The City:
Things to do            

18 JANUARY 2023

Whether you consider yourself a local expert or are exploring The City for the first time, this list reveals the best things to do in the heart of The City. From hitting busy shopping streets to quiet riverside strolls, and chic high-end restaurants to laid-back laneway beers – discover awesome ways to while away a lunch break or fill a whole weekend. Read on to discover our go-to guide to where to shop, dine, stay and play in The City.

Christmas in Brisbane

Christmas has arrived in Brisbane City, and there's a jam-packed program full of free events for the entire family to enjoy, from festive-themed tiny doors to the iconic 22-metre Christmas Tree. Discover the full program here

01. But first, coffee.

When it comes to good coffee, The City centre is ready to greet you with quality and specialty cafes using the latest and greatest brewing methods. Start your day with one of the best brews in Brisbane. We recommend Brew, Coffee Iconic, Coffee Anthology or Industry Beans. If you need a hearty breakky to go with your coffee, here are a few of our favourite spots.  

02. Shop up a storm

The City is a fashion lover's dream destination with more than 500 stores ranging from local boutiques to international, high street and luxury brands. Start in the centre at Brisbane’s largest open air shopping precinct, the famous Queen Street Mall where hundreds of stores await. If you're looking for something specific, we’ve pulled together a guide to shopping in the heart of Brisbane City.

03. Visit Brisbane City Markets

Pick up some fresh goodies ahead of the weekend or conveniently ‘forget your lunch and visit one of the tasty food stalls for a mid-week treat. The Brisbane City Markets pop up in Reddacliff Place every Wednesday from 8am to 6pm and in Cathedral Square every Thursday from 8am to 2pm.  

04. Belt out a tune at karaoke

Dust off those vocal cords and power through a spot of karaoke in The City. We recommend Music City, Strike Bowling and Fat Louie’s to belt out your power ballads and ‘90s throwbacks.  

05. Eat at an award-winning restaurant

The City is home to some of the best fine dining in Queensland. Try Malt Dining, Donna Chang, Walter’s Steakhouse or Alchemy Restaurant and Bar

06. Relax in the botanic gardens

Gather the family, pack a picnic rug and spend a lazy afternoon in the sunshine or pop on your walking shoes and stroll along the river on your lunch break. Whatever your style, the City Botanic Gardens is Brisbane’s original botanic gardens and offers a relaxing green space where you can chill on the lawn or wander the many pathways and themed gardens.  

07. Go on a laneway crawl

Raw and historic Burnett Lane is filled with cool restaurants and bars, while Albert Lane and Gresham Lane are bursting with delicious options for lunch. Have a read of the hidden gems you can find weaved through the bustling city streets.  

08. Visit the Museum of Brisbane

Be captivated by the stories of Brisbane through the Museum of Brisbane’s curated exhibitions that feature local artists and the culture and history of The City. The gift shop is a must-visit for Brisbane-made and Brisbane-designed treasures by local artisans.  

09. Live and local music

Keep your ears on red alert. City Sounds is Australia’s largest free music program with local and touring artists performing in pop-up locations throughout Queen Street Mall and The City. 

10. Explore the Brisbane Quarter

Beneath the five-star W Brisbane sits Brisbane Quarter. Here, Brisbane Phoenix offers a contemporary brand of traditional yum cha while Persone brings homely yet elegant Italian from Brisbane’s iconic hospitality family, the Gambaros.  

11. Sink your teeth into a steak

As the capital of a beef-producing state, it’s not surprising that Brisbane City is stacked with amazing steak restaurants. Between Black Hide Steakhouse, Walter’s Steakhouse, Moo Moo, Rothwell’s and more, you’ll be spoilt for choice in satisfying a red meat craving.  

12. Hunt for fairies in The City centre

Did you know Brisbane is filled with fairies? It's true. From laneways to botanic gardens to a magical collection of places in between, enchanting fairy lights are spread across The City. They make for an atmospheric evening stroll through the city streets.  

13. Shop down Edward Street

While Queen Street Mall is the heart of shopping in The City, neighbouring Edward Street is the spot for luxury, high-end and unique clothing, shoes, accessories and gifts. Here you’ll find bespoke menswear, international luxury labels and local boutiques.  

14. Organise the perfect picnic

There’s an abundant sprawl of green space in The City. Lunch on the lawn at Post Office Square or take a quick break at Queens Gardens. Pick up pastries on the way from Le Bon Choix, Inter/Section featuring handcrafted croissants from The Whisk or Mica Express. Jocelyn’s Provisions also has a beautiful array of sweet and savoury takeaway treats. 

15. Go on a craft beer crawl  

Put aside an afternoon to tackle this craft beer trail, hopping between breweries, bars and bottle shops in The City. A delightful array of bars and pubs have turned our love of craft beer into an obsession, so wander through The City and experience them all. 

