18 Best Things to do in Brisbane in Winter 2023 Guide
Looking for things to do in Brisbane in winter? While heading to your favourite beaches might be off the cards, there’s much more to Brisbane than you think!
But you know, winter is actually one of the best times to visit Brisbane. Expect crisp mornings and cool evenings, along with warm days and clear skies of the most brilliant blue. Check out my Best Things To Do In Brisbane at Night guide if you’re looking for Brisbane activities in the evening!
Winter is literally hands down my favourite season living here in Brisbane. Whether you’re looking to cosy up or explore the city in cooler weather, there’s the perfect place for everyone on all budgets.
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Best things to do in winter in Brisbane
1. Go ice skating under the stars
While it doesn’t snow or freeze over in Brisbane, an outdoor ice skating rink is the next best thing to feel like you’re in a winter wonderland.
Venture into the Brisbane CBD to King George Square for their annual ice skating experience. It’s great fun for kids and adults of all skill levels.
Make sure you book an evening session for the best experience of ice skating under the lights of City Hall. Ice skating at King George Square doesn’t just end there. Check out the food trucks, stalls, or huge range of restaurants and bars nearby.
2. Hunt down the best winter eats
Winter is basically the perfect time to gorge on carb-heavy meals and Brisbane has lots of amazing restaurants and cafes to satisfy your cravings. Firstly, go check out my ultimate Best Secret Restaurants in Brisbane Guide to find out where to go this winter.
For a warm, cosy indoor date night, check out Enoteca 1889 for incredible Roman cuisine and their epic wine list, Oh Boy Bok Choy for delicious Asian eats, or Boom Boom Room for Japanese fare in a converted bank vault.
I love going to Sunnybank, Brisbane’s authentic version of Chinatown, for hot pot or yum cha. This is a great activity to do with a group. For something closer to the CBD, check out Mr 6 Hot Pot or Korilla BBQ.
3. Cosy up in private igloos around Brisbane
Picture this: a few of your close friends or special someone snuggling up in your own private igloo overlooking the city skyline. Add to that being served fondue and mulled wine from the bar, and you’ve got yourself the perfect excuse to leave the house this winter.
Igloo experiences have been becoming more popular in Brisbane and you’ll find the best ones at Lina Rooftop and Customs House. Make sure you book early for the evening session to make the most of the sunset.
4. Attend the Royal Queensland Show (Ekka Brisbane)
Every August, Queensland’s largest annual event is held at the Brisbane Showgrounds. The Royal Queensland Show, also known as the Brisbane Exhibition (or Ekka for short) is a nod to our agricultural history. And we even get a public holiday to celebrate!
The Ekka has grown immensely over the years, and now you’ll find a massive schedule of shows, animals, performances, entertainment, displays, food, carnival rides, show bags, games and fireworks. It’s a huge draw for kids and families but is also a fun thing to do in Brisbane in winter for locals and visitors alike.
5. See winter flowers in the botanic gardens
A day outdoors in nature is great for keeping the winter blues at bay, and Brisbane has a bunch of beautiful botanic gardens to check out.
At the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, make sure you check out the Japanese gardens which are well known for their calm zen vibes. In winter, you’ll see the brilliant pink flowers blossoming, reminiscent of Japan’s cherry blossoms. It’s truly beautiful.
Or if you’re within walking distance of the Brisbane CBD you’ll find the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens. Bring a picnic to relax in the winter sun.
6. Experience a retro drive-in cinema
Visit the Yatala Drive-in for the unique experience of watching the latest blockbusters and classic flicks from the comfort (and warmth!) of your vehicle. Bring blankets and pillows and cosy up in your car, or bring a camping chair or picnic blanket to enjoy the cool fresh weather.
On weekends, the Yatala Drive-in offers a double feature so book in advance and leave enough time to grab your delicious snacks from the on-site 50s style American diner.
7. Eat everything at the Scenic Rim Eat Local Month
During June, the Scenic Rim Eat Local Month is the perfect opportunity to taste everything that south east Queensland has to offer. Make sure you check out the Winter Harvest Festival, or the great program of foodie experiences and events that’ll tickle your taste buds throughout June.
The Scenic Rim region is about an hour’s drive from Brisbane, and because of the elevation it’s normally cooler than in the city. This means that you can make the most of winter with accommodation that includes fire places and hot tubs.
