Things to do in Brisbane

Brisbane Landmarks

Brisbane’s landmarks breathe life into this grand city. From historical buildings to modern marvels, you don’t want to skip these destinations.

The city—and all its wonders—weave a tale worth exploring. The strings to this tapestry are Brisbane's landmarks. You'll see the city in a whole new light when you explore its most popular structures, parks, and destinations. More importantly, you'll discover its culture.

Visiting these landmarks is one of the most memorable things to do in Brisbane. Join us as we take you on a journey through some of our favorites.

Government Buildings

There’s no doubt that any city’s government facilities play a prominent role. In Brisbane, numerous buildings hold historical significance and are worth checking out.

1. Brisbane City Hall

Brisbane City Hall is a hub for all things civic, community, artistic, and social. It’s home to the Brisbane City Council, and it played an important role in history.

Locals refer to it as the “People’s Place.” The Queensland Heritage Register deemed it a historically significant building and one of the city's architectural wonders. It’s hard to miss, with Corinthian columns surrounding its entrance and the massive clock tower jutting 92 meters into the sky.

Inside, visitors can get an even more impressive glimpse of architectural genius. The main auditorium boasts a 31-metre-diameter copper dome designed to ensure no columns obscure the view. Mosaics tile the floor, and stunning marble staircases usher visitors deeper within.

You don’t want to miss the daily guided tours, which take you through the main auditorium and the clock tower.

Photographer: coorparoomassage

2. Government House

Explore a piece of Australia’s rich history at Government House. Here, Prime Ministers are sworn into office, and over 100 events take place each year. While the structure’s architecture and property are stunning, it's the story behind it that truly stands out.

It served as a farmhouse in the 1800s, and at its peak, 40,000 sheep lived on 16,000 ha. In 1909, the Commonwealth Government acquired the property. As World War I increased military demands, it was used to house cadets from the Royal Military College.

After the war ended, the Federal Capital Advisory Authority decided to transform the property into a residence for the Governor-General in office. In 1931, Sir Isaac Isaacs became the first official to call this iconic building home.

Visitors are only permitted on open house days because it serves as the Governor-General’s home. During these events, visitors have access to the interior and its beautiful gardens.

Photographer: Derek McDonald

3. Queensland Parliament House

Delve into the legal system at Queensland Parliament House. Although it was first occupied in 1868, the building wasn't completed until 1889. It's home to the only unicameral State Parliament in the country. Inside, ornate decorations evoke a sense of quiet power.

Free guided tours are offered on weekdays. During a tour, you’ll explore the Parliamentary Annexe building and exhibits relating to the state’s history and the law-making process. The rooms within the building feature rich colors, beautiful masonry, and extensive woodworking.

4. State Library of Queensland

You can’t miss the State Library of Queensland, with its concrete structures and glass facades overlooking the Brisbane River. Although it's called a library, it’s more of a community gathering place. Its five floors are jam-packed with exhibitions, records, books, and labs. If you get hungry, you can stop by the on-site café.

People come to read, catch stunning views from the river decks, explore art galleries, or simply hang out. If you aren't sure where to start, try a guided tour. A friendly volunteer tour guide can answer all your questions.

Tours are held on the third Tuesday of each month or by request. You can even arrange to have the tour tailored to your unique interests.

Parks and Gardens

Brisbane is well-known for its pleasant weather year-round, and what better way to enjoy it than visiting some of the city’s most beloved parks and gardens?

5. Roma Street Parkland

When you step into Roma Street Parkland, the surrounding city seems to fall away as a natural paradise embraces you. It has some of the best green spaces in the city, which you'll discover as you stroll through the 16 ha of themed gardens.

Immerse yourself in greenery as you explore the rock garden, rainforests, and meadows. Its gentle, urban environment makes it a popular spot for hiking in Brisbane. Meander at your own pace with a self-guided map from the information booth at the Hub. You can also join a guided tour, where you’ll learn all about the plants you see.

If you have kids along for the ride, hop aboard the Xpress Fun Train on weekends. It travels through the park’s various gardens and provides stellar lake views.

6. South Bank Parklands

At South Bank Parklands, nature and urban living blend seamlessly across 15 ha. Here, you can stroll along the Brisbane River and enjoy picnics under the warm sun. Walk under flower-lined steel columns at the arbor, or meander the riverfront promenade as you take in everything this park has to offer.

While you’re here, don’t miss Streets Beach, a free public pool offering some of the best viewpoints in Brisbane.

7. City Botanic Gardens

When you visit the City Botanic Gardens, be sure to take a moment to appreciate the flowers, trees, bamboo, and everything else you’ll find within its pristine grounds. It’s like a living canvas, where man-made art, such as fountains and sculptures, are elevated by plant life, creating an unrivaled sense of tranquility.

You’ll find one of the historic cannons sent to Brisbane within the gardens. After a long, arduous journey from Scotland and across the region, it eventually found its permanent home next to the garden’s Alice Street entry.

Photographer: Joan Li

Art Galleries and Museums

Brisbane's best museums and art galleries immerse you in the region's rich history and culture.

8. Queensland Art Gallery

Queensland Art Gallery houses masterpieces from around the world. Admission is generally free, but some exhibits require a paid ticket. It prominently displays work by Indigenous and Australian artists. Dazzling tapestries, sculptures, paintings, and photographs adorn the exhibits.

