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The Top Things to do in Brisbane

Brisbane is a vibrant cosmopolitan city that embraces its heritage and love for outdoor adventures. Blessed with a balmy climate, the city offers a bounty of aquatic experiences that make the most of its location, close to the river and Moreton Bay Islands. Escape the confines of the CBD and enjoy a day in the sunshine climbing the iconic Story Bridge, abseiling down the Kangaroo Point Cliffs or lazing on the stunning shores of Moreton Island. And in between shopping till you drop on Queen Street, dining at hip alfresco food haunts or enjoying a touch of culture at South Bank, you simply cannot miss out on cuddling a koala at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Kick start your adventure to Brisbane and browse a list of things to see and do with Experience Oz.

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Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Brisbane

Experience Oz Staff
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Brisbane is a city filled with many activities for both young and old, from dining in the bustling CBD to relaxing on its signature man-made beach and everything in between. While there’s plenty to do in QLD’s capital, the true challenge comes with finding something the kids will enjoy as well. To make things a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best attractions in Brisbane to take your little ones while also obtaining some enjoyment for yourself.

The below places have been selected based on a number of criteria such as value for money, quality of attraction, accessibility and popularity with children, as well as high-rated reviews from our customers. Without further ado, here’s the list of the Top 10 Brisbane Attractions for Kids.

1. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

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Location: 708 Jesmond Rd, Fig Tree Pocket

Take a trip out the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary where you can cuddle up to one of Australia’s most iconic animals. While visiting the sanctuary you will also see some playful platypus, dangerous dingos, risky reptiles and courageous kangaroos.

A koala cuddle is a must-do and the team at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary house some of the friendliest koalas you will ever meet!

The team at the sanctuary are experts on all things koalas and will be able to tell you anything you need to do about them or any of the other animals who call the sanctuary home.

“While visiting the sanctuary you will also see some playful platypus, dangerous dingos, risky reptiles and courageous kangaroos.”

You can sign up for an organised tour that will take you to and from the sanctuary located on the outskirts of Brisbane approximately 20 minutes from the CBD.

If you choose to take part in a tour, you will also be transported up to the Mount Coot-tha lookout to experience sweeping views of the city and Moreton Bay region.

Kids will love cuddling up to the beautiful koalas, feeding the kangaroos and learning about some of Australia’s native animals. This is a great excursion the whole family will enjoy!

2. Bound around at Sky Zone & Bounce Inc

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Location: Sky Zone; 544 Kessels Rd, Macgregor / Bounce Inc.; 40 Enterprise Pl, Tingalpa

Brisbane is home to two amazing trampoline parks; Sky Zone Trampoline Park and Bounce Inc., both featuring rooms filled with trampolines. You can spend part of your day jumping around the room, bouncing off walls, playing dodgeball or slam dunking like a pro.

This is perfect for the little ones as well! Both companies cater for young kids by conducting special programs and activities and sectioning off trampolining areas for them to enjoy safely. This is an adventure truly perfect for the whole family!

"You can spend part of your day jumping around the room, bouncing off walls, playing dodgeball or slam dunking like a pro.”

As an added bonus, trampolining is a great form of exercise! If mum and dad want to get a short workout in while the kids play, Skyfit offers 30-minute exercise classes.

All trampoline areas are supervised ensuring everyone is enjoying themselves and bouncing safely. Visitors are encouraged to book spots in advance to avoid disappointment when turning up to the venue.

3. Urban Xtreme Ski and Adventure Park

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Location: 4/370 Nudgee Rd, Hendra, QLD

Urban Xtreme is Brisbane’s newest indoor snow sports and adventure centre in Hendra. This multi-purpose attraction boasts an indoor ski slope, laser tag, trampolines, xtreme kids playground and brand new Ninja warrior and parkour course all under one roof.

Whether it is raining outside or a stinking hot summer day, Urban Xtreme is a great all weather attraction to bring the kids along to.

The best way to experience all the activities on offer is to purchase an adventure park pass guaranteeing you access to all the activities (excluding the snow park) that you want do within a designated time limit.

Choose between a one hour or two hour pass and let the kids run wild on a variety of activities or stick with the one activity- the choice is yours.

The indoor ski park uses revolutionary technology that allows users to develop their skiing and snowboarding skills in a safe environment.

The park runs 1 hour coaching sessions where skiers and snowboarders can learn to ski like a pro under the watchful eye of expert instructors.

Sessions are kept small at a maximum of 6 participants of similar age and ability to ensure that each person is given the personal attention that they need to perfect their skills.

"Urban Xtreme Ski and Adventure Park is a great all weather attraction aimed at all ages who can have fun hitting the ski slopes, playing laser tag, jumping on the trampolines or running around on Xtreme Ninja and Xtreme playgrounds."

Learn to get ski fit before you head off on your snowing adventure or simply learn a new skill that makes the most of the sub-tropical climate of Brisbane.

Outside of the ski park, the adventure park offers plenty of opportunities for kids to burn off some energy. The Xtreme Laser is just one of the activities housed within the adventure park. The laser tag centre is a multi-level arena with some of the most advanced technology making any laser tag game a blast with strobe lighting and sound effects.

Each laser tag game lasts for approximately 10 minutes and can cater for a maximum of 33 players at a time on several competing teams.

There is also a challenging Xtreme Ninja course. If the kids or even the parents have been inspired by the Ninja Warrior TV show then why not take the obsession one step further and push yourself to learn, train and compete on Brisbane’s first ever Xtreme Ninja course.

Urban Xtreme is the place to go for non-stop action also housing giant trampolines for hours of tumbling fun and an inflatable playground with mini rock climbing walls for the younger children.

Urban Xtreme Ski and Adventure Park is open 7 days a week while the Ski Park is open for fun from Wednesday to Sunday.

4. Workshops Rail Museum

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Location: North Street, North Ipswich

For one of the greater Brisbane region’s absolute best kids attractions, you’ll have to put in some effort and head a little extra out of the way. The reward, however, is well worth it: Spend the day exploring the Workshops Rail Museum at Ipswich for an interactive, authentic cultural experience.

Located at Australia’s oldest railway workshops that are still in operation, the Workshops Rail Museum makes history come alive with a range of hands-on and interactive exhibits for kids of all ages to enjoy.

"There are 15 large exhibits on display for the whole family to enjoy showcasing the impact of rail in everyday life, displaying resorted carriages as well as one of the largest model railways of Queensland."

There are 15 large exhibits on display for the whole family to enjoy showcasing the impact of rail in everyday life, displaying resorted carriages as well as one of the largest model railways of Queensland.

It’s an extremely interactive attraction that encourages learning through participation, with kids able to clamber on and into authentic train carriages and engines, too.

A great outing for the whole family, located just a short distance from Brisbane, The Workshops Rail Museum is part of the Queensland Museum and is a multi-award winner.

5. Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium

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Location: Mount Coottha Rd, Toowong QLD

For a fun and equally educational day or night out then look no further than the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium in the Mount Cootha Botanic Gardens.

The planetarium is a space lover’s dream housing a 12.5 metre Cosmic Skydome screening a series of movies that play entertaining universe and space related documentaries.

Among some of the popular features films are 'Moons: Worlds of Mystery', 'Tales of a Time Traveler', 'Dark Universe', 'Starlight' and long favoured ‘Passport to the Universe’ narrated by Tom Hanks.

A recent addition to the line up of films screened here is Friday night’s ‘Bella Gaia’ which takes viewers on a musical journey across Earth featuring NASA science visualisations mixed with cultural scenes from various parts of the world.

All feature films are approximately 1 hour long and end with a tour of Brisbane’s night sky led by the Planetarium’s astronomers.

"The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium is a space lover’s dream housing a 12.5 metre Cosmic Skydome screening a series of movies that play entertaining universe and space related documentaries about the solar system and the universe."

While evening shows tend to be aimed at adults, the daytime movies are child friendly shows that teach children all about the solar system.

Productions like 'Perfect Little Planet', 'Secret of the Cardboard Rocket', 'The Little Star that Could', 'Tycho to the Moon' are designed for children and recommended for ages 5 years and above.

The planetarium also features some interesting space related exhibits and artefacts including asteroid fragments, spacecraft models and replica space suits worn by astronauts.

A visit to the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium is a great activity to bring the kids along to in addition to exploring the adjacent Mt Cootha Botanic Gardens and Lookout within the same precinct.


6. Enjoy a picnic in the park

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Location: Various locations

There are so many beautiful parks around Brisbane, from the popular New Farm Park to the Roma Street Parklands, you are almost guaranteed to find the perfect picnic spot for the whole family.

Set up your picnic at one of the many weekend markets for a vibrant, entertaining atmosphere. Multiple suburbs around Brisbane are bursting with live music, food stalls and more on weekends.

"Set up your picnic at one of the many weekend markets for a vibrant, entertaining atmosphere.”

There are rows of stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables, food made to order, trinkets, clothing, accessories and much more.

Live music and seating areas accompany most markets so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the day. Buy some fresh fruit and nibbles and set yourself up in front of the entertainment.

Mum and dad can enjoy their freshly brewed coffee as the kids run and dance around to the music.

