Get an Authentic Taste of Brisbane and Australia’s Gold Coast


In recent years, food critics around the world have been abuzz about Brisbane’s restaurant scene: The city has become “a vibrant destination for food lovers,” according to Australia’s Good Food Guide. Renowned chefs helm celebrated restaurants, which range from cool and contemporary to classic and colonial. Brisbane’s cocktail scene is also attracting attention, with mixologists pouring their handcrafted creations at stunning bars with sweeping city views. Today, the city of Brisbane—famous for its mild climate—is now also known as one of Australia’s coolest destinations.

Even better, this wealth of culinary magic has extended beyond city limits, with delicious, innovative restaurants sprouting up all over Queensland, including on the Gold Coast. That’s why this six-day culinary itinerary covers both destinations. From gourmet meals in the city to leisurely dining by the sea, this trip is exactly what you’re looking for if you want an Australian holiday that includes a heavy focus on savoring the best of the country’s cuisine.


Trip Highlight

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Take a selfie with a koala at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can also hand-feed kangaroos.

Trip Designer

United Airlines

With nonstop United Airlines flights from San Francisco or Los Angeles to Brisbane, there’s never been a better time to visit Queensland. After enjoying an in-flight meal, movie, and snooze, you can snorkel the world’s largest coral reef, lay on white-sand beaches, dine at award-winning restaurants, and wander through ancient rainforests. Come and let Queensland captivate you today.

DAY 1Your First Taste of Brisbane

After you land in Brisbane, head to your hotel for the next three nights, the Emporium Hotel South Bank. This unique urban sanctuary embodies much of the stylish and sunny sensibility of Brisbane today. Sunlight fills its soaring lobby through oversized floor-to-ceiling windows, while its rooftop bar is one of Brisbane’s most popular spots to toast the city.

You may be tempted to hole up in your suite with views of either the Brisbane River or the nearby hills. Each suite has exquisite, handcrafted touches and the latest in-room technology, including Bose audio systems and high-definition televisions.

Take a quick power nap—after selecting from the “exquisite sleeps” pillow menu—then venture out into the city. The Emporium Hotel South Bank has a central location ideal for exploring Brisbane—it’s just a block from the river and next to the South Bank Parklands. Galleries, museums, and theaters are all nearby, and the South Bank train station is across the street if you want to venture farther out.
People eat food at a riverside picnic table

DAY 2Brisbane Highlights

Start this morning with a bird’s-eye view of the city, and the region, as you ascend on the Wheel of Brisbane at the South Bank Parklands. This enormous Ferris wheel stands almost 200 feet tall, and from its cars you can take in sweeping views of all of Brisbane’s landmarks. Thanks to an audio system in each gondola, you’ll also enjoy an introduction to the sights you’re seeing, like the Botanical Gardens, Mount Coot-tha, the Goodwill Bridge, and the city’s Cultural precinct. This activity is not included in the price of the itinerary, but well worth it.

You’ll then explore some of the city on foot. On a Laneways & Cafés tour, you’ll stop into some of the city’s many cafés and restaurants—there are over 1,500 of them at last count. Your guide will steer you to cafés that are the favorites of locals looking for a perfectly prepared coffee (or tea, iced chocolate, chai, or other drinks). You’ll also have chances to sample baked treats and discuss the finer points of coffee artistry with baristas. Be sure to get some restaurant suggestions from your guide before you part ways.

In the evening, choose from the city’s many culinary highlights. If it’s a Friday or Saturday night, the Eat Street Markets are a must. Located downstream on the north shore of the river, Eat Street Markets features some 180 colorfully painted shipping containers that house dining options that span the globe—Asian noodles, Turkish kebabs, Hungarian fried bread (langos), and more. Live music and other performances help create a friendly, festive atmosphere. If you’re visiting on some other night of the week, there are an endless amount of restaurants that will fit your style, from white-tablecloth options to casual beer gardens.

