Voya’s Guide to Australia’s Most Laidback City.

Brisbane is one of Australia’s most interesting cities, while it is one of Australia’s major cities, it has a distinctly laidback, small-town vibe. In the CBD, people bustle on their way to work, but outside of those few blocks, life takes on a much slower pace. Join locals as they meander along the banks of the river, stopping in at local cafes and bars to while away the afternoon.

Weekends are used to pursue active pursuits, outdoor activities, and catch up with loved ones. It should be no surprise then that there are numerous parks to wander through or enjoy a picnic. One of the best ones is the Roma Street Parklands which offer 16 hectares of park right in the middle of the city. It is a lovely place to wander through and see the local wildlife that calls it home. Southbank is another popular park which offers manicured gardens, cultural structures, and a manmade beach which is popular in the spring and summer. On weekends in spring and summer, there are often cultural festivals going on with delicious food, performances, and live music.

Great food and drink are the bare minimum in Brisbane; popular restaurants use fresh local ingredients and experiment with flavors. You can find cuisine from all over the world in Brisbane, the locals’ taste for Italian and Asian food means that these speciality restaurants are in abundance. Due to the high cost of alcohol in Australia, it is heavily taxed, many restaurants offer “bottle service”. This means that for a small fee you can BYO (bring your own) alcohol and they will provide glasses and uncork it for you. Be sure to select a local wine, as the higher quality wines tend to stay in Australia rather than being exported. For white wine, pick a wine from South Australia or Queensland as they tend to produce the crispest whites. For red wine, pick a Shiraz from Western Australia and Pinot Noir from NSW. For sparkling wine, Tasmania is the superior choice.

While you’re in Brisbane, take a day trip to Australia Zoo, an hour an a half away from the city center. Australia Zoo was home to the late Steve Irwin, Australia’s Iconic Crocodile Hunter. While it boasts animals from all over the world, it focuses on Australian Wildlife and in particular crocodiles. It is one of the best places to see iconic Australian wildlife such as emus, kangaroos, koalas, snakes, and crocodiles. They offer many interactive wildlife experiences, including crocodile shows, kangaroo feedings, and the opportunity to cuddle koalas. While the Irwin family are often busy doing press and fundraising for the zoo, if you’re lucky, you may see one of them running one of the shows.

Shopping is abundant in Brisbane; you will find many Australian and international brands in the numerous shopping malls across the city. Queen Street Mall is one of the most popular shopping hubs with the whole street a pedestrian-only zone flanked with shops and restaurants.


Brisbane’s climate is subtropical, meaning it is warm and sunny all year. Summer brings thunderstorms and rain, so the best times to travel to Brisbane is autumn and spring. The average temperatures will be a warm 15-28 degrees Celsius, and the humidity and rainfall are lower.


The main language spoken in Australia is English. Australians tend to shorten and abbreviate words, especially in laidback Brisbane, but are generally friendly and will explain if asked. Brisbane is a multi-cultural city, so you may hear many other languages from visitors and residents.


One of Brisbane’s most interesting attractions is St Helena Island National Park. In 1867 this island was used as a prison to address the issue of Brisbane’s overflowing jails. Today only ruins survive of this colonial prison, but a guided tour provides an interesting insight into the history of the prison and how it was run. Did you know, there were regular shark feedings to deter prisoners from escaping the island.

If you fancy a day of activity, visit the Riverlife Adventure Centre, a place where people of all ages can participate in active pursuits. They offer rock climbing, abseiling, rollerblading, and biking, amongst other things.


The Ovolo Inchcolm, on Wickham Terrace is a historic boutique hotel. The hotel features beautiful handmade wallpaper in moody florals with pops of color that bring this 19th Century hotel into the 21st Century. It has a bar and restaurant on-site as well as giving guests complimentary use of bicycles. Because the hotel is small and its heritage listing prevents too many renovations, guests also have use of the pool in a nearby Novotel.

The Adina Aparthotel is an iconic hotel, overlooking Brisbane River. It is a renovated Art Deco bank building with a stunning marble lobby and grand sandstone exterior. All of the rooms are one or two-bedroom apartments equipped with kitchens and washing machines. For the best views, book one facing George Street for a river view.


Brunch is a way of life in Australia, and Brisbane has a myriad of brunch choices to suit every taste. There are healthy cafes which offer green juices, eggs benny (eggs benedict), and protein bowls to start your day off right. There are also places which serve only pancakes, Asian dimsum brunches, and tiny cafes where passers-by are enticed in by the smell of their freshly baked pastries and bread. Brunch is so popular in Brisbane; you will find most cafes serve a brunch menu every day, not just weekends.

The tropical waters of Queensland are perfect for saltwater fish, and one of the must-try dishes in Brisbane is barramundi. Barramundi has a milder flavor and pleasant texture, meaning it is extremely versatile. While you will find barramundi on the menu of most restaurants, Voya’s favorite place is Swampdog which serves a delicious pesto barramundi.