It’s a great outing for the whole family! Most markets start early in the morning and run until the afternoon and many are positioned next to large grassed areas or sporting fields, providing ample room for your picnic set up.

7. Hit the Go-Kart Track

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Location: Kingston Park Raceway; 20 Mudgee St, Kingston / Go Karting Brisbane; 870 Kingsford Smith Drive, Eagle Farm

On your marks, get set, go! Race against the whole family in an exciting round of go-karting at Kingston Park Raceway or Go Karting Brisbane.

Spend your day racing around the track and trying to beat the fastest time at Kingston Park. The excitement and adrenalin that comes off the track is unlike anything else and the best part is the whole family can try, even kids as young as 5!

The track at Kingston Park has four levels of racing including Kids Rookie Karts, Kids Formula Karts, Adult Predator Karts and Adult Schumacher Karts. Kids Rookie Karts are perfect for kids aged between 5 and 10 years. The karts reach a maximum speed of 18kph with race sessions lasting for 3, 6 or 9 minutes.

“Race against the whole family in an exciting round of go-karting at Kingston Park Raceway.”

On the other hand, Kids Formula Karts are suited for ages 11 to 13, reaching speeds of up to 40kph. Riders can choose from 2, 4 or 6 minute sessions. The karts are small, open, four-wheeled vehicles and are raced on scaled-down circuits, to give you that real racing feel.

Perfect for beginners through to the advanced racers, Kingston Park Raceway works hard to ensure all safety measures are taken so everyone is looked after, especially the young drivers.

This is a fun way for the whole family to unleash their competitive side. See who’s the fastest and who takes out the crowning glory. Will it be mum? Dad? Or one of the kids? The race is on!

8. The Inflatable Factory

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Location: Various Locations during the Queensland school holidays

The Inflatable Factory is Brisbane’s biggest inflatable theme park with a collection of jumping castles and slides for kids to bounce around on.

Only open during the school holiday period, the Inflatable Factory moves from location to location around Brisbane bringing their giant slides, castles and obstacles course to showgrounds around the metropolitan area.

Not just for kids, parents can join in on the action too with a range of activities for the whole family. The Inflatable Factory offers hours of entertainment for kids of all ages including the parents that accompany their children.

The Inflatable Factory is fully supervised and insured so that you have total peace of mind that the kids will be looked after while they are bouncing around on the inflatable playgrounds.

"The Inflatable Factory is Brisbane's largest inflatable theme park operating with a collection of over 36 games and inflatable rides that open for the school holidays."

Among some of the highlights of the inflatable park include a giant 12 metre Superman Slide, a bouncing zorb ball, an inflatable obstacles course, velcro walls, mechanical bulls and there is even a hilarious bubble soccer where kids can run around and bump into each other inside their inflatable balls.

With over 36 rides and games to play on in one location there are so many ways that the kids can burn off all their excess energy during the school holidays.

No bookings are needed, you can simply come along and purchase a 2 hour pass on the day which guarantees access to all the inflatable attractions.

Prices start from $10 through to $70 for a 2 hour family pass and extra hours can added at an additional cost if needed. Spectators are free.

Keep an eye on their website for the latest information regarding school holiday locations and opening hours.

9. South Bank Parklands Beach

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Location: Stanley St, South Brisbane

It is all happening at South Bank! The only place you can jump into the water and relax at the ‘beach’ while still being so close to the city! Streets Beach in the South Bank Parklands is the perfect place to play for the whole family.

The man made lagoon is complete with sand and the on duty lifeguard is there to make sure everyone is safe. Whether you are wanting to relax on the grass or beach, grab a coffee, have a dip or play in the kid friendly water park, South Bank delivers.

"The only place you can jump into the water and relax at the ‘beach’ while still being so close to the city!”

Pack yourself a picnic or settle in at one of the surrounding cafes as the kids play in the water and run around the small water park.

On the weekend, the roads surrounding the beach are filled with market vendors. There you will find everything from jewellery and clothing to man made items and souvenirs. The list of eateries in the precinct is vast, from yummy take out to classy dining, there is something to suit all tastes and tastebuds.

10. Wheel of Brisbane

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Location: Russell Street, South Brisbane

Get amazing 360-degree views of the Brisbane skyline and surrounding areas from 60-metres in the air. The Wheel of Brisbane will take you high enough to touch the sky in the comfort of an enclosed capsule complete with air-conditioning.

The wheel is made up of over 42 carriages each big enough to sit multiple people. The carriages can hold up to 8 people, consisting of two children and six adults comfortably.

Families can hire out an entire carriage to themselves or share with other visitors. This is a great way to see Brisbane from a different angle and appreciate what a beautiful city it truly is.

"This is a great way to see Brisbane from a different angle and appreciate what a beautiful city it truly is.”

The young ones will love the feeling of towering over the city and watching the people scurry like ants back on the ground. The beautiful views from the wheel are unlike any other open to the public in Brisbane, making this attraction a must-do and must-see for the whole family.

If you’re after a unique view of the city, ride the wheel at night time and watch as Brisbane’s city lights twinkle against the night sky. Mum and dad will enjoy this attraction just as much as the kids!

The wheel is open 7 days a week; 11am to 9:30pm Monday to Thursday, 10am to 11pm Friday and Saturday and from 10am to 10pm on Sunday.

Top 10 Restaurants in Brisbane, QLD

by Experience Oz
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Brisbane‘s a capital city that might not market itself is a culinary capital or top dining destination, but the increasing cultural diversity and levels of domestic migration by those with cooking talents in pursuit of its comfortable and warm weather has done much to add to the array of quality restaurants the city now boasts.

With a strong Asian influence, several standout suburbs and dining-oriented locales, and a great backdrop of the Brisbane River to enjoy while sampling a bite to eat, Brisbane has plenty to offer the prospective diner who’s willing to do a bit of searching. While overall it might be outshone by other more food-featuring cities such as Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, there are a number of dining gems in the city that stand up there with the best Australia has to offer on both ends of the budget spectrum.

We take a look at 10 of the best restaurants in Brisbane, QLD in detail below.

1. Malt Dining

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Location: 28 Market St, Brisbane

Cuisine: Modern Australian

It’s beyond cliche to throw the term “dining experience” around in regards to fine dining establishments, but there are few better ways to describe what makes Market Street’s Malt such a standout – the relatively high price of admission carries with it an experience that is simply first class in every regard.

This is a restaurant that simply exudes elegance, from the soft lighting to the high end, rustic decor to the live piano that provides a classic backdrop; no expense has been spared in making dining at Malt a memorable event thats based around more than simple food consumption.

The ambience thus makes it an obvious and reliable choice for any special occasion that’s worth remembering, with the seating also being intentionally limited to provide the optimal amount of space between tables and lending itself to romance. A split-level layout with a bar downstairs that’s a great spot for a pre-dinner drink and the main dining room above completes the charm.

The menu at Malt has had its selection intentionally limited to concentrate on showcasing the craftsmanship of the featured dishes, each of which is brimming with perfectly-balanced flavours – it’s definitely a quality-over-quantity motif here.

Presentation is spectacular and give the sense that you’re getting value for your money, from the entrees – highlighted by the tempura zucchini flowers and carpaccio/foie gras combo; to the mains and their standout kingfish in a Moreton Bay bug sauce (incredible) and wagyu sirloin; through to the range of rich and flavourful desserts and their signature Malt brownie.

"This is a restaurant that simply exudes elegance, from the soft lighting to the high-end, rustic decor to the live piano that provides a classic backdrop; no expense has been spared in making dining at Malt a memorable event."

Mains are cooked, presented and plated intelligently at Malt, and each of your menu selections are described in detail by the waitstaff upon their arrival which is a nice touch and adds to the inherent class of the experience.

These are complex dishes with a blend of flavours that demonstrate the chef’s expertise to a fault, with melt-in-your-mouth ingredients and meals that are evenly cooked and subtly textured.

Malt boasts an extensive wine and spirits list, and the restaurant’s manager is always willing and able to go into detail about their various whiskey offerings in particular, which is a solid indicator of the service on offer as a whole.

Waitstaff are exceedingly professional yet still warm, striking just the right balance between involvement and granting personal space – nothing is ever “too hard” when responding to requests, and personalised touches such as birthday or anniversary cards pre-prepared on your table go a long way to adding to an overall welcoming feeling.

This is five star service and food at a price point that is very reasonable in proportion to the standards set by every aspect of the restaurant, and stands as a remaining hidden gem behind the main dining district of Market Street.

Whether you’re going to enjoy lunch, customise your own dinner as you see fit, or go all-out on their comprehensive and indulgent Taste of Malt degustation experience, you’ll be left with a memorable dining experience at Malt that will be sure to drag you back in future. When factoring the combination of food quality, atmosphere, service and price point, this is a Brisbane restaurant that remains hard to beat.

2. Tartufo

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Location: 1000 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, QLD

Cuisine: Italian

The characteristic tastes of Napoli are on display in full force at Fortitude Valley’s Tartufo, with pizza as its flagship dish but offering so much more than that.

Set in a timeless “European setting” in every sense of the term, Tartufo is a venue with an excellent decor fitout reminscent of France of not perhaps purely Italy and demonstrates both a sense of style and quality of menu that has the ability to hang with equivalent establishments in Melbourne – high praise given the Victorian capital’s generally accepted status as our country’s culinary paragon.

