50 Best Things to do in Cairns Australia
1. the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
2. Visit the Great Barrier Reef (outer Reef)
3. Nudey Beach & Fitzroy Island (Australia’s Most Beautiful Beach)
4. Cairns Scenic Flight Over the Great Barrier Reef
5. Discover 30+ Epic Waterfalls (Cairns Hidden Gems)
The closest waterfalls to Cairns City are:
Getting around in Cairns: Okay, I’m going to be honest, if you’re here for adventure, there’s little on offer in Cairns city. While you can book loads of day trips and adventure activities, having your own car is the best way to go! I recommend comparing prices on DiscoverCars to find the best price across dealers in Far North Queensland.
6. Cape Tribulation (See Where the rainforest Meets the Reef)
I’d tell anybody that if you’re coming up to see Cairns, you simply can’t miss a trip to Cape Tribulation.
You can drive here yourself on the Great Barrier Reef Drive (number 28). This is a good idea because there are lots to do up here, including some unique tours and beautiful beaches.
However, if you’re short on time, there’s also a really great Cape Tribulation day trip that includes the Daintree, and Mossman Gorge.
7. Walsh’s PyramiD – the World’s Tallest Natural Pyramid
A shorter itinerary: If 50 things to do in Cairns is too many for you, you might find this shorter 5-day itinerary more useful.
8. Cairns Hot Air Ballooning Over Mareeba
9. the Atherton Tablelands – The Best Day Trip From Cairns
10. Green Island
11. White Water Rafting on the Barron River
12. Mount Bartle Frere – Queensland’s Tallest Mountain
13. Sightseeing & Hiking In Kuranda
- The Australian Butterfly Sanctuary
- Kuranda Rainforest Nature Park
- Kuranda Koala Gardens
- Rainforest ATV tours
- Rainforest Riverboat Tour (freshwater crocodile spotting)
- Two world-renowned markets; the Heritage Markets and Original Markets
14. The Kuranda Scenic Railway – Best Cairns Activity for Families
15. the Daintree Rainforest
16. Barron River Boat Tour
17. Spot a Real Life Dinosaur – The Cassowary
18. Scuba Diving on the Reef
Wondering what to pack? Make sure to check out my comprehensive packing list for items you’ll want to have once you get up here!
19. Crocodile Spotting Tour (solar Whisper)
20. See the Amazing Beaches Near Cairns
21. Grab a Bite at Palm Cove
22: Frankland Islands Boat from Cairns
23. Lake Placid
24. Lake Eacham & the Crater Lakes
25. Hypipamee Crater & Dinner Falls – Volcanic Sink Hole
26. the Ancient Curtain Fig Tree
27. Canyoning at Behana Gorge
28. Cairns Road Trip to Port Douglas
29. The Great Barrier Reef Drive (Cairns to Cape Trib)
30. The Low Isles
31. Four Mile Beach
32. Babinda Boulders & Devils Pool
33. Go Hiking Around Cairns (36+ Epic Trails)
34. the Plane Wreckage on Mount William
35. Tully Gorge
36. Cairns Bungy Jumping – Best Adrenaline Activity
37. Mission Beach and Dunk Island
38: the Innot Hot Springs
39: Day Trip to the Outback From Cairns (Chillagoe Caves)
40: Fresh Produce at Rusty’s Market
41: the Cattana Wetlands
42: Cairns Botanical Gardens
43: the Night Markets – What to do in Cairns At Night
44: the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
45: Newest Attraction: Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome
46. Stay at The Fitzroy Island Resort
47. Let a Local Show You Where to Go in Cairns (sightseeing)
Tip: This one might be all the way down the bottom at number 47. However, if you’re staying near town, booking this half-day tour is a great idea since you’ll know exactly where to go in Cairns on your own afterwards!
48: the Cairns Aquarium
49: Help the Reef Restoration Foundation
50: Spend a Night on the Great Barrier Reef Pontoon
Cairns Accommodation Guide – Where to Stay
Planning a trip to Cairns and wondering where to base yourself? Below I’ve listed some of the best options near Cairns Esplanade. I’ve also written a comprehensive accommodation guide to Cairns, as well as a comprehensive Port Douglas Accommodation guide too.
Crystalbrook Riley – If luxury and location are what you’re after, you can’t beat the Crystalrbook Riley. This is the best 5-star resort in Cairns and features absolutely everything you’d expect from a Crystalbrook resort.
Tip: Make sure to head up to Rocco’s Bar at the top of the Crystalbrook Riley for great views over Cairns!
Rydges Resort – This hotel offers excellent bang-for-buck in terms of an epic stay for a decent price! The location is perfect, close to the esplanade and features include three swimming pools, two tennis courts, a jacuzzi, a fitness centre and even an award-winning restaurant.
Fitzroy Island Resort – If you’d rather sleep out on one of the picturesque Great Barrier Reef Islands, look no further than the Fitzroy Island Resort. While you can get out here on a day trip, I highly recommend spending the night so you get more time to explore the reef, coral beaches and rainforest walking trails.
Gilligan’s Backpackers – The best backpacker option for a great vibe in Cairns is Gilligan’s Backpackers. That’s because this one has a swimming pool, AC, a complete kitchen and a great common area to meet other travellers.
How to Get Around in Cairns
Hopefully, this lengthy travel guide helped you figure out exactly what to do and see in Cairns Australia on your next trip.
If you’re wondering how to get to all of the Cairns activities and your new long list of things to do, I’ve got you covered.
Things to do in Cairns Without a Car
Of course, if you don’t have your own car, you’ll still have plenty to do and see on your holiday. However, as I’m sure you’ve noticed in this travel guide, most of the hidden gems and non touristy things to do in Cairns are located quite a distance from town.
Luckily, there are several day trips and excursions you can take that take the fuss out of transport. Below are some recommendations if you’re not too keen on driving.
- Frankland Islands Day Trip
- Fitzroy Island Day Trip
- Green Island Day Trip
- Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
- Kuranda Railway & Skyrail (transport is included)
- Rusty’s Markets
- ZOOM Wildlife Dome
- Botanical Gardens
- Great Barrier Reef Scenic Flight
- Diving or Snorkelling Day Trip to the Outer Reef
When is the Best Time to Visit Cairns?
How Many Days in Cairns is Enough?
How Much Does it Cost to Visit Cairns?
Cairns Adventures: More Hiking & Waterfall Resources
For those looking to get off the beaten path and explore some amazing tropical hidden gems, this blog will be a great resource for you.
You would have already seen some hiking & waterfall articles linked in this travel guide. However, the truth is I have dozens more! Here are some useful guides for inspiration.
More Hiking Trails & Viewpoints
Below are links to the hikes I haven’t mentioned yet in this Cairns to do list.
- Ivan Evans Walk/Waddlebla Trail
- Kahlpahlim Rock (Lambs Head)
- Turtle Rock
- Mount Sorrow at Cape Tribulation
More Waterfalls & Swimming Holes
Below you’ll find even more waterfalls in the Far North Queensland region.
- West Mulgrave Falls
- Windin Falls
- Fairy Falls
- Millaa Millaa Waterfall
- Cannabullen Falls
- Big Millstream & Little Millstream Falls
- Souita Falls
- Mungalli Falls
- Isabella Falls
- Tchupala & Wallicher Falls
- Davies Creek Falls
- Emerald Creek Falls
- Hartley’s Creek Falls
- Spring Creek Falls
- Zillie Falls
- Ellinjaa Falls