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12 Best Short Trips from Brisbane

12 Best Short Trips from Brisbane

The Queen City already has loads to offer as it is, with spectacular views, award-winning restaurants, lamington cakes, great live music, and much more. 

But if you want to explore further, there are lots of destinations worth visiting which are just a quick drive away! 

See the sights, bask in the sun, sip, savor, swim, or surf – check out our recommendations of the best short trips for a day trip or a weekend getaway near Brisbane! 

1. Bribie Island

1. Bribie Island
The Pumicestone Passage on Bribie Island / Image Source: Queensland Government (Darren Jew)
ActivitiesCamping, Picnic, Fishing, Hiking, Surfing, Swimming, Jet skiing, Paddleboarding, Tours, etc. 
LocationMoreton Bay Region, Queensland
Travel TimeApprox. 1.5 hours from Brisbane via car

Bribie Island is the perfect destination for a day trip or a quick getaway with family and friends with beautiful sceneries and lots of activities for everyone!

It’s the only island that’s accessible via land travel from Brisbane since there’s a bridge connecting it to the mainland. So it’s pretty easy to get there which is approximately a 1 and half hour drive from the city. 

If you’re making a quick day trip, we suggest a picnic under a canopy of trees, or just hang out by the beach, surf, explore its many national parks, and more!

Image Source Queensland Government
Image Source: Queensland Government

Even better, the Pumicestone Passage, a protected marine area, can be found in Bribie Island, which is a perfect place to discover a variety of marine life. We had a great time taking a tour of the passage and loved learning more about its diverse ecosystem! 

The Bribie Island National Park is also home to Australian wildlife including kangaroos, kookaburras, goannas, emus, and a variety of birds from Kakadu. 

If you’re in the mood for adventure, we suggest trying several activities such as jet skiing, paddleboarding, fishing, and more! 

You’ll never run out of things to do on Bribie Island! Whether you just want to relax amidst nature, explore, or quench your thirst for adventure, Bribie Island definitely has something to offer! 

Traveller’s Tip: The best way to explore Bribie Island is by taking a 4 x 4 vehicle! So if you own a 4WD, we suggest you bring it to the island as it’s another great way to see the sights, and you can even find your own secret spot by the beach!
If you don’t have your own 4WD vehicle, don’t worry as there are 4WD tours available that you can also pair with other water activities!  

2. Glass House Mountains

2. Glass House Mountains
Image Source: Tourism and Events Queensland (Maxime Coquard)
ActivitiesHiking, Walking, Camping, Rock Climbing, Abseiling, Trail Running, Mountain Bike, Picnic, etc. 
LocationSunshine Coast
Travel TimeApprox. 1 hour north of Brisbane

What we love about the Glass House Mountains is that it’s a great destination for beginner and experienced climbers – an ideal place for adventurous spirits! 

It features a dramatic landscape of craggy peaks (12 in total) and sprawling bushlands and fields. It’s really fascinating to know that its formation resulted from volcanic activity around 27 million years ago!

The peaks of the Glass House Mountains range from 100 to over 500 meters with varying trail grades. While not all of the peaks are ideal for climbing, there are trails for casual strollers, as well as more challenging ones for experienced climbers. 

On our trip there, we were able to traverse the Tibrogargan Circuit which is a walking track that’s great for families. The hike is 4.1 kilometers and will take around an hour and 30 minutes to complete, so it’s a perfect option for a beginner-friendly day climb! 

View of the Glass House Mountains from Bribie Island Image Source Queensland Government (Ben Blanche)
View of the Glass House Mountains from Bribie Island / Image Source: Queensland Government (Ben Blanche)

We also found other trails that are ideal for most fitness levels such as Mt. Ngungun Summit Walk and Mt. Beerwah Walk (we’ll climb them another day!). 

We also like that there are shared trails which can be used by hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers. They also have picnic areas, campgrounds, and roped sports such as rock climbing and abseiling. 

And the best part is, it’s only an hour away from Brisbane! So it’s definitely a perfect destination if you want a quick escape from the city!

Traveller’s Tip: If you’re eager to climb any of the Glass House Mountain peaks or trails, always check weather forecasts before your trip. But generally, the best months to go would be from May to August. 

