While in Australia you must stop in Cairns at some point. Why? It’s warm all year long, there are many cool trips to take in and around Cairns and it should be your last stop on the classic East Coast Australian road trip. There are many adventurous things to do in Cairns and this list should help you make the most of your trip. Your time in Australia should be memorable, don’t you think? Find Cairns accommodation for your holiday and visit these top attractions in Cairns on an epic Australian road trip! Most places are only accessible by car and are worth the drive!
Heading South? Check out these fun (and free) things to do in Melbourne!
Top Attractions in Cairns – Ultimate Bucket List
The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the main reasons why travellers head this part of Australia and by far one of the top attractions in Cairns and even Australia!. With its famous title of the world’s largest coral reef system, it’s hard not to want to see it for ourselves! The Great Barrier Reef is located on the coast of Queensland and stretches for over 2300 kilometres. If you’re planning on diving in the water, going on a snorkelling trip, island hopping or simply enjoying the views from the comfort of a boat, you won’t be disappointed.
Day Trip to the Daintree Rainforest/Cape Tribulation
If you’re driving all the way to Cairns you should also consider spending a few days around the Daintree Rainforest/Cape Tribulation. You’re going to have a lot of fun driving around this tropical rainforest, especially if you’re driving a 4X4. Daintree Rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest in Australia and you can experience a unique lodging experience right in the middle of the forest. If you’re lucky you might manage to spot a cassowary as well as other unique birds and bats. There’s also a huge diversity of butterflies and other insects in this region! If you haven’t see a crocodile yet, you’ll be happy to know that you can go on a crocodile cruise!
Hot Air Ballooning
Hot air ballooning is quite popular in Queensland. You have the choice of many towns such as Cairns, Palm Cove, Port Douglas, Trinity Beach and the Tablelands Region. Hot air ballooning is on many people’s bucket list, so why not try it while in Australia? If you can’t decide where you should try this unique experience, I advise you pick the Tablelands Region! You will be able to admire the rainforest and mountains from the comfort of your hot air balloon!
Day Trip to Kuranda
Kuranda is a popular town not too far from Cairns. It’s known for its scenic railway, skyrail cableway and unique wildlife experience! Kuranda is a mountain village surrounded by beautiful rainforest. You can visit Birdworld, the Butterfly Sanctuary and Kuranda Koala Gardens while you’re there and you can get a discount if you’re planning on visiting these three places. If you want to do a bit of shopping, you can find amazing treasures at their original markets.
AJ Hackett Cairns offers a wide range of adrenaline activities. Located just outside of Cairns, you can tick it off your bucket list right in the rainforest. Would you like to try bungee jumping? Imagine if you could pick from 16 different jump styles! Which level and which style would you take? If jumping isn’t for you, you can try Minjin Jungle Swing instead. They also offer combos including skydiving, rafting and bungees for all the thrill seekers.
White Water Rafting
If you’ve always wanted to try white water rafting, then the Cairns area is an amazing spot to experience it for the first time! The Barron River, located in the Tablelands Region, is perfect for first timers and it’s only a short distance from Cairns! Get your adrenaline fix and stay cool with raging rivers splashing the whole raft.
Day Trip to Port Douglas
Port Douglas is an hour north of Cairns and a very popular stop on any backpacker’s checklist. Use Port Douglas as the perfect base for a mix of beaches, chill vibes and outdoor adventures. It’s best to experience everything Cairns has to offer then set up shop in Port Douglas before then moving on to the Daintree and exploring the incredible rainforest. While not exactly in the city, Port Douglas is super close and definitely one of the top places to visit in Cairns.
Day Trip to Millaa Millaa (Tablelands Region)
If you want to see something different while you’re around Cairns, you must visit the Tablelands Region. Your first stop should be Millaa Millaa and you will fall in love with the waterfall circuit.
It includes three gorgeous waterfalls; Millaa Millaa Falls, Zillie Falls and Elinja Falls. If you’re driving around there are more waterfalls to discover in the area too! Have you ever seen a platypus or a tree kangaroo? If not, you should then go to Tarzali and Atherton to spot them in the wild!
While you’re in Queensland you should definitely learn more about the Aboriginal culture. There are amazing tours with fascinating stories and cultural experiences to try in the rainforest and around Cairns. You can walk with the aboriginal natives or enjoy their spiritual dances.
The Lagoon and Esplanade
Beat the heat and take a plunge in the lagoon right in Cairns! The lagoon is the cheeky name given to this pool next to the Esplanade. It can get pretty popular as Cairns is such a warm destination! The Esplanade is basically the waterfront and you’ll find restaurants, bars and even fitness classes right in front of the ocean.
Where to Stay in Cairns:
While in Cairns, you might want to stay close to the beach/esplanade! Cairns is not too big and you’ll find heaps of restaurants next to the beach and you won’t have to move around too much. Of course, you should also consider spending a few days around Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation while you’re in the North of Queensland!
Have you been to Cairns? What was your favorite place? Which one would you love to visit?