Travel Guide Oceania Australia Queensland Cairns



Cairns is a major city on the east coast of Far North Queensland in Australia. The city is the 5th most populous in Queensland and 14th overall in Australia. Cairns was founded in 1876 and named after William Wellington Cairns, Governor of Queensland from 1875-1877. It was formed to serve miners heading for the Hodgkinson River goldfield, but experienced a decline when an easier route was discovered from Port Douglas. It later developed into a railhead and major port for exporting sugar cane, gold and other metals, minerals and agricultural products from surrounding coastal areas and the Atherton Tableland region. The estimated residential population of the Cairns urban area in 2016 was 157,847. The region has experienced an average annual growth rate of 2.8% over the last 10 years. Cairns is a popular travel destination for tourists because of its tropical climate and access to the Great Barrier Reef.



Sights and Activities

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system covering an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres. This is a great place to experience some world class diving because of its great variety of sea life and shallow warm waters. Visit some of the stunning islands near Cairns, like Fitzroy Island or Green Island. Snorkelling and Scuba Diving are some of the most popular activites on the Great Barrier Reef.

Cape Tribulation, Daintree National Park

Cape Tribulation, Daintree National Park is a park with great biodiversity located north of Cairns. The Daintree rainforest meets the water's edge at Cape Tribulation. The park is part of the larger Wet Tropics of Queensland, which has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1988.


  • Cairns Botanical Gardens
  • Skyrail - catch a cable car up over the mountain to the small village of Kuranda (such a cute place) shop around for the day and come back on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. You can do that the other way around, whichever tickles your fancy.
  • Curtain Fig Tree - now that's one big tree.
  • Babinda Boulders
  • Josephine Falls
  • Tinaroo Dam
  • Walsh's Pyramid
  • Goldsborough Valley
  • Red Arrow Walk
  • Crystal Cascades
  • Mossman Gorge
  • The giant Captain Cook statue and the Marlin
  • Hot air ballooning is a nice experience too. Jump on one. Prices start from around $165 for an adult and work their way sky high.
  • Horse riding - Either Blazing Saddles in Kuranda, Black Moutain Hideaway or ride the beach in Wonga Beach. There are others, camps etc, but they are further out.
  • Tjapukai - Aboriginal Cultural Park.

There are plenty of other options in and around Cairns for those looking for some activity. Mountain Biking, Parasailing, Scuba Diving, White Water Rafting, Bungy Jumping, Skydiving, 4WD Touring, Sea Kayaking, Sailing, Flying Leap Kite Surfing, Rapids Kayaking, Helifishing, Rainforest Habitat, Hartley's CreekCrocodile Adventures, Australian Butterfly Sanctuary Kuranda, Birdworld Kuranda, Australian Tropical Zoo.



Events and Festivals

  • Festival Cairns -

    With a primary objective of creating an appealing program of activities that effectively showcase the region’s attributes from its idyllic climate to the sunny disposition of people that live here, EventsCairns coordinated a line-up of some 40 events – from interesting and intimate to big and bold.

  • Palm Cove Fiesta - The Palm Cove Fiesta is an outdoor food and wine festival set on Palm Cove's beautiful Esplanade. Combing sand, sea, sun and the magnificent Palm Cove Esplanade precinct with great food and wine, it is a celebration of all the reasons we live in the tropics.




Cairns has a tropical climate with hot and humid weather yearround. Temperatures usually are around 30 °C during the day, a bit higher during summer (December-February) and a bit lower during winter (June to August). Nights are warm with 20 °C on average. The wet season lasts from November to March and obviously is not the best time to visit. Dry and sunny weather is what you get from May to September.

Avg Max31.6 °C31.3 °C30.6 °C29.4 °C27.9 °C26.3 °C25.9 °C26.7 °C28.4 °C29.8 °C30.8 °C31.6 °C
Avg Min23.9 °C24 °C23.1 °C21.9 °C20.2 °C18.2 °C17.1 °C17.5 °C18.8 °C20.9 °C22.5 °C23.7 °C
Rainfall378.7 mm448 mm388.7 mm215.3 mm89 mm40.8 mm30.9 mm28.9 mm34.8 mm48.2 mm108.4 mm181.3 mm
Rain Days18.118.418.418.8149.



