Ann Street or the King Arthur Café at Arthur Street. They offer an extensive menu of breakfast and lunch and everything in between to keep you energized on your last day trip in Brisbane.
Of course, you can always begin your hunt and discover your own favorite breakfast destination in Fortitude Valley. Make your way through the key strips, like King Street, James Street, Wickham Street, and Brunswick Street. They have plenty of lovely cafes and brunch spots you can start your day at before heading to your next adventure.
Afternoon: Adventure at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
You can’t visit Brisbane and leave without cuddling a koala or feeding kangaroos. Thankfully, you don’t have to be out in the wild to have these incredible animal experiences. About 20 minutes from the city center is the first and largest koala sanctuary in the world, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. It is home to over a hundred koalas and seventy species of other animals native to Australia.
The Koala Sanctuary was established in 1927. Since then, it has been offering guests of all ages the chance to see and get up close and personal with the wildlife in a natural environment. Here, you can hold a koala, feed kangaroos, and watch shows and demonstrators from trained and knowledgeable zoo educators.
If you want to see more Australian animals and wildlife from different regions, including Southeast Asia and Africa, you can head to the Australia Zoo. It’s the home of the late Steve Irwin, the famed crocodile hunter, about more than an hour from the city.
Night: Views at the Mount Coot-tha Lookout
Travel to the western suburbs of Brisbane at night and take in the view of the city and catch a glimpse of the surrounding region. Approximately six kilometers west of the River City, Mount Coot-tha Lookout is Brisbane’s highest point and one of its most popular tourist attractions. You’ll want to arrive before the sun sets, so you can witness the transitioning sky and see the city radiating in a golden glow.
Take the time to read its timeline and learn about the mountain lookout’s history. The observation platform and Mt Coot-tha have a rich history that starts from the late 1830s. Then it was included on the heritage register in 1995 as a place of cultural significance.
There are various mountain bike trails and walking paths that lead from the lookout area. Taking the Citriodora Trail will take you down to the Botanic Gardens or the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium. It’s the state’s largest planetarium, located at the bottom of Mt Coot-tha, where you can enjoy an astronomical journey.
If you get hungry, grab a bite at the Summit Café, a hilltop restaurant, and café offering light refreshments and informal dining. You can also head to Summer Restaurant and Bar for a more formal dining experience.
Brisbane in 3 Days
There’s never a dull moment in the Queensland capital, whether you’re exploring on foot, traveling by car, taking public transport, or touring on the river. You’ll feel like your three days in Brisbane will just fly by, especially for first-time visitors who truly enjoy every spot in and around the city. There are a lot more places to visit and hidden gems to discover in Brisbane, but this three-day itinerary will help you get the most from your travel.
Still planning your visit to Brisbane? Check out these guides for more ideas!