Brisbane, once considered the country-bumpkin cousin compared to the culture of Melbourne or the glitter of Sydney, is now a city to rival its southern counterparts, with the bonus of a lot more sunshine. Eye-popping street art is splashed on walls, dynamic rooftop bars seduce the trendy cocktail set, and contemporary restaurants dot the riverside walkway. Luxurious 5-star hotels litter the city streets, and the creative heart constantly throbs in the fringing burbs of New Farm and Fortitude Valley. Straddling the Brisbane River, it's known as 'The River City.' Kayakers ply the muddy waters, runners/joggers/cyclists and those who prefer to walk tramp along the riverwalk boards. And ferries glide from one side of the river to the other at all hours of the day.
Southbank decorates the riverbank on the southern side of the city. A cultural hub where you can take a cool-off dip at a manmade beach. It's the domain of museums, galleries, and restaurants with stunning river views. The Queensland Performing Arts Centre is the holy grail for ballet, opera, and musicals. While the Queensland Art Gallery and the nearby Gallery of Modern Art will satisfy the appetite of any arty soul. Poke your nose around the Queensland Museum or the Queensland Maritime Museum if you are a history buff and like to get into the musty aspects of life. The old site where the World Expo was held in 1988 is now a lush park of rainforest, grassy knolls, and vibrant plazas. There's also a magical Arbour of curling steel draped in vivid pink bougainvillea. For a birds-eye view of the city, climb on board the Wheel of Brisbane and reach for the sky. The shopaholic will love meandering around Little Stanley Street and Grey Street, awash in boutiques, gourmet delis, and home to the South Bank's Lifestyle Markets every weekend.
Snuggled between the skyscrapers of the Brisbane CBD and the river's ebb and flow, the Botanic Gardens are a respite from the metropolis' hustle and bustle. Established in 1855, they are a wondrous world of ornamental ponds, rare botanical species, and a Weeping Fig Avenue that has fairytale qualities. You can hear the bamboo grove gently whispering as you meander one of the many manicured pathways. Outdoor concerts and music festivals rage at the Riverstage when locals sprawl blankets on the overlooking green lawn. The riverside markets take over the area every Sunday in a flurry of coffee swilling, food gobbling, and eclectic shopping.
Returning in May 2022, the Street Art Festival held in Brisbane will be coloring not only the urban streets but bridges, traffic signal boxes, and hidden nooks and crannies. Brisbane is a hot spot for its burgeoning street art scene. From dynamic murals that make you stop mid-step to jaw-dropping graffiti, the streets are becoming outdoor art galleries that stretch your imagination. Dazzling splatters of color will slap you in the face wherever you turn. Not just in the city's alleys and laneways but in Fortitude Valley, West End, South Brisbane, Newstead, and New Farm. Guerilla artist, Mace Robertson, has created a whimsical red fairy door in Burnett Lane. Further up the laneway, the Blu Art Ninja has shared his bright blue waddling duck on the wall. The art duo of Drapl & Treazy will have you spell-bound with their bright eye candy on the wall of Ric's Bar in Brunswick Street, the Valley. And Bao Ho has created a visual feast of animals in an oceanic fantasy world above Paladar Fumior Salon in South Brisbane. The creative list of artists is extensive. Chasing street art is much more fun than being stuck inside a gallery. So grab an ice cream and cruise around the streets in the sun.
You can drool and dribble your way around the city, where outdoor dining compliments its never-ending summer feel. Dive in with chopsticks at the renowned Donna Chang in George Street, or head downstairs at the same venue to the underground bank vault of Boom Boom Izakaya for mouth-watering Japanese, such as miso-glazed toothfish yakitori with bonito mayo. Dine with an Italian attitude at Alchemy overlooking the river and the Story Bridge, or head to Fortitude Valley and its hidden food gems. Gerard's Bistro, Essa, or Same Same: all deliver on their foodie promises. From moody to flash, there are plenty of bars to linger in for pre-or-post beverages. Head to the quirkily named Death and Taxes with its leather-lined booths or the whiskey bar of Savile Row in the valley for whatever tipple you fancy.
As Brisbane is the host of the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, you can expect to see many changes happening over the following years that will only add to the lure of this brilliant city.