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Brisbane’s Urban Oasis An Ultimate Guide to South Bank

Brisbane’s Urban Oasis: An Ultimate Guide to South Bank

Visiting Brisbane for the first time? The city’s year-round sunshine is best savored soaking up some Vitamin D in the Queensland capital’s urban oasis in South Bank

This inner-city paradise is a microcosm of the Australian lifestyle – sprawling greenery, a beach in the city, a vibrant art and culture scene, and much more! 

All these are just one quick CityCat ferry ride away from the Brisbane center. So what are you waiting for? Get your sunglasses and flip-flops ready, as we take you to our ultimate guide to South Bank, Brisbane! 

A Brief History on South Bank

A Brief History on South Bank

World Expo 88 in Brisbane / Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

You’re probably wondering, what’s so special about South Bank in Brisbane? Well, here’s a fun fact – did you know that it used to be Brisbane’s main business district back in the 1840s to 1850s? 

But the Great Flood of 1893 forced the move to make the north side of the river into the city’s central business district, as  we know it today. 

Fast forward to 1984, the South Bank precinct became the venue of the World Expo 88, which took place from April to October 1988. 

Expo 88 was a specialized international expo with the theme “Leisure in the Age of Technology.” The event was attended by 18 million visitors throughout its duration. 

After World Expo 88, the land where the event took place was cleared and was eventually turned into a public park. The South Bank Parklands first opened to the public on  June 10 1992. 

To commemorate Expo 88’s 20th anniversary, the Wheel of Brisbane, a 60-meter high ferris wheel, was installed in the South Bank Parklands on August 31 2008.  

Best Time to Go

Best Time to Go

Image Source: Pexels

The best time to go to Brisbane’s South Bank is any time, really, as the city enjoys sunny days all-year round! But if you wish to see the flowers in full bloom with comfortable temperatures (from 17 to 25 °C), then we recommend visiting in spring! 

Springtime in Brisbane is from September to November and has less rain compared to its summer months. 

During this season, you’ll also get to catch one of the city’s biggest events, the Brisbane Festival, which takes place every September in the South Bank Parklands. The festival features a host of multi-arts shows that can mostly be enjoyed for free. 

The Good Food & Wine Show, Queensland’s biggest food festival, also happens in spring every October at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in South Bank. 

The event showcases the city’s best culinarians and numerous stalls offering Queensland’s best wine and produce. 

How to Get Around

How to Get Around

Brisbane CityCat Ferry / Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

To get to South Bank, you can ride a CityCat ferry for a scenic cruise down the river and hop off at the South Bank ferry terminal. From there, the best way to get around is to walk!

What better way to explore this vibrant precinct than taking a stroll by the riverbank and wandering amidst its pristine parklands? 

Alternatively, you can also ride a bus that can take you to the precinct’s main attractions. You can hop on one of the South Brisbane Loop buses, too, that you can ride for free, and travel along Grey Street, Vulture Street, Montague Road, and Tribune Street. 

South Bank can also be conveniently accessed by train, with two stations located on Grey Street. You can hop off the South Bank Station if you’re heading to the Parklands, Queensland Maritime Museum, Goodwill Bridge, or Little Stanley precinct. 

Meanwhile, the South Brisbane Station gives you easy access to the precinct’s cultural heart. This includes the Queensland Museum, the Queensland Art Gallery, and the Queensland Performing Arts Center. 

To plan your journey, you can check out the TransLink website

Things to See and Do

Apart from the CBD, South Bank is another must-visit Brisbane destination with its breathtaking sceneries, museums, a man-made beach, delectable dines, and more! 

Here are some of the best things to see and do in Brisbane’s premier lifestyle and cultural precinct!

The heart of this urban oasis, South Bank Parklands, is your own little nature retreat in the city! No matter the season, it’s always a good idea to stroll along its trails and pathways, which are abundant with native flora and leafy plants. 

