Cairns Travel Guide

Cairns is a small but fun, vibrant and relaxed tropical city. It’s also the airport gateway to exploring the Great Barrier Reef, Atherton Tablelands and Daintree Rainforest.

Wander the esplanade (with an ice cream for extra deliciousness), swim the lagoon, book a day tour to the reef and rainforest and enjoy the fruit markets, cafes and bars and restaurants with waterfront views.

Popular Things to do in and near Cairns

Popular things to do and places to visit in and around Cairns include:

  • Great Barrier Reef Trip
  • Island Day Trip
  • Daintree Rainforest Day Trip & Daintree River Crocodile Cruise
  • Cairns Aquarium
  • Swim the Esplanade Lagoon (great for a sunset swim)
  • Wander the botanic gardens
  • Eat & Drink with water, harbour and mountain views

Tours open on Viator Website (Owned by Tripadvisor)

Accommodation Guides & Notes

Affordable and Budget Accommodation in Cairns

Affordable and Budget Accommodation in Cairns

There is some great cheap and budget accommodation in Cairns so it is possible to have a holiday with facilities…

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Places to Eat & Drink in Cairns

Like most cities, the restaurant scene is forever evolving and revolving how ever there are plenty of popular favourites that endure.

Vegans & Vegetarians: At Lillipad you don’t have to settle for the one vegan option, you are properly spoilt for choice with many vegan breakfast and lunch options. A favourite I returned to again and again for their hearty and tasty meals.

Something Sweet: Check out Waffle on Cairns – it can be tricky to get a table at this tiny but popular waffle spot so be prepared to get in early!

Best for Day Drinking & Sunday Sessions: Visit the outdoor bar at the Salt House from 11.30am daily for fun times in the sunshine on the bar deck or lawn.

Casual Catch Ups: Open from 11.30am daily the Pier Bar is in a great spot with views towards the esplanade grassed area and with food, beers and cocktails it’s a good spot for an afternoon catch up. Pre Covid it was the best place to people watch on the lawn (think backpackers doing their circus tricks for fun and all sorts of random crap) and tables full of local boat staff after knock-off – fingers crossed as travellers return it’s getting those magic cairns vibes back!

National Parks, Bushwalks & Wildlife around Cairns

Cairns is a convenient spot to road trip north, south and inland to all sorts of amazing parks.

Outdoor Active Adventures around Cairns

Mountain Bike Riding

Cairns is surrounded by mountains and hills just waiting for you to ride! Keep in mind the heat may be challenging for those not used to it so book the right time of year or get out earlier in the day.

Check out Dans Mountain Bike Riding for plenty of locally guided mtb tours across tropical North Queensland. Tours include bike & helmet, park fees, transfers to locations and a guide (although given the ‘what’s included information’ if you struggle to detect sarcasm like me you could be in trouble lol).

All Guides, Blog Posts & Notes about things to do and places to stay around Cairns

Affordable and Budget Accommodation in Cairns

There is some great cheap and budget accommodation in Cairns so it is possible to have a holiday with facilities like a nice pool and comfortable, clean room at a more affordable price than the big luxury resorts! However budget/cheap accommodation can mean different things to different people, so this guide is to help you…