16 Things I Didn’t Know You Could Do In Brisbane Until I Finally Visited

If you’ve been sleeping on Brisbane, I suggest you wake the fuck up.

I’m addressing this to myself as well, actually. As a Sydney-sider, I’d somehow made it 31 years before checking out all that Brisbane has to offer. And now that I’ve visited, I can’t believe what I was missing out on.

It’s not that I’d been avoiding the city, I just simply haven’t had a chance to go yet! And after spending four glorious day checking all the pearlers of Brisbane, I shudder to think of all the good times I’ve missed by not having visited sooner.

But god am I glad that Brisbane and its beauty are now on my radar because after seeing what it has to offer, I have no doubt that I will be coming back whenever I need a break from Sydney.

For those venturing to Brisbane for a getaway, here’s a lil taste of what you can get up to while you’re there…

16 things to do in Brisbane

1. Stay at the Calile Hotel

If you’re a big ol’ pleb like me and the idea of staying at the same hotel where scores of celebs have stayed (Liam Hemsworth, Julia Roberts, and most recently Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker, to name a few) absolutely tickles you, then the Calile Hotel is the Brissy crash pad for you.

And if you’re not a pleb but just want to stay somewhere that’s just really bloody nice, then I also recommend this five star joint!

That was me living out my best mermaid fantasies by the pool. (Credit: Brisbane Economic Development Agency)

Located in the heart of Brisbane amongst a bevy of schmick shops and restaurants, the hotel is a lush tropical paradise featuring immaculate energy, a 1960s feel and a heap of glorious facilities for guests to enjoy.

The pièce de résistance is, of course, the 28-metre pool situated next to the divine Hellenika restaurant — you’d swear you’re in Miami or Palm Springs (both of which served as inspo for the architectural design). But you’re not in Miami or Palm Springs! You’re in stunning, sunny Brisbane which is even better IMO (and quite frankly, better for the dollar).

Bring your cozzies!!!!! (Credit: Brisbane Economic Development Agency)

There are 175 guestrooms with nine different suite types and two premier suites. There’s also a gymnasium for the fitness freaks, the Kailo Medispa for some rejuvenation (a swanky spa which is your private and peaceful retreat complete with treatment packages and wellness pods), and a library for you to browse at your leisure.

Here’s video footage of our stay, if you’d like a visual aid:

2. Shop at the James Street precinct

When you leave the Calile Hotel you’ll past the James Street precinct which has a glorious array of shops to browse and eateries to dine at.

You’re gonna wanna carve out a healthy amount of time to hit up this shopper’s paradise. There’s a lot of gorgeous green ground to cover! You will quickly become lost in the vortex that is the lush range of Australian designers, including Aje, Gorman, Camilla, Zimmermann, Sass & Bide, Scanlan & Theodore, Silk Laundry, Lee Matthews, Nudie Jeans, Bec + Bridge, Bassike, Mister Zimi, Dion Lee, Camilla & Marc, Carla Zampatti, Venroy, Optiko, Venroy, Bassike, Milu, and Assembly Label.

If you’d like to shop local, I’d recommend checking out jewellery label Natasha Schweitzer, Brisbane’s Molton Store (this is its flagship store!), Adronis Fine Jewellery (located at the Calile) or local fashion designer fashion designer Gail Sorronda‘s store.

There are also a bunch of homeware stores like Pottery Barn and West Elm.

It’s a pretty cruisey shopping experience, amplified even further by the fact that it’s mostly outdoors so you can enjoy the Brissy sunshine, plus the precinct is decorated in a delicate stream of plants.

James Street Precinct

The James Street precinct is a leafy haven featuring a bunch of killer boutiques and restaurants. (Credit: Brisbane Economic Development Agency)

3. Eat at The Green

Speaking of green! There are plenty of fabulous eateries available on the strip to fuel your shopping, but my pick would be The Green.

Nestled amongst the plants on James Street, the aptly titled restaurant showcases all the delectable flavours the Middle Eastern culture has to offer.

The Green is renowned for its spit roasted lamb, mezze plates and charcoal chicken served with their secret family creamy garlic sauce, toum, all made with the freshest ingredients.

Here are just a few of my faves:

I recommend the meat skewers! (Credit: Supplied)

Chips

And the seasoned chippies, bursting with Middle Eastern flavour. (Credit: Supplied)

And, of course, the bread, which truly gives Totti’s a run for its money! (Credit: Supplied)

It’s also worth noting that the food has been sourced from local growers and suppliers.

4. Stay at the Crystalbrook Vincent

This five-star hotel is a superb choice for accomodation, not just for convenience (it’s located on the Howard Smith Wharves — more on that later!), but also for its general vibe. It gives the feeling of being a boutique hotel but on a grander scale and it’s located right by the water which automatically puts you at ease.

In terms of interiors, it’s certainly one you’ll never forget. On the walls you’ll find over 500 prints by acclaimed Australian artist Vincent Fantauzzo. It almost doubles as an art gallery, really. I spent a great deal of time scanning the walls of the hotel and enjoying the art as we’d come and go from our room.