You can take a tranquil walk across this 17-hectare riverfront land, with lots of beautiful surprises along the way! Here you can find the famous Streets Beach, picnic and barbecue facilities, al fresco dining, and panoramic views of the city skyline. 

Another highlight is the Arbour Walkway, which you can’t dare miss! It’s a kilometer long architectural installation filled with blossoming bougainvilleas that would make your walks in the park even more memorable!  

We really weren’t lying when we told you that the South Bank really captures the Australian lifestyle. Who else has a man-made beach in the city? 

If you want to get a taste of what Queensland’s all about, you don’t have to go far, as Streets Beach is just right by the river! The whole family will get to enjoy the sun, the crystal blue waters, the lush surroundings, and a spectacular view of the cityscape! 

It’s where nature seamlessly blends with modern amenities. Kids can also enjoy interactive water play areas – the Boat Pool and Aquativity! 

There’s lots of sights to see and things to do outdoors in South Bank, but activities and new discoveries also abound within the iconic cultural precinct. 

South Bank is home to a number of museums such as the Queensland Museum where you’ll get to discover the region’s natural history and cultural heritage. 

For art enthusiasts, the Queensland Art Gallery is a must-visit along with the Gallery of Modern Art. You can also catch exhibits and performances at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre

You can also find the Queensland Maritime Museum within the precinct where you can learn about the state’s maritime history and discover different historic vessels. 

Soaring 60 meters high is the Wheel of Brisbane, the impressive ferris wheel that offers breathtaking views of the city and surrounding areas. 

The Wheel of Brisbane has become a prominent landmark as well as a distinct addition to the stunning city skyline. 

Whether it’s daytime or nighttime, visitors can enjoy a comfortable ride with its enclosed, air-conditioned capsules. It’s definitely a must-do if you wish to view the dynamic Australian city from a unique perspective. 

Nothing says, “I’ve been to Brisbane!” more than striking a pose by the Brisbane sign with the River City in the background! It’s the perfect photo to post on your socials and to send to your family!

But did you know that it was originally going to be just a temporary installation? It was designed and built for the G20 Leaders’ Summit in 2014, an event attended by former US President Barack Obama, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

The original sign was built by volunteers and lasted for four months. Due to popular demand, the sign became a permanent landmark and was replaced by a more durable version that could withstand any weather condition. 

Your trip to South Bank wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of the most sumptuous delights with a riverfront view, to boot! 

Explore the different cuisines being offered at South Bank’s River Quay waterfront restaurants. You can try some contemporary seafood dishes at River Quay Fish, savor some Italian grub at Otto, sip some cocktails at The Jetty, and much more! 

The precinct has a slew of restaurants, cafes, and bars to choose from that you can enjoy all day and night, from breakfast to post-dinner drinks! 

You can make the most out of your visit to the South Bank Parklands by booking a FREE guided tour conducted by our friendly volunteers! 

Through this tour, you can learn more about the rich history and culture of this picturesque pocket of green within the bustling city!

The tour will approximately be a 2.5-kilometer walk and will take around 90 minutes, available daily at 10am. You can head to the Visitor Information Center at Stanley Street Plaza or book online through this link

Where to Eat

Apart from the striking scenery, there’s definitely lots to savor in South Bank including food that will surely please your palate! Here’s some of the must-try restaurants, cafes, and bars in the vibrant cultural and lifestyle hub! 

After a day of exploring Brisbane’s urban oasis, a gastronomic feast awaits! You can choose from any of these restaurants that’ll definitely satisfy any craving!



Address: R3 Sidon Street, South Brisbane, QLD 4101

Contact: +61 7 3846 7784 

Hours: Monday & Tuesday, 5 – 9pm; Wednesday – Sunday, 12 – 2:30pm, 5 – 9pm

Pricing: $$ – $$$

Care for an Italian riverside feast? Popolo is one of Brisbane’s favorites which is a perfect spot for intimate gatherings with friends or special occasions with a touch of cozy elegance. 

