27 Fun and Exciting Things to Do in Cairns, Australia | 2024 (with Photos)

Natalija Marković

Natalija Marković - Travel Writer

Last Updated: March 25, 2024

Hey there! I'm Natalija, a passionate traveler who enjoys exploring the hidden gems of Cairns, Australia. Let me show you some of the most exciting activities and places to visit in this vibrant destination. Have a fantastic time discovering everything Cairns has to offer!

Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

Travelers looking for adventure and excitement will find Cairns, Australia, to be a vibrant and alluring place.

Due to its close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns provides visitors with a wide range of exciting activities and attractions.

Here are 27 enjoyable and memorable things to do in Cairns, Australia, from riding the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway to getting enraptured by the Kuranda Scenic Railway.

So, let's get into it.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Great Barrier Reef.

Top Choice Hotel

Shangri-La Hotel

Our Top Choice Restaurant

Ochre Restaurant

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife


Best Time to Visit

Perfect weather for exploring the Great Barrier Reef.

Average Temperature

Warm and tropical climate in Cairns, Australia.

Transportation Options

Buses, taxis, ferries, trains, bicycles, trams, car rentals

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

Cairns, Australia is a hidden gem waiting to be explored—this cozy coastal city offers a plethora of enchanting experiences. Embrace the warm tropical weather as you embark on a thrilling scuba diving adventure in the Great Barrier Reef, immersing yourself in the mesmerizing underwater world teeming with vibrant marine life.

Take a leisurely stroll along the palm-fringed esplanade, relishing in the captivating beauty of the stunning Trinity Inlet at sunset—a perfect spot to unwind and appreciate the serenity of nature, while savoring the tantalizing flavors of a fresh seafood dinner from one of the local waterfront restaurants.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Sunscreen
  2. Hat
  3. Sunglasses
  4. Insect repellent
  5. Comfortable walking shoes
  6. Swimsuit
  7. Beach towel
  8. Camera
  9. Travel adapter
  10. Money and identification

Cairns is a vibrant city with plenty of outdoor activities and natural attractions to explore. Don't forget to pack your sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the strong Australian sun. Insect repellent is also essential to keep those pesky mosquitoes at bay. Make sure to bring comfortable walking shoes as there are many hiking trails and outdoor adventures to embark on.

Being located along the coast, Cairns offers stunning beaches and swimming spots. Don't forget to pack your swimsuit and a beach towel to relax and enjoy the crystal-clear waters. Capture the beautiful moments of your trip by bringing a camera to capture the breathtaking landscapes and unique wildlife. Don't forget to check the voltage requirements and pack a travel adapter for your electronic devices. Lastly, ensure you have enough cash and identification for any unforeseen circumstances or expenses during your stay in Cairns.

What Not to Miss

  1. Great Barrier Reef
  2. Daintree Rainforest
  3. Kuranda Village
  4. Cairns Esplanade
  5. Palm Cove
  6. Cairns Botanic Gardens
  7. Fitzroy Island
  8. Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
  9. Barron Gorge National Park
  10. Cairns Night Markets

What to Avoid

  1. Crowded tourist attractions.
  2. Peak travel seasons for higher prices and larger crowds.
  3. Overpriced souvenir shops.
  4. Swimming in unsafe areas.
  5. Ignoring important safety warnings or guidelines.
  6. Leaving valuables unattended or visible.
  7. Engaging with street vendors aggressively.
  8. Excessive sun exposure without proper protection.
  9. Booking tours or activities with unreliable or unlicensed operators.
  10. Eating at tourist trap restaurants with inflated prices.

1. Helicopter Ride Over Tropical North Queensland

Helicopter Ride

An exhilarating helicopter trip will allow you to see the Great Barrier Reef and Tropical North Queensland like no before.

The Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a marvel of nature that calls with its magnificent beauty and diversity.

The Tropical North Queensland region is a really outstanding travel destination because it has three World Heritage Sites.

On a helicopter trip, soar over the stunning scenery, outer reef, spotless beaches, and tropical rainforests to take in the breathtaking scenery and get a fresh perspective on this well-known location.

It's a unique experience and one of the things to do in Cairns, Australia.

