Exploring Brisbane: A Student's City Guide

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Reem Mohamed

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18 September, 2023

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10 mins read

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Travel Preparation

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As the country’s third-largest city, Brisbane is one of Australia's most distinctive capital cities because of the way the river winds its way around the land. The capital of Queensland, Brisbane, is renowned for its vibrant energy, pleasant atmosphere, and 280 days of sunshine every year. The vibrant capital of Queensland offers a relaxed charm, a metropolitan hustle and bustle, and a touch of adventure.

As for the city’s status as a student city, Brisbane’s reputation precedes it! The city houses a number of top-ranked universities, renowned colleges, and esteemed higher education institutions whose high quality of education attracts not only local but also international students. The overall student life in the city also adds to its ambience and prompts the booking of student rooms in Brisbane.

In this Brisbane city guide, we’re exploring every aspect of life in Brisbane and taking advantage of everything this unique city of sunshine has to offer! So, tag along and let’s explore Brisbane together!

Brisbane City Guide

Getting to Know Brisbane

Brisbane is a unique city in the heart of Australia with plenty to offer! Here are a few things to familiarise yourself with before stopping by this sunny city! For example, the city of Brisbane’s reputation as a sunny city is owed to its 283 sunny days per year, thus making it the sunniest city in Australia. Following both Sydney and Melbourne, Brisbane is also considered Australia’s third-most populous city, with 19% of the national population. 

While Brisbane is known for having stunning natural scenery, the city has no beaches, something that it makes up for by having an artificial beach right in the centre of the city. The South Bank artificial beach is 2,000 square metres of concrete formed by about 4,000 cubic metres of sand. This beach’s sand comes from the Canal Rous in Moreton Bay, and each year the beach is supplemented with an additional 70 tonnes to ensure good condition. 

Brisbane is home to the largest city hall building in Australia, located right in the heart of the central business district. While the city used to have a reputation of being all business and no play, this image is slowly changing! The vibrancy of this metropolitan urban city is starting to peak through the business facade, and people from all over are starting to see what Brisbane truly is about!

Brisbane City Guide

Getting Around Brisbane

The transportation system in Brisbane is fully comprehensive and accessible, making it easy to get around for residents and visitors alike. There’s more than one way to get around Brisbane with various means of public transport that are cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and easy to navigate. Check out our ultimate guide for transportation in Brisbane for more information.


The bus service covers over 400 routes, giving you access to almost all corners of the city. 


It’s also noteworthy that the city is bicycle-friendly, making for a more eco-friendly way of getting around that allows you to explore the city in a much more fun way. 


The Queensland Rail City network includes 152 railway stations spread throughout 13 suburban rail lines and the metropolitan area, such as the Airport Line, Beenleigh Line, Caboolture Line, Cleveland Line, Doomben Line, Exhibition Line, and others. 


You can also make your way through the city on foot and take in all the sun, beauty, and natural scenery of Brisbane. 


You can hail a cab or book a car when moving from one place to another in the city. This comes in especially handy when you’re running late for your classes.

Student Life in Brisbane

Brisbane's tuition is affordable, especially when compared to the quality of education it provides. This is an excellent option for international students looking for an affordable place to study. The city is home to universities like Bond University, the University of Queensland (UQ), Queensland University of Technology, and Central Queensland University (CQU).

Brisbane is a friendly and safe city with an easy-to-use public transit system. Brisbane was placed 22nd in the QS Best Student Cities 2019 list because it has lower average living costs than other Australian student cities, world-class universities, a vibrant student scene, and a fantastic urban and outdoor lifestyle culture. Here are some tips for surviving life as a student in Brisbane!

What to Do in Brisbane

An important part of this Brisbane city guide is to help you enjoy your time in the city as best we can! So, here are some of the things you can get up to while in Brisbane! 

Stop By One of Many Tourist Attractions in Brisbane

The city of Brisbane has plenty up its sleeves. Brisbane's well-known landmarks, famous tourist spots, and renowned attractions include everything from parks and open spaces to museums and art galleries. In Brisbane, there is a spot for you to enjoy whatever your interests may be!

The Museum of Brisbane

All history buffs will agree that the Museum of Brisbane is the must-visit spot in the city if the intriguing past of Brisbane interests you! With its valuable contents tucked away safely in one of Brisbane’s premier heritage buildings, the museum is small but still takes up the top level of City Hall. The building has a stunning clock tower with magnificent views of the city that will make your visit even more memorable! Exhibitions at this museum include contemporary ones as well as historic ones covering the city of Brisbane and its people.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

One of the best things you can do in Brisbane is get up close and personal with a koala! At the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Koalas and more than 70 species of other adorable Australian creatures are available for intimate encounters. You can hand-feed kangaroos, watch rainbow lorikeet flocks as they descend during feeding, or laugh with kookaburras. Tucked away on the Brisbane River, this small animal refuge also allows you to see wallabies, wombats, dingoes, snakes, and even crocodiles.