You can begin your feast with Arancini Pizzaiola or some burrata with smoked prosciutto. For the pasta, we recommend their Paccheri and Spaghetti di Gragnano. 

They also have a selection of pizzas, hearty main dishes, and desserts for a full-course meal, and then you can wash it all down with a glass of fine wine. Don’t forget to book a riverfront table! 

Otto Osteria


Address: Sidon Street, South Bank, South Brisbane QLD 4101

Contact: +61 7 3835 2888

Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 12 – 8:45pm

Pricing: $$$

Otto Osteria is another riverside restaurant serving authentic Italian dishes, but with a contemporary twist! Head Chef Will Cowper crafted their menu with an emphasis on seasonality and freshness, making use of high-quality local ingredients. 

Wine enthusiasts will adore their wine selection, which captures an array of Italian varietals and regions. 

From Wednesday to Sunday, they offer Lobster and Vino Blanco from 12 – 5pm. While you get to indulge in a “Sunday Summer Series” featuring a brunch menu and free-flowing drinks, along with live music every Sunday at 11am. 

The Jetty


Address: River Quay, Shop/4 Sidon St, South Brisbane QLD 4101

Contact: +61 7 3844 8838

Hours: Monday – Thursday, 11:30am – 9pm; Friday – Sunday, 7:30am – 9pm

Pricing: $$ – $$$

The Jetty, nestled on the River Quay, is a perfect spot to take in uninterrupted views of the river while enjoying a scrumptious meal paired with cocktails. 

They offer modern Australian cuisine and we recommend getting their Moreton Bay Bug Sliders for casual bites or their 24-hr Slow-Cooked Lamb Rump for a hearty feast! 

What’s more, you can even get a lavish breakfast or lunch spread when you order a picnic hamper! And of course, they’ll save you a spot, riverfront and center, complete with a floor table and picnic rug!  

River Quay Fish


Address: 3 Sidon St, South Brisbane QLD 4101

Contact: +61 426 203 501

Hours: Monday – Thursday, 10:30am – 9pm; Friday, 9:30am – 9pm; Saturday, 7:30am – 10pm; Sunday, 7:30am – 9pm

Pricing: $$ – $$$

Calling all seafood lovers! If you’re looking for a great seafood dining experience in Brisbane, River Quay Fish is one of the best places to try! 

You can start off with a halloumi and avocado salad and choose from their mouth -watering array of seafood dishes. 

They have fish burgers, fish tacos, fresh prawns, platters, a selection of fresh seafood, and picnic hampers that you can enjoy while soaking up the gorgeous river views! 

You can also take up the offer of Bottomless Margaritas with a Pizza Margherita – it’s a match made in heaven, don’t you think? While their Weekday Lunch Specials give you a delectable drink and dine menu as well. 

Hey, brunch enthusiasts! Check out these cool cafes for the perfect coffee kick, tasty toasts, and healthy bowls! 

Denim Co.


Address: Shop/9A Little Stanley St, South Brisbane QLD 4101

Contact: [email protected] / +61 7 3844 0302

Hours: Monday – Sunday,  6am – 5pm

Pricing: $$

For your early morning caffeine fix, breakfast, brunch, lunch, or afternoon pick-me-up, Denim Co.’s got you covered! 

Obviously, breakfast and coffee are what we love most here, so you should definitely stop by for an awesome start to your day. 

The smashed avo and croissant benedict are our breakfast faves, while their Turkish sandwiches are our go-to for a hearty and healthy meal. 

Lost Bean


Address: 180 Grey St, South Brisbane QLD 4101

Contact: +61 430 925 975

Hours: Monday – Friday, 5:45am – 2:30pm; Saturday & Sunday, 6am – 2:30pm

Pricing: $

Looking for great food and coffee at a more affordable price? You’ll find Lost Bean along Grey Street, a charming little cafe that serves breakfast, lunch, and casual bites. 

A lot of people stumble upon this place because there’s usually a long queue outside, so it’s really no secret that the coffee is super good! It’s also where cyclists regularly stop by for breakfast and a caffeine boost. 

