Aus qld cairns Green Island National Park
Aus qld cairns fitzroy island
Aus qld cairns great barrier reef scuba dive
Aus qld cairns palm tree
The cities of Australia

Discover Cairns

The gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, Cairns is an absolute tropical paradise. Quintessential Australia, the biggest city of Far North Queensland is bursting with things to do and see. Surrounded by astounding tropical rainforest, explore streets lined with palm trees, meet the friendly locals and discover some of nature's greatest miracles. This part of the world offers once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Where should you visit in Cairns?

Visit Cairns and explore Clifton Beach
© Tourism and Events Queensland
Indulge in a little culture at the Rainforestation Nature Park
© Tourism and Events Queensland

Highlights

World-famous, The Great Barrier Reef is a big reason why many tourists visit Cairns. With approximately 3000 individual reefs, 900 islands, more than 1500 species of fish, and 30 species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises. It is no wonder that The Great Barrier Reef is listed as one of the seven wonders of the world. There are so many ways to experience this natural wonder. Such as scuba diving, snorkelling, or taking a scenic helicopter ride over the outer reef. Discover an abundance of marine life and hidden treasures.

The Daintree Rainforest

Be captivated by an ancient and mysterious place - Daintree. A truly unique part of the world, where two natural World Heritage Sites meet - Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Enter nature’s open-air art gallery, where you can discover an abundance of rare fauna and flora, including witchetty grubs.

Spot unique Australian wildlife

This slice of paradise is home to 30% of Australia’s frog, marsupial, and reptile species and 65% of bat and butterfly species. Spend your days here cruising the murky waters of the Daintree River, admiring Estuarine crocodiles, or exploring white sandy beaches and trying to spot the elusive cassowary (a prehistoric-looking large colourful bird). Try a cup of local Daintree tea or visit the Daintree Icecream and Tropical Fruit Orchard.

Discover the world's largest reef system, The Great Barrier Reef
The Daintree Rainforest is truly a unique and special part of the world

Get a birds-eye view of an ancient rainforest

Another amazing attraction nearby Cairns is the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. The world-renowned gondola ride takes you over a World Heritage Listed Wet Tropics Rainforest area and spans 7.5 kilometres. Discover the beauty of the world’s oldest rainforest ecosystem in the Barron Gorge National Park. Along the way, keep an eye out for Barron Falls!

Choose from an abundance of outdoor activities

The city of Cairns is oozing with laid-back vibes and offers plenty of activities ranging from relaxing to active and adventurous. Whether you would like to discover the Great Barrier Reef, lounge by the pool, go beach hopping or conquer Green Island, there is no shortage of activities to experience.

A paradise for nature lovers

Discover the Aboriginal culture, pop by a local cafe, or take a drive along the Great Barrier Reef Drive. Go on a whale-watching cruise, marvel at Barron Falls, or try scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef! Have a beer with the locals on an outdoor terrace, visit the local markets or cycle along the Esplanade - Cairns is waiting to be explored.

Take a ride through the rainforest on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
© Tourism and Events Queensland
Cycle over the Esplanade
© Tourism and Events Queensland

Shopping & markets

Cairns is renowned for the Great Barrier Reef but is also known being a retail mecca and offers a thriving shopping scene. Treat yourself to an assortment of unique items, high-end fashion, premium brands, and local goodies.

Here are some of the best places to shop in Cairns:

  • Cairns Central
  • DFO Cairns
  • Stockland Cairns Shopping Centre
  • Civic Shopping Shopping Centre
  • Orchid Plaza Shopping Centre
  • Kuranda Original Rainforest Markets
  • Cairns Night Markets
  • Rusty's Markets
  • Cairns Local Farmer's Market
  • Palm Cove Markets
Be sure to visit the Kuranda Original Rainforest Markets
© Tourism and Events Queensland Tourism/ Tropical North Queensland
For fresh local produce, visit Rusty's Markets
© Tourism and Events Queensland

Dining & local cuisine

If you love to dine in style with the waterfront as your backdrop, Cairns is sure to impress! With over 100 restaurants to choose from, there are plenty of opportunities to feast on freshly caught seafood, exotic tropical fruits, and the distinct native flavours of Australia. You can find an assortment of restaurants along The Esplanade, Florence, McLeod, and Wharf Street.