DAY 3Cape Moreton Scenic Tour

Today you’ll head off to a stunning national park right at the doorstep of Brisbane. Located on the other side of Moreton Bay across from Brisbane, Moreton Island is a unique paradise of golden beaches, rolling surf, and beautiful freshwater lakes. On the Cape Moreton Scenic Day Tour, you’ll experience the beauty of Moreton Island headlands, learn about the rich history of both the Indigenous people who lived here and the first European settlers on the island, and enjoy an off-road adventure in 4WD buses on the island’s untamed tracks and beaches.

Your outing begins with a cruise across magnificent Moreton Bay, stopping at the famous Tangalooma Shipwrecksand the island’s Western Beach. Later in the day, a 4WD outing along the postcard-perfect Eastern Surf Beach will be followed by a soak in the naturally bubbling Champagne Pools. Depending on the season, you may also have an opportunity to sample traditional bush tucker—the name for seeds, berries, and roots eaten by the indigenous people on the island. Your guides today will describe not only culinary aspects of the “Island Way of Life” of the local Ngugi clan but other aspects of their culture and history.

Moreton Island also offers some incomparable opportunities for wildlife spotting: Turtles, dolphins, sharks, manta rays, and whales (when they’re migrating) all swim in the breathtakingly beautiful “Blue Lagoon” and off the island’s coast. You’ll also enjoy a picnic lunch and drinks on the beach. After a day of exploring Moreton Island, you’ll return to Brisbane around 6:30 p.m.

DAY 4Brisbane to the Gold Coast

This morning, you’ll go to Australia’s famous Gold Coast. This part of the country embodies what may come to mind when you think of a vacation in Australia, with sunny days and white-sand beaches that run for miles. It’s no wonder that this is where Australians head when they go on vacation. Beyond the seaside attractions, the region also plays host to fascinating national parks, historic villages, leading museums, and more.

Your base for the next two nights will be the new Langham, Gold Coast, located between Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach. Your stylish room will feature uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean or the Hinterland, so take full advantage, and enjoy the swim-up pool bar. When you’re ready to explore, major shopping centers and award-winning restaurants and cafes are all within walking distance, though you’ll likely head straight for the world-famous surfing beaches outside your door.

In the afternoon, head to one of Queensland’s most famous natural attractions, Tallebudgera Creek. Running between the Burleigh Heads National Park on one side and Palm Beach on the other, it’s a popular swimming hole. At its mouth where it empties into the Coral Sea, it has a mesmerizing range of blues and greens.

DAY 5Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Today you can meet some of Australia’s most famous residents—kangaroos and koalas. A half hour south of your hotel, following a drive along the seaside, the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has been one of the area’s most popular attractions for decades (it first opened in 1947), and its main location includes more than 46 acres of forested land where native bird species flourish. The sanctuary is also home to around 50 koalas and is one of the few places where you can take a photo holding one of Australia’s iconic mascots.

There are also opportunities to feed red and gray kangaroos by hand and meet some of their smaller cousins, wallabies. The fun doesn’t stop there: Currumbin also plays host to dingoes, Tasmanian devils, red pandas, lemurs, and many others. Plus, the sanctuary is a haven for birdwatchers: In fact, it was originally dedicated to providing a home for colorful lorikeets, and it stays true to its bird-centric roots with four different aviaries.

Currumbin is more than just a place to admire Australia’s wildlife. The Currumbin Wildlife Hospital rescues and rehabilitates some 11,000 animals each year. Include a stop there on your visit to learn about the hospital’s efforts and wish the patients speedy recoveries.

DAY 6Depart

After an amazing two days in the jungle, it’s time to head back to Brisbane. Keep in mind that you’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to the restaurants that have made the city a new culinary hotspot. While you’ve also had a glimpse of some of the beauty of the Gold Coast, the destination is arguably best enjoyed on a more leisurely stay.
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