Mornings may be busy on most days, but that only means it’s really worth the try!

Coco Bliss


Address: 178 Grey St, South Brisbane QLD 4101 


Hours: Monday – Saturday, 6:30am – 2:30pm; Sunday, 7am – 2:30pm

Pricing: $$

“Healthy” has never looked and tasted this good! If you’re looking for some guilt-free indulgence, Coco Bliss serves up heaping bowls of goodness! 

Their acai bowls are must-tries, while you can also opt to choose from their selection of protein bowls which are all vegan and gluten-free. 

For those looking for something more savory, we recommend ordering one of their Nourishing Bowls. Our faves are the Falafel and Buddha Bowls. 

Looking for a perfect spot for some drinks, scrumptious bites, and maybe even live music? Step into one of these South Bank bars for that much-needed nightcap or daytime drinks!



Address: 30aa, Stanley St Plaza, South Brisbane QLD 4101 

Contact: +61 401 278 562

Hours: Monday – Thursday, 11am – 8:30pm; Friday, 11am – 11pm; Saturday, 10am – 12mn; Sunday, 10am – 10pm

Pricing: $$ – $$$

Southbeach is a fantastic spot to go for a casual drink at any time of the day or evening. You can even take the whole family with you as they also have a kids menu available. 

Their yummy appetizers will be a good start, such as their Szechuan Calamari or Guacamole Prawns. They also have a selection of burgers, salads, and appetizing entrees. 

As for their beverage menu, you’ll find a cheerful assortment of cocktails, mocktails, beer on tap, and wine. What’s more, they even have a Spritz Tree! This is a perfect choice when you’re having a casual drink with a group of friends. 

You can also catch live music every Friday to Sunday, while their famous Bottomless Brunch is every Sunday from 10am – 12nn! 

El Camino Cantina


Address: All Gas Building, 153 Stanley St, South Brisbane QLD 4101


Hours: Monday – Thursday, 12pm – 9pm; Friday & Saturday, 12pm – 12mn; Sunday, 12pm – 9pm

Pricing: $$ – $$$

If you like frozen margaritas, you should head to El Camino Cantina. This two-storey joint is a Tex-Mex cantina near Streets Beach, a marga mecca that comes alive at night and brings nothing but awesome vibes to South Bank! 

But if you’re not much of a frozen margarita fan, don’t worry, there’s surely something for you from their collection of over 100 beverages! 

Of course, you have to try something from their food menu first! You can pick from their selection of tacos, fajitas, burritos, nachos, and burrito bowls. 

In the mood to party? You can head upstairs to Hotel Diablo (entrance is free!) where you can listen and dance to amazing tunes and live DJs every Friday to Sunday from 6pm to midnight! 

Southbank Beer Garden


Address: 30ba Stanley St Plaza, South Brisbane QLD 4101

Contact: +61 408 973 096

Hours: Monday – Thursday, 11am – 8:30pm; Friday, 11am – 11pm; Saturday, 10am – 12mn; Sunday, 10am – 10pm

Pricing: $$ – $$$

Southbank Beer Garden is THE perfect spot for a drink by the river! It’s the city’s only waterfront beer garden which serves up great tropical vibes and nothing but good times! 

You can order some tasty grub such as their BG Classic 27 burger, one of their woodfire pizzas, beef cheek penne, or chicken schnitzel. They also have a kids menu for the little ones to enjoy. 

Of course, their beverage menu overflows with exciting choices from beers on tap, cocktails, wines, and spirits. 

If you’re curious about their events, you can check out what’s on here for updates on their live music performances, games, special deals, and even limited edition cocktails! 

Where to Shop

Apart from the popular Queen Street Mall in the Brisbane CBD, there are other places where you can get some retail therapy. South Bank has some interesting shopping destinations to discover, from weekend markets to a historic shopping precinct! 