Visit Cairns and taste the local flavours

The Pier complex also features a selection of restaurants and offers some of the best dining experiences in Cairns. If you are unsure of where to go, ask your local hosts. They know where the best places are for the most unforgettable local dining experience.

Savour fresh seafood, alfresco-style!
© Tourism and Events Queensland
Enjoy a coffee, the Aussie way!
© Tourism and Events Queensland / Andrew Watson

Things to do

Cairns attractions can be enjoyed year-round. However, with a dry season and wet season, the best time to visit is during the period of the Australian winter, between May and September. With countless hours of sunshine and warm tropical weather, there are many tourist attractions to tick off your bucket list.

A natural wonderland

Take a trip to the colourful seaside town of Port Douglas or soak up the beauty of the Daintree Rainforest in Cape Tribulation. Uncover the secrets of the magical Great Barrier Reef, visit Kuranda or go waterfall hopping in the Tablelands.

Cairns Australia is waiting to be explored!

Would you like to see marine animals up close and personal? Take a trip to the state-of-the-art Cairns Aquarium and admire a collection of marine life. Or pop over to Palm Cove, a tiny beachside village located approximately 30 minutes north of Cairns.

Be sure to take a trip to Hartley's Crocodile Adventures
© Tourism and Events Queensland
Enjoy a unique experience at the Butterfly Sanctuary
© Tourism and Events Queensland
Aus Waterlilies in Kakadu Darwin NT

Would you like to learn more about Cairns?

Join one of our live and informative presentations, hosted by one of our travel specialists. And find out how to travel to Australia in a uniquely local way. There are also plenty of opportunities to ask questions!

Register now

Unearth amazing moments in Kuranda

Kuranda is a picturesque mountain village located 25 kilometres northwest of Cairns. Nestled between the oldest tropical rainforest in the world, this quirky place attracts visitors from all over the world. Wind through the Barron Gorge on the Kuranda Scenic Railway or take a trip on the Barron River. If you seek adventure, you can also go white water rafting on the Barron River! Of course, the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is a must-do.

Discover the magic on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
© Tourism and Events Queensland
The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is ideal for families
© Tourism and Events Queensland

A family-friendly destination

There are plenty of things to do with the kids in and around Cairns. If you would like to admire unique Australian wildlife, visit Kuranda Koala Gardens or the Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome, and for bird lovers, stop by Birdworld. Cairns Adventure Park is an eco-tourism adventure park that is filled with outdoor activities.

Keep an eye out for the green tree frog
Six of the world's seven species of marine turtle live within the Great Barrier Reef
© Tourism and Events Queensland

Take a journey through time

Cairns and the surrounding area have an array of museums to visit. Would like to learn more about Australia's fascinating history and culture?

Here are some museums to visit:

  • Cairns Museum
  • The Crystal Caves
  • Historic Village Herberton
  • The Ted Elliot Mineral Collection
  • Nganyaji Interpretive Centre
  • Australian Sugar Heritage Centre
  • Mareeba Heritage Museum
  • Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre
  • Cairns Children's Museum
  • Australian Armour and Artillery Museum
Are you a thrill-seeker? Go canyoning in the middle of the rainforest
© Tourism and Events Queensland
Hop on board the Kuranda Scenic Railway
© Tourism and Events Queensland Tourism Tropical North Queensland

Cultural activities

North Queensland is rich in cultural significance. The Gimuy-walubarra yidi are the traditional custodians of Cairns and the surrounding district. Gimuy is the traditional name for Cairns and for many centuries the Aboriginal people of Australia have lived here. Therefore, this special part of Australia is brimming with authentic Indigenous experiences. Learn more about their culture, listen to their stories, and immerse yourself into their way of life.

Admire Indigenous artists in action
© Tourism and Events Queensland
Learn more about the oldest living culture in the world in the Daintree Rainforest
© Tourism and Events Queensland

Take an Indigenous guided tour through the rainforest

Along the way, learn about the different flora and fauna found within the Daintree Rainforest. Find out how they were used for food and medicinal purposes. Hear about the different tribes that live in the area and take part in a traditional smoke ceremony.

An experience that you will never forget

Go and hunt for bush food, try to throw a boomerang, or watch authentic Aboriginal artwork being made. Be sure to take a trip to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park! The Mossman Gorge Centre is an eco-tourism development and is well worth visiting during your time in Far North Queensland.

