Brisbane is the capital of Queensland. This up-and-coming city is a master class in urban planning and architecture. It seems like the entire city was built last year because everything is put together so well and balanced. More than a party and fun scene, the city offers a more relaxed, family atmosphere. It is a great city if you are traveling with family. Most of the main attractions are perfectly situated one next to the other along the river. South bank Parklands and the museum cultural center are definitely the highlights of this subtropical, modern city.
Gay City Guide
Brisbane Gay Parade September 17, 2017
Brisbane is not a gay destination, but don’t get me wrong, that does not mean you cannot find fun. The offering is very limited, with only two or three gay spots and a couple of gay friendly places. The few places they have are really fun! It’s a small city to begin with, and most of Australian gay boys move to Melbourne and Sydney as soon as they turn 18. Remember that Australia has a deficit of people…imagine how hard it can be for Brissy boys here. So come and pay them a visit.
When I got on Grindr to meet someone who could point me to a place to go, I got over 20 messages in the first minute…not because I was the most attractive, but because I was the new boy. When pretty much everyone knows who each other is on the dating apps, well, you know that the situation is tight. It is a great city to move to with your husband and raise your kids, though; first-world, high-quality living. Here goes my top night out spots:
There are none :/
Open 7 days a week, this place is the refuge for the community here. Thanks to the universe they have a place available for them that is open everyday. It gets busy on Friday and Saturday nights. It is the longest-running dance club, and it features five floors, seven bars, guest DJs, and drag shows. Every night they have a theme or something going on, so visit their website to make sure what’s on.
Location: 677 Ann St, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006
Brisbane’s most popular party every Sunday night. This place is actually pretty awesome, it’s a two floor space with a main dance floor on the bottom floor, and it has one of the best sound and light systems of any gay bar in Australia. It’s lots of fun, and because there aren’t many options around it has become a sort of religious act of the queer scene to come to this party and meet and greet with friends every week. If visiting the city, make sure you are here for a Sunday Fluffy fun night!
Location: 8 McLachlan St, Fortitude Valley, QLD 4006
The city’s famous cruise club. Open 7 days a week, starting at noon you will find the most interesting and exciting things of the city taking place here. They also have fun, themed dance parties almost every Saturday where the crowd is more relaxed and invested in dancing and having fun. Visit their website to see what party comes next.
Location: 29 McLachlan St, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006
Monthly party at Wickham bar. Their goal is to inject some quality sounds and entertainment into the Brisbane Gay Clubbing Circuit. Spice things up a bit when going out in the city, it can get a bit monotonous. Check out their Facebook page for upcoming parties.
Location: 27 Warner St, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006
Alternative Bar recommendations
In the day time, the Bowler Bar is hard to recognize by the naked eye. When night falls, this hole in the wall becomes an entrance to an exclusive basement cool escape. Located underneath the Tempo Hotel, The Bowler Bar is a small and secluded underground bar with limited lighting, artistic graffiti, and furry walls. They get decent international house artists and play usually deep house. Best night to go is on Saturdays, and although mainly straight, you will see cool queer boys hanging around.
Location: 388 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley, QLD
The most chic and fancy night-out place in Brisbane. This award-winning cocktail lounge venue, located in the heart of the Fortitude Valley, gives you way more than any typical straight bar out there. It’s one of the prettiest, coolest venues with a good mix of world-class local, national, and international DJs. For me, it is one of the best places in town to dance all night because of all the options it offers. If you’re in the mood to just chill, you can go cuddle on the couches in their private lounges, or if you need a break from the music you can grab a table in their beer garden.
Location: 680 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley Brisbane, QLD 4006
Top 3 Hotels
Located in the fashionable suburb of New Farm, Spicers Balfour Hotel is an award-winning boutique hotel just 7 minutes from the Brisbane city centre. This iconic Queenslander offers stylish interiors. All rooms include gourmet breakfast, parking and WiFi.
The luxurious rooms at Balfour Spicers include a flat-screen TV, DVD players, and a Nespresso coffee machine. Some suites offer 1940’s style art-deco style décor with a separate lounge area.
Spicers Balfour Hotel rooftop bar serves cocktails and overlooks the city and Story Bridge. The Balfour Kitchen is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It offers a modern Australian menu with European flair, and you can enjoy your meal inside or in the intimate courtyard. There is a private dining room, and a larger function room, available for celebrations or business events. Best Rate 300 AUD
One of the best sellers Hotels in Brisbane and my personal favorite. This boutique hotel in the heart of the city center has been elegantly refurbished and is set in a 1920’s era building. This hotel with their an on-site restaurant and bar is the definition of charm and class.
