The Best Things To Do In Cairns

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!


The Great Barrier Reef

It is impossible to overstate the beauty of this Australian icon. It is truly one of the world’s most amazing wonders and is a “Must See” destination when travelling to Australia. Legions of corals and fish are spread over thousands of kilometres of coastline, and the area is dotted with nearly 1000 islands. Of course, there is fishing and diving, as well as the tours, so no matter your age, make sure you experience it!


Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is a great day out if you are staying in the region around Cairns or Port Douglas. This cable car trip is one of the best in Australia! Travelling for 7.5 kilometres over the rainforest canopy, you can take a break mid-way before finishing the journey at the quaint town of Kuranda. At the end of the day, take the vintage train trip back to your starting point – it’s a lot of fun!


Daintree Rainforest

The Daintree Rainforest is the Barrier Reef on land – a unique wonderland full of diversity, which is just so special. This World Heritage listed attraction is so much more than just your average rainforest, there really is so much to do! There are tours to spot crocodiles, horse riding, 4WD tours, and you can even walk among the tree tops. The list goes on – there is just so much to see and do in the Daintree Rainforest!


Kuranda Scenic Railway

A trip on the Kuranda Scenic Railway is the best way to complete your day trip to Kuranda. If you’re in the area, you just can’t leave without taking the cable car to this picturesque town. The train meanders over 21 kilometres of dark tunnels and towering bridges, passing through endless forests and pristine waterfalls – and then there’s the views! It truly is an experience you won’t want to miss.


Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park

The Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park is a great opportunity to learn about Australia’s indigenous history. Located at Smithfield near Cairns, explore and experience Australia’s unique indigenous culture, with both day and night visits available. By day, visit the cultural centre, join the dancers and try traditional skills such as boomerang throwing. By night, join a corroboree and enjoy dinner. Don’t miss this unique Australian experience!


Green Island

If it’s time to relax while you continue to broaden your Australian experience, then Green island is ideal. 27 kilometres off-shore from Cairns, Green Island caters for both the day tripper or people staying for a while at the resort. Explore the rainforest, go snorkelling through the coral, or enjoy the restaurants and resort facilities. What a way to unwind for a while!


Fitzroy Island

This hidden gem is just a 45 minute boat trip from Cairns, and is an ideal day trip if you don’t want to stay overnight. The island offers both history and the reef. Look around the historical sites from World War II, dive and snorkel through the coral, and take a walk through the parkland that spans 97% of the island. Hungry? Enjoy the restaurants or stay the night at the luxury island resort!


Barron Gorge National Park

Just a short trip from Cairns is Barron Gorge National Park – a natural wonder of picturesque passes and sweeping hills. You can make it a day trip, or camp overnight at Speewah Conservation Park. For walkers, hit the trails, ranging from leisurely strolls to the down-right adventurous! Why not try rafting, an exciting addition to your trip! And keep an eye out for the wildlife, including the Cassowary!


Birdworld Kuranda

When you visit Kuranda, a visit to Birdworld provides a special opportunity to see both Australian and international bird species in a free flight aviary. There are over 500 birds, representing 75 species, including the rare Cassowaries, and Macaws of the Amazon. Join the birds in their natural rainforest habitat, and even experience what it’s like to hand-feed them!


Mossman Gorge

Take a scenic 80-kilometre road trip from Cairns to discover the magnificent Mossman Gorge at the southern tip of the Daintree National Park. Enjoy a bushwalk through the surrounding forest, and finish off with a refreshing swim. Bath in the crystal-clear fresh water as it rolls over boulders and flows along the Gorge. Once you’re done, learn about the indigenous history of the traditional land owners, the Kuki Yalanji – Mossman Gorge really has something for everyone!


Port Douglas

Port Douglas is a small, sleepy town in North Queensland, and a launching site to both the Great Barrier Reef and the spectacular Daintree Rainforest. This tropical paradise is popular amongst tourists for its luxury boutique hotels, fine dining, gorgeous coastline and relaxing atmosphere.



A short half-hour drive from Cairns is the Kuranda Village, located at the top of the McAlister Range. Surrounded by rainforest, you’ll find markets and arts and crafts, as well as many of the tourist attractions the region is famous for. Take a trip today and discover Kuranda for yourself!


Cape Tribulation

Located a short few-hours’ drive north of Cairns, Cape Tribulation is mostly known for its eco-tourism. Nature lovers flock here for the beautiful rainforests, the world-famous Great Barrier Reef, and the diversity of wildlife, as they enjoy picturesque walks and magnificent views from the remote beaches!


Tropical North Queensland

Tropical North Queensland covers a vast and wide-spread area of the north-eastern part of Australia, and as such, an equally vast array of experiences can be had by all those who travel here. From the iconic Great Barrier Reef and the ever-popular Daintree Rainforest, to the beautiful towns of Cairns and Port Douglas, spaning onwards as far as the rugged outback of Cape York Peninsula, it’s easy to get lost in all of the excitement! With a unique mixture of natural beauty and man-made attractions, you can immerse yourself in the friendly culture of the region and take-home some truly unforgettable memories.

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