3. Caloundra

3. Caloundra
Image Source: Caloundra Sunshine Coast Facebook Page
ActivitiesSwimming, Walking, Playground, Surfing, Fishing, Barbecue, Watersports, etc. 
LocationSunshine Coast
Travel TimeApprox. 1 hour 20 mins north of Brisbane

The coastal town, Caloundra, sits on the southernmost end of the Sunshine Coast – and we’d say, this is where the fun in the Sun begins!  

Caloundra offers a lot of activities for the family and kids of all ages, starting off with its most popular Kings Beach that has a playground and barbecue facilities. We love that it’s a great place to take the kids to swim and play outdoors!

For those who’d like to take a long scenic walk, the Caloundra Coastal Walk provides a 25-kilometer pathway from Golden Beach to Mooloolaba. We think this is just perfect for early morning walks or afternoon strolls before sunset. 

Image Source Caloundra Sunshine Coast Facebook Page
Image Source: Caloundra Sunshine Coast Facebook Page

If you’re looking for more activities to enjoy with the kids, the Australia Zoo is also just a 20-minute drive away from the town, as well as Aussie World and the Big Kart Track!

Meanwhile, 10 minutes away is Currimundi Lake with its golden sand and calm waters. The whole family can spend the day swimming, kayaking, fishing, or paddle boarding, and then enjoy a hearty meal at one of the nearby restaurants. 

Now that sounds like a perfect family day, don’t you think? 

Traveller’s Tip: If you like festivals, then Caloundra would definitely be right up your alley. The beach town is known for hosting various festivals all year round, so you can schedule your visit around its colorful festivities. 
Some of its most popular festivals are the Caloundra Music Festival and Luminate Festival. 

4. Mooloolaba

4. Mooloolaba
Image Source: Mooloolaba Beach Facebook Page
ActivitiesSwimming, Tours, Shopping, Dining, Walking, Jogging, Biking, etc. 
LocationSunshine Coast
Travel TimeApprox. 1 hour north of Brisbane

Mooloolaba is definitely one of Sunshine Coast’s gems that’s worth visiting! It’s been voted one of the best beaches in Australia, and we can say that you can surely find your “sunshine moment” here! 

We think this is one of the best places to go if you want a relaxing day at the beach just basking in the sun and getting that sun-kissed tan! It’s just within an hour’s drive from Brisbane, so we love that this slice of paradise is just a quick road trip away!   

Image Source Mooloolaba Beach Facebook Page
Image Source: Mooloolaba Beach Facebook Page

Beyond its beautiful coastline, it’s great that there’s even more places to explore! Within the town, you can find SEA Life, an aquarium where you can see a variety of sea creatures which the kids would surely enjoy! 

We also had a blast with their tours where you can learn more about the region’s indigenous culture, and even swim with turtles and whales! 

A lot of shopping and dining destinations also line Mooloolaba’s Esplanade. So it’s awesome that you can have everything you need and more for your much-needed Sunshine escape! 

Traveller’s Tip: If you’re looking to just chill by the beach at Mooloolaba, the Main Beach is best for families while Alexandra Headland is most ideal for surfers. 
For our go-to restaurant and cafe at Mooloolaba, we recommend the Spice Bar and The Velo Project

5. Noosa 

5. Noosa
Image Source: Visit Noosa Facebook Page
ActivitiesSwimming, Surfing, Watersports, Tours, Hiking, Walking, etc. 
LocationSunshine Coast
Travel TimeApprox. 90 minutes north of Brisbane

Further up the Sunshine Coast, the pace goes a little bit slower – which is perfect especially if you want a breather. Noosa is known to be a laid-back surf town, but it’s also bejeweled with numerous treasures just waiting to be explored!

We were also thrilled to find out that it’s even considered a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, so exploring the Noosa National Park is definitely a must! 

The Noosa Everglades can also be found here which you can explore via kayak or an eco-cruise. There are only two everglades that can be found in the whole world (the other is in Florida), so we can say that this was quite a rare experience!

