48 hours – what to do in Brisbane

48 hours: What to do in Brisbane

If it’s been a while between visits to Brisbane, you’re in for a surprise. This New World City has had a steroid-like growth spurt with a skyline that’s growing in size every day.

In fact, nine new hotels are set to pop up over the next 18 months, with six set to open their doors in 2018 alone – proving the winds of change have been kind to Queensland’s capital.

Unsure what to do in Brisbane? Make a weekend out of discovering Brisbane’s precincts both the old and the new with this itinerary.


2pm: Unleash your creative side

W Hotel | New Queensland Hotels

W Brisbane is the first 5-star hotel to open in Brisbane in 20 years, making the Queensland capital the only Australian city with a W Hotel (so far). Located at 300 George Street on the site of the old law courts, and offering views from South Bank to Mount Coot-tha, the W Brisbane boasts three bars and restaurants (including the renowned Three Blue Ducks from The Farm at Byron Bay) in addition to 312 guest rooms.

The design of the hotel pays tribute to the local Indigenous culture and the river that defines Brisbane, with motifs snaking throughout. Equipped with the iconic ‘Whatever, Whenever’ W service (meaning guests can pick up the phone and ask for anything that is legal) the hotel is certainly raising the bar on Brisbane’s accommodation offering.

If you’re looking for something a little different this time, here’s our favourite accommodation picks in the River City.

6PM: Stay up late with GOMA

GOMA Up Late | What to do in Brisbane

Photo by QAGOMA via FB

You might’ve seen Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art by day, but have you seen it at night?

Stop wondering what to do in Brisbane. Each Friday from 5:30pm, you can wander the current exhibitions and watch live music performances. It’ll only cost you the $20 in your pocket for a real-life night at the museum.

Featured exhibitions rotate approximately every 3-6 months but it’s well worth timing your visit for an opening night.  There are extra performances, activities and that first-day hype (read: all the champagne).

Drinks are all part of the package, which will make you realise other galleries have been doing it wrong for all these years.

If you’ve got some extra spare time, be sure to check out the other cultural experiences you’ll find in Brisbane’s cultural heart, otherwise known as South Bank.

8PM: Eat with the cool kids

Chu the Phat | What to do in Brisbane

Photo by Chu the Phat via FB

From GOMA, follow the fairy-lit road to Chu The Phat. The hip Thai-fusion restaurant enjoys two street frontages between Fish Lane and Melbourne Street, connecting South Brisbane to the funky suburb of West End.

On the menu, you’ll find pork dumplings, noodles, rice, and a selection of meat dishes from duck to beef. But you won’t be alone if you find it hard to choose just one thing.

Take the pressure down and opt for the banquet which offers 10 dishes to share. It also makes bill-splitting easy with a fixed fee of $45 or $60 per person.


8am: Tuck into breakfast at the stalwart of hip

Sourced Grocer | What to do in Brisbane

Photo by Sourced Grocer via FB

Swap the tin and timber of Spring Hill for another of Brisbane’s favourite suburbs that cover the bend of the river taking in Newstead, New Farm, and Teneriffe.

Start the day right at Sourced Grocer, whose paddock-to-plate philosophy runs deeper than just their menu. This cafe also doubles as a boutique grocery store if you’re inclined to pick up some self-catering supplies too.

On the menu, you’ll find light bites like bircher, granola, fruit toast, and the classic avocado on sourdough. For something more substantial, there are cabbage pancakes, hard eggs, pastrami sandwich, and salad options that change daily.

Their coffee menu is just as exhaustive. The daily filter is always a safe choice and comes served in the cutest little teal-coloured cups.

9AM: Take a stroll, New Farm style

New farm park | What to do in Brisbane

Photo by @brisbanegram via IG

From Sourced, it’s a few hundred metres to the start of one of Brisbane’s best walks, following the curve of the Brisbane River and Brisbane’s own millionaire’s row.

