Cairns at night from the air

Where to go

Cairns & Northern Beaches

Cairns is the Bustling Heart of Tropical North Queensland

Hop on a boat for the Great Barrier Reef, venture inland in search of lush rainforest or just kick back and embrace the laid-back tropical lifestyle.

One of the things that defines this part of the world for me is the cloud that rests gently on the tips of the mountains as dawn comes up over Cairns

Andy Ridley – CEO, Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef

Salt house people eating

ALFRESCO ALLURE

Cairns has grown from ramshackle port town to stylish modern city – the erstwhile capital of Tropical North Queensland, with a year-round outdoor lifestyle. You’ll feel like you’re on holiday from the minute you arrive. The sun is shining, the air is steamy and palm trees line the streets. Throw out the schedule, throw on your swimsuit and settle in for a seriously good time.

cairns botanical gardens

TAKE A DEEP BREATH

The Tanks Art Centre hosts live music, comedy, contemporary art exhibitions, workshops and children’s theatre in an intimate venue. Walk through the leafy Botanic Gardens, along the shore of Lake Morris or tackle the winding steps of the Red Arrow track through the Mount Whitfield Conservation Park.

prawn star cairns

 

A TASTE OF THE TROPICS

But don’t let that small-town vibe fool you. With its distinctive multicultural mix, Cairns buzzes with innovative eateries, on-trend bars, stylish boutiques and galleries. Visit laneway bar Three Wolves to taste one of the 50 types of whiskey on the menu, or check out Prawn Star, a prawn trawler turned floating restaurant that serves up some of the freshest local prawns and seafood in the city – with a cold brew, of course!

Great Barrier Reef aerial

AT THE DOORSTEP OF THE REEF

The city is tucked between two of Tropical North Queensland’s greatest natural treasures – the marine playground of the Great Barrier Reef and the World Heritage listed Wet Tropics Rainforest, which means adventure is never far away. Almost 30 boats leave Cairns every day for the reef and in less than an hour you can be snorkelling or diving in Australia’s most spectacular underwater environment. Inland, hike through sun-dappled forest on the Douglas Track to Glacier Rock, swim in the cascading pools of nearby Crystal Cascades or glide just metres over the canopy of tropical rainforest on Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Swimming in Cairns lagoon

 

INTO THE BLUE

There’s no beach in Cairns, so locals and visitors alike cool off in the sparkling Esplanade Lagoon. This 4800 sq m saltwater pool is lined with parks, shady banyan trees, boardwalks and barbecues.

Holloways Beach

ON THE BEACHES

If you need a beach fix, head for Cairns’ Northern Beaches, a string of sleepy seaside villages about 15 minutes from the city. They are a favourite with locals and each has its own unique character, like the family-friendly Trinity, the kite-surfing hub of Yorkeys Knob or the relaxed Holloways.

Guide to Cairns beaches

Tips

  • Burn off some of the holiday calories with one of the free outdoor exercise classes held six mornings a week along the Esplanade. Choose from aqua aerobics in the lagoon, Zumba, yoga, pilates, boxing, beach volleyball and more.

  • Rusty’s Market has been supplying Cairns with its fresh fruit and vegetables for more than 40 years. Juicy mangoes, native bush fruits, excellent coffee and pop-up food trucks are just some of the temptations. Open Friday and Saturday, 5am-6pm; Sunday, 5am-3pm.

  • Cairns is a very welcoming city and you’ll feel at home right away. It’s also easy to get around and everything in the CBD is within walking distance.

  • Each November sees the annual coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef. This is a great time to visit for snorkelling or diving.

Discover More

There’s so much to do in Cairns. Check out the bustling markets and vibrant nightlife, or use the city as a jumping-off point to explore the Great Barrier Reef, Wet Tropics Rainforest or the Atherton Tablelands.

Emerald Creek Falls
Cairns & Northern Beaches
20 waterfalls near Cairns

Mighty mountain ranges and Wet Tropics Rainforest create the optimum environment for a myriad of extraordinary waterfalls. Fall in love with these 20 waterfall wonderlands only a short drive from Cairns.

Read more
cairns esplanade
Cairns & Great Barrier Reef
16 things to do your first time in Cairns

If ever the statement “so much to do, so little time” rang true of a destination, Cairns would be it. With the Great Barrier Reef in its front yard and the Wet Tropics rainforest out the back, aside from your bathers, time is the best thing you can pack for a visit to Tropical North Queensland. If it’s your first time in the North Queensland capital, start with these 16 things to do in Cairns.

Read more
clifton beach aerial
Cairns & Northern Beaches
Guide to Cairns Beaches

A chain of relaxed seaside villages lay just north of Cairns, each boasting their own unique features. Find out more about each of Cairns’ beaches and which tickle your fancy.

