How To Explore Queensland’s Capital, Brisbane, In 2 Days/Nights


Qistina Bumidin •  Sep 23, 2022

Planning your first trip or second visit to Gold Coast Queensland? Don’t forget to add Queensland’s capital city - Brisbane, to your itinerary! ? Brisbane is the ideal place to indulge in city comforts for a couple of days before you embark on your journey to Queensland's tropical southeast. Brissy, as the locals affectionately call it, is packed with vibrant shopping arcades, beautiful historical landmarks, thriving cultural and cafe scenes, and plenty of halal food! ? Plus, the best parts of the city surround the gorgeous Brisbane river and are easily accessible by public transport, e-scooters or even a lazy stroll - which makes it easy for you to cover the city in just 2 days! ?

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Day 1: Explore downtown Brisbane

Immerse in the city’s culture at one of Brisbane’s oldest and finest buildings (2h)

  • Whether it’s your 1st or nth time visiting Brisbane, you absolutely can’t miss out on the iconic Brisbane City Hall! ?
  • This 80-year building is no ordinary City Hall as it’s home to the Museum of Brisbane, where you can find exhibits on the city’s culture and history. 

  • We recommend signing up for a free tour as you’d be able to find out more interesting stories from a local’s perspective!
  • However, if you want to spend more time in the museum, check out any of their limited-time exhibitions! These, however, are not free, but prices usually range between AUD12 - AUD15 for adults. 
  • Entry to the city hall and clock tower is however free for all! ?

  • For instance, one tour we managed to catch was the “World of Wonders: Margot McKinney” exhibit.
  • The exhibit celebrates the life of the Brisbane-based jeweller who handmade one-of-a-kind luxury pieces with premium materials such as natural pearls harvested from oysters! Fun fact: it can take her as long as 10 years to complete the perfect collection of jewels to incorporate into one bespoke piece! ?
  • Her jewellery has been worn by famous people too - Michelle Obama, and former Australian prime minister Julia Gilliard, are just some!
  • Don’t miss the Clock Tower Tour, which will bring you up the building, 92 metres off the ground! What’s interesting about this tour is that you’ll get to operate an antique lift and learn more about what makes a clock work.
  • When you reach the top of the tower, you’ll be rewarded with a view of Brisbane’s skyscrapers. Did you know that Brisbane City Hall was one of the tallest buildings in the world?
  • #HHWTip: Only 8 people can go for the tour at a time, and it runs every 15 minutes, so do come early to get your tickets! It’s free! ?

Museum of Brisbane

Address: Level 3, Brisbane City Hall, 64 Adelaide St, Brisbane City QLD 4000, Australia

Opening hours: 10am-5pm daily

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Shop till you drop at the heart of Brisbane’s shopping district (2h)

  • Spend your day mall-hopping at Queen Street Mall (not a mall, the entire district is named so) from the iconic Brisbane Arcade to Tattersall’s Arcade (beautiful heritage architecture!) and then wander into Adelaide Street for small boutique shops. Find out more about the shopping spotshere.

  • One great thing about Queen Street Mall is that there’s a good mix of stores suited to all budget levels, and brands! Plus, water cooler spots are scattered throughout the district for you to replenish your bottles! ?
  • Even if you’re not shopping, you can also hang out at one of the many cafes here, enjoy a live street busker's performance, or simply enjoy the great Queensland weather! We went during winter, so the weather was a little cool, but Brisbane enjoys about 300 sunny days a year, which is warm enough for us to remove our sweaters - something like the aircon weather we wish we could have back home! ?

Queen Street Mall

Address: Queen St, Brisbane City QLD 4000, Australia

Opening hours: Most shopping centres off Queen Street Mall operate from approximately 9am-5pm from Mondays to Thursdays and 9am-9pm on Friday. Saturday open hours are typically 9am-5pm and Sunday from 10am-4pm.

P.S. If you’re staying in Brisbane for more than 2 days, and are looking for unique activities not mentioned in this itinerary, you have to check out the Brisbane Visitor Information and Booking Centre. Located in Wintergarden in Queen Street Mall, it’s a haven for all the information we travellers need! They also offer experiences, tours, packages and more for Brisbane and its surrounds, such as Gold Coast (1h away by car), Great Barrier Reef (45 mins by flight/4h away by car), and more!

Brisbane Visitor Information and Booking Centre

Address: 167 Queen St, Brisbane City QLD 4000, Australia (in Wintergarden)

Opening hours: Mon-Fri (9am-4pm), Sat (10am-4pm), close on Sundays

Dig into delicious Indonesian food for lunch (1h)

  • Here’s a blessing for Muslim travellers - you’ll be spoilt by the variety of halal food options in Brisbane!
  • We had lunch at Sendok Garpu, which is known for serving up authentic Indonesian food, so if you’ve been in Australia for a while and miss the taste of home, here’s a spot to get your cravings fixed! ?

