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Cairns

Australia Travel Guide

Practical information on Cairns

  • Family
  • Relaxation
  • Encounters with locals
  • Beach / Seaside Resort
  • Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
  • Island
  • Viewpoint
  • Water Sports
  • Lake
  • Festivals
  • Handicraft
  • Unesco World Heritage
  • Essential
  • Off the beaten track
4 / 5 - 2 reviews
How to get there
2.5 hours from Brisbane by plane
When to go
From June to December
Minimum stay
2 to 3 days

Reviews of Cairns

Sophie Liger Seasoned Traveller
31 written opinions

The biggest city to the north on Australia's east coast!

My suggestion:
Take advantage of being in Cairns to go inland and to go for a trip around the tropical forest.
My review

Cairns is quite a lively city which is one of the main departure points to go to the Great Barrier Reef. The city also has an artificial beach at its disposal, as in this region you can't swim in the sea all year round due in particular to the jellyfish which can be deadly.

Party lovers never miss the opportunity to participate in the Ultimate Party, an evening where you are taken to different bars and clubs in the city with attractive prices!

During my trip through Cairns, I took advantage of it to go inland, visit the tropical forest, and admire the numerous waterfalls like Barron Falls a few kilometres away from the city. If you are lucky, you might be able to see the famous cassowary, that impressive and rare bird... which I had the good fortune to see whilst on a hike through the forest!

I also went further north, to Cape Tribulation. After that point, the road to the north stops and there are only paths! The viewpoints are magnificent and from there you can see the tropical forest 'fall' into the ocean... it is a visit to include in your itinerary!

Lisa Gaillard Seasoned Traveller
47 written opinions

A relaxed seaside and tourist resort set in lush vegetation, Cairns is "The city" in Queensland, to discover the Great Barrier Reef during your trip in Australia.

My suggestion:
You can swim in the saltwater lagoon on the esplanade. Visit the Great Barrier Reef. In the evening, go out to dinner at the Croc and Bull and party in the bars. Don't miss the crafts market of nearby Kuranda!
My review

Cairns is a replica of Airlie Beach (a town located further south on the coast) but on the scale of a city: it is also the place where travellers converge to discover the Great Barrier Reef and to party in the numerous bars. Just as in Airlie Beach, you will find a lagoon (much larger) that is a wonderful place for a day's relaxation, even if you have to elbow your way through to find a place for your towel. There are lockers to store your things and you can even have a shower and change, just like at a swimming pool. This artificial lagoon is located at the edge of the sea, where bathing is prohibited. (Just watch the tide ebb as quickly as it came and think of all the charming animals that live there, such as the deadly microscopic jellyfish, and all your desires to take a dip will soon go away.)

After the lagoon, stroll through Cairns and take some time to visit the gift shops. The prices here are not too high, compared with other cities in Australia. Cairns has to some extent been influenced by Asia. So you will find a lot of restaurants that serve Asian food. As you stroll through the city centre, I recommend you stop to drink a bubble tea, or pearl tea, originating from Taiwan: a tea (hot or cold, as you like) with pearls of tapioca flavoured to your taste that is ideal for a refreshing drink. In the evening, enjoy yourself in a pub in Sheridan Street. As for me, after appreciating one of the pubs in the street, I continued on to a few cocktail bars, which are outdoors for the most part. Live music, coconut trees and sunset, I felt at ease with the gentle lifestyle. In the bars you will encounter fine specimens of the stereotype of Australian youth (blond, well-built, in tank tops and flip-flops).

Just like everybody else in Cairns, I wanted to see the Great Barrier Reef and booked the cheapest tour: a day on the closest island to Cairns, Green Island. This was perhaps not the best choice: I went snorkelling and, apart from a turtle, I did not see very much; the coral has almost disappeared except from under the pier! In contrast, the island is a paradise, with its small trail through the rainforest, but the place is a little too touristy for my taste. If you can afford it, don't hesitate to venture further afield on the reef.

Finally, after meeting a local, I was able to discover a place that is not in the guidebooks: Lake Morris, above Cairns, is an artificial reservoir in the heart of nature. To go there, the road winds through the mountain and offers wonderful views of Cairns. Lake Morris is a quiet and beautiful location, off the beaten track.

Tours and travel ideas Cairns