Australian artist Vincent Fantauzzo's art

Is it a hotel or an art gallery? Honestly, a bit of both! Two for the price of one. (Credit: Brisbane Economic Development Agency)

Speaking of, the suites come with an A+ view of the city which is absolutely stunning, especially at night as the Brissy lights. After a night of exploring, if you’re not quite ready for bed, you can enjoy a stroll by the water as it’s pretty much in your backyard.

And on the flip side, waking up to that gorgeous view is just what your soul needs to recharge.

The hotel also boasts sustainable amenities as it’s formed off an environmentally conscious #ResponsibleLuxury philosophy, which we love.

If you’re considering a trip this winter, check out their list of winter offers for local activities like the bridge climb or checking out the Secret Speakeasy (more deets here).

If you’re stuck on places to stay, I cannot recommend the Crystalbrook Vincent enough.

They had to drag me out of here kicking and screaming, I did not want to leave.

5. Eat at Mews

Whether you’re a guest of Crystalbrook Vincent or not, you simply must stop by the divine eatery called Mews, located on the ground level of the hotel.

The café itself is charming, vibrant, and offers both indoor and outdoor seating. The menu is produce-driven and changes depending on the season.

The staff were so lovely that I felt compelled to leave a Google review after one of the many times we dined there during our stay, something I quite literally never do.

Definitely go check it out then take a stroll along the Howard Smith Wharves afterwards.

6. Visit the Howard Smith Wharves

In the Uber ride to the Crystalbrook Vincent hotel, the driver told us that we’d struck gold by choosing to stay here, not just because it’s a top notch place to stay, but because it’s situated in the location of the best night spots in Brissy.

He told us that during the day, the area will be a peaceful haven with gorgeous scenery (and he was right!), but come nighttime, the area will be vibrant, bustling, and full of life (again, he was right!).

The Howard Street Wharves is a gorgeous spot in Brisbane where a bevy of bars and restaurants overlook the water.

Howard Street Wharves

The stunning Howard Street Wharves are where Brisbane comes alive. (Credit: Brisbane Economic Development Agency)

7. Enjoy drinks at Fiume

Now, onto the nightlife!

Who among us doesn’t go hog wild at the idea of a rooftop bar?

If that includes you, check out Fiume, a chic rooftop bar located in the Crystalbrook Vincent hotel, but it’s available to all patrons even if you’re not a guest.

The outdoor bar and terrace has the vibe of an LA resort rooftop, complete with a spectacular infinity pool and day beds.

Fiume in the evening! (Credit: Supplied)

The bar offers a gorgeous selection of cocktails to enjoy as you take in the view of the Brisbane skyline. I especially recommend if you’re in need of a sunset bev as well as the Fiume Fridays!

8. Eat at Stanley

Award-winning Australian-Cantonese restaurant Stanley is a must, must MUST visit!

Inspired by head chef Louis Tikaram’s international travel and background, Stanley features a gorgeous selection of classic Cantonese dishes with a modern twist.

I beg of you: GET. THE. BANQUET! (Credit: Supplied)

The two-storey restaurant is housed in the heritage-listed former headquarters of Brisbane’s water police, and features a stunning interior designed by Samantha Leigh Interiors in collaboration with Katie Cameron Interiors.

You have the option of either sitting inside and enjoying the atmosphere or sitting on the balcony where you’ll enjoy each course with the view of Brisbane’s water.

I’d recommend enjoying one of their banquet options or tasting their iconic seven-day Yum Cha.

9. Enjoy the beer at Felons Brewery

Whether you’re a beer drinker or not, you need to hit up Felons Brewing Co, a brewery / pub that overlooks the water but also has plenty of indoor seating.

Founded by Brisbane locals, Felons brew and serve their own selection of beers and ciders but they also have other drinks and food options for you to enjoy, which includes wood-fired pizzas and other pub treats.

Parts of the brewery are dog-friendly if you’re visiting with your pooch during the day!

10. Party at Mr Percival’s

Sitting alongside Felons is Brisbane’s newest overwater bar called Mr Percival’s. There’s a huge outdoor decking area and an inside nightclub vibe complete with a dancefloor and in-house DJ.

If you’d like to munch on some delectable treats while you enjoy the atmosphere, the kitchen serves a delicious selection of dishes including caviar, prawn cocktails, pizzas, and Moreton Bay bug rolls.

If you’re keen for a fun night, you cannot go past Mr Percival’s. The energy reminded me of what Sydney used to be like before the nightlife fell off a cliff. Definitely one of the highlights of the trip!

11. Eat at Agnes

Agnes was designed with the intention of having you feel like you’re eating by the fire. The setup is intimate yet grand, housed in a heritage three-storey building with a hearth-like vibe.

It’s got a main dining room (with dim mood lighting that’s perfect for date night), a wine bar and a terrace.