Read more
tanks markets in edge hill
Cairns & Northern Beaches
Things to do on a Sunday in Cairns

Sunday may be renowned as the day of rest, but you’re in a tropical paradise with a free schedule and an appetite to get out and about. Here’s how to make the most of your Sunday fun day in Cairns.

Read more
willa and me cairns
Cairns & Great Barrier Reef
Where to shop local in Cairns City

Step away from the mainstream chain stores and hit the city streets to browse an array of local Cairns shops.

Read more
crystalbrook whiskey and wine flynn
Cairns & Great Barrier Reef
Your guide to the Cairns Esplanade Dining Precinct

The iconic Cairns Esplanade has had a major makeover. Enjoy a new and improved esplanade dining experience by visiting the Cairns Esplanade Dining Precinct.

Read more
Cairns & Northern Beaches
Where to stay in Cairns, Port Douglas & Palm Cove with Accor

Choosing to visit Tropical North Queensland is easy. Choosing where to stay, that’s a lot harder.

Read more
kuranda original rainforest markets
Cairns & Northern Beaches
11 Best markets near Cairns

Soak up the colour and the character, the smells and the sounds clunk and clash in a cacophony of the excitement of these 11 great markets.

Read more
accessible travel cairns palm cove
Cairns & Northern Beaches
Accessible Travel in Cairns & Palm Cove

As a region, Tropical North Queensland offers an array of experiences that will engage your senses and immerse you in its natural wonders. From the rainforest to the reef, you’re sure to find an abundance of accessible adventures for all tastes.

Read more
Riley Pool
Cairns & Northern Beaches
8 Ways Crystalbrook Collection combines sustainability with luxury

If you haven’t met them already, there are three hotel siblings in Cairns you should really know by name – Riley, Bailey and Flynn. 

Read more
Coconut Trees
Tropical Lifestyle & Culture
Guide to Cairns & Port Douglas

A getaway is looming and you’re longing for a tropical escape – Cairns and Port Douglas are both popular holiday havens boasting a wealth of experiences. Read this guide to help plan your trip to these two seaside locales.

Read more
Camping on Bartle Frere
101 Stories
Great places to go camping near Cairns

Are your campsites better described as camp palaces, or do you just roll with the bare essentials? Whether you’re at one end of the spectrum or the other, lace up your hiking shoes, load up your 4WD (or hatchback) and string your fairy lights around these camping sites near Cairns.

Read more
Sing Sing Espresso coffee cafe
Cairns & Northern Beaches
10 Cafes in Cairns for great coffee

With such a vibrant foodie culture, finding the best cafes in Cairns can be overwhelming. Fuel your caffeine addiction with these local favourites for a guaranteed quality cup of coffee.

Read more
Red Arrow article tile
Cairns & Northern Beaches
Guide to the Red Arrow walking trail in Cairns

Throw on your best activewear and prepare to stretch your legs as you venture into the natural playground of Mount Whitfield. You’ll feel worlds away from city life as you delve into the depths of the rainforest, despite being less than ten minutes from Cairns CBD.

Read more
Dundee's Restaurant Ultimate Seafood Platter
Cairns & Northern Beaches
Seafood lovers’ guide to Cairns

As the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is teeming with an abundance of restaurants offering fresh, local catches and exceptional seafood. Find the stand-out seafood dishes in Cairns below.

Read more
cairns breweries
Tropical Lifestyle & Culture
17 bars & breweries to check out in Cairns CBD

A big part of travelling is finding the perfect spot to have a cold drink at the end of a day adventuring. Here’s where to quench your thirst in Cairns, whether your a cocktail connoisseur, beer buff, gin junkie or simply love a glass of wine with a view.

Read more
Running at Cairns Esplanade
Tropical Lifestyle & Culture
An active traveller’s guide to Cairns

Boasting nature’s ultimate keep-fit playground, nutritious local produce for those post-workout gains, and plenty of idyllic spots for some all-important recovery time, Tropical North Queensland is an active traveller’s dream. Here are our top tips to exploring the region like a top athlete:

Read more
Sunset stroll on Fitzroy Island
Tropical Lifestyle & Culture
Top places for a date near Cairns

Whether you’re embraced in the thralls of a new holiday romance, on your honeymoon or anywhere in between, deciding on where to actually go for a date can be tough. Find some fresh and fun inspiration below:

Read more
Walkabout Cultural Adventures crab
Tropical Lifestyle & Culture
Mudcrab to mangoes: your guide to eating local in Cairns

From earthy bush tucker and exotic fruits to ocean-caught seafood and a biodynamic dairy farm, Tropical North Queensland offers up a menu with a unique ingredients list.

