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If I had a dollar for every time I’d heard people arguing over whether Sydney or Melbourne was best, well, let’s just say, I wouldn’t be eating the same leftovers for my lunch for 3 days on the trot. No one can deny Sydney being one of the most iconic cities in the world, and the culture that oozes from Melbourne makes it no surprise that it’s been voted the world’s most livable city for 7 years running. But I’m here to tell you that there’s another kid on the block, and that’s Brisbane.
Whether it’s Brissie, Brisvegas or more affectionately ‘The River City’, Brisbane has got some seriously good stuff going on. It’s somewhere that for me feels like home away from home but in a far more exciting way. I chose to start my time in Australia here even though my expectations weren’t the highest, but I fell in love with it and have since decided to make Brisbane my base for a few months. This may make me sound incredibly biased based on the premise of this post, but rest assured, I’ve spent a decent amount of time in both Melbourne and Sydney but the fact is, I love Brisbane! What I am going to share with you are all the reasons why it’s about time Brisbane got some of the limelight and why it’s a city you should not miss during your trip!
Don’t hate me for starting with this one, I’m British and I can’t help but talk about the weather. But did you know that Brisbane’s number of sunny days on average each year is 126? When you compare that to Sydney at 107 days and Melbourne at a tiny 46 days (don’t worry, that’s still better than the UK, I’m sure), it’s easy to see why Brisbane is seriously appealing. Since living in Australia I’ve realised just how outdoorsy the country is and it’s actually a bit tricky to find something to do inside if it’s blowing a gale outside. Therefore, Brisbane is great for me and my need to constantly have something to do.
Things to do in Brisbane
I’ve previously written posts about things to do in both Sydney and Melbourne, as well as Brisbane, but for me, finding things to do goes a bit deeper than a list of must-sees. There have been so many times I’ve been walking around Brisbane with no real intentions to do anything in particular when I’ve stumbled across something that makes me stop in my tracks. Whether that be an upcoming musician performing at Queen Street Mall, a market in nearly every park you find on a Sunday or a big city festival that last a number of days. There’s always something happening, it’s always busy and the majority of the time it’s completely free! One of my favourite things about Brisbane is the number of free public BBQs dotted around the city. For me, there’s no better way to spend a relaxing evening and when you can dine alfresco in a park, next to the Brisbane River or with skyline views of the CBD, why would you want to be anywhere else?
Check out my post here for some of the great things to do in Brisbane for free or little money.
Not only are there a tonne of things to do inside Brisbane, it’s overall location is amazing. Feel like going to the beach? Head either north to the Sunshine Coast or south to the beautiful Gold Coast or even Byron Bay. Want to go camping? Take a trip to the Tambourine Mountains or the Glasshouse Mountains. Or how about checking out some of the freshest foods and local wines? Make your way to Ipswich or Toowoomba. That’s without even mentioning Moreton and Stradbrook Island which are perfect for snorkelling or learning about Koalas at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
What I absolutely adore about the city is how much the locals love Brisbane and how much they want you to, too. There doesn’t seem to be an air about it where things are for silly tourists only and locals wouldn’t be seen dead there. No matter where you go, there will be a mix of locals and non-locals all enjoying whatever’s going on together. Everyones welcome and it’s unlikely you’ll be somewhere and have no one talk to you. Brisbane’s are a friendly bunch and it’s just so comforting when you’re a million miles from home.
The city itself is far, far more laid back than Sydney and Melbourne too. Whilst I love being in the hustle and bustle of the Sydney Harbour or amongst the street art in Hosier Lane in Melbourne, it can feel intense and a pressure to do everything at once. After spending time in sleepy country towns whilst doing my farmwork, I’ve come to appreciate the calm an area like that can bring but also how much I want to have easy access to everything too. Brisbane feels like a city that’s popped up in the countryside and it’s great!
Just the other day, a friend told me that the amount of rent she pays to live in a 4 bedroom house with its own pool in Brisbane is the same as what she was paying to rent just a room in a house with about 8 other people in Sydney. My mind was kinda blown, to say the least! Now, Australia, in general, isn’t the cheapest travel destination, but Brisbane certainly feels more affordable than Sydney and Melbourne. As there is so much culture inside the city, and so much nature outside of it, a visit to Brisbane doesn’t require a load of money to enjoy it. Be sure to take a look at the tourism website before you go and you’ll soon have a plan in place that will easily see you through your stay and won’t cost you loads.
Whilst Melbourne has it’s free tram line (which is AMAZING by the way) what neither Melbourne or Sydney has is a free way to enjoy the water. In comes Brisbane! The Brisbane Free City Hopper runs up and down the river between North Quay Terminal, all around Kangaroo Point and onto Sydney Street. Getting to see a city this way with fresh air and the wind in your hair is such a luxury. Not only this, but Brisbane has a great bus network including 2 free city loops and train routes that are easy to navigate and can even get you down to the Gold Coast for some R&R on the beach. Perfect!
I understand that Brisbane has changed quite a bit over the last new years and with that has brought a tonne of opportunities to learn about the history and new cultural hotspots. Over on South Bank you will find the Brisbane Cultural Centre, home to the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Museum and Science Centre, the Performing Arts Centre and State Library of Queensland. Or for a great walk with a stunning viewpoint at the end, head over to the Mount Coot-Tha Aboriginal Art Trail to learn how Indigenous art is used in mapping the land and passing on culture.
Melbourne may be well known for its laneways and street art but Brisbane has that too. Bakery Lane, Winn Lane and Fish Lane, to name a few, are teaming with independent eateries and retailers and that’s what really brings the city to life. Not only this but by simply walking around the city and its suburbs, you will get a great sense of uniqueness and culture. The rolling hills of Paddington packed with boutiques and cafes all set in old style Queenslander buildings and the vibrant Fortitude Valley are great places to experience the culture here. The coffee and beer culture are also MASSIVE with new cafes and bars popping up every week. I love supporting local small businesses and Brisbane passionately has this in abundance.
If there’s something that you really want to experience then I taking a walking tour with the Brisbane Greeters is a great way to get a local’s guide to the culture of Brisbane. You can either go on one of their tours or ask them for something in particular yourself. You can book a tour with them here.
No matter what you fancy for breakfast, lunch, dinner or anything in between, you’ll have no problem finding it in Brisbane. The CBD is full of delicious Asian cuisines as well as Chinatown being just 10 minutes away, South Bank has a whole street full of food ranging from Mexican to Italian and not to forget Cowch, the first dessert restaurant to hit the city. Then if you move to the suburbs you will find tonnes of small independent places like Ben’s Burgers down Winn Lane in Fortitude Valley, Little Greek Taverna over in the West End and of course the famous Eat Street North Shore near Eagle Farm which is always a fantastic night out.
For the farm to plate type experience, check out some of the markets such as Davies Park or Jan Powers markets, full of handmade goodies. In comparison to Sydney which often feels quite business-like and high end, and Melbourne which is brilliantly quirky but can easily get packed, eating out in Brisbane is relaxed, fuss-free but seriously delicious, one of the main reasons why I love Brisbane so much!