Agnes

Agnes is ideal for special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries. (Credit: Brisbane Economic Development Agency)

The food itself is decadent and delicious — a celebration of wood-fired cooking. It’s no wonder it was Gourmet Traveller’s #1 rated restaurant in Australia last year!

12. Visit the Sprout Artisan Bakery, Brooki Bakehouse and Agnes Bakery

Brisbane is known for its artisan bakery scene, with scores of A+ tastemakers to visit.

In particular, I recommend grabbing yourself some pastries and coffees at Sprout Artisan Bakery, Brooki Bakehouse and Agnes Bakery.

Notice how I said and, not or? Seriously, try and hit up all three! They are just *chef’s kiss*. Or should that be *baker’s kiss*?

13. Go to the SOAK Bathhouse

A family-owned business that was created with the intention of making wellness accessible, and they really do just that. The bathhouse is a warm and cosy haven with massage rooms on the inside and a deck that overlooks the city of Brisbane on the outside.

This is a perfect activity whether you’re flying solo or travelling with mates.

SOAK Bathhouse

SOAK Bathhouse is actually heaven on earth. (Credit: Brisbane Economic Development Agency)

When I went with my BF, we were surrounded by groups of friends who were having a ball as they luxuriated out in the various spas. There are seven different spas set to various temperatures so you can go all Golidlocks and select the one that’s just right for you.

The spa package comes with free reign of the place, a 90-minute soak session and you even get a bevy to enjoy as you let the bubbles pulsate around you. Pure bliss!

14. Eat at Gerard’s

If, like me, you’re a huge fan of Middle Eastern cuisine, you simply cannot go past Gerard’s.

The restaurant is a renowned and celebrated fave of Brissy — it even has its own book, aptly titled The Art of Hospitality, and let me tell you, this restaurant has mastered just that and then some.

Gerard's

Gerard’s has a beautiful warm feeling with some of the greatest dishes I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. (Credit: Brisbane Economic Development Agency)

The food is inspired by restaurateur Johnny Moubarak‘s Lebanese background so the food is a divine array of Middle Eastern dishes.

15. Eat at Vertigo

Fancy yourself a bit of a thrillseeker? Does the idea of heights tickle your soul? How about the idea of enjoying a three course meal while suspended in the air?

If the answer is yes, then this is a restaurant that’s been DESIGNED for you!

Vertigo is a groundbreaking (literally) restaurant that has you suspended via harness from the roof of the glorious Brisbane Powerhouse where you’ll enjoy a three-course dinner by Italian bistro Bar Alto and observe the spectacular view.

Here’s a visual of the restaurant set-up. Again, you’ve gotta be cool with heights to enjoy this one! (Credit: Supplied)

My boyfriend Jackson enjoying his duck gnocci while suspended in midair. (Credit: Supplied)

They offer Sunday brunch as well as evening meals — we opted for the evening and zero regrets there as the view of the Brisbane lights and the sun setting was more than we could’ve hoped for.

I do have to stress that this is not for those who are afraid of heights — once you’ve finished your meal, you’ll then jump back down to bottom level (not to worry, the friendly staff will be assisting every step of the way).

What better way to see Brisbane and make up for lost time than by combining great food with an even greater view and a thrilling dinner experience we’ll never forget.

16. Day trip to Mulgumpin (otherwise known as Moreton Island) / Tangalooma Island Resort

While you’re in this stunning neck of the woods, you’d be a fool to skip out on some of the gorgeous islands just a short boat ride away from Brisbane.

We hopped on a catamaran to Tangalooma Island Resort which is located on the iconic Moreton Island, famous for its bugs (the fish kind, not the insect kind) that Austin Butler enjoyed while he was in Brissy filming Elvis.

Here’s a bunch of sweet activities that the island has to offer:

  • Wild dolphin feeding
  • Snorkelling
  • Whale watching
  • ATV quad bike tours
  • Desert safari tour
  • Helicopter tour

Fun fact: the island is the Spooky Island that appears in the greatest film from our childhoods: Scooby-Doo (2002).

The moment I set foot on that island, I knew I had seen it before… (Credit: Supplied)

Scooby-Doo

The Scooby-Doo gang filming the movie on Tangalooma Island in 2002. (Credit: Scooby-Doo)

I immediately recognised several filming locations upon my arrival. It felt pretty amazing to walk the same ground that Sarah Michelle Gellar walked in those Versace patented leather GoGo boots.

If you’re contemplating a trip to Brisbane, let this be your sign to jet over there ASAP and enjoy the tasty culinary treats, glowing nightlife, sweet activities and incredible experiences and memories that you’re sure to experience.

Thank you for the trip of a lifetime Brissy, I promise I’ll be back v soon!

The writer travelled as a guest of the Brisbane Economic Development Agency.

Matt Galea is the Managing Editor of PEDESTRIAN.TV, as well as our resident astrologer. His first book How To Spot The (Star) Signs is out now! You can find him on InstagramX and TikTok.

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