Read more
devils thumb hike
Adventure
Incredible hikes you need to conquer near Cairns

Surrounded by national parks, World Heritage rainforest and the Great Dividing Range, find countless bush walks or hikes within a short distance of Cairns.

Read more
Cairns Esplanade aerial

Getting here

  • Runway at Cairns airport

    By air

    Air travel is a popular choice of transport for many tourists traveling to Tropical North Queensland, with direct flights from all major cities and also from a number of Australia’s regional centres.

  • By boat

    Cairns Ports North hosts numerous large cruise ships and private boats regularly throughout the calendar year. Board from one of many Queensland coastal towns.

  • View of Walshs Pyramid

    By car

    Why not turn your holiday to Tropical North Queensland into an “epic road trip”? If along the way you feel peckish, stop at some of the farmers markets or roadside fruit stalls and savour gorgeous local tropical fruits.

  • Greyhound bus in Cairns

    By coach

    Coaches depart multiple times daily from Brisbane and travel up the east coast to Tropical North Queensland. The direct journey can take approximately 30 hours, so you can relax and experience the ever-changing scenery as you travel through almost 2000km of Queensland countryside.

Stay

From five-star to budget-friendly, you will find an abundance of accommodation in Cairns.

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR

Who needs teeth anyway? 🦷

Much like other iconic animals in @tropicalnorthqueensland, the crocodile is special to many Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people 🐊 Known to a number of Indigenous language groups near Cairns as Ganyarra, the crocodile is portrayed in stories, dance, music & is a totem to some Traditional Owner groups. 

If you’re interested in learning about some of the traditional stories of these incredible creatures, join one of the many Indigenous tours around Tropical North Queensland & ask your friendly guide 🌴💚 

📸 @solar_whisper #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
If this isn’t the cutest creature you’ve ever seen, you’ve got to be echidding yourself 😉🦔 Spotted strolling along the waterfront in Yarrabah, this echidna might be heading into town to explore some of the incredible cultural events & exhibitions 🌺

If there’s one stop you want to make while you’re here, it’s the Yarrabah Arts & Cultural Precinct! The precinct showcases Aboriginal culture, art, identity and history through authentic handmade pottery, painting, woven baskets, placemats and textiles 🖌 

Planning a trip for later in the year? Get involved in the festivities of the Yarrabah Music & Cultural Festival. Harking back to 1901 when people gathered to hear the Yarrabah Brass Band, the festival now plays host to a full day of music, arts and food to celebrate local talent, who perform alongside national music acts. You can expect hands-on demonstrations like spear making, shield making & weaving 🪕🎶

📸 FB/myPolice Greater Cairns #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia #thisisqueensland
Raising the bar with IRONMAN Cairns in 2021 🏃‍♂️✨. Raising the bar with @ironmanoceania 👟☀️

From the moment he touched down in Cairns, to the moment he crossed the finish line, there was no doubt that @reidy__ would go sub 10 🏃‍♂️

Stay tuned for more highlights from the 2021 IRONMAN in Cairns 📣

🎥 @seven8digital #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
Looking for adventure? Try the almighty Kahlpahlim Rock 🌄 Standing at an incredible 1300m above sea level, this landmark is the highest point of the Lamb Range in Dinden National Park ⛰ The 12.6km hike will take you around 6 hours to complete. While the view from the top might be spectacular, it's all about the journey on this hike 🥾 You'll cross crystal clear creeks, breathtaking rock formations & diverse plant life before finding yourself looking out over some epic views of Cairns 😍

📸 @jacintapink #exploreTNQ #thisisqueensland #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia
The view of #EmeraldCreek that you might not have seen ✨🌌 This stunning @athertontablelands gem (get it? 😉) is one of the most photogenic spots around 💦 With breathtaking walking trails & awe-inspiring views of the valley, plus the unmissable #EmeraldCreekFalls 🙌 To get here from Cairns, head off along the Kennedy Highway towards Mareeba for about an hour 🚙

📸 @evjocks #exploreTNQ #thisisqueensland  #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia
Natural beauty at its finest ✨🏖 Just a few hours drive north of Cairns, in #CapeYork, lies the breathtaking #ElimBeach ☀️ Setting up camp at @eddiesbeachcampground means you’re in the perfect position to visit the awe-inspiring Coloured Sands ✨ Only accessible by 4WD at low tide, the famous Coloured Sands are a bucket list sight for everyone who visits the area. ⚠️ Remember to stay safe while visiting. Look after yourself & this natural landmark 🧡

📸 @jensenxjade #seeaustralia #exploreTNQ #thisisqueensland  #explorecairnsGBR

Subscribe to
our newsletter

Opt in below to start receiving inspiration straight to your inbox

Subscribe

* indicates required