Slowly, ever so slowly, you’ve been moving down the Queensland coast. You started at Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest meets the ocean. You went scuba diving with unbelievable sea creatures in the Great Barrier Reef, sailed through the jaw-dropping Whitsunday Islands, and beach hopped along the perfectly named Sunshine Coast. Now you have your sights set on the Gold Coast—and finally learning how to surf. But wait! Don’t skip Brisbane.
Brisbane is Australia’s third-largest city. It was established as a penal colony in 1824, became Queensland’s capital after a gold rush in 1859, and eventually became known as “Bris Vegas” for its over-the-top clubs and casinos. For years, many people skipped the city altogether. But you shouldn’t. Brisbane is friendly, laid back, and creative. It’s home to lots of parks and animal sanctuaries (koalas!). Plus, after spending so much time in nature, you could use a good cocktail. Here are three stylish rooftop bars—all with views, of course.
Up on Constance isn’t easy to find. In Fortitude Valley, stroll through Chinatown, pass casual Chur Burger at the cool Tryp Hotel, and walk down a graffitied lane to find a glass elevator. It may feel sketchy for a minute, but once the elevator door opens, you’ll immediately feel at ease. The rooftop is open and airy with a retractable roof. Hanging plants and brightly patterned couches fill the space. Mount Coot-tha, the highest mountain in the area, is in the distance. While carafes of raspberry orange iced tea (with rum, of course) and plates of cured kingfish carpaccio are laid out in front of you. Welcome to Brissie.
Your second option is across the Brisbane River, which snakes through the city. South Brisbane is known for its riverside boardwalk, inner-city beach, and edgy cafes. Atop the Art Deco Fox Hotel, you find Dandy’s Rooftop, which looks like an adult playground. The tennis-themed bar has vintage decor, including birdcages, brightly colored folding furniture, and printed umbrellas. There’s a 360-degree view as you move around the lawn-colored floor. Most of the wines come from Australia—the bartender recommends the Riesling from the Clare Valley. You take his advice and also order the roasted garlic and rosemary flatbread and the char-grilled sweet corn bruschetta after asking what the people next to you are eating. Bon appétit.
You have one more stop before heading out of the city the next day. The brand-new Eagles Nest, on the 12th floor of The Point Hotel, is the place to be on Sunday afternoon. The Kangaroo Point hotel’s curved, wraparound terrace overlooks the Brisbane River and the CBD (Central Business District). White benches and tables litter the gray floor. A trio band plays pop covers that match the sunshine. While oysters and manchego cheese croquettes are set out alongside an antipasto platter. But you’re focused on the cocktails. Specifically, the fruity Moët Ice Imperial Champagne cocktail that’s served over ice. Surfing will have to wait until tomorrow.