Brisbane River

17 Brisbane activities you never knew existed

If you’ve been there, done that, abseiled the Kangaroo Point Cliffs already, it’s time to get off the beaten Brisbane track.

Beyond the confines of South Bank and the CBD you’ll find enough action that if Brisbane was a film, it would attract Tom Cruise, Chris Hemsworth and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson for its all-star cast.

Start earning your Brisbane-bragging rights with this list of things you never knew you could do in the River City.

Helicopter Pub Crawl

Have you ever wished you had wings so you could visit 11 breweries in one day?

Captain Mike from Pterodactyl Helicopters proves dreams do come true with his pub crawl tour, which comes with a decidedly James Bond twist.

Taking off from Brisbane you’ll fly into the Scenic Rim abyss with stops at The Sundowner Saloon, The Glamorganvale Hotel and The Bearded Dragon, among 11 others.

Not into beers? No worries, Captain Mike does a wine tour too along with scenic flights over Queensland’s most underrated city.

Pretend it’s winter

Considering Brisbane doesn’t have a winter (seriously, at the time of writing it’s August and 27 degrees!), the city does a great job of pretending it’s cold outside.  

Every winter, an ice skating rink takes over King George Square, drawing families out of their Brisbane ‘burbs for a night on the ice.   

Customs House also freezes over with a pop-up igloo bar, which packs distinct Nordic notes (and plenty of vodka) if you’re looking for a child-free Frozen experience.

Go to jail … Boggo Road Gaol that is

If Orange is the New Black is too soft to be your kind of prison drama, prepare yourself for the real thing, with a tour of Boggo Road Gaol.

The building has a tale worthy of its own Netflix doco, not least of all because its red bricks date back to 1883, but because it took riots to close the place down in 1989.

Join a tour, which is incidentally hosted by an ex-inmate, to explore the jail’s history, which thanks to prisoner graffiti, is quite evidently worn on its sleeve.

Join the circus

You don’t need to leave a postcode 4000 to run away to the circus.

Circa Contemporary Circus Training Centre teaches everything from juggling to trapeze at their circus school in The Valley.

You’ll learn under the guidance of professional acrobats who have performed in 39 countries across six continents.

More than just professionals, they also have the patience to teach circus to toddlers, so you’ll know you’re in good hands.

Take a ghost tour in Toowong

Ghost tour | things you never knew in BrisbaneIf you like your ghost-stories spine-tingly and scary, a tour of the Toowong Cemetery with Brisbane Ghost Tours will leave more than goosebumps on the back of your neck.

Queensland’s largest cemetery, covering 250 acres needs two hours to discover as you wind your way over hills of gravestones, tombs and crypts under the cover of darkness (NB: the general public are no longer allowed to enter the cemetery after 6pm, so a guided tour is the only way to legally add some fright to your night).

While you won’t get to know all 120,000 souls who are buried here, you will meet 13, including dead governors, murderers, black widows, and buried boxers.

Drink in a secret bar

If you like to work a bit harder for your lager, pay a visit to one of Brisbane’s hidden bars.

Tucked behind antique wardrobes, wine fridges and London phone boxes, you’ll find bars like the Walrus Club, Archers Bunker, Legends Bar and The Cloakroom.

We’d tell you where they are… but where’s the fun in that?

If you’d rather not put a treasure hunt between you and your tipple, we’ve also got you covered here, here, here.

Eat dinner in a former brothel

Les Bubbles | Brisbane activities you never knew existed

Photo by @lesbubbles

Brisbane had a dark side once upon a time, and you can see it in action with dinner inside a former brothel, illegal casino and bath house, Les Bubbles.

While the present operation is all about French favourite Steak Frites, clever interior design ensures history is not forgotten easily.

A giant neon sign provides the ambience and chuckles, reading  ‘we regret to inform you we are no longer a brothel’.

Want to build dinner into a night on the town? Our guide to Fortitude Valley is your passport to a good time.

Play Quidditch

Seeking (pun intended) all Harry Potter fans, QUT has its own Quidditch team and it needs you on it.

The game is a little more…errrr…. grounded than what you’ll find in JK Rowling’s novels, but held in just as magical setting, the circle of palms in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens.

Membership isn’t just capped to students, so bring your broomsticks (read: running shoes) and best Viktor Krum impression.

