Brisbane itinerary - recommended by an ex-pat
Brisbane is the largest city in Australia. Did you know that?
However, Brisbane is sparsely populated, making it the third-most populous city in Australia. It is where around 2.5 million people call home.
Being one of the cities that enjoys the most sunshine in Australia, it’s great to spend a weekend in Brisbane!
Coupled with recommendations from my ex-pat friends living in Brisbane, this is the Ultimate Brisbane Itinerary for a weekend for you to explore Brisbane!
Day 1 (Friday) - Brisbane Itinerary
To make your travel hassle-free, pre-book a transfer from the airport straight to your accommodation. It’s only 65 AUD for a group of you. If you have 2 or more, this is your best option of transport to start your Ultimate Brisbane Itinerary!
If you are travelling solo, it makes more sense to just take the airtrain. If you book in 7 days in advance, it costs 30 AUD for a return ticket to the city centre. Otherwise, it costs 39 AUD for a return ticket.
This Brisbane itinerary is modifiable depending on what time you arrive in Brisbane.
I will start this itinerary in Brisbane from 5 pm, assuming that you are arriving and checking in prior to that.
Howard Smith Wharves
Start your weekend trip in Brisbane at Howard Smith Wharves. This is an up and coming leisure destinations among the Brisbanites.
It is rebuilt from old wharf buildings which were under-appreciated. Not letting go this golden opportunity, developers rebuilt the wharves. They poured in new life into these factory-looking building by carefully curating the list of bars and restaurants here.
Howard Smith Wharves is enjoyed by thousands of visitors per day now.
Imagine sunshine on patchy grasses with a grandiose bridge in view. Do you not want a piece of that sunshine?
Mr Percival for Sunset drinks
Brisbane’s sunset is resplendent. Catch a glimpse of it by heading down to Mr Percival, an overwater bar located in Howard Smith Wharves.
With a menu featuring fresh seafood and quirky cocktails, it’s not hard to find out why Mr Percival is loved by many.
PS: The bar itself is super instagrammable.
Greca - Modern Greek by Brisbane River
After some much-needed drinks to kickstart your weekend in Brisbane, head to Greca. It is located right next to Mr Percival. Not much walking needed!
It is a contemporary Greek taverna offering the best Greek delicacies.
Born with a Malaysian background, I love sharing dishes. Greca does an impeccable job in delivering amazing shared dishes without compromising presentation and quality.
Make sure you have a reservation. Greca is unbelievably popular among tourists and locals alike. Don’t walk away with disappointment
Take a riverwalk
Brisbane normally has warm nights, making it pleasant to talk a stroll along the river after a sumptuous dinner.
Walk towards the city. Along the way, you will discover more al-fresco bar and restaurant options if you are down for more drinks by the river.
Death and Taxes - Award-winning bar
Go a little further to get into the Brisbane city centre. In term of bars, my absolute favourite is Death and Taxes.
It is outrageously difficult to get a seat here normally. According to my friends who are living in Brisbane, come at 9:30 pm or at most, 10 pm, to get a good seat.
We were very lucky to get a seat at the bar. Watching the mixologists adulterating liquors that I haven’t even heard of is a pure pleasure. It is a full-fledged performance.
After trying 6 drinks (or maybe more), my 2 favourites are the Huntsman and the Green Man. That’s how they named their cocktails.
Day 2 in Brisbane - Ultimate Brisbane Itinerary
Hopefully, you’d enjoy your Friday night and not wake up with a hangover.
If you have a hangover, head to Morning After for a hangover cure. A hearty breakfast and real coffee(s) are the things you need to get through this.
It can be really difficult to get a table so be patient. I love their blue swimmer crab omelette.
Davies Park Market
Walk to Davies Park Market after a hearty breakfast. If you haven’t got enough this is the place to snack.
Unfortunately, Davies Park Market has been scaled down over the years. It is still a decent-sized market with lots of offerings!
The best part is the huge park next to it. Get some patisseries and a second dose of caffeine and enjoy the sunshine!
Davies Park Market is only opened on Saturdays so make sure you don’t miss it!
Explore South Bank precinct - favourite part of Brisbane
Next thing on the list of this Brisbane Itinerary is to head to South Bank. I am really jealous of Brisbanites as there are many cool places for them to chill at. I will write a proper guide on how to explore South Bank properly. Stay tuned!
Have lunch at Mado - Modern Turkish Cuisine
Conveniently located next to South Bank, enjoy an eclectic Turkish cuisine.
The alfresco dining option elevates the dining experience at Mado. Highly recommend it if you think that Turkish cuisine is just HSP and kebabs.
Make a reservation to make sure you get a seat.
Queensland Art Gallery And Gallery of Modern Art
After lunch, head to Queensland Art Gallery to enjoy its free exhibition!
The exhibition is quite small. It takes around 2-3 hours to fully appreciate it. At times, there are fascinating exhibitions requiring paid admission.
When I was there, they had a spider exhibition and another water exhibition.
Always check the most updated events on the official before going so you can get the most out of your weekend in Brisbane!
Admire Brisbane City from South Bank
If you have more time, check out Victoria Bridge and admire Brisbane City from here.
Victoria Bridge has faced many, many floods. It was rebuilt many times to cope with the frequent floods caused by Brisbane River.
Julius - hearty Italian food
So Julius has by far THE BEST ragu that I have tried in Australia.
