On the doorstep of the world famous Great Barrier Reef and the picturesque Whitsunday Islands, Cairns was always destined for tourism greatness. But it isn't just its colourful neighbours that make Cairns the tourism hub of North Queensland. It's also a great tourism destination in its own right, boasting beautiful beaches, an increasingly modern yet laid-back city centre and of course warm weather all year round. Most people who take flights Cairns end up venturing to the Great Barrier Reef. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world and the only living thing visible from space.
Airlines that fly to Cairns
Cairns Airport (CNS) is in Aeroglen, located around 4 miles and a short 11 minute drive to the main central area of the city. Despite Cairns being a popular tourim hub, the airport is quite small, comprising one domestic and one international terminal.
British passport holders will need a visa in order to enter Australia. There are two kinds of visas available: an eVisitor visa, for which there is no charge, and an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) from your travel agent or airline, for which there’s a service fee of A$20. eVisitor visas are available from the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection or from the Australian High Commission in London. For travel on non-British passports or for more information, please ask your consultant.
From Cairns you can do a day tour to the reef involving diving, snorkelling, or simply sitting back and taking in the amazing scenery. You might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of whales, dolphins or turtles while exploring the reef.
In Cairns itself, chances are you'll be spending plenty of time at the Cairns Esplanade, which accommodates a man-made swimming lagoon, parks, public fitness equipment and numerous trendy cafés, restaurants and shops. You'll also find markets every Saturday and a busy program of free entertainment on offer. Food lovers will appreciate the plethora of delicious food options available in Cairns. As you would expect, seafood restaurants are aplenty in the area, each putting their own spin on the finest fresh ingredients. These range from basic fish and chip shops to casual cafés and world-class fine dining restaurants. Of course there is also a wide range of other cuisines on offer throughout Cairns. Try Gelocchio if you like Italian food or Bushfire Flame Grill for a classic Aussie barbeque, and don't miss out on the desserts at Devine Gelato.
But Cairns doesn't just shine by the sea. Only 20 minutes’ drive from Cairns is the Crystal Cascades, a freshwater swimming hole in the rainforest that’s popular with locals. Another great way to explore the hinterland is via the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, a 90-minute cable car ride from Cairns to Kuranda that soars through the rainforest canopy.
For more Cairns travel tips, please refer to our Cairns travel guide.