2. Barron Gorge National Park

Barron Gorge National Park

The protected region of Barron Gorge National Park in Cairns, Australia, offers a wide range of things to do in Cairns for naturalists.

This pristine park is close to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park and features a diverse wildlife park and a tropical rainforest brimming with variety.

Hikers may explore the area's lush rainforest, hiking trails, see stunning scenery, feel the tropical climate, and take in the natural beauty of the surroundings.

Barron Gorge National Park is a must-visit location for nature lovers and those looking to see the wonders of Cairns, Australia, due to its close proximity to the city of Cairns and its distinctive cultural and natural experiences.

3. Fly over The Far North Queensland Coastline

Far North Queensland Coastline

A day trip flying over the spectacular Far North Queensland coastline is a must if you're seeking an adrenaline-pumping adventure in Cairns, Australia.

Cairns City, the largest city in the region, serves as a perfect base to begin this day trip.

You'll experience the breathtaking scenery of the turquoise oceans, lush rainforest, and shimmering shorelines as you soar above the gorgeous coastline.

The Wet Tropics of Queensland, a world heritage listed rainforest renowned for its astounding biodiversity, are also located in this area.

One of the fantastic things to do in Cairns, Australia, is to fly above the coastline of Far North Queensland.

4. Take a Visit to Cairns Botanic Gardens

Cairns Botanic Gardens

Cairns Botanic Gardens is a tropical paradise that offers a serene escape in Cairns, Australia. 

It's the ideal location for a leisurely stroll or picnic amid lush gardens, serene lakes, and bright floral displays, and admission is free.

Cairns Botanic Gardens is one of the top attractions in Cairns for plant lovers because they house a large variety of unique tropical plants.

Afterwards, you may visit the nearby Great Barrier Reef to see the beautiful coral reefs and varied sea life. One of the things to do in Cairns is to visit the Cairns Botanical Gardens.

5. Visit the Crystal Cascades

Crystal Cascades

Crystal Cascades, a natural wonder just west of Cairns City, attracts tourists with its beauty and serenity. One of the fun things to do in Cairns, Australia, is to visit Crystal Cascades.

You can take a refreshing swim in a swimming hole while being encircled by gorgeous granite rocks and lush greenery canopies.

It's the ideal place to unwind and take in the beauty of nature because of the clear waters and peaceful surroundings.

Crystal Cascades is a must-see location in Cairns whether you're seeking a swimming hole, a hike, or just a peaceful getaway.

6. Swim at The Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

In Cairns, Australia, the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon or Cairns Bayou is a well-liked public swimming pool that provides a refreshing and relaxing experience.

Cairns Lagoon a must-visit destination for anyone looking to take a dip and cool off during their Cairns itinerary.

The Cairns Esplanade Bayou is the ideal place to relax and take in the tropical environment because it is surrounded by immaculate sandy beaches, lush greenery, and breathtaking ocean views.

It is a secure location for swimmers of all ages because lifeguards are on duty there. Swimming at the Cairns Lagoon is one of the best things to do in Cairns for both tourists and locals. 

7. White Water Rafting on the Barron River

White Water Rafting

The Barron River connects Cairns and the Coral Sea, at its distal end.

As you maneuver through the river's rapids and breathtaking rainforest surroundings, white water rafting on the Barron River is an exhilarating experience that offers adrenaline and breathtaking natural beauty.

After the exhilarating ride on the Barron River, many tourists take day trips to the Great Barrier Reef to view its marine life, ride a glass bottom boat, and enter the Great Barrier Reef pontoon.

For nature lovers and adventure seekers alike, white water rafting on the Barron River is a must-try activity and one of the best things to do in Cairns.

8. A Day Trip to Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation

Daintree Rainforest

The biggest rainforest in Australia, the Daintree Rainforest, is a mesmerizing destination for a day trip.

Visit the Mossman Gorge to witness its beautiful waterfalls, explore the lush rainforest, or take a cruise on the Daintree River to see amazing wildlife.

For those who love the outdoors, Cape Tribulation is the ideal destination because it gives the rare chance to see the coral reefs and the outer reef at the Great Barrier Reef.

One of the most enjoyable and fascinating things to do in Cairns is to take a day trip to the Daintree Rainforest.

