Planning a trip to Brisbane and the Gold Coast? Here’s some good news: the region is a year-round destination, making it difficult to go wrong with your timing. With its nearly perfect climate for most of the year, it’s no wonder why I love living in Brisbane. However, certain seasons are better than others, depending on your activities. Let me share my insights on the best time to visit this vibrant region and what each season has in store.
When I believe the best to visit Brisbane and the Gold Coast is
I believe the best time to visit Brisbane and the Gold Coast is from March to May (autumn) or September to November (spring). These months offer comfortable temperatures, sunny days, and lower humidity levels, making it perfect for all the stunning outdoor activities the region offers.
Many would argue summer (December to February) is a bad time to visit Brisbane and the Gold Coast because of the heat, the humidity and the risk of storms. Surprisingly, it’s the peak season when both locals and tourists flock to the beaches. Although I enjoy the warm weather, I don’t like crowds so that’s the main reason why I wouldn’t pick summer to visit Brisbane and Gold Coast.
Read on for further details on the weather and temperatures, peak season and events and festivals!
Weather and temperatures
The Brisbane and Gold Coast region enjoys a sub-tropical climate, which means that it generally has warm weather year-round. Though the seasons aren’t sharply defined, it’s important to consider the variations in temperature and rainfall when planning your trip.
Summer (December to February)
Summer here is the hottest and most humid time of the year, with average temperatures ranging from 25°C to 30°C. Heatwaves can occasionally push temperatures even higher. It’s the wettest time of the year, so expect frequent afternoon thunderstorms and high humidity levels. If you choose to visit during summer, pack light, breathable clothing and an umbrella.
It’s worth noting summer is no one’s favourite season here. The heat and the risk of rain make outdoor activities not that comfortable. The ocean breeze and water on the Gold Coast make the heat and humidity more tolerable than in Brisbane.
Autumn (March to May)
Autumn is generally a pleasant time to visit Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Temperatures are warm but not excessively hot, with average highs between 22°C and 27°C. Humidity levels drop during this period, making it more comfortable to explore the region.
If you’re interested in outdoor activities like hiking or camping, autumn is a great time to visit. Moreover, the water temperature remains lovely during this season.
Winter (June to August)
Winter brings dry and sunny weather to Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Temperatures are cooler, with average highs ranging from 20°C to 23°C and occasionally going higher. Evenings and nights can be quite cool, so it’s advisable to pack a jacket and a sweater. However, keep in mind that the region’s buildings are often not designed for cold weather, so warm clothes are essential. For a couple of weeks per year, the night temperatures drop down to around 5°C.
Although the beaches are still inviting, the water temperature can drop to 19°C. Winter on the South East Queensland coast is an excellent time for whale watching and exploring the outdoors.
Spring (September to November)
Spring marks another wonderful period to visit Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Temperatures begin to warm up, with average highs ranging from 24°C to 28°C. Although humidity levels increase as we get closer to summer, it remains generally comfortable to explore the region during this time. Spring is an ideal season for engaging in outdoor activities. Brisbane becomes really pretty in spring when the purple jacaranda flowers show up all over the city.
Spring can be quite windy, and this might not be so pleasant on the Gold Coast, especially if your accommodation faces the ocean.
The peak seasons in Brisbane and the Gold Coast
I find it’s always a good idea to avoid visiting a destination during the busiest time. You appreciate the attractions more when they’re not crowded and prices are generally lower.
Brisbane and the Gold Coast can experience an influx of visitors from the southern states during the Australian winter (May to September) as they seek sun and warmth. However, the busiest period, with surging crowds and prices, is the Christmas school holidays in December and January. If you plan to visit during this time, be sure to book your accommodation and activities well in advance to avoid disappointment.
December to February is considered the low season due to unpredictable weather with rain and storms.
When to visit (or not) Brisbane and the Gold Coast: events and festivals
Events and festivals can bring more people to Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Some of them are worth dealing with the crowd, but there are some that you may absolutely want to avoid. Here’s a selection to help you plan your trip.
Unless you’re a young student who loves partying, I would absolutely avoid travelling to the Gold Coast during the schoolies, an Australian tradition, like a rite of passage, for students who’ve just graduated from high school. The tradition started on the Gold Coast and it’s still the most popular destination for it, with tens of thousands of young Australians going to the Surfers Paradise around mid-November to early December.
Surfers Paradise Beach undergoes a metamorphosis into a bustling entertainment hub during the designated Schoolies period, marked by stringent security measures and restricted access. If you’re planning a stay on the Gold Coast during this time, it’s advisable to steer clear of the Cavill Mall area and Surfers Paradise beachfront, especially later in the day, to avoid the young crowd. And look for places and activities that don’t attract 17 and 18-year-olds to ensure a more tranquil and enjoyable experience.
The Gold Coast 500
Just before Schoolies, there’s another exciting event held in Surfers Paradise on the last weekend of October called the Gold Coast 500. If you love cars, it’s a must-see, but an event to steer clear of if the roar of engines isn’t your thing! Some streets in Surfers Paradise turn into a racing circuit and are blocked off so only ticket-holders can watch the show. Accommodations during this time tend to be pricier, especially those offering a view of the circuit, such as the renowned Rhapsody building.
Brisbane’s Riverfire, an annual fireworks show on the Brisbane River, marks the beginning of the Brisbane Festival and attracts large crowds. Multiple vantage points along the river in the City offer excellent views of the fireworks. Personally, I preferred the drone show at South Bank, narrating an Aboriginal story, which was more eco-friendly and culturally interesting!
If you like the idea of seeing contemporary art in a city, consider visiting Brisbane during Botanica, in May. Though a lot smaller in scale than the famous Sydney Vivid Festival, this event also utilises captivating lighting displays and showcases art installations in the City Botanical Gardens.
Groundwater Country Music Festival
Country music enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the Groundwater Country Music Festival, held in November on the Gold Coast. Featuring some of the biggest names in the genre, this festival boasts multiple stages, food vendors, and a vibrant atmosphere.
Swell Sculpture Festival
Taking place in September on the Gold Coast, the Swell Sculpture Festival transforms the beach into an outdoor art gallery, showcasing incredible sculptures. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or simply seeking a different experience, this festival could be worth checking out.
Crafted Beer & Cider Festival
Beer and cider lovers should mark their calendars for the Crafted Beer & Cider Festival in November. With over 150 different offerings from top Australian breweries and cideries, along with live music and delicious food options, this festival guarantees a delightful day on the Gold Coast.
Blues on Broadbeach
Blues on Broadbeach is a free music festival that takes place each May on the Gold Coast. With multiple stages and a lineup of world-class blues musicians, this festival is a must-see for any music lover. Whether you’re a fan of traditional blues or modern interpretations, you’re sure to find something you love at this festival.
The Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games
Though it’s still some time away, the region will undoubtedly be bustling during the 2032 Olympic Games. Be prepared for increased crowds and plan accordingly if you wish to experience this iconic event.