The weather might still be bleak in Sydney but in Brisbane, a winter’s day involves lathering up in sunscreen, taking a trip to the beach and finishing off your day with an al fresco dinner and a cocktail.
That’s what makes the city one of the best weekend getaway locations (or staycations) for those on the hunt for some rays and a cultural experience.
Here’s our guide on where to stay, what to see and most importantly, where to eat when you’re in the ‘River City’.
Where to stay
Nestled just minutes away from Brisbane’s bustling Southbank area is the recently opened Novotel Southbank.
We were lucky enough to be invited to spend two nights checking out the super-sleek hotel for ourselves – and we weren’t disappointed.
The hotel is just a stone’s throw from most of the biggest attractions in Brisbane, including The Wheel of Brisbane, Streets Beach and the top Brisbane museums and cultural centres.
Each of the 238 rooms are decorated with the Brisbane culture in mind and have some of the most comfortable beds we’ve ever slept in.
And while you might be within touching distance of some of the best bars and restaurants in the area, it’s hard not to be lured in by the hotel’s open-style Spice Central Kitchen and Bar, which serves up delicious modern Australian cuisine, such as tea smoked barramundi and a sovereign lamb rack.
Not forgetting the all-important hotel breakfast, which didn’t let us down, with an epic buffet style feast that kept us going for the whole day.
What to see
Your trip to Brisbane isn’t complete without taking in all the Southbank area has to offer.
We spent the Saturday strolling around the markets on Stanley Street, taking in the sights from atop The Wheel of Brisbane and escaping the hustle and bustle for a few minutes by meandering through the Rainforest Walk.
On the Sunday, we made a quick pitstop at Streets Beach – a man-made beach in the middle of the city – for a dip, before strolling over to the cultural hub and visiting the Queensland Museum and an exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art.
At night, we got on our glad rags and made our way to the Queensland Performing Arts Centres to see a show.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical was playing when we were there and in the next few months they’re showing everything from ballet to an Elvis Presley tribute concert and Pricilla Queen of the Desert.
If you have time, take a trip over to the Roma Street Parklands, which is open to the public 24 hours a day and features an impressive display of plants and trees, as well as open green areas to lounge on.
Where to eat and drink
If you’re looking for a culinary experience on your weekend getaway, then look no further than the shores of Brisbane’s river.
Start your morning off right with a delicious cup of coffee at Glee Coffee Roasters on Glenelg St, before grabbing a jaffle at Denim Co. on Little Stanley St.
Later on, icy-cold Aperol spritzes, cheese and meat platters and yummy tapas in an outdoor setting are the norm at the Stokehouse Q Bar on the Southbank River.
If pub grub is more your style, make your way over to Southbeach Social, overlooking Streets Beach, for a relaxing beer, a seafood platter or a juicy burger.
For a one of a kind culinary journey, take a ferry ride along the river to Eat St Northshore, which will pretty much have any kind of cuisine your heart desires.
From a Vietnamese shack to Tokyo street food and a laneway dedicated to desserts, you won’t be disappointed.
Then, take the ferry back to the West End, where you’ll find the hip Cobbler Bar West End, which is a whiskey bar decorated with plush couches and a menu that would take you years to make your way through.
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