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A snorkeller next to a wreck off Moreton Island
Photograph: The Edit Suite/Tourism & Events Queensland

Best day trips from Brisbane

Welcome to Brisbane. Now, get out! Here are ten of the best one-day trips to do when based in the River City

Brooke Maddison
Written by
Brooke Maddison

There is plenty to do in Brisbane itself, but the city is also perfectly positioned for a range of one-day adventures. You can get away to the beach, the mountains, an island, or a picturesque country town, and still be back home in time for a backyard barbie dinner.   

Here are ten of the best day trips to take from Brisbane. Please note that there are many sacred sites that are of great cultural significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders throughout Australia. Always check if it is appropriate for you to visit specific areas. For example, the Traditional Owners of the Glass House Mountains, the Jinbara and Kabi Kabi people, request that visitors don’t climb Mount Beerwah or Mount Tibrogargan.

Looking for an overnight stay? Check out the best weekend getaways from Brisbane.

The best days out near the River City

Moreton Island
Photograph: The Edit Suite/Tourism & Events Queensland

1. Moreton Island

Sub-tropical Moreton Island is a little slice of paradise right in South East Queensland. Visiting the protected sand island is an unforgettable experience, where you can swim in the crystal-clear waters, marvel at colourful marine life, snorkel the shipwrecks, bask on stunning beaches and toboggan down the towering sand dunes. Tangalooma Island Resort runs accessible day trips to the island, starting at $89 per adult for the chilled-out Beach Day Cruise. Take your pick from add-on activities like whale watching, wreck snorkelling, wild dolphin feeding and safari trips to the sand dunes. The pristine waters provide a striking backdrop for the Tangalooma Wrecks, making snorkelling and glass-bottom kayaking some of the best options for exploring the area. All package deals include return transfer from Brisbane, lunch and use of the resort facilities. If you’d like to stay longer, there are accommodation options ranging from camping to resorts. 

How far? 53km
Get there By ferry. Ferries depart from Holt Street Wharf, 15 minutes drive from Brisbane’s CBD. The ferry takes 75 minutes to reach Moreton Island.

Tamborine Mountain
Photograph: Tourism and Events Queensland

2. Tamborine Mountain

Tamborine Mountain has spectacular rainforest bush walks, family-friendly attractions and plenty of unique food and drink options. The mountain is in the Scenic Rim area of the Gold Coast Hinterland and known for its natural beauty. There are plenty of walking tracks that range from easy to advanced, and many of the trails visit waterfalls and creeks, perfect for cooling off on a hot day. Attractions include the Tamborine Mountain Rainforest Skywalk (a boardwalk up in the rainforest canopy), the Glow Worm Caves (actually pretty awesome) and Thunderbird Park, where you can fossick for thundereggs or take the Treetop Challenge on Australia’s largest zipline and high ropes course. Throw in artisanal markets, quaint tea shops, fresh produce and specialty restaurants like the Polish Place, and you won’t go hungry. At the end of a day spent exploring you can stop for a drink at the Tamborine Mountain Distillery or one of the local wineries.  

How far? 74km
Get there By car. It’s a one hour drive from Brisbane to the top of the mountain.

Photograph: Mark Fitz/Tourism & Events Queensland

3. Noosa

For a chilled-out beach getaway, you can’t beat Noosa. Located north of Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast, Noosa boasts stunning beaches, hidden coves, spectacular clifftop walks, chic shopping and tasty eats. Choose from water activities like swimming, paddle boarding, surfing or kayaking; or stick to land and hike along the easily accessible trails of Noosa National Park. The trails wind around cliffs with unforgettable ocean views, so keep an eye out for marine life like whales or turtles, or search the trees for koalas. The walks are particularly beautiful during sunset, and there are plenty of places to stop off and admire the views or go for a swim along the way. Don’t forget to visit Noosa’s main drag, Hastings Street, which is known for its fashion boutiques and dining options. For something a bit different, explore the Noosa Everglades by kayak or canoe or take a boat trip along the Noosa River.   

How far? 148km
Get there By car. The drive from Brisbane takes about two hours.

North Stradbroke Island
Photograph: Damian Bredberg

4. North Stradbroke Island

North Stradbroke Island is a natural haven only a ferry ride away from Brisbane. The ferry trip alone is scenic and fun, and once you’re on the island there is lots to do. Quandamooka Coast Tours are a great way to learn about the land, culture and history of the island from the Traditional Owners. If you go during whale-watching season (June-November) you’re almost guaranteed to see Humpbacks breaching in the turquoise waters, with Point Lookout and the Gorge Walk the best places to check out the show. Along the Gorge Walk you are also likely to see kangaroos as well as dolphins, rays and turtles swimming below in the crystal clear waters. Stop for fish and chips and ice cream at Point Lookout, or enjoy a drink with a view at the Point Lookout Surf Life Saving Club. A day on Stradbroke wouldn’t be complete without a swim, and there are plenty of beaches and lagoons to explore, including family favourite Cylinder Beach. 

How far? 57km
Get there By car or train to Cleveland Marina, where you then catch the ferry. For day trips the passenger ferry (around $20 return) is quick and easy, and it connects with buses on Stradbroke. If you plan on staying overnight you can take your car over, but make sure to book in advance to get the best prices.

