Brisbane is renowned for the easy-going, relaxed atmosphere that inspired its playful nickname: ‘City of Sundays’. That’s not to say Queensland isn’t brimful of exciting attractions, sights and entertainment. The city boasts several vibey districts, a stunning riverside park, a bona fide cafe culture, vibrant nightlife, as well as a chockfull event calendar.
Shopping in Brisbane
Shopaholics are sure to enjoy Brisbane’s wide range of designer boutiques and department stores. Numerous bustling markets dot the city, and the Queen Street Mall is convenient for those who prefer to shop in one place.
Brisbane also has an independent retail scene concentrated around the CBD, and Fortitude Valley and Paddington are the top spots for fashion and vintage. Here, shoppers spend the day trawling second-hand bookshops and other speciality stores.
The main antique precincts are centred in Woolloongabba where quaint little boutiques offer an array of unique gifts and homewares. A growing amount of weekend stalls are springing up all over Brisbane, where everything from organic produce to old-styled garments can be acquired.
Arts and culture in Brisbane
Brisbane offers tons of entertainment for culture vultures. The South Bank houses the Queensland Museum, the Queensland Art Gallery and the Performing Arts Centre. These venues host various events and world-class exhibitions. Other cultural hotspots include the eclectic New Farm and Fortitude Valley, and expats could also take a walk around the heart of the metropolis and admire works of public art and heritage buildings.
Sport in Brisbane
In true Aussie fashion, sport is well catered for at the Brisbane Cricket Ground (known locally as the Gabba) and Ballymore, where the Wallabies defend their rugby pride. Those without a ticket for the game should head to the nearest pub or sports bar and watch it with the lively locals – quite an experience in itself.
Those who’d rather participate than spectate can join one of Brisbane’s many recreational sports teams.
See and do in Brisbane
Filled with myriad sights and attractions, expats will hardly have cause for boredom in Brisbane.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the world's oldest and largest koala sanctuary, and is home not only to these adorable marsupials but also to kangaroos, wombats, echidnas, platypuses, and various species of reptiles and birdlife.
Queensland Maritime Museum
Founded in 1971, the Queensland Maritime Museum contains large-scale exhibitions featuring historic sailing ships, cruise liners and tankers. Expats can also browse a library housing antiquated artefacts, documents and maritime photographs.
This fun-packed district features a man-made beach and lagoon alongside parklands, rainforest walks, barbecue areas and cultural attractions. Those wanting to see the city from above should take a spin on the iconic Wheel of Brisbane, a 197-foot (60m) Ferris wheel.
Brisbane Botanic Gardens
Nestled at the foot of Mount Coot-tha, the Brisbane Botanic Gardens are perfect for a quick escape from the city. Take a leisurely stroll, pack a picnic, and be sure to pop into the spectacular Tropical Display Dome. Space and science buffs are sure to enjoy the onsite Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium.
What’s on in Brisbane
There is always something going on in Brisbane. Every year, locals and tourists alike come together to enjoy the city’s annual festivities. Below are some of our favourites.
Goomeri Pumpkin Festival (May)
The Goomeri Pumpkin Festival sees hundreds of market stalls line the streets selling pumpkin-themed eats such as pumpkin soup, pie and even fudge. There are also competitions to take part in and live music to enjoy.
Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival (May/June)
Hosted by the Brisbane Racing Club, the Winter Racing Carnival is all about dressing to the nines, enjoying Brisbane’s lovely weather and having a flutter on the horse races at Eagle Farm and Doomben Racecourses.
Brisbane Marathon (June)
A huge event on the city’s calendar, the Brisbane Marathon sees professionals and amateurs come out in droves to run either the full or half marathon. Non-runners can cheer them on from the side on what is always a festive day out.
Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers (September)
During the Carnival of Flowers, more than 170,000 blooms can be viewed across Toowoomba, and visitors can enjoy celebrations in several of the city's parks, twilight tours, carnival rides, festival food and live music – a great day out for the whole family.
Where to meet people and make friends in Brisbane
Below are a few options where newcomers can get to know locals and fellow expats and make new friends.
Stay healthy and meet new people at this free 5km event where, every Saturday, active locals gather in South Bank to run, jog or walk.
Expats with a love of nature and a passion for hiking will fit right in. Based in Redlands, the Redland Bushwalkers meet every Wednesday and enjoy an array of activities in the outdoors.
For those looking to try something new, pickleball may be just the thing. For those wondering, this racket sport is a mixture of badminton, tennis and ping-pong. It is played on a court about the size of a badminton court with a paddle and a perforated ball. Scoring points is vaguely similar to ping-pong, but newcomers should read up on how to play. The Brisbane Pickleball group hosts social sessions throughout the week, making it easy for anyone to join.
►Areas and suburbs in Sydney provides an overview of the city's places to live
"The quality of life here is outstanding. There is so much space, the weather means we can be outdoors whenever we like, and it feels less chaotic. In the UK, our kids were scared of water but now they adore it and our boys have just completed their first season at the local surf club." Read more about the lifestyle in Brisbane with British expat Karen.
Are you an expat living in Brisbane?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Brisbane. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
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