  • It’s only a short 5-min walk from Queen Street Mall - super convenient when you’re hungry!
  • We ordered nasi padang sets, which cost about AUD20 each. Whatever you choose to eat, don’t miss out on their homemade chilli paste, especially the Sambal Ijo - it hits the comfort spot! ?

P.S. If you still plan to explore Queen Street Mall a little more (we don’t blame you, there are just too many shopping stores you must check out!), you can get a quick fix of food all within walking distance at Kebab Station CBD (Middle Eastern), Rock N Roll Kebab Pizza (Middle Eastern), PappaRich (Malaysian) and others. 

Sendok Garpu

Halal status: Halal ingredients used, alcohol is allowed in establishment

Address: Shop 6/97 Elizabeth St, Brisbane City QLD 4000, Australia

Opening hours: Sun-Wed (11.30am-8pm), Thurs-Sat (11.20am-8.30pm)

Website | Facebook

Take a lazy post-lunch stroll to explore the cultural heart of Brisbane (3h) 

  • After a heavy lunch, you’re probably feeling a post-lunch coma, so it’s time to walk off the sleepiness with a stroll across the bridge to South Bank.
  • Approximately 15mins by foot, the vibe at South Bank is vastly different, and it’s a perfect respite from the city ?

  • And the views? Simply immaculate. Sit by the river and let the stresses disappear - you’re on vacation, so take this special time to relax and rewind! ?

  • There are also plenty of activities to check out whilst at South Bank Parklands. For instance, here’s where you can also find Streets Beach, the world’s ONLY city beach! With a beautiful lagoon, fine white sand and crystal clear waters, can you believe that this is a man-made beach? ?
  • If your little ones (or you!) want to go for a dip, come down in the late afternoon (before sunsets, which are usually at about 5.30 pm)! Don’t forget to bring your swimming gear! There’s a washroom nearby to wash up!

  • Besides Streets Beach, South Bank is also home to iconic sights like the colourful Brisbane sign. Set against the Brisbane skyline, snapping a photo here is a must - if not, how else will you flex that you’ve been to Brisbane? ? We came during school holiday season, so it was a little hard to snap one, but we saw it, okay ?

  • If you’d like, you can also get onboard The Wheel of Brisbane, a Ferris wheel rising 60 metres above South Bank, giving you a spectacular panoramic view of the city. Ticket prices: $21 (Adults), $18 (Student), $14.50 (Child).
  • We all know Australia boasts some of the best sunsets, and Brisbane is no exception. If you’re in South Bank till late, you can choose to take the wheel just as the sun sets! Marvel over the Brisbane River and its surrounding skyscrapers in its glorious technicolour. The views are gorgeous if you visit later at night - the bridge glitters in different neon colours! ?
  • #HHWTip: If you’re here between Friday to Sunday, catch the South Bank collective markets at the Stanley St area.
  • You can find many items here, from clothes to handmade trinkets, snacks and more! Definitely a great place to snag some awesome souvenirs back home.

P.S. South Bank is huge - 17 hectares of endless activities await you! If you’re planning to spend a much longer time, we bet walking all this distance will wear you down. Why not rent any of the e-scooters available all over Brisbane? The two most popular ones - Neuron (orange) and Beam (purple), offer many e-scooters and e-bikes for your perusal! You’re charged by the minute (an average of 9 cents), and you can use it as long as you’d like - once you’re done, just park it at any designated parking spot near your destination! ? 

Treat yourself to amazing Turkish food (2h)

Credit: Mado Restaurant on Instagram

  • While at South Bank, refuel with authentic Turkish and Middle Eastern fare at Mado. 
  • The restaurant prides itself on having passed down the recipe for traditional Turkish dishes from generation to generation, so you can only expect the best from them! ?

Credit: Mado Restaurant on Instagram

  • Whether you’re in the mood for grilled meat platters like lamb and chicken shish or looking to chow down their cheesy Turkish Pide, consider your scrumptious meal settled. End your meal with Kunafe and sip some refreshing Turkish tea.
  • It’s a 4-minute walk from Streets Beach, so if you’re feeling peckish after a day at the ‘beach’, simply take a nice stroll to Mado whilst enjoying the cooling air and breathtaking river views! ?

