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Best Things To Do In Brisbane: Where to Eat, Drink, Stay and Play

Brisbane has been named in the New York Times top 52 places to visit in 2024! Discover why in our guide to the best things to do in Brisbane.

Mr Percival's

Wedged between the ocean and rugged national parks, the buzzing cosmopolitan city of Brisbane offers much to explore. Whether you want to delve into the latest art collection at the Gallery of Modern Art, sample the delightful flavours of Fish Lane, or simply soak up the city’s stunning riverside views, Queensland’s capital is a weekend destination to get excited about. The food and lifestyle scenes have stepped it up a notch to compete with Australia’s bigger capital cities, so nowadays you’ll find no shortage of rooftop bars, fine dining restaurants, quirky new bars or incredible shopping.

So, to plan your next weekend getaway, we’ve put together the best things to do in and around Brisbane CBD. Here’s our handpicked edit of where to eat, sleep, drink and play in Queensland’s definitive city of culture.

Best Things to Do in Brisbane: Eat

Southside Restaurant

Southside Restaurant

An absolute must-do on Brisbane’s dining scene is Southside. An urban oasis, tucked beneath the train bridges of South Brisbane and surrounded by greenery, this is easily one of the best restaurants to visit in Brisbane for an elevated meal. Their menu features East-Asian cuisine, heavily influenced by Chinese tradition, and the sommelier is at hand to provide top-notch wine recommendations from local producers. Southside is a feast for all the senses, so we recommend making a booking and treating yourself to a special night here the next time you’re seeking one of the best things to do in Brisbane. 

Fish Lane Town Square, 63 Melbourne Street, South Brisbane

Agnes Restaurant

Built around the concept of cooking on an open fire, Agnes even presents like a hearth, with minimalistic decor and moody lighting. There are three levels within the restaurant - the main dining room, a wine bar and a rooftop bar - each offering an ambient and intimate setting for your meal. The hospitality is effortlessly executed with friendly and accommodating service, whilst each meal will ignite your taste buds and utterly exceed expectations. Visiting Agnes is one of the best things to do in Brisbane, and we believe it’s well worth discovering that fact for yourself on your next visit.

22 Agnes Street, Fortitude Valley

Eat Street Markets (Photo Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland)

Eat Street Markets

The iconic Eat Street Markets are a must-do when you visit Brisbane! Sprawling along the Northshore precinct, the markets have grown from a pop-up event to an established food, drink and entertainment precinct of their own. Operating from Friday to Sunday, we recommend coming down to Eat Street for some sundowners with a view over the water and working up an appetite by exploring all the different shopping stalls. Then you can eat your way around the world, with a whole array of cuisines on offer and enjoy some live entertainment as you dine. You’ll discover over 70 traders, including 5 different bars and many micro-restaurants housed in repurposed shipping containers on this historic disused wharf in Brisbane.

221D MacArthur Avenue, Hamilton

sAme sAme

sAme sAme

Searching for the best thing to do in Brisbane? Visit one of the city’s most popular dining destinations for modern, Asian-inspired eats. Can’t decide what to order? It’s a popular problem at sAme sAme. Luckily for you, they offer a bountiful banquet that rounds up their most popular dishes (dependent on seasonality) for you to dig into with your nearest and dearest. You’ll soon discover why this tasty Thai restaurant is ever popular and why all of your friends keep coming back here!

Shop AM3 Ada Lane, 46 James Street, Fortitude Valley

Harveys Bar + Bistro

Harveys Bar + Bistro

Nestled on James Street in Fortitude Valley, Harveys Bar + Bistro is considered somewhat of a Brisbane breakfast institution, dishing up on-point potato rostis, pancakes, tortillas and moreish fruit bowls, along with plenty more delightful morning libations guaranteed to put a spring in your step. When the weather’s nice, be sure to grab a seat outdoors on the foliage-filled terrace. Once you’re finished breakfasting, you’ve got one of Brisbane’s best shopping destinations right at your feet.