This is a restaurant that allows you the flexibility to have as subdued or lively an evening as you wish, with seating away from the main crowd of diners available upon prior request. And a crowd there will be; the longstanding reputation of this restaurant still exists in full force, and a loyal crowd of dedicated regulars can be found sampling its goods on each day of operation.

Kicking things off at Tartufo is the signature pizza which gains its sensational taste through a combination of cooking skill, an authentic pizza oven, proper pizza base and associated contents to combine to produce what we consider to be Brisbane’s best.

This can be enjoyed in the restaurant’s “express” bar area for pizza that accommodates a quicker – yet no less delicious – bite to eat as opposed to the full-blown a la carte section that serves as the restaurant’s main hub.

The margarita and primavera are done so authentically here that those who have visited proper establishments on a trip to Italy will not be left disappointed, as both the technique and the freshness of the ingredients used are obvious. Bear in mind that you’ll be limited to a pizza-oriented selection in this wing of the restaurant.

"Dishes here are always perfectly cooked and packed with flavour, and there are several essentials on the menu that first-timers will want to try."

Tartufo’s main section is where you’ll want to head if you’re after their fine dining offerings, and each of the dishes on offer are typically tantalising, incorporating classic flavours that are given a modern twist.

The snapper here in particular is extraordinary and some of the best you’ll ever try, while the rabbit pasta is delectable and calamari-on-rocket dish is incredibly tender and comes with a bare-bones unbattered approach that adds rather than subtracts from the flavour.

Regardless of your choice of dishes, each is constructed and presented with great care – if you’re having trouble choosing from the overwhelming number of quality options on the menu, then the mixed degustation offers an easy out and offers a lineup that’s a true thrill for the senses, with wine well-matched to its accompanying dish.

Service-wise, Tartufo is basically faultless; it’s an impeccable experience from welcome to exit, with passionate euro-centric staff that’s attentive and friendly even during the commonly busy times, and the sommeliers are experts at giving advice on the best possible wine pairings.

The owner/chef will often pop by tables in quieter times to check on things, and his accent and passion along with other touches such as the restaurant’s old-world feel with black and white photos help add to the overall immersion of the dining experience.

All dietary needs and requirements are catered for without any hesitation, serving sizes and toppings are generous, and the price point is high but not unreasonable given the quality. Could it be argued that this is Brisbane’s best Italian? We wouldn’t object.

3. Bird's Nest Restaurant

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Location: 220 Melbourne Street, South Brisbane, QLD

Cuisine: Japanese

Japanese is a cuisine that unfortunately often gets bastardised upon import to western countries, with unnecessary ingredients added and flavours changed in an attempt to appeal to the supposedly “uneducated” Western palate.

This is unfortunate, as many will either often come away feeling it’s not especially enjoyable, or will end up with a warped view of what to expect from this cuisine. None of that is a concern at South Brisbane’s Bird Nest Restaurant, which specialises in yakitori skewers and takes the simple concept of “chicken on a stick” to in entirely new levels.

Greeted by the appropriately exceptional Japanese customer service upon walking in the door, it’s apparent that attempts have been made to keep the experience as truly “Japanese” as possible; there’s none of the awkward attempts at “fusion” style trappings here.

Casual-upmarket would be the best way to describe the setting, so if you’re after a quality meal in Brisbane that avoids any pretentiousness then this is an excellent choice.

Yakitori, which literally means “grilled bird” in Japanese, would be nothing if things didn’t start well with the chicken itself, and here every offering is both expertly-grilled and wonderfully tender, while the smoke and flavour infusions used here enhance the inherently neutral flavour of the meat.

All of the staples of yakitori meats are utilised – almost none of the chicken goes to waste – as more standard sections as the thighs and breasts go hand in hand with other innards like chicken liver, hearts and even arteries for the adventurous diner.

This is a restaurant where it pays to venture outside your comfort zone, as the organs are prepared in a way so that their distinctive textures are not unpleasant on the palate. While the pure-skewer oriented menu might sound monotonous, the diversity of the flavours and dippings as well as the range of enjoyable sides help break up one bite from the next.

"It’s apparent that attempts have been made to keep the experience as truly “Japanese” as possible; there’s none of the awkward attempts at “fusion” style trappings here."

First-timers may want to opt for the Omakase (chef’s selection) that consists of a 7-course of skewers, sake, vegetable skewers, rice and dessert for an ideal cross-section of samplings for an overall reasonable price that WILL leave you full despite initial appearances; this is one of the best value banquet-style offerings in Brisbane and great for experiencing as a group.

Given the high quality, the food at Bird’s Nest is very well priced in general and makes it possible to dine here on a relative budget compared to some of the other high end restaurants on this list.

Beverage offerings at Bird’s Nest deviate greatly from your typical wine lists at European establishments, and while the Sake is enjoyable (there’s a dedicated Sake sommelier to lend a hand to the uninitiated), it’s the Japanese-style plum wine that steals the show and goes just as well with dessert as it does the savoury meals.

Rounding out the pluses of the restaurant are the wonderful fit-out and communal atmosphere that the restaurant creates; there’s a large central table rimmed with seating in order to get everyone involved, and while it tends towards the noisier end of the dining spectrum this is all part of the fun.

Optional window seats are also available that give views of the head chef and the kitchen in action, and it’s interesting to see the techniques and sheer volume of chicken that is prepared in a relatively short amount of time.

Bird’s Nest is more than just a novelty fad – as someone who spent several years living in Japan, this is up there with the best “true” Japanese restaurants experienced, all for a price that won’t leave your wallet in tears.

4. Ecco Bistro

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Location: 63 Skyring Tce, Newstead, QLD

Cuisine: Modern Australian

How time flies… it seems like just yesterday that E’cco Bistro was a newcomer to the Brisbane dining scene, yet here we are 20+ years later and it’s still going strong. E’cco is a place where history and quality food combine for a venue that offers its own distinct ambience; despite being recently renovated at the end of 2014 with newly modern decor, the sense of antiquity and cosiness created by the building containing it remains the same.

It’s one of the more warm and romantic venues on this list as opposed to some of the more boisterous offerings and is thus a great choice for the likes of Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day (score some free points with the important females in your lives, fellas).

The restaurant is nicely spaced and never feels overly cramped with that shoulder-to-shoulder seating many other spots contain, which is a nice touch, and sets the tone for the food to come. Meals are presented with that touch of expected class yet without pretentiousness, and dishes at E’cco Bistro boast surprisingly large and filling portion sizes in relation to the quality; this is fine dining that still retains a realistic sense of being value for money along the way.

The bistro’s special “tasting menu” is an excellent introductory option for those wanting variety without committing to a full-blown degustation, providing small-sized portions of a range of dishes that sum up just how broad the spectrum of its chef’s talents truly are.

While the portions are smaller, the quality of the dishes isn’t denigrated in any way; the likes of crusted scallops, juicy duck breast and other inclusions are paired with high quality wines and capped off with a light dessert for a comprehensive across-the-board session of indulgence.

"Meals are presented with that touch of expected class yet without pretentiousness, and dishes at E’cco Bistro boast surprisingly large and filling portion sizes in relation to the quality."

In terms of full-blown mains, E’cco Bistro also excels, with highlights such as a wagyu steak that does the quality of its meat justice (it’s perfectly cooked without sapping any of the well-marbled flavour out) while cutting like butter and melting in the mouth.

Standout desserts such as icecream slice and chocolate fudge brownies that have an incredible richness without being overpowering cap things off nicely.

The menu here is relatively small overall, but excluding broader offerings and simply focusing on a core of can’t-miss entrees and mains seemingly has allowed the cook staff to perfect each and every dish to a high level of quality; it’s simply hard to go out of your way to choose an unsatisfying meal here. Set price lunches are also available for those visiting outside evening hours, and provide even more value for money to boot.

E’cco’s generous portion sizes also mean lighter eaters can instead opt for a pair of entrees and a shared main in order to keep costs down, or reallocate some of those funds towards the great wine list or on some of the delectable sides. Perhaps the only downside to a visit here is the parking; the central location means fighting for a spot on the street can be a chore at busier times, and the typical CBD parking prices apply – although this is hardly the fault of the restaurant itself.

There’s a reason this restaurant has a long-running track record of satisfying customers from all over Australia and beyond – great service, excellent flavour combinations, an encyclopaedic wine list and a knack for making do with “the best of the basics” make for an all-around winner.

5. Bacchus

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Location: Rydges South Bank, Glenelg Street & Grey Street, South Brisbane QLD

Cuisine: Modern Australian

Located in the Rydges Hotel in Southbank, Bacchus is easy to recommend for those in Brisbane looking for a “fine dining” experience that suits almost any occasion, as a combination of both class and flexibility are the name of the game here. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, alfresco, degustation – the combination of options to enjoy the restaurant’s food is almost as comprehensive as the menu itself, and what a menu it is.

While individual dishes all stand out at Bacchus in their own right, it’s the degustation offerings that are its major calling card and what will be the big draw here for many, with good cause.

Bacchus’ degustations with matching wine pairings are an indulgent and enjoyable way to experience the diversity of its menu; overall it’s one of – if not the – best degustation experiences available in QLD’s capital.

