One Day in Brisbane (From Cruise Port) – Awesome Things to Do

One Day in Brisbane (From Cruise Port) – Awesome Things to Do

People relaxing and swimming at Streets Beach with Brisbane's city skyline in the background, enjoying the sunny weather

Are you wondering how to spend one day in Brisbane? Then you are in the right spot!

Brisbane is the Capital of Queensland and the third biggest city in Australia. But for some unknown reason, it doesn’t get the attention it deserves when compared to other Australian cities like Sydney and

If you’re in Brisbane for just a day, you can still make the most of your visit to Brisbane by exploring some of the city’s fantastic attractions. Of course, it can be hard to figure out the best activities when you don’t know the area.

For that reason, I have asked my friends Kevin and Kate from Happy Irish Wanderers for their insight. The Happy Irish Wanderers lived in Mackay, Queensland for seven years and often visited the “River City”. In this post, they’ll share all their insider tips with us.

We’ll see breathtaking skyline views, stunning natural beauty, a unique man-made beach in the city center, and an impressive bridge that rivals Sydney Harbour Bridge.

And these are just a few examples of what we’ll see on our shore day.

Let’s dive in!

How to Spend One Day in Brisbane

In this 1 day in Brisbane guide, we’ll first tell you about the best sights and activities within Brisbane City itself. We’ll also introduce you to some exciting things to do just outside of Brisbane.

However, due to limited time, you’ll only be able to choose one of these outside-the-city activities.

If you decide to venture outside of Brisbane for one of these activities, we recommend prioritizing it first and saving Brisbane’s attractions for later in your day.

So here’s an overview of what to see when you only have a day in Brisbane:

🦘 South Bank

🦘 The Queensland Museum

🦘 Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

🦘 Kangaroo Point

🦘 Story Bridge

🦘 AFL Game

🦘 Moreton Bay (outside the city)

🦘 Natural Bridge, Springbrook National Park (outside the city)

🦘 Purling Brook Waterfall, Springbrook National Park (outside the city)

We’ll discuss the stops in detail further down in this post, so keep on reading!

Guided Day Tours in Brisbane

If you feel like organizing the trip to all these fabulous stops yourself is too much, don’t fret. There are lots of great day tours and shore excursions that will take you all around Brisbane in just a day.

Here are my favorite Brisbane shore excursions:

🐨 Brisbane River Cruise with entry to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

🐨 Moreton Island Day Trip (Kayak, Snorkel & Sandboard) from Brisbane or Gold Coast

🐨 Premium Springbrook Natural Bridge, Glow Worm Cave & Skywalk

🐨 Brisbane Story Bridge Adventure Climb

Sabrina’s tip: on our cruise to Brisbane, we went on the Lone Pine Koala excursion. We loved it, but in hindsight, I would probably opt for Moreton Island!

1. South Bank

    Exploring the South Bank area is a must-do experience when in Brisbane. Regardless if you only have 1 day in Brisbane, or a couple of days, everyone visiting the city ends up in South Bank at some stage.

    The South Bank area in Brisbane is a lively riverside precinct where you can spend hours exploring on foot. After exploring, we love unwinding in one of the charming cafes, restaurants, and pubs.

    One of the most unique attractions and our personal favorite is Streets Beach. It is a man-made beach located in the heart of Brisbane.

    This beach and lagoon area is a relaxing spot to chill, swim, and sunbathe with a view of the skyline.

    A view of the Brisbane city skyline with modern skyscrapers and a bridge over the river, depicting the urban side of one day in Brisbane

    2. The Queensland Museum

    Just a 10-minute walk away from Streets Beach, you’ll find one of Australia’s oldest museums, the Queensland Museum.

    This museum focuses mainly on Australian history and Aboriginal culture. It has lots of fun, hands-on activities and displays so it is definitely not boring.

    You’ll discover a massive collection of exhibits and displays that tell the story of Queensland’s rich past. They have over 100,000 specimens of Australian and international animals on display.

    There is also a lot of Torres Strait Islander art and cultural pieces. Our favorite is the display dedicated to dinosaur fossils that once roamed Australia.