9. Enjoy The Cairns Night Markets

Cairns Night Markets

Within walking distance of the Cairns CBD are the vibrant indoor Cairns Night Markets.

Enjoy a gourmet journey at this market after an exhausting and thrilling day trip involving touring the Great Barrier Reef or visiting other Cairns tourist attractions.

The markets are a food lover's paradise because there are so many different cuisines to pick from there.

At this thriving nightlife hub in Cairns, there is something for everyone to enjoy, from local cuisine to foreign delicacies.

10. Grab a Bite at Palm Cove

Chill At Portofino

The scenic coastal community of Palm Cove, which is close to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, welcomes guests to a culinary treat.

Palm Cove is an established spot to grab a bite and take in the tropical climate because of its immaculate beaches and palm-lined esplanade.

Palm Cove is well known for its wide variety of dining alternatives, which accommodate all tastes and preferences and vary from local seafood to international cuisine.

Palm Cove offers a great dining experience that is sure to suit everyone's taste buds, whether it's a simple beachside cafe or a luxurious restaurant.

11. The Atherton Tablelands - The Best Day Trip From Cairns

Atherton Tablelands

If you're in Cairns, the Atherton Tablelands, located in Tropical North Queensland, is a must-visit destination for a day trip because it is near Cairns.

This breathtaking area is renowned for its verdant scenery, beautiful waterfalls, and scenic routes.

Visitors can take day trips to the close-by Crater Lakes National Park, which has two breathtaking volcanic crater lakes, Lake Barrine and Lake Eacham. Here, they can go swimming, picnicking, or enjoy leisurely strolls along the pathways.

For both nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers, the Atherton Tablelands make an excellent day trip destination because of its distinctive and varied natural beauty.

12. Ride the Kuranda Scenic Railway

Kuranda Scenic Railway

Without riding the Kuranda Scenic Railway and the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, a day trip to Cairns is not complete.

With panoramic views of the lush surroundings, the Kuranda Scenic Railway transports you on an unforgettable ride through the Wet Tropics of Queensland, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed rainforest.

A unique way to travel through the treetops, the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway provides breathtaking aerial views of the rainforest and its abundant wildlife.

For those who love the outdoors, this activity is a must-visit since it offers a memorable trip and a better understanding of Cairns' natural splendor.

13. Take Day Trip to Fitzroy Island

Fitzroy Island

A day trip to Fitzroy Island is a perfect way to experience a tropical island paradise near Cairns.

Fitzroy Island boasts of an appealing North Queensland tropical clime, making it an ideal destination for day trips.

A magnificent reef system that is a part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park surrounds Fitzroy Island and provides several chances for snorkeling, diving, and exploring the underwater world.

For those looking for a piece of paradise in Cairns, Fitzroy Island is a must-visit location because of its clean waters, white sandy beaches, and lush rainforest.

14. Canyoning at Behana Gorge

Behana Gorge

Undoubtedly one of the most exciting things to do in Cairns is canyoning at Behana Gorge. The breathtaking tropical rainforest known as Behana Gorge offers an exciting activity that combines hiking, swimming, and canyoning.

It is the ideal vacation spot for outdoor enthusiasts thanks to its beautiful swimming holes and hiking trails.

As you move down the canyon, abseil down cliffs, slide down natural rock slides, and jump into cool springs, you can fully appreciate the splendor of the nearby rainforest.

Both adrenaline seekers and environment lovers will find canyoning at Behana Gorge to be a unique and exhilarating experience. A nearby beach, Mission Beach, is another spot where have a similar experience.

15. Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome

Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome

The Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome is one of the popular family-friendly Cairns attractions situated in the center of Cairns Central Business District (CBD). 

Visitors of all ages can enjoy an interesting and instructive experience there. You can get up close and personal with Australian wildlife, like kangaroos, koalas, and crocodiles, at the unusual indoor zoo known as The Wildlife Dome.

The ZOOM area of the site includes exhilarating zipline and ropes courses that are appropriate for visitors of all ages and skill levels.

It's the ideal place to spend an exciting and engaging day with the family while learning about animals in a wildlife park.

16. See the Amazing Beaches Near Cairns

Palm Cove Beach

Near Cairns, there are a number of breathtaking beaches that provide vacationers with a taste of paradise.

