On the outskirts of Brisbane’s bustling centre lies Fortitude Valley, affectionately known by locals as “the Valley”. Fortitude Valley is one of the city’s oldest and most historical suburbs, which has been transformed and reinvented over time into what is now a cultural and entertainment hotspot. This dynamic district has it all – trendy cafes, international cuisines, unique shops, lively music venues and exciting nightlife. Check out our tips on the best Fortitude Valley attractions and experiences for locals and visitors alike.
Fortitude Valley has an abundance of vibrant and quirky cafes. For coffee in a totally unique setting, try Box on James where you’ll find three different cafes built in a tower of shipping containers, or The Brooke on the forecourt of a heritage-listed former church. If you’re all about the caffeine, you’ll find some of the very best beans in Fortitude Valley. Reverends Fine Coffee has a house-blend that is preached as one of the best in Brisbane. In the Valley you can also find old faithfuls like Merlo Coffee Café, Campos Coffee and Bellissimo Coffee. And like all good suburbs, Fortitude Valley also has dog-friendly cafes, including The New Black and Andonis.
Foodies will be spoilt for choice with all of the restaurants in Fortitude Valley. In Chinatown Mall you can find an array of Asian cuisine, including traditional Chinese restaurants and dumpling houses, as well as Korean Barbeque, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese and Indonesian. One of the more popular choices is Yum Cha – the perfect Sunday activity!
Along Brunswick Street you can take your pick from Brisbane’s best street eats. Almost every cuisine you can think of can be found along Brunswick Street, so there’s something to suit everyone. The best dining options fit in the “casual dining” category – think contemporary Mexican cuisine in a basement (Baja), authentic handmade dumplings (Fat Dumpling, late-night Japanese (Kenjin) and share plates in a fun Marvel comic-book inspired hideaway (1st Edition).
For a more upscale dining options and gourmet delights, head to the James Street precinct. There, you can find award-winning restaurants like Gerard’s Bistro, Hellenika and sAme sAme. If you’ve got cash to splash or have a special occasion to celebrate, a James Street restaurant is just the place!
Fortitude Valley is known for its diverse shopping scene and has plenty to discover for those craving retail therapy. On Brunswick Street Mall you can find fashion stores and independent shops. On Saturdays and Sundays, Brunswick Street Mall is host to the Valley Markets with stalls selling new and second-hand goods. If you’re after a unique find, there are also loads of op shops and thrift stores scattered around the Valley.
At the other end of the shopping spectrum, James Street is hailed as Brisbane’s premier shopping precinct. It is known for boutique and high-end shopping, with a mix of international labels as well as local and luxury flagship stores. The range in store types is varied, with fashion, home wares, and beauty and skincare.
Entertainment and culture
The Valley has a rich music, art and entertainment scene. Enjoying local and international music acts is a quintessential Fortitude Valley experience. Music lovers seeking an authentic and intimate experience can catch a gig at The Tivoli, The Zoo, The Triffid or Black Bear Lodge. You can enjoy a larger-scale concert at the Fortitude Music Hall, the largest ballroom/theatre styled venue in Australia.
Other Fortitude Valley attractions include the array of theatre and art. Nestled in Fortitude Valley, the Judith Wrights Art Centre has it all – dance, performance art, music, cabaret and even circus! Culture vultures can explore the numerous galleries, such as the Institute of Modern Art and Jan Murphy Gallery which showcase local talent. Be sure to also check out the vibrant street along Winn Lane and Bakery Lane.
Another popular Fortitude Valley experience is the nightlife. All within a short distance you can find dozens of bars and clubs that cater to different preferences. For a unique experience, explore one of the laid-back lounge bars or sophisticated speakeasies. In the warmer months, visit one of the many rooftop bars like Cielo Rooftop or Limes Rooftop Bar. There are also more casual options thanks to the growth of the brewery scene in the Valley.
Travelling to Fortitude Valley
There’s plenty of Fortitude Valley experiences to enjoy, and Airtrain can help you get there. Airtrain provides a reliable and comfortable service that bypasses unexpected delays and helps make travel easier.
With services every 15 minutes during peak times, Airtrain runs express from the Brisbane Airport and stops at Fortitude Valley, Central, Roma Street and South Brisbane stations.
When you’re exploring the Valley, get around with ease using a go card – the fast and convenient way to travel on all Translink transport, including Airtrain.
Translink’s Smart Ticketing system offers more ways to pay, for a more convenient journey. Smart Ticketing allows you to pay with your Visa, Mastercard and American Express debit and credit cards at any South East Queensland train station, including Brisbane Domestic and International Airports.
To really experience Fortitude Valley like a local, use the Translink Journey Planner to plan your travel.