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Located in the Southeast of Queensland, Brisbane is an impressive modern metropolis set amongst sprawling subtropical wetlands, dense rainforests and exceptional green spaces.
Visitors can enjoy the wonders of dozens of coastal islands, national parks, impressive parklands and vibrant nightlife spots.
Brisbane’s many impressive sites and outdoor wonders are precisely why this city is a fantastic destination for backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
So, to help you put together the perfect itinerary, we have provided a round-up of fun things for backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts to do in Brisbane.
Welcome to Brisbane
Did you know? Over 7.3 million visitors travelled to Brisbane in the year ending June 2020, discovering many of the city’s fantastic sites spread out across this vast urban landscape.
The bending reaches of the Brisbane River are a prominent feature of the city’s landscape, as are hilly suburban pockets and extensive parkland areas.
The city’s positioning among a subtropical ecosystem also makes it one of Australia’s most bio-diverse regions while also providing easy access to nearby national treasures like the Gold Coast and Great Barrier Reef.
All of this is what gives Brisbane a strong focus on the outdoors, with fantastic al fresco dining, riverside picnics, beautiful museums, national parks, dynamic cultural precincts and more.
The many beautiful sights, sounds and wonders around the city means there are countless fun things to do in Brisbane for backpackers.
My partner and I recently organised a trip to Brisbane and had an absolute ball. You can check out our video below for a little sneak peek into Brisbane and some of our top highlights.
Fun Things to do in Brisbane for Backpackers & Outdoor Enthusiasts
Self-Guided Activities for Backpackers to Enjoy
To help you take full advantage of all that Brisbane has to offer, we have put together a list of some of the best things to do in Brisbane by yourself or with friends!
1. Explore Brisbane Botanic Gardens
By far one of the best outdoor activities available in Brisbane, the Brisbane Botanic Gardens consists of 56-hectares of gardens, tropical domes and public buildings providing endless hours of discovery.
With dozens of exhibits on many of Queensland’s most impressive flora and fauna, backpackers can enjoy this great outdoor space 365 days of the year.
Visitors can admire hundreds of different plants and fauna and learn about the fantastic conservation efforts of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens’ researchers.
2. Visit QAGOMA (Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art)
The Queensland Modern Art Gallery (QAGOMA) is located next to the river in Brisbane’s bustling South Bank district, providing a scenic space to enjoy contemporary exhibits from across the Pacific territory and many parts of Asia.
3. Views of the CBD from Story Bridge
The impressive marvel of modern engineering, Story Bridge spans the Brisbane River and provides some of the best views of the city’s towering central business district.
Grab a spot at the centre walkways and watch as the sun sets and the lights of the city’s heart glitter to life as this vibrant city prepares for a night unlike any other.
If you’re feeling adventurous or would love see the city from great heights, you can climb the bridge to the top for amazing city views: Story Bridge Adventure Climb.
4. Go bar hopping and nightclubbing in Fortitude valley
Brisbane’s vibrant nightlife centre is filled with countless fun activities for backpackers to enjoy.
Visit the various bars including those that showcase live music representing some of Australia’s best up-and-coming bands. Alternatively dance the night away at one of the area’s many bustling nightclubs.
We went to Fortitude Valley to celebrate New Years, and it was awesome. We went to a “Havana nights” themed bar and it was a ball.
5. Enjoy fabulous city views and a beer/ cider at Felons Brewing Co
Felons Brewing Co is located on the banks of the beautiful Brisbane River allowing you can take in fantastic views of the city’s riverside while enjoying deliciously barrel-crafted beer and refreshingly crisp cider.
Savour some of the most fantastic meals available in Brisbane and soak up the vibrant atmosphere within the heart of the city.
6. Sign up to use a Neuron Scooter and zip around the city at speed
Brisbane has a fantastic public transport network, but one of the coolest ways to get around the city is on a Neuron E-scooter.
Simply connect with the Neuron app and enjoy a trip along the winding river trails as you visit all that Brisbane has to offer.
This can add a lot of fun to exploring the city on foot, and can be a really cheap way to get around if you use the time wisely and don’t dilly dally.