Getting There

By Plane

Cairns Airport (code: CNS), located about 7 kilometres north of the city, is the sixth busiest airport in Australia and has direct international flights. International airlines flying to Cairns are Air New Zealand (Auckland), Air Niugini (Port Moresby), Airlines PNG (Port Moresby), Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong), Continental Airlines (Guam), Jetstar Airways (Osaka, Singapore, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Darwin, Tokyo, Brisbane and Adelaide) and Qantas (Tokyo-Narita)

A number of local carriers (including low-cost airlines) fly to many destinations within Australia. Check airlines like Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia for more information about routes, schedules and prices.

Regional Pacific (Mount Isa) and Skytrans Airlines have services to numerous destinations throughout Australia as well, including smaller airfields.

To/from the airport

  • An airport shuttle bus, called "The Airporter" will take you to your accommodation in town for about $7. There are also shuttles going further north towards Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation.
  • There is also a local bus, the Sunbus, that stops on the western side of the airport (route 2/2A). An adult single fare would cost $2-$3 to get into the city.
  • A taxi into the city will cost about $15 and takes about 10 minutes.
  • There are many companies offering rental cars, starting at about 25 AUD a day.

By Train

There are also a number of ways to get to and from Cairns by rail. Cairns is connected with Brisbane by the Sunlander, which runs to and from Brisbane 3 times a week.
There is also a Tilt train service which runs between Cairns and Brisbane, stopping at Townsville, Proserpine (Whitsundays), Mackay and other major cities and towns.

It is also possible to travel by train along the Kuranda Scenic Railway, which runs daily from Cairns to Kuranda and back.

The only rail connection to the Outback is with the Savannahlander, which generally runs once a week to and from the outback town of Forsayth.

By Car

If you are travelling by car, you can drive between Brisbane and Cairns using the Bruce Highway, which is a fantastic drive. The distance is approximately 1,700 kilometres.
Coming from the north, the Captain Cook Highway is beautiful as well.

By Bus

Greyhound is the main bus operator, providing services south to New South Wales and further on and also west towards the Northern Territory.
Oz Experience is the party bus.

By Boat

A growing number of cruise ships stop in Cairns and if you are fortunate enough, you can also arrive by yacht.



Getting around

Cairns itself is small and mostly flat, so you can get by without a car pretty easily. If you'd rather not walk, you can catch the bus or use bicycles to get around without much trouble. Even a taxi (they're pretty expensive though).

By Car

Dozens of international and local car rental agencies have officies at the airport and downtown. There are plenty of companies you could choose to hire a car from, including Redspot, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty. Car hire is often not available to drivers under 25, or if it is, it's more expensive for younger drivers.

By Public Transport

Blue buses can not be missed. Press the button when you want to get off, or ask where you want to be dropped off. If you're starting in the city they start from the CBD, otherwise ask around.

By Foot

Most of Cairns can be visited by walking.

By Bike

Whatever bikes are ridden all around town. There is a problem with the road awareness of some tourists. If you're driving be careful if you're riding be aware. Bikes can be borrowed cheaply from areas around the city.




As with much of Cairns, you can divide the city into the Esplanade and the places within a block of it, and the rest of the city. The Esplanade is littered with bar and grill places supplying red meat and beer all in the one place, and with seafood restaurants. It's relatively difficult to find anything open before 11:00am, since they expect the clientele to be sleeping in. The rest of the city has small cafes and milkbars catering to locals. The number of Japanese tourists here makes Japanese food a fairly reliable option, although prices can be steep.

A number of the more expensive restaurants on the Esplanade, particularly towards the north end, offer discounts of 20-30% for early birds: usually you will need to order by 6:30pm and pay and leave no later than 7:30pm to get a discounted meal.