With multiple options to choose from depending on both your dietary leanings (vegetarian-only options available) and how taking you’re looking to be on both your stomach and your wallet, there’s a degree of customisation here that is often lacking in other similar upper-end establishments.

The quality of the food is made immediately obvious upon the delivery of the first dish – meal presentation might be a shallow way to judge food, but it still goes a long way to serving as an enticing preface for the taste to come, a fact that the chefs at Bacchus seem to know very well. Simply put, every dish here looks just as good as it tastes.

"Bacchus’ degustations with matching wine pairings are an indulgent and enjoyable way to experience the diversity of its menu; overall it’s one of – if not the – best degustation experiences available in QLD’s capital."

There will likely be dishes here that the average diner has not encountered before, and each of them work without requiring the visitor to be overly adventurous. Never had pigeon before? There are few better places to try, as the blend of spices worked into the dish are marvellous, while even something as simple as sirloin steak is given an extra touch of class as you’re presented with your personal choice of steak knives beforehand.

Likewise, their pear-and-chocolate dessert is a combination that might not strike many as a likely pairing off the bat, but it works wonderfully. All dish sizings are adequately generous if not massive, and the accompanying palate cleansers (think sorbet and soup) help ensure that each new dish is encountered at its fullest flavour.

These works of food art go hand in hand with one of the most extensive wine lists you’ll come across in Brisbane, with over 40+ pages worth of varieties to choose from – an appropriate offering for a venue named after the Roman god of intoxication.

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t highlight the serve as well; it is highly attentive without being overbearing, and staff here just have a way of making guests feel special without it coming across as overly affected or fake. They seemingly understand that dining here will be a special treat for many of their clientele, and as a result aim to reinforce this ideal through their actions and attitudes.

Bacchus is a pricey evening of dining, to be sure, but the old “get what you pay for” line applies doubly here. Entertainment Book holders can also find discounts for Bacchus which will help reduce the price somewhat, but if you’re looking for a place in Southbank to enjoy on a special occasion then you’re likely to leave here more than satisfied.

6. Beccofino

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Location: 10 Vernon Terrace, Teneriffe, QLD

Cuisine: Italian

Italian is a cuisine that’s so widespread that it often becomes difficult to differentiate one restaurant from the next and leads to restaurant owners attempting to resort to some unnecessary gimmicks, so it’s somewhat refreshing that the best part about Beccofino is that it’s nothing particularly fancy.

This restaurant is simply true seasonal Italian dining done with just the right blend of ingredients, flavours and passion that it’s a true “slice of Italy” in Brisbane, as cliche as that may sound. One of the first quirks you’ll likely notice about Beccofino is that they won’t take bookings – it’s operated on a serve-as-you-come-basis – however provided wait times are typically accurate and it’s easy to while away the waiting period with a drink or three at the restaurant’s bar in the mean time.

This often-required twiddling of the thumbs always pays off in the end; Beccofino features a great balance between food quality and price point, and all the hallmark dishes of quality Italian are here and done exceptionally well; risotto, pasta and particularly pizza (with excellently done pizza dough) are made with considerable skill that makes those tried-and-true meals we’ve all had before taste refreshingly new again.

Daily specials are available for the price-conscious diner, with the friendly and knowledgeable staff all up to speed on what each entails – a credit to their super-friendly and authentic characters.

"This restaurant is simply true seasonal Italian dining done with just the right blend of ingredients, flavours and passion that it’s a true “slice of Italy” in Brisbane, as cliche as that may sound."

Of course, all this is not to say that the restaurant doesn’t have its own signature dishes – the duck tomato ragu is spectacular, zucchini flowers down great as an entree, and the creme fraiche-topped salmon is to die for – but simply means that the less adventurous amongst us looking for some high-end, authentic Italian staples are presented with an easy go-to dining venue in the Newstead area.

The menu is extensive enough – and the wine list long enough – that all the essential bases are covered, and the great and lively atmosphere (the place is almost always bustling) makes for a warm and comforting venue.

It’s the level of personal attention that caps things off here, as Beccofino’s manager is nothing if not involved in the proceedings with all the Italian-style bravado that this entails, and other attention-to-detail actions such as glasses of water being continually topped up without asking (a necessity in those hot Brisbane summers), and perfectly-thin pizza bases that leave you wanting more are just some of what you’ll encounter during a visit.

Just be sure to arrive at a time where you’re not already starving, as you’ll almost certainly have to wait 20 – 30 minutes before a table becomes available – a testament to Beccofino’s consistency.

7. Moda Restaurant

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Location: 12 Edward St, Brisbane CBD, QLD

Cuisine: Spanish/ French Fusion

Quality Spanish cuisine is still something of a rarity in most cities throughout Australia, however Brisbane’s Moda bucks that trend in solid fashion by providing all the essentials that a high-end dining experience requires done with passion and a high level of execution.

With a menu that fluctuates between the best parts of a Spanish and French mix and boasting a lovely and subdued atmosphere, it’s a wonderful little piece of simulated Europe right in the heart of the Brisbane CBD.

This is an upmarket, classy spot that’s a good choice of venues both for special occasions and for corporate lunches or meetings; one of the first things you’ll notice about Moda is the atmosphere – it’s a lovely and cosy spot with a pleasant ambience in its garden seating area where you’ll often find Spanish guitar music being played to reinforce its Euro-centric influences.

Of course, ambience is only part of the dining/culinary experience – most will rightly focus on food quality, and Moda delivers in full with a wide and diverse list of courses that reflect some of the best dishes from each of its feature country’s cuisines. While a lot will depend on your personal taste, there are multiple standout menu highlights such as slow-cooked lamb shoulder (tender, moist and delectable), ox tail, duck confit and the wonderful honeycomb blueberry dessert.

The head chef no doubt has an eye for finer detail and realises the majority of his customers are out for an “experience” rather than a mere meal, and it shows in the preparation and presentation of Moda’s dishes across the board.

"The head chef no doubt has an eye for finer detail and realises the majority of his customers are out for an “experience” rather than a mere meal, and it shows in the preparation and presentation of Moda’s dishes across the board."

No praise of Moda would be complete without a mention of the restaurant’s extensive wine list, and the offerings here are staggering with several Spanish varieties including Tempranillo, multiple French drops, and some high end offerings from our trans-Tasman countries of Australia and New Zealand.

Waitstaff and management are both happy to advise on ideal wine pairings to go with the courses on offer, and many are available by the glass should you wish to either mix and match or aim to keep the costs down. If you’re having difficulty choosing from the expansive menu, Moda’s degustation option provides an excellent cross-section of some of its top courses and represents great value.

Perhaps the only downside for many is the price; don’t expect a cheap night out as make no mistake – this is high-end dining in full effect. Bear in mind that if you’re an Entertainment Book holder you’ll be able to take advantage of a discounted price which may bring the costs more in line with your budget and just whet your tastebuds enough to want to return again.

Excellent food, wonderful ambience and staff who are professional and attentive without being overbearing are all part of the Moda experience, and if you’re willing to open your wallet it’s one of the Brisbane CBD’s most delightfully unique evening meals on offer.

8. Libertine

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Location: The Barracks, Petrie Terrace, Brisbane

Cuisine: French/Vietnamese Fusion

There are few Brisbane restaurants that strike the balance between ambience, menu diversity, service and character quite as well as Libertine in Petrie Terrace's The Barracks does. "Relaxed yet elegant" would perhaps be the best possible way to describe dining here, with the atmosphere of the restaurant immediately standing out both in its indoor and outdoor sections.

This is a lovely spot to dine that emanates an overall subdued and relaxing atmosphere that simply makes one feel welcome, and wanting to spend as much time here as possible. Part of this is due to Libertine's well-designed layout; it's possible to be inclusive of different types of diners attending, with both boisterous groups and romance-seeking couples not intruding on one another.

There's a beautiful ambience to the restaurant, with its chandeliers and lighting in general highly tasteful, which carries over to the other star of the show: its food. Libertine boasts some impressive variety in its seemingly continually-changing menu, with many seemingly-recognisable favourites given their own unique twist. Duck crepes, free-range chicken stir fries, twice-cooked pork belly and a range of other standouts are all both presented well and taste wonderful.

Unlike many other upmarket dining venues, dishes here come in good portion sizes, too. The fusion of French and Vietnamese flavours work together wonderfully and makes dining here a true experience of discovery. The restaurant does a good job of catering to gluten-free and other dietary requirements, while vegetarians in particular will be in their element given the wide array of selections; there's even the option to go all-out and opt for the delectable Vegetarian Banquet.

"There are few Brisbane restaurants that strike the balance between ambience, menu diversity, service and character quite as well as Libertine does."

Libertine's banquets in general are well-priced given the sheer quantity and variety of food they offer, and provide the chance to sample an excellent mix of flavours and textures. Shared plates are also a popular option, allowing diners to experience even more of the diverse and interesting menu without putting too much of a hole in the wallet.

An extensive wine list of by-the-bottle wines complements a range of the dishes nicely, with a reasonably amount of options available by-the-glass as well. Top-notch cocktails round out the beverage side of things, while both its bar and outdoor areas represent the ideal spots for enjoying a drink or some tapas before catching a movie nearby.

