The Top Things to See and Do in Cairns, Australia

Green Island l © Kaye Adams/Flickr
Green Island l © Kaye Adams/Flickr
You might just be visiting Cairns on your way to the Whitsundays or Great Barrier Reef, but don’t make your stop-over too brief. There is a surprising amount of fun to be had in and around Cairns. Not only is it the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and many beautiful islands, but its neighbours are some incredible rainforests, beautiful hiking trails and fascinating cultural spots.

Kuranda Scenic Railway

This incredibly scenic train journey runs from Cairns to the nearby town of Kuranda. It’s not just any train ride – you’ll see ultra lush rainforests, Baron Gorge and cascading waterfalls. The ultimate sub-tropical experience.

Kuranda Scenic Railway, 26-144 Bunda St, Cairns City, Australia +61 7 4036 9333

Day trip to Green Island

The stunning Green island is a mere 15 miles off the coast of Cairns and makes for a day trip to remember. Imagine a day of snorkelling, nature walks and tours on a glass bottom boat or semi-submarine to view the stunning local coral.

Take a Reef Tour

You can’t go to Cairns and not experience the local reef. It’s so close to the city, you have to take a day and head to the reef. There are so many great tour options that include a delicious feast once you’ve worked up an appetite in the water.

Reef tour l © Kyle Taylor/Flickr


If you are an outdoors person and love getting your heart pumping on holidays, take a day trip to Fitzroy Island. Here, you can hire a sea canoe and get some of the best views of the island while getting a work out all in one. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Take a Rainforest Hike

About 1.5 hours from Cairns is the stunning Mossman Gorge. The gorge is a part of the Daintree Rainforest and will give you the ultimate tropical rainforest experience. Follow a trail, work up a sweat and take a dip in the gorge at the end. Bliss.

Daintree Rainforest l © deeuutee/Flickr

Learn About Indigenous Culture

Learn about the original Australia and Indigenous cultures by way of cultural performances, bush food trails, or learning arts and crafts. Groups like Tjapukai hold fantastic events for everyone to be involved in.

White Water Rafting

For the thrill seekers out there, try your hand at some white water rafting in Cairns. There are some fantastic locations for a rafting adventure, such as the Tully River or the pristine Barron River in the heart of the world heritage listed rainforest.

Cairns Art Gallery

Get your art gallery fix from the Cairns Art Gallery. It might be small comparatively to other galleries, but it packs a punch and is worth the visit. Keep an eye on their website to check which exhibitions are showing. The gallery shop is worthwhile too for souvenirs and keepsakes.