  • La Pizza Trattoria, ☎ +61 7 4031-2646. 93 The Esplanade. La Pizza Trattoria has good pizza. It lures most patrons in by letting them wander past the pizza chef kneading the dough as they smell the baking pizzas. Medium sized pizzas $17. Open 7 Days 7AM until late.
  • Rex's Burger Bar, 316 Sheridan St, ☎ +61 7 4031-1756. 7AM-8:30PM. Good burgers $6.60-11.50.
  • Villa Romana Trattoria, Aplin Street (cnr The Esplanade), ☎ +61 7 4051-9000, fax: +61 7 4031-5557. Italian meals with some good seafood options and overworked wait staff. 25% discount if you order before 6:30PM. Meals are $25-40.
  • Hide's Coffee Cafe, Shop 7, 87 Lake Street, ☎ +61 7 4041-1899. A couple of streets back from the Esplanade, this cafe is a good place for an under $10 breakfast or lunch. Order at the counter and remember to keep an eye on the collapsing umbrellas at the outside tables. They have free Wi-Fi for guests.
  • Sushi Express, Shop 28 Orchid Plaza, 79 Abbott Street, ☎ +61 7 4041-4388, fax: +61 7 4052-1277. A sushi train made up to look like the Kuranda Railway, this place is popular but not wildly busy. The tempura seems to get more attention than the sushi or sashimi. Plates from $2.50-4.50.
  • Perrotta's At The Gallery, 38 Abbott Street, ☎ +61 7 4031-5899. If you want to escape from several evenings touring the bar and grill places, Perotta's is just off the Esplanade and does more sophisticated Western food. Try the French toast with roast pear for breakfast. Breakfast, lunch and dinner approximately $20.
  • Donnini's Ciao Italia, Pier Marketplace. Indoor and outdoor dining with an ocean backdrop. Meals from around $20-25.




Cairns has pubs and bars to cater to travellers, students, and locals.

  • Blue Sky Brewery Bar & Restaurant, 34-42 Lake Street, ☎ +61 7 4057-0500. Situated in the heart of Cairns CBD. Its bar, restaurant and function rooms attract both locals and visitors. It has a wide selection of boutique beers brewed onsite, a comprehensive wine cellar, a diverse modern cuisine, and dynamic, yet relaxed Tropical North Queensland atmosphere. All of Blue Sky's handcrafted beers are unpasteurised and brewed naturally, giving a distinct depth of flavour and fresh taste.
  • Casa De Meze, ☎ +61 7 4051-5550. The corner of the Esplanade and Aplin St (above Villa Romana), have a free salsa dance lesson F-Sa 9:30PM-10:30PM followed by a DJ playing music til 2AM. From 5PM daily serving mediterranean cuisine including steak, seafood, pasta and pizza.
  • Rattle 'N Hum, 65-67 The Esplanade, ☎ +61 7 4031-3011. The Rattle 'n Hum is a bar and grill in the midst of one of the busiest parts of The Esplanade. It's quite large and getting a seat is seldom a problem: sit out back once they light torches in the evenings. Competition for the pool table is not formidable so you should be able to get several games in. They do a number of main meals, including wood-fired pizza for around $20. The staff are highly variable in quality, ordering a cocktail can be risky, but they're certainly able to pull a beer.
  • The Woolshed Chargrill & Saloon Bar, 24 Shields Street, ☎ +61 7 4031-6304, fax: +61 7 4041-2283. If you are looking for a place to find all the travelers, go to the Woolshed in downtown Cairns.




