Sunrise in Brisbane is one of the most magical times of each day. The sun rises in the east, so it’s only obvious that a sunrise on the east coast of Australia is really amazing. We’re very lucky to be along the coastline for beautiful sunrises over the water.
Even if you’re not an early riser, I guarantee you there will be a few ideas on this list that will turn you into a morning person!
The Story Bridge Climb is one of the unique sunrise activities you can do. As one of only three bridge climbs across the globe, this is the perfect activity for a special occasion!
Run once a month, their unique Dawn Climb starts at 4:40 a.m., right on time for seeing the sun rise over Brisbane.
Enjoy incredible panoramic views across all of Brisbane city – and on a clear morning, the sun is over Moreton Bay. This two-hour activity is definitely one of the best ways to see the sunrise and sunset in Australia.
2. Float on a hot air balloon
If you’re looking for an unforgettable sun experience, this sunrise hot air balloon ride is the way to go. There are a few options in southeast Queensland that show off our beautiful landscapes. But I personally think the best rides are actually on the Gold Coast, about an hour away.
The amazing tour includes a glass of bubbles as you take in the scenic panoramic views of the mountains and ocean over the horizon. It ends with a hot breakfast at a boutique vineyard, too. It’s the perfect spot for a proposal or an anniversary celebration, just saying.
Whether you’re ending a big evening out, or an early bird starting fresh for the day, Howard Smith Wharves is a great spot to catch the sunrise and sunset and see the Brisbane River sparkle.
My tip is to take the elevator up to Wilson’s Outlook. Here you’ll find a picturesque picnic spot on the cliff overlooking the Story Bridge, the Brisbane River, and the city skyline.
Pick up coffee and breakfast from Howard Smith Wharves when they open at 6 a.m. But if you need a pick-me-up before your morning jaunt, check out Death Before Decaf – a popular coffee shop open 24/7 just a few minutes away.
4. Dog-friendly Nudgee Beach
Nudgee Beach is one of the closest beaches to Brisbane city. It’s not quite the beaches of the Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast, but it’s easy to get to for sunrise and relax watching the sun sets, too.
Look up the sunrise and sunset times to find out when the low tide is happening. It’s a great spot to wander the mangroves for bird watching in this unique ecosystem area.
There is also an off-leash dog-friendly beach, so your furry mates can have a splash too. I love watching the happy dogs running and playing in the low tides.
Mt Coot-tha gets really busy at dusk and sunset, so daybreak is the perfect time to visit. On a clear day, watch the sunrise over Moreton Bay and across the region. You’ll be amazed how much and far you can see.
There isn’t any public transport that goes that early, so you will definitely need your own transport to get here. Luckily, too, there’s a great café for breakfast, so you can enjoy the scenic views over a meal.
6. Kangaroo Point Cliffs for views
Beautiful at all times of the day, Kangaroo Point Cliffs provides one of the best city skyline views that Brisbane offers.
If you’re a fitness fanatic, the stairs here are popular for runners. They’re pretty steep so watch your step even if you’re just using them to head down to the foot of the cliff or up to the clifftop.
Kangaroo Point Cliffs is the perfect spot for a morning picnic, especially with the café Joey’s open for coffee from 6 a.m. Enjoy a smoothie or your favorite beverage overlooking the Brisbane city skyline across the South Bank.
7. See the Brisbane River sparkle
The Brisbane River, affectionately known to locals as the ‘brown snake’, seems to sparkle at dawn. It’s actually really lovely to walk along the river in the fresh air at dawn.
The City Cat ferry service also runs from 5:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., so I think this is an amazing way to see sunrise and sunset from the river. Hop on at one of the 18 stops and enjoy the scenic views that you can only get from being right on the water.
Luckily for us, the east coast of Australia gives us beautiful sunrise and sunset over the water, and the Manly Boat Harbour is one of my top spots.
About a 30-minute drive from the city, Manly is a quaint bay-side town with lots of great cafés and shops with a seaside vibe. For a post-sunrise breakfast, make sure you go to the Manly Boathouse for coffee, breakfast, and harbour views.
In daylight, check out all the different kinds of boats moored in the harbour, and if you’ve got kids you can make a game out of looking at all the boat names.
9. Visit the Cleveland Lighthouse
One of the most eastern points in the Brisbane region is the bay side suburb of Cleveland. Just south of Manly, Cleveland is another lovely seaside town with lots going on.
Follow the map and signs for the scenic marine drive, and you’ll end up at the very end of the peninsula. The Cleveland Lighthouse is a great point of interest and an amazing place to watch the dawn.
Go on a Sunday so after morn, you can pop into the Cleveland markets. Grab breakfast and wander the local arts and crafts stalls.
10. Sandy beaches in Redcliffe
This peninsula north of the Brisbane CBD has some lovely sandy beaches, perfect for a break of dawn. Redcliffe is made up of a few great beaches including Scarborough Beach, Suttons Beach, and Margate Beach.
Take your fishing rod and join other locals fishing off the old Hornibrook Bridge, or Redcliffe Beach.
While you’re there, check out the famous Bee Gees Walk which is actually pretty impressive, or the huge range of cafés for breakfast to extend your morning.
11. Get a birds-eye view from Brisbane’s tallest hotel
A unique way to enjoy sunrise is to see it from a high vantage point. Book an overnight stay at Brisbane’s highest hotel, The Meriton on Adelaide Street.
Boasting 74 or 17 to 24 floors, you’re guaranteed incredible views over Brisbane. The special altitude suites take up the top 10 floors and these are the best suites to stay.
By staying here, you get all the advantages of a beautiful city morning, while still getting to stay in your pyjamas, and ordering room service!
12. Free yoga class after a first light stroll
One of my favourite morning sunrise walks is from New Farm to Newstead. The boardwalk skims the Brisbane River, which is a great way to wake up and get outside in the fresh air.
It gets busier throughout the morning with lots of people exercising and even more adorable dogs.
You can walk along the upgraded boardwalk in any direction – it goes all the way to Hamilton North Shore or into the Brisbane CBD and further.
13. Moreton Island
Moreton Island is one of my favourite sunrise spots. If you want to get out of the city and get that peaceful serenity that an island getaway brings, I would definitely recommend going to Moreton Island and spending the night at Tangalooma Island Resort.
Head to the east ‘surf side’ of the island to watch a magical sunrise as sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. There won’t be anyone else nearby, so it’s the perfect spot to watch the sun rising.