Halal status: Halal ingredients used, alcohol served in establishment

Address: 1-3/15 Tribune St, South Brisbane QLD 4101, Australia

Opening hours: Sun-Thurs (11.30am–3.30pm, 4.30pm–9pm); Fri-Sat (11.30am–3.30pm, 4.30pm–10pm)

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Head back to the hotel 

Credit: Oaks Brisbane on Charlotte Suites

  • If we haven’t mentioned this enough, getting around Brisbane is easy peasy, and there are plenty of accommodations located all over Brisbane’s touristy spots, so you don’t have to dread the long journey back home after a day of sightseeing! ?
  • We stayed at the Oaks Brisbane on Charlotte Suites, located right in the heart of Brisbane CBD area - Brisbane City Hall, Museum of Brisbane, and Queen Street Mall are all just within walking distance; which meant that we could catch a little more beauty sleep! ?
  • If you’re up for it, you can do like what we did - take a long stroll back from South Bank to your hotel in the CBD area, which took us about 20 mins, but it was worth it! Taking a walk in winter across the bridge with a picturesque view behind - somehow feels like we’ve entered a movie set! ? 

Oaks Brisbane on Charlotte Suites

Address: 128 Charlotte St, Brisbane City QLD 4000, Australia


Day 2

Get up close with adorable koalas at the world’s largest and oldest koala sanctuary (2h)

  • Located about a 30-minute drive from the city, Lone Pine is dedicated to conserving 130 koalas and other native Australian animals.
  • One of the must-do experiences here is to cuddle a koala! But more than just cuddling and taking photos with these furry beings, visitors are also encouraged to connect emotionally with them and understand more about their habitats ?

  • The male koala we met was simply adorable; his caretaker shared with us more about his eating and sleeping habits (apparently, he was supposed to be awake during the petting session, but he would much rather sleep!), and also learned more about the amazing efforts the sanctuary is doing to protect the koalas! ?

  • Check out the rest of the sanctuary -  lorikeet feedings at 9am and 4pm (beware, they will land on your head!), feed and touch the free-roaming kangaroos, spot Perry the platypus (he’s not in disguise though ?), farm animals and more! It will truly be a fun day for your little ones! ?

  • There’s a cafe located near the Brisbane Koala Science Institute and one right outside of the entrance at the sanctuary. We’ve checked with them, and while they do not serve halal food, the latter cafe offers vegetarian options. We recommend that you dine at your discretion!

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Address: 708 Jesmond Rd, Fig Tree Pocket QLD 4069, Australia

Opening hours: 9am-5pm daily

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Dig into Malaysian cuisine (1h)

  • Missing mamak food? Hailing from Syndey, Brisbane now has its own mamak eatery, which is award-winning!
  • Many customers have mentioned that the food's quality and authenticity are comparable to the mamak eateries back home ?

  • We ordered teh tarik (can’t live without it!), fried chicken mamak-style and mee goreng! It costs about AUD53, but if you pay with cash at the counter, you get a discount! 
  • BONUS: it’s across the street from our accommodation, and it closes at 10 pm, so if you’re hungry, you now have a supper spot to check out! ?

  • P.S. We recommend following @halalfood.brisbanegc for regular updates on halal food in these places! There are more cafes, burger spots, and even a fine dining modern Chinese restaurant, all located in Brisbane and waiting for you to check it out! More reasons to stay longer in Brisbane, mate? ?

Immerse in the rich art scene (2h)

  • Immersing yourself in Brisbane’s vibrant art scene doesn’t cost you a penny, so why not go for it? 
  • The city’s passion for urban art and architecture is apparent through the art galleries you’ll discover along the way. 
  • Check out the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) where you’ll find contemporary artworks of Australian and international influences on their walls. 
  • Can you believe there’s a total collection of over 17,000 works here? ?

  • There’s also a couple of exhibitions that require you to pay for entry, like famed Japanese artist’s Chiharu Shiota’s The Soul Trembles! 
  • She is known for her transformative, large-scale installations constructed from millions of fine threads that cluster in space or form complex webs that spill from wall to floor to ceiling
  • But if you’re a total cultural junkie, it’s easy to spend the entire day! ?

Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)

Address: Stanley Place, South Brisbane, Queensland 4101, Australia

Opening hours: 10am-5pm daily

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Get some fresh air (literally) 80m above ground (2h)

  • If you’re up for an urban adventure, this is something you need to tick off your Brisbane checklist! 
  • The iconic Story Bridge is 1 out of only 3 bridges in the world which you’re allowed to climb.
  • Not only will you get an exhilarating experience of climbing a bridge, but you’ll also get to admire the stunning views of Brisbane! ?

  • Plus, you’ll get to bring up your camera as well - now you can have such memories as a keepsake. You’ll be provided straps for them and your glasses if you wear them!
  • You can choose when you want to climb the bridge, be it during sunrise or sunset, in the day or even at night (AUD129). But in the spirit of chasing sunsets, choose their twilight climb!
  • Story Bridge is also the only bridge in the world where you can do both climbing AND abseiling, so you definitely won’t want to miss this ?

