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Cairns is a city on the north-east coast of the Australian state of Queensland. It's become famous as a gateway to adventures in the surrounding tropical rainforests and ocean waters. With Cairns as your base, visit diverse natural wonders, engage in activities like zip-lining, check out outdoor markets, and savour delectable bites in a variety of restaurants. Outside of Cairns, take in the region's unmatched scenic beauty, including the Daintree Rainforest. Rent a car with to enjoy the Cairns region at your own relaxed leisure.

It's your choice: Where to go in Cairns

Cairns is a coastal city, located 7 miles south of its international airport. Car hire in Cairns is easy, with major agencies having services at the airport. Once in town, you'll find the central area generally compact and walkable, containing most restaurants, shops, and hotels in Cairns. Walk over to the Cairns Esplanade for a first taste of the outdoors here. Stroll along the manmade lagoon, and catch some of the abundant sunshine along this stretch of flats. This park includes Wi-Fi, toilets, electric BBQ grills, and picnic areas along the foreshore. There's many incredible attractions in the Cairns region, and not just the Great Barrier Reef that many visitors come for. If you rent a car in Cairns, you can venture out to the outlying communities along the Northern Beaches area. Back in town, there's a wealth of companies in town offering excursion options, whether they be guided tours or activity-based adventures. Having your own self-drive car will make it easy to get to and from many of these destinations.

Things to do in Cairns

A trip to Kuranda, 13km away from Cairns, takes you to the breathtaking Atherton Tablelands. See more of this wonderful landscape on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, with views of Barron Gorge National Park. Kuranda's top attractions include the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Here, you'll experience traditional music and dance, and a buffet featuring novelties like kangaroo kofta, sugarcane-skewered crocodile, and braised emu canapes. The Wet Tropics of Queensland, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an 8,940 km² stretch of tropical forest with 13 river systems, and Wallaman Falls, Australia's tallest waterfall. It also contains hundreds of rare plant and bird species. When you rent a car in Cairns, drive on one of the Wet Tropics' 40 scenic routes, ride a bike on mountainous trails, or hike one of the 150 trails. A road trip to the Daintree, the world's oldest tropical rainforest, and Cape Tribulation is another worthwhile excursion. There's a range of popular activities here, including cruising on the Daintree River to spot crocs, ziplining from elevated platforms, swimming at stunning Mossman Gorge, and guided bushwalks with the indigenous Kuku Yalanji people.

Important info about Cairns

Cairns is located in the Far North region in the Australian state of Queensland. The region hosts a rich ecosystem which sustains hundreds of plant and bird species, marine life, and both endemic and rare animals. Cairns itself lies on a coastal strip between the Great Dividing Range and the Coral Sea. This means an equally diverse collection of landscapes, from rugged mountains and dense rainforests, to one of the most popular sites in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef. Cairns has a tropical climate with rainy, humid summers, and mild, dry winters. With the intense sunshine often found here, you'll need lightweight comfortable clothing, sunglasses, hats, swimwear, and a broad-range sunscreen to reduce the risks of sun exposure. To avoid heavy tourist crowds and the jellyfish menace, visit Cairns in the winter months of July and August; temperatures will be relatively cooler than summer, yet still warm and less humid.

Weather in Cairns
Country Australia
Language English
Currency Australian dollar
Time-Zones AEST
Country Code +61

Good to know

You need a valid driver's license from your home country, and possibly an additional International Driving Permit, to drive in Australia. The minimum age to rent a car in Cairns is 21, with additional surcharges and restrictions possible for drivers under 24. As in the rest of Australia, the vehicles in Cairns are right-hand drive, and you should bear left when driving. Seatbelts are required for all passengers, and speed limits are 100km/h on the highways, and 50km/h near schools and in residential areas. When driving, watch out as animals like emus, wombats, kangaroos, bandicoots, and koalas may cross the road without warning. Also note that the alcohol blood level limit is 0.05%, which is the equivalent of more than one standard drink.

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What to taste in Cairns

Cairns' diverse environments, and cultures, bless it with a spectrum of culinary pleasures. Prepare your taste buds for fresh seafood, native bush cuisine, and regional Australian delicacies. Cairns has a great cafe scene, where you can start your mornings with fantastic espresso and breakfast options. If you're an adventurous diner, try crocodile wonton, grilled kangaroo, and Gulf bug lobsters at the many restaurants in town. You can find a world of cuisine in the central area near the Esplanade. An economy built on tourism means that Cairns enjoys a dynamic culinary scene, with world-class offerings including Brazilian churrasco, tapas, ramen, and French gourmet dishes. If you'd rather go the self-catering route, the various outdoor markets all host stalls selling a wide selection of locally grown produce.

What to bring to your friends from Cairns

Cairns is also a shoppers' haven, filled with great options if you're looking for souvenirs to take back home. At Rusty's Market, you'll find not only great produce, but also unique souvenirs like eco-friendly toys for kids, stylish clothing and bags, chunky and colourful jewellery, and quirky homeware. Find gifts such as glass ornaments and handmade gifts by Cairns' designers and artisans at the Cairns Night Markets, which operate year-round. Kuranda is famous for its Heritage Markets and Original Rainforest Markets. They have a wide selection of indigenous Australian artefacts, jewellery, handmade crafts, and decor pieces.