7 Best areas to stay in Brisbane on a short visit

Heading to the Queensland capital and not sure about the best areas to stay in Brisbane? Below is a rundown of some of the most popular spots, along with the pros and cons of each choice. We hope it helps you decide!

How to choose where to stay in Brisbane

The capital of Queensland, Brisbane is a city that is often skipped by visitors taking a trip around Australia. We believe you should definitely include a few days here in your itinerary to soak up authentic Australian life! It may not have the big sights of Sydney or the bustling streets of Melbourne, but it is the perfect spot to kick back, relax, and enjoy a couple of beers under the flaming Aussie sun.

Brisbane is also a major gateway to Queensland, welcoming visitors from across the world. Known for its multicultural atmosphere, each neighbourhood has something unique to offer. These are some of our favourite places to stay in Brisbane.

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Southbank

Just across the river from the CBD, and right next to the West End, Brisbane’s South Bank is a great catch-all destination for getting a taste of everything the city offers. With an eclectic dining and nightlife scene, South Bank is a great destination for all types of travellers, with transport to the rest of the city minutes away.

Southbank Beach Queensland
Southbank Beach is a big draw card

Why should you stay in South Bank?

Known as the cultural precinct with its art galleries and museums, and also home to the famous beach and parklands, South Bank has a lot to offer. It’s a great place for walkers with a morning stroll along the river, a lovely way to start your day.

As far as sites are concerned, staying in Southbank puts Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Queensland Museum, the Maritime Museum and the Performing Arts Centre on your doorstep. Snap a selfie with the famous Brisbane sign, take a swim at city beach or check out one of the dozen restaurants that line Southbank Parklands.

Local tip: Check out Boom Boom Room or Chu the Phat for some great Asian dining.

What should you consider?

South Bank is an excellent neighbourhood for visitors wanting a taste of the city, so we can’t really fault it. You are walking distance to the city’s best attractions and restaurants, including the popular Fish Lane. There are not a lot of budget options in Southbank, but if you’re looking to splurge a little, it’s totally worth it.

Southbank transport options

South Bank train station connects to the CBD, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane Airport, and many suburban areas. Join the city cat at South Bank ferry wharf for all points along the river or if you are happy walking, there are three bridges crossing the river for easy strolling into town.

Brisbane River walk from NewFarm
Southbank Boardwalk

Our Recommendations for where to stay in Southbank

  • Mantra South Bank – studios and apartments with a kitchen or kitchenette, the property offers an outdoor heated pool, a spa pool and a fitness centre.
  • Rydges South Bank – with views over Brisbane River, Mount Cootha or the cosmopolitan West End, Rydges has 24 hour room service and some balcony rooms
  • Emporium Hotel South Bank – the infinity pool at Emporium is one of the city’s best and most rooms have superb river views.
  • Courtyard by Marriott Brisbane South Bank – well sized rooms and indoor pool.

Fortitude Valley

Just north of the CBD, Fortitude Valley is a major shopping destination in Brisbane – especially for those looking for alternative vendors and local boutiques. It’s also home to Chinatown, which boasts some delicious restaurants.

Looking out over James Street in Fortitude Valley from The Calile Hotel with Hellenika restaurant around the pool
Looking out over James Street in Fortitude Valley from The Calile Hotel with Hellenika restaurant around the pool

Why should you stay in Fortitude Valley?

Shopping aside, Fortitude Valley is another fantastic area for nightlife. This is where you’ll discover some of the city’s hottest nightclubs and most exciting DJ sets. There are also some great alternative venues for a more grungy atmosphere.

What should you consider?

Fortitude Valley is certainly an eclectic neighbourhood, but it can feel a little all over the place. Chinatown is budget-friendly, but you’ll need to research your accommodation for some extra peace of mind. If you want a weekend of indulgence and high end shopping, look no further.

Our recommendations in Fortitude Valley

  • Ovolo The Valley – Winner of QHA 2019, Best Deluxe Hotels Award with a rooftop pool and 24 hour room service
  • The Constance Fortitude Valley Brisbane’s boutique street art hotel is quirky with tons of colour and rooftop bar (Dirty Sultan)
  • Calile Hotel – Stylish property perfect for a splurge with a lovely bar and on site Greek restaurant. Grab a cabana by the pool or book a wellness session at the spa.

