Queensland’s culture capital
Spend 3 days in sunny Brisbane this winter
Look, we know, that frosty southern winter has chilled you right to your bones. You’re craving an escape to feel the sun’s warming rays again but you still want that big city fun, with cocktails, live music and killer food. And that’s why you’ve come here, because Brisbane is your perfect destination. You’ll need more than one day to thaw out, so we’ve planned an ideal weekend to soak up Queensland’s culture capital.
Kick off with aperitivo in the City
Holidays call for day drinking and in Brisbane panoramic riverside views are a necessity. Take inspiration from the Italians at Bar OTTO and order an Aperol spritz and arancini balls, or head to Brisbane’s super chic new W Hotel and give the new bar a workout.
Steak or spice
Arrive early for your reservation at Walter’s Steakhouse, a charming old-world brasserie, to order a martini. Beyond excellent steak (cut and dry-aged in-house), find other meaty mains, great salads and epic sides. Alternatively add heat at Spice Den, a slick Asian-inspired restaurant on the CBD fringe serving crispy chicken and crab wontons and spiced lamb roti, or hop to Fortitude Valley early and try Little Valley, a new Cantonese-inspired restaurant from the people behind Rick Shores and LongTime.
Seek out local, live music
From music venues big and small, sweaty and intimate, DIY and otherwise, Fortitude Valley is the city’s beating heart. Not only a destination for touring artists, Brisbane breeds excellent local bands and musicians. For big acts see what’s on at The Triffid or The Tivoli, for those smaller gems wander into Black Bear Lodge, The Zoo or Press Club.
Unwind with a nightcap
Push through the orange door and past the black curtain on Ann St into Savile Row for excellent cocktails, neat whisky and a moody vibe, or try The Bowery across the road for classic drinks at a classic spot. If your idea of a nightcap is a late-night burger, drop into Brisbane’s favourite fried chicken sandwich store Lucky Egg. The tunes at Blute’s Bar next door might entice you in for a boogie.
Eggs or waffles?
You can’t skip breakfast when in Brisbane. Apparently we’re the earliest rising city in the world, and so no surprise we need good morning fuel. Ask any local where to go for the best eggs benny and you’ll get a different answer, so we’ve rounded up a bunch of our breakfast and brunch favourites over here for you to take a pick. Want somewhere new? Try Fortitude Valley’s The New Black for chef meals and Queensland coffee, super hip Jessie’s Girl on Petrie Terrace, or Three Blue Ducks in the city for the views and local produce.
Wander South Bank
Walk off the hollandaise with a lap around South Bank. Even us locals can’t deny the charms of the riverside parkland. Start at the River Quay or South Bank train station end, and wander through the edible Epicurious Garden, along the riverfront Clem Jones Promenade towards Street Beach. Did you pack your togs? Sorry, that’s Queensland speak. Let’s try again. Did you pack your swimmers, bathers, budgie smugglers? This man-made tropical beach is open year-round in the middle of city, and chances are it’ll be warm enough to swim. Besides, you’d dive in for that perfect Instagram shot, right?
All that splashing about beneath the palm trees (*sigh*) ought to have made you hungry. Along Little Stanley and Grey streets restaurants, cafes and bars fill the sidewalk. For something quick and cheap, order a bowl of Australia’s best ramen (it’s true) at Taro’s Ramen, yiros from Zeus Greek, or a poke bowl from Suki. For a slower pace, sit down at Junk for South East Asian street eats, Ole for Spanish food, or Paper Fish for fresh seafood. Discover more dining in South Bank here.
Alternatively, treat yourself to the two-hatted GOMA Restaurant for a dining experience as fresh and forward-thinking as the artwork that surrounds it, or try across the road at Gauge for some of Brisbane’s best and most imaginative food.
Bow down to GOMA
The diamond in the crown of Brisbane’s art scene is Australia’s largest modern art gallery, GOMA. Here the hallways always house something spectacular and this winter it’s a solo exhibition by Australian artist Patricia Piccinini. Remember the infamous Skywhale? Gary the human designed to withstand a car crash? Piccinini is behind those. Explore more than 50 of her hybrid, hyperreal creatures and question the connection between humans and technology at the Gallery of Modern Art until 5 August. Don’t forget to explore the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) too.
Food safari along Fish Lane
Continue the art crawl into Fish Lane, where huge murals and amazing bistros, bars and cafes collide along the street. We think the best way to explore is via your stomach on a progressive food safari, so stop for cheese and wine at La Lune Wine Bar, calamari or duck ragu at Julius, dumplings at Chu The Fat, wings at Big Roddy’s Rippin’ Rib Shack, rice paper rolls at Hello Please and the fish of the day at Ol’ School. Don’t forget Maker for a bespoke cocktail in the tiny space, and kitchen incubator Wandering Cooks for an experimental bite to eat and local brew or vino. There’s plenty more along the lane, read a full guide with a map here and get exploring.
The show must go on
After eating and drinking everything along Fish Lane you have a few choices. The first, roll into the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) for big shows and big names whether it be music, theatre, ballet or opera. Look online to see what’s on and book ahead. The second is a…
West End bar hop
West End’s bars and nightclubs have been well and truly pumping since the early days when iconic Brisbane bands the Saints and the Go-Betweens graced the streets. Now the eclectic suburb to the south has everything from hip cocktail bars to craft beer palaces. Beer lovers should follow our craft beer trail through the suburb, dropping into Archive Beer Boutique and Bistro, Catchment Brewing Co, Brisbane Brewing Co and Ballistic Brewery. Whisky lovers make a beeline for Cobbler, gin lovers head to Covent Garden and for rum go to Jungle. Great cocktails can be found at all three, or try The End or Lychee Lounge. The Bearded Lady usually has live music in the front room.
