Brisbane is a city that is overlooked a little. When you have Sydney and Melbourne that are the popular tourist cities to visit in Australia. But if you weren’t thinking of heading to Brisbane in your Australian itinerary, then you should add this.
I do have a soft spot for the city, especially since I lived there on my gap year, but there are some amazing things to see and do.
What I also loved, was the weather. The conditions are far warmer during winter, compared to the southern region. Which make Brisbane an ideal city to visit all year round.
But while you’re in Brisbane, you should plan at least a day trip to the coast, or into the mountains.
I use to spend most weekends, beside the beach soaking up the sun, on either the Sunshine Coast or the Gold Coast. I also visited Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo, which is a short bus journey from the city.
As you plan your epic adventures in Australia, we would recommend at least one of these best day trips from Brisbane should be included in your itinerary.
There may be affiliate links within this article, using these links will not cost you anything extra, but we may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.
Table of Contents
How to get around Brisbane
Australia has a great network of public transport connections. You could easily take a domestic flight from any of the large and small airports, or catch a bus or train to Brisbane which will be far slower, but cheaper.
A more adventurous way to get to and around Brisbane, is when you hire or purchase a vehicle.
This is definitely a more convenient way to get around Brisbane.
Sometimes our favoured option is to take a tour. Everything is planned for you; you just need to book your seat and they do the rest for you.
With a few options to choose from, we would recommend doing your research and planning the logistics of how you intend to take a day trip from Brisbane.
Best day tours from Brisbane
One of the things we like to do is to include a tour into our itinerary.
The pros of taking a tour, is the hassle-free approach. You don’t need to plan how to get there, especially if the day trip from Brisbane is in a rural location, with little public transport.
You don’t have to do much research, as again the logistics is all planned for you.
With a tour, you just need to book it and then be taken on an adventure.
There are negatives with taking a tour.
Some tours can feel a little rushed. Especially when a tour group try to squeeze so much into one day.
But if you do have a limited timescale, tours are often the more favourable way to take a day trip.
If you have longer, either choosing a multi-day tour or planning the day trip from Brisbane might be better suitable.
If you want to take the hassle-free approach, then here are a few of the best day tours from Brisbane:
Best day trips from Brisbane
Australia is a diverse country, packed with some of the best beaches, world class hikes and beautiful landscapes.
Here are some of the best day trips from Brisbane.
Coolangatta is an awesome little surf town, thats perfect for a quick day trip from Brisbane.
It’s just over an hour south of Brisbane and is home to some of the best waves in Australia.
You can tell it is a surf town from the laid-back vibes and slower pace of life compared to nearby Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
The easiest way to get here from Brisbane is to drive as it takes just over an hour. You can also take public transport, and the easiest route is to take the train from Roma Street Station to Varsity Lakes and then you can either take an uber or catch the bus to finish the journey.
Snapper Rocks is one of the most famous waves in Australia and hosts the world’s best surfers every year on the World Surf League. But on a regular day you can still watch as surfers ride some crazy waves along the beach. Kirra Beach and Duranbah Beach also offer great waves as well.
If surfing isn’t your thing, then you can still enjoy hanging out at the beach, watching the surfers and swimming in the warm water.
One of the highlights of a visit to Coolangatta is the walk along Greenmount Point as you get uninterrupted views out over the water and all the way back to the impressive skyline of Surfers Paradise.
If you visit on the second Sunday of the month there is a pop-up market that sells locally made products and some delicious food.
Another cool thing about Coolangatta is that the border between Queensland and New South Wales is right in the middle of the town which means during daylight savings time there are actually two different time zones on either side of Boundary Street.
Coolangatta makes for an epic day trip, especially if you want to escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere around town.
Contributed by Luke and Roxy from The Coastal Campaign
Things to do in Coolangatta:
Montville is a quick drive up to the hinterland from the Sunshine Coast. It is 30 minutes directly west of Mooloolaba, which is a fun and vibrant town on the water.
The township of Montville is cute and always bustling, thanks to the fun shops and restaurants. From eccentric clock shops to local artisan shops to an authentic India shop with imported goods, there really is something for everyone to explore.
I especially love Montville because it is at the edge of Kondalilla National Park, which has tons of beautiful trails and camp sites to walk through.
