Everything You Need To Know Before You Go To Cairns


Cairns, Queensland

No doubt that Cairns is high on your list of destinations to visit around Australia. But there are a handful of things that you need to know before you get to this part of Far North Queensland.

With the reef on one side and the rainforests and mountains on the other, there are plenty of reasons to visit this tropical destination.

Here I’ve compiled some best advice and tips that I’ve picked up during my time in Cairns that will help you in your planning and when you first get there.

Where To Stay In Cairns?

No matter your budget or what you happen to be looking for accommodation wise, Cairns will have you covered.

Very much a tourist city, Cairns caters over 3 million visitors each year with a huge range of options from backpacker to luxury resorts all within a stone’s throw of the water.

The southern end of The Esplanade is where you’ll find the biggest concentration of accommodation options. It’s also a good place to base yourself if you would like to be centrally located to the attractions and restaurants.

My suggestion would be either the Oaks Cairns Hotel or the Mantra Trilogy for both the convenience and the views out over the water if that is you like to travel.

To help your travel budget stretch a bit further but also remain within easy walking distance of everything, further along The Esplanade you’ll find a variety of cheaper options.

Cairns Rainbow Resort is a good hotel-style option just a couple of minutes walk away from everything, but if you are planning on staying longer than a few days then I would suggest the City Plaza Apartments.

If it’s more of a backpacker/hostel experience you are looking for, check out the Cairns Central YHA in the centre of town.

However, if luxury resorts and spas are more your style, then you will really want to get outside of Cairns. I would suggest The Reef House – MGallery by Sofitel at Palm Cove or Coconut Grove up in Port Douglas to really make the most of those experiences.

Getting To The City From Cairns Airport

Cairns Airport is really close to the city. I mean like really, really close.

So close in fact that if you were really keen walking into the city from the airport would definitely do-able (maybe give yourself an hour/hour and a half). I mean I wouldn’t recommend it, but it would be possible.

In terms of more practical ways to get to and from the airport then I would recommend using the local Taxis or Uber. Given the proximity, neither option is all that expensive.

That said, once you start looking at exploring beyond the city, in particular the rainforests and waterfalls. I would strongly recommend that you rent a car and the airport has the most options in that regard. So it’s a bit easier on the rest of your trip if you organise rentals before you leave the airport.

Getting Around Cairns

Within the city of Cairns, particularly along the waterfront, everything is within a comfortable walking distance.

Translink does run a public bus service from Cairns to the surrounding suburbs but within the city itself, your best bet is to walk.

The only time I’ve driven around within Cairns while I’ve been there is to pick up groceries from the Supermarket and parking in most places is free.

Getting Beyond The City

Obviously, I’ve just mentioned the bus Translink service. And there are Taxis and ride-sharing options like Uber as well.

However to really make the most of your time in Cairns, I would strongly recommend that you rent a car. A lot of the key attractions that make the city such a popular destination are really only accessible by car, especially the beaches, waterfalls and rainforests.

As I mentioned in my advice about getting to and from the airport, a rental car really is going to be key to seeing the best of what Cairns has to offer.

You won’t find any hidden costs by renting a car and driving around Cairns. There aren’t any tolls and parking in most instances is free.

What Should You Do In Cairns?

Speaking of those key attractions, I’ve put together a whole post dedicated to the best things to do in and around Cairns.

Where To Find Food/What To Do In The Evenings?

Again coming back to the tourism focus of Cairns, there isn’t a shortage of options for your evenings either.

My first tip is to check out the Night Markets. It’s just what you do in Cairns and when you get there you’ll understand.

You’ll also find a huge variety of restaurants and pubs in this part of Cairns, particularly along Shields Street. I would recommend Rattle n Hum or The Woolshed for dinner, drinks and then to kick on if you so desire.

That said, if you are looking for something a little more low-key or relaxed just take a stroll around the block and you’ll find something. There are restaurants and takeaways catering to all sorts of taste.

And if you’re looking something a little more upmarket, then head towards the waterfront, particularly where all the reef cruises depart from.

If you’d like to get some more information to help in planning your trip to and around Australia… I’ve got a whole series of blog posts with all sorts of tips and advice to you.

Feel free to share this post with your friends and if you’d like some more general travel tips, head on over to my travel tips page for plenty more tips and tricks.

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