With its gorgeous palm-fringed shoreline, Palm Cove Beach is a well-liked location for leisurely activities on the ocean.

Delightful sands and clean, swimming and snorkeling-friendly seas are what Ellis Beach is renowned for.

Long expanses of sandy beaches bordered by dense rainforest and closeness to the Wooroonooran National Park are what make Mission Beach so well-known; it also serves as a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.

Another lovely beach, Trinity Beach is renowned for its serenity and breathtaking sunset views.

These beaches near Cairns are a must-see for beach fans and nature lovers alike, whether you want to swim, go scuba diving, tan, or simply soak in the natural beauty.

17. Dine in the twilight at Cairns Aquarium

Cairns Aquarium

One of the best things to do in Cairns is to indulge in a distinctive dining experience at Cairns Aquarium.

The Cairns Aquarium is a great place to unwind in the evening while eating a delectable meal after taking a relaxing swim at Four Mile Beach.

Take in the vibrant coral reefs and fascinating marine life that make up tropical North Queensland's underwater wonderland.

Either for a special family outing or a romantic dinner, dining at Cairns Aquarium in the evening will be a once-in-a-lifetime event.

18. Stay at The Fitzroy Island Resort

Fitzroy Island Resort

Stay at Fitzroy Island Resort, one of the idyllic tropical islands near Cairns, to escape into heaven.

This magnificent resort offers a peaceful and quiet getaway as it is tucked away in the calm, protected waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Fitzroy Island Resort is the ideal location for relaxation and adventure because of its clean beaches, clear waters, and lush rainforest environs.

A visit to Fitzroy Island Resort in North Queensland's tropical heart promises to be a really unforgettable experience, whether you're snorkeling, hiking, or just relaxing on the beach.

19. Visit the Wet Tropics Rainforest

Wet Tropics Rainforest

Explore the breathtaking beauty of the Wet Tropics Rainforest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site also known as the Wet Tropics of Queensland. 

This beautiful rainforest, which can be found in the lush tropical region of Queensland, is home to biodiversity and other natural treasures.

This World Heritage Site offers a singular and immersive experience for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike with its dense vegetation, towering trees, and breathtaking waterfalls.

Explore the diverse flora and animals, go on guided hikes, or just take in the peace and quiet of this historic jungle. Visit Cairns today to experience the wonders of the Wet Tropics of Queensland.

20. Visit the Green Island

Green Island

 Green Island is a marine island and a tropical paradise located in Cairns. For those who enjoy the outdoors and the ocean, Green Island is a hidden gem with beautiful waters, spotless beaches, and vibrant coral reefs.

To experience the amazing splendor of this tropical island paradise, visit Cairns. Take in the vibrant aquatic life while snorkeling, scuba diving, or just lounging on the sandy beaches.

For those looking for an unforgettable tropical hideaway in the Cairns region of Australia, Green Island is the ideal place.

21. Australian Butterfly Sanctuary

Australian Butterfly Sanctuary

The Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, which is situated in Kuranda, near Cairns, is a must-see destination for people who enjoy the outdoors and butterflies.

This sanctuary, which is only a 40-minute drive from the Cairns Airport, offers a captivating experience with its varied variety of lovely butterflies. Furthermore, it can be your last stop before leaving.

The Australian Butterfly Sanctuary is the ideal place for a day trip from Cairns because of its beautiful tropical surroundings, educational exhibits, and engaging activities.

One of the best things to do in Cairns is to immerse yourself in the enchanted world of butterflies and make this special sanctuary your final visit.

22. Undara Volcanic National Park

Undara Volcanic National Park

This volcanic ark is situated in Tropical North Queensland and provides an insight into Australia's geological past.

One of the longest and best-preserved lava tube cave systems in the world, created by past volcanic eruptions, may be found in this national park.

Visitors can take guided trips to discover these natural wonders and take in the beautiful formations and distinctive flora and fauna.

For lovers of the great outdoors and geology and those looking for an experience off the main route, this park is a must-visit. It's an intriguing place to discover and explore with its pristine landscapes and amazing geological characteristics.

Cairns Art Gallery

The Cairns Art Gallery is a thriving cultural center in the hub of Cairns that exhibits a wide variety of modern and traditional artworks.

