The city may not have the crowds of Melbourne or the famous attractions of Sydney, but it still has plenty to offer tourists who decide to take a chance on Brisbane. Brush up on your Aussie lingo — barbie for barbecue and snags for sausages, to name just a few — and get started on exploring the city.
There are art galleries and cozy cafes for those looking for something laid-back, great window-shopping at Queen Street Mall for those on a budget, and plenty of pubs in Fortitude Valley offering cheap drinks and great live music. The Central Business District is where the city's deals are done, but this is also a great place to walk around and grab a spot of lunch before you head off to the South Bank Parklands, Gallery of Modern Art, or the Queensland Cultural Centre.
Rare treats to be found in Brisbane include the Queensland Police Museum and Daisy Hill Koala Centre, both of which are free to the public. For some one-on-one time with Australia's famous marsupials, visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary where you can volunteer your time and skills in exchange for koala hugs.
The city's main airport is Brisbane Airport (BNE), located 16 km away from the city. Airlines which offer flights to Brisbane from Canada include American, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, and Air Canada (with codeshare partners Qantas and American). Other airlines serving this airport include China Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Eva Air, and several other Asian airlines. Qantas and V Australia also offer non-stop flights from Los Angeles.
Passengers flying from Canada's east coast will have to make one or more stopovers along the way in Vancouver, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, or Auckland, depending on the airline you fly with.
From December to early March, Brisbane's summer temperatures average a warm 30-32°C and while it can get fairly humid on the coast, it is less so in the interior suburbs. Those who can't take the summer heat and humidity are better off booking Brisbane flights in the winter, between June and August. At an average of 20°C, winter temperatures in the city are mild, with 18°C considered 'low'. From October to December the city experiences frequent thunderstorms often accompanied by hail, so even if tickets are cheap, it's best to avoid booking flights to Brisbane around this time.
The shoulder seasons for travel to Brisbane extend from March to May and mid-September to mid-October, when temperatures are at a comfortable 25-27°C. Getting sun-burnt in Brisbane is very easy, even in the wintertime, so remember to always carry plenty of sunscreen with you, no matter when you travel.
The international and domestic terminals at Brisbane Airport (BNE) are about 2 kilometres apart. When booking your flights to Brisbane, make sure you give yourself enough time to make the transfer and get to the next departure gate for a connecting flight. For more information on any of the transport options listed below, check the airport website.
Inter-Terminal Transfers: Passengers with connecting flights from BNE can use the Airtrain service which costs about $5 CAD for a one-way trip and runs every 15 minutes from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Transfers via the inter-terminal T-Bus cost the same amount and children under 4 years of age travel free.
Public Transit: The AirTrain route extends to the city centre and a one-way ticket costs approximately $15 CAD. Booking online can get you up to 10% off each ticket and you can also get discounts on round-trip fares. Travel time to the city's downtown area is about 20 minutes, making this an ideal transport option if you're in a hurry.
Airport Shuttle: Coachtrans Airport Shuttle operates shuttle services from the airport and booking in advance is advisable to avoid a long wait for the next shuttle. One-way tickets to the city centre cost about $16 CAD, with discounts available for children and family bookings. Coachtrans Airport Shuttle also operates transfer services to the Gold Coast and Brisbane Cruise Terminal.
Sun Air has shuttle services to the Sunshine Coast. One-way tickets for adults costs about $50 CAD and you can get discounts for children and family bookings.
Hotel Shuttle: When booking your hotel, check if they offer their guests arriving on Brisbane flights a courtesy shuttle service from the airport. If they do, confirm your flight's arrival time as well as the pick-up location at the airport.
Taxi: Passengers arriving at the international terminal should make their way to Level 2 where they can get a cab from the northern end of the arrivals area. If your flight arrives at the domestic terminal, taxi stands are located right outside the exit gates. A trip to the city centre from the airport costs about $40 CAD.
Car Rental: Booking counters for Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Redspot, and Thirfty are located on Level 1 of the domestic terminal and level 2 of the international terminal.
Other: The Village Bus is a free transfer service which takes passengers who have long layovers at Brisbane Airport to the Airport Village, a shopping area located close to the airport.