Institute of Modern Art

As the hub of Brisbane’s contemporary art scene, the Institute of Modern Art presents an annual programme of exhibitions, public programs, publications, and offsite programmes by Queensland, Australian, and international artists. A regular programme of events, including artist talks, workshops, screenings, performances, and more, is held at the institute.

Attend Some of The Coolest Events in Brisbane

Several events and festivals take place in Brisbane throughout the year. These feature everything from history and culture to art and entertainment and everything in between. As your mentors throughout this Brisbane city guide, here are some of the events in Brisbane we think you should check out!

Brisbane Comedy Festival, February–March

The Brisbane Comedy Festival attracts a number of major names in the Australian and international comedy scenes each year, as well as new and upcoming talent. This comedy festival runs from the end of February for almost a month through the end of March each year and is all housed in one unique venue, the iconic Brisbane Powerhouse.

Paniyiri Greek Festival, May

Every year, the Paniyiri Greek Festival takes place on the third weekend of May and attracts over 50,000 people, both Greeks and honorary Greeks, to Musgrave Park in South Brisbane for a journey of discovery, culture, and celebration. The celebrations take place in the form of food stands, grape stomping, hours of traditional entertainment, Greek cooking demonstrations, culinary delights, and much more.

Caxton Street Seafood & Wine Festival, Labour Day Weekend

This event began as a celebration of Australian music, seafood, and wine. Caxton Street in historic Petrie Terrace is transformed into a festival street party featuring food and drink from the local restaurants and cafes, a range of live music, as well as art exhibitions and historical displays.

Brisbane Marathon Festival, August 

Taking participants on a scenic 42.195km run through the city, the Brisbane Marathon Festival is one of the fastest-growing marathons in Australia. It attracts participants from every state of Australia and over 24 countries. It is the perfect gathering for all athletes and avid runners in the city!

Brisbane Festival, September

This festival takes place for three weeks in September for attendees from all walks of life to enjoy. This is a respected and acclaimed International Arts Festival that incorporates music, dance, theatre, circus, comedy, film, circus, opera, and so much more.

Go Whale Watching

Whale-watching season in Brisbane runs from June all the way to September; sometimes, it lasts until November. This is one of the most unique activities to get up to in the city of Brisbane; what could be more exciting than watching literal whales swim around you? If you happen to be in the city during that season, be sure to book yourself a whale-watching excursion!

Brisbane City Guide

Go on A Picnic

Just like whale season in Brisbane, perfect picnic season is also a thing in the city! You can enjoy perfect picnics with friends from June to September in some of the city’s parks and green spaces that are scattered everywhere! 

Brisbane City Guide

Explore Brisbane’s Culinary Scene

Part of the visitor’s experience in any city is sampling all the different kinds of unique food this city has to offer, and Brisbane is no different! The city is home to a vibrant and culturally diverse culinary scene that is surely delicious and worth the try! Here are some of our favourite spots to grab a bite while in Brisbane! 

Babylon, Brisbane City

This is the perfect place to grab Mediterranean food and refreshing cocktails by the waterside. Overlooking the Brisbane River, Babylon spans three floors and offers varying experiences of intimate indoor dining and stunning outdoor event spaces with delicious food being a guarantee! 

IPPIN, West End

Serving classy and elegant Japanese flavours, IPPIN is the perfect place for a unique fine dining experience in Brisbane. With food prepared with locally sourced ingredients and fresh produce, this is a definite must-visit spot!

Tillerman, Brisbane City

This is yet another riverside stop, but this one offers up a mixture of unique European flavours. This seafood restaurant is the place to be if you’re in the mood for perfectly cooked fish and tasty meals from the sea!

Carmen, Fortitude Valley

This intimate Mexican venue is both a restaurant and tequileria (tequila bar). This trendy eatery is located on James Street and serves delicious Mexican dishes as well as artisanal mezcals to go along with the tasty food! 

Nonda, Newstead

East Asian cuisine shines through at this Brisbane food spot! You can head to Nonda to enjoy tasty treats inspired by Japanese, Korean and Chinese dishes that demand to be shared amongst friends.

Persone Italian Restaurant, Brisbane City

This place received the title of “Best Italian Restaurant Queensland” in 2020, and rightfully so! Offering up some of the most mouth-watering Italian dishes paired with unmatched panoramic views of Brisbane City, this is the perfect spot to have a good night out!