I like to go camping in Kondalilla before stopping in Montville for a bite to eat on our way back to the coast. I always stop at Shali’s Cafe, which has the best samosas in all of the Sunshine Coast.
For finer dining, you can opt for one of the restaurants facing east, which overlooks the ocean at the bottom of the mountain.
I like to head up to the Montville-Maleny area on days when I need some fresh air and a quick getaway!
Contributed by Marquis from Book Retreats
Visiting the Gold Coast in Australia is one of the best day trips you can take from Brisbane! The Gold Coast is one of the most iconic locations in Australia, and is definitely one of the top visited areas in the state of Queensland.
The Gold Coast is a region, not a city. The Gold Coast stretches 25 miles (40 km) along Queensland’s southeastern coastline.
The northernmost area of the Gold Coast, closest to Brisbane, is Paradise Point. The most southern point is Coolangatta, a quaint surf city located right on the New South Wales border. You can actually stand between both states here!
The most visited area along the Gold Coast is probably Surfers Paradise, well-known for its luxurious high rises, cafes, and epic waves.
Surfers Paradise is located very centrally along the Gold Coast and is an hour ride from Brisbane.
Since the Gold Coast is one of Australia’s top-visited tourist attractions, there’s a ton to do here. Surfers Paradise beach and the adjacent markets are a can’t-miss spot, along with the Skypoint observation deck.
Outside of Surfers Paradise there’s the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can hold a koala, the Coolangatta Beach where you can peacefully watch surfers catch massive waves, and SeaWorld, which is the largest marine park in Australia.
These suggestions are just a few of the things you need to see on Australia’s Gold Coast!
Contributed by Nicole from The Abroad Blog
Australia Zoo is famously known for Steve Irwin and his family. It’s a great day trip from Brisbane for locals, tourists, solo backpackers and families alike.
It’s jam-packed with things to see and do, and it’s easy to spend the whole day there without getting bored.
These amazing people dedicate so much time to rescuing, researching and conservation that you’ll leave feeling like a wildlife warrior!
If walking around it feels like you’re not getting the closest possible experience, there’s many chances to get more involved. From being a zookeeper for the day, to having your photo taken with a koala. You can even get up close and personal with many animals, and see behind the scenes at the wildlife hospital.
It’s a great chance to let loose your passion and interest for animals.
The zoo wouldn’t be complete without it’s famous inhabitants – crocodiles! There’s so much opportunity to learn about them. Don’t forget to catch the 12:00 midday show in the Crocoseum to see these fantastic creatures, among many other animals. It’s jaw-dropping.
If you want something a little less adrenaline-filled, head over to Roo heaven to hand-feed some friendly kangaroos.
Meander through the unique sections of the zoo to really get to know the animals there.
Australia zoo is a memorial and legacy of Steve Irwin and you can see his story and influence all around.
The zoo’s opening times are 09:00 – 17:00 every day. Make sure you get there for opening to get the most out of it! It’s important to wear some comfortable shoes and bring some water, as there will be a lot of walking. Perhaps an umbrella too, as Aussie weather can be unpredictable.
To eat, there’s plenty of choice. The Crikey Café has a large selection of food, and there’s plenty of kiosks dotted around to keep you refreshed.
How to get there:
Drive: 1hr driving north, along the A3, then M1.
Public transport: Train from Roma station to Beerwah station, then zoo shuttle bus. Approx 2hr 45 mins.
If you really want to treat yourself, you can book the Croc Express bus from Brisbane. The ticket includes the entrance fee and the return coach.”
Contributed by Rachael from A Nomads Notebook
Springbrook National Park
Springbrook National Park is a beautiful rainforest in the Gold Coast hinterland. It features stunning waterfalls, lush rainforest vegetation and great views back towards the Gold Coast.
It is about 90 minutes south of Brisbane. Take the Pacific Highway towards the Gold Coast and look for the turn off near Merimac for the Gold Coast Springbrook Road.
The last part of the journey has a few twists and turns otherwise it is an easy drive.
Take your walking shoes to Springbrook, the best way to see its best features is on foot. The ultimate Springbrook experience is the 15 kilometre Warrie Circuit that takes you past a dozen waterfalls but there are many shorter walks that have a big wow factor.
