• Cityscape Ritzy riverside metropolis
  • City life Tropical fun in the sun

Australia’s third largest city has long lived in the shadow of Sydney and Melbourne, but in recent years Queensland’s capital has come into its own, shaking off its small town mentality.

The BrisVegas tag may sum up this city’s love of glitzy good times, but it’s also got great galleries, hot bars, restaurants and clubs, and a happening music scene. The hilly waterside location’s no slouch: flanking the winding Brisbane River, it is within easy reach of beaches, islands and national parks. If it’s major sights you’re after, make for the CBD and South Bank arts complex across the river, but base yourself in edgier inner north district Fortitude Valley for maximum buzz. Residents of rival cities may mock, but folk are moving here in droves, drawn by a winning combination of no-nonsense attitude with fast-paced fun.

Do go/Don’t go

Brisbane basks in year-round sun, with temperatures rarely dipping below 20°C. The peak of summer can be super-hot and wetter, with many locals escaping the sweltering city, which can make it quiet; winter is sunny and mild with little rain.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes Regular flights wing their way to Brisbane Airport (www.bne.com.au), 16 kilometres north-east of town, from all major Australian cities with Qantas (www.qantas.com.au), Virgin Blue (www.virginblue.com.au) and Jetstar (www.jetstar.com). Numerous international carriers also service the airport.
  • Boats CityCat catamarans and CityFerries are a great way to get around, with stop-offs all along the river at major destinations. Translink tickets can be used across the transport network (www.translink.com.au).
  • Trains The best way to reach Brisbane’s CBD from the airport’s international and domestic terminals, two kilometres apart, is by Airtrain (www.airtrain.com.au), which departs every 15 minutes during peak times for the 20-minute journey (single, AU$15; return, AU$28). Regional trains come into the main Roma Street Transit Centre (see www.qr.com.au); CountryLink (www.countrylink.info) operates daily express trains between Sydney and Brisbane.
  • Automobiles Walking is an option in the city centre, but Brisbane is hilly and gets hot in summer, so you may prefer to drive. All major car hire companies can be found at Brisbane Airport or at downtown locations, including Avis (www.avis.com.au).
  • Taxis Plentiful in Brisbane’s city centre, with ranks in the CBD and at the train station. To call one, try Yellow Cab Co (131924) or Black & White Cabs (131 008).