Considered the gateway to both Queensland's tropical north and the famous Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is a heavy-hitter on the Australian tourist trail. The city, especially the Esplanade, is bustling with backpacker bars, restaurants and cafés. The friendly locals and the generally relaxed atmosphere makes you want to stay here longer than you anticipated.
One of the main reasons travellers make their way to Cairns is its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef – the world's largest coral reef system and one of the seven wonders of the natural world. The reef is famous for its plethora of marine species and snorkelling and diving opportunities, which can all be organised from tour agencies, resorts and the three different marinas in town. For something a bit different, head to the north of the city and visit the Daintree Rainforest – one of the oldest rainforests on Earth and a place that David Attenborough called the 'the most extraordinary place on Earth'. Other sites to visit include Barron Falls, the Rainforestation Nature Park and Fitzroy Island.
The nightlife in Cairns is fun, relaxed and unpretentious, and you'll find many spots to enjoy it – whether that's watching the sun setting from a waterfront bar on the Esplanade or dancing the night away in an energetic backpackers hub. For the former, head to the Salt House or the Vine Room; for the latter, Gilligan's or the Woolshed are the places to be.
From per night
From $341 per night
From $273 per night
|Most popular time to visit||October-December|
|Cheapest time to visit||January-March|
|Local currency||AUD 10 = $7.10|
|Average weekend price||$133 per night|
|Average weekday price||$121 per night|
|Average stay||2 nights|
Cairns is a phenomenal destination! All the people we met were so hospitable and made our holiday special. Definitely hire a car for a couple of days and do the Waterfall circuit, and a drive up North to Port Douglas. The coral at Fitzroy Island was great and so close to the shore. There are so many restaurants on offer - was fantastic. The Esplanade and surrounding bushlands are so beautifully kept and a pleasure to walk around.
Great place to have as a base if you wanted to travel around the area. Definitely would recommend a car as you would be spending too much on tours and a car rental is the better option. A tourist destination that is geared up for tourism. Not sure on public transport for the area. Best to stay in and around the Central part of town for restaurants. Walking distance to the ferry service in the city centre. If you prefer to just relax I would recommend palm cove or Port Douglas.
Nice city to enjoy. Lots of activities - some not cheap, though worthwhile. Beautiful gardens and very clean . The reef trips are excellent, as is the deep sea fishing. Cafes and restaurants are all surprisingly good. Great service and superb food.
Cairns is a great launch pad for the Daintree, the Atherton table lands, the reef and beaches and activities to both the south and north. There is so much to see and do in the region and we’d be keen to get back and take in more using Cairns as a base for day trips or as a return point for longer ventures away.
Used to love Cairns, but all a bit sad now. Many shops shut, lagoon pool emptied presume for maintenance.Eating out very expensive. You really need a car, this was our first holiday without one in Cairns, lucky we hired a car from Cruising for 3day trip to Mission Beach and Paronella Park,the rate was good and zi regret not extending even though parking is expensive Sorry Cairns but it would have been cheaper and better to go to Thailand this time.
Used local buses and taxis to get around. Every driver was friendly and knowledgeable about the area. There were lots of great tours available. We went to Kuranda scenic railway and skyrail, city sights tour, Australian armour and artillery museum. Great pubs to eat in were Dunwoody's and Cock and Bull. Friendly locals who could not do enough to advise and help us.
From $286 per night 9.7 Exceptional 61 reviews
From $99 per night 9.7 Exceptional 33 reviews
From $326 per night 9.6 Exceptional 114 reviews
From $313 per night 9.3 Wonderful 405 reviews
From $64 per night
From $63 per night
From $58 per night
From $117 per night
From $63 per night
From $8 per night
From $53 per night
From $53 per night
From $45 per night
From $32 per night
From $18 per night