Go underground to hear opera

Test the acoustics of Spring Hill’s Reservoirs with a performance by the Underground Opera Company, who make use of the cavernous spaces that once held the city’s water supply until 1962.

Delivering on its promise ‘extraordinary performances in breathtaking spaces’, you’ll leave with some serious bragging rights. When was the last time you went to hear opera in a theatre built in 1871?

Check the time atop Brisbane

Climb to the top of Brisbane’s answer to Big Ben, City Hall, with a trip to Brisbane’s clock tower museum.

Sitting 92m high (with an elevator to access it) the clock has been keeping Brisbane on time since the 1930s.

From the Museum of Brisbane, you can take a free tour every 15 minutes, promising sweeping views of the city from a building that for many decades wore the title Queensland’s tallest tower.

Looking for more free things to do in Brisbane? Lock up your wallet and follow this guide.

Make your own terrarium

Kick your indoor plant game into overdrive and learn how to make your very own terrarium at Mappins Nursery in West End.

Never heard of a terrarium? Don’t worry, you’ll walk out able to spot the difference between cushion and sheet moss, with a little garden growing inside a glass jar.

Trick up your fishbowl of plant life with living ferns, moss and unique pieces of stone, crystal and timber.

You’ll end up with something so Instagrammable, don’t be surprised if your first terrarium course is not your last.

Prove it’s Amore!

Save your international airfare and enjoy a slice of Venice in Brisbane’s answer to the grand canal, with a gondola ride up the Brisbane River with Golden Gondolas.

Dial up the romance dining by candlelight, ordering a dinner seafood platter prepared by your gondolier.

As for your soundtrack? If the sound of the lapping Brisbane River waves isn’t tranquil enough for you, ask to be serenaded, Venetian style.

Call yourself a Casanova? We’ve got more ideas where this came from – check out these Brisbane first date ideas.

Learn to cook whatever tickles your pickle

Want to learn to cook Thai? Make biscuits like your nanna? Make your own fermented drinks? A visit to Wandering Cooks will up-skill you in the kitchen-department for less than the price of a cookbook.

Wandering Cooks leases their commercial kitchens in South Brisbane to over 105 micro food businesses, some of whom produce their wares and others who share their skills.

By night, Wandering Cook dishes up dinner with a roster of businesses dishing up dinner each night. Choose your night – from deli boards to mussels and galettes there’s always something on the stove top at Wandering Cooks.

Not fussed but still keen on dinner? Swing over here, hungry reader, for Brisbane’s best restaurants.

Make your own perfume at Libertine

They say nothing smells as good as your own brand… but we think the word missing from this famous phrase is perfume. Nothing smells as good as your own perfume brand.

At Libertine, you can mix your own Eau de YOU from their mix of fragrance notes at their New Farm store.

You’ll leave with a history of perfume and know how to distinguish between the scents of the perfume houses.

The ultimate float tank

Give your Instagram feed something for your fans to double tap about with a paddle around Moreton Bay inside a transparent kayak.

If you thought this answer to a glass-bottom boat was memorable by day, wait ’til you see them at night.

After dark, your perspex vessel busts the rave lights (LED panels) so you can navigate the shipwrecks and attract up to 200 species of fish to your boat… like a moth to a flame, or, fish to a kayak.

See Brisbane’s cutest apartment

If you enjoy prying around other people’s homes, a Walter Taylor Bridge Tour with Brisbane Greeters will be better than a Saturday morning of open house inspections.

Join Brisbane Greeters for a tour of the bridge designed by Walter Taylor himself in 1936 for the original toll keeper and his family.

The apartment on the Indooroopilly side of the bridge was kept in the family until 2010 before handed back to the Council for visitors to poke around the apartment.

Brace yourself, this cute space is worthy of a place in any #tinyhouses Insta feed.

Sweat Social

If you’re in town for a good time, not a long time and want a bit of cardio to balance out holiday cocktails, Sweat Social. Literally.

Hosting fitness events across Brisbane (e.g. Sweat at the Met and Sweat and Reset), the philosophy is simple, sweat and do it socially.

Making the moments all the more memorable, you can indulge in a visit to the braid bar, grab a bite to eat and stock up on merch.

After all, if you attended an event and didn’t get a photo wearing the merch singlet, did you even go?

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in Brisbane?