Gondwana Rainforests
Photograph: Jesse Lindemann/Tourism & Events Queensland

5. Gondwana Rainforests

The national parks that make up the Gondwana Rainforests are home to ancient volcanoes, waterfalls and an array of native flora and fauna. Recognised internationally as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Gondwana Rainforests are spread along the Qld and NSW border. Lamington, Springbrook, Mount Barney and Main Range parks are all easily accessible from Brisbane, and each park offers something a little different. Lamington National Park has over 160km of walking tracks, ranging from beginner to advanced. Lamington has accomodation options like O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat if you want to spend the night (you do: the rooms are surrounded by rainforest and there are spa and pamper treatments available). Springbrook National Park is known for its waterfalls and swimming holes, including Natural Bridge, Twin Falls, Purling Brook Falls and Goomoolahra Falls. Many of the waterfall lookouts are only a short distance from carparks, meaning you can easily check out several in one day. 

How far? 100km
Get there By car. The journey takes around 90 minutes.

Photograph: Tourism and Events Queensland

6. Stanthorpe

Stanthorpe is known for its unique seasonal climate, making it a great option for day trips year round. Head there during the warmer months, and you’ll discover a town in full bloom; visit during winter and you might just find a light dusting of snow. Whenever you choose to visit, you’ll always find country vistas, dramatic rocky outcrops, sensational food (think local cheeses, truffles and apples) and a host of wineries – the greater Granite Belt area is home to more than 50! A perfect day out might include a hike at nearby Girraween National Park, a picnic lunch at Hidden Creek Winery and an afternoon spent exploring the historic town with a visit to the Heritage Museum and Regional Art Gallery. Don’t forget to pick up some supplies from the many artisanal food stores, orchards, farms, markets and wineries. There is so much to explore, and the drive is a little on the longer side, so it is well worth checking out some of the local accommodation options and making a weekend of it.

How far? 218km
Get there By car. The scenic country drive will take you about two and a half hours from Brisbane.

Photograph: Ipswich City Council

7. Ipswich

The heritage city of Ipswich has undergone a bit of a transformation over the last ten years, making it a great day trip option. Start your day by soaking up some culture and history, with a visit to the fantastic Ipswich Art Gallery, the Workshops Rail Museum or one of the many antiques stores. You can then head to a nearby laneway café before exploring the Ipswich Central Street Art Trail. Muched-loved local gem, Queens Park, is home to the Japanese Nerima Gardens, a mini zoo, an environmental centre, café and several children's playgrounds – plenty of fun for kids big and small alike. Round out your day with a visit to one of Ipswich’s buzzy local dining precincts. Take your pick from 88 Limestone, home to the popular Pumpyard Bar & Brewery; or check out the Top of Town dining precinct.  

How far? 44km
Get there By car (30 minutes from Brisbane’s CBD) or train (40 minutes from Brisbane Central).

Maleny & Montville
Photograph: Mark Fitz/Tourism & Events Queensland

8. Maleny & Montville

For a weekend escape from city life, head into the hills and visit the charming villages of Maleny and Montville. Located north of Brisbane in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, the area boasts fresh mountain air and stunning views of the surrounding Glass House Mountains. Visit either village for quaint streetscapes, boutique shopping, art galleries galore and cafés with picturesque views. There are also plenty of natural wonders to check out, including the Maleny Botanic Gardens, Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve and Baroon Pocket Dam. You can even try your luck spotting a platypus at the Obi Obi Creek Boardwalk, and while you're there you can take a dip at Gardners Falls. The area is also a bit of a foodie haven, so you’ll find plenty of local produce and a weekly market; as well as culinary destinations like award winning favourite the Tamarind. For the perfect end to your day, take in a spectacular sunset from one of the many scenic lookouts. Gerards and McCarthy’s Lookouts are two of the best.   

How far? 98km
Get there By car. The drive takes around 90 minutes. 

Photograph: Lachlan Douglas Photography

9. Woodford

Woodford’s most famous export is its annual celebration of music and culture, the Woodford Folk Festival. The internationally renowned festival is usually held over the New Year period at Woodfordia, a 500-acre natural playground on Jinibara Country. But even when the festival is on hiatus you can still show your support and visit Woodfordia. Lake Gkula Camping operates during school holidays, and there is a smaller-scale festival, Bushtime, that was held over the 2021-22 New Year’s Eve period. Both options offer an opportunity for connection and community with sunset concerts, workshops, nature playgrounds, lake swimming and communal campfires. Even if you don’t visit Woodfordia, the local surrounds are still worth a visit. Once you leave Brisbane you’ll hit open country roads, with views of farmland as well as roadside stalls selling fresh local produce. If you feel like getting back to nature, visit Mount Mee State Forest or take a dip at Stony Creek. In Woodford town you can explore the heritage architecture and visit cafés on the local food trail. The town is also home to a Railway Museum, and on the first and third Sunday of every month the museum hosts train rides on its historic trains. 

How far? 74km
Get there By car. The town of Woodford is about one hour north of Brisbane.

Gold Coast
Photograph: Marc Llewellyn/Tourism & Events Queensland

10. Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is best known for Surfers Paradise, tourists and large-scale attractions (think theme parks and whale watching cruises). What can’t be denied is that the Gold Coast packs in a whole lot of activity and has something for just about everyone. It’s almost impossible to narrow down the offerings to a single day, so plan your own bespoke itinerary before you head south. Looking for a chilled out beach day? Head to Tallebudgera Beach and swim in the calm azure waters where the creek meets the ocean. While you're there, check out Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre, and take part in a cultural walking tour. Other options for a day at the coast include checking out what’s on at HOTA, the Goldie’s own contemporary gallery and performance space; or hiring a bike and cruising along the esplanade, stopping off to swim, grab a bite to eat or to browse the beachside markets.

How far? 80km
Get there By car or train. Depending on which part of the Gold Coast you visit, the drive will take you 60-90 minutes. Trains from Brisbane to Nerang take 105 minutes, and connect with local buses and trams.

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