20 things to do in Cairns

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Cairns is not only the gateway Great Barrier Reef, it is a tropical hub of activities close to all of North Queensland’s best sites. Take a look at our top local picks …..

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1. Great Barrier Reef

Tropical North Queensland is the gateway to one of the world’s most beautiful coral reefs with spectacular colour and abundance of marine life – be sure to pack your flippers and snorkel!

2. Kuruanda scenic railway

Enjoy a scenic day trip from Cairns and experience the beautiful surrounding rainforest including spectacular views of Barron Falls.

3. SkyRail Rainforest Cableway

After a day at Kuruanda instead of taking the train back to Cairns give the 7.5km rainforest cableway a try. Running above the Barron Gorge National Park, get a Birdseye view of Queensland’s world heritage area.

4. Fitzroy Island

– Only 30km from the mainland of Cairns, Fitzroy Island offers crystal clear waters and an unspoilt landscape right on the brink of the Great Barrier Reef. As a protected National Park, it is perfect for snorkelling and learning to dive.

5. Cairns nightlife

– There is a reason why Cairns is listed in the top three destinations to visit in your twenties and for young and old alike the party atmosphere is full steam ahead. For a good night out try Spence, Grafton and Sheridan Streets.

6. White water rafting on the Tully

– The Tully river is one of Australia’s best rafting destinations and features 45 rapids through a work heritage park. Rapids include the ‘Alarm clock,’ ‘Staircase’ and the dramatic ‘Theatre.’

7. Cairns Botanic Garden

– This beautiful and secluded spot in the city is renowned for having one of the best tropical plant exhibitions in Australia, make sure you check out the Flecker garden.

Cairns Botanic Garden Visitor Centre

A photo posted by margiefraser (@moremargie) on

8. Rain forest bungy jumping

– Why not literally throw yourself into Cairns with Australia’s first and only bungy tower at AJ Hackett Cairns. Select from over 16 different jump styles, it is also the only place in the world that offers an all-day jump package!   https://twitter.com/jordan_roughead/status/463195251398541312

9. Cairns night markets

– As soon as the sun sets it is time for the markets to come alive, get all your holiday souvenirs from here and indulge in the range of local food stalls. https://twitter.com/BeachTrinity/status/515616927436525568

10. Australian Butterfly Sanctuary

– This is one attraction that shouldn’t be missed and locals will agree. Central to the city, the sanctuary is perfect for a family excursion and is filled with colourful Hercules moths and Ulysses Butterflies. https://twitter.com/tournausfluge/status/596333431199539200

11. Beach relaxing

– With so much to do in the area, don’t forget to put up your feet up on one of Cairns many beaches and enjoy the tropical surroundings. https://twitter.com/BeachTrinity/status/597243450594095105

12. Swim in the lagoon

– With its high temperatures, Cairns can at times become hot, sticky and slightly unbearable. If you are exploring the city head down to the esplanade in central Cairns where you will find the ‘lagoon’ a well maintained swimming pool and it is even free to enjoy! https://twitter.com/NomadsCairns/status/579556224619950080

13. Hot Air Ballooning

– With near perfect climate and weather conditions, Cairns is a popular hot air ballooning spot with views that stretch as far as the mighty Great Barrier Reef. https://twitter.com/becomingmyown/status/547183007686094848

14. Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park

– A stunning theatrical performance of Aboriginal culture starting from the beginning of time into the future. Explore the area within two hours and enjoy a delicious dinner. https://twitter.com/Indigo_Tourism/status/594375340803260416

15. Green Island

– Another great day trip from Cairns to a tropical paradise situated on the Great Barrier Reef. Enjoy the shops at Green Island Resort and a lavish lunch at their restaurant or hire snorkels, canoes and sail boards and take on the sea. https://twitter.com/AdventureMumma/status/587428110460563456

16. Croc-spotting Tours

– NQ Watersports offers a world first attraction … crocodile spotting on a jet ski! Take the ride of your life in the Trinity Inlet, through the mangroves until you are up close to the crocs in their natural habitat.  

17. Atherton Tablelands

– Take advantage of the tropical North’s fantastic dining by sampling the best gourmet food and wine trails – often referred to as the ‘food bowl of the tropics.’

18. Cairns Night Zoo

– Who needs to go to the zoo during the day when you can venture there at night? To kick the night off the zoo put on a classic Aussie BBQ before the guides escort you by torch light into the darkness to meet the creatures of the night.

19. Palm Cove

– Only a 25 minute drive from Cairns, Palm Cove offers peace and tranquillity with many pampering spa resorts and a palm-lined stretch of beach.

20. Paronella Park

– A unique echo-friendly experience where history and romance meet. The park is a magical place nestled amongst heritage gardens, rainforest and a crystal clear creek beside ruins of an old castle. Perfect for a family picnic or a romantic day of exploring.

20 things to do in Cairns was last modified: November 24th, 2015 by Oonagh Shiel
Author: Oonagh Shiel (3402 posts)

Content Manager at Cheapflights whose travel life can be best summed up as BC (before children) and PC (post children). We only travel during the school holidays so short-haul trips and staycations are our specialities!