A short 5 minutes walk from Queen Street Mall this hotels provides one of the best locations in the city. Best Rate 200 AUD
Not as expensive as most of the luxury hotels in the city but as high quality as the others. Number 12 B&B is a poem of a place. It’s charm and classic decour will make you feel like you’re staying in the house of a rich relative. Waking up with the smell of crispy bacon and fried eggs every morning this is one of the most unique hotels experience in the city. Just a 8 minutes drive from Fortitude Valley this location is great for those who wants to explore the city nightlife and restaurant scene still being in a good distance inside a tranquil neighborhood. Best Rate 160 AUD
Top 3 Restaurants
The awards speak for themselves. Urbane was voted Number 24 Australian Gourmet traveler top 100 restaurant in Australia and number 1 in Queensland. This upscale experience will be a total treat. It is not open very often and getting into can be hard so try to plan accordingly. Argentinian chef Alejandro Cancino really brings a unique experience with a menu that cannot be labelled by a country or style. They use multiple techniques, whether modern or traditional, French or Japanese and with products well known in Australia and some not so well known. Most of their products come from local farmers and they grow their own herbs and have installed a beehive on the roof of the restaurant, creating their our own honey.
Located inside the Museum of contemporary art this place is a masterpiece of its own. It is really exiting that one of the best restaurants of the city is inside one of the best museums of the country. Take a day to visit both. Sadly chef Josue Lopez piece of art is only open on Fridays so make sure to make a reservation and don’t miss out this unique culinary experiences that mixes the diverse flavors and fusions that characterize the Australian cuisine.
The view is as good as the food. Located just in front of the river in the South bank district close to the Goma Museum this modern mediterranean jewel will not disappoint you. The Stokehouse Q emerged from the very heartbeat of Melbourne dining culture and is a must if you are visiting the city.
Starting at $25 AUD and going up to $50 AUD a night, you can find really cheap options here. My recommendation is to stay at Bunk hostel in Fortitude Valley. All the gay attractions, galleries, cafes, best nightlife, and restaurants of the city are near this place. A private room will range from around $90-120 AUD. Most hostels include linens and WiFi in the price, and many offer free breakfast. But BUNK was voted Best hostel in Australia 2016 by backpackers at the Golden backpack awards 2016!!! So yeah, just stay here.
Most hotels here are expensive and the cheap ones are not worth the money. You will be better off staying in a hostel or on a nice Airbnb, where you can get a whole apartment starting at $90 AUD. What $120 AUD per night can get you here is pretty sad, and then a room in a 3-star hotel is about $180-240 AUD a night. I recommend getting an Airbnb place with a nice view of the the river and the city.
Restaurants are truly expensive here, as any other place in Australia, expect to pay around $25-40 AUD for most sit down restaurant meals. Fast foods and Asian cuisine can be found for $12-15 AUD. If you are on a budget, your best option is to cook your own meals and get protein bars. I recommend Coles supermarket. They have the best prices and a week of groceries can cost you $60-90 AUD.
Brisbane city center is incredible small. Most of the tourist attractions are in the walk-able south river park. If you stay in any hostel near the city center you will barely need to use transportation at all. I never did. A single public transit ticket costs $4 AUD.
Top Things to do
Visit The Koalas
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the world’s first, and largest, koala sanctuary in the world. Brisbane’s main attraction brings animal lovers from all over the world. In here you can also run around and play with Kangaroos, hold native snakes, and see a wide variety of Australia’s wild life: wombats, echidnas, tasmanian devils, and dingoes, just to mention a few. It opens everyday from 9am-5pm and regular cost is $33 AUD, it can go up if you want to hold and cuddle with one of their koalas.
Walk around South Bank Parkland
South Bank area has the most pleasant atmosphere to be found in Brisbane. It has the best that the city has to offer in one single place: overlooks the Brisbane River, the Cultural Centre is located at one of its ends, the large Wheel of Brisbane, and lots of grassy and shaded areas. This place has a modern and dynamic design, extremely well-put together, and lined with trendy cafes, restaurants, and surrounding parks. They even have an artificial beach! Walking along this park was my favorite thing to do at Brisbane.
See the sunrise from above
Mt Coot-tha is an observatory on top of a hill that offers beautiful, panoramic views of the city and Moreton Bay. I say this from almost every place along the east coast of Australia, but their sunrises are like no other sunrises I have witnessed in the world. I don’t know if it is the vastness of their sky and their lands, but a sunrise in Australia is a high definition, 4K, out of this world experience, and Sunrises in Brisbane are not an exception.
Wander around the Botanical Gardens
In the northern part of the city, in front of the river, the Botanical Gardens offer a good place to relax and enjoy a nice afternoon after walking around the city. Not as impressive or vast as the ones in Sydney or Melbourne, but still a highlight of the city.
Consume some art at the Cultural Center
Incredible design with a yearly calendar full of events and special exhibitions, this is Brisbane’s cultural heart. Right at the end of South Bank, it includes the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art. The Queensland Museum is a good option if you want to learn about the history of the area and the development of the city. For opera, ballet, or theater, visit the Queensland Performing Arts Center.
Take a day trip to Moreton Island
Like Fraser Island, this one has a shipwreck and whale watching tours as well. It is a great option for people that don’t have the money or time to invest in the big commitment that can be exploring Fraser island or the Great Barrier Reef. It offers one of the best sea life and snorkeling experiences outside the Great Barrier area. Kayak trips and scuba diving are two of the favorite activities around the island.
Visit one of the beach towns nearby
If you have extra time on your hands and run out of things to do in Brisbane, take a bus or train to the Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast and enjoy their beautiful white sand beaches, both are just 30-40 minutes away! Or even get down to my favorite surfer town Byron Bay, a 2 hour trip that will definitely be worth it.