    3. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary 

    If you love Australian wildlife, then a visit to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary must be included in your one-day Brisbane itinerary.

    It is located in Brisbane’s western suburbs. The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a wildlife haven dedicated to Australia’s cutest animal, the koala. It is also one of the oldest and
    largest sanctuaries
    in the world.

    You can also interact closely with kangaroos and wallabies in a big, free-roaming enclosure. You can also see a variety of other native Australian wildlife, such as dingoes, wombats, cassowaries, and

    The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a great destination that promises both fun and educational experiences for visitors of all ages.

    Keep in mind that there is an entry fee.

    A sleepy koala nestled in eucalyptus leaves at a sanctuary, showcasing a cute moment

    4. Kangaroo Point

    Don’t let the name mislead you as there are no actual kangaroos here!
    What you will find here instead is one of the most spectacular views in all of Australia!

    Kangaroo Point offers a breathtaking view of Brisbane’s cityscape of high-rise buildings, the Brisbane River, and the iconic Story Bridge.

    Kangaroo Point also has a number of picnic benches, so it is a great spot to take a break or enjoy a meal. This spot is also great for sunset if you are in the city for that long.

    As the day comes to a close, the high-rise buildings and Story Bridge light up in hundreds of colorful lights, adding to the beauty of Kangaroo Viewpoint.

    Visiting Kangaroo Point is a free activity, and the best way to get there is by ferry. You can catch a CityCat or CityHopper ferry from various points along the Brisbane River.

    Hop out at the Kangaroo Point Ferry Terminal. From there it is only a short walk up to the viewpoint.

    A view of the Brisbane city skyline with modern skyscrapers and a bridge over the river, depicting the urban side of one day in Brisbane. the author is also in the picture

    5. Story Bridge

    If you were to ask anyone around the world to name a famous Australian bridge, most would likely mention the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

    Meanwhile, the stunning and massive Story Bridge in Brisbane goes unnoticed. It is one of the coolest things to visit during your day in Brisbane.

    The Story Bridge is an iconic landmark in Brisbane, stretching 777 meters across the Brisbane River. It connects Fortitude Valley to Kangaroo Point.

    Although it may be smaller than Sydney’s famous Harbour Bridge, it has been a big part of the city since it opened in 1940.

    If you are in need of some adrenalin, you can take the opportunity to climb it. The Story Bridge Adventure Climb allows you to climb up to 80 meters high on the bridge.

    The iconic Story Bridge with the Brisbane skyline in the background, a must-see landmark during one day in Brisbane from cruise ship

    6. AFL Game

    If you are not from Australia then you might not be aware of Australia’s national sport – Australian Rules Football also known as AFL (Australian Football League).

    If you have the chance to see a game, we would totally recommend it.

    AFL is a game played with an oval ball on an oval-shaped field, with each team fielding 18 players at a time.

    The Brisbane Lions are Brisbane’s hometown AFL team, and they proudly call the Gabba Stadium (also known as The Gabba) their home.

    This iconic venue is also shared with the Australian cricket team. If you have one day in Brisbane, and the Lions are playing, then you must use that opportunity to experience one of Australia’s most exciting sports in action!

    The Gabba is easily accessible by public transportation and has a range of parking options available for those who prefer to drive.

    7. Moreton Bay

    Moreton Bay is located off the coast of Brisbane. It is accessible by a ferry that leaves multiple times per day.

    If you are planning to visit Moreton Bay during your day in Brisbane, make sure to leave as early as possible.

    There you can check out lots of activities, such as swimming, hiking, chilling on a paradise beach, and best of all – snorkeling.

    The best feature of Moreton Bay is the Tangalooma Shipwrecks. It is an underwater playground created by humans who deliberately sank 15 ships in the 1960s and 1980s.

    Nowadays, this is an awesome spot for snorkeling and diving. The area is packed with diverse tropical fish of all shapes and sizes.

    Important: But be aware, if you are not a strong swimmer as there are potentially strong currents around the shipwrecks. For the best snorkeling experience around the Tangalooma Shipwrecks, start from the left side and drift along with the tide towards the last shipwreck.

    Snorkeling gear can be rented from Tangalooma Island Resort or brought along if you have your own equipment.

