Cairns Visitor Guide 2024: Everything you need to know

Published by: BouncePosted Updated
Crystal Cascades, Cairns, Australia

Cairns could almost be a city made for tourism. Located in tropical North Queensland, this Australian city has a lot going for it. Beautiful beaches draw visitors from across the country and around the world, and the stunning scenery of the area is unforgettable. Plus, the reliably great weather helps.

But apart from its setting, Cairns also offers a vibrant yet laid-back culture and plenty of interesting activities. Visit for yourself, and you'll soon see why this city gets so many tourists. Don't forget to drop off your heavy bags at a Cairns luggage storage service so you can enjoy everything the city has to offer.

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Rubber trees, Cairns, Australia

A weekend in Cairns

A weekend in Cairns isn’t really long enough to partake in all the activities available in the area. Still, if all you have is a couple of days, you could at least see some of the top tourist attractions. To make getting around easier, drop off your bags at a Cairns suitcase storage before you begin exploring.

  • See one of the world's natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef. The world's largest coral reef, it's listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Explore the dazzling array of marine life via scuba diving, snorkeling, or an underwater observatory.
  • Learn about Australia's aboriginal culture at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Operated by indigenous people, this park tells the creation myth of Australian aborigines and uses actors to demonstrate life for this ancient people before contact with Europeans.
  • Enjoy tropical beaches on Green Island. This tiny island is famous for its white sand beaches and beautiful turquoise water. It's the perfect place to enjoy Australia's beach culture.

Cairns lockers

Part of what makes Cairns so special is the nature that surrounds it. With dense forests and endless oceans to explore, a trip to Cairns means you'll do plenty of moving around. You can make things easier on yourself by dropping off your bags at a Cairns bag storage. That way, you'll be able to enjoy what the city has to offer without carrying more than you need to.

Off the beaten path in Cairns

Cairns gets no shortage of tourists, and in the busy season, many of the city's top attractions can be quite crowded. Look beyond the best-known sites, and you'll find that the city has no shortage of hidden gems. Step off the beaten path and explore some of these attractions.

  • Visit a freshwater swimming hole surrounded by tropical rainforest at Crystal Cascades. This series of small waterfalls has many places where you can take a refreshing dip and enjoy the stunning Queensland forest.
  • The coastal village of Palm Cove is home to one of Cairns' best beaches. A great place to swim and kayak, the beach is the perfect place to relax, and the charming village has some great restaurants where you can refresh yourself.
  • The Tablelands are a Highland region located just outside the city. Full of quaint villages and farms, the Tablelands are a great place to explore away from tourist crowds. There's a historic goldmine to visit and a steam train, among other attractions.

What to do alone in Cairns

Cairns is a great city for a solo trip. With low crime and friendly locals, you'll find a place that welcomes you with open arms. Drop off your bags with a Cairns luggage storage service, and you'll feel right at home in this welcoming town.

  • Rub shoulders with the locals at the Cairns night markets. Open every day of the year, these lively markets are the best place to pick up souvenirs and delicious food and live like a Cairns local.
  • See the giants of the ocean on a whale-watching tour. The Great Barrier Reef is home to an astonishing 35 percent of the world's total whale and dolphin species. Gigantic humpback whales come to Cairns every year to give birth to their calves, and boat tours let you see these magnificent animals for yourself.
  • Cairns attracts plenty of young backpackers looking for a good time, and so the city is blessed with plenty of trendy bars and nightclubs. Lyquid is one of the most famous, and is a great place to meet fellow travelers and locals on a solo trip.

Best souvenirs in Cairns

With so many tourists visiting the city, Cairns is full of stores where you can pick up a boomerang or cuddly koala. But if you're looking for something more original, check out Oceana Walk Arcade. This collection of retail stores has some of the city's most interesting boutiques where you can pick up clothes, toys, games, and household items. You could also pick up that much-maligned icon of Australian fashion, the Ugg boot, at Premium Brands Cairns. And for some of the best local food and gifts, Rusty's Market is the ideal place to shop for local souvenirs.

Best Ways to Experience Cairns in 2024

As far as Australian cities go, Cairns is neither the biggest nor the most well-known. However, it is one of the most popular with tourists, and for good reason. Located in tropical northern Australian, Cairns is known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. For that reason, the city is a paradise for nature lovers.

If you find yourself in Cairns, one of the best ways to enjoy it is to take a tour with a knowledgeable local guide. The companies below can help you find your feet and experience the best of tropical Australia. Give them a call to experience an unforgettable adventure.

