The urban bike magazine

The Best of Brisbane by Bicycle – Riding the river loop

The thrill of cycling lies in the unique way it allows us to explore our surroundings. Travelling on two wheels lets you take it all in at a speed that still gets you places. Since I have recently relocated to Brisbane, I've used my bicycle to discover the city. The city of Brisbane straddles the Brisbane River and a popular way to see the sights is by Ferry. Thankfully, the extensive network of riverside bike paths makes a similar and more enjoyable journey by bicycle possible. Because of this, there are many ways to cycle around the river loop and I'd like to share my personal favourite tour here.

Ryan Waddington
Ryan Waddington is a Professional Triathlete and avid traveller. He moved to Adelaide for the glorious summers and incredible cycling. He is also a qualified Economist and Teacher.
Photo: CC0

The Route

Using the Bike Citizens App, I have mapped my favourite route which you can now download. You can find the route under the “Tours” menu in the App. The loop is mostly flat and approximately 35 kilometres long. If you decide to add in a trip to the Mt Coot-tha lookout, then it increases to 46 kilometres with a climb that is not for the faint-hearted.

Brisbane Cycling Tour App

Download Bike Citizens, install Brisbane and select the “Brisbane River Loop” tour.

Starting from the City

I recommend starting from the Goodwill Bridge. This iconic pedestrian bridge located close to the city centre offers a caffeine fix at Cafe On The Bridge. The ride starts along the Bicentennial Bikeway, elevated just above the level of the river. Here you will be able to take in views of Southbank as you ride along.

Stop by the Botanical Garden and Planetarium

You will then turn inland to join the Western Freeway Bikeway. At this point, use an overpass to access Mt Coot-tha road. If you want to avoid the challenging Mt Coot-tha climb, it is still worth to take the overpass in order to visit the Brisbane Botanical Gardens and Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium. Both have beautiful grounds, although you will not be able to ride your bicycle within the planetarium.

Mt Coot-tha

However, if you intend on making the summit of Mt Coot-tha, then continue along the road which quickly pitches upwards. Instead of riding, many people choose to walk to the summit on the road. You can also stop at JC Slaughter Falls and take the Summit Track through the bush by foot, or on a mountain bike. All of these options will eventually lead to the Mt Coot-tha lookout where you will find panoramic city views and the Summit Restaurant and Bar. Take care on the descent!


The Mt Coot-tha lookout. Photo: Brisbane City Counsil licensed for reuse under this Common Creatives License.

Homeward bound

Rejoin the Western Freeway Bikeway heading towards Indooroopilly. Here you can cross the river on the Jack Pesch Bridge, which is another dedicated pedestrian bridge. All of the bridges you come across are constructed differently and have their own unique look and feel. This point marks the start of the return journey. There is a mixture of quiet streets and bike paths to follow. The first accessible path is from Faulkner Park.

Eventually, the route will bring you through Dutton Park. From Dutton park, you can opt to cross the river via the Eleanor Schonell Bridge. This leads into the St Lucia campus of the University of Queensland. With extensive parkland and impressive sandstone buildings, it is worth a look. Recross the bridge and continue by road in order to find the Southbank Boardwalk. This will take you directly past Streets Beach. The beach is man-made and situated a short walk from Brisbane’s finest cafes and restaurants. On a hot day, it is hard to go past an ice-cream from Nitrogenie. Also found in Southbank is The Wheel of Brisbane which is a sixty metre high Ferris Wheel.

Finishing the route

Back on the bike, it is a short pedal to your starting point. After crossing the Goodwill bridge, turn right to enter the City Botanic Gardens. This quiet spot is the perfect place to have a picnic or relax under a shady tree. One thing is for sure, you will have earned a rest after touring the sights of Brisbane. Remember to take a camera, drink plenty of water, and stop regularly. I hope you have just as much fun on this ride as I did. Enjoy the ride!

Featured image: DamDa/CC0

Ryan Waddington
Ryan Waddington is a Professional Triathlete and avid traveller. He moved to Adelaide for the glorious summers and incredible cycling. He is also a qualified Economist and Teacher.
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