4/31 James Street, Fortitude Valley


Hellenika at the Calile

Modern Greek oozing with poolside charm. Hellenika is one of Brisbane’s finest. It's part of the achingly cool Calile hotel – you’ll want to come here for the pool deck cabanas, but once you see the menu, your taste buds will take over. Look forward to deliciously authentic Greek cuisine, served inside the dusky peach, wooden-clad restaurant, or outside in the olive tree-lined alfresco terrace which overlooks the glamorous hotel pool. Even if you haven’t opted to stay at this luxe Brisbane accommodation option, the urban resort vibes of the pool and bar areas will instantly make you feel right at home.

48 James Street, Fortitude Valley

La Lune

La Lune

Inspired by the beautiful French region of Burgundy, this slick wine bar-cum-bistro comes drizzled with European charm. Boasting an impressive collection of over 150 wines, mostly sourced from Europe or local drops made in an old-world style, wine buffs can sample an array of wonderful aromas and unique blends – there's something to suit every taste and budget. Grab a seat at the bar to pair your wine with cheese, charcuterie and oysters, or take a set in the restaurant and delve into decadent plates from their elevated and ever-changing menu.

Shop 3, 109 Melbourne Street, South Brisbane



Babylon is a sprawling Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant and bar on the banks of the Brisbane River and needs to be added to your must-visit list, pronto.

With one location already in Sydney's CBD, this new Brisbane venue cascades down three levels that encompass multiple bars, terraces, and vibrant dining spaces. The interiors are inspired by the once-thriving metropolis, as well as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Think abundant greenery and timber, juxtaposed against silky and velvety upholstery – sophisticated yet relaxed.

For the curated cuisine, Head Chef Ferdinand Sari has developed a menu inspired by the rich and flavourful Levantine cuisine of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean and perfect for sharing. Think gozleme, meze, homemade bread, loads of fresh seafood and wood-fired feasts.

The Babylon Gardens, a waterfront alfresco bar is a more casual dining destination for those seeking a CBD dining destination or a post-work drink. Take a seat by the water and enjoy the gorgeous view, fresh air and decadent cocktails at this stunning new Brisbane venue.

145 Eagle Street, Brisbane

Best Things to Do in Brisbane: Drink

Mr Percival's

Mr Percival’s

The crowning jewel of the Howard Smith Wharves, Mr Percival’s pastel-hued palace scores top points for ambience and style. Set right on the water, you’ll be treated to showstopping views overlooking the river, whilst inside, the stunning indoor-outdoor space comes splashed with salmon pinks, retro upholstery and Moroccan-style floor tiles. Interiors come courtesy of Anna Spiro – the brains behind the beautiful Halcyon House – and the seafood-heavy Mediterranean-inspired menu is helmed by former Fish House chef, Damien Styles. Start with calamari and oysters on ice and finish with a Limoncello Spritz.

Howard Smith Wharves, 5 Boundary Street, Brisbane

Ardo's Wine Bar


Calling Newstead, Graceville and Hawthorne home, Ardo’s is a sweet little hole in the wall to sit and savour a drink with your pals on the weekend. Also serving as a friendly wine and artisanal snacks store, Ardo’s literally has Gerler wines on tap, as well as drops from local and international wineries on the shelf. Sit back and let the Wine Guides recommend a tasty new tipple for you at this cosy wine bar in Brisbane. It’s a must-try for any wine lovers visiting Brisbane to showcase what our local growers and producers have up their sleeves!

Various locations

Lina Rooftop

Lina Rooftop

Feel like you’ve stepped out of Brisbane and into the Mediterranean when you arrive at Lina Rooftop! This luxe and spacious open rooftop bar also features a stunning infinity pool to elevate your visit to vacay vibes immediately. Recline on a day bed with rosè in hand and gourmet bites at the ready, while you enjoy the incredible view over the Brisbane city skyline. It’s easily one of the best ways to spend an afternoon in Brisbane.