Service at Libertine gets the balance between attentiveness and privacy/leaving you alone just right; there's a pleasant and slightly witty attitude to them across the board, and the whole enterprise comes across as friendly and authentic without being pretentious.

Whether it's for some lighter street food or a multi-course banquet extravaganza, dining at Libertine is an experience that you'll be all but guaranteed to want to enjoy more than once.

9. Jellyfish Restaurant

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Location: Eagle Street, Brisbane, QLD

Cuisine: Seafood

There’s a lot to be said for the role that location plays in enhancing a dining experience, and there’s few more demonstrable cases in Brisbane than seafood-oriented Jellyfish Restaurant which sits in an idyllic spot on the Eagle Street Pier overlooking the Brisbane River and its characteristic Story Bridge.

It’s an outlook that manages to be pleasant regardless of weather, and at night time in particular the glimmering city lights add a sense of inherent romance and charm to the act of dining.

This restaurant has been a relatively long-running part of the Brisbane dining scene for some time now, and continues to deliver a consistently high standard of food rather than simply resting on its laurels and reputation – seafood at Jellyfish is renowned for its freshness and brought straight to the table daily, with a large range of fish varieties to choose from.

Those who love their seafood will be in their element here as the restaurant offers many of the standard favourites such as Barramundi and John Dory, as well as rarer fish species like Toothfish and Cobia for a total of 14 different kinds to choose from depending on season. Add to this alternative seafood types such as crab, lobster and remarkably delicious oysters and all the bounty of the sea a fish fanatic could want is available here to try.

Unlike most other seafood restaurants, Jellyfish offers both cooked and raw dishes and its sashimi has become something of a specialty – it’s an outstanding cut of fish, particularly for a venue that doesn’t orient itself around Japanese cuisine, and utilises fish with just the right fat content levels caught off the coast of New Zealand.

"There’s a lot to be said for the role that location plays in enhancing a dining experience, and there’s few more demonstrable cases in Brisbane than seafood-oriented Jellyfish Restaurant which sits in an idyllic spot on the Eagle Street Pier overlooking the Brisbane River."

Jellyfish Restaurant rounds out its menu with an alternative selection of non-seafood mains and sides which fulfil their purpose, but its the marine-focused meals which remain its major calling card.

Also worth a mention are the restaurant’s incredibly thorough wine list – there are literally hundreds of varieties from all ends of the wine spectrum that range from recent-year domestics all the way up to extravagant foreign offerings that will make your wallet bleed.

Dessert here also scores high marks highlighted by the delivered-to-your-table-on-fire creme brulee and a decadently enjoyable pudding.

While the location on the absolute riverfront will always be one of Jellyfish’s major selling points, this location also comes at a cost, both literally and figuratively; this is a dining experience that requires a relatively high monetary investment albeit with a significantly rewarding return, and its combination of position and popularity makes it exceedingly popular so booking ahead is all but mandatory – particularly if you want a table directly overlooking the water.

While a near-strict seafood menu may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there are few – if any – places that have done it so consistently well and for such a long time as Jellyfish both has and continues to do.

10. The Burrow

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Location: 52 Russell St, West End QLD

Cuisine: Cafe/Breakfast/ Pizza

Casual, laid-back and completely unpretentious with a chilled blend of alternative indie style comes West End’s The Burrow, a dual-level eatery that blends a modern-hippie vibe with a great upper-echelon mixture of breakfasts, coffees and alcoholic beverages all in one.

It’s a veritable Swiss Army Knife of a restaurant that serves as a hybrid pizza joint, cafe, pub and general hangout joint with an atmosphere that can get noisy but is never obnoxious. The two-level layout is a nice touch, the exposed-wood decor is intentionally rustic and well designed, and the upstairs veranda provides a great view at both day and night for people-watching – this is a solid choice for a casual yet delicious bite to eat before heading for a night out.

The Burrow is a spot that can offer all your standard, tried-and-true breakfast fare – expect your regular eggs benedicts, bacon & eggs, big breakfasts et al, although they’re all given their own quirky names here – but it’s the added and unexpected twists that give the menu its own individual character.

They certainly aren’t afraid to experiment here, and the unique combinations of flavours in many of the dishes speak to the staff’s creativity and originality, with standouts such as the Jaffa waffles, halloumi and even pork belly (yes, pork belly for breakfast) making for a refreshing break from the norm. Breakfast servings are all large and solid value for money so you won’t be left wanting more, too.

It’s a veritable Swiss Army Knife of a restaurant that serves as a hybrid pizza joint, cafe, pub and general hangout joint with an atmosphere that can get noisy but is never obnoxious.

Coffee-wise The Burrow also scores high marks, with a unique self made blend that’s fresh and revitalising, while the array of healthy juices rounds out the morning beverage offerings.

Later on in the day the menu changes to feature a different mix of dishes with pizza being the featured highlight; these aren’t your typical all-base fast-food style pizzas either – they’re done in proper Italian “thin and crispy” style that allows you to enjoy the taste without getting bloated on dough.

During the evenings the focus shifts once again and The Burrow becomes a popular spot to enjoy a drink as the restaurant boasts a surprisingly comprehensive selection of local and international craft beers and ciders that even include gluten-free draughts for those so inclined.

Add to all of the above an overall very reasonable price and The Burrow has become one of the more welcome, newer additions to the popular West End dining scene as it’s a venue that marries a tasty and slightly different food menu with ever-smiling and down-to-earth staff.

The Top 10 Things to do in Brisbane, QLD

by Experience Oz staff
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Perhaps Australia's most up-and-coming capital, Brisbane has seen continued fast growth over recent years yet still manages to provide one of the best balances of urbanisation versus nature that helps make it one of the more pleasant cities to visit. With an excellent central area dissected by a lovely river, easy access to some wonderful coastal areas, and possibly the best overall weather of any Aussie capital, Brisbane has a ton to offer both visitors and residents.

While it may not yet have the international fame that its southern brothers Sydney and Melbourne currently enjoy, this is quickly changing as its reputation for providing an ideal balance of activities, attractions and atmosphere is increasingly obvious. The city's CBD is a great example of urban planning, while areas emphasising the outdoors, the cultural, quality shopping and dining area all available within easy reach of one another.

This level of diversity and accessibility thus makes Brisbane easy to recommend for travelling adults and families alike, as there's likely to be at least one area or attraction in the city you'll fall in love with.

But what are the overall “best” things to do in Brisbane? Here's our list - based on a combination of customer feedback, local knowledge and balance of appeal to all demographics – of the Top 10 Things to do in Brisbane:

1. South Bank Parklands

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Location: South Bank, Brisbane, QLD

Most major cities have a single signature district, landmark or area that help give them their own distinct character and serve as a point of pride, and Brisbane's answer to this is its outstanding South Bank adjacent to the Brisbane River.

Simply put, the South Bank area offers the most pleasant overall atmosphere to be found in Brisbane that blends everything the city does well into a single focal point; outlooks over the Brisbane River, the Cultural Centre and its excellent attractions, its large Wheel of Brisbane and plenty of expansive grassed and shaded areas. As a result, there are few better places to experience what Brisbane is all about.

Modern, extremely well-maintained and lined with trendy cafes, restaurants, surrounding parks and an artificial beach, this is a great place to unwind, relax and maybe even swim.

It's spacious, it's clean, and above all, the majority of South Bank's entertainment on offer is entirely free (aside from parking) - with plenty of BBQ areas, lagoons to swim in and biking tracks, you can easily spend a few hours at South Bank if you want to get the most out of its offerings. There are several standout features and sections that help add to South Bank's appeal, each with their own positives.

The first and most distinctive of these is the Arbour area in South Bank's parklands, with a an arched walkway boasting a unique architectural layout that's draped in colourful flowers. It's a lovely, modern-feeling gateway to surrounding park spaces that serve as the ideal spot for a picnic, reading a book or letting the kids run around.

If you're looking to explore South Bank further, there are a number of ways to do so – a range of lovely walking tracks are available that take walkers to a separate section of South Bank and each of which provides its own take on the area's scenery. From the aforementioned Arbour to the atmospheric Rainforest Walk featuring lush trees and plants, it's possible to get immersed in an amount of greenery that's a true rarity in the middle of a major city. As within the rest of the city, cycling also is a viable method of transport through South Bank, and its riverside ride along the Clem Jones Promenade provides a wonderful, periodically-shaded look at the Brisbane River and CBD along its route.

"Simply put, the South Bank area offers the most pleasant overall atmosphere to be found in Brisbane that blends everything the city does well into a single focal point."

In terms of facilities, South Bank likewise comes up trumps; it's exceedingly well-equipped, with public bathrooms and showers, parent's rooms and lockers for hire. Perhaps the most impressive of its public offerings however is the excellent Streets Beach, a man-made beach including actual sand that is the only one of its kind in Australia and that makes for a wonderful place to visit during the warmer months.

White sandy beaches and blue lagoons all surrounded by the greenery of tropical plants and overseen by dedicated lifeguards, it's one of the most unexpected and unusual yet easy to appreciate features of South Bank Parklands.