The Noosa Everglades Image Source
The Noosa Everglades / Image Source:

What also sets it apart from other beach towns is that it’s free of high-rise buildings along its coastline. Instead, you can see lush greenery lining its shores, which was a really refreshing sight. 

After all the frolicking and exploring in Noosa’s beaches and hinterlands, we headed to Hastings Street and we love that it has a myriad of shopping and dining options! 

To conclude, if there’s a place where you can stay for a few days, Noosa should definitely be on the top of your list! 

Traveller’s Tip: So we learned that there are only two everglades in the world, right? But the Noosa Everglades is more suitable for kayaking! 
This is because the Florida Everglades is a habitat for alligators and crocodiles, while Noosa has none of those reptiles in its wetlands. So the Noosa Everglades is safe to explore via kayak and, if you’re up for it, you can even swim! 

6. Moreton Island

6. Moreton Island
Image Source: Moreton Island Adventures Facebook Page
ActivitiesSnorkeling, Sandboarding, 4WD, Fishing, Hiking, Tours, etc. 
LocationJump off point at 14 Howard Smith Dr., Port of Brisbane
Travel TimeApprox. 90 minutes via Micat Ferry 

Moreton Island is one of the most popular day trip destinations in Brisbane as there’s just a lot to see and do! 

We actually like to stay here the whole weekend or a few days as it has a wide range of camping, glamping, and resort accommodations to choose from.

If you only have time for a day trip, you can choose to try water activities like snorkeling with 15 sunken shipwrecks to explore surrounded by rich marine life. We also recommend surfing the sands on the world’s tallest coastal sand dune! 

Image Source Moreton Island Adventures Facebook Page
Image Source: Moreton Island Adventures Facebook Page
Image Source Tourism and Events Queensland
Image Source: Tourism and Events Queensland

Off-road enthusiasts would also go wild over 420 kilometers of sand and mud trails. Meanwhile, climbing Mt. Tempest will give you a 360-degree view of the island! 

And not to mention, its pristine beaches are considered to be some of the best in Queensland as well! 

Just hop on a Micat because there’s really a lot more to explore on Moreton Island! 

7. North Stradbroke Island

7. North Stradbroke Island
Image Source: North Stradbroke Island Facebook Page
ActivitiesSwimming, Diving, Historical Tour, Camping, Hiking, etc. 
LocationMoreton Bay
Travel Time15 mins boat ride from Brisbane’s bayside45 mins if you’re taking your car on the ferry 

North Stradbroke Island or Straddie, as locals call it, is an island off of Brisbane that can be accessed from Cleveland. It’s pretty convenient to get there via boat as it’s only a 15-minute ride if you’re leaving your car on the mainland. 

Straddie is traditionally known as Minjerribah to the Quandamooka people who are the original owners of the land. So we love that a visit here is a rich cultural experience as well while exploring its diverse wildlife and spectacular sceneries!

You can also find the Manta Bommie here which is known to be one of Australia’s best diving spots! 

The dive site attracts diverse species of marine life such as stingrays, eagle rays, leopard sharks, turtles, and more – but of course, its main attraction are manta rays! 

Different species of wildlife also roam the island such as kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas. 

Manta Bommie Dive Site Image Source
Manta Bommie Dive Site / Image Source:

Meanwhile, the Goompi Trail took us to a historical walk where we discovered more about the island’s indigenous culture. 

And if you explore further inland, you’ll find Brown Lake where you can get a soothing skin treatment from nature itself as the lake is surrounded by tea trees. 

Meanwhile, Blue Lake can be an area for peaceful meditation as it holds a spiritual significance to the Quandamooka people. And take note, swimming is not allowed. 

After your commune with nature, it’s great that there are plenty of spots to enjoy a good meal and a sundowner! 

Visiting Straddie is definitely a must and would surely be a unique and relaxing experience! 

Traveller’s Tip: North Stradbroke Island has three towns which are all worth visiting – Point Lookout, Dunwich, and Amity Point. If you’re staying a few days on Straddie, we recommend exploring each town as they all have something unique to offer.  
Point Lookout has the best beaches plus great shops, Dunwich is where you can find art and culture museums, and Amity Point has that laid-back island charm.

