If you are travelling to the Great Barrier Reef, chances are you’ll be in or around Cairns during your stay! This Queensland city has a little bit of everything -- from history dating back to the indigenous peoples to chic bars and shopping destinations, Cairns has undergone a revitalization that has made it one of the most popular places in Australia.

During a trip to the city, one of the first things to add to the itinerary is a trip to the Cairns Esplanada, Boardwalk and Lagoon. A swimming pool that measures 4,800 meters of saltwater, the Lagoon is a perfect spot for those who want to enjoy the ocean waters without worrying about waves or water conditions. The Lagoon sit right on the sand, so you get fantastic views of the beach anyway! It’s also great for children and has a range of amenities to take advantage of, including a Fun Ship playground, beach volleyball courts and free use of the barbecues.

After you’ve spend some time in the sun and water, take a stroll through the Flecker Botanic Gardens, which contains a vast number of plants and collections. Here you’ll learn how the Aboriginal people use plants as a way of life, in addition to exploring a conservatory with breathtaking flowers and butterflies! Children and adults alike are sure to enjoy walking through the Botanical Garden -- if you want a more in-depth experience, be sure to sign up for one of the free daily guided garden experiences.

Rusty’s Market is one popular destination for visitors and residents of Cairns to enjoy on a weekend. The Market contains just about everything you could imagine, from fresh and local vegetables and fruits, to locally made and artisanal goods including coffee and honey. For delicious and unique foods or beverages, be sure to take a stroll through Rusty’s Market. Another must-see attraction is the Cairns Regional Gallery which contains an amazing amount of artwork. Most of the collections place an emphasis on local artists and work from Indigenous people, which is great for some context on the city during a visit. While you’re there, don't forget to stop at the gift shop or grab a tasty coffee on the way out!