Culinary-wise, South Bank is likewise a standout, as there are plenty of great restaurants dotting the area if you're looking for a decent dining experience or bars if you're looking to enjoy a drop to drink. There's a variety of cuisines on offer in the area and all the major favourites are covered – Japanese, Italian, Turkish, Indian and more blend with standard Aussie and pub-style fare to ensure there's a meal available for all tastes and budget levels.

In addition, regular markets are held at South Bank on weekends that add both stall-style food and drink as well as hand-crafted goods to the pool of choices on offer and making for an enjoyable browsing experience.

The Suncorp Piazza within South Bank is also famous for its live entertainment and movies, and buskers are a prominent feature who can often be seen playing their instruments or putting on comical demonstrations in public. Dog walking, families playing ball games with kids, artists garnering inspiration for their latest works, and periodic festivals are just some of the sights you can expect to see when visiting South Bank.

In all, this part of the city is a testament to good city planning and proper investment of tax dollars - simply put, it's a must-visit if you're going to be visiting or staying in Brisbane and with the diversity of things to see and do in the area, there's sure to be something that will entertain or amuse you here. Just take a short stroll across the Victoria Bridge over the river, and a bevy of entertainment at Brisbane's Top Thing to Do awaits.

2. Brisbane's Cultural Centre

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Location: South Bank, Brisbane, QLD

Looking for a day out in Brisbane that provides a helping of sophistication and culture, all for a very modest price? Walking the line between "cheap" and "free" depending on whether or not there are special exhibitions being held, the entertainment-rich cultural centre adjacent to Brisbane's South Bank waterfront area provides a number of opportunities to get your fix of civilisation and history, playing host to various art galleries, museums and exhibits all within some pleasantly clean and modern surrounds.

The Queensland Cultural Centre, as it's officially known, allows you to immerse yourself in a world of creativity both old and new, and is an excellent example of a city providing locals and visitors alike with an easy-to-access dose of historical exhibits, art and more.

The Cultural Centre is both well laid-out and modernly presented, and boasts several facilities within walking distance of one another that each emphasise a different aspect of the cultural spectrum. Music, literature, historical artefacts, and both ancient and modern art are all represented here in some form, allowing visitors to take their pick of their preferred form of exhibit and embark on an interesting journey into human creation.

The five main buildings at the Cultural Centre are the Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland Museum, State Library, and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.

The Queensland Performing Arts Centre has undergone recent refurbishment and plays host to a number of live performances throughout the year, with everything from theatre to ballet to opera to comedy being held within its walls. The facility is divided up into four separate sub-sections that each cater to various types of performances; if you're planning on seeing a show check the current programming by visiting the Queensland Performing Arts Centre website.

Meanwhile, the Queensland Museum provides a detailed insight into the historical, with exhibitions that focus on a specific aspect of history at different times throughout the year; despite its focus on the past, it's housed in a very slick, modern building that was constructed just a few years back. The Museum also houses the popular Sciencentre attraction which provides a very interactive look at the world of science. This has long been a popular exhibition for children as many of the exhibits are hands-on and demonstrate physics, chemistry and more in a highly visual way – and they may just learn something while there, too.

"The Cultural Centre is both well laid-out and modernly presented, and boasts several facilities within walking distance of one another that each emphasise a different aspect of the cultural spectrum."

Those with a bent towards the artistic with a dash of history involved will enjoy the Queensland Art Gallery that showcases artworks from the past, both Aussie and international. It's not just paintings on display here, either – a range of wonderful sculptures, wall hangings and elaborate water features round out the artistry, with many of the landscape paintings being some of the most impressive you'll come across.

Aboriginal art has a strong emphasis here, and all of the displays are well-curated with many of the key pieces coming with accompanying video/multimedia presentations. The more-recently added neighbouring Gallery of Modern Art provides a contemporary slant on things, blending the latest upcoming artists from Oceania, America and Asia in particular. This section also frequently conducts exhibitions that focus on fashion and art as applied to the physical form, while post-modern sculpture is also a key element.

Finally, the State Library of Queensland is not just a thorough collection of books, journals, magazines and newspaper archives, but it's also got a well-deserved reputation of devotion to engaging kids. The prime example of this is their dedicated children's area “The Corner” that combines a number of elements together that will hold the attention of kids.

Regular activities ranging from art and craft-based activities, storytelling, kids games and more are held by their enthusiastic staff, while in between these events there's plenty of self-entertainment options for the little ones. It's a great initiative that truly pays dividends when you see kids actually having FUN and being creative while engaging their brains. If you're visiting Brisbane with children along for the ride, be sure to pay a stop here.

With such a wide variety of cultural experiences available, there's something here to suit almost any field of interest, and all the facilities are located adjacent to the Cultural Centre train station for direct and easy access via public transport. Situated just across the river from the CBD, it's a key part of Brisbane's efforts to give back to the community and also another reason why #1 on this list is so impressive.

3. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

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Location: 708 Jesmond Rd, Fig Tree Pocket, Brisbane, QLD

In terms of wildlife attractions, Brisbane suffers a bit in comparison to other capital cities and regional destinations as it lacks a true “flagship” zoo or aquarium befitting of a city of its stature. Luckily, however, it can still boast the original "Home of the Koalas" in Australia and one of the most criminally underrated wildlife attractions in the country, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary which lies just to the north of Brisbane's CBD.

Able to be visited in a simple 15 minute drive from the city centre, or via taking one of the scenic river ferry options that will deliver you from your stop of choice to the wildlife sanctuary's doorstep, it's an attraction that deserves more publicity on the national stage. Set amongst beautiful natural Aussie bush surroundings, Lone Pine is far more of a literal “sanctuary” than manufactured commercial zoo, which is reflected both in its attitude towards animal welfare and the attitudes of its staff.

As the world’s first and largest Koala sanctuary, Lone Pine has more than 130 koalas and, due to Queensland law being the only state in Australia that allows you to cuddle a koala, you'll be able to come away with a photograph of your encounter with this most famous and furry of Aussie creatures.

Koalas aren't the only focal point of the facility, however; Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary's hands-on approach means you'll also have the opportunity to get up close with and hand-feed kangaroos, hold a snake, and view a variety of native birds and animals in scenic natural settings all without the feeling of being pressured to purchase additional add-ons that more commercialised venues often convey. Lone Pine Sanctuary even has a platypus enclosure, which is exceedingly rare in Queensland.

"Set amongst beautiful natural Aussie bush surroundings, Lone Pine is far more of a literal sanctuary than manufactured zoo, which is reflected both in its attitude towards animal welfare and the attitudes of its staff."

The park is famous for its family atmosphere and attention to individual detail that some of the larger zoos and wildlife parks in Australia simply can't offer due to visitor volume; the workers at Lone Pine are renowned for being warm and approachable, and are typically happy to provide answers to any questions you may have. This also shines through in the number of animal shows held throughout the day – while it's wonderful to see the animals in action, it's the knowledge and insight that goes along with it that complete the experience.

The Birds of Prey show is a standout among these, and seeing these swift and skilled aerial predators in action is always amazing as they swoop at high speeds to grab food tossed in the air. Other demonstrations highlight different parts of the animal kingdom, and in all you'll get to see interactive displays of sheep dogs and sheep shearing, Tasmanian Devils, reptiles and more all included in the cost of admission.

Lone Pine Sanctuary also boasts a huge array of bird life, from smaller species of finches all the way up to massive and prehistoric-looking Cassowaries. Kids, meanwhile, will no doubt love the kangaroo and wallaby enclosure, as grabbing one of the available bags of feed and getting a hands-on encounter with these Aussie icons is always a positive experience, while emus can often be seen strutting around nearby as well.

Combine all of the above with reasonably-priced food and refreshments (as well as admission fees) compared to other similar attractions, and Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary provides the Brisbane region's premier dose of animal action. If you're in Brisbane and are short on time yet wanting to see some Aussie wildlife, or if you're a local who has visitors or friends coming to Australia from overseas, Lone Pine makes for a great and enjoyable introduction to the animals of our country that provides several hours worth of quality entertainment.

4. Climb the Brisbane Story Bridge

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Location: 170 Main St, Kangaroo Point, QLD

One of Brisbane's most obvious and distinctive landmarks, the Brisbane Story Bridge goes a long way to adding its own sense of character to the city. While it may not have the fame of its big brother, the Harbour Bridge down in Sydney, the Brisbane Story Bridge makes for no less an impressive way to view the city from a supremely scenic viewpoint and, like the Sydney's bridge, the Brisbane Story Bridge is one of the only three bridges in the world that can be climbed.

Thus the option exists for those wanting a combined adventure / outstanding panorama to take the plunge and climb it for themselves, providing one of the best views in the region. The Story Bridge, which spans the Brisbane River and connects the popular Southbank district to the CBD, measures 74 metres in height at its apex, which makes for a climb that is challenging but safe, making it a suitable activity for all ages and fitness levels.

Lasting roughly 2.5 hours, the journey up and back down the bridge is appropriately long without being overly tiring, and it also happens to be good value for money – particularly when compared to the other bridge climbs on offer. During the climb, you'll be provided with all gear necessary for the experience (including the signature, fully-enclosed climb suit) and have everything well explained in terms of safety and what to expect.

