Brisbane is Australia's third-largest and fastest-growing city. Brisbane's “beautiful one day, perfect the next” weather has earned the city a reputation for being a great year-round holiday destination.
No longer the “overgrown country town” of mythic yore, today's Brisbane boasts a lively and growing arts scene, burgeoning bar culture, and a just-pleasant degree of hustle-bustle in its downtown streets, malls, and markets.
What remains unchanged about Brisbane is the quintessential down-to-earth, friendly atmosphere that's always made Brisbane a pleasure to visit.
Getting in and around Brisbane
All flights to Brisbane arrive at Brisbane Airport(BNE), with two terminals (Brisbane Domestic and Brisbane International) generally corresponding to flights arriving from international and domestic locations. Note that some domestic flights do arrive into Brisbane International terminal, so check your ticket.
As with most major cities, you don't need to rent a car to get in and out of the airport. Taxis are also available just outside, as is the Brisbane AirTrain, offering fairly regular services (every 15-30 minutes) with a 15-minute journey between both airport terminals and Central Station. Brisbane airport parking is reasonably-priced, should you be getting picked up by a friend.
Outside of squashy peak hours, Brisbane's public transit system comprises a quite useable network of buses and trains on land, and catamarans (CityCats) and ferries on the river. Bus services to inner-city suburbs usually depart the CBD every 15 minutes (outer suburban routes are less frequent), and trains run half-hourly on most lines.
Brisbane Car Hire
If you're considering renting a car for the duration of your stay (and it's recommended, as Brisbane trains and buses are struggling to keep up with recent population growth), you can do so in many locations around town with a valid Australian or International Drivers Licence.
If at the airport you need to collect or arrange car hire, Brisbane airport's arrivals area is home to representatives from Avis, Hertz, Thrifty, and other Brisbane car rental operators.
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The CBD and inner city suburbs - the best places to dine, drink and hang with the locals - are home to many world-class Brisbane hotels, making it easy for guests to really experience the river city, as well as get around to all its must-see's and do's. Most major chains are represented, as are some great distinctively Brisbane accommodation offerings:
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- The Marriott is stylish, classic, and offers views of the Brisbane River and Story Bridge from its CBD location.
- If you want to be close to the action, Emporium Hotel is a contemporary luxury option in the middle of the buzzing Valley region.
- Hotel Ibis is a superb, freshly-renovated 3.5 star hotel close to everything, on the Roma Street side of the CBD.
- Snooze Inn is a quiet boutique/budget hotel with cute, compact rooms just a short walk from Valley nightlife and transport.
- The Palace Backpackers in the heart of the CBD is remembered fondly by backpackers all over the world. Only steps from Central Station.
- Bunk is funky, award-winning, and smack-bang in the middle of the Valley.
Things to do in Brisbane
Climbing the Story Bridge has become one of Brisbane's must-do visitor activities. Book in for a sunset climb to see the River City at its dramatic finest.
Fortitude Valley (or just the Valley) is Brisbane's nightlife hub. With cafes lining Brunswick Street mall, the Valley's main drag, go out for a bite to eat before you hit the bars. Brisbane trains and run 'til about 1am, and additional buses and trains depart periodically through the early hours with the weekend NightLink service, so grab a timetable and feel free to enjoy yourself.
West End is another hub of dining and bar activity (though only up until the mid-to-late evening hours here). A long-time counter-cultural hangout, West End hasn't lost its indie flavour in recent years of gentrification: new up market cafes and cocktail lounges sharing space with Boundary Road's long-time independent clothing and book stores retain about them a sense of the unique and different.
Cultural Centre. Just over the river from the CBD you'll find Brisbane's official Cultural Centre: its State Library, Performing Arts Complex, Museum, and Art Galleries. The Museum has recently undergone a modernising transformation, and the newly opened Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) is a particular point of pride: housed in an impressive building with river views through its back glass wall, it throws open doors to a bar, complete with live music, during its late opening hours on Friday nights.
Southbank Parklands (or Southbank) is synonymous in Brisbane with family fun.Its chlorinated and lifeguard-protected man-made beach is perfect for kids, and mums and dads will love browsing the souvenirs and handicrafts on sale at the Southbank Night Markets on weekends.
Botanic Gardens reach right round the tip of the CBD, providing city-dwellers with green space to picnic, ride a bike, or throw a Frisbee around with friends on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
New Farm Park, around a bend in the river, attracts cosmopolitan local residents. (While you're in New Farm, check out the floating river walkway: ask anyone for directions.)
Roma Street Gardens offers themed gardens and public artworks to boot.
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Day trips in and around Brisbane
Surfer's Paradise on the Gold Coast , about an hour from Brisbane, attracts tourists and locals alike for some of the best beach and party life around.
Noosa on the Sunshine Coast is a more tranquil alternative, worth a visit for those seeking sun, surf and sand but with less of the Gold Coast's party atmosphere.
Moreton Island, just off the coast of Brisbane, is a great destination for four-wheel driving, camping and fishing. Clear freshwater lagoons, white sandy beaches, and the opportunity to swim with wild dolphins.
North Stradbroke Island is just south of Moreton Island, peaceful it is known for its long clean white beaches and its diverse range of flora and fauna. Go camping, snorkelling, scuba diving, or take an eco tour.
Australia Zoo this world famous Zoo is just out of Brisbane and is the place to go to pet a kangaroo or cuddle a koala.
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