74-80 Tribune Street, South Brisbane

Riverbar & Kitchen

Riverbar & Kitchen

Matt Moran’s waterside oasis, this alfresco spot comes with front-row seats overlooking the river and Story Bridge. Riverbar & Kitchen is laidback with a quintessential Queensland fit-out – distressed, bleached woods and vintage coastal décor – and a nifty menu of pub classics. The venue and its food and beverage offering have recently been refreshed after suffering in the 2022 floods. The extensive menu features options for every taste profile (including plenty for our gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan friends). Swing by for sunset drinks on the tropical garden terrace and drink in the riverfront views.

Riparian Plaza, Promenade Level, 71 Eagle Street, Brisbane City

Savile Row

Savile Row

A hidden gem that will transport you straight to the streets of London, Savile Row’s vintage décor and classic cocktail list will have you hooked instantly. Hidden behind an unassuming orange door in Fortitude Valley, this sultry speakeasy comes decked out in dark woods, giant chandeliers and swathes of brass and leather. If you want a taste of London circa 1930, this is where you’ll find it. Boasting one of the largest spirits collections in the city, you’ll never be bored selecting a drink at this must-visit Brisbane bar. 

667 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley

Best Things to Do in Brisbane: Play

Vintage Picnic Company

Enjoy a Picnic 

Make the most of Brisbane’s balmy climate with an amorous picnic for two. The city has an abundance of green open spaces, so there’s an endless choice for alfresco fun – Kangaroo Point and the City Botanic Gardens are two of our favourites. But if you really want to impress and indulge, order from the Vintage Picnic Company. They’ll prepare a lavish picnic feast complete with woollen blankets and comfy cushions, together with a table laid out with China, silver and glassware. This is a fancy kind of picnic affair. Inside your wicker basket you’ll find a delicious selection of sandwiches, canapés and cakes, plus a bottle of bubbly chilling on ice. Simply choose the location, pick a playlist on the retro stereo and enjoy.

Three-course picnic $330, hampers from $50

Roma Street Parklands

Roma Street Parklands

The Roma Street Parklands is a gorgeous place to spend your time when you’re looking for free things to do in Brisbane. Whether you bring some friends for a nature walk, a book for some quiet time, or a picnic to enjoy, this is one of our favourite places in the city to visit. The stunning gardens are impeccably maintained, and feature seasonal plants, flowers and food plants for you to explore. You can sometimes find events here for all ages, so be sure to check online to see what’s on! Keep your eyes peeled for water dragons, they’re often sunbaking on rocks or pathways. If strolling the Parklands 16 hectares has you working up an appetite, you’ll find The Garden Room near the centre of the park. This hidden gem serves up tasty plates and coffee to refuel locals and visitors to the city.

1 Parkland Boulevard, Brisbane

"Streets Beach" at South Bank

Stroll Through South Bank 

A visit to Brisbane wouldn’t be complete without a stroll through the city’s iconic South Bank. The city’s cultural and entertainment hub, here you’ll find the Performing Arts Centre (QPAC),  the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Streets Beach (Australia’s only inner-city, man-made beach),  and the 60m-high Wheel of Brisbane. Walk along the riverside South Bank strip, then stop off at the Epicurious Garden where you can pick your own herbs and plants and take them away with you.

Brisbane City Markets (Image credit: Tourism & Events Queensland)

Visit the Brisbane City Markets 

Stock up on wholesome fresh goodness for the week, or sample some of the incredible street food stalls, serving up tasty eats from all corners of the globe at Brisbane City Markets. If you’re not staying close to the city, there are multiple other market options to choose from, we recommend scanning through our guide to Brisbane’s best markets to find one to visit when you’re exploring the city.

