10 Things You Can't Miss in Cairns

An adventure awaits in one the most beautiful places in Australia.

daintree rainforest, things to do in cairns

In the far north of Queensland sits a city renowned for colourful reefs, towering waterfalls, lush rainforests and so much more. For bucket list ideas that will surpass your wildest dreams, head directly to Cairns.

1. Esplanade Boardwalk and Lagoon

Looking for somewhere to cool off in the scorching Cairns heat? Along the shore, you’ll find the iconic artificial saltwater lagoon. Pop on your swimsuit to cool down and chill out in this oasis.


At sunset, take advantage of the free BBQ and picnic areas for dinner with a view. With its skate ramp, volleyball courts, rock climbing park and playground, you can see why a visit to the Esplanade is rated as one of the top things to do in Cairns.

2. Daintree National Park

Travel just over an hour from Cairns to uncover the natural wonders of the Daintree National Park. This immense rainforest, which spans 1,200 kilometres, is home to many animal and plant species that exist nowhere else in the world.


The Daintree Rainforest is best viewed through the eyes of an expert. You can book a tour from central Cairns most days of the week. In just a day, a guided 4WD will navigate you through Cape Tribulation, Mossman Gorge, the mighty Daintree River and Daintree Rainforest swimming holes. Sir David Attenborough called it one of his favourite jungles, so don’t miss out!

3. Cairns Botanic Gardens

Just 4 kilometres from central Cairns, nature buffs will love the Cairns Botanic Gardens. Along the boardwalk, visitors can stroll through lush rainforest vegetation and across babbling brooks while admiring the vast array of tropical plants in the gardens.


Housing rare tropical flowers like the Amorphophallus Titanum, which weighs up to 70kg with a single leaf stretching almost 7 meters, this Cairns attraction is a must-see.

4. Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is high on many people’s bucket list. Cairns is closely located to many awe-inspiring reefs, making it ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving day trips.


For guests short on time, take the Green Island or Fitzroy Island ferries and in just under an hour, you’ll be exploring unspoiled landscapes surrounded by blue seas. Adventure seekers will love reconnecting with the sea as they dive head first into schools of colourful fish and bright corals. 

5. Kuranda Scenic Railway

Hoping to get a glimpse of Cairns attractions from a different perspective? The Keranda Scenic Railway journey weaves for an hour and a half through World Heritage protected tropical rainforest.


Travel in a comfortable carriage as you whizz past remarkable waterfalls and into the Barron Gorge. If travelling in style is more your thing, feast your eyes on nature as you sip champagne and munch nibbles in Gold Class. 

6. Atherton Tablelands

If you haven’t figured it out by now, native wildlife and stunning landscapes are the real drawcards in this part of the country.


If you’re looking for bushwalking paths, mountain biking trails and geological marvels, the Atherton Tablelands are a true gem. Rent a car and hit the road for a DIY tour of Millaa Millaa Falls or Crystal Cascades. Pack a picnic, wade in the freshwater pools or simply appreciate the pure beauty of the falls. 

7. Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Can you imagine yourself soaring just meters above a rainforest canopy? Make fantasy a reality with a visit to the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Choose from an open-roof, glass-bottom or standard cart to experience grand views of the forest, falls and coastline. For fun the whole family can get behind, adding the Skyrail to your holiday itinerary is a decision you won’t regret. 

8. Walshs Pyramid

Slap on your hiking boots and some sunscreen and prepare to master the highest freestanding natural pyramid in the world. Walshs Pyramid, which lies just 30 minutes south of Cairns, is a not for the fainthearted. Experienced hikers should expect a round trip trek of approximately 3 hours. What’s at the top of this 922-meter landscape? A great feeling of accomplishment accompanied by mind-blowing views, of course. 

9. Palm Cove Beach

If unforgettable beaches top your bucket list, Australia takes the cake. Uncover true happiness and natural beauty in Cairns by spending the day at the tropical holiday hub that is Palm Cove.


Drive just 30 minutes from Cairns and you’ll be transported to a gorgeous sandy beach made for fishing, swimming and relaxing. Everything is within walking distance, allowing visitors to lap up cocktails or dine on fresh seafood at various beachside cafes. 

10. Rusty's Market

Do yourself a favour and make a pit stop at Rusty’s Market during your stay in Cairns. Venture here in the morning and fill one hand with a steaming coffee and the other with a crisp croissant.


The market is also an essential for groups heading out on a fun-filled day trip. Packing a picnic or roadside lunch is easily sorted with the massive offering inside this Cairns institution. Browse 180 stalls filled with fresh fruit and veggies, scrumptious baked goods, seafood and more. 

Book Your Holiday in Tropical North Queensland

Feeling inspired to discover tropical north Queensland? Book your accommodation in Cairns.

Our recent articles