Related: Check out our thoughts on where to stay when you visit the Great Barrier Reef

Central Business District

In the heart of the city, the CBD is easily the best neighbourhood for navigating Brisbane’s main attractions, if you are in town to see the sites, this is a brilliant choice. The largest shopping malls in town are in the Central Business District, as well as some impressive viewpoints of the city.

Brisbane CBD City Hall
Brisbane City Hall in the CBD

Why should you stay in the Central Business District?

The Central Business District is the historic starting point of Brisbane, so this is where you’ll discover some great museums and monuments. It’s also packed with fine dining restaurants that serve the city’s business crowd. You can even walk to many of the sites, including the river, from this location which can save on transport and time.

Local tip: Book a Brisbane Clock Tower Tour – this free 15 minute tour lets you see the city from above and you get to ride in an old cage elevator!

What should you consider?

There are lots of hotels in the CBD that service business travellers who usually disappear on the weekends. Many properties offer reduced rates at these times. We recently stayed in a modern a 2 bedroom apartment for $80 a night. You can walk to most of the city’s sights easily and there are plenty of bars and restaurants on your doorstep.

  • Arise Brisbane Skytower – 1, 2 and 3-bedroom apartments just a 2 minute to from the Botanic Gardens. Indoor pool and great gym. I recently stayed here and would happily stay again.
  • Oaks Brisbane – 1-2-bedroom apartments opposite Treasury Casino with excellent views and a rooftop pool.
  • Ibis Styles – Colourful budget digs right in the centre of town. King, queen and twin rooms, some with river views.

Kangaroo Point

Kangaroo Point is on the other side of the Story Bridge from Fortitude Valley and is one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods in the city. This makes it an excellent destination for live music, with a constantly changing roster of acts performing at the various bars.

Kangaroo Points suburb of Brisbane from the air, Story Bridge
Kangaroo Point

Why should you stay in Kangaroo Point?

Despite the high population, there are plenty of gorgeous green spaces in Kangaroo Point. These come with some of the best city-centre views; taking a walk along the bridge is a must-do for getting the ultimate Instagram shot! The Storey Bridge Hotel is a great spot for a drink

What should you consider?

It can take some time to get from Kangaroo Point to the Central Business District and South Bank; if you want to hit all the main attractions, it can be quite inconvenient. Kangaroo Point is definitely more for the live-like-a-local crowd.

Our Recommendations In Kangaroo Point

New Farm

New Farm isn’t included in many guidebooks, but it is undoubtedly a firm favourite with locals in Brisbane. This is the perfect spot in the city for enjoying some outdoor activities, such as hiking and cycling around the vast green spaces.

The Powerhouse from New Farm Park
The Powerhouse from New Farm Park

Why should you stay in New Farm?

New Farm Park is the real crowning jewel of this neighbourhood, with plenty of picnics and barbecue spots and gorgeous views of the city centre. It’s also home to The Powerhouse, Brisbane’s premier entertainment venue, great upmarket shopping destinations, and fabulous restaurants.

What should you consider?

New Farm is known as an upmarket destination, so it’s definitely a little on the pricey side. It is also further from the city centre than other neighbourhoods mentioned in this guide. If you are staying a week or longer, this is an area to consider to soak up local Brissy life.

Our Recommendations In New Farm

  • Spicers Balfour Hotel – Stylish boutique hotel with excellent service and a great onsite restaurant. We stayed recently and loved it.
  • Heal House– 3 suite guest house in a classic Queenslander

Newstead

Just north of New Farm, Newstead attracts a younger crowd, making it an excellent choice for young couples heading to the city! Packed with craft breweries, innovative restaurants, and laid-back cafes, this is as close as Brisbane gets to a hipster neighbourhood.

Why should you stay in Newstead?

Newstead truly epitomises the laid-back attitude Australians are known for. If you have just arrived in the country, this is the perfect spot to chill out for a few days to get over the jetlag.

What should you consider?

Newstead is the furthest destination from the city centre in this guide, so if you want to hit the main attractions, it might not be the best spot. While there are some good live music venues, the nightlife is more relaxed – not ideal if you want to party the night away.

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