Thanks to the free City Hopper ferries, many Brisbanites take to the river to get from one end of town to the other.

But the Brisbane River also offers tourists with a handy way to see much of the city without having to hop on a bus or train.

The boutique-style MV Neptune, operated by family-owned Queensland business River City Cruises, makes regular runs up and down the river, providing uninterrupted views of landmarks like the Kangaroo Point Cliffs and the Story Bridge.


The commentary is as entertaining as it is informative, pointing out famous buildings like Newstead House and the Commissariat Store, along with local tales that give a taste of Brisbane's colourful history.


Our idea of vintage Australia - stately old homes wrapped with verandas and shaded by swaying palms or gums - is perfectly encapsulated by Brisbane's oldest surviving residence. Built 170 years ago, the elegant Newstead House perches above lush green Newstead Park, with wide views of the Hamilton and Bulimba reaches of the Brisbane River.

Over different times in its storied history, the house has been home to a police magistrate, an attorney-general, the city superintendent of parks, two historical societies and US servicemen in World War II.

Once a simple Georgian cottage, the residence today houses a museum decorated to give visitors a glimpse of the late Victorian period, and is a popular hire venue for weddings.


History abounds in the city, but the best place for a quick download is the Museum of Brisbane, found on the third level of the beautiful Brisbane City Hall.

Rightly considered the jewel of the revitalised city hall, the museum houses five galleries and a theatrette, and offers access to the clock tower and the copper dome.

The museum runs a constantly-changing programme of engaging exhibitions - more than 120 have featured in just a decade - and each give a strong impression of the city, its culture and its people.

A six-minute walk away is another museum worth seeing: the MacArthur Museum Brisbane, which preserves the one-time headquarters of the legendary and sometimes controversial General Douglas MacArthur.

From July 1942 to November 1944, the US general directed his part of the Pacific War from the eighth floor of the former AMP Building, now re-named MacArthur Chambers.

Along with checking out informative exhibits, visitors can also sit at the great man's old desk.



Apart from the weather, nothing tells Brisbane visitors they're in a subtropical paradise like a wander around the City Botanic Gardens.

A short walk from the city centre, the landmark is Brisbane's original botanic gardens and home to an abundance of spectacular plant species. Sprawled across gently undulating grounds, the heritage-listed gardens include the Bamboo Grove, a collection of 23 bamboo species, the peaceful ornamental ponds, the Walter Hill Fountain, the picture-perfect Weeping Fig Ave and Riverstage, which has drawn about 1.5 million people since the popular event venue opened in 1989.

The gardens also have historic ties to Australia's earliest days of rugby and Aussie Rules.

Elsewhere in the city, visitors can stroll around the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha, recognised as Queensland's premier subtropical botanic gardens, or Roma St Parkland, a 16ha web of pathways, boardwalks, cascading waterways and rocky outcrops that offers a green oasis amid the bustling CBD.


Stretching along 17ha of the southern banks of the Brisbane River, the fun-filled, city-side expanse dubbed South Bank packs in stunning views, colourful gardens, world-class eateries and hundreds of events each year.

A must-do for visitors keen to beat the heat is Australia's only inner city, man-made beach - Streets Beach - which boasts a sparkling lagoon surrounded by white, sandy beaches and sub-tropical plants.

It's patrolled year-round by lifeguards, as is the nearby Boat Pool, while interactive water-play park Aquativity provides another great place for kids and families to splash about.

At the Epicurious Garden, visitors can learn about inner-city gardening, read recipe suggestions and learn how to cook with fresh produce in your own home.

As far as restaurants go, take your pick: whether it's pasta at the Spaghetti House Trattoria or a roast at the Hop & Pickle, the options are endless.



A trip to Brisbane isn't complete without a drink or three at one of the many rooftop bars.

With the city's almost 300 days of sunshine every year - not to mention some of the most impressive panoramic views in Australia - it's clear to see why these sky-high spots are so popular among local punters.

There's a colourful mix of them on offer: Sixteen Antlers, atop the Mercure Brisbane King George Square, offers a selection of craft beers, curated cocktails and quality wines for locals and visitors to enjoy.

Sazerac Bar is the city's highest bar, occupying the 30th floor of the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, and is known for its carefully crafted concoctions paired with tapas and good tunes.

Among other lofty hang-outs is the cool atmosphere of Soleil Pool Bar, the casual glamour of Eleven Rooftop Bar, the fab funkiness of Up on Constance or the relaxing pool, bar and lounge deck at NEXT Hotel.

It all began back in the 1920s, with two koalas named Jack and Jill.
Today, the world's first koala sanctuary is also its largest, boasting more than 130 of the cuddly Aussie icons.

A short 20-minute hop from the central city, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the ideal place to get that Facebook snap, as visitors can hold koalas for free, feed kangaroos and platypuses, walk with dingos and meet a colourful variety of other Australian wildlife in picturesque settings.

It's also a mecca for birdlife - resident species range from cockatoos and kookaburras to cassowaries and emus.

Guests can play keeper for a day, get the full behind-the-scenes look at the sanctuary, and even wrap a python around their neck.

The Fig Tree Pocket park holds a special place in Brisbane's story, and became famous globally when US servicemen visited during World War II to view the native animals.



If you can't be bothered mapping your own sight-seeing route of Brisbane, an easy option is to book your own free tour with a friendly Brisbane Greeter.

Greeters - look for their bright red T-shirts - are locals who love the city so much they've made it their job to tell people about it.

Whether it's gritty tales from Brisbane's beginnings as a penal colony, or simply where to get the best pint of craft beer, these walking travel guides are the perfect companions on a sunny day in the city.

Different tours include Greeter's Choice (seeing the city through the eyes of a local), Your Choice (picking your own attractions) CityCycle Greets (a cycling tour), Walter Taylor Bridge Tours, South Bank Green Heart Greets and a scientific take on sightseeing.


Getting there: Emirates flies direct from Auckland to Brisbane, with Economy Class return fares starting at $525.

Further information: queensland.com,VisitBrisbane.com.au.