Step into the Sculpture Courtyard for a new take on art. The permanent exhibits here include Dandelion Fountains and Pelicans. This gallery and the neighboring Gallery of Modern Art make up QAGOMA, which has amassed tens of thousands of pieces of art to display.

Photographer: Nick Nalder

9. Gallery of Modern Art

Right next door to Queensland Art Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art is QAGOMA’s second site. It houses contemporary art and the Children’s Art Centre, where families can engage with interactive artwork displays.

Special exhibitions aimed at children rotate semi-frequently. It hosts events that immerse children in art and foster a lifelong love for creativity.

10. Queensland Museum Kurilpa

The Queensland Museum Kurilpa in Brisbane showcases the region's history from prehistoric times to the present.

Whether you’re visiting with family or friends, a trip to this museum will delight the whole crowd. It serves as the flagship campus for the Queensland Museum and displays artifacts, animals, and fossils of some of the largest animals to walk the planet.

Journey through the Wild State, a favorite among locals and visitors alike. It displays a sample of Queensland’s biodiversity across five environments, from marine areas to the dry outback.

When you’re done, discover one of the largest mineral collections in the country. This museum has so much to offer; you’ll leave knowing you’ve learned something new.

11. Museum of Brisbane

The Museum of Brisbane is housed on the fourth floor of City Hall and showcases the city’s art, culture, and history. There's plenty to explore with over 120 exhibits spread across five galleries.

Catch a glimpse of how the city came to be and how legislation is passed through engaging displays. While you’re at it, admire local artwork by Richard Randall, one of the historic artists who lived in Brisbane.

If you get tired of walking, you can grab a bite to eat at one of its on-site cafés or take a break in the Dome Lounge.

12. Queensland Maritime Museum

One of the largest maritime museums in Australia awaits in Brisbane, not far from Goodwill Bridge.

At the Queensland Maritime Museum, you can climb aboard some of the most important historical ships, including the HMAS Diamantina. This fully restored Royal Australian Navy frigate showcases what it was like to live at sea during World War II. Visitors can access most areas of the ship.

The two-level exhibition hall brings Brisbane's maritime history to life, from cargo ships to cruise liners. It also details the dangers ships face every time they embark. Over 1,500 shipwrecks have been documented along the region’s coast, and you’ll dive into some of their history here.

The Queensland Maritime Museum is far more than a hub for history fans. It’s also a gathering spot for regular events, such as live music performances along the river.

Convention Center

In Brisbane, the local convention center is more than a place to catch a show. It’s a place where the community gathers.

13. Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre

The Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre juts into the skyline with dramatic modern architecture and vibrant lights, making it an integral part of the city streets. It offers numerous events, from concerts and performances to exhibitions and conferences.

However, there's a secret most tourists don’t know. It also houses a permanent art exhibition space, showcasing over 50 works from Indigenous and Australian contemporary artists. You’ll find it in the Plaza Gallery, and it’s worth appreciating if you’ve never seen it before.

Shopping and Entertainment

Most major cities boast a thriving shopping and entertainment scene, but the one in Brisbane really takes the cake.

14. Howard Smith Wharves

Situated between the Story Bridge and New Farm cliffs, you’ll discover Howard Smith Wharves. This riverside attraction was constructed during the 1930s as a relief project during the Great Depression.

This work was never finished while air raid shelters were built near the cliffs. In the 2010s, the scene was revitalized, creating what locals and tourists consider to be a beloved part of the city.

Foodies will delight in the attraction's slew of restaurants and bars, many of which feature outdoor seating options. Sip a drink or enjoy a meal while you're treated to picturesque views of Brisbane’s skyline.

15. Treasury Brisbane

At Treasury Brisbane, you get the glamour of a casino and the exuberance of a five-star hotel. It’s the epitome of an adult playground, featuring electronic and table games in a luxurious environment. Whether you’re an expert poker player or slots are more your jam, the festivities never end.

The LiveWire 24/7 Sports Bar features free entertainment around the clock. Regular events like wine tasting, live performances, and trivia nights add to the atmosphere.

16. The Wheel of Brisbane

The Wheel of Brisbane's construction in 2008 permanently transformed the city skyline. This Ferris wheel takes you 60 m into the air in a fully enclosed, air-conditioned gondola. You can ride in the evening to see the city’s lights at night, or visit by day for a bird's-eye view of Brisbane.

The Sunset Package is popular among tourists and locals. This amazing experience gets you a double ride, where you'll be able to sip two drinks of your choice as the sun paints the horizon.

Photographer: Alice Duffield

17. Queen Street Mall

Put on your comfortable walking shoes because a trip to Queen Street Mall will have you on the go all day long. This mall is divided into six centers, and it's a shopper's dream come true. With over 500 retailers, from glamorous high-end brands to local favorites, you’ll be hard-pressed to visit them all in a single trip.

Don’t worry if you work up an appetite. Queen Street Mall offers some of the best cafés and dining opportunities in the city.

Discovering the Charm: A Final Reflection on Brisbane’s Landmarks

Brisbane’s iconic landmarks make it a city worth seeing at least once. You'll fall in love with the city's charm as you visit each one.

Our shows in Brisbane add to this charm and bring a touch of fantasy to the urban streets. After all, where else do you get to see cutting-edge special effects intertwined with out-of-this-world stunts? Our dazzling displays immerse you into a world unlike any other, where nothing is impossible.

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