For day three we’re giving you a few options to suit your mood or style of exploring.
Winter is one of the best times to visit the world’s second largest sand island. As luck would have it, that island is located a short distance from downtown Brisbane. Once on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) head around to Point Lookout and sit on the hill with a scoop of gelato and watch Humpback Highway in full force. It’s one of the best land-based whale watching spots in Australia to see the 20,000+ gentle giants migrate past. Once that’s been conquered, wander down to Cylinder Beach or Main Beach for a cheeky ocean swim.
Rinse and repeat
Did someone say hollandaise? As mentioned, us Brisbanites love breakfast – so get up, get out and (if you’re feeling dusty) find some fried chicken-topped waffles. If it’s a weekend, pop into one of Brisbane’s local farmers’ markets for a coffee and wander, followed by a picnic in one our parks with the produce you picked up and a walk or CityCycle along the river.
In Fortitude Valley shop the designers on James Street, find laneway gems in Winn Lane or Bakery Lane and wander the eclectic stores on Ann St. In the City, the historic Brisbane Arcade is filled with fashion workrooms and jewellers selling unique and one-of-a-kind clothing and jewellery, while the Museum of Brisbane gift shop stocks local artisans and makers and tells stories about our city. Be sure to take a free ride up the old Clock Tower for a bird’s eye view while here.
Art art and more art
Most of Brisbane’s small and boutique galleries are dotted throughout the neighbouring suburbs of New Farm and Fortitude Valley, so we designed this art trail you can follow with a map. Follow it so you finish at James Street, where Gerard’s Bistro is the perfect spot for a long lunch. Head chef Ben Williamson celebrates Middle Eastern and North African cuisine with a European influence at this award-winning bistro.
Recharge at the Powerhouse
There’s no better place to sit than by a body of water with a drink. Whether you’re hungry, thirsty or looking for a bit of entertainment, the cool, industrial and raw Brisbane Powerhouse offers it all at a riverside location. Dine in at one of the two restaurants, sink a few brews while watching the sunset over the brown snake or wait around for a show that will unfold inside the graffiti-heavy walls. This winter the World Press Photo Exhibition (30 June – 22 July) takes over the lower level with the world’s most compelling, controversial and intimate moments captured by award-winning photojournalists from around the globe.
If you’re after more live music, Live Spark occurs every Sunday afternoon with an ever-changing line up of eclectic local and national artists. Pop by late Friday afternoon for a free laugh with Knockoff. Look online to see who and what else will be gracing its many stages.
Dress up or dress down
Go out with a bang or a beer for your final night in Brisbane. If you’ve spent the afternoon kicking around the Powerhouse, Allium isn’t far with its brand of relaxed fine dining in suburban New Farm. Or Brisbane classic e’cco recently moved from its city digs (where it was for 20+ years) to Newstead – same excellent food and service in a totally chic new dining room.
Alternatively, leave the heels at home and taste your way through Brisbane’s original craft beer suburb. Start with one of the 12 taps at Newstead Brewing Co and a bowl of (arguably) Brisbane’s best chicken wings. The gastropub fare here is worth staying another pint for. Move along to Green Beacon Brewing Co, the city’s first new wave craft brewery and bar, and finally hit new-kid-on-the-block Range Brewing. Find more details about this northern craft beer trail here.
Where to stay
Rooftop pools, free happy hour, 24/7 room service – turn up and turn the bedsheets down at one of Brisbane’s newest hotels. The best way to top off an escape to sunny Brisbane is to stay in a lush hotel, and lucky you, a bunch of highly anticipated new ones have just been unveiled. Read about them here.
Special and recurring events to watch out for
A weekend in Brisbane can only be made better by timing your stay to collide with an epic event. Here’s a few we’ve got our eyes on this winter.
Scenic Rim Eat Local Week | 30 June – 8 July
Taste food and wine from the Scenic Rim at this festival of farm tours, cooking classes, producer dinners, pop-up cafes and other free or low-cost activities. Connect with your farmers and learn about where food comes from. Star event, the Winter Harvest Festival, will be held on 7 July.
Good Food Month Brisbane | 12 July – 5 August
Brisbane’s favourite foodie month returns with signature and special events popping up at venues and restaurants all over town. From the Young Chefs Lunch to the Night Noodle Markets, Brisbane won’t be going hungry in July.
James Turrell Lights Up GOMA | 13 July
A newly commissioned architectural light installation will dramatically illuminate GOMA’s eastern and southern facades from within. Be there on Friday 13 July to watch it light up for the first time – there will be food and drink available for purchase.
Regional Flavours presented by The Courier Mail | 21-22 July 2018
Experience Queensland on a plate at South Bank’s free food and wine festival. Taste the best produce from Queensland farmers and gourmet food stalls, plus meet celebrity chefs and enjoy demonstrations.
Brisbane Times Night Noodle Markets | 25 July – 5 August 2018
Grab your chopsticks and explore this street food market of Asian hawker-style stalls open at night. For around two weeks, the Night Noodle Markets turn South Bank into an after-dark playground of all Asian cuisines and specialty street food.
Jan Power Farmers’ Market, Brisbane Powerhouse | Every Saturday morning
Get along to this market every Saturday morning to meet local farmers and buying snacks. Grab a coffee and wander the stalls, picking up produce and products to enjoy with a picnic in nearby New Farm Park.