Address: Little Stanley St, South Brisbane QLD 4101

Hours: Friday, 5 – 9pm; Saturday, 10am – 9pm; Sunday, 9am – 4pm

If you love going to weekend markets, you should definitely check out The Collective Markets in South Bank! It’s the only 3-day market in Brisbane, happening every Friday to Sunday on Little Stanley Street! 

This market showcases an eclectic mix of local crafts, collectibles, original art, vintage clothing, fashion trends, food and drinks, and much more! 

Here, locals as well as tourists come together to experience the diverse and dynamic community in Brisbane’s cultural heart. 


Address: 275 Grey St, South Brisbane QLD 4101 

Hours: Monday – Saturday, 7am – 9pm; Sunday, 9am – 6pm

The Southpoint Shopping Centre, located on the southern end of Grey Street, is great for casual shopping and dining. You can find fresh food, groceries, cafes, and fast food. 

It’s just a short walk away from the South Bank Parklands, so it’s easily accessible from the area’s top attractions. 

Those who book at the Emporium Hotel will have the convenience of having easy access to Southpoint Shopping Centre, as the hotel is located right beside it. 

In addition, the shopping center was built around a heritage-listed building called Collins Place, which was built in 1889. The structure was retained and now houses several restaurants. 


Address: 45 Mollison St, West End QLD 4101

Hours: Monday – Saturday, 7am – 10pm; Sunday, 9am – 10pm

The West Village Shopping Precinct is located in South Bank’s charming neighboring suburb, West End. The mall is even more charming as it’s set in a living heritage village where the historic Peters Ice Cream Factory stands since its construction in 1928. 

Today, visitors can enjoy a casual stroll within the heritage precinct that’s lined with shops, restaurants, cafes, as well as beauty and wellness boutiques. 

We particularly love the selection of restaurants here. Betty’s Burgers, Ippin Japanese Dining, and Yamas Greek + Drink are some of our faves!

Where to Stay

If you’re spending some time in Brisbane, South Bank should definitely be one of your top picks when booking your stay! Here’s some of our recommended hotels within the precinct! 


Address: 9 Glenelg St, South Brisbane QLD 4101  

Contact: +61 7 3364 0800

Pricing: $$ – $$$

Rydges South Bank is an ideal place to stay, whether you’re in town for business or leisure. The hotel is complete with all the basic amenities, such as a swimming pool, gym, free wi-fi, and a restaurant and bar. 

They have a variety of room types available, and you can also choose to book one of their river view accommodations. 

And the best part is that, it has a perfect location, with the Southbank Parklands just a short walk away. You can also easily access different public transportation options such as the South Brisbane Station, South Bank ferry terminal, and bus stops. 


Address: 267 Grey St, South Brisbane QLD 4101

Contact: +61 7 3556 3333

Pricing: $$$

Looking for a luxurious staycation? We recommend booking your stay at Emporium Hotel, which is a five-star accommodation at a prime location. 

Their rooms feature intricately crafted finishes, premium amenities, and gorgeous views of the city! You can also take a dip in their rooftop infinity pool that gives you uninterrupted views of South Bank and beyond. 

They also have a gym, sauna and steam room, and a restaurant and wine bar. Guests of their premium suites will also gain access to a chauffeur service in a Maserati Grecale Luxury SUV! 

For special occasions, they also offer staycation packages as well as exquisite experiences that you can book here. This includes a helicopter experience, E-bikes, and a day of pampering at their Japanese-style spa, The Healing Stone


Address: 161 Grey St, South Brisbane QLD 4101

Contact: +61 7 3305 2500

Pricing: $$

Mantra offers a more affordable option at a prime location! It’s centrally located within the South Bank precinct, complete with amenities that’ll ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay.

You can take your pick from different accommodations including apartment-style spaces with studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom options. 

When it comes to amenities, the hotel features a heated lap pool, a fully equipped gym, and a restaurant and bar. You can also try a number of restaurants around the area that offer an array of cuisines. 

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