Discover our top five things to do in Cairns and why this city should be your next Aussie adventure.
Seeking sun, sea and the perfect balance of laidback vibes and exhilarating adventure? Make Cairns, the buzzing capital of Tropical North Queensland, your next city break. There are many things to do in Cairns – spend long, sunny days exploring the compact CBD and bustling esplanade, go snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef, or zipline over the habitat of a four-metre-long crocodile.
Whatever type of holiday you’re chasing, you’ll find it here. Read on to discover our top five reasons to make Cairns your next escape.
1. Feel the buzz on Cairns Esplanade
The esplanade is Cairns’ central hub, where locals and visitors flock to enjoy days and nights of good food, ocean views and recreational fun. There’s always something going on along this sandy stretch. For the kids, there are three fun-filled playgrounds. If you’re feeling a burst of energy, there’s a wide range of fitness classes on offer, from zumba to power pilates and beach volleyball. The man-made lagoon is the perfect spot to cool off (without needing to worry about stingers or crocs), plus you’ll get an eyeful of free public art, including the famous Woven Fish by Brian Robinson.
Foodies – look no further for stomach rumbling, mouthwatering dinner options. Tropical pub vibes abound at Rattle n Hum Bar & Grill, taste la dolce vita at Flynn’s Italian by Crystalbrook, and enjoy sweeping views from the rooftop bar at Oak & Vine.
2. Launch into Tropical North Queensland adventures
Cairns Marlin Marina is your springboard to dive headfirst into epic Great Barrier Reef adventures. Book a boat tour and see rainbow-bright fish and graceful sea turtles while snorkelling or diving in the crystal-clear waters. Hop aboard the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway for views over the lush canopy of the World Heritage Wet Tropics Rainforest. Chase waterfalls at the Waterfall Circuit and catch sublime views of Millaa Millaa Falls and Zillie Falls (pack a picnic and your swimmers for this).
See eye-to-eye with a great crocodile during an exciting feeding show at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, where Queensland’s critters, both great and small, reside – alongside the crocs, you’ll also find cute koalas and wombats here!
3. Fun for the young and young at heart at Cairns ZOOM & Wildlife Dome
There’s no short supply of fun things to do in Cairns. If you’re after exhilarating adventure and incredible wildlife encounters, Cairns ZOOM & Wildlife Dome is your go-to spot. Staking the title as the world’s first challenge ropes course in a wildlife park, this is the place where you can zipline over a lagoon while the resident four-metre croc naps below, cuddle a koala, admire the best views of Cairns CBD from the Dome Climb and test your fitness with a challenging ropes course.
4, Follow the scent of fabulous food and wine
Specialty coffee roasters. Farm-fresh local produce. Catch of the day. Fine dining. You’ll hear these words thrown around frequently on the culinary scenes of Cairns. Foodies won’t be disappointed with a trip to this tropical city, where there’s a restaurant to suit every tastebud. Peruse the colourful produce at the iconic Rusty’s weekend market where you can unearth treasures like unusual fruits, artisan bread, coffee and organic meats as well as international foods, jewellery and clothing.
For native Australian fare, head to Ochre Restaurant. This waterfront spot offers an intriguing menu featuring the likes of wattle seed damper, salt and native pepper leaf crocodile and prawns, and chargrilled kangaroo sirloin. Salt House boasts pristine marine views thanks to its waterfront location, best enjoyed with a dozen fresh oysters and a glass of bubbly.
5. Find accommodation to suit every traveller
Whether you’re setting off on a fun-filled family holiday or are looking to ramp up the romance on a luxe trip for two, there’s a hotel or resort to match your vibe. For a relaxed waterfront escape with home-away-from-home, apartment-style living, stay at Jack & Newell Holiday Apartments. Here, you’ll find 15 beautifully designed apartments with fully equipped kitchens and laundries, plus a shared sparkling pool area, BBQ facilities and a gym.
For five-star glamour, opt for a stay at Shangri-La The Marina, Cairns, a resort right on the water. First-class facilities include a lagoon-style pool, health club with state-of-the-art equipment and the renowned The Backyard Restaurant, overlooking the waterfront.
Planning a trip? Discover our collection of Cairns escapes