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  >  Attractions   >  Things to do in Fortitude Valley

Fortitude Valley, or The Valley as it is more commonly known, has always had an edge. It used to be famous for its infamous illicit brothels and underground casinos operating under the watchful eyes of corrupt police and politicians in the 70s and 80s. This olden days version of Fortitude Valley has little in common with today’s trendy inner city suburb. These days this area is best known for hipster shopping areas, it’s great Fortitude Valley restaurants and the lively culture of its Chinatown precinct. There’s certainly no shortage of interesting things to see and do, or great Fortitude Valley hotels, whatever your interests or budget might be. Here are our favourite Fortitude Valley things to do.

1. Fortitude Valley coffee culture

Australia has some of the best coffee in the world and Brisbane hasn’t been left behind. With boutique coffee houses popping up all over town, the Valley has more than its fair share of great coffee shops. Try Bare Bones Espresso, a micro-roastery and café with a steady procession of takeaway customers, or Death Before Decaf, a rock ‘n roll cool cafe that’s open 24/7. There are also some excellent home grown chains with boutique roasting houses such as Merlo and Campos, both of which can be found on James Street. Merlo also offers coffee appreciation classes where you can be educated and caffeinated at the same time. Remember, if you’re not shaking you haven’t had enough.

Strolling down James Street
Strolling down James Street

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2. Fortitude Valley shopping

The Valley is home to some of Brisbane’s best fashion boutiques, something which can lead to credit card meltdown. Sass & Bide started out here and other fashion stores have since followed their lead. For handmade finds, try the Valley Markets which take place every Saturday and Sunday from 9am. If your tastes are more boutique than bohemian, don’t miss the high-end stores at the Emporium shopping precinct or those lining trendy James Street.

Browsing at the Valley Markets
Browsing at the Valley Markets

3. Fortitude Valley dining

Being in the heart of Chinatown it’s no surprise there are plenty of great Asian restaurants like the iconic King of Kings, Fat Dumpling and Longtime. Venture further afield and you’ll discover some of Brisbane’s other excellent dining options, from the likes of Gerard Bistro’s modern Middle Eastern fare to classic Italian at Bucci.

4. Fortitude Valley galleries

Art is everywhere in Fortitude Valley with loads of street art tucked down alleys and lanes and painted on the sides of buildings high above the street. TRYP Fortitude Valley Hotel takes centre stage with the whole hotel covered in street art inside and out. For more traditional art, head to Philip Bacon Galleries, the gallery of choice for artist Jeffery Smart, or the Jan Murphy Gallery next door. The Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts also hosts interesting visual arts exhibitions.

Art is everywhere in Fortitude Valley
Art is everywhere in Fortitude Valley

5. Fortitude Valley bars

When the lights go down head to one of the rooftop bars such as Eleven Rooftop Bar, Elixir Rooftop Bar or Up at TRYP for drinks with a view. For beer drinkers, it’s hard to go past the Woolly Mammoth Alehouse or one of the Valley’s classic old pubs like the Jubilee.

Disclosure: The writer is a regular visitor to Fortitude Valley and loves trying out the area’s new bars and restaurants. Her credit card wishes she weren’t quite so enthusiastic.

If you’re after some things to do in Brisbane, try some of our favourite activities along the Brisbane River, take a free Brisbane Greeters tour, or buy unique handmade souvenirs at Brisbane’s best markets. We also have an Ultimate Guide for Brisbane which tells you everything you need to know about visiting the Queensland capital.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.