Best custom tour – Cairns Custom Tours

There are plenty of tour companies in this fascinating Australian city, giving you lots of tours to choose from. If you want something a little more tailored, a little less cookie-cutter, this is the company to call. They can help you customize an itinerary filled with things that interest you, so you avoid the fluff and get straight to the best of the city. Contact them at or 61408362999.

Most unusual tour – Aussie Macro Photos

Australia is known for the vast and the massive. But if you look a little closer, you’ll find there’s a lot of wonder in the small things too. That’s exactly what this unusual company offers. Macro photography is the art of photographing small things, and this company will take you on a tour of Cairns Botanic Garden so you can capture stunning close-up photos of flowers, mushrooms, bugs, and other tiny but beautiful things. You’re guaranteed to get photos that are far more interesting than the usual tourist fare. Contact them at or 61409902010.

Best Safari – Wooroonooran Safaris

Australia is known for its wildlife, and northern Australia is one of the best places to encounter it. Wooroonooran Safaris can take you on adventure outside the city to meet wild wallabies and kangaroos or go on a memorable Crocodile Cruise. In the lush rainforest surrounding Cairns, encounters with the natural world aren’t difficult to come by, and this company can guide you to all the best parts. Contact them at or 61740331886.

Best private tour - Tropic Wings Coach Tours

Coach tours are normally known for being about as mass-market as it gets. But this coach tour company sets itself apart by also offering private tours of Cairns and its surroundings. On a private tour, you’ll get to see more of what you like, and you’ll have your guide’s full and undivided attention. If you have the budget for it, it’s a great way to experience the city. Contact them at or 61740472570.

Best adventure tours – Billy Tea Safaris

The Daintree Rainforest is one of northern Australia’s natural wonders, and a fascinating place to explore, especially with a knowledgeable guide. This company can take you to the rainforest and help you understand more about the unique ecology of the area. They also offer tours of local caves and the Outback. Plus, they can take you to visit an unquestioned wonder of the natural world: the Great Barrier Reef. Contact them at or 61740320077.

Best cultural experience – Adventure North Australia Tours

With so many natural treasures in the area, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of tour companies in Cairns that can help you explore the wilder side of Australia. But this company also offers something a little more unusual with its Aboriginal Experience. Explore the ancient art and culture of the KuKu Yalanji people and learn more about the fascinating history of Australia’s aboriginal population. Contact them at or 61740479076.

Best Barrier Reef Cruise – reef Magic Cruises

Given that the great barrier reef is one of Australia’s top tourist attractions, it’s no surprise that there are many companies in Cairns that can help you explore this unique location. Reef Magic sets itself apart by taking passengers to its unique Marine World reef platform. Marine World functions as a kind of floating amusement park where you can swim, snorkel, take a glass bottom boat, and see the reef in dozens of different ways. It’s a truly unique way to experience one of the world’s most fascinating environments. Contact them at or 61740311588.

Best Great Barrier Reef daytrip – Sunlover Reef Cruises

If you want to see the reef but don’t have the time for a longer trip, this company can help. They operate regular day trips from Cairns to visit the Great Barrier Reef and encounter the wildlife that lives there. Their full day reef tour gives you the opportunity to snorkel or see fish and turtles while staying dry in a glass bottom boat. Tours are suitable for all ages and offer a truly magical experience. Contact them at or 61740501333.

Best eco-tours – Barefoot Tours

It can feel strange to take a tour to enjoy the natural environment and damage that environment in the process. That’s why Barefoot Tours exists. This company focuses on carbon neutral eco-friendly tours that let you explore the natural environment without damaging it. They offer tours to the Atherton Tablelands, the Daintree Rainforest, and other locations in northern Australia. They’re the perfect choice for those trying to see Australia while minimizing their ecological impact. Contact them at or 61413175170.

Best hot air balloon tour – Hot Air Balloon Cairns

For a truly unique experience, consider taking to the sky. This company provides a unique opportunity to rise above the city and enjoy its surroundings in a thrilling yet serene way. Weather permitting, these flights take you over the city and provide a vantage point you’ll never forget as you drift through the Australian sky. Contact them at or 61740399900.

Best brewery tour – Tour Logistics

Australia is known for its love of beer, and Cairns is no exception. The city has become home to several microbreweries over the last few decades, and there is no better way to experience them than with a tour provided by Tour Logistics. You’ll learn all about some of northern Australia’s best microbrews and get an insight into Australian pub culture at the same time. Contact them at or 61431133713.

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