Natural Bridge is a lovely part of the park that has a waterfall that cascades into a cavern. There is an easy one kilometre walk that has several vantage points of the falls.
The other feature of Natural Bridge is its glow worm colony. Go after dark and you can see the cave near the falls light up with the glow of the tiny worms.
The Twin Falls trail is a 4 kilometre walk that takes you down to the falls and onto the forest floor. This is a popular swimming spot but even if you don’t get in the water the falls and forest trees are a great sight. A highlight of the circuit is walking behind Blackfellow Falls near the end of the walk.
You can’t swim at Purling Brook falls but these 100m high single drop falls are amazing.
The 4 kilometre walk has some steep sections but with the sound of the water, giant strangler figs to walk around and the songs of the forest birds you won’t notice the steps!
There are picnic grounds at Purling Brook and Twin Falls. There is also a café at Canyon Lookout which is the starting point for the Warrie Circuit and the Twin Falls walks.
The walks are at their best after rain and remember it gets dark early in the forest, so morning hikes are the way to go. Take plenty of water too, all that walking can be hot work!
Contributed by Natalie from Curious Campers
The Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast makes a great day trip from Brisbane.
It used to be called the Currumbin Bird Sanctuary because of the large flock of brightly colored rainbow lorikeets that hang out there.
The lorikeets still visit twice a day, but the sanctuary has expanded to include a wide range of Aussie and international animals.
There are several ‘shows’ throughout the day where rangers show off certain animals and explain more about them. This is a great chance for the whole family to learn more about Aussie animals.
Highlights include the reptile show, with several deadly snakes; the crocodile show and the raptor show, with huge eagles swooping overhead.
There are also advertised feeding times throughout the day, when you can see animals such as Tasmanian Devils being fed and have a chance to speak with a ranger and learn more about these fascinating creatures. Kids also have a chance to feed kangaroos (with special nutritional food).
In addition to its educational mission, the sanctuary is also a wildlife rehabilitation center, and there is a large animal hospital that you can visit and see injured animals being cared for.
There are also animals from overseas, including huge capybaras, which look like oversized guinea pigs, and cute red pandas. Don’t miss the enormous aviary where there are dozens of colorful birds flying overhead.
The day culminates in the afternoon feeding of the rainbow lorikeets. They know when and where to get food and you can buy a tray of milky broth for them. Before you know it, you will find your outstretched arms (and head) covered in hungry birds. This is a great photo opp!
All in all, this is a great day out for the whole family. You will see all sorts for exotic animals, interact with them in a sustainable and harmless way, and learn more about them at the same time.
Contributed by James from Parks Collecting
Things to do in Currumbin:
Ipswich is a city in Queensland that you can easily visit as a day trip from Brisbane.
Since its beginning as an agricultural settlement, the city has grown steadily and is now the third-largest city in Queensland.
Ipswich is about 40km from Brisbane and is an easy drive along the Ipswich Motorway.
The city offers many attractions, such as museums, botanic gardens, galleries and more to explore. There are some great places for shopping too!
One of the fun things to do in Ipswich is hanging out at the Pumpyard Bar and Brewery, where you can drink craft beer, eat at Dovetails (the steak is amazing!) and treat yourself to some of Queensland’s best ice cream.
The ice cream at Ungermann Brothers come in weird flavours such as roasted garlic ice cream!
Another great spot to visit in Ipswich is the Ipswich Nature Centre, home to an array of Australian animals such as quolls, wombats and kangaroos.
Ipswich is a region steeped in history, with a coal mining and railway heritage. From a convict out-station in 1827, it grew into a city with beautiful churches, heritage-listed buildings and antique shops.
Free settlers arrived in 1842, and at different points in history, it has been famous for coal mines, railways, limestone quarries and its port.
Follow the Ipswich Heritage Trail and admire 40 heritage sites such as convict stockyards, sheep shearing sheds and Ipswich’s town hall.
Another fantastic place to visit in Ipswich is the Workshops Rail Museum, home to Queensland’s first train and is one of the oldest continually operating railway workshops in Australia. The displays at the museum include heritage railway items, a diesel locomotive and a 1930s rail carriage.
Contributed by Christina from Travel2next.com
Hidden away from some of the more popular destinations in the Sunshine Coast hinterland is Kenilworth.