  • Asylum Cairns, 149 Grafton St, ☎ +61 7 4031-1474, toll-free: 1800 065-464, fax: +61 7 4031-8499, e-mail: [email protected]. Bed in small dorm (no bunk beds). Prices on website may be out of date. Free transfers to and from airport, bus or train station if staying 2 nights or more. Free internet. Not particularly clean or well maintained. Very friendly and helpful staff. Not in city centre, but within easy walking distance.
  • Beach House Backpackers Hostel, 239 Sheridan St, ☎ +61 7 4041-2007, toll-free: 1800 229-228, e-mail: [email protected]. Check-in: 12 noon, check-out: 10AM. Private and shared dorm accommodation. Free Wi-Fi. Free dinner and breakfast daily. Clean, safe and with friendly staff and a great onsite bar, pool and common areas. From $12.
  • The Bellview, 85-87 The Esplanade, ☎ +61 7 4031-4377, fax: +61 7 4031-2850, e-mail: [email protected]. Dormitory rooms from $20 per bed per night, budget single rooms from $35 per night, budget double rooms from $47 per night.
  • Bohemia Resort, 231 McLeod St, ☎ +61 7 4041-7290, fax: +61 7 4041-7292, e-mail: [email protected]. Close to the centre of Cairns and with 4 dorm rooms, singles, twins and doubles, as well as ensuite and family rooms. Clean and well maintained. 25 m saltwater pool, kitchen, bar and shuttle bus service. From $23 per person, per night.
  • Cairns Central YHA Backpackers Hostel, 20-26 McLeod St, ☎ +61 7 4051-0772, fax: +61 7 4031-3158, e-mail: [email protected]. Bunk beds in shared rooms $23-25 per night, double and twin rooms from $54 per night.
  • Cairns City Backpackers, 274 Draper St, ☎ +61 7 40516160, e-mail: [email protected]. Small, quiet and friendly and located in a quiet backstreet and a 5 min walk to Cairns Central Shopping Centre. Full laundry and kitchen facilities and internet at $3 per hr.
  • Castaways Backpackers, 207 Sheridan St (Near city centre), ☎ +61 7 40511238, toll-free: 1800 351115, e-mail: [email protected]. Check-in: 10AM, check-out: 9:30AM. Small family run hostel with a focus on cleanliness and friendly service. Free WiFi and evening meal at the Woolshed, free tea and coffee. Shared dorm accommodation currently from $19, Single, Double, Twin and En-suite rooms available.
  • Dreamtime hostel, Cnr Bunda & Terminus Street Parramatta Park, ☎ +61 7 40316753, toll-free: 1800 058 440, e-mail: [email protected]. Check-in: 10AM, check-out: 9:30AM. Small hostel across Cairns Central with its mall and lagoon-like backyard. Air condition available. Shared dorm accommodation currently from $22, Single and Twin rooms available.
  • Floriana Guesthouse, 183 The Esplanade, ☎ +61 7 4051-7886, fax: +61 7 4051-3056, e-mail: [email protected]. Front rooms look out to the Coral Sea, Floriana is an older style Art Deco 1930s guesthouse. It is 15 min walk to town and offers rooms with share facilities and self contained flats.
  • Gilligans Backpacker Hotel and Resort, 57-89 Grafton St, toll-free: 1800 556-995, e-mail: [email protected]. Private hotel rooms also available. Free meal every night, clean, safe, fun hostel with loads of activities and massive swimming pool. Shared Dorms rooms starting from $18 a night.
  • Njoy Travellers Resort, 141 Sheridan St, ☎ +61 7 4031-1088, e-mail: [email protected]. Free shuttle bus to airport at set times, Free welcome drink at Zanzibar Bar and Grill. Very clean, safe, funky and friendly hostel with chilled out reception and pool area. Shared dorm accommodation from $15 a night.
  • Nomads Cairns (Serpent Hostel), 341 Lake St, Cairns, ☎ +61 7 4040 7777, toll-free: 1800 666-237, e-mail: [email protected]. Check-in: 2pm, check-out: 10am. Free shuttle bus. Very clean hostel with a huge swimming pool and a volleyball court. Shared dorm accommodation from $14 a night.
  • Northern Greenhouse, 117 Grafton Street, ☎ +61 7 4047 7200, toll-free: 1800 000 541, e-mail: [email protected]. all guests receive free daily breakfast, free unlimited internet 24/7, free hidden swimming hole trip, sailing trip and more activities. Located in the centre of town.
  • Reef Backpackers, 140 Grafton St, ☎ +61 7 4041-5255, e-mail: [email protected]. Check-in: 10AM, check-out: 10AM. Free WiFi internet. clean safe and friendly. In city centre with pool and great outdoor area. $15.
  • ibis Styles Cairns, 15 Florence Street (Corner of Florence and Lake St), ☎ +61 7 40515733.
  • 181 The Esplanade (Located next to Cairns Base Hospital and a 15 min walk from town).

