The home of the 2023 Truck Show, South Bank is more than just another tourist-friendly precinct, hosting some of the country’s best art galleries, museums, bars and restaurants
As Brisbane’s dedicated cultural hub, South Bank has a wealth of things to see and do, representing the very best things about the Queensland capital.
Home to some of the country’s most revered art galleries and museums, a burgeoning bar and dining scene, plus some of the most lustrous riverside walks, CBD skyline views and parklands in Brisbane, South Bank is more than just another tourist-friendly precinct.
Here’s the ultimate guide to Brisbane’s iconic South Bank, curated by Tourism & Events Queensland.
South Bank Galleries
Art lovers will never get over their first visit to the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA).
Flanking either side of the State Library of Queensland and the Brisbane River, the twin galleries are dedicated to some of the best examples of contemporary art from Australia, Asia and the Pacific.
For lovers of street art and sculpture, take a walk along Fish Lane. In recent years, this once bland thoroughfare has become a bustling dining and arts hub, even hosting Brisbane’s annual Brisbane Street Art Festival (BSAF) and opening a working studio for artists to showcase their works.
Featuring huge murals, sculptures and installations, this ever-expanding network of colour currently stretches the length of the laneway and under the South Brisbane Railway line, connecting to the famous G20 Pillars Project.
Theatres & Events
If theatre, dance and live music performances are your cultural compass, you’ll want to head straight to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC).
Home to some of the biggest names in Australian performing arts, including Queensland Theatre, Queensland Ballet, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, and Opera Queensland, QPAC features a compelling year-round program that can rival any capital city.
From one-man shows to famed West End and Broadway musicals, you’ve not done right by Brisbane until you’ve watched someone tread the boards at QPAC. boards at QPAC.
South Bank Museums
Down at the southern end of South Bank is the Queensland Maritime Museum. Tucked away under the Goodwill Bridge, it may be smaller in size, but it packs a historical punch that’s well worth a look around.
At the top end of South Bank sits the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre. Spanning four levels of collections and exhibitions, it’s the perfect way to entertain the (big) kids.
Explore the ancient fossil hall – home to some of the world’s oldest dinosaur fossils – and get stuck into interactive experiments in the Sciencentre.
The State Library of Queensland is home to Australia’s literary icons, housing an impressive collection of first-edition journals, vintage magazines, manuscripts and archives, rare books, music, photographs, films and videos, with a large chunk covering Queensland’s heritage, history, art, design and science.
Drink & Dine
You won’t go hungry or thirsty at South Bank. Every nook of this district offers ample opportunity for face stuffinh — and you’d be mad not to. From cheap eats and causal eateries, degustation dinners and hatted dining, there is something to suit every tastebud.
Little Stanley and Grey Street precincts have a slew of fun, causal eateries. Here, you’ll find everything from nostalgic Asian cooking at Ma Pa Me, Hellenic-inspired gyros at Zeus Street Greek, Italian heavyweights Gnocchi Gnocchi, Vici and Spaghetti House, plus a handful of small bars and dedicated dessert cafes.
Venture to Stanley Street Plaza for atmosphere in spades; live music, classic Aussie pub-grub and dessert bars aplenty. For quick and easy bites on the move hit up the alfresco parkland food court for classics all the family will love.
For dining with a view, River Quay delivers with a raft of slick restaurants overlooking the CBD and Brisbane River. Brisbane dining icons Otto Ristorante, Aquitaine and Popolo all reside here. You can’t go wrong. Want to go all-out? Loosen your belt at Bacchus, South Bank’s super slick, super fancy dining option.
Whether you’re after dinner with paired wines, a decadent high tea, or max out on a degustation, this is where to head.
For cocktails with city views, make your way to the Terrace Bar rooftop cocktail lounge at the Emporium Hotel. The bar skills here are next level — and so are the views. After a cocktail or two, head downstairs to Little Big House for a game of pool and a round of karaoke. The beautifully renovated pub masquerading as an elegant old Queenslander is all about letting your hair down
Want to kick on after eating out? Head to Fish Lane. Here, you’ll find quirky cocktail bars nestled in between award-wining Italian, alfresco Vietnamese, and cheese and wine bars. Stop in at local beer cafe Saccharomyses, try wine bars Butler Wine Bar, La Lune Wine Co or Maeve, before finding the secret Hip Hop dive bar, Next Episode, then settle in at Maker for classy whisky cocktails.
South Bank Parklands & Riverside Walks
Comprising 17 manicured acres, South Bank Parklands is a haven of lush rainforest, expansive greens and riverside parks. And it’s all completely free to enjoy.
Nature lovers will relish the tranquillity along the Rainforest Walk, which winds along wooden walkways through tropical and sub-tropical plants to the enchanting Nepalese Peace Pagoda.
Others will prefer finding the perfect secluded picnic spot at River Quay Green, Rainforest Green and Liana Lounge. Making a decision will be the hardest part.
Further south along the Parklands, you’ll come across South Bank’s famed Epicurious Garden, a specialist volunteer-led herb and vegetable garden. As well as a learning hub for visitors on all things horticultural, the garden holds a free weekly harvest cart Tuesdays through Thursdays, where you can pick up freshly picked produce.
South Bank Markets
South Bank is buzzing with energy at any time of day, but it really goes the extra mile on market day. Every Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday, the South Bank Collective Markets fill Stanley Street Plaza with dozens of stalls showcasing local arts, crafts, collectibles and homemade treasures.
If you’re on the hunt for one-of-a-kind fashion, jewellery, and homewares, make sure to hit up the Young Designers Markets. Held on the first Sunday of every month, these famous markets feature cutting-edge and unique creations from emerging local designers and artists.