For those of you who journey to Australia for the ultimate adventure, usually opt for Sydney or Melbourne, but the city of Brisbane has just as much to offer. It’s become an urban renaissance with new places opening up left and right—from modern hotels, music spaces, hip bars, and innovative art venues—Brisbane is the coolest city in Australia for backpackers and expats alike.
So what can you do in this sophisticated, dynamic and vibrant city outside of the norm? Here’s a list of our favorites that have yet to be discovered by outsiders, yet are the places to be for Brisbanites.
John Mills Himself
John Mills Himself is a two-in-one—a trendy café during the day (Monday to Friday, 6:30am to 3:30pm) that transforms into a bar at night (Tuesday to Saturday, from 4pm). If you’re a coffee addict, we recommend having a good ole cup of joe here, made from local coffee blends. And if caffeine is not your thing, the café has an amazing menu full of different types of hot chocolate drink options.
Once John Mills Himself turns into a bar, there’s almost no other place to get some of the best local beer and gin in town. If you’re in Brisbane during the weekday, you can have coffee in the morning, head out to explore during the day, and then come back in the evening to enjoy a beer or two to help you wind down.
St. Stephen’s Chapel
As you walk along Elizabeth Street, you’ll encounter The Cathedral of St. Stephen, but right beside it is St. Stephen’s Chapel, the oldest existing chapel in Queensland. The chapel was built in 1848, and the first mass was held in 1850 when there were only sixty Catholic families in Brisbane. To this day, people continue to attend mass underneath its original roof. If you do pass by, make sure to go inside to see a remarkable wood carving made by the sculptor John Elliott of Saint Mary MacKillop, An Australian saint who founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, also known as the Josephites. The statue is from carved from an hundred-year-old camphor laurel tree, and if you get close to it, you can still smell the freshness of the wood.
Archive (Books and Beer)
There are two Archives in Brisbane, one is called Archives Fine Books, which has a million used books you can browse through and buy. The other Archive is Archive Beer Boutique, a beer bar and bistro with 22 constantly rotating draught beers on tap, and over 400 different types of imported bottled beer. Beer and books? What more can you ask?
Suitcase Rummage on Reddacliff Place
If you’re in the city on the first or third Sunday of the month, then make sure to head over to Reddacliff Place and check out the Suitcase Rummage. It’s a bustling bazaar where you can find all sorts of vintage pieces, gently used clothing, paintings, comics, pottery, jewelry, and other knick-knacks at an affordable price. It’s a fun place to buy a souvenir you can take back home to family and friends (or even purchase for yourself). Suitcase Rummage is a truly unique experience because stalls and table are not permitted—everything has to be sold out of, you guessed it, a suitcase. Want to exchange an item or barter? You can do that too.
Woolloongabba Antique Precinct
Woolloongabba Antique District is Brisbane’s oldest suburb known for its fancy restaurants, chic bars, antique shops and of course The Gabba, one of nine major sporting and entertainment facilities in Queensland. The Baker’s Arms is a terrific place for specialty coffee and baked goods for a mid-day snack. For dinner, we recommend going to 1889 Enoteca, an exquisite award-winning Italian restaurant for the best Gnocchi you’ll ever have (it melts in your mouth). Then for drinks, make your way to the Canvas Club for some savory cocktails, fine wine, craft beer and rustic food.
A multi-cultural hub of creativity and invention, Brisbane has become Australia’s New World City. It’s booming with hip bars, chic restaurants and trendy shops. Although it’s not as popular as its counterparts (Sydney and Melbourne), Brisbane is an up-and-coming city to visit for those who love to explore the road less traveled.
If this or any other destinations speak to you, we’d love to help you get there in comfort and put some savings in your pocket. Submit a flight request or contact your agent and we’ll find the best dates to travel there!