Amaroo At Trinity, 92-94 Moore St, Trinity Beach (Between Cairns and Palm Cove, 15 min drive from Cairns CBD), ☎ +61 7 4055 6066. Modern studio or suite in Cairns northern beach area. Close to restaurants, hotel, shopping. Elevated beachfront position, views of the Coral Sea and to the mountains in the rear. Queen and twin bed options, lift access to all floors, laundry facilities on each level. $130-216.

  • Doubletree by Hilton Cairns, 21-123 The Esplanade & Florence St, ☎ +61 7 4050-6070, fax: +61 7 4031-3770. Located a few minutes walk from the centre, the hotel has both a normal swimming pool, and a lake by the atrium with huge Barramundi! Most of the rooms have views of the sea Double rooms approximately $150 per night.
  • The Lakes Cairns Resort and Spa, 2 Greenslopes St, ☎ +61 7 4053-9400. 4.5 star resort apartments in 11 acres of lush landscaped gardens, lakes and beach lagoon pools.
  • Marlin Cove Holiday Resort, 2 Keem St. Trinity Beach (15 min from Cairns City), ☎ +61 7 4057-8299. 4 star self-contained accommodation in Trinity Beach. Suitable for families.
  • Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort, 122 Lake St (One block from the centre of Cairns), ☎ +61 7 4080-1888, fax: +61 7 4080-1889, e-mail: [email protected]. Resort style king rooms and twin rooms (with two doubles) approximately $150/night.

Quality Hotel Sheridan Plaza, 295 Sheridan St (5 min from the Cairns airport and city centre), ☎ +61 7 4031-6500, fax: +61 7 4031-6226. 4 star boutique style hotel.

  • Queens Court Accommodation Cairns, 167-171 Sheridan St (In the centre of Cairns), ☎ +61 7 4051-7722, e-mail: [email protected]. 81 standard rooms and suites inc some self-contained suites. Showering amenities for guests late departures, guest laundry, swimming pool, BBQ area, evening dining, free overnight luggage storage, secure onsite parking. ADSL broadband in all rooms, wifi and internet kiosk. Tour desk, transit lounge. Breakfast, free airport transfer pick up available. All rooms have room safes. Budget rooms from $69/night, motel-style twin rooms from $103/night, sc suite from $140, family suite $229.
  • Reef Retreat Resort, 10-14 Harpa St, Palm Cove (22 km from Cairns), fax: +61 7 4059-1745. Between a coconut palm fringed beach and lush, tropical rainforest.
  • Rydges Plaza Cairns, Cnr Spence & Grafton Sts, ☎ 1300 857-922 (local rate call). Close to the Cairns Convention Centre, Reef Casino, Great Barrier Reef departure terminals and central shopping areas.
  • Wilks Holiday House, 78 Wilks St, ☎ +61 7 40452143. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Has 4 bedrooms/2 bathrooms, 2 sitting rooms, indoor and outdoor dining. AustarTV, wifi, free local calls, A/C, well equipped kitchen and off street parking. Fully fenced front and back garden. Pet friendly by request. Minimum stay 4 nights. $215/per night (min 4 nights).
  • Villa Marine Holiday Resort, 8 Rutherford Street, Yorkeys Knob Beach, Cairns, ☎ +61 7 4055 7158, e-mail: [email protected]. Villa Marine Holiday Resort has a luxury Rainforest Apartment has amazing views over the adjoining rainforest. Or stay in their romantic Honeymoon apartment. Family and Budget apartments available as well. Small, quiet and peaceful, they have all types of lodging to suit your needs. $99 to $150/night.
  • Grand Mercure Rockford Esplanade, ☎ +61 7 4055-3999, e-mail: [email protected]. Bar and outdoor swimming pool. Ocean, pool and mountain views overlooking the Palm Cove beach. Within walking distance of the shopping centre of Palm Cove Village.
  • Cairns Harbour Lights, 1 Marlin Pde, Cairns, ☎ +61 7 4057 0800. Serviced 1-2 bedroom apartments with Cairns water and Trinity Park views.
  • Clarendon on Spence, 79 Spence St, ☎ +61 7 4041-2226, fax: +61 7 4041-4132. 2-3 bedroom apartments with balconies, fully-equipped kitchens, en suite with corner spa. Near Esplanade, Reef Fleet Terminal, and restaurant strip.
  • Hilton Cairns, 34 The Esplanade, ☎ +61 7 4050-2000, fax: +61 7 4050-2001, e-mail: [email protected].
  • Regency on Spence, 79 Spence St, fax: +61 7 4041-4132. 2-3 bedroom apartments with balconies located near restaurant district, shopping mall, and Reef Fleet Terminal. Guest access to spa and outdoor swimming pool. Sister-property of Clarendon on Spence.
  • The Sebel Cairns (Formerly Cairns International Hotel), 17 Abbott St (In the centre of Cairns), ☎ +61 7 4031-1300, fax: +61 7 4031-1801, e-mail: [email protected]. Spacious rooms and suites all with balconies, overlooking the harbour and the city. From $200/room.
  • Shangri-La Hotel, Pierpoint Rd, ☎ +61 7 4031-1411, fax: +61 7 4031-3226, e-mail: [email protected].
  • Pullman Reef Hotel, 35-41 Wharf St, ☎ +61 7 4030-8888, fax: +61 7 4030-8777. Among the best hotels in the city, located in the same building as the Reef Casino and with views over Trinity Bay. From $220.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)



