Your Ultimate Guide to South Bank

There are few places around the world that can command the kind of everlasting attention that South Bank does. From childhood memories of the awe and wonder of Expo 88 to the first dip in South Bank’s city beach, it holds a special position in the collective hearts and minds of both visitors and locals alike.


Whether it’s your first or your fiftieth time visiting, there’s nothing quite like a few pointers to help you get the most out of your sojourn to the beloved precinct on the banks of the Brisbane River.

Here’s everything you need to know before, during and after your visit.

Top experiences

It has a rich history as a former industrial port and sailors haunt, but today the award-winning precinct is known around the world as an expansive and diverse sightseeing destination. You’ll find everything from lush and beautiful green space, jam-packed events programs and incredible dining. And as tempting as it would be to find one spot and settle in, these experiences need to go to the top of your ‘don’t miss’ list for your ultimate guide to South Bank.


South Bank’s pools need very little introduction. The refreshing crystal-clear waters of Streets Beach lagoon – and adjoining Boat Pool and Aquativity – has been entertaining visitors to the precinct since 1992. With qualified lifeguards on duty throughout the year (check their seasonally changing hours), you can splash, dip or simply laze at the water’s edge from sunup to sundown. 

Picnics and barbeques

Is there anything more idyllic than a relaxed picnic by a river? The art of the picnic is the ultimate activity: it can be enjoyed by young and old, it’s affordable and it counts as time in nature! Luckily, South Bank is a haven for picnic appreciation, with free barbeques, gorgeous landscapes and licensed lawns (River Quay and Picnic Island greens) sprinkled throughout. Grab something substantial (and delicious) from one of the many cafes and restaurants around the Parklands, roll out that rug and soak up the views at River Quay (with a cold vino in hand if you’re lucky). Or, partake in a beloved national pastime and nab one of the barbeques at Riverside Green for a lively gathering of friends or family with pole position to watch all the action of Clem Jones Promenade whizzing by, and boats going to and fro in the background.

Walking and cycling

Keen to move your body by pounding the pavement or spinning your wheels? Walking and cycling paths lace their way across South Bank with views over the city and the immaculate gardens. Shared pathway Clem Jones Promenade is an excellent spot to see the city from two wheels or on a brisk walk. But if you’re after a slow and steady stroll to stretch your legs, make your way to the paths that wind their way under the Arbour. All this with a side of fresh river breeze and stunning views – you’ll never want to walk and cycle anywhere else. You can also hop on a Beam or Neuron eScooter or eBike to use in the precinct as well. 


Across 17 verdant hectares, you’d be hard pressed not to fill a whole day (and more) marvelling at the many sights and sounds around the South Bank Parklands. Meander and marvel at South Bank's eye-catching Arbour, spy the art and sculptures hidden around the Parklands, take a moment to reset in the peaceful and meditative Nepalese Pagoda, or go (almost) sky high to see the city from above from a Wheel of Brisbane gondola.

Cultural Precinct

Once you’ve had your fill of the beautiful outdoors, if it happens to be raining or, in fact, just because it’s excellent, then make your way to the centre of Brisbane’s cultural scene. The ‘Cultural Centre’, as it’s known colloquially, is home to the city’s world-class and award-winning arts institutions, where you’ll find art exhibitions, theatre, comedy, music and dance across a cluster of buildings all within easy walking distance. From QPAC to Queensland Museum and Sciencentre to QAGOMA, there’s something for all ages and all tastes throughout.


No matter if you’re a ‘must photograph before eating’ type person or not, you can’t visit South Bank without sampling some of the moreish fare on offer. And boy does the precinct deliver on the foodie front – there are four key dining area, each with their own distinct personality. Little Stanley Street and Grey Street are back to back, alive with the buzz of popular casual dining haunts and cafes; the Arbour View cafe serves up scrumptious takeaway bites and quick eats; Stanley Street Plaza has a mix of laidback cafes and bars; and River Quay’s refined eateries serve up produce-driven fine dining at its best. If you’d like to plan your tastebud tour before you come, then check out our dining guide for the complete list of restaurants, cafes, bars and ice-creameries at South Bank.


As most locals know, South Bank is a bustling events hub – there’s plenty to see and do, no matter when you visit. Live at South Bank events run throughout the year, while Kids Collective (South Bank’s free children’s program) and the Medibank Feel Good free fitness and wellness program are also perennial favourites.

There’s also annual events like Christmas in Brisbane in December, New Year’s Eve celebrations and plenty of festivals in-between.

Getting here

Wherever you’re coming from in the city, getting to the precinct is easy breezy! Driving and parking at one of the many car parks in and around South Bank is always an option. But with plenty of public transport options running regular services you can also opt to leave the car at home and catch the bus, train, CityCat and ferry instead. For those with different needs or disabilities check out our accessibility page.

Where to stay

After a big day of adventuring, there’s nothing better than a short saunter back to your digs to recharge for the next day. Luckily, South Bank is home to not just one well-known hotel but four! Rydges, Mantra and Emporium are all located on Grey Street and Novotel on Cordelia Street. If you’d like more choice, including serviced apartments and long-stay accommodation, look to nearby suburbs (only a 15-minute walk away) like the CBD, South Brisbane and West End.

Contact us

Need help planning and making the most of your visit? The friendly team at the South Bank Visitor Information and Booking Centre is always available and only too happy to help you curate or plan your day (or days) in the Parklands. Call the South Bank Visitor Information Centre (open daily 9am–5pm) on 07 3029 1797 or [email protected].

Get social

We love sharing in the joy of great South Bank visits, so we’d love to hear what you did and see photos of your adventures. Simply tag us @visitsouthbank on Facebook and Instagram when uploading your snaps so we can follow along.

A distant shot of a couple sitting on a tree trunk on a beach