16. Sell your unwanted clothes at Suitcase Rummage

Take action against the pile of clothes shoved at the back of your closet by booking a stall at a Suitcase Rummage market. It’s also a great place to nab some bargains and you can barter your way to great brands at a steal. Enjoy these markets on the first and third Sunday of each month.  

17. Satisfy the chocolate craving

Beat that 3pm sugar craving with Noosa Chocolate Factory’s fresh rocky road, chocolate slabs and decadent drinks. If your sweet tooth needs satiating, pay a visit to Chocolate Moments in Brisbane Arcade or treat yourself to an indulgent brownie from Dello Mano in Wintergarden.  

18. Drink cocktails at a higher altitude

Sipping cocktails and swigging ales is more fun sky-high and with so many perfect skyscrapers, The City is king of the rooftop bar. Mingle with margaritas at WET Deck before wandering down to Sixteen Antlers and popping over to Hibiscus Room overlooking Queen Street Mall. Continue the bar hop with our list of The City’s best bars.  

19. Bust a move

Mad Dance House studio offers a wide range of dance classes including ballet, contemporary, jazz, tap, hip hop and more, taught by some of the industry's best teachers. For a more vertical experience, head to The Pole Gym where fun, dance and fitness combine for a surprisingly challenging full-body workout.  

20. Feast on the finest Asian food

From street eats to fine dining, The City’s Asian food outlets pack a punch. Treat yourself to Thai at Kinn Imm QueensPlaza, fun fave Pochana or award-winning Jumbo Thai Restaurant and Bar. Enjoy modern Asian with a view at Madame Wu, fusion street eats at Mr Wabi or some of Harajuku’s famous gyoza. The City is also home to a plethora of Asian-inspired outlets for a quick bite. Duck into the food courts in Uptown, Post Office Square, QueensPlaza and Wintergarden.  

21. Celebrate “la dolce vita”

There’s nothing sweeter than the comfort of Italian cuisine. Persone, Olive and Angelo, Massimo and Toscano Bar and Kitchen are some of our fancy faves, while Corbett and Claude, Marchetti and Vapiano are delicious casual options for when those carb cravings kick in.  

22. Kick putt at Holey Moley

Fore! Holey Moley has constructed a wild and wacky mini-golf club inside Wintergarden shopping centre on Queen Street Mall. There are nine holes to putt your stuff with fun names like ‘Drop it Like It’s Slot’.  

23. Sip sparkling with an epic view

Grab an ice-cold beer, pop champagne or order a cocktail jug and kick back with picture-perfect panoramas of The City, Story Bridge and out over the Brisbane River to Kangaroo Point and South Bank. Some long-standing faves include Riverbar & Kitchen, Blackbird Bar & Grill and Bar Pacino.  

24. Shop locally made fashion

In a world of fast fashion, the idea of having something timeless made for you by someone local is the definition of luxury. Meet Brisbane’s local fashion designers inside the boutiques of Brisbane Arcade, the gorgeous almost-100-year-old gallery mall where small fashion houses and couture designers work and play. Hot tip: while you’re there, take some time to drool over diamonds at one of the centre’s many bespoke jewellers.  

25. Follow this self-guided art trail

The City is filled with incredible public art hidden down laneways, in foyers or on the facades of buildings. This trail will help you hunt out all the art spots. Best of all we've thrown in some suggestions for lunch or cocktails along the way.  

26. Shop small with the Brisbane Twilight Markets

This is the only Brisbane market that sells 100 per cent locally made products – yep, it’s your chance to meet the makers and shop artisan goods in the heart of The City. The Brisbane Twilight Markets pop up about once every two months. Dates are scattered throughout the year, so check the website for updates.  

27. Enjoy a meal with a view of the CBD

Do you love a bit of people-watching? The City is filled with incredible venues that overlook the buzzing urban landscape. Visit Stanton, Jimmy’s on the Mall and Beach House Bar and Grill.  

28. Lose track of time with your nose in a book

Embrace your inner bookworm at the Brisbane Square library or one of The City’s boutique bookstores. Hunt out Archives Fine Books for second-hand treasures, Dymocks for more mainstream titles on every possible topic and Pulp Fiction to satiate your desire for fantasy, crime and science fiction.  

29. Take a little staycation

If you've caught the wanderlust bug but don't have funds or annual leave for a huge vacation, treat yourself to an inner-city staycation for some quality R&R, an epic shopping trip or just to use the fancy hotel spa and pool.  

30. Put the focus on paddock-to-plate dining

If you love to explore a destination one plate at a time, Settimo and Patina at Customs House go above and beyond to ensure that their dishes and drinks come from within the local region as much as possible.