This goes a long way to reassuring those who may be afraid of heights, as safety is obviously the no. 1 priority here and the basic training covers all the essentials without being overly lengthy or tedious. Once everyone's prepared, the climb begins, with the initial portion of the journey rising past the road level that's also the steepest; from here on out things only get both easier and more visually impressive, so don't despair!

"Lasting roughly 2.5 hours, the journey up and back down the bridge is appropriately long without being overly tiring, and it also happens to be good value for money – particularly when compared to the other bridge climbs on offer."

As the climb continues, you'll have commentary piped in and delivered via radio headset from your climb-guides pointing out local landmarks and icons as well as details on the bridge's construction. Key facts and historical tidbits make for a nice compliment to the views, and the entire experience is conducted at a pace that allows for everything to be taken in without ever feeling rushed.

After long enough you'll have ascended to the main viewing platform where you've likely seen shots taken for the Bridge Climb's promotional materials, and with good cause – it's a completely unrestricted 360 degree visual cavalcade showcasing a spectacle all the way out over the Brisbane CBD, Mount Coot-tha, Moreton Bay and further on to the Glasshouse Mountains and the Gold Coast Hinterland. It's also the designated spot to pose for a great photo, so get your smile on and enjoy a happy snap or three.

There's also the option to abseil back down to the bottom from a 30m pylon at the base of the bridge for a combined climb/abseil experience that's one-of-a-kind in Australia. The Brisbane Story Bridge Climb can be done at multiple sessions throughout the day, with each time period offering its own unique aspect - four separate experiences can be chosen from in total including Dawn, Day, Twilight and Night climbs.

Which appeals specifically to you will largely depend on your personal preference; both dawn and twilight offer the opportunity to witness the Brisbane skyline under the red-orange glow of the sun which has its own charm, while day climbs are a solid balance and night showcases the cityscape like few other spots can. As one of Brisbane's signature activities at a price that won't break the bank, the Story Bridge Climb is an essential for any first-timer's itinerary.

5. Riverlife Adventure Centre

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Location: Naval Stores, Lower River Terrace, Kangaroo Point, QLD

Looking to take your Brisbane-based outdoor adventures to the next level? If the likes of abseiling, rock climbing, kayaking and more pique your interest, be sure to pay a visit to the popular Riverlife Adventure Centre situated at Brisbane's Kangaroo Point. Located within Brisbane's historic Naval Stores, Riverlife features a mixture of scheduled tour-based activities as well as equipment hire for a range of outdoor entertainment, and has thus become a go-to destination for those looking to get active without leaving the boundaries of the city.

In addition to the raw fun of the activities themselves, Riverlife also offers journeys that aim to highlight and detail the Brisbane region's Aboriginal culture, which can be experienced on a tour conducted via kayak to designated areas of the banks of the Brisbane River.

While several of the activities on offer here can be experienced at other destinations in the greater Brisbane area, it's the abseiling plays a major role in setting Riverlife apart from its peers. The sheer walls of the Kangaroo Point Cliffs make for the ideal naturally-formed abseiling spot, and they offer great view of the city skyline to boot.

During an abseiling experience, you'll join a professional instructor for a full safety briefing, then harness up and get prepared for the rush as you begin the descent down a roughly 20m-high cliff. It's an experience that may be a little nerve-wracking for some, but it also comes along with a strong sense of self-achievement at the end, and the Riverlife staff are always famously supportive and encouraging along the way. No prior experience is necessary in order to take part – all you need is to be 8 years or older, and you're good to go.

"If the likes of abseiling, rock climbing, kayaking and more pique your interest, be sure to pay a visit to the popular Riverlife Adventure Centre situated at Brisbane's Kangaroo Point."

Riverlife's rock climbing, a.k.a “abseiling in reverse” also takes place in the same area of the cliffs and will see you attempting to ascend rather than drop – a challenge that can be even more strenuous but offers the same rewards. Kayaking tours, meanwhile, provide the chance to get out on the waters of the Brisbane River in person, with Riverlife's specialty being a “night kayaking” adventure that lasts for 1.5 hours and takes participants on a journey past the impressive lights of South Bank and the Story Bridge while all culminating in a meal of fresh prawns accompanied by alcohol along the waterfront.

It's a distinctly different way to see Brisbane and enjoy an evening meal, and it's only further enhanced by the characteristic friendliness of the guides – they're always flexible, accommodating and always willing to go the extra mile, which makes both the kayak trip and the following meal even more enjoyable.

Lastly, a tip of the cap must be given to Riverlife's Mirrabooka Aboriginal show/experience that aims to bring Indigenous traditions to the forefront – all conducted by the banks of the Brisbane River. It's an interactive and enjoyable activity that is quite unexpected in the heart of a capital city, focusing on the song and dance of the native Yuggera tribe and conducted amongst the greenery of the Kangaroo Point bushland.

Stories of traditions, customs and history along with practical demonstration make for a slice of culture that comes highly recommended. Riverlife is another shining example of Brisbane's emphasis on experiencing the outdoors and what the city has to offer rather than just being a passive observer.

6. Eat Street Northshore

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Location: 221 Macarthur Avenue, Hamilton

Brisbane’s Eat Street Northshore markets are like no other outdoor market in the world. With over 180 food and retail stalls plus several outdoor stages for live music- Eat Street has become a dining and entertainment hub where tourists and locals all converge to blow off some steam on the weekends.

Eat Street is located by the Hamilton Wharf alongside Brisbane River with impressive views of the city skyline. Part of what makes these weekend markets so popular is the alfresco dining atmosphere thanks to Brisbane’s superb sub tropical weather all year round.

The other reason that Eat Street has become a hit is that over 70 cuisines of food are sold here in permanent, colourful shipping containers that have been elaborately decorated and are now a popular city landmark.

It is such a simple concept but it has been so well received and the broad range of cuisines sold here reflects the make up of this cosmopolitan, multicultural city that also welcomes tourists from all over the world to Queensland.

Even those with dietary requirements will find a treat here to curb their hunger and quench their thirst.

"Eat Street is located by the Hamilton Wharf alongside Brisbane River with impressive views of the city skyline and over 180 dining and retail outlets available."

The expansive location has 9 undercover spaces with seating so that you can meet and socialise with friends or fellow travellers whilst dining on delightful food or listening to live music.

There is even a large section of the market dedicated to the sweet tooth with a number of desert offerings bordering on ‘experimental’ that seek to make your standard ice cream or cake slice look boring.

Eat Street Northshore is open on Friday and Saturday evenings from 4pm to 10pm and Sundays from 12pm to 8pm. Limited free parking is available on site but the best way to reach the markets (particularly if you are a visitor) is to catch the City Cat ferry from Brisbane City to Hamilton Northshore and then walk 250m to the market entrance.

There is a $3 entry to the markets but it is a small price to pay for a few hours of free entertainment in a lively atmosphere and access to many quality food outlets and we think it is good enough to be in our Top 10 things to do in Brisbane list.

7. Get Active with Adventure Moreton Island

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Location: Tangalooma Island Resort, Moreton Island, QLD

Not all of the Brisbane region's aquatic-oriented adventures are purely relaxed and scenic; those wonderful waters that surround Brisbane present plenty of opportunity for more active types to embark on any number of watersports and shore-based fun as well. A great deal of this is owed to the islands that sit just off shore from Brisbane, the most accessible and obvious of which is Moreton Island which lies just 25 kilometres away from the city and serves as something of a lovely little resort-escape hub for Brisbane residents.

While it's an exceedingly popular destination for Brisbanites to kick back and laze the day away in the sun, operator Adventure Moreton Island take things in the other direction – if you're looking for some upbeat “fun in the sun” whether on the sand or in the water, this is the place to start.

Based out of Tangalooma Island Resort they're a friendly and energetic bunch that have an array of flexible activity packages that provide plenty of entertainment. You'll be able to pick from a range of different itineraries that allow you to choose from 3 or 4 activities from the “menu” of 11 possible in total, allowing for a degree of customisation that lets you tailor your experience at Moreton Island as you see fit.

If you're looking to partake, the journey begins with the trip from the mouth of the Brisbane River aboard a fast catamaran – a scenic enough trip in and of itself – that takes just over an hour and provides the chance for some marine life spotting along the way. Once on the island, the variety of opportunities opens up – ocean kayaking, stand up paddling, fish feeding and more allow you to experience the waterways up close.

"You'll be able to pick from a range of different itineraries to choose from 3 or 4 activities from the “menu” of 11 possible in total, allowing for a degree of customisation that lets you tailor your experience at Moreton Island as you see fit."

Your choice of activity lineup here will likely depend on your level of comfort in the water, as there are a range of different areas on and off the island to explore that are best experienced via different methods. Moreton Island boasts a number of rich offshore reefs that are perhaps most famous for their number of shipwrecks that dot the waters and attract marine life of all kinds.

Guided snorkelling tours are thus immensely popular in this area, as the wrecks are famed not only for their own interesting hulls but also for the tropical fish, wobbegong sharks, and coral varieties that call them home. It's one of the best arrays of marine life available to encounter in Queensland outside of the Great Barrier Reef, so if you've been looking to enjoy some snorkelling without a massive time or financial commitment, Moreton Island serves as a decent imitation.

