Brisbane isn’t considered one of Australia’s most iconic cities, but it does have some hidden spots that photo-hungry travellers will love.
Rob and I decided to take a week-long working holiday in Brisbane before our east coast road trip began. While we were there, I made it my mission to find the city’s most photogenic spots, and what I discovered was a bunch of fun activities with plenty of photo ops.
Here are 7 fun and photogenic things to do in Brisbane, Australia!
Where we stayed:
We split our time between an Airbnb and the TRYP Hotel in Fortitude Valley, which is located just outside of the city center. While the area can get quite trashy on a Friday/Saturday night, daytime in ‘The Valley’ is a great place to find decent food (I had the best sushi of my life there!) and excellent coffee.
The TRYP Hotel was street-art themed, which I absolutely loved. There were murals by local artists all over the walls and art prints inside the rooms. There was also a fab burger joint on the ground floor, and a bar on the rooftop. It was awesome to stay in a place that had some character rather than a boring old hotel!
1. Explore South Bank
I was skeptical about South Bank as it’s a tourist hotspot and I generally try to avoid those areas, but I was pleasantly surprised by this waterfront park in Brisbane. The South Bank parklands, which stretch along the Brisbane River with views towards the city skyline, didn’t feel overcrowded at all and had plenty of great photo ops.
South Bank features more than just the riverside boardwalk and grassy lawns – it has a number of interesting attractions including a man-made beach (it sounds terrible but it was actually pretty nice!), a walkway lined with pretty flowering plants, a miniature rainforest, a Nepalese peace pagoda, and a giant ferris wheel.
2. Visit City Hall
It may not be quite as impressive as Big Ben, but the clock tower on Brisbane’s City Hall is nearly as tall at around 90 metres. I found this 1930s building to be very photogenic with its large columns and decorative facade.
We managed to see the City Hall building both in the daytime and at night, and it was stunning to look at both times. There are plenty of photo ops in front of the building, or you can actually go up the tower (for free!) and find a viewing platform at the top with views of the surrounding buildings.
You can also see this building and other important spots in the city centre on a Brisbane city essentials walking tour.
3. Walk across a pedestrian bridge
Brisbane has a few pedestrian bridges that cross its banks. Rob and I walked across Kurilpa Bridge one evening, which was lit up with green floodlights and had amazing views over the river. I couldn’t help but get my camera out to capture this scenic bridge with the city behind it.
There are a few other options for crossing the river by foot – you can also walk across Victoria Bridge or Goodwill Bridge.
4. See the city from Wilson Outlook reserve
Wilson Outlook reserve has arguably the best views of the city with the iconic Story Bridge in the foreground and Brisbane’s skyscrapers positioned behind it. We walked to this scenic spot from our hotel in Fortitude Valley to see the city skyline at sunset.
This place is super popular with photographers (I spotted at least 3 others with tripods while I was there) but luckily there’s plenty of space for everyone to snap a good photo.
Another option for seeing the city is to actually do a guided climb of Story Bridge. Climbs are available for day or night, and I’m sure they would provide some neat city views!
5. Get out on the river
One of the best activities for any visitor to Brisbane is getting out on the river. Locals use ferries as a form of public transport, but tourists can also use the ferries to get a fabulous view of Brisbane from the perspective of the water.
The CityHopper ferry is free and stops at numerous points throughout the city center, or if you want to go out a little further (like we did – we took the ferry to Northshore in Hamilton to visit the Eat Street Markets) then you’ll need a public transport card such as the Go Card or SeeQ card.
Alternatively, you can choose to do a Brisbane river cruise from South Bank which will give you some great photo ops.
6. Visit the Eat Street food markets
I was super impressed by the food stalls at Eat Street! If you take the ferry to Northshore Hamilton, you’ll find this collection of coloured shipping containers which have been decorated brightly with fairy lights and converted into pop-up food stalls featuring a huge range of cuisines.
These markets are open on Fridays and Saturdays from 4 PM -10 PM, and Sundays from 12 PM – 8 PM. We spent a solid hour and a half wandering the stalls before settling on Japanese noodle dish and a truly Australian Gaytime-flavoured donut ice cream cone. Delish.
If you’re not sure about how to get there via public transport, it might be easier to book an Eat Street markets bike tour.
7. See some art at GoMA
A trip to the Gallery of Modern Art was essential for our visit to Brisbane. I was keen to see the Yayoi Kusama exhibition as I’ve previously viewed some of her amazing installation art (like the large spotted orange balls pictured above) at MONA in Hobart, but the exhibition was so popular that the line to get in was insanely long.
We ended up visiting the other exhibitions instead, which ranged from modern Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pieces to giant balloon dogs made from garbage bags. Modern art galleries always result in some interesting photos!