Story Bridge Adventure Climb

Address: 170 Main St, Kangaroo Point QLD 4169, Australia

Opening hours: 9.30am-11.30am, 2.30pm-7.30pm

Website | Facebook | Instagram

ALTERNATIVE: Zoom around Brisbane’s cityscapes in a segway (2h)

  • If the sentence “climbing up a bridge 80m above ground” scares you, why not try something else that’s ON the ground but just as thrilling - speeding down Brissy with a Segway! ? 
  • This family-friendly activity by Kangaroo Segway Tours is perfect for all ages and levels of experience. It’s really easy to learn, you don’t have to balance; the segway balances you! If you’re advanced, there are even more challenging routes as well! ?

  • This, by far, was one of the coolest experiences for us personally because 1) I’ve never ridden in a Segway before, and 2) it does feel great to speed past the throngs of people and enjoy the refreshing winter breeze from the Brisbane River on my face! ?
  • There are daily and nightly tours, 7 days a week, which last about 2 hours!
  • We Segway-ed around Southbank and saw lots of wildlife, birds, beautiful gardens and landmarks - it’s truly a nice way to wrap up our last day in Brisbane ?

Kangaroo Segway Tours

AddressKennards Storage, 52 Bank St, West End QLD 4101, Australia

Opening hours: 8am-8pm daily

Website | Facebook

Have your dinner and entertainment at this night food market (2h)

  • If you’re in Brisbane between Friday to Sunday, you must head to Eat Street Northshore!
  • This space has containers and food trucks where you can indulge in a smorgasbord of food from around the world ?

  • Good news, there are halal, seafood and vegetarian options too! ? We have asked stall owners about their halal status, and here’s a list:
    • The Little Octopus: grilled octopus and other seafoods (no meat served, no alcohol added, all ingredients are sourced from halal-certified suppliers)
    • Don’t Worry Eat Curry: Indian/Pakistani cuisine (100% halal-certified as stated by the restaurant)
    • Turkish Street Food (100% halal-certified as stated by the restaurant)
    • The Original Lángos: Hungarian cuisine (all ingredients and meats except pork are sourced from halal-certified suppliers; pork dishes are made separately using different utensils)
    • Slinky’s: fried potato slices on a stick (no meat served, no alcohol added, all ingredients are sourced from halal-certified suppliers)

  • Note that stalls may change, so check for further updates before you visit! When in doubt, do ask the staff at the stalls directly.
  • What’s a food market without good music, right? Be it breezy jazz bands, or lively performances of famous pop songs of all time as an accompaniment to your delicious foods, it’s all good vibes here - who wouldn’t want that for their vacation? ?
  • To reach Eat Northshore Street, take the City Cat from the South Bank terminal, and alight at Northshore Hamilton! You can choose to take an Uber or a cab as well!

Eat Northshore Market

Address: 221D MacArthur Ave, Hamilton QLD 4007, Australia

Opening hours: Fri-Sat (4pm-10pm), Sun (4pm-9pm)

Website | Facebook | Instagram

End your last night in Brisbane with a cruise along the iconic river (1h)

  • After a long day of adventure, foodie trips and more, it’s time to end the night with a ferry ride with theCity Catback to your hotel!
  • It costs about AUD4.50 per adult, and you can make as many trips as you can manage within a two-hour block - which you can pay right before you step onto the ferry!
  • However, we suggest you purchase a GoCard, a public transportation card you can purchase and/or top up at any convenience store so that you wouldn’t have to stress over boarding the ferry within the period!

  • The seats are comfy, and you can choose to sit on the deck and enjoy the cool breeze, especially during winter. Or, if you can’t stand the cold, enter the ferry and sink into their padded, warm seats! ?
  • Brisbane also has another popular ferry transportation, the City Hopper, which is a free service. However, it only travels around the inner cities of Brisbane (it does not stop at Northshore Hamilton Terminal, for instance) as compared to the City Cat, which brings you to more of Brisbane’s popular landmarks and beyond along the river ?
  • City Hopper comes every half an hour, however, it ends its service at midnight, whereas City Cat runs every 15 minutes but ends its service at 10.15 pm. You can decide which ferry option you prefer based on your chosen routes! 

Back to the hotel

  • Many shops in Brisbane close as early as 5 pm, so you can call it a night and snuggle into your comfy beds (or rush through your packing!)
  • Alternatively, you can go on a late-night foodie hunt at their nearest convenience store and stock up some goodies, eat some kebabs, or even have breakfast at night at the 24-hour Pancake Manor (10 min walk from Oaks Brisbane on Charlotte Suites!)

Brisbane is often overlooked as a tourist destination, but you would deny yourself a wonderful experience if you didn’t visit! It’s a great prelude to your trip to Queensland or an ideal way to grab a city experience after the beaches and sights further north Gold Coast!  ?

This article is brought to you by Tourism and Events Queensland.