Brisbane or Gold Coast? Which Queensland City To Visit

Planning a trip to Queensland but can’t decide between Brisbane or the Gold Coast?

With its unique combination of temperate year-round climate and abundance of things to see and do South East Queensland is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia.

But which destination do you visit to make the most of your time in Queensland? Brisbane or Gold Coast? Let’s look at what both locations offer and help you decide between the two, or maybe even help you plan your trip so you can see both.


Brisbane, the dynamic capital city, showcases a blend of urban sophistication and natural beauty. With its thriving cultural scene, world-class dining, and iconic landmarks like the Story Bridge, Brisbane offers a cosmopolitan atmosphere while maintaining a laid-back charm.

Gold Coast

On the other hand, the Gold Coast is renowned as Australia’s playground, famous for its stunning beaches, thrilling theme parks, and vibrant nightlife. Its coastline is a haven for surfers and beach lovers alike.

The Gold Coast’s high-rise skyline of Surfers Paradise and its array of entertainment options make it an exciting destination for those seeking a lively and action-packed vacation.

Does Brisbane Or Gold Coast Have Better Flight Options?

Both Brisbane and Gold Coast Airports are well connected to the rest of Australia.

Obviously, Brisbane being the state capital, offers more volume of flights as well as being a hub to connect to Queensland’s regional cities like Townsville and Cairns. But all major cities around Australia offer direct flights to both airports.

Where Brisbane stands out is international connections. Gold Coast Airport does offer some international flights but a limited schedule, mostly to New Zealand and some South East Asian destinations. Whereas Brisbane Airport connects to the entire world with direct flights to North America, Asia, New Zealand and the Middle East with connections to the rest of the world, including Europe.

Funnily enough though, there are no commercial flights between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The two destinations are actually too close to each other to justify flights so you need to use another mode of transport to get between the two. Either renting a car and driving or catching the train and tram between the two.

Are The Accommodation Options Better In Brisbane Or Gold Coast?

Catering more towards tourists the Gold Coast has an abundance of short-stay apartments. Sure there are some other accommodation options around the Gold Coast, but you’ll find the vast majority to be apartments catering towards the families and groups that travel to the region.

Pricing is fairly consistent across the entirety of the Gold Coast, but what you get for that cost can vary greatly. you’ll often find the most modern, well fitted-out, apartments at a very similar price point to those that have been around for several decades.

What you will find in Brisbane is a greater mix of accommodation options spread right across the city. The hotels and apartments in the heart of the CBD tend to be fairly consistent in their offering with a mix of five star luxury and more modest options.

However, if you are looking to save money and have your own transport during your stay, you can certainly save money by staying on the outskirts of the city.

For more precise recommendations check out these two blog posts with my accommodation suggestions for Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Does Brisbane Or Gold Coast Have More Things To See And Do?

You would think this would swing in favour of the Gold Coast, being a tourist-centric destination, but the two cities actually offer two distinctly different experiences.

Obviously, the Gold Coast is famous for its theme parks and beaches and a myriad of other small attractions to fill in your time while you are in the area.

However, Brisbane stands out if you are looking for a more cultured experience with its amazing museums and art galleries, unlike anything you might find on the Gold Coast.

How About Visiting Both Brisbane And Gold Coast?

The best part about a trip to South East Queensland is that visiting both Brisbane and the Gold Coast in the same trip is very feasible.

Just an hour (maybe two, depending on the traffic) drive up or down the M1 Motorway; the two destinations are well connected to each other, meaning you could easily stay in Brisbane and explore the attractions of the Gold Coast or vice-versa. In fact, it is quite common for people to day trip down to the Gold Coast from Brisbane either to spend the day at the beach or at one of the theme parks.

To do both, public transport is an option. A Trans-Link train service connects Brisbane City to Varsity Lakes, where you can connect with the Gold Coast’s G-Link tram service.

However, my best suggestion is to rent a car and drive between the two. Just keep in mind that the traffic does get quite intense on the M1 during peak hours, so I’d avoid travelling at those times.

How Much Time In Either Brisbane Or Gold Coast

You will find that you could easily spend a fun-filled week in either Brisbane or the Gold Coast.

Anything shorter and you’ll find yourself rushing to do as much as possible before you leave, and anything longer, you might find that you run out of things to do during your stay.

A week (5-7 days) is the perfect amount of time to spend in either Brisbane or the Gold Coast, and you will find that you have an extra day to check out the other destination to get some ideas for your next trip to the region.

Southbank, Brisbane, Queensland

If you’d like to get more information to help plan your trip to and around Australia… Check out the rest of my blog posts.

Also, make sure you check out the travel tools I use most to help you save money when booking your next trip.

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About the author

Rhys Vandersyde

Traveller, Photographer, Content Creator - I've spent the last 20 years actively seeking out new destinations and new adventures. Find out more about me here:

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