A trip to sunny Queensland’s capital city of Brisbane simply wouldn’t be complete without a cruise down the river on a CityCat – the city’s most loved form of public transport.
See Brisbane’s Best Sights on Board a CityCat
The Brisbane River or “The Brown Snake” as it’s fondly known by locals, due to its brownish colour and winding shape, is used by thousands of passengers each day. Many use river transport to escape the hustle and bustle of busy main roads and to see the city sights in the most uniquely Brisbane way. It’s also a brilliant day out with the kids to rediscover all there is to love about living in Brisbane and stop at some of your favourite destinations.
Whether you’re new to Brisbane, here for a holiday (lucky you!) or a long term resident who hasn’t caught a CityCat in a while, here’s all you need to know about catching the CityCat.
How to Catch a Brisbane River CityCat
The Brisbane River public transport fleet is made up of 24 large catamarans called CityCats and five smaller ferries known adorably as KittyCats. These ferries give passengers a fun, affordable and fast way to travel between St Lucia and Northshore Hamilton with many key stops along the way.
The CityCats are a paid service delivering passengers to most stops on the route, while the smaller vessels service the Cross River ferry and the free to ride CityHopper.
Timetables are easily accessible on the Translink website and the Journey Planner tool is your best friend when planning a journey on public transport, including the ferry services.
If you’re travelling without access to data or Wi-Fi, then all terminals are equipped with good old fashioned paper timetables and maps to help send you in the right direction. As an approximate guide CityCats depart every 15 minutes, and the Cross River ferries and free CityHoppers less frequently at roughly every 30 minutes.
Where Does the CityCat Stop?
Below is a current list of Brisbane ferry terminals accurate as of August 2023.
Please keep in mind while the CityCats stop at most of the below terminals, the Cross River and CityHopper ferries only service the inner city stops from North Quay to Sydney Street at New Farm. For more detailed information, please refer to the Translink timetables before departure.
- UQ St Lucia
- West End
- Guyatt Park
- Regatta (Toowong)
- North Quay (Brisbane CBD)
- South Bank
- QUT Gardens Point
- Maritime Museum
- Holman Street (Kangaroo Point)
- Howard Smith Wharves
- Sydney Street
- Mowbray Park
- New Farm Park
- Bretts Wharf (Hamilton)
- Apollo Road (Bulimba)
- Northshore Hamilton
How Do I Pay to Ride a CityCat?
The easiest way to pay for your CityCat ride is with a tap on, tap off style Go Card which can be purchased for a small fee from various locations throughout Brisbane. This card can be used on all forms of public transport including buses and trains while you’re here.
Go Cards can be purchased from selected convenience stores, news agencies, online and from the ticket office or ticket fare machines at trains stations and major bus terminals. On top of the initial cost, you’ll also be required to load funds onto your Go Card, which will be deducted from your balance each time you touch off at your required destination.
How Much Does it Cost to Ride a CityCat?
The cost of your trip on a CityCat will depend on how far you travel, your concession status and whether you’re travelling in peak or off peak times.
A 50% discount applies to children (aged 5 – 14 years old) and eligible students, concession card holders and seniors. We love that children of all ages can travel free on weekends while senior Go Card holders can also access free off-peak travel.
Consider a ride down the river on a CityCat next time you’re looking for a different and cheap way to keep the grandkids entertained! Just remember you will still need to touch on and touch off with a valid Go Card to access these free fares.
You can also pre-purchase a paper ticket from a station fare machine before boarding, however, it will cost you more than paying with a Go Card.
It’s important to note that cash is no longer an accepted form of payment on any Brisbane City Council public transport services.
Best Places to Hop Off and Visit
Now we’re through the (shall we say “mundane”) ins and outs of how to catch a CityCat, let’s talk about all the great, kid friendly attractions you can visit along your journey.
If you’re travelling from the east, the first ‘must do’ stop would have to be the iconic South Bank with its tropical swimming lagoons, luscious greenery, amazing playgrounds and contemporary cafes. This is also the best stop for accessing Brisbane’s buzzing cultural scene with the Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art and Queensland Museum all within a relatively short walking distance from the ferry terminal.
Further along is the stunning Kangaroo Point cliffs, which serve as a background for Brisbane’s biggest adrenaline junkies and water sports enthusiasts. The cliffs provide an unbeatable view of the city skyline, making them an idyllic picnic spot with picnic shelters, BBQs and public toilets.
Currently the best stop for Kangaroo Point is Holman Street which will land you at the nautical-themed Captain Burke Park playground and right under the historical Story Bridge for some impressive photo opportunities.
If an epic playground is what you’re after, then you’ll want to hop off at the New Farm Park terminal. Here you’ll find an enormous wooden fortress playground which flows seamlessly between the roots and branches of some magnificent fig trees.
Not only is New Farm Park home to one of Brisbane’s most treasured playgrounds but also the electric Brisbane Powerhouse arts centre and some of the trendiest cafes and restaurants in town.
Other Important Things You Need to Know About CityCats
It’s important to note that all CityCat ferries are completely wheelchair and pram friendly with accessible toilets on board, however the smaller Cross River and CityHopper ferries are not equipped for wheelchair use and do not have toilets.
Almost all ferry terminals include wheelchair ramp access with the exclusion of Mowbray Park and Apollo Road which could also make it difficult to board with prams or strollers. You’re also welcome to bring your bikes or scooters onto a CityCat given there is capacity on board.
Ferry staff are super helpful and a great source of information so don’t hesitate to ask any questions before boarding to ensure you reach your desired location.
Most importantly, remember to be safe on the water and enjoy Brisbane’s iconic CityCat experience and all the sights the sparkling river city has to offer!