Australia is home to many amazing destinations, but perhaps no other place in the country can match the variety of things to do in Cairns. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventurer, or a family looking for a great vacation, you’ll find plenty of activities and attractions here to satisfy you.

Located on the northern side of Australia, Cairns is most famous for its tropical weather and amazing natural attractions. Some of Australia’s most fascinating sites can be found in this region, whether in the city itself or its surrounding areas. This naturally makes it one of the country’s most popular destinations, consistently drawing local and international tourists alike.

If you’re planning a trip here, it’s always best to plan your itinerary ahead of time. That’s because you’ll find a wide variety things to do in Cairns, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of choices you’ll have. No matter what you choose to do here, however, one thing’s for sure: your stay here will likely be unforgettable.

To help plan your trip, here’s a list of some of the most wonderful and interesting things to do in Cairns:


As one of the seven wonders of the natural world, the Great Barrier Reef needs no introduction. It’s the largest coral reef in the world and home to an extraordinary variety of marine life. Unsurprisingly, this makes it one of the most famous tourist destinations not just in Australia, but the world as well. Fortunately for tourists and travellers here, the port in Cairns is one of the best places to embark from to explore this world-famous attraction.


One of the most popular landmarks in Cairns, the Esplanade is a wonderful place for taking leisurely walks or relaxing with some light outdoor activities. This iconic attraction is a stretch of foreshore spanning around 2.5 kilometres, with a variety of recreational and leisure facilities strewn throughout the area. Its main attractions include the Lagoon, the Esplanade Boardwalk, a parklands area, and playgrounds.


To many visitors and travellers, a trip to Cairns isn’t complete without experiencing the wonders of the world-famous Daintree Rainforest. If you’d like a one-of-a-kind experience of this amazing rainforest, The Daintree Discovery Centre is perfect for those who want an intimate experience, with a collection of facilities and exhibitions that bring you up close with its many wonders. Top attractions include the famous Canopy Tower and the Aerial Walkway, two features that provide breathtaking views of this beautiful rainforest.


This historic railway brings you across some of the region’s most beautiful natural environments, passing through the Wet Tropics of Queensland and other scenic sights.

This train provides a unique experience of the rainforest, immersing you in its enchanting atmosphere.

The Cairns station is conveniently a terminal station for the Kuranda Scenic and is located at Cairns Central Shopping Centre.


The Cairns Botanic Gardens is one the most extraordinary plant exhibitions in Australia, showcasing a wide variety of tropical plants found both in the Daintree Rainforest and the surrounding regions.

It features a number of gardens and botanic spaces that provide guests an in-depth look of the region’s amazing plant life.

Main attractions include the Flecker Garden, the Gondwanan Heritage Garden, two centenary lakes, and the Mount Whitfield Conservation Park.

Even if you’re not much of a flower or plant enthusiast, you’ll still find plenty to see and appreciate at the Cairns Botanic Gardens.

And with no admission fee, a visit here is easily one of the best things to do in Cairns for free.


There are many weekend and night markets in Cairns and nearby Port Douglas, but the most famous of these is the long-running Rusty’s Markets.

This weekend market has been around for almost 40 years, starting in 1975 and still going strong today.

With its rich history and wide collection of interesting finds, Rusty’s Markets is undoubtedly one of Cairn’s most beloved cultural icons.


If you are driving up to Cairns from down south and you have a sweet tooth, make sure you stop in at Charley’s Chocolate Factory at the foot of Mt Edna just outside Mission Beach.

Taste some delicious local chocolate and learn all about how chocolate is made by joining one of Charley’s Chocolate tours. A great Aussie farm lunch is also included in the admission price when you take part in a Charley’s Chocolate Tour. The chocolate lover in you will enjoy this sweet chocolate stop.


View the Daintree Rainforest Canopy


Access to mid level Daintree Rainforest


Discover the Interpretive Display Centre


Daintree Rainforest self-guided tours

Leave your pets at home; take any rubbish out with you; don't feed the wildlife and don't pollute the water.
Enjoy yourself and leave nothing but footsteps and take nothing but photographs! 

Wet Tropics Management Authority