This vibrant gallery, which is in the heart of the city, houses an excellent collection of local and foreign artwork, including pictures, sculptures, and more.

For art lovers, tourists, and locals alike, the Gallery offers a distinctive experience with its changing exhibitions, educational programs, and community events.

Anyone looking to experience the rich cultural culture of the area, a trip to the Cairns Art Gallery is a must.

24. Cairns Museum

Cairns Museum

In Australia's Cairns, the Cairns Museum is a veritable gold mine of tradition, culture, and history.

This museum, which is housed in a gorgeously restored former school building, provides a fascinating tour through the area's past, from its Aboriginal heritage to the creation of contemporary Cairns.

The Cairns Museum offers a distinctive perspective into the rich and varied history of the region through its interesting exhibits, interactive displays, and educational tours.

A trip to the Cairns Museum is among the things to do in Cairns and features everything from ancient artifacts to maritime history to tropical natural wonders to local stories.

25. Muddy's Playground

Muddy's Playground

A popular family-friendly location in Cairns is Muddy's Playground, which is part of the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon.

With water play sections, climbing frames, and interactive play equipment, this special playground provides children with a fun and safe setting in which to play and explore.

The playground offers a range of age-appropriate activities, making it the ideal place for families to have some outdoor fun.

For families traveling to Cairns, Muddy's Playground is a must-visit location because of its lovely setting overlooking the magnificent waterfront.

26. Rusty's Market

Rusty's Market

In Cairns, there is a thriving indoor and outdoor market called Rusty's Market. 

With a broad selection of fresh vegetables, regional arts and crafts, clothes, and one-of-a-kind souvenirs, it provides a lively and varied shopping experience.

This market is well-liked by both locals and visitors and is well-known for its welcoming environment, mouthwatering food vendors, and unique treasures.

Visitors can experience local culture firsthand and savor the tropical fruits, seafood, and other delicacies the area has to offer.

27. Trinity Beach

Trinity Beach

Australia's Cairns is home to the lovely beachfront suburb of a beach named Trinity. 

It is also renowned for its beautiful beach, which features smooth sands and crystal-clear seas, making it a well-liked location for water sports, swimming, and sunbathing.

The beach provides guests with a calm, laid-back ambiance while being surrounded by luscious palm trees.

This Beach is a great place for a relaxing day by the sea or a romantic stroll along the shore after dusk because it is also home to a variety of cafes, and restaurants.

FAQs: The Best Things to Do in Cairns

In this section, we provide answers to frequently asked questions about things to do in Cairns, Australia.

What is Cairns best known for?

Cairns is best known for its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, offering world-class scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities. The Cairns Botanic Gardens, the Daintree Rainforest, and Barron Gorge National Park are just a few of the numerous Cairns attractions.

Is 3 days enough in Cairns?

Yes. There are plenty of exciting things to do in Cairns, Australia. Three days can be a sufficient length of time to explore Cairns' tourist attractions such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest, and Mungana Caves National Park, but additional time may be desired to properly enjoy all that Cairns has to offer.

What do people do there for fun in Cairns?

In Cairns, Australia, people enjoy themselves by taking day trips to the Great Barrier Reef for snorkeling or diving excursions. Additionally, they visit the stunning Ellis Beach for swimming and relaxation and indulge in regional delicacies at the Cairns Night Markets for a distinctive cultural experience.

Is Cairns worth seeing?

Yes. There is a plethora of exciting things to do in Cairns, Australia making it a great destination for a day trip or longer visit. From exploring the abundant marine life in the Great Barrier Reef to visiting the Zoom and Wildlife Dome, Cairns has something for everyone to enjoy.

Summing up: The Best Things to do in Cairns, Australia

With so many fascinating things to do in Cairns, Australia,  it is a haven for adventurers and environment lovers alike.

Cairns offers a variety of experiences that appeal to all interests, from snorkeling and diving in the Great Barrier Reef to visiting other Cairns attractions.

Cairns is a location that guarantees a wonderful experience, whether it's taking a Fitzroy Island day trip, scuba diving in Four Mile Beach, or immersing yourself in the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park.

Prepare to set out on an incredible experience in this tropical paradise by packing your bags. Visit Cairns today.