7. Walk along Eagle Street pier and its many surrounding restaurants
The Eagle Street Pier River complex is home to some of the best restaurants in Brisbane and provides a great space to enjoy a huge variety of different foods.
Here you can admire the impressive array of boats and traditional streamliner ferries that sail past every day and enjoy some of Brisbane’s finest cuisine.
We went to the most incredible Japanese restaurant here called Madame Wu. Incredible food, incredible views and incredible staff. What more could one want?
8. Head down to Southbank with its many attractions, places to eat and Streets Beach
The Southbank neighbourhood is a bustling district filled with countless fun things for backpackers to do, including an impressive man-made lagoon for swimming and over 17 acres of beautiful parkland.
This is a must visit for backpackers in Brisbane – a perfect place to grab some takeaway lunch and bask in the sunshine on your choice of lawn hill or lagoon-side location.
Do note though…. the lagoon tends to attract a lot of kids and families due to the shallow waters, therefore there is often a lot of kids waddling in the shallow pools, which can be a bit of a turn off.
If a hot day, I’d probably recommend to head to the lagoon later in the afternoon, or simply wing it and hope for the best.
9. Wheel of Brisbane
The Wheel of Brisbane is a towering 60-meter-tall Ferris wheel located in the heart of the city’s premium entertainment district.
The enclosed capsules mean you can enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view of spectacular Brisbane all year round – even if it rains.
10. Queensland Maritime Museum
The Queensland Maritime Museum is one of Australia’s largest outdoor museum complexes. It provides visitors with an up-close look at historic vessels of all types and ages and exhibits on Australia’s unique Pacific Ocean history.
11. Visit Eat Street Northshore
An absolute MUST visit for backpackers, Eat Street Northshore is the perfect place to enjoy some local music and live entertainment whilst digging into some incredible cuisine.
This outdoor foodie market is located just 15 minutes from Brisbane CBD and 12 mins from the international airport. It covers over several hectares of land and is built from 180 repurposed recycled shipping containers.
The market features over 70 traders including 5 themed bars, eclectic shops and micro restaurants offering delicious dishes and tasty treats from six of the world’s seven continents including Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America.
This attraction is sure to indulge your taste buds. Well, it definitely indulged ours.
12. Stroll Along Fish Lane
Ensure to take a walk down Fish Lane once the sun goes down (South Brisbane) to enjoy a visit to one of the nearby boutique restaurants and the Saccharomyces Beer Café.
Named after George Fish who owned the very successful Fish Steam Laundry on the site in the 1940s, Fish Lane provides a great space to enjoy some of the Pacific Oceans’ freshest catches.
You can also enjoy a delicious drink at one of Brisbane’s most indie watering holes, the Saccharomyces Beer Café and soak up the atmosphere of one of Australia’s most vibrant districts.
10 Epic Day Tours for Backpackers / Outdoor Enthusiasts
With so many unbelievably fun things to do in and around Brisbane, booking a tour can be one of the best means to enjoy all that this incredible city has to offer.
Here is a list of some popular day tours and activities that you can check out in Brisbane.
Whilst in Brisbane, ensure to take in some of the most extreme views of the city with this harnessed safety climb of the iconic Story Bridge.
Climb in the heart of the day or enjoy a twilight assent that allows you to witness the city come to life as the sun dips below the horizon.
Moreton Island is a classic picture of sunny Australia, known for its pristine beaches and towering sand dunes.
This tour includes a full day tour of the island and the surrounding reefs in a glass bottom boat, as well as a variety of adventure activities, including kayaking, 4X4 dune driving, sand tobogganing and more.
My partner and I did this tour and, despite the weather being atrocious, it was a really well run tour that allows you to do a lot of the most-popular island activities all in the one day.
This 1.5-hour tour is perfect for those wanting to take in Brisbane’s many impressive sites while also learning about the city’s dark past.
Walk amongst the city’s winding alleyways and learn about the hidden criminal history of Brisbane, from its early days as one of Australia’s first settlements to some of its more modern murky characters.
Located 30 kilometres southeast of the centre of Brisbane, North Stradbroke Island is a perfect trip for Backpackers in Brisbane.
Enjoy a day filled with activities, including a hike along the famous Gorge Walk, awarded one of the most impressive coastal walks in Australia.
