If you’re planning a trip to Queensland, you may be wondering how many days to spend in Brisbane. Brisbane is a great city to visit with kids. It is very child-friendly and there are plenty of activities to keep kids and parents entertained. To truly see the city, three days would be enough, and if you wanted to take day trips outside the city to theme parks or beaches then you can add on a couple more days.
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How to get around Brisbane
Walking – It is easy to walk around central Brisbane including the South Bank. To get to further afar attractions you can book on to one of the many tours that operate. Alternatively, you can use the public transport network or hire a car.
Public transport – Brisbane has an extensive network of buses, trains and ferries. You can purchase a Translink Go Card or purchase tickets before boarding at stations and terminals.
River cruises – There are several river cruises that run which are a great to get around and to see the city. The Mirimar cruise takes you up the river to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary – one of the must-do activities in Brisbane.
Car hire – Hiring a car can be the easiest and most flexible way to get around, especially if you’re heading to either the Gold Coast or the Sunshine Coast. There are cheap but quality car hire options near the airport. One thing to note is that there are several toll roads in Brisbane. Your car hire company will explain this to you and offer, for a small fee, to track the tolls and charge you at the end of your hire period.
Where to stay in Brisbane
The sheer volume and range of accommodation in Brisbane is quite overwhelming. When I was first looking I had no idea where to look. Luckily I had some guidance from my sister-in-law who grew up there.
We ended up choosing to stay in the Arts Series The Johnson in Spring Hill. It was really reasonably priced and in a great location. The rooms are big and even have a small kitchen in the room which was handy for cooking basic meals to save on eating out. The pool area was lovely and we all enjoyed lots of swims in the gorgeous pool.
We also considered Brisbane Holiday Village – Lots of great facilities for kids and it gets really good reviews. It is just a bit further south so not as convenient for exploring the city.
You often have to pay for parking at accommodation in the Brisbane so that’s just something to bear in mind when booking.
Top things to do in Brisbane with kids
Spend a day at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Australia is of course home to some unique wildlife, and koalas are often at the top of people’s cute animal list. So don’t miss the opportunity to get up close and personal with some koalas along with many other aussie animals. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is definitely a Brisbane must-do activity.
At Lone Pine there are lots of opportunities to get close up to many of the animals. You can hold and have a photo with a koala but be sure to pre-book so you don’t miss out.
There is a lovely, kangaroo walkthrough where you can feed kangaroos and wallabies. Other animals to see include dingoes, lizards, snakes and spiders.
I really how the picnic/cafe area was next to some of the koalas and there were lizards, ibis and curlews wandering around. Some great natural entertainment during lunch!
To get to the sanctuary you can drive, get the bus or go the scenic route on the Miramar river cruise.
Wander around the South Bank
The South Bank is a great place to spend a few hours or even a whole day. It is 17 hectares of parkland, fabulous restaurants and stunning river views. The unique feature of the South Bank is Streets Beach, a must-do place to visit when in Brisbane. It is Australia’s only man-made inner city beach which features sparkling blue water surrounded by white sands. I have to say it is pretty unique to swim by a beach with the city skyline behind you. There are also lots of little rock pools and splash areas for the kids to enjoy.
There is a huge range of restaurants and cafes to choose from on the South Bank. From ice cream parlours to world-class restaurants to lively bars, you will be spoiled for choice.
The South Bank often hosts events. We were there over Christmas and there were Santa’s grottos, elf parties and street markets. At night the area comes alive with twinkling fairy lights and live music.
Take a day trip to paradise by visiting Moreton Island
My favourite day, while we were in Brisbane, was our trip to Moreton Island. This little slice of heaven is just an hour and a half away on the ferry from Brisbane. And it is absolute paradise with its white sands and clear turquoise waters. It is also a great place to snorkel. The man-made Tangalooma Wrecks, located a short swim from the beach, is home to 15 vessels and a huge range of tropical fish and other sea life such as turtles and wobbegongs.
There are organised tours to Moreton Island but it is very easy to do it yourself. Just check out the ferry times on the Micat website. These tend to vary from day to day. Once you have booked your tickets then you just need to make your way to the ferry terminal. If you have a car it’s easy to drive and there is free parking, otherwise, you can take a taxi or a bus (check out the Translink journey planner).
The ferry drops you off right on the beach right next to the wrecks where you can find a huge range of tropical fish. It is a fantastic place to snorkel around and easy to get to from the shore. But just check the tides and the winds as they can pull you along quite far. For children, it is possible for them to swim over with assistance. We took our 8-year-old over with a bodyboard and two of us supporting her.
Once you’re on the island, you can pick your spot for the day on the beach, right by where the ferry drops you off. The only way to get around the island is by taking over 4×4 which you either have to own or hire for yourself, but it’s quite pricey so maybe not worth it for just a day trip.
If you wanted to stay for longer on Moreton Island there are a couple of accommodation options. There is Tangalooma Resort which has rooms and villas. It also offers wild dolphin feeding in the evening, where a pod of dolphins comes to the shore every evening and you have a chance to feed them. You do have the option of doing this on a day trip booked through Tangalooma.
Other day trip activities include sand boarding on a desert safari, quad biking and whale watching (June to October).
If you love tropical beaches and snorkelling then I would definitely recommend putting Moreton Island on your Brisbane itinerary.
Do some shopping and relax in Brisbane City Botanic Gardens
Take some time out for some retail therapy around Queen Street Mall. With over 500 stores, you will be spoiled for choice. We had come over from New Zealand where the range of shops is limited so we were in retail heaven!
After a bit of shopping, you can grab a bite to eat to enjoy in the beautiful Botanic Gardens. They are Brisbane’s oldest and most mature gardens and are home to a variety of rare and unusual botanic species.
The Riverstage is located in the gardens and throughout the year it hosts concerts, music festivals and shows.
Day trips from Brisbane
If you are spending more than a few days in Brisbane, then there are plenty of great places to visit for day trips from Brisbane. Here are some fun day trips from Brisbane ideas: