The Best of Cairns

In Queensland Australia, Cairns is often a ‘last stop’ or a ‘first stop’ for many travellers looking to enjoy the beautiful east coast. If you are incorporating Cairns into your travel schedule, you need to know the best spots to enjoy before you leave this diverse city. We’ve asked a local travel agent to give us the low-down on the best of everything Cairns can offer.

Best of Cairns

Vegan Burger at Cairns Burger Cafe

The Best Places To Eat

Food is super important when you travel and there is nothing worse than being hungry from a long journey or full-on day out and then having the decision of where to eat. We’ve done the hard work for you and compiled the best places to eat in Cairns.

Cairns Burger Cafe

Cairns Burger Cafe is hands down the best spot in town for a burger. The menu offers such a huge variety of locally sourced, fresh Australian ingredients and there’s even a vegan burger too.

Cheeky Yam

Cheeky Yam is the ideal spot to grab lunch or a snack when you are enjoying the lagoon (more on that later). Just inside The Pier Shopping Centre, the portions are generous and the food is delicious.

Khin Khao Thai Restaurant

Khin Khao serves mouth-watering Thai food with seating inside and out. The staff are very welcoming and will help you to choose a new dish to try if you love Thai cuisine.
Best of Cairns

Beach walks at Palm Cove

The Best Beaches

Cairns itself does not have a beach which often surprises people who visit. Luckily, there are many beaches just north of Cairns that are a short car or bus journey away that will help you get a beach fix before or after you hit the east coast of Australia.

Palm Cove

With incredible walkways with tilted palms, Palm Cove is a great beach for couples and photographers. There are also lots of boutique shops, ice-cream vendors and a life guard on duty in the safe swim zone.

Trinity Beach

Tritnity Beach is a great low-key option near Cairns. It’s a popular choice with many locals and a great place to spend a sunny Australian day.

Port Douglas

A visit to Port Douglas can easily incorporate time at the beach, boat trips or shopping. Not only is it a cool spot to enjoy some more sand time, but Cairns and Port Douglas are connected by an extremely scenic coastal road. Some people even say it's the third most scenic coastal road in Australia.
Best of Cairns

Swimming at Cairns Lagoon

The Best Free Things To Do

Travelling in Australia is incredible, but it is also expensive. If you have ended your trip in Cairns feeling pretty poor, there are many free fun things to enjoy in the city. Even if Cairns is the beginning of your trip, it’s wise to keep some money for other fun activities on the east coast so take advantage of these free options.

The Lagoon

By far the best free thing to do in Cairns, is a relaxing day at the Lagoon. The lagoon is a huge waterfront swimming pool with shaded areas for picnics, complimentary BBQs and a small splash area for kids. Once you’ve been once, you’ll be sure to go again.

The Botanical Gardens

Tropical North Queensland is home to many interesting plants and trees. The Botanical Gardens offer peaceful walkways to explore and learn, or if you like a workout, pick one of the many hiking trails and climb high enough to get a great view of the city of Cairns and its airport.

Babinda Boulders

If you have access to a car, Babinda Boulders is a natural swimming hole that should definitely not be missed whilst you are in this area. The water is crystal clear and there are multiple trees and rocks to climb. If you don’t have a car, renting one in Cairns can cost as little as $40 a day.
Best of Cairns

Shared Pool at Martyn Street Cairns Sharehouse

The Best Places To Stay

As an ideal city to start or end an east coast road trip in Australia, Cairns is full of hostels, hotels, motels and apartments. Whether you’re staying for 1 day or 1 month, these are the best places to put your head down.

Cairns Sharehouse

If you’re looking for a low cost option that doesn’t involve sharing a room, the Cairns Sharehouse is a great family-run institution. With multiple properties across Cairns, stays are suitable for singles or couples, students or workers, backpackers or Aussies.


If you’re looking for a hostel in Cairns, they don’t come more highly recommended than Gilligans. In a central location with a great social atmosphere, Gilligans is a place for people looking to make new friends and have a great time.

Queens Court Motel

Queens Court Motel is an excellent value for money property in Cairns. The staff are very helpful and knowledgeable, there’s a great outdoor pool and even a cheeky BBQ with shared appliances so that you can eat outside 'Aussie style'.
Best of Cairns

The Great Barrier Reef with Deep Sea Divers Den

The Best Day Trips

Cairns itself certainly has plenty to keep you busy but there are also some very important, bucket-list worthy locations to enjoy from this city. Don’t miss the following day trips on your visit to Cairns.

The Great Barrier Reef

It goes without saying that if you are visiting Cairns, you have to visit the Great Barrier Reef. The largest living organism on earth is home to a huge variety of marine life and is an ideal spot to learn to scuba dive.

The Daintree National Park

The rainforest north of Cairns is the oldest rainforest in the world, home to some super interesting, pre-historic creatures and lots of Australian spiders. Take a day to check it out, or if you're brave enough, camp overnight in order to see this environment really come alive.

Millaa Millaa Falls

The area south of Cairns is full of beautiful waterfalls, the most famous of which is Millaa Millaa Falls. This stunning location has been used in Herbal Essence adverts and in Peter Andre’s music video Mysterious girl. Make a day of it by booking a local waterfall tour that will take you to all the best swimming and photo spots.
Best of Cairns

Heading back to Cairns

Cairns is an interesting Australian city full of wildlife and nightlife, locals and tourists, history and modern culture. Take at least a few days to get to know it, making sure you do not miss the very best of Cairns.

Karen Rose Kingsbury

Karen Rose Kingsbury is a Travel and Wellness Writer with passions for transformative travel and mental health alongside vegan-friendly travel and plant-inspired living. She works as Content Marketing Executive for a U.K. travel brand as well as freelancing with her own websites; Transform Me Travel and The Natural Essex Girl.