Visit the picturesque Brown Lake, Cylinder Beach, Point Lookout and Myora Springs while keeping an eye out for local wildlife like koalas or dolphins leaping from the water’s edge.
End the day with a fantastic view of the sunset while you ride the ferry back to Brisbane.
One of the most fun things to do in Brisbane, this action-packed tour is a high-speed adventure that takes you on a winding tour of over 35 kilometres of waterways.
Reaching speeds of more than 80 kilometres allows the speedboats to carry out exciting manoeuvres like drifts, fish tails, and adrenalin-pumping 360° spins.
After your race-like start, slow down the pace a bit and meander through the National Marine Park where you can spot dolphins, wallabies, and various other Australian animals.
Finally, end your fantastic trip with a breath-taking helicopter ride over the Gold Coast, where you can take in unbelievable views of Brisbane’s stunning coastline.
One of the best outdoor experiences located near Brisbane for backpackers, this full-day tour allows you to explore the diverse rainforests of Springbrook and Tamborine national parks.
Admire beautiful waterfalls set in a natural forest, take a walk amongst the paths and admire towering rainforest trees as well as unique sites like the natural waterfall cave bridge.
This tour will provide you with a knowledgeable guide who will teach you about the famous glow worm caves at Cedar Creek, where you can watch thousands of these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat.
End your day with a walk through Australia’s fascinating subtropical rainforests and take in the breath-taking views of the iconic Curtis Falls.
Explore the stunning countryside past Brisbane’s hillside neighbourhoods on this tour that will have you exploring the quaint quite countryside of the Blackall Mountain Range.
This full-day tour will have you enjoying a variety of unique sites like the stunning views of the Queensland coastline, then stop at the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve Lookout for some of the most panoramic vistas of the countryside surrounding Brisbane.
Your small group tour will help you spot some of the coastline’s most scenic sights, like the beach town of Caloundra and the palm-lined trees of Bribie Island.
Arrive at the picturesque mountain town of Montville and explores its charming art markets and food quarters. Spend your free time admiring the breath-taking views and exploring the streets of this charming town that sits just outside the hustle and bustle of Brisbane.
One of the most unique ways to explore Brisbane’s numerous iconic sites, a 2.5 hour Segway tour will have you zipping along the greenways of the city as you explore the best it has to offer.
See iconic Brisbane sights like Story Bridge, Eagle Street Pier, Kangaroo Point Cliffs, Kurilpa Bridge, South Bank Parklands and the Goodwill Bridge, all the while receiving fascinating insight into the local history from your experienced guide.
By far one of the most fun things to do in Brisbane, this 5-hour whale-watching excursion is one of the best opportunities to spot the magnificent and barely seen humpback whale.
Board the state-of-the-art MV Eye Spy Catamaran and set sail from Brisbane as you watch the horizon for pods of migrating humpbacks while also spotting other marine creatures, including Dolphins, sharks and more.
Lounge on the deck in the sun and enjoy a pre-packed picnic as you marvel at the many amazing creatures of the South Pacific.
This fantastic tour will have you visiting the town of Maleny, perched high above the Sunshine Coast and shrouded in the shadow of the Glasshouse Mountains.
Explore the many renowned shops of Maleny and indulge in some of the best treats that Australia has to offer, with countless ice cream shops, boutiques and sweet stores to peruse.
After you have finished your free time in Maleny, take a leisurely stroll through the scenic rainforests to the impressive Kondalilla Falls where you can cool off with a swim in the natural rock pools and admire the remarkable sights surrounding you.
End your day with a drink and relax at the banana Bender hotel before beginning your journey back to Brisbane.
21 Fun Things to do in Brisbane for Backpackers & Outdoor Enthusiasts
No matter what you decide to do, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to fun things to do in Brisbane.
Whether as a solo backpacker exploring its many unique city centre sites or as a group of friends hoping to enjoy one of the many fantastic tours available, this city is the jewel of Queensland for so many reasons.
Hopefully our tips have provided some greater guidance around some of the best things to do in Brisbane, and inspiration on things you can tick off the bucket list for your next trip.
As always, happy travelling!