Destination Guide: Cairns


Things to do in Cairns

The heart of Tropical North Queensland, Cairns is the place to sail, swim, snorkel and dive into the Great Barrier Reef and explore the ancient Daintree Rainforest!

Tours & Experiences

Discover the aquatic world of the Great Barrier Reef; ride a scenic railway through dense rainforest; immerse yourself in Indigenous culture; or set your pulse racing with bungy jumping, ziplining and skydiving. Cairns has it all!


Great Barrier Reef Cruise

from $185

  • Return transfers from Cairns
  • Guided snorkelling tours
  • Free scuba diving lesson

Great Barrier Reef Sailing Day Trip

from $195

  • Return transfers from Cairns
  • Snorkelling tuition, equipment & meals included
  • Child tickets from $130

Atherton Tablelands Day Trip

from $109

  • Return transfers from Cairns
  • Visit five pristine waterfalls
  • Morning & afternoon tea included

Accommodation in Cairns

Our buses are just the beginning. We’ve teamed up with the best hostel providers in Australia to offer flexible passes and packages that make it a breeze to secure quality accommodation that won’t break the bank, no matter where your journey takes you!

Popular accommodation options in Cairns include the YHA and Base & Nomads backpacker hostels. Bookings can be made directly on partner websites.

YHA Dreamcatcher Pass

Available from 7 to 28 nights, the Dreamcatcher pass allows you to pre-purchase your accommodation without locking in the dates. It can be used to book dorm-style accommodation at Cairns Central YHA and more than 70 other YHA hostels around Australia.

Cairns Central YHA
20-26 McLeod St,
Cairns City QLD 4870


Bed Hopper Pass

The Bed Hopper Pass, available from 7 to 60 nights, is a flexible multi-night accommodation voucher that can be used to book dorm-style accommodation at Base Backpackers Cairns and more than 20 Base, Nomads and Base-affiliated hostels throughout Australia.

Base Backpackers Cairns
341 Lake St,
Cairns City QLD 4870


Travel & Accommodation Packages

Want more travel and accommodation options? Packaging our Whimit Travel Pass with two of the best hostel providers in Australia, we’ve created the perfect Travel & Accommodation packages for any traveller!


How to get to Cairns

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Important information: this service is temporarily suspended due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Click for more information.

With more than 180 stops across the country and services in all mainland states and territories, Greyhound is Australia’s largest coach network. Here are our most popular routes to Cairns!

How to get around Cairns

Once your Greyhound bus to Cairns arrives at the Pier Car Park on Pier Point Road, you’ll find it’s remarkably easy to get around this tropical city, with a range of transport options on offer.

Cairns is an enjoyable city to explore on foot. The CBD is laid out in a straightforward grid pattern. There are a number of great walkways around Cairns and the Northern Beaches, highlighted by a scenic stretch along the Esplanade, a busy thoroughfare containing many different shops, restaurants, markets and places to stay, as well as a tourist information centre.

Cairns is surrounded by hills, but the city itself is relatively flat, making it an ideal city to explore by bike. You can rent a bike at several places around town, and there are numerous cycling paths and circuits around Cairns, including popular routes that take in the Esplanade, Botanic Gardens and Centenary Lakes.

Keep in mind, though, that Cairns is a tropical city and can get very hot. Take a water bottle with you if you’re planning to travel any great distance by foot or bicycle, and be prepared to get very wet if you get caught in a thunderstorm in summer.

The local bus system, operated by TransLink, is cheap and easy to use, with a number of routes servicing the city, the suburbs and the beaches. You can use the TransLink Journey Planner to plan your trips to various locations around Cairns.

There are plenty of clearly signposted taxi ranks throughout the CBD and at popular tourist destinations. Taxis can also be ordered over the phone or online, which is preferable to hailing a cab on the street if you have more than four passengers.

Naturally, since most visitors to Cairns want to see the Great Barrier Reef, there are plenty of options for exploring this World Heritage-listed attraction. The Reef Terminal, adjacent to the Cairns Marlin Marina and just a short walk from the Esplanade, is a popular departure point for Reef tours. (For the ultimate Reef experience, embark on our Great Barrier Reef Day Tour or Great Barrier Reef Sailing Tour!)

Itineraries & travel guides