Keep Connected


Internet cafés are very common in the larger Australian cities and popular tourist destinations. However, once you leave the major population centres, you might have trouble finding somewhere to log on. Free wifi is getting more and more common (either with or without a code) in places like restaurants, some bars and coffee places and hotels. Sometimes a fee is required.


See also: International Telephone Calls

Australia is on a GSM 900/1800 network, so if you have an unlocked phone that works on those frequencies, you will be able to buy a prepaid SIM-card and stick into your phone when you're in Australia. You will receive a new Australian phone number with the SIM-card.

To dial out of Australia use the prefix 0011, followed by the calling code of the country you are trying to reach, followed by the area code of the city/town (without the 0!) and finally the phone number.

Within Australia, it is necessary to add an area code to the phone numbers if you are calling from outside the area. Below are Australia's area codes:

  • 02 - New South Wales & Australian Capital Territory (Sydney, Canberra)
  • 03 - Victoria & Tasmania (Melbourne, Hobart)
  • 07 - Queensland (Brisbane)
  • 08 - Western Australia, South Australia & Northern Territory (Perth, Adelaide, Darwin)

000 is the emergency telephone number in Australia, but the international GSM mobile emergency telephone number 112 also works on mobile phones.


Australia Post is the government's postal service. Most suburbs will have at least one post office. Opening times are mostly from around 8:00 or 9:00am to 5:00pm though larger ones keep longer hours sometimes. A standard letter or postcard sent within Australia will cost $0.60. Internationally, it costs $1.70 to send postcards anywhere in the world. Letters cost $1.85 to send within the Asia Pacific region and $2.60 to anywhere else in the world.[1]. It is also possible to send things as parcels or by express mail. You can also use use private courier companies like TNT, UPS or DHL as they are competitive and reliable.



  1. 1 Australia Post. Sourced 10 May 2013

Quick Facts


  • Latitude: -16.92646
  • Longitude: 145.77597

Accommodation in Cairns

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Cairns searchable right here on Travellerspoint.


as well as Peter (13%), JessieG (4%), dr.pepper (<1%), KoalaGirl (<1%), boulderman (<1%), VATeam (<1%), BradAldcroft (<1%)

Cairns Travel Helpers

  • Rhmyers

    Dived of the Great Barrier Reef... can help with which type of tour to take and why.

    Went North to Thomas and Daintree National Rainforest crocks. food.

    Went West to the REAL Outback... kangoroo road kill. 10 foot termite mounds, unattended museums, rail roads, storms, floods. Variety of Fruits and Veg ... good food, music and dance.

    Ask Rhmyers a question about Cairns

This is version 68. Last edited at 12:58 on Jul 20, 18 by Utrecht. 46 articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License