Kayaking, meanwhile is also highly enjoyable here and allows all ages to get out on the water and experience the spectacle of sea and bird life, with both single and double kayaks available – with the double versions ideal for those travelling with kids. Likewise, if you've got little ones in tow, fish feeding is a possible itinerary item that they'll no doubt love and allows for proper contact with the animals of the deep.

Looking towards the shore, meanwhile, and there's an equal amount of selection; hop aboard an ATV/Quad Bike for some offroad exploration, try your hand at riding a Segway on the golden sands, cast a rod and see if you can come up with a catch – the key here is freedom of choice, and Adventure Moreton Island offers this in spades. Add in the ability to take full use of Tangalooma Island Resort's many amenities in-between items in your tour (it's a well-equipped facility in and of itself) and there's an adventure-laden, tropical day out that ensures you'll never be bored within easy striking distance for a day trip from the city centre.

8. Cruise the Brisbane River with Kookaburra River Queens

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Location: 45 Eagle St, Brisbane, QLD

Brisbane wouldn't be Brisbane without its iconic river, which was a large reason for the city being settled in the first place and continues to this day to serve as a focal point for many of the city's activities and attractions. In short, you haven't truly “experienced” Brisbane unless you've seen the city from the vantage point of the water, and one of the more unique and tranquil ways for doing so is offered by Kookaburra River Queens.

The stars of the show here are the old-style paddlewheel vessels that can often be seen plying their trade around the city's waterways, and add a vintage touch to the proceedings while harking back to the previous days of water navigation. These are lovely, beautifully-constructed 30m boats consisting largely of wood made utilising old-time shipwright techniques, and their peaceful nature when making their way down the river belies the powerful diesel engines chugging below deck.

Many of Brisbane's icons take on an entirely new aspect when viewed from the water – such as the Story Bridge, Southbank Parklands and city skyline – and excellent views of each are available on the boat's spacious top decks that provide an unrestricted 360 degree panorama of all of its goings-on.

There are a range of cruises on offer here, including lunch, dinner and specially-themed jazz cruise that puts an emphasis on live music; if you're looking for a way to combine a sightseeing trip of the city along with a quality meal there are thus few better ways to do so, given that the cost of dining at a decent quality restaurant is comparable without all the scenic benefits. Kookaburra River Queens' lunch cruise features a well-organised and delicious buffet featuring a diverse array of foods to choose from, with the mixed seafood-and-carvery menu containing both hot and cold offerings both Aussie-style and international.

"These are lovely, beautifully-constructed 30m boats consisting largely of wood made utilising old-time shipwright techniques, and as a result atmosphere-wise, this kind of cruise is hard to beat."

The dinner cruise itinerary, meanwhile, is perhaps the top highlight, as the Brisbane River looks truly amazing in the evenings – the combined view of the city night lights reflecting off the water, the lit-up city skyline and the illuminated Story Bridge look wonderful, and make for a romantic backdrop for a special occasion.

As with lunch, dinner boasts plenty of choice with fresh crab, oysters and prawns as well as steaming beef and pork on offer as well as vegetarian options. Grabbing a drink an enjoying the top deck after a meal is an essential must-do while on the trip, although be sure to dress appropriately warmly if taking the cruise during the winter months.

Atmosphere-wise, this kind of cruise is hard to beat; while the décor is “dated”, its largely a reflection of the time period the boats attempt to recreate, and during the trip you'll gain some well-commentated insight on Brisbane's various highlights both past and present.

There's an on-board, Dixie-style brass band who play some toe-tapping jazz and organ music which provide a touch of old-world class as well. While it's an experience that may be more suited towards the older demographic (it's possible younger kids may find it “boring”), this is one of the most leisurely, relaxed and best value ways to enjoy the spectacles of the Brisbane River.

9. See the Whales with Brisbane Whale Watching

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Location: 133-137 Redcliffe Parade, Redcliffe, QLD

Brisbane's coastal aspect and easy access to the open ocean makes it a city that blends all the benefits of modern urban construction with plenty of emphasis for enjoying water-based activities, with its iconic river, waterfront areas and nearby islands all being prime examples of this.

Heading out on the water in some form is thus a must while you're here, and during the yearly whale watching season Brisbane offers a great opportunity to get out and see the gentle giants of the ocean, as the calm waters of the adjacent Moreton Bay offer a place for the Humpbacks and Southern Rights to rest and tend to their young.

Brisbane's whale watching season takes place between June and November each year, and operator Brisbane Whale Watching provide eager participants with the chance to head out on the water and encounter the most surface-active of all whales.

Displaying playful behaviour that has to be seen up close to be fully appreciated, the Humpbacks are surprisingly agile given their mass. The sheer size of the creatures is impressive, and combined with their surprising agility as they breach, it's truly a sight to behold. One of the added benefits of Brisbane's whale watching offerings is the short distance you'll have to travel for your first whale sighting; given how close Moreton Bay is to the city, it's often possible to encounter your first whale after a mere 30 minutes worth of seafaring – something of a rarity amongst the world's capital cities.

Of course, given the wild and uncontrolled nature of the experience, there can't be guarantees about how close the whales will approach, but this largely beats encountering animals in a comparatively sterile, manufactured zoo-style environment. If a whale breaches right in front of your eyes, you can be sure the behaviour was completely spontaneous which makes the occurrence all the more magical.

"One of the added benefits of Brisbane's whale watching offerings is the short distance you'll have to travel for your first whale sighting given how close Moreton Bay is to the city."

In terms of the whale watching tours themselves, Brisbane Whale Watching's vessel is modern, big and comfortable with all the modern on-board conveniences, and also was constructed with specially-designed engine mounting that helps make for reduced noise and vibration that reduces any irritation for the whales.

Other marine life such as dolphins and sea turtles also frequent this part of the 'Bay, adding to the diversity of the sightseeing experience. Tour itineraries also include a tasty and plentiful lunch consisting of a ham/beef/prawn/salads mixed offering, and as the vessel's lower deck windows are at sea level, you'll be able to see the whales while enjoying your meal which makes for some truly unique dining.

The Brisbane Whale Watching crew and its captain also offer a top-notch experience that provides a solid combination of imparting knowledge and customer service, making for a smooth and pleasant overall day on the water. Tours last for around 5 hours, which is a solid amount of time to be at sea, so be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen during your trip out – the typically clear Queensland skies during whale watching season can make for some intense UV rays.

In addition, bring seasickness pills if you're the type with a sensitive stomach, as although the vessel is stable things can get quite choppy on windier days. If you've ever wanted to tick the “whale watching” item off your bucket list, there are few better spots in Australia to do so than Brisbane.

10. Explore Brisbane by Bicycle

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Location: West End, Brisbane, QLD

One of the core reasons Brisbane is such an enjoyable city to spend time in is that it lacks a lot of the “hemmed-in” feeling many other capitals around the world tend to have. Great lengths have been taken to provide alternative methods of public transport to help alleviate traffic congestion, with its excellent CityCat water taxi system being one example, and its expansive amount of bike ways and paths being another.

Ideal for getting around the city regardless of if you're a local making the daily commute to work or a visitor looking to explore some of the city's most scenic spots, cycling offers a relaxed, family-friendly and healthy way to take in Queensland's capital. This is augmented by the city's comprehensive CityCycle system that allows for the public rental of bikes from a number of terminals dotted around the city, meaning that you'll seldom be in a spot where a bike is not available nearby.

The majority of the most popular sightseeing areas in the city and its outskirts are accessible by bike, and each offer a different aspect of the city and its environment – the expansive and green natural surrounds of the Boondall Wetlands, the historic suburb of Newfarm with its winding path following the Brisbane River, Toowong's Bicentennial Bikeway and rides leading up to scenic Mount Coot-tha are just some of the possibilities on offer that are all reachable on two wheels.

Choice of bike routes in Brisbane is comprehensive enough to be almost overwhelming, and it's here that tour company Brisbane by Bicycle come in, offering first-time visitors to the city or those looking to explore some of its best parts by bike a guided tour from a locals' point of view.

"Choice of bike routes in Brisbane is vast enough to be almost overwhelming, and it's here that tour company Brisbane by Bicycle come in, offering first-time visitors a guided tour from a local's point of view."

Offering a range of tours to both the major highlights of the city centre as well as some areas and outlooks that aren't covered by the majority of guidebooks, a ride with Brisbane by Bicycle helps to add a historical and social context to many of the sights you'll end up seeing along the way.

These bike tours are conducted at a leisurely pace to minimise fatigue and focus on sightseeing and acquiring local knowledge, with the majority of bike rides following the Brisbane River – routes are designed to cover all the essential aspects of Brisbane's inner city while minimising the riding up hills whenever possible, which is a nice touch. It's a great starting point if you're paying your first visit to the city – you'll learn a lot about what there is to see and do around the city along the way, which can provide you with some more informed decisions of where to visit during the rest of your stay.

Couple the scenic opportunities on offer with a friendly and down-to-earth attitude along with some pleasant stops in parks for some nice views – be sure to bring your camera along for the ride! - and a meal to recharge your batteries, and its a thorough introduction to what makes the city tick. A ride with Brisbane by Bicycle is thus easy to recommend, and you'll likely come away with a new appreciation for the well-constructed layout of the city along with some extra tidbits of info on many of the items mentioned elsewhere on this list.