Last Updated on January 30, 2023 by Sam
If you only have one day in Brisbane then this itinerary will help you see the best of the city in just 24 hours. The city has lots of wonderful places to visit and explore, but if you’re pushed for time it can be hard to decide what to include and what to miss. Unlike Sydney there are no obvious major attractions like the Opera House, but there are still great things to do in Brisbane like wander the botanic gardens, take in the views from Wilson Outlook Reserve, and enjoy the nightlife in Fortitude Valley. Find out how to see Brisbane in a day with this 24 hour itinerary of Queensland’s capital city.
Planning a trip to Melbourne? Check out our four day Melbourne itinerary to get ideas for your trip!
One Day Brisbane Itinerary
City Hall and Museum of Brisbane
Kick off your one day Brisbane itinerary with a visit to the iconic City Hall. Built between 1920 and 1930, Brisbane City Hall is located adjacent to King George Square in the CBD. It’s one of the most impressive buildings in the city, so it’s well worth admiring from the outside before you head in.
City Hall is home to the Museum of Brisbane, which is free to enter. A tour of the Clock Tower gives you some brilliant views of the city from above, which makes for a great way to start your day!
Tours last just 15 minutes and run every day from 10.15am to 4.45pm. With space for just 4 people on each tour it’s best to book in advance to secure your spot, as the Clock Tower tour is the highlight of visiting City Hall. It’s one of the best things to do in Brisbane for free – so book now to avoid missing out!
Click here to book a timeslot for your free Clock Tower tour!
If you want to make a bit more of your visit, then it’s also possible to book a free tour of City Hall itself. Tours run at 10.30am and 11.30am every day, and there is an additional 1.30pm tour from Friday to Sunday. It’s worth trying to line up your two tours together if possible, that way you can make the most of your trip to City Hall before moving on to the next stop on this itinerary!
Click here to book a free tour of City Hall!
Brisbane City Botanic Gardens
Your second stop is the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, which are around a 10 minute walk from City Hall. On weekdays it’s also possible to take a free City Loop bus from near King George Square to the Botanic Gardens if you’d prefer not to walk. Click here to find out more about the free buses in the CBD!
The gardens are a peaceful escape from the busy CBD, and are perfect if you’re looking to relax amongst nature. There are some lovely places to discover in the gardens including Weeping Fig Avenue, Bamboo Grove, the walkway besides the Brisbane River, and several open green spaces.
Spend some time walking around the gardens, and if you plan a bit ahead then you can even stop for a picnic in one of the grassy areas. As you walk around you get some partial views of the CBD between the trees, as well as views across the river.
We recommend spending at least half an hour walking around the gardens, but you can easily spend more if you take your time and explore the different areas.
Visiting the botanic gardens is also one of the best things to do in Brisbane at night in order to see the fairy trees by the Goodwill Bridge. Once it gets dark, these two large fig trees are lit up with fairy lights, and it’s a lovely sight to see. If you have time to come back in the evening the fairy trees are well worth a visit.
Next on your Brisbane in a day itinerary is a trip across the river to Southbank. The best way there is to walk across the Goodwill Bridge, and you’ll get some lovely views of the CBD on the way.
Once you’ve crossed the bridge you should see the South Bank Grand Arbour – a kilometre long walkway with beautiful purple bougainvilleas growing on the steel arches along the path. Turn right and follow the walkaway underneath the bougainvillea canopy as it leads you through the South Bank Parklands.
After a short while of walking along the Grand Arbour you will reach the Streets Beach – a man-made beach in the heart of the city. If it’s a nice day we recommend spending some time relaxing on the beach and going for a swim to cool off! This unique city beach is definitely a must see in Brisbane.
If the beach section is too busy then the nearby Boat Pool is a good option for cooling off, although you won’t get the same ‘beach’ experience. Both the Streets Beach and Boat Pool are free to access, so are well worth including on your Brisbane itinerary. If you’re looking for a real beach experience then you can visit spots like Mooloolaba and Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast.
Whilst you’re in the area it’s worth visiting the iconic Brisbane sign, which is located by the riverfront. It can be found just in front of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), nearby to the Victoria Bridge. The sign was originally a temporary installation for the G20 summit in 2014, but due to its popularity it is now a permanent fixture.
