You go to Sydney for beaches and to Melbourne for culture—so what does Brisbane offer that you can’t find elsewhere in Australia? Quite a bit, actually.
Interestingly, the capital of Queensland comes in at #20 for Place—just behind Sydney but way ahead of Melbourne.
Brisbane, which scores high for its low crime (#7 safest city in the world), is sunny, sophisticated and offers plenty of outdoor adventures right within city limits.
Named after a river that runs through it, Brisbane is best explored from the water. At night. On a kayak. If you’re in town on Friday or Saturday, we recommend you take in the shimmering lights of the cityscape during a leisurely paddle down the river. Local outfitter, Riverlife, will set you up with an illuminated kayak and hook you up with a bucket of fresh king prawns and cold beer upon your return.
If the beach is more your thing, hit the sand at Streets Beach, man-made with a sparkling lagoon surrounded by subtropical plants. Culture vultures can soak up the art at the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, QAGOMA for short, a single institution located across two adjacent river-side buildings, and Australia’s largest gallery of modern and contemporary art.
Once the convict-era Government Gardens, the free Botanic Gardens now combine lily ponds, formal flower arrangements and rainforest plants with rather splendid river views. For something completely different, hit Collective Market, a flea market of sorts featuring stall vendors hawking vintage finds, art, handmade jewellery and antiques.