    A stunning aerial view of Moreton Bay with clear blue waters and visible shipwrecks, perfect for exploring during one day in Brisbane

    8. Springbrook National Park

    The Natural Bridge

    There are several national parks near Brisbane, and our top pick is the Springbrook National Park.

    This beautiful park is famous for its ancient rainforests and stunning waterfalls. And best of all there are many great free things to see in Springbrook National Park.

    The pick of the lot is a waterfall called “The Natural Bridge”. This is an extraordinary geological rock formation, with a waterfall cascading through the ceiling of a cave.

    But wait, there’s more to discover! If you thought the daytime sights were impressive, prepare to be amazed after dark. As night falls, thousands of glow worms light up the place, transforming the cave and surrounding area into a magical scene straight out of a fairy tale.

    Your visit to Springbrook Falls is best done with your own transport.
    Make sure to allocate enough time for the journey, as it typically takes about ninety minutes to reach the national park from Brisbane.

    A person silhouetted against the light coming from a waterfall inside a cave, highlighting a unique adventure

    Purling Brook Waterfall

    Another notable attraction in Springbrook National Park, and only thirty minutes from the Natural Bridge Waterfall is the Purling Brook Waterfall.

    This stunning waterfall can be viewed from the platform and offers a great sight. But the best way to experience the views is by hiking the 4-kilometer loop trail.

    The waterfall cascades from a height of approximately 109 meters (about 358 feet) into a rainforest-lined gorge below, and this is where you will have the best view!

    The hike is suitable for all fitness levels and takes around two hours to complete. Make sure to take this hike in a clockwise direction, otherwise you will be walking up hundreds of steps on the way up.

    Additionally, make sure to keep an eye out for snakes, remember you are in Australia!

    A person standing in front of a majestic waterfall surrounded by lush greenery, experiencing one day in Brisbane's natural beauty.

    One Day in Brisbane Summary

    Did you think there was that much to do in Brisbane? We hope we have convinced you with this 1 day in Brisbane guide that the city is a fantastic destination to visit in Australia.

    And we haven’t even mentioned other nearby great cities such as Byron Bay, the Gold Coast,
    and Sunshine Coast.

    Although Brisbane is often overlooked, Queensland’s capital city offers modern city life, and stunning natural beauty all within close proximity and conveniently accessible.

    I hope you enjoyed your day in Brisbane and are ready for your shore day.

    More Australia inspiration needed? Keep on reading:

    🇦🇺 Perfect 1 Day Blue Mountains Itinerary (Local’s Guide)

    🇦🇺 North Island New Zealand Itinerary 5 Days: Hidden Gems

    🇦🇺 One Day in Sydney From Cruise Ship: The Perfect Itinerary

    FAQ: One Day in Brisbane

    Where do cruise ships dock in Brisbane?

    Cruise ships in Brisbane primarily dock at two locations: the Portside Wharf and the Brisbane International Cruise Terminal.

    Make sure to inform before heading to Brisbane on which location you’ll arrive.

    Portside Wharf

    • Location: Hamilton, just a few kilometers from the city center
    • Facilities: Portside Wharf is a modern, multi-use facility featuring shops, restaurants, and a cinema. It offers easy access to transportation, including taxis and shuttle services.
    • Access to the City: It’s close to the Brisbane CBD, making it convenient for tourists to explore the city. The wharf is also near public transport options, including buses and CityCat ferries.

    Brisbane International Cruise Terminal

    • Location: Luggage Point near the mouth of the Brisbane River
    • Facilities: This is a larger and newer terminal designed to accommodate the largest cruise ships. It features state-of-the-art amenities, including spacious check-in areas, luggage handling facilities, and customs services.
    • Access to the City: There are dedicated shuttle services, taxis, and other transport options available to bring passengers into Brisbane.

    About the Author

    Justin is a military pilot and travel blogger. Due to his job, he splits his time between the US, Curacao, and Europe.

    Justin enjoys discovering the world together with his wife and venturing out with his drone to take magical shots.

    The post One Day in Brisbane (From Cruise Port) – Awesome Things to Do appeared first on Shades of Summr.