8. Tamborine Mountain

8. Tamborine Mountain
Image Source: Visit Tamborine Mountain Facebook Page
ActivitiesHiking, Horseback Riding, Picnic, Camping, Zipline, Skywalk, Tours, etc. 
LocationScenic Rim Region, Queensland
Travel TimeApprox. 1 hour south of Brisbane

Now let’s head down south of Brisbane to Tamborine Mountain situated in Queensland’s idyllic Scenic Rim region! 

This picturesque destination is only an hour away from the River City and it holds a rich history that’s cradled in breathtaking rainforests and national parks. 

But first, coffee – we got excited that they have the Tamborine Mountain Coffee Plantation where you can get your caffeine fix directly from its source! We found it best to come early and start your morning with a hearty breakfast and high quality coffee. 

Image Source Tamborine Mountain Coffee Plantation Facebook Page
Image Source: Tamborine Mountain Coffee Plantation Facebook Page

Plenty of activities are in store for everyone, too! We recommend taking a day trip to explore its trails that lead to beautiful waterfalls, or conquer heights on a zipline and zoom over the rainforest to take in the best views!

We also joined a Glow Worm Tour where we went underground to the glow worm cave and saw them light up like stars even during daytime!

There are local galleries to visit as well or you can take it slow at Witches Falls and sip some wine with cheese. 

Lastly, we suggest capping off the day by finding a spot on the Rotary Lookout to get a spectacular view of the sunset over the Scenic Rim! 

Tamborine Mountain is definitely a must-visit destination, so be sure to plan your next road trip here!  

Traveller’s Tip: Tamborine Mountain truly serves up the best views in Queensland and what better way to enjoy its stunning vistas than from a bird’s-eye view!
You can try these activities to soak in the breathtaking views of the Scenic Rim Region! 
Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk
Hot Air Ballooning Scenic Rim

9. Burleigh Heads

9. Burleigh Heads
Image Source: Flickr
ActivitiesSurfing, Swimming, Walking, Tours, Shopping, Dining, Picnics, etc. 
LocationGold Coast, Queensland
Travel TimeApprox. 1 hour south of Brisbane

Burleigh Heads is definitely a favorite among tourists that flock the Golden Coast beaches. Towering pine trees line its shores, while its surf breaks are popular among experienced surfers. 

We love that it’s a lively surf town brimming with great dining destinations, art and village markets, distillery, boutiques, playgrounds, and much more! 

Some of the best restaurants on the Gold Coast can be found here such as Burleigh Pavilion, Restaurant Labart, and Rick Shores. So it wasn’t difficult for us to find a good meal after spending the day on its golden shores. 

Image Source Queensland Government (Jess Rosewell)
Image Source: Queensland Government (Jess Rosewell)

Apart from the surf, Burleigh Heads National Park is another main attraction. This area is considered to be sacred to the First Nations People where we took a walk and explored its lush rainforest and stunning views of the Gold Coast. 

Meanwhile, there’s an elevated park known as “The Point” on Goodwin Terrace, which we found is a perfect spot for sunset picnics and hangouts. 

Burleigh Heads is not just a surfer’s playground, it’s a must-visit destination for everyone any time of the year! 

Traveller’s Tip: If you’re planning a quick day trip to Burleigh Heads from Brisbane, we suggest heading to North Burleigh Beach. This is the best spot to set up an umbrella and a beach blanket to soak in the Gold Coast sun!

10. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

10. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Image Source: Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary Facebook Page
ActivitiesDay Tour, Twilight Tour, Treetop Challenge, Bird Show, Cultural Shows, Playground, etc. 
Location28 Tomewin St, Currumbin QLD 4223
Travel TimeApprox. 1 hour south of Brisbane

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a perfect place to take the whole family any day of the week! We love that we can see native Australian wildlife up close in this heritage-listed zoological garden that’s been conserving and nurturing indigenous wildlife for 75 years!

Some of the animals that you can find in this sanctuary are lorikeets, kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, crocodiles, capybaras, tassie devils, and more! 

It’s great that there are plenty of activities as well such as the treetop challenge, bird shows, aboriginal culture shows, encounters and photographs, and trails! 