Go on an Island Trip

While in Brisbane, one of the most exciting things you can do is set sail to Moreton Island and have yourself a little island getaway! You can discover this world-renowned island paradise through luxury cruises or daily boat rides. While there, you can encounter wild dolphins, snorkel the famed Tangalooma Wrecks, enjoy miles of white sand beaches, and get a taste of delicious food. This trip is ideal for weekend plans with friends in Brisbane! 

You can check out our blog for more fun things to do in Brisbane!

Best Places to Live in Brisbane for Students

There are several areas and neighbourhoods in the city for students to call home during their study period there. Several student-friendly neighbourhoods are ideal for booking student rooms in Brisbane for students close to your university of choice. The best places to live and book student rooms in Brisbane include Toowong and East Brisbane.

Brisbane Neighbourhoods


For University of Queensland (UQ) students, Toowong has long been a favourite inner-city neighbourhood. Toowong has a variety of transportation options that will make getting around easier for students without a car, and it is affordable to rent there. There are also plenty of things to get up to in this area of the city as well as various different student-friendly hangout spots to spend time at.

East Brisbane 

Due to the abundance of apartment complexes available for student accommodation, East Brisbane is a popular district of Brisbane among international students. It is located in close proximity to the city’s top universities and institutions and is an ideal place to book student rooms in Brisbane!

Check out our guide to some of the other great places to live in Brisbane!

Student Accommodation in Brisbane

Here are some options for student accommodation in Brisbane, where students can enjoy living in a student-friendly environment while also being close to their university of choice. 

Griffith University Village

Griffith University Village is a Brisbane housing that provides students with accommodation close to their respective universities and institutions. The property has a wide range of studios and bedroom apartments for students to choose from according to their needs and preferences. All these student rooms in Brisbane are fully furnished and come with a bed, a desk, a chair, a wardrobe, and a workspace. Bathrooms, kitchens, and lounge areas are shared. 

The amenities offered at these student rooms in Brisbane are plentiful and always come in handy! These include all-inclusive utility bills, CCTV security, central heating, air conditioning, laundry facilities, cleaning services, on-site management, and on-site maintenance. Griffith University Village is also pet-friendly and has a vending machine, free parking, and bike storage. Some communal and social areas at this property include a swimming pool, a games room, a communal room, an on-site cinema, and an on-site gym.

UniLodge Herston

UniLodge Herston is a student housing in Brisbane that offers different kinds of rooms. All rooms feature king bunk beds, a wardrobe, a balcony, and a study desk and chair.

These student rooms in Brisbane feature various amenities and services. These include Wi-Fi, 24/7 security, on-site laundry facilities, wheelchair access, an exercise gym, a music room, a BBQ and picnic area, and reception. Other services include a communal kitchen, security cameras, free bicycle storage, a convenience store, a cinema room, study rooms, a courtyard area, community events, and bus access. 

The University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus is a 17-minute drive from the building, and James Cook University, Brisbane Campus is a ten-minute ride.

Scape Tribune

Scape Tribune is a student housing in Brisbane that offers studios and different shared apartments. All units feature beds, study desks with chairs, wardrobes, plenty of storage, a kitchen, a living area, a dining area, and a private or shared bathroom.

This Brisbane student accommodation features various amenities and services, including Wi-Fi, 24/7 security, all-inclusive bills, on-site laundry facilities, and an events programme. Other services include a shuttle service, a gym, a games area, and a cinema room.

The University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus is a 14-minute drive from the building, and James Cook University, Brisbane Campus is an 11-minute drive away.

Brisbane is a unique city with a warm and welcoming atmosphere that attracts people from all over the world! With sunshine in its corner, an array of renowned universities, a culturally diverse culinary scene, and a set of exciting things to get up to, Brisbane is the perfect place to visit!


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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Brisbane a good city for students?

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Brisbane is a top study destination for international students; it is affordable, accessible, liveable, and student-friendly!

How is student life in Brisbane?

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Brisbane is a safe, friendly, and inclusive city that welcomes students from different parts of the world. The city is also affordable and has an accessible and easy-to-navigate transportation system.

Why Brisbane is better than Sydney and Melbourne?

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Compared to Sydney and Melbourne, Brisbane makes it easy for residents to get from one place to another with convenience and affordability.

Are people friendly in Brisbane?

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As a city with a relaxed vibe, the locals in Brisbane are laidback, friendly, and open-minded.

What is the quality of life in Brisbane?

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The quality of life in Brisbane is good, as positively reported by 92% of Brisbane residents.