Reddacliff Place, George Street, 8am-6pm every Wednesday

Cathedral Square (corner of Wharf & Ann Street, The City), every Thursday 8am-2:30pm


Scoot Around The City 

The easiest (and most fun) way to explore the city is by scooter. Download the Neuron or Beam app and scoot around the city with ease. For the best views, be sure to take the riverside route. Scroll through our list of the best walks in Brisbane that you can scoot along to take in some of the best views of the city but at a faster pace!

$1 to unlock the scooter then 45c per minute

James Street

Shop Up a Storm 

It might just be us… but we think shopping is one of the best things to do in Brisbane. Queen Street Mall and neighbouring Edward Street is the place to head for high-end, designer luxe, or for more unique finds, take a stroll to James Street. Here you’ll find the city’s best boutiques sitting alongside a selection of chic bars and cafés - it’s the perfect way to while away an afternoon. Explore our guide to the best shopping destinations in the city to find your dream shopping district.

Brooklyn Standard

Bust A Groove at Brooklyn Standard

Offering a taste of underground Brooklyn in the heart of Brisbane CBD, this late-night New York-style haunt hosts live music sets almost every night of the week. A mix of blues, funk and jazz, cocktails, tapas and a basement Doo-Bop Jazz Bar promises brassy sounds until 3am. This is the place to come for an after-dark dance-off! 

Eagle Lane, Brisbane City

Best Things to Do in Brisbane: Stay

The Calile

The Calile

With sun-bleached pinks, sandy beiges and gilded décor throughout, the Calile's self-styled urban resort has ‘Insta-worthy’ written all over it. But it's the outdoor pastel-hued pool, chic cabanas and exotic surrounding palm trees that give it that added tropical elegance – this architectural gem has Palm Springs written all over it. Cool in every sense of the word, the rooms are on point, the pool is positively dreamy, and it's also home to one of Brisbane's best Greek restaurants, Hellenika, which overlooks the pool deck and James Street.

From $341 per night

48 James Street, Fortitude Valley

The Constance Hotel

The Constance Hotel 

Undeniably one of Brisbane’s coolest boutiques, The Constance is the city’s very first street art hotel. And believe us, it more than delivers. Setting the tone before you even step foot inside, graffiti artworks adorn almost every nook and cranny of this city-fringe hotel, inside and out – from the face motif painted on the exterior of the building to the Picasso-inspired courtyards. Art buffs will relish in the creativity of these design-forward digs. Industrial-chic to the max with a buzzing rooftop bar that boasts impressive views of the city along with a tasty cocktail list and live DJ sets. Step outside and you’ll find plenty of hipster dining spots and trendy bars to keep you fed and entertained. Alternatively, book a private spa room where you can sink into the balcony hot tub with a glass of fizz, as the city comes alive below.

From $199 per night

14-20 Constance Street, Fortitude Valley

Emporium Hotel South Bank

Emporium Hotel South Bank

If you like your hotels with a splash of bling, the Emporium Hotel overlooking the city’s South Bank ticks every box. Sprawl out in their ultra-modern suites with luxury spa baths, Bose audio and wide-screen TVs, plus you’ll be treated to a relaxing pillow menu that will guarantee a blissful night’s sleep. Don’t miss the Insta-worthy rooftop Terrace Bar, where a glistening infinity pool, palm trees and panoramic skyline views await.

From $329 per night

267 Grey Street, South Bank

Miss Midgley’s

Miss Midgley’s

Delightful & unique! This boutique heritage accommodation has been reimagined and revitalised into chic, self-contained lodgings, where contemporary functionality combines with beautiful aesthetics. What was once one of Brisbane's oldest heritage homes, Miss Midgley's is now a series of apartments, all air-conditioned, with functional kitchens and private outdoor space. There is a pointed focus on casual, playful design. The common pool area features an elegant tropical garden and a small sun deck. If you’ve been looking for Brisbane accommodation that is an experience in itself, this really is the space for you.

