Brisbane: a visitor’s guide to the capital of Queensland

brisbane travel advice visa

Brisbane is the capital of Queensland, a state in northeastern Australia. The vibrant city has flourished in recent years with the founding of new galleries, restaurants, and festivals. With so much to see and do, Brisbane is one of the most visited cities in Australia.

When planning a trip to Brisbane, overseas visitors should first check Australia’s visa requirements and apply for the relevant permit. More information on how to obtain the correct Australian visa can be found below.

Travellers can also find out the best time to go to Brisbane and top attractions in Australia’s third-largest city.

What is Brisbane famous for?

Smaller than Melbourne and Sydney, Brisbane has all the advantages of a major city yet with a small-town feel. The city offers plenty of opportunities to spend time outdoors as well as having many cultural activities for the whole family.

Here are some of the best things to see and do when visiting Brisbane:

Enjoy some of Brisbane’s beautiful beaches

There are several beaches along the coast of Brisbane perfect for surfing, walking, or just taking it easy on the sand. Visitors can make the most of Brisbane’s mild climate and head to the beach at any time of year.

Beaches close to Brisbane

  • Ocean Beach, Barbie Island
  • Cylinder Beach, North Stradbroke Island
  • Honeymoon Bay, Moreton Island
  • Cowan Bay, Moreton Island
  • Suttons Beach, Redcliffe

There is also a man-made beach right in the centre of the city, a great place to cool down during the warmest months.

Take part in Brisbane River activities and events

The longest river in south Queensland runs through Brisbane, for this reason, it’s known as the River City.

Brisbane River is a hub of activity, with lots for tourists to enjoy both on the water and along the river banks.

Kayaking and abseiling

Tourists can hire paddleboards and kayaks at a centre located along the river for a unique view of Brisbane. Daring visitors can also try abseiling Brisbane’s Kangaroo Point Cliffs.

Riverside dining

Back on dry land, the River Quay at South Bank is home to some of the city’s most renowned restaurants with lovely views of the river. There are also free live music events throughout the year.

Premier shopping experiences in Brisbane city centre

With over 1,000 stores to choose from, Brisbane offers an excellent retail offering. The best streets for going shopping in Brisbane are:

  • Queen Street Mall: international and local brands
  • Adelaide Street: fashion boutiques and unique homeware stores
  • Edward Street: exclusive high-end labels
  • Elizabeth Street: a variety of shops for all budgets

Brisbane boasts fine quality coffee and steak

Australia is known for its speciality coffee and some of the best coffee shops can be found in Brisbane. Award-winning baristas use a variety of methods and high-quality coffee to create the perfect cup.

Queensland is Australia’s main beef-producing state. As the capital, Brisbane is home to many top steak restaurants offering high-quality, locally produced beef.

Aside from steak, there are restaurants in Brisbane to suit every taste and budget.

Do I need a visa to go to Brisbane?

Foreigners need an Australian visa to travel to Brisbane from overseas. The type of visa required depends on nationality: many tourists can now apply online for an eVisitor visa or Electronic Travel Authority (ETA).

Australia ETA to go to Brisbane

Travellers from 8 countries should apply for an ETA visa at least 1 or 2 days before heading to Australia to visit Brisbane. These countries are:

Citizens of the above countries can stay in Australia for up to 90 days with an ETA. With 3 months to explore, travellers can visit Brisbane and other top destinations such as Perth and Melbourne.

eVisitor visa to travel to Brisbane

The eVisitor visa for Australia is available to passport holders from EU Member States plus 9 other European nations.

Like the ETA, the eVisitor visa is obtained online, tourists should submit their application at least 48 hours before departing for Brisbane. The eVisitor visa is valid for multiple trips to Australia during the 12-month validity period, each stay can be up to 3 months long.

To travel to Brisbane from elsewhere, one of the other types of Australian visa is required.

What is the best time to visit Brisbane?

Brisbane is an excellent year-round destination, with plenty to enjoy in every season. When planning a trip to Brisbane, travellers should think about the type of activities they want to do and time their trip accordingly.

To avoid the crowds, visitors can consider going out of peak season when there are fewer tourists, and costs in Australia are generally lower.

Spring and autumn: ideal conditions in Brisbane

Autumn, in particular April and May, are considered 2 of the best months to visit Brisbane. During autumn average temperatures range from 14 ºC to 29 ºC (57 ºF to 84 ºF) with a medium risk of rainfall.

Spring, from September to November, is another good time to see Brisbane. Conditions are similar to autumn with temperatures in the same range.

Travellers heading to Brisbane in spring and autumn should reserve accommodation in advance as many places get booked up.

Visiting Brisbane in summer and winter

The hottest months of the year in Brisbane are January and February with average temperatures reaching 30 ºC (86 ºF). Summer is also the rainiest season so visitors should be prepared for the occasional rain shower.

Summer is a good time to enjoy the riverside in Brisbane and many people from the northern hemisphere enjoy the novelty of spending Christmas day at the beach.

Winter: June to August

Even during winter temperatures rarely drop below 10 ºC (50 ºF) and there is little rain. Tourists in Brisbane from June through to October have the best chance of spotting a whale on a whale watching tour.

Is Brisbane safe for tourists?

Brisbane is a safe city with little crime committed against tourists. Like in any large city, residents and visitors are advised to take certain safety precautions such as:

  • Being aware of surroundings and taking headphones out in busy areas
  • Planning how to get home after an evening out
  • Avoiding dark paths and unlit areas
  • Reporting any incidents that do occur to Brisbane police immediately

The number to call in case of an emergency in Australia is 000.

Staying healthy whilst on holiday in Brisbane

The main health risk for tourists is the high summer temperatures. Anyone visiting Brisbane from December to February should be prepared for the heat, apply sunscreen regularly, and drink plenty of water.

Travellers should consider getting the recommended vaccinations for Australia before going to Brisbane.