If you plan a trip to the East Coast of Australia, you will likely have Brisbane on your itinerary. Located halfway between Sydney and the Whitsundays Islands, Brisbane is the largest city in Queensland; an ideal base for exploring places like the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.
In fact, there are many day trips from Brisbane that allow you to discover this impressive subtropical region with its natural attractions.
Best day trips from Brisbane
I have visited Brisbane a few times on my travels in Australia and explored its surroundings by car and public transportation. On this post, I am showing you some of the best day trips around Brisbane that are worth adding to your Australia trip plan.
See wildlife at the Australia Zoo.
If you love wildlife, you must plan a day trip from Brisbane to the Australia Zoo in Beerwah, the largest zoo in Australia. It only takes one hour by train from Brisbane to Beerwah, or you can hire a car for an easy ride north of the city. The Australia Zoo is huge, and you will need at least 6 hours to visit it all, so plan a whole day. This zoo offers the largest natural environment for all animals, with an array of educational shows.
Moreover, you can take the opportunity to visit the Wildlife Warriors Hospital, just next door, one of the largest wildlife hospitals in Australia rescuing thousands of sick and injured native animals every year.
Drive to the Gold Coast
While the Gold Coast is a place that needs a few days to be discovered, depending on what interests you most, you can plan a day trip from the city for a swim, a surf, a stroll, a bike or a hike in the amazing Gold Coast Hinterland.
There are myths about the Gold Coast which labels this area as glamorous and touristy. While there is some truth in it, it’s not about that. There are highrises, water and theme parks that attract family with kids, but there are also beautiful walking trails, coastal and natural attractions for nature lovers. I loved my 6 weeks on the Gold Coast and highly recommend the Gold Coast for a day-trip or even for a few days stay.
The best way to explore the Gold Coast is by hiring a car and travelling the region by yourself. If you only want to visit Broadbeach, Surfers Paradise or Burleigh Heads or Coolangatta, I’d suggest you catch a train from Roma Station in Brisbane to the Gold Coast. The train service operates hourly, and tickets can be purchased with the local public transportation, and by using the Go Card.
Learn more about all Australia Transport Cards.
Spend a day in Byron Bay
You cannot leave Brisbane without seeing Byron Bay first. This little village known among the locals for being the “sons of flowers village” is still a haven for surfers and nature lovers and those who don’t like the city buzz.
The beaches in Byron Bay and the waves are superb, and the hinterland is a top location for hikers and surfers. Byron Bay is about 200 km south of Brisbane. The Greyhound buses operate daily. For more freedom, I would recommend hiring a car to discover Byron Bay at your own pace. You can also take a detour to Ballina for more beautiful beaches.
More about Byron Bay
Take a day trip to the Lamington National Park
If you prefer to dive into the forest, Brisbane’s surrounding area offers gorgeous places for hiking. The Lamington National Park is one of the most diverse national parks I have been to, with beautiful hiking trails, picturesque villages and historic sites. Tamborine Mountain is an easy drive from Brisbane and really worth visiting.
The nearby Binna Burra section of the Lamington National Park is a paradise with +24 walking trails and awe-inspiring vistas. If you are adventurous the 5-hour return walk through the world oldest subtropical rainforests to the summit of Mount Warning is the right thing for you.
More about the Gold Coast Hinterland.
Explore Moreton Bay from Brisbane, on a boat tour
If you want to see more of Brisbane surroundings, Moreton Bay makes for a great day tour. Catch the ferry at South East Brisbane to all 4 islands that form Moreton bay. The best way to explore the bay is by boat or kayak. This allows you to cross over, border the inlets and smaller islands and marvel at the beautiful mangroves. Stop at Stradbroke island for sandboarding or a stroll on its huge dunes.
More about Moreton Bay.
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More day trips in Brisbane
There are more day trips that you can undertake in Brisbane.
- A day out to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a good way to see all native Australian animals.
- If you love untouched nature and peaceful beaches, the Sunshine Coast is the place to go.
- Caloundra and Mooloolaba are pretty small coastal towns for a self-drive adventure from Brisbane.
- You can also add it as an extension of your day trip from Brisbane to the Australia Zoo.
First published in 2017, last updated in Jan 2021
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