They also have the Wild Island Adventure Splash Zone for kids up to 12 years old where they can enjoy water jets, waterfalls, and streams. We love that it’s a whole playground where kids can play and explore! 

It’s also exciting to see the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary at night by joining their famous Twilight Tours! 

It’s an entirely different experience as we were able to see nocturnal species such as Tasmanian Devils, as well as enjoy a cultural light show and historical night tours. You can then cap off the twilight adventure with traditional bush tea. 

We definitely recommend the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary as it’s one of Gold Coast’s best family attractions and it’s worth exploring day or night! 

Traveller’s Tip: Visiting the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is definitely a must, not just to see the animals, but to immerse yourself into the culture of the Yugambeh people as well! You can learn all about the fascinating Dreamtime through stories, songs, and dance!

11. Springbrook National Park

11. Springbrook National Park
Image Source: Flickr
ActivitiesWalking, Hiking, Camping, Horse Riding, Picnic, Tours, etc. 
LocationOld School Rd, Springbrook QLD 4213
Travel TimeApprox. 1 hour 20 mins south of Brisbane

We really made it a point to include Springbrook National Park in our itinerary as it offers a truly unique experience. The land is home to some of the most ancient plant species which date back to over 100 million years, so it’s like walking into the prehistoric times! 

We also learned that Springbrook is one of the four national parks that form part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. 

Just a little background, the Gondwana Rainforests provide refuge to some of the world’s most ancient species of flora and fauna. And we could say that it’s even older than time itself!

Springbrook National Park from Canyon Lookout Image Source Wikimedia Commons
Springbrook National Park from Canyon Lookout / Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Before humans and dinosaurs, this ancient ecosystem existed and these national parks contain its last remnants. So it really goes without saying that visiting Springbrook National Park is truly a must! 

You can also add the other four heritage-listed national parks to your itinerary – Mount Barney, Lamington, and Main Range National Park, which can all be found in Queensland. 

This would be a natural history lesson that you’d surely be excited about, and it’s only over an hour’s drive from Brisbane! 

Traveller’s Tip: When visiting Springbrook National Park, pay close attention to park rules and regulations for everyone’s safety. 
Some areas such as Cave Creek in the Natural bridge section have parts that are restricted from visitor access. Swimming is also not allowed in the creek and penalties will apply. 

12. Byron Bay

12. Byron Bay
Cape Byron Lighthouse / Image Source: Flickr
ActivitiesSurfing, Walking, Hiking, Yoga, Kayaking, Skydiving, Scenic and Cultural Tours, Horseback Riding, Scuba Diving, Whale Watching, etc. 
LocationNew South Wales
Travel TimeApprox. 1 hour 50 mins south of Brisbane

Byron Bay is a destination that we could really spend a few days in with lots of things to do, places to see, and not to mention, some delicious food to enjoy! 

It’s a popular area for surfers with several beaches that have great surf breaks. You can take a walk and explore its different beaches or take cultural and scenic tours as well. 

We love that there are several national parks and nature reserves in Byron Bay that are also worth exploring. This includes the Arakwal National Park, Broken Head Nature Reserve, Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve, and Wollumbin National Park. 

Arakwal National Park Image Source
Arakwal National Park / Image Source:

Another thing that we love about this coastal town in New South Wales is that it offers a shopping and dining experience like no other! It has a vibrant community spirit, rich culture, and an interesting local art scene that’s truly worth checking out!

There’s also plenty of ways to explore Byron Bay – from land, water, and even the sky! You can hop on a kayak, ride on horseback, say hello to the whales, take surf lessons, go up high on a balloon, or even go skydiving – the possibilities are endless! 

One day is definitely not enough to explore Byron Bay, so why not make it an extended holiday? 

Traveller’s Tip: If you’re planning to visit Byron Bay, trust us when we say that a day is not enough! So we recommend staying at least three days to make the most out of the 2-hour trip from Brisbane! 
It’s worth the extended stay as there’s really a lot to see and do. From exploring its beaches and hinterlands, to taking a wellness retreat and the ultimate foodie experience – just take that much-needed vacay in Byron Bay! 
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