31. Discover the role Brisbane played in the Second World War

Visit the MacArthur Museum to glimpse the front lines of World War II and see the role Brisbane played from 1939-1945. You can even visit the office of General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Forces in the South-West Pacific. If this is an area of interest, you may also enjoy the Anzac Square and Memorial Galleries free tour.  

32. Find that perfect ring

There are more than jewellers located in The City so if you're looking for that special engagement ring or treating yourself to celebrate a promotion or birthday, your perfect match is waiting in The City.  

33. Spend a day on the river

Take in the beautiful sights of our river city at twilight from your own illuminated Riverlife kayak. When you return to the shore feast on buckets of fresh ocean king prawns and jaw-dropping views of The City. Are boats more your thing? Set sail on an electric GoBoat and enjoy an on-water picnic.  

34. Play tabletop games

Put down your phone and embrace offline board games. Head to Vault Games where they let you play hundreds of games for free (just buy a drink) or pick up some unusual titles to take home. Keen board gamers will also adore a trip to Mind Games in Uptown.  

35. Feel fancy at high teas

The old-world glamour of putting on your best frock and sitting down for high tea can be found in The City. From ritzy hotels to heritage venues, The City is home to an elegant variety of high tea settings. 

36. Go bowling

Grab a group of mates and test your skills at Strike Bowling in Wintergarden. You can also try your hand at laser tag, escape rooms, karaoke and more. 

37. Settle in for a tipple at Brisbane City's cosiest bars

If the weather turns crisp or you want to hide indoors, snuggle up at Dr Gimlette, Brooklyn Standard and Death & Taxes.  

38. Markets in the gardens

Head to the Riverside Gardens Markets, home to dozens of market stalls selling quality local and important handcrafts and food and drinks. Street performers add to the festive weekend vibes from the Albert Street entry throughout the City Botanic Gardens. This market pops up by the river every Sunday from 7am to 3pm.  

39. Cut laps in The City

Next to the City Botanic Gardens at the QUT Gardens Point campus is a huge YMCA fitness and aquatic centre with a big 50-metre Olympic swimming pool. Swimming is a great way to work your whole body and cardiovascular system, plus you’ll burn almost as many calories as running.  

40. Drink gin at these cocktail bars

These rooftop, riverside and laneway bars offer variety and focus on quality drinking – with large ranges of gin. The City is yet to have a bar dedicated solely to the spirit but plenty of establishments are more than willing to help you experiment with new-age Australian and international gins and cocktails.  

41. Explore Old Government House

You can tour Queensland’s first public and heritage-listed building, Old Government House, and enjoy the restored grandeur of 1860s architecture. There are often art exhibitions at the William Robinson Gallery or join the one-hour guided tour.  

42. Spruce up your home

If you’re looking for knick-knacks, cool art and additions to your home’s interior, we’ve rounded up the best homeware stores in The City here.  

43. Fine-dining palate on a student budget?

A week to go before payday and you're feeling the pinch? There are plenty of spots to eat out. Read through our cheap eats round-up. 

44. Sip single malts at The Gresham

It's not just us who rave about beloved small bar The Gresham. Gourmet Traveller awarded this whisky saloon Best Bar in Australia in 2015 and 2016 and it’s won a stack of accolades since. Grab a chesterfield couch and settle in for a session.  

45. Get your mouth around a burger

The classic can’t be beaten. Try Red Hook, Betty’s Burgers, Hellcat Maggie, Grill’d and Miel Container for the very best burgers in The City.

46. Tummy rumbling past 9pm?

It’s true, Brisbane-ites tend to wake up early and eat dinner early but don't worry, you're not destined for greasy fast food or sad servo snacks after 9pm. We've sourced the best late-night eats in The City that you won't regret the next morning.  

47. Explore the QUT Art Museum

There are more than 3000 pieces of art in QUT Art Museum, making it one of the largest collections in Queensland. Expect a dynamic program of exhibitions from the QUT Art Collection, touring exhibitions and new works by QUT staff and students.  

48. Konichiwa, delicious food!

Indulge in quality sashimi, rich ramen or crispy karaage at Brisbane's best Japanese restaurants. From cheap and cheerful to top-quality fine dining, The City has them all.  

49. Eat pancakes at all hours

The Pancake Manor is a Brisbane institution and the one place that will curb your pancake cravings 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 364 days a year (they close on Christmas Day). Housed in a beautiful old church, the Pancake Manor serves up delicious meals in a gorgeous setting, no matter the time of day or night. It also has gluten-free and vegan pancakes. Huge win.  

50. Get jazzy at Doo-Bop Bar Brisbane

Get your jazz fix at one of Brisbane’s best music bars Doo-Bop Bar, with over 50 free and ticketed live music sets scheduled each month. Nothing soothes the soul like some smooth tunes. 

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