Cairns is my most favourite place in sunny Far North Queensland.
With so much to see and do in Far North Queensland, Cairns is one of the best bucket list destinations ever! A relaxed and casual place to visit, it’s not surprising that Cairns offers exactly what the travel brochures promise.
When you arrive, don’t be surprised to see some of the most spectacular scenery in Australia.
There’s a ton of great things to do in and around the city. You’ll find amazing cafés, great restaurants, busy markets and if you want to swim you’ll find tons of clear mountain streams and swimming holes close to the city.
- Visit Kuranda – take the Skyrail or Kuranda Scenic Railway
- Go snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef
- Visit the Daintree, the most ancient rainforest in the world
Read next: Daintree Escape – 4 days with Mother Nature
There’s so much to do in Cairns
You’ll never tire of this scenery!
Want to do something different?
You really do have choices when you visit Cairns!
Opt for a short boat ride to the Great Barrier Reef so you can go snorkeling on the famous GBR or around the coral islands.
Take a short drive north to immerse yourself in the ancient Daintree Rainforest. Did you know that the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest is over 180 Million years old? Imagine this pristine wilderness with it’s ancient and rare plants and exotic birds and animals.
It’s little wonder that David Attenborough called it
“the most extraordinary place on earth”
Take a short drive up the mountain to the Atherton Tablelands and with its crater lakes, quaint mountain villages and spectacular countryside. Or take an adventure on Kuranda’s Scenic Railway to see the magnificent Barron Falls and views down the Barron Gorge.
Step into an Ancient Tropical Rainforest
The World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest is two hours drive north of Cairns.
The Daintree is home to some of the most diverse range of plants, birds and unique animals on earth, including the rare tree-dwelling kangaroo and the endangered cassowary.
Visit the Daintree Discovery Centre where you can walk along the Aerial Walkway amidst the rainforest or take a cruisedown the Daintree River to spot wildlife in its natural habitat including very large saltwater crocodiles. Day trips are available from Cairns and Port Douglas or you can hire a car and take the scenic drive.
The Great Barrier Reef
You simply can’t visit Cairns without visiting the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system. It’s made up of 3000 coral reefs and over 900 beautiful islands and coral cays. Take a day cruise with Quicksilver Cruisesto snorkel in the stunning coral gardens and see the beautifully coloured fish to fully experience this remarkable treasure.
Discover the Islands
A short high-speed ferry ride will take you to beautiful Fitzroy Island. Explore the walking tracks through the natural rainforest, snorkel around Welcome Bay and Nudey Beach or see the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef by sea kayak.
Take day tour to Green Island, and explore this beautiful coral cay surrounded by sandy white beaches and sapphire blue waters, just a short hop off the Cairns shore.
Learn about Aboriginal culture
North Queensland is rich in history and is home of the world’s oldest living culture which dates back more than 40,000 years at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park.
The cultural centre gives guests the opportunity to experience authentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through theatre, guided bush walks and didgeridoo shows. It’s an experience that will stay with you forever!
Visit Kuranda’s Village in the Rainforest
The mountain village of Kuranda is nestled within the tropical rainforest, and known for its vibrant arts community. Local markets are open daily, selling a range of jewellery, leather goods and Aboriginal art, while cafes, galleries and boutiques line the village streets.
The journey up to Kuranda is half the experience! The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway takes you above the rainforest canopy and provides extraordinary views over the city, the beaches and the pristine rainforest. Take the historic Kuranda Scenic Railwaywhen returning to Cairns. This old world train journey travels through the dense rainforest, winding down the mountain, past cascading waterfalls and the stunning Barron Gorge.
You can always top in at the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary at Kuranda with over 2000 magnificent tropical butterflies. Species such as the electric-blue Ulysses and the stunning green and yellow Cairns Birdwing butterflies are just a few that call this aviary home.
Looking for an adrenaline rush?
There’s lots to do to give you a little ‘extreme’ adventure!
Get your Foodie Fix
With coffee and tea plantations close by, it’s no surprise that Cairns has a thriving café scene. It won’t take you long to discover some of the best the best tea & coffee hangouts in town!
Take advantage of Cairns’ balmy weather and dine alfresco on The Esplanade, with ocean fresh seafood from Barnacle Bills which has been on the Esplanade as long as I can remember, or try some Asian fusion style menu from The Raw Prawn. A trip up the to the northern beaches will offer some great restaurants along the way!
Perhaps a visit to Rusty’s Markets for an opportunity to taste some of the locally grown exotic fruits and lots more. Step out and mingle with the locals at Rusty’s Markets.
How to get there
International flights arrive daily at Cairns Airport which is a drive to the city centre, or fly into one of the capital cities such as Melbourne, Brisbane or Sydney and catch a connecting domestic link.
There’s always an opportunity to take a road-trip up the Queensland coast and enjoy the changing landscape along the way. (Allow a good 3 – 4 weeks to see as much as you can)
Queenslanders often are heard to say
Beautiful one day, Perfect the next!” … It’s true!
Where to stay
There are literally thousands of places to stay in this region. Browse to find somewhere to suit your style and budget. We stayed at the Reef Hotel Casino before heading up to the Daintree for a few days. Read about our getaway to the Daintree Ecolodge.
Have you been to Cairns yet? It’s the holiday to take to really explore Australia. Consider booking your flight now!