Brisbane’s city centre combines modern high-rise buildings with 19th century historic architecture. It’s a lively hub of businesses, shops, restaurants, bars and non-stop action.
Queen Street Mall lies at the heart of Brisbane’s city centre and is one of Australia’s most popular pedestrian shopping strips. Packed with locals and visitors every day of the week, it’s lined with restaurants, cafes, retail boutiques, food courts and multi-level department stores for everything you need. Nearby, Elizabeth Street, Edward Street, Albert Street and Adelaide Street offer more opportunities for some serious retail therapy.
Breathe in the fresh air at the lush City Botanic Gardens on Alice Street. As the oldest city park in Brisbane, it blooms with tropical flora and fauna with plenty of picnic tables and shady spots to sit and watch the Brisbane River. There are free one-hour guided walks starting from the Rotunda at 11am and 1pm Monday to Saturday where you can learn all about the gardens and their history.
The Riverstage is also located within the City Botanic Gardens and is the venue for many major concerts, festivals and entertainment events. Shop for local produce, fashion and accessories at the Brisbane City Markets every Wednesday and Thursday. You can also catch the BrisStyle Markets on select days throughout the year for locally made arts and crafts. The popular Twilight Markets are located in King George Square and see designers and makers selling their handmade jewellery, art, unique gifts and gourmet food.
Central Brisbane is a foodie’s dream, and you’ll find all kinds of cuisines in the many restaurants, cafes, bars and taverns located across the area. Down Under Bar & Grill is a popular bar for students and backpackers, serving up good pub food and meal deals, cheap drinks and a party atmosphere. Harajuku Gyoza Albert Lane offers mouth-watering dumplings and beer, Red Hook brings New York street food at cheap prices, and Noosa Chocolate Factory sells handcrafted chocolate treats.
Head to Fat Louie’s for karaoke tunes, DJs and a lively crowd. Sunday is student day at the Stock Exchange Hotel, with three rooms of DJs, games and prizes to be won each week. On Thursdays, the Victory Hotel hosts Uni Night, with themed parties, live music, karaoke and a nightclub that stays open until 5am. Mr & Mrs G Riverbar offers fancy cocktails and river views, while The Gresham Bar mixes upmarket drinks and old-world glamour in a vintage setting.
For a big dose of trendy laneway culture, check out Burnett Lane, the oldest laneway in Brisbane. Tucked between George Street and Albert Street, you’ll find several chic bars, restaurants and cafes here, including Pho City, El Matador Tapas Bar and Funny Funny Korean Restaurant.
Hillsong Church has a Brisbane Downtown Campus located on George Street. Its services are renowned for being upbeat and very inclusive with a huge diverse following of young people. There’s also the Albert Street Uniting Church, Your Church In Brisbane City, and the Cathedral of St Stephen, a Roman Catholic church on Elizabeth Street whose magnificent stained-glass cathedral dates back to 1863.
Brisbane Square Library on George Street is a fantastic study hub with free wi-fi, spacious study zones, printing facilities and a huge range of print and digital resources. The library also holds English Conversation Groups every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday.
CBD 7 Day Medical Centre on Albert Street offers a wide range of services including physical, mental and sexual health care, with several multilingual doctors and a Japanese interpreter available.
Brisbane has a strong convict past, and you can learn all about it on a tour through the streets of central Brisbane. When the city was first colonised, it was an infamous convict colony where the worst of the worst convicts in Australia were imprisoned. Discover the city’s bloody history with a fun and informative guided walking tour from Ghost Tours Australia.
Climb the iconic Story Bridge for panoramic views of Brisbane City. The Story Bridge spans the Brisbane River at 1,072 metres long and 80 metres high. Story Bridge Adventure Climb runs multiple tours, including twilight and night-time, with the opportunity to abseil down from the top.
One of the best ways to get to know Brisbane is through the eyes of a local. You can explore the city through Brisbane Greeters, a free tour service run by friendly locals. Brisbane Greeters are proud and passionate volunteers who are keen to share Brisbane’s stories, show you some great spots and introduce you to the city.