Kate Abroad at Brisbane sign

The Ultimate 2 Days in Brisbane Weekend Itinerary for 2023

Some places need a week or more to do justice but others you can easily see in a few days. Brisbane is definitely in the later category as we found 2 days in Brisbane is the perfect amount of time to see most of central Brisbane plus make a detour to see the koalas. 

If you’re looking for things to do on a Brisbane weekend trip, this Brisbane weekend itinerary covers the highlights of the CBD and South Bank areas with a trip out to Fig Tree. With more time, you could look at exploring New Farm and Fortitude Valley or make a day trip to Moreton Island.

The 2 day Brisbane itinerary is pretty jam-packed, as I’m the sort of traveller who likes to see as much as possible in a short space of time.

If you’re looking for more of a laidback option, I would suggest picking only 2 or 3 of the South Bank attractions (rather than doing everything described below) and spending all of Sunday at Lone Pine (skipping the CBD and walk).

Best 2 Day Brisbane Weekend Itinerary

What to do on Friday night in Brisbane

The Fish Lane precinct is the most fun place to kick off your weekend in Brisbane with dinner and drinks. Try Julius Pizzeria for yummy Italian food and then head straight across the laneway to Maeve wine bar for after-dinner drinks. You’ll need to book ahead though as these spots get busy on a weekend. 

Fish Lane runs for several hundred meters and is lined with bars and restaurants so if you can’t get in at these places or they aren’t your style then just keep walking and you’re sure to find something. 

What to do on Saturday in Brisbane

The South Bank area of Brisbane has seen a lot of investment and there is now so much to see and do here that we’d recommend spending a whole day just exploring this area. 

Some of the cultural highlights to check out in the morning are the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art. We preferred the QAG because it was more accessible and Queensland-specific, but the GOMA is also super popular.

If you have time after getting around those two, there is also the Queensland Museum right next door. 

Queensland art gallery entry Brisbane
Queensland Art Gallery

For lunch, check out the food stalls that line Little Stanley Street on the edge of South Bank Parklands. There are plenty of food options plus some cool fashion and crafts. It’s a good mix of Brisbane-y but not too touristy. 

After that, spend the afternoon relaxing and exploring the rest of South Bank. You can take photos in front of the Brisbane sign, chill at Streets Beach, wander the jungle walk and find the Nepalese Peace Pavilion.

When it gets close to sunset, jump on the Wheel of Brisbane to see the city light up below you.

wheel of Brisbane
The Wheel of Brisbane

Grab dinner at one of the many spots along the waterfront, there are heaps of options and there’s a great atmosphere on a Saturday night. Alternatively, if you’re looking to party, head to Fortitude Valley to find the bars and clubs.

Related: Highlights of Brisbane’s South Bank

What to do on Sunday in Brisbane

By Sunday you’ll be ready to venture beyond the South Bank area and see some more of Brisbane. You can either head straight across to the CBD or do what we did and take the long way via Kangaroo Point Cliffs, Story Bridge and the Howard Smith Wharves.

The Kangaroo Point Cliffs don’t feature any actual kangaroos but they are a popular abseiling and rockclimbing spot and on any given Sunday you’ll find groups of harnessed locals making their way up or down the rockfaces. If you’re brave enough, you can get amongst the action by booking a Kangaroo Point Cliffs Abseiling Experience (no experience necessary).

The Story Bridge is a Brisbane landmark but, like the Sydney Harbour Bridge, not actually that much fun to walk across because of the car fumes (and really not great if you don’t like heights). 

However, if you can handle the height, the best way to experience this Brisbane landmark is to do the Story Bridge is to climb it. Story Bridge Adventure Climbs are available during the day or in the evening for those sunset pictures from the top. It really is the best view of Brisbane.

Story Bridge Brisbane
Story Bridge

The Brisbane CBD is pretty similar to any other Australian city to be fair but there are a couple of cool attractions worth the trip. I liked the stunning architecture of The Treasury (now a luxury hotel) and the Town Hall.

Then there’s the Botanic Gardens which are a tropical haven away from the high rises. On a Sunday, there are the Riverside Markets on in the gardens from 8 am til 3 pm. We grabbed lunch from a Korean stall and a Thai stall and it was absolutely delicious.

Brisbane treasury
The Treasury, Brisbane CBD

From the city, you can take the bus out to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary which is in the Fig Tree area of Brisbane. This was the absolute highlight of our weekend in Brisbane.

You can read all about the sanctuary and our experience feeding the kangaroos and spotting koalas here.

If you’re sticking around for dinner on Sunday, I’d suggest heading back to the Howard Smith Wharves which have heaps of dining options including the biggest craft brewery I’ve ever seen.

Travel tips for the best Brisbane weekend trip

If you’re flying, leave as early on Friday as you can. We ended up on the 7:30 pm flight (due to cancellations) which meant it was super late getting into Brisbane, especially when you count the time getting from the airport into the city, and hard to get a table for dinner.

Buy a GoCard at the airport train station rather than a simple return ticket. This way you already have a GoCard you can use to get to Lone Pine and anywhere else you need and you get a bit of a discount on the airport fare.

Best activities to book for a Brisbane weekend trip

Whether or not you’re following my itinerary, you’ll want to make the most of your 2 days in Brisbane by planning and booking ahead. These are the best activities to lock in for your weekend in Brisbane

For the adventure enthusiast/adrenaline junkies – Story Bridge Adventure Climb or Kangaroo Cliffs Abseiling Experience

For foodies and craft beer connoisseurs: XXXX Brewery Tour in Brisbane

For outdoorsy types: Guided Brisbane Kayak Tour

For wildlife fans: Brisbane Whale Watching Experience or Brisbane River Cruise with Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary Admission

Where to stay in Brisbane for a weekend or 2-day trip

I recommend staying in the South Bank area if you can. It has the most attractions and best food options within walking distance.

Best budget accommodation in Brisbane for a weekend

Brisbane City YHA is a little out of the CBD but still close to the main waterfront precinct. The YHA hostels are well-known in Australia for their social culture and the Brisbane location even has a rooftop swimming pool.

Best mid-range accommodation in Brisbane for a weekend

The Novotel Brisbane South Bank has a great location right near the river and the South Bank dining precinct. While it is a chain hotel the quirky fit-out makes it feel fun and fresh and you can still rely on all the usual amenities like a gym, swimming pool and restaurant.

Rooms start around $200 per night.

Best luxury accommodation in Brisbane for a weekend

The Treasury is Brisbane’s top accommodation offering and the place to be for a luxury weekend getaway.

It has pride of place in the town square on the northern bank of the river in a stunning historic building that once housed state government.

Surprisingly, prices aren’t totally crazy with rooms starting around $300.

The accessibility of Brisbane by plane from most cities in Australia and New Zealand is what makes it such a great option for a weekend getaway. It’s just a short flight and you’re in Brisbane, able to explore everything the city has to offer.

If you have more time, you can use this Brisbane weekend itinerary as a starting point for a longer Queensland trip, taking in Gold Coast or the Scenic Rim as well.

Happy travelling!

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