Wilson Outlook Reserve
The penultimate stop on your one day Brisbane itinerary is the Wilson Outlook Reserve. This clifftop park offers brilliant views of the famous Story Bridge, with the CBD’s skyscrapers as the backdrop. It’s one of the best places to watch sunset in Brisbane, so try and make sure you’re there in time to see night fall across the city.
If you have plenty of time before sunset then you can retrace your steps along the South Bank Grand Arbour and visit the Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park on the way. This is another spot with great views of the CBD, and is worth visiting if you have the time. From there you can continue on and walk over the Story Bridge, at which point the Wilson Outlook Reserve is a short walk to your right.
Ideally you want to make sure you’re at the Wilson Outlook Reserve before sunset, so check what time the sun sets and decide whether you have time to walk. If you don’t have time to walk then it’s probably best to take a taxi.
Once you’re there you get some lovely views of the Story Bridge, and you can see as it starts to light up at night. We recommend heading down to the Howard Smith Wharves below so that you can enjoy a drink with a similar view. There are several bars and food options available, with bean bags and seating areas where you can enjoy your food and drink with a great view!
Having a drink during sunset is a great way to enjoy it, but you can also watch from the clifftop of the Wilson Outlook Reserve. Both spots have lovely views and if you’re lucky you’ll see the sky light up with stunning colours during sunset.
Finish off your Brisbane in a day itinerary at Fortitude Valley – the city’s busiest nightlife district. It’s just a short walk from the Wilson Outlook Reserve, and the area comes to life at night.
It’s a great spot to grab some dinner with a variety of trendy restaurants to choose from, as well as several bars with food options available. In terms of bars there’s everything from rooftop cocktail bars to clubs to dive bars, so you’re bound to find something that suits you.
Spend the remainder of you day in Brisbane enjoying the nightlife of Fortitude Valley. The bars here are open until late, so you can stay out until the early hours if you’re having a good time!
Where to stay in Brisbane
An important part of your Brisbane itinerary is finding a good place to stay that suits your budget. We’ve listed a few options below that may be suitable, but for more depth make sure to read our article on the best hotels and places to stay in Brisbane!
Ibis Styles Brisbane Elizabeth Street Hotel
The Ibis Styles Elizabeth Street Hotel is a great budget accommodation option in Brisbane CBD. One of the main benefits of such a central location is the hotel’s proximity to bars and restaurants, as well as attractions like City Hall and the botanic gardens.
Rooms at the hotel are well-equipped for a comfortable stay, with both air-conditioning and a flat-screen TV available for your use. The hotel even has its own restaurant and bar on site if you fancy a quick drink or bite to eat during your stay.
Prices at the hotel start from as little as $151 AUD per night – so it’s hard to find a better budget option in the CBD!
Click here to take a look at the budget friendly Ibis Styles Hotel on Booking.com!
If you’re looking for affordable luxury then the 5-star Crystalbrook Vincent is a great option. The hotel boasts a wonderful rooftop infinity pool with views of the Brisbane River, CBD and Story Bridge.
Rooms at the hotel are modern and fitted with air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV, coffee machine and more. Conveniently located on the edge of Fortitude Valley, the hotel is nearby to some of the best bars and nightlife in Brisbane!
Prices at the Crystalbrook Vincent start from $305 AUD per night, which is amazing value considering the quality of the hotel!
Click here to book a stay at the fantastic Crystalbrook Vincent Hotel on Booking.com!
W Brisbane Hotel
The W Hotel is one of the best luxury hotels in Brisbane, making it the perfect place to stay if it’s within your budget. Everything you need is at the hotel, including a covered outdoor swimming pool, a spa, a bar, restaurant, and more.
Rooms at the hotel offer lovely views of the Brisbane River, and feature a 55-inch LED TV, bluetooth speaker, coffee machine, and air conditioning. To top it off, you even get your own in-room mix bar!
Prices at the W Brisbane Hotel start from $409 AUD per night, and there are a variety of room types available depending on your budget.
Click here to book an unforgettable stay at the W Hotel on the Booking.com website!
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