Australia’s fastest growing capital city has thrown off its country cousin image with a number of exciting new developments that are rapidly transforming the city’s the skyline. Proudly re-branded ‘BrisVegas’ by its residents, the Queensland capital offers visitors an intoxicating mix of cultural attractions, unique wildlife encounters and a dynamic restaurant and bar scene. Brisbane hosts an impressive range of music festivals, special gastronomic events and big sporting contests. Thanks to its tropical climate, the city is a mecca for outdoor types who can go kayaking, cycling, jogging – or even climb the Story Bridge. Brisbane also makes a great base for trips to the Gold Coast and inland attractions such as the Scenic Rim, Somerset and the Lockyer Valley.

Who goes there: Royal Caribbean, Holland America Line, Cunard, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises.

Cruisers like: Few modern cities can match Brisbane’s range of wildlife encounters, which include the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the Walkabout Creek Wildlife Centre and Australia, founded by the late Steve Irwin. The Queensland capital also offers an impressive range of art galleries, museums and other cultural institutions – many of them, including the Queensland Art Gallery and the Maritime Museum, are located on the South Bank. Food lovers, meanwhile, will find everything from upscale waterfront eateries to Asian hawker stalls and hip laneway bars. Shopaholics will find much to enjoy in Brisbane, with a number of exciting shopping precincts to explore such as The City, Fortitude Valley and Paddington.

Best for: Couples, families with young children, mature travellers, wildlife enthusiasts and outdoor types.

 Getting around: Portside Wharf is a short distance from downtown Brisbane. There are plentiful cabs – or catch the 300 bus from the wharf. A pleasant way to explore the city is by City Cat ferry or follow one of the walking paths.