As they don’t take reservations, you might have to wait up to an hour for a table.
TIP: Head to the restaurant and put your name down first. Head to Charming Squire for a pint and then when you are done with the pint, your table is probably ready!
I can still taste the duck ragu in my tongue.
It's time to party!
There are many nice areas to have a few drinks. Whether you want a cordial soirée or a lit party, Brisbane has it all.
The main areas are: South Bank, Brisbane CBD, Howard Smith Wharves and Fortitude Valley
My take is to go to Fortitude Valley because it can satisfy both worlds.
There are many chic rooftop bars in Fortitude Valley. Alfred and Constance, Eleven, Elixir are among the few famous ones that have been on the radar for a long time.
If you want a lit night out, start with X Cargo. It’s a multilevel, alfresco bar offering a huge dance floor. There is also a grassy area for you to sit should your heels start to hurt.
X Cargo is cheap so the crowd is younger.
After X Cargo, head to The Beat if you want a club, club.
If not, head to Brunswick Street to look for food if you’re hungry. I went to Yiros (next to Auss Kebab Shop) and had a satisfying kebab/gyros/HSP. Kiss the Valley goodbye with a full tummy!
2nd Day In Brisbane: Alternative
If you are feeling outdoorsy, head to Moreton Island for some sand dunes and kayaking! It is quite difficult to DIY Moreton Island so just go with a tour.
For something less taxing, see the Glow Worm Cave!
Day 3 in Brisbane - Things to do on a Sunday in Brisbane
Spend a day at Lone Pine Sanctuary
This Brisbane Itinerary can go two ways: You can spend half a day at Lone Pine Sanctuary and then come back to do other things listed here. Or you can just spend the whole day taking in the city.
Prebook your admission ticket before you go! Lone Pine is so popular you don’t wanna be waiting in the queue just to get a ticket.
Head to Gaswork Plaza
Gaswork Plaza was once used for gas works in Brisbane, supplying gas to the Brisbane community. It has been renovated into an upscale residential and commercial precinct.
The tall iron structures and gasometers are worth a glimpse!
You can reach there on foot, by bus or even better, by ferry!
Yolk - Humble bacon and egg roll
If you are not waking up too late for breakfast, head to Yolk at Gaswork Plaza.
It’s a pretty light breakfast. Bacon and egg roll with fluffy brioche +/- halloumi, who can say that’s not comforting after a night out?
Standard Market Company
Standard Market Company is a gourmet grocer that holds the finest produce and homemade products that Queenslanders have to offer.
Things I have bought here include boysenberry jam, harissa paste, some saffron, amazing cheeses and charcuterie, tagliatelle amongst other wonderful ingredients.
If you are a foodie travelling in Brisbane, there is a high possibility of you overspending here so watch out!
Take a ferry back to the City Botanic Garden
CityCat is the name of the iconic ferry in Brisbane. It is also one of the cheapest ways to take in the beauty of Brisbane city.
This is my highlight of this Brisbane itinerary so make sure you do it too!
The ferry stops at many places so depending on where you want to go, you can stop at places like New Farm, University of Queensland, South Bank, Eagle Street Pier and more.
I stopped at QUT Gardens Point to go to City Botanic Garden.
Unlike most botanical gardens in Australia, the City Botanic Garden in Brisbane offers a lush tropical rainforest walk along with expansive grass patches to sit on while taking in the cityscape of Brisbane.
Take a ferry back to the City Botanic Garden
Maru for Korean BBQ for lunch
Since we only had a small breakfast, head to Maru for an authentic Korean BBQ experience.
It is one of the largest Korean BBQ places in the whole of Brisbane. As this would be one of your last meals for your weekend trip in Brisbane, make sure you savour it all.
Get some Korean beer to go down with succulent pieces of meat. And fret not, it’s not the smoky kind of Korean BBQ that you normally go to so you won’t smell too bad!
Depending on how much time you have got left, walk around the city centre before you head back to your accommodation and kiss Brisbane goodbye!
End of this Brisbane Itinerary
I hope you loved reading this Brisbane Itinerary as much as I enjoyed writing it! It’s very targeted towards foodie travellers as you could already tell most of this Brisbane itinerary revolves around food.
Where to stay
After living in Kuala Lumpur, Paris and Melbourne, Brisbane is considered a small city to me. That’s great because it’s super walkable. Depending on your budget and what you prioritise, here are the three best areas to stay in Brisbane during your weekend trip to Brisbane.
South Bank - for the laid-back vibe
You don’t have to stay right in the middle of South Bank as it will be too expensive! Stay with Arise Ivy and Eve Apartments as it is so much cheaper! Moreover, you get an epic view of the cityscape of Brisbane too!
Fortitude Valley - for the nocturnally-inclined
If you are looking for a cheap accommodation in Brisbane, stay with Amelia Boutique Hotel. It’s close to a metro station, Chinatown, upscale bars and restaurants amongst many other amenities. The best thing is you can WALK back after a huge night out at Fortitude Valley. Forget about outrageous Uber surges!
Brisbane CBD - for the best of both worlds
To be right in the middle of the action, stay with Oaks Brisbane on Margaret Suites. Strategically located in Brisbane CBD, it has raving reviews due to its close proximity to the botanic garden and easy public transport option. You will have an amazing view of the garden, the river and Southbank. Well that’s a perfect start to your weekend trip in Brisbane!
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