From $370 per night

135 James Street, New Farm

W Brisbane

W Brisbane

Turn up the fancy factor at the 5-star W Hotel! Nestled right in the heart of Brisbane on North Quay, this luxurious destination has spacious guest rooms (the largest in Brisbane, in fact) with riverside views. Dine in style at the hotel’s signature restaurant The Lex, which channels the energy of a New York City grill, but with all the sophistication and flair you’ve come to expect from the Marriott family. This luxe Brisbane CBD accommodation also boasts an incredible spa as well as the utterly iconic Wet Deck pool and bar, overlooking the city skyline. If you’re searching for the best accommodation in the Brisbane CBD, the W Hotel is a strong contender.

From $369 per night

81 North Quay, Brisbane

Best Things to Do in Brisbane: Culture

Museum Of Brisbane

Museum Of Brisbane 

You could be forgiven for forgetting about this little museum tucked within City Hall, but it’s one not to be missed! The Museum of Brisbane is free to visit and contains a variety of historical photographs, artworks and installations that tell the history of Brisbane and its people. They regularly feature different exhibitions and installations, so you never know what you might discover! You can also book a free Clock Tower Tour and have your very own Boy Swallows Universe moment. They operate daily every 15 minutes, but bookings are essential!


Level 3, Brisbane City Hall, 64 Adelaide Street, Brisbane City

Catch A Show At QPAC

Catch A Show At QPAC 

For a spot of culture, take refuge inside the Queensland Performing Arts Centre for a spectacular live ballet performance. With a mix of classic and contemporary dances, we guarantee you won’t leave disappointed. Spanning four theatre venues in one precinct, QPAC is Brisbane’s premier destination for live performance. If ballet isn’t your thing, scan the calendar for musicals, opera, comedy and so much more.

Cnr Grey and Melbourne Street, South Brisbane

Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)

Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) 

Yet another awesome free thing to do in Brisbane, GOMA showcases contemporary art from across Australia, Asia and the Pacific. Spend hours roaming through the galleries, or if you have little ones with you check out the Children’s Art Centre (it’s always free). As for the galleries themselves, General Admission is free, and now and then they host ticketed exhibitions and special events. GOMA is high on our list as one of the best things to do in Brisbane (either as a local or a visitor!). You can easily spend a day wandering South Bank, dining at restaurants or cafes before meandering through this iconic gallery.

Stanley Place, South Brisbane

Brisbane Powerhouse

Brisbane Powerhouse

The Brisbane Powerhouse is Queensland’s home of contemporary culture and art, and it’s not bad on the eyes either. This former 1920’s power station now sees over 1250 performances and events each year, ranging from music, theatre, comedy, dance, film, visual arts and much more. If you’re searching for things to do in Brisbane on your visit, be sure to take a look at their website to explore what events are on the calendar. 

Even if you’re not popping past for a show, the Powerhouse is still an incredible place to visit. There are exhibitions on showcase in the galleries, a unique gift store to explore, a riverfront bar and restaurant as well as some fantastic views of the Brisbane River to enjoy. You’re also in close proximity to New Farm Park and the Teneriffe Riverwalk, so you can stroll around and explore some of the best of Brisbane. 

Open every day, 9:00am till late

Jagera Country, 119 Lamington Street, New Farm

Queensland Museum

Queensland Museum 

Located in the heart of South Bank’s cultural precinct, the Queensland Museum is a must-do for anyone travelling to Brisbane. With an annual calendar of travelling national and international exhibitions, the Museum is full of awe-inspiring ancient artifacts, preserved creatures great and small, and rare books that will bring a little wonder and joy to your visit.


Corner of Grey and Melbourne Streets, South Bank, South Brisbane

Now that you’ve packed your calendar full of the best things to do in Brisbane, extend your stay and explore some of the dreamiest day trips from Brisbane! Queensland is also home to some of the most gorgeous beaches, so make sure you add the best of them to your radar for your visit to Brisbane.

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