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Top 10 Brisbane staycations: where to stay & what to do

Linden Brown

Brisbane: where the sun glints off the water all day long. Whether you enjoy history and culture, a world-class menu, a buzzing nightlife or fun educational experiences, Brisbane has it all.

No need to book that expensive flight. 

We compiled this comprehensive guide to staycations in Brisbane to get you started. We’ll cover where to stay and what to do for some of the best experiences you can find in this great southern land.

Grab a car rental and book a great hotel for an unforgettable experience close to home.

Jump to:

What is a staycation, and why choose Brisbane?

Ah, the staycation. It's the perfect blend of vacation excitement without leaving the comforts of Brisbane. Less hassle, more affordable, and often more sustainable.

But a staycation is more than just a holiday at home.

It’s your invitation to fall in love with Brisbane all over again. A staycation strips back the everyday and invites you to make moments feel magical. 

So, why choose a staycation in Brisbane?

Imagine easing into the day without an alarm, with nothing on your to-do list except to enjoy yourself. From the winding Brisbane River to its iconic Story Bridge, Brisbane’s blend of the modern and historic sets the stage.

First, there’s the food scene. From quirky street food markets to upscale riverside dining, take a culinary trip around the globe.

Brisbane signage
Photo by Jesse Collins / Unsplash

Then, consider the arts. Visit world-class institutions like the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, where local and international art merge. Brisbane’s art scene extends to vibrant street murals, live music, and rich theatre productions.

And don’t overlook the green spaces.

From the lush expanses of the City Botanic Gardens to the cliffs of Kangaroo Point, there’s an outdoor escape for everyone.

The charm of a Brisbane staycation lies in the balance of relaxation and discovery. One day, you could be lounging on South Bank's Streets Beach, and the next, you could be exploring the rich history of the Woolloongabba heritage precinct.

It’s an opportunity to transform the familiar into something exciting, to indulge in simple pleasures, and fall in love with your city anew. Who needs a long-haul flight when adventure lies right outside your front door?

Best hotels for a Brisbane staycation

Whether you’re after a luxury Brisbane staycation package or some of the best value rooms in Queensland, here are ten of our top picks.

Five luxury stays you don’t want to miss in Brisbane

Emporium Hotel South Bank

Imagine waking up to panoramic views of the Brisbane River and city skyline – right from your bed. At Emporium you can enjoy luxurious rooms, a spectacular rooftop infinity pool, and several chic bars and restaurants.

Nearby: South Bank Parklands, Queensland Museum and Brisbane Wheel.

Why you'll love it: Luxuriate in the panoramic city and river views. Emporium combines modern elegance with top-tier hospitality. The rooftop pool? It’s like soaring over Brisbane. Located in the arts and cultural heart of South Bank, everything exciting is just a stone’s throw away.

W Brisbane

Experience vibrant luxury with uniquely designed interiors reflecting Brisbane's local culture, paired with sweeping views of the river beneath your window. W Brisbane offers a spa, modern fitness centre and stylish bars.

Nearby: Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland Performing Arts Centre.

Why you'll love it: It’s all about chic design and dynamic vibes. W Brisbane exudes youthful luxury with rooms that showcase river views and a lively bar perfect for evening cocktails. It’s a trendy hub where energy and relaxation meet.

The Calile Hotel

Nestled in the fashionable James Street precinct, The Calile Hotel is a true urban resort known for its architectural finesse and subtropical leisure experiences.

Nearby: James Street Market, New Farm Park, and Fortitude Valley's music venues.

Why you'll love it: For a dose of urban resort sophistication, The Calile offers seamless luxury with its outdoor pool deck and design-forward architecture. Make the most of staying in the heart of Brisbane's boutique shopping and dining district.

Crystalbrook Vincent

This art-inspired hotel is carved beneath the Story Bridge. It features original artwork and a modern aesthetic. Crystalbrook Vincent provides a creative escape with stunning views of the Howard Smith Wharves and Brisbane River.

Nearby: Howard Smith Wharves, Story Bridge Adventure Climb.

Why you'll love it: Crystalbrook Vincent blends art with luxury. Rooms with contemporary art pieces offer an immersive experience. Its location at Howard Smith Wharves means a vibrant nightlife and fine dining are at your doorstep – a sanctuary for art lovers and adventurers alike.

Sage Hotel James Street

In the heart of Fortitude Valley, Sage Hotel offers refined elegance with easy access to Brisbane’s most trendy area. It’s positioned among heritage-listed buildings and combines luxury with local charm.

Nearby: Brunswick Street Mall and Chinatown.

Why you'll love it: In a word, Sage Hotel is sophisticated. It's located in a vibrant cultural hub and offers the perfect blend of history, luxury and convenience.

Five budget hotels to consider for a Brisbane staycation

Here are five of the best Brisbane staycation deals. 

Great Southern Hotel Brisbane

Experience affordability in the heart of Brisbane with the Great Southern Hotel. Offering spacious rooms and a convenient location, this hotel places you close to the city centre's lively activities.

Nearby: Walking distance to major transport stations and Brisbane's central business district.

Why you'll love it: Besides competitive rates, you'll enjoy comfortable rooms and proximity to Brisbane's main attractions. It’s a practical and central choice. 

Ibis Budget Brisbane Airport

If you’ve got an early flight or need a convenient stopover, Ibis Budget Brisbane Airport is a good choice. Despite its simplicity, it provides all the essentials for a comfortable stay.

Nearby: Minutes from Brisbane Airport with efficient shuttle services.

Why you'll love it: Affordability meets convenience here. You get clean rooms and friendly service – perfect for travellers on the go​.