Winding from the Teneriffe Ferry Terminal all the way to the city – there’s approximately 6km of footpath suspended over the water for the exploring.

Don’t worry if you haven’t packed your walking shoes – this leg of the journey is only 2km and there’s wine at the end of this tunnel.

10AM: Hit the Powerhouse Farmers Market

Jan Power Farmers Markets | What to do in Brisbane

After putting 2km of distance between you and breakfast, grab a bite to eat from Powerhouse Farmers Market. Snacks come in the shape of omelettes, crepes and Japanese chicken skewers to name a few. They’re all handheld so you can wander while you eat.

You don’t have to consult the calendar to find out when these markets are on. Every Saturday the former powerhouse of Brisbane transforms its concrete playground into this farmers market, with over 120 stalls from 6am to 12noon.

Brisbaneites go with a basket, filling it with fresh produce to fuel their week. It’s got everything from fruit and veg, seafood to homemade sauces and chutneys.

12 noon: Lunch, riverside, at the Powerhouse

WATT | What to do in Brisbane

Photo by WATT via FB

If a pastry snack at the market didn’t cut it, tuck into lunch at WATT at the Powerhouse.

On the menu, you’ll find salmon, trout, and steak, as well as a wine list that covers some of the best wine-growing continents – an ideal setting for a long lunch.

But it’s not just the food, wine and industrial architecture (yes, it’s had a reno) you come for at the Powerhouse. It’s all about cool river breezes and epic views over to Bulimba.

2PM: Rest or roses

New Farm Park | What to do in Brisbane

Photo by @cassbenn9 via IG

If the tropical humidity has triumphed (don’t worry, it happens to us too!) head back to your Spring Hill base for a nap. We’re laid-back in Queensland, after all. If you’re keen to push on, discover New Farm Park whose 37ha of gardens are a green thumb’s dream.

Each spring, its rose garden bursts into a sea of pink – completely colour coordinated thanks to the landscaping and town planning that happened here some 70 years ago.

If you’re ever at loss for what to do in Brisbane, you can easily spend the afternoon wandering around New Farm Park. Doss down with a good book under one of the fig trees, which cast shade wide enough for three families to picnic in peace.

The good news is, good coffee isn’t far away – New Farm is well known as the Italian capital of Brisbane if you wish to continue grazing. 

8PM: Give a nod to Brisbane’s roots with your restaurant choice

Survey Co. | What to do in Brisbane

Photo by Survey Co. via FB

If you want to discover the historic heart of Brisbane while you eat, you can’t get much closer than Survey Co. in Burnett Lane, both named after the man who sketched the first map of the River City.

It’s not just the name that will take you on a trip down memory lane, the interior design is industrial chic, complete with historical maps of Brisbane.

Choose to share, graze or be greedy with the menu. It features plates large enough to share or go alone – there are no rules here.

They’re best known for their Death Row dish, which does just what it suggests – dishes up comfort food worthy of your last night on earth. 


9AM: Discover another ‘burb of Brissie

Anouk Cafe | What to do in Brisbane

Photo by Anouk Cafe via FB

Breakfasts that extend into lunch never look as good as the ones you find in Paddington, in Brisbane’s west.

Latrobe Tce is Paddington’s main artery, best defined by Queenslander homes and not a highrise in sight.

Aside from coffee shops, you’ll find boutique dress stores and op shops galore. So it’s best to lock up your credit card if you’re on a budget.

For breakfast worth writing home about, choose Anouk. On the menu, there are eggs benedict, omelette, and a breakfast bruschetta. Their daily specials board is where the magic lies – think okonomiyaki pancakes with Korean BBQ sauce.

Not only is it a great spot for food, but it’s also next door to two Brisbane shopping favourites – Sasha Drake and Marimekko – with boutique designs to suit every kind of body shape from lollypops to pears. 

Want more Brisbane itinerary ideas?

What would you add to this itinerary if you were in Brisbane for a weekend?