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Plan Your Trip to Cairns: Best of Cairns Tourism

A laid-back city and gateway to Queensland's tropical north
Cairns is the perfect place for passionate divers, adrenaline junkies, and after dark revelers, offering heart-pounding adventure and a booming nightlife scene in a vibrant, tropical setting. The friendly Queensland metropolis is a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree National Park, and plenty of amazing islands in Queensland's tropical north. Embark on an eco-adventure or take a dip in a lagoon pool before hitting the town to unwind along the Esplanade Boardwalk.

Travel Advice

Essential Cairns

Traveler Spotlight

The Ultimate Friends Trip to Cairns

I lived in Cairns for 7 months in college and I will never forget the experiences I had there. When you're in Australia you have to be open to adventure, trying new foods (there is plenty!) and experieince their great night life. This may be obvious, but, whatever you do, don't miss the GBR.
Emily Brillanti, New York City, NY
  • The Woolshed
    38
    This was the bar we frequented the most. It gets pretty packed late at night on the weekends, but if you're looking for a lively atmosphere in the evening, into the night, this is a great spot!
  • Cairns Boutique Walking Tours
    4
    Booze and a fun walking tour, need I say more?
  • Rusty's Market
    451
    Rusty's is a great place to spend a few hours. There's tons of exotic fruit to try, and the overall people-watching experience is always enjoyable!
  • Skypark Cairns by AJ Hackett
    927
    I did Bungee twice while I was in Cairns. It is too scary the first time, so you have to go a second time when you can really enjoy the experience. The staff was highly trained and comforting during the entire process! ENJOY!
  • Crystal Cascades
    373
    If you are able to find some mopeds to rent, it's a great scenic drive up to the cascades. You will likely need a swim once you get there, and the cascades are a great way to cool down!
  • Esplanade Boardwalk
    6,117
    You can't miss the Esplanade. Take the 2A bus right into town and it drops you off nearby. It's a nice place to watch the boats, and the tides come in. If you are up for some exercise, there are always people running.

Cairns Is Great For

Rich indigenous history and cultural landmarks

Cocktails with a view

Water sports and activities

Cairns Travel Guide

Travelers' pro tips for experiencing Cairns

Lynne P
Saltwater crocodiles are a part of the environment. Take note of the crocodile warning signs.
Monica U
If you're planning to do some "adventuring" it is best to rent a car for a couple of days than to rely on public transport or taxis.
dytokyo
Cairns is a big regional city with no beach so look at staying at Port Douglas. Note if it is stinger season so make sure accommodation has a good pool.

In the words of those who've been there before ...

Monica U
Cairns is one of the doors to the Great Barrier Reef, however, it's also a tropical paradise crammed full of wonders just waiting to be discovered.
Lynne P
The Cairns region is the tropical playground of the north of Australia. There is no shortage of outdoor activities to do, with the reef, rainforest, and outback tablelands all on your doorstep, just waiting to be explored.

What is the best way to get there?

Flying:

Cairns is serviced by Cairns International Airport.

Train:

Cairns’ Railway Station is the city’s main station and the terminus of the North Coast line from Brisbane.

Bus:

Greyhound Australia offers services to and from Cairns to other major cities in Queensland. Buses typically arrive in the Greyhound Coach Terminal.

Do I need a visa?

If you’re visiting Cairns from overseas, see if you need a visa using this website.

When is the best time to visit?

April or September: Cairns’ tropical climate means that it maintains warm temperatures even during the winter months when the cities of Melbourne and Sydney get super chilly. For the ultimate combination of off-peak accommodation prices, dry weather, and fewer crowds, visit between April and September. However, between November and May, Cairn’s experiences what’s known as stinger season, when jellyfish are common off the city’s shores.

For more information on Cairns weather and when to go, check out some tips here.

Bus

Sunbus provides the bus service in Cairns; routes typically begin at Cairns City Mall and cover the suburbs, beaches, and city. For timetables and route information, see this link.

Rideshare

It can be difficult to hail a cab from the street in Cairns, so it's best to download a rideshare app if you’re planning to explore by taxi. Apps available in Cairns include Uber, Ola, and Shebah.

On the ground
What is the time zone?
Australian Eastern Time (GMT+11)
What are the voltage/plug types?
The standard voltage in Melbourne is 230V and the standard frequency is 50Hz. Associated plugs are type I, which have two flat metal pins shaped like a V.
What is the local currency?
Australian dollar (AUD)
Are ATMs readily accessible?
Yes.
Are credit cards widely accepted?
Yes.
Is it easy to find a bank?
Yes.
Is tipping expected?
Tipping is not expected in Australia, however, a tip for exceptional service is always appreciated.

Are there local customs I should know?

Drinking
The federal legal age for buying and drinking alcohol is 18 years old.
Public transport
Allow others to disembark before boarding, don’t take up more than one seat, and stand to offer seating to pregnant women or someone with a disability.
Walking
Walk to the right of the sidewalk and step off to the side of the sidewalk if you want to stop to check your phone, look up directions, or want to take in a view.
Frequently Asked Questions about Cairns

We recommend staying at one of the most popular hotels in Cairns, which include:


Cairns is known for some of its popular attractions, which include:


If you're a more budget-conscious traveler, then you may want to consider traveling to Cairns between December and February, when hotel prices are generally the lowest. Peak hotel prices generally start between June and August.