Summer House Backpackers Brisbane

Summer House Backpackers is a vibrant and budget-friendly option. It’s ideal for travellers looking to save money while enjoying a sociable atmosphere.

Nearby: Close to Roma Street Station and various Brisbane attractions.

Why you'll love it: Enjoy a lively and friendly environment​​ at low rates.

Bunk Brisbane

Bunk Brisbane combines affordability with a fun vibe, offering both private and dorm-style accommodations. It's popular among young travellers and those interested in Brisbane's nightlife.

Nearby: A short walk from Fortitude Valley's bars and clubs.

Why you'll love it: Not only is it wallet-friendly, but Bunk also features a spa and vibrant social spaces – you’ll have a memorable stay​.

The Cliff House

If you're looking for an affordable stay slightly removed from the city's hustle, The Cliff House offers a quaint retreat with essential comforts.

Nearby: Close to the Brisbane River and accessible to the city centre.

Why you'll love it: It provides a quiet, comfortable setting for a peaceful stay at a reasonable price.

Now that your hotel is sorted let’s look at what you can do while you’re here. We’ve pulled together our five favourite ideas for a staycation in Brisbane (whether you’re travelling with a loved one or the whole crew).

Five things to do on a couple’s staycation in Brisbane

1. Take a sunset cruise on the Brisbane River

Just like Sydney's iconic harbour cruises, Brisbane offers romantic river cruises. There's nothing quite like watching the sun dip below the horizon from the deck of a boat, with the city skyline as your backdrop.

2. Dine in the West End

Known for its eclectic dining scene, the West End has an array of restaurants where you can enjoy a great meal in the vibrant atmosphere. This area is perfect for couples looking for a blend of good food and culture​​.

3. Relax at a Rooftop Bar

Brisbane’s skyline is spectacular, and what better way to enjoy it than with a cocktail in hand from one of the city’s chic rooftop bars? It’s a great way to start or cap off your evening. Maya Rooftop on Ann Street is popular for its ambient setting and colourful Mexican-inspired cuisine. And if alcohol isn’t your thing, consider a decadent high tea.

4. Explore the City Botanic Gardens

Take in lush landscapes and peaceful walks at Brisbane's City Botanic Gardens. It's the perfect spot for a romantic stroll or a quiet picnic​.

5. Visit the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium

Located within the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, the planetarium lets you explore the universe, making it a fascinating and educational date​.

Five things to do on a family staycation in Brisbane

1. River Cruise on the Brisbane River

Start your day with a leisurely cruise on the Brisbane River. Companies like Mirimar Cruises offer themed cruises that cater to families, providing an engaging way to see the city from the water.

2. South Bank Parklands

This vibrant area is not only scenic but also packed with activities. You can visit Queensland's Gallery of Modern Art, the State Library and the Queensland Museum. The area also boasts the Sciencentre, a great pick for curious minds, and a man-made beach where kids can splash around.

3. Wheel of Brisbane

Enjoy panoramic views of the city from the Wheel of Brisbane. It’s a fun way to see the city from above and can be especially enchanting during the evening when the city lights begin to sparkle.

4. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

At the world's first and largest koala sanctuary, you can get close to native Australian wildlife. You can cuddle a koala, hand-feed kangaroos, and watch sheepdog and bird of prey shows. It’s a great one for the kids.

5. Day Trip to Moreton Island

Just a short boat ride from Brisbane, Moreton Island offers beautiful beaches and the famous Tangalooma Wrecks, perfect for snorkelling. Families can enjoy sand tobogganing, whale watching (seasonal), and interacting with marine life. Don’t miss this dreamy day trip.

How to get around during your staycation

Consider your Brisbane staycation with a fresh twist. It’s simple – grab the perfect car when and where you need it.

With Uber Carshare, hundreds of cars are parked close to Brisbane's best spots. Fancy a sporty ride for a fun day out or a compact car for easy city parking? Pick up a car rental in Brisbane close to where you’re staying. No queues, no paperwork. Just you, your favourite people, and endless possibilities.

Final word: create the best Brisbane staycation

Travel lets you try new food and discover new things. Feel a new kind of buzz. But you don't have to go far to find such adventures. 

Imagine exploring the very best of your home city on a whim, without booking flights, navigating unfamiliar language or changing time zones. Grab a fun new car rental in Brisbane, and it’s your adventure – on your terms.

For even more inspiration, discover free things to do in Brisbane, hikes near Brisbane and some great Queensland road trips


Where can I go for a staycation in Brisbane?

Consider vibrant areas like the South Bank or the cultural precinct around Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art for a mix of leisure, art and great food. South Bank Parklands is particularly notable for its man-made beach, riverside views, and access to the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre.

What are the best Brisbane staycation ideas?

Start with a sunrise cruise on the Brisbane River, followed by brunch in the eclectic West End. You could spend the afternoon exploring the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, the modern exhibits at GOMA, or even climbing the iconic Story Bridge. Enjoy a rooftop drink in the evening at one of Brisbane's chic bars in Fortitude Valley, combining breathtaking views with a vibrant nightlife scene. Who says the Gold Coast has the most fun!

What are some good hotels for a Brisbane staycation?

For a luxurious stay, consider the Emporium Hotel South Bank, which offers stunning cityscape and river views with a touch of modern elegance, or The Calile Hotel, known for its urban resort vibe in the trendy James Street precinct. Try the Great Southern Hotel or the Ibis Budget Brisbane Airport for more budget-friendly options.

Did you like this article? Check out our Perth staycation, Adelaide Staycation and Canberra Staycation articles for more tips.