Learn how to throw a boomerang at the Rainforestation Nature Park
© Tourism and Events Queensland
Marvel at a collection of Indigenous artwork
© Tourism and Events Queensland

Parks & nature

If you are a nature lover, Cairns is the perfect destination to uncover tropical beauty. With the Daintree Rainforest close by and ten national parks to explore, there are plenty of opportunities to admire rare flora and fauna. You can also find hundreds of parks and gardens across the Cairns region.

There are plenty of spots to enjoy the outdoors in Cairns City

At the Cairns Esplanade and lagoon, you can spark up the barbecue and absorb the relaxed atmosphere. If you would like to see one of the best exhibitions of tropical plants in Australia, visit the Cairns Botanic Gardens. The Flecker Botanic Gardens are also worth visiting.

Keep an eye out for the Olive-backed sunbird
© David Clode
Take a wander around Cairns Botanical Gardens
© David Clode

Islands

With 900 islands located within the Great Barrier Reef, there is no shortage of islands to explore off the coast of Cairns. The three closest islands to visit are Green Island, Fitzroy Island, and Lizard Island. Other islands that you can visit are Frankland Islands, Low Isles, Dunk Island, and Michaelmas Cay. Fitzroy Island is the closest island to Cairns, and with 95% of the island being a designated national park, it is a must-do for every nature lover!

Unravel the beauty of Green Island

Green Island is a beautiful 6000-year-old rainforest-covered coral cay and an ideal tropical getaway. There are many beautiful beaches on offer which are perfect for snorkelling. It is possible to stay on the island at an eco-certified resort with the Barrier Reef on your doorstep. A ferry to Green Island takes approximately 45 minutes but you can also access the island by helicopter. It is also possible to take a day trip to Green Island together with a travel guide.

Discover a tropical haven, Fitzroy Island

Fitzroy Island is located 29 kilometres southeast of Cairns, approximately 45 minutes by ferry. A magical wonderland that has something for everyone. Ideal for swimming, snorkelling, and diving, Fitzroy Island is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise. View the reef onboard a glass-bottom boat, go hiking or simply relax by the beach and enjoy all that Fitzroy Island has to offer.

Discover a world of wonder from a glass-bottomed boat
© Tourism and Events Queensland
Lizard Island is one of Queensland's best-kept secrets
© Tourism and Events Queensland

Surrounding areas

Would you like to explore outside of Cairns? North Queensland is bursting with natural wonders including the biodiverse Daintree Rainforest. Together with a local travel guide, there are many full-day or multi-day tours to choose from. Experience a 4WD adventure to Cape Tribulation or self-drive through the rolling hills of Atherton Tablelands. While you are there, be sure to stop at Millaa Millaa and Dinner Falls. Or have a picnic at Lake Eacham and admire a stunning volcanic crater.

There are no shortage of day trips or multi-day adventures from Cairns

If you are heading south from Cairns, be sure to stop by Paronella Park! If you would like to drive a further north past the Daintree, you can visit Cook Town. The Mareeba Tropical Savanna and Wetland Reserve is home to rare and beautiful wildlife. Port Douglas is ideal for couples and families and offers a selection of day trips to the reef. Or take a trip to Chillagoe, a former mining town, and while you are there visit the Chillagoe Caves. Or if you prefer, simply absorb the tranquility at your accommodation.

A visit to the stunning Mossman Gorge is a must-do!
© Tourism and Events Queensland
Beach Daintree | Australia holiday
Discover the only place in the world where two UNESCO World Heritage Sites meet

Discover more

The states and territories of Australia

Discover Queensland

With a size of 1.853 million square metres, 13,347 kilometres of coastline, the Great Barrier Reef, the world's… read more

With an area of 7.692 square million kilometres, Australia is divided into 8 states and 2 territories. There is an… read more

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM HOLIDAY?

Sample itineraries to Australia

Australia is a country of contrast and is filled with endless natural wonders. Go on a journey and discover the… read more

Hand-selected, unique & personal

Accommodation in Australia

A journey where your accommodation is an experience in itself. We have a large selection of hand-selected… read more

Be mesmerised by one of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef. A place where you can find the… read more

Be mesmerised by one of the seven wonders of the world - the Great Barrier Reef together with a local company. A… read more

All the things you love

and none of the things you don't

Our local knowledge makes the difference for your bespoke holiday through New Zealand or Australia. Your Journey Down Under starts here.