Whether you’re in the mood for a rugged island escape or a breath of fresh country air, a boozy break or a lazy weekend of café-hopping, there are plenty of weekend getaway options within easy reach of Brisbane. To help make planning your next weekend jaunt less painstaking, we’ve wrapped up some of the top spots to make a beeline for when you knock off work on a Friday afternoon.
There are plenty of beach towns on the Sunshine Coast worthy of a weekend break, but when it comes to restaurants, beaches and coastal scenery, it’s difficult to beat Noosa. Kick off the weekend with a stroll along the beautiful Noosa Heads Coastal Walk before spending the day on the beach or on the beautiful Noosa River. Eat (and drink) your way around Hastings St and Noosa Junction, with more breweries and the Sunshine Coast’s first distillery (Fortune) found in Noosaville.
The original seaside escape from Brisbane, the Gold Coast also offers a fantastic weekend away for those who’d prefer to take the train, as Brisbane’s train network links up with the Gold Coast Light Rail that runs all the way to the heart of the Gold Coast at Broadbeach. Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach will satisfy visitors looking for bright lights and big malls, while the seaside suburbs to the south, particularly Burleigh Heads, offer a more laid-back vibe.
Just over the Queensland border in northern NSW, the Tweed region is one of Australia’s hottest up-and-coming travel destinations. Long, empty beaches and excellent restaurants are the highlights of coastal towns such as Kingscliff, Cabarita and Pottsville, while just inland you’ll find oodles of country charm (and the excellent Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre) in Murwillumbah. Stop in at Husk Distillery in Tumbulgum en route to sample its renowned Ink gin and Agricole rum.
Less than three hours south of Brisbane, the picturesque northern NSW beach town of Byron Bay makes for a manageable weekend by the seaside. Rise early to soak up the stunning coastal views from the Cape Byron Lighthouse before tucking into a hearty brunch at one of Byron’s many cafés, topping off the day with some retail therapy at one of the town’s many homegrown fashion boutiques, or perhaps a sundowner or two at one of its buzzy pubs or bars. The hinterland towns of Newrybar, Bangalow and beyond offer additional opportunities for exploring if you can peel yourself off the beach.
If you equate a great weekend away with plenty of good wine, look no further than the Granite Belt, Queensland’s premier region, which begins just two hours southwest of Brisbane. At its heart, the attractive rural town of Stanthorpe makes a great base for exploring the region’s many wineries and artisan producers – rent a bike and arm yourself with the Strange Bird Wine Trail map that features wineries producing the region’s more unusual varietals.
When you’re hankering for an affordable island escape, Brisbane’s offshore sand islands are just the ticket. A 50-minute ferry ride from eastern Brisbane (or faster via water taxi), North Straddie’s three small townships are connected by sealed roads, but you’ll need a 4WD to access beaches and campsites further afield. A 75-minute ferry from the city, Moreton Island is 4WD-only, but like North Straddie you don’t need a car to enjoy a weekend here, with a range of accommodation options located close to the ferry port.