Kenilworth is a perfectly charming small town resting amongst the rolling hills of the Mary River country.
The best way to travel to Kenilworth is by car. Take a leisurely two hour drive north of Brisbane at any time of year to enjoy an escape from the city for a day.
Just like any traditional country town, Kenilworth has a picturesque main street lined with small shops, cafes and a pub.
If you are visiting with children, they will love the playground at Kenilworth Town Park. The park includes a flying fox climbing frames, swings and fenced toddler section, as well as shaded picnic tables and barbeques, this is a great spot to rest with a coffee.
Just across the street you will find Kenilworth Dairies, which sells an incredible assortment of delicious local dairy products including cheese, yoghurt, mousse and ice cream for the kids!
Sit and enjoy a platter before stocking up on your favourite items to take home.
A trip to Kenilworth is not complete without a visit to the infamous Kenilworth Country Bakery.
In addition to the amazing range of baked goods that brings people from all over, it boasts a 1 kg donut eating challenge!
If you’re looking for a break outdoors, you can stop in a Kenilworth River Park situated on the banks of the Mary River. This lovely location is suitable for fishing and enjoying a picnic with the family. A trip to Kenilworth has something for everyone, and won’t disappoint.
If you’re looking to do more than a day trip and stay overnight, you may like to check out affordable camping at Kenilworth Showgrounds camping, right on the town’s main street.
Contributed by Stephanie from Navigating Adventure
There is no better way to plan a holiday to Australia, than with a bucket list. Start by noting the ideal places you want to visit, plan you trip around these ideas, then tick them off as you go.
Sunshine Coast Hinterland
The Sunshine Coast is located 100 kilometres or a 90 minute drive north of Brisbane, and offers lots of attractions for the whole family.
Specifically, the Sunshine Coast Hinterland offers an abundance of nature, a variety of things to see and do, art galleries, shopping and more.
Each of the mountain villages of Maleny, Montville, and Mapleton offer their own unique personalities.
Maleny is a small country town with an artsy feel. A drive through the village will bring you to art galleries and studios, wineries, markets, and a number of unique boutique food producers.
Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve offers a lovely walk through subtropical rainforest and incredible views back over the Glass House Mountains National Park from the Glass House Mountain Viewing Deck.
Montville boasts amazing views of the Sunshine Coast and Hinterland, and is well known for its boutique shopping and dining experiences.
Along the main street you will find art galleries, gift shops, and quirky little cafés hidden amongst European-inspired architecture.
Make sure you check out the Clockshop for Australia’s biggest collection of original Blackforest Cuckoo Clocks and German and Bavarian Gifts.
Mapleton is perched on the northernmost point of the Blackall Range and offers sweeping views from Noosa and down past Bribie Island in the south. A walk to the impressive Mapleton Falls is highly recommended.
There are cafés and restaurants dotted throughout the Hinterland, but we definitely recommend Monica’s Café in Maleny for lunch, or if you are looking for the best cakes and coffee, head to La Botiga in Mapleton.
If you decide to make it a weekend trip, there are lots of accommodation options such as cute B&B’s and country cottages available with beautiful mountain scenery and ocean views.
Contributed by Peta and Jonas of Exit45 Travels.
Brisbane is a beautiful city, but with beautiful beaches and landscape just a short distance away you’ll be spending more time on a day trip from Brisbane than in the city.
While I loved Brisbane, I much preferred getting out and spending time on the Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast, which is why these had to be recommended along with Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo.
But there’s also a variety of day trips to be had, so make the most of your Australian adventure, get out and explore the country, before you have to return home.
What was your favourite place to visit on a day trip from Brisbane? Is there somewhere we didn’t include that should be on this list? Is there specific place you can’t wait to discover? Let us know, by leaving a comment below.
Continue your Australian travel planning, with these useful posts:
- Best day trips from Sydney
- Best tourist spots in Australia
- Best day trips from Melbourne
- Travel guide to Australia
- Best day hikes in Australia
- What to include in your DIY first aird kit
- How to stay safe travelling solo
- How to apply for a visa to Australia
- What to pack for a hike
- Best Australian Road trips
- Best winter holidays in Australia
- First timers guide to driving in Australia