8. Westoria in Brisbane’s West End
During winter, West End comes to life with the weekly Westoria night markets. Find live music, food trucks, market stalls and quirky entertainment that’ll make you forget it’s winter.
Because it’s near the river you’ll want to rug up with warm clothing, but expect to find heaters, hot food, and drinks that’ll warm your belly. My tip is to arrive early to bypass the biggest crowds and aim to travel via public transport as there isn’t much parking available nearby.
9. Head to a cosy bar
Escape the winter blues and cosy up in an intimate bar or pub. It’s not just in the Brisbane CBD either – head out to the inner city suburbs to discover great places.
Between June and September is the best time to go whale watching in south east Queensland. Head to the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Point Lookout at Stradbroke Island, or Hervey Bay. Or be picked up from your Brisbane city hotel and enjoy this awesome inclusive day tour including lunch.
Humpback whales make their migration journey north during winter to find warmer waters. So, lucky for us, it’s really likely that most whale watching tours will result in a successful sightseeing day. It’s incredible when you see these magnificent creatures up close. This should definitely be at the top of your list of winter activities.
11. Discover South Bank
An excellent activity during Brisbane winter is to explore South Bank. Year round, this popular entertainment precinct has plenty of fun things to do.
If it’s a warm sunny day, you could be tempted to dip your feet into the man-made sandy beach. But my favourite thing to do is grab snacks and enjoy a picnic on the green by the river.
Of an evening, it comes alive with markets for foodies, cosy restaurants and fun family events for kids. There are loads of winter activities on that you can catch this season including musicals and theatre shows.
12. Catch a flick at a local theatre
Brisbane has a bunch of fantastic smaller and independent cinemas showing the latest blockbusters. It’s a fantastic way to escape the cold weather, and enjoy reclining seats, snacks and a glass of wine.
My picks are smaller and independent cinemas such as the Blue Room Cinebar, New Farm Cinema, or the Palace Cinemas. During winter, you can often find international film festival movies such as the Scandinavian film festival or Spanish film festival.
13. Get chauffeured around for a day of wine tasting
Take a few friends, or make some new ones, and arrange a day tour of wine tasting and lunch at Mount Tamborine. This is the closest wine region to Brisbane and makes for a lovely day trip out of the city up into the mountains.
Make it even easier for yourself and go on this Mount Tamborine day tour which includes a delicious lunch and a few stops at wineries and the distillery. All you need to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. When you book, see if you can request specific wineries – Witches Falls is a lovely spot for wine tasting in the winter sun.
Sometimes when it’s really cold you just need to get the blood moving, and axe throwing is the perfect activity to warm up.
There are a few spots in Brisbane you can do this fun (and safe) activity. The Lumber Punks experience in West End is a great location as it’s also close to restaurants and bars so you can really make an evening of it. They’ve got experts on hand to guide you through everything you need to know.
15. Explore Brisbane on foot
If discovering Brisbane’s historical sights with a coffee and donut in hand is also your idea of a great day out, then you’ll love this aptly named Donuts & Discovery walking tour. It’s a great way to explore the laneways and get a sneak peek into some of Brisbane’s secret spots.
It’s also a great way to get to know the Brisbane CBD, so afterwards you’ll be familiar with where to go next – and you might even know more than some locals do.
16. Spend a day cruising the Brisbane River
Cruise down the Brisbane River on a beautiful sunny day to your own beat. Rent this self-drive picnic boat that fits up to 8 people and is even dog-friendly. This is such an easy activity as you don’t need a boat licence.
You just need to bring your own food and drinks, and you’re set for a brilliant day out on the river. This is a really unique activity for your winter list.
17. Rock climbing at Kangaroo Point Cliffs
One of the best things to do in Brisbane winter that’s outdoors is rock climbing and abseiling at Kangaroo Point cliffs. This time of year is perfect for getting some daytime exercise without over heating, and enjoy the warmth of the winter sun.
An activity like this is a fun activity to challenge yourself or make memories with someone special. This guided rock climbing session is the perfect introduction to climbing. My top tip is to bring a picnic and enjoy your achievements overlooking the beautiful city skyline and river.
18. Visit an art museum
In Brisbane’s South Bank precinct you can find the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art. Both are excellent options to spend a day in the cooler months.
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