Should You Visit Cairns?

Are you thinking about visiting Cairns, Australia? Here's what you need to know before planning your trip.


Is Cairns worth visiting?

Yes, it's worth visiting this city for three to five days because of the many great activities. Cairns is a huge tourist city and is a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. The city is popular with backpackers and luxury vacationers alike. There are world class beaches and high end resorts that make this a major destination for tourists. There are also scuba diving trips and snorkeling excursions that will let you experience the marine environment first hand.

Cairns, Australia Cairns, Australia

Reasons to Visit Cairns

Nightlife
For such as small city, the nightlife scene is incredibly vibrant, particularly during the peak tourist months. Backpackers are at the heart of the action, with many bars and clubs filling up each night with a young crowd. There are dance clubs, all night parties, cocktail bars, and beach side venues that are sure to offer a good time.

Scuba Diving & Snorkeling
It's access to the Great Barrier Reef make this one of the world's top scuba diving and snorkeling destinations. The undersea world is filled with colorful coral, diverse tropical fish, graceful sea turtles, and a truly magical setting.

Beaches
Near town you'll find stunningly beautiful beaches that range from hubs of activity to quiet coves. Cairns Esplanade Lagoon is the closest beach to the city center and it has a sandy beach and plenty of amenities. For a quieter setting, head north to Holloways Beach or to the family-friendly Yorkeys Knob Beach. Do take note that if the beach doesn't have a stinger net, then it's recommended you wear a stinger suit (to avoid jellyfish stings).

Hiking
Near town you'll find wonderful national parks, lush rainforest, and beautiful mountain ranges. There are countless bush walks and hiking trails in the area. Head into the countryside and you'll get lost in nature and breathtaking views.

Food
Waterfront dining with a view is what makes the restaurant scene special. Seafood is everywhere and you can enjoy the catch of the day while you relax on a beachfront terrace. There are also international restaurants that have everything from Spanish tapas to Japanese noodle bowls.

Resorts
There are many beautiful resorts that offer access to the beach and have impressive pools. There are family-friendly resorts, romantic resorts, and even some budget-friendly options.

Shopping
There's plenty of shopping around town in the form of shopping centers, markets, and boutique shops. Whether you're looking for trendy fashion or a fun souvenir, there are many places to explore.




Is Cairns worth visiting in the Summer?

Summer is the high season for travel in Cairns, so expect more visitors and higher prices. This is an extremely popular destination, and in the high season it's busier than usual as this is when most people are able to travel. Expect large crowds of tourists, longer lines, and higher prices for hotels. On the other hand, you'll find that everything is open and you'll have a wide array of activities, things to do, and places to eat.

The weather in Cairns is fairly warm during summer, and stays around 29°C (84°F). But it can get as warm as 32°C (90°F) at times, too. It's also quite rainy during this season, so be prepared.

With the warmer weather this time of year, the beach is the main attraction. Spend time enjoying the waves and sand during your trip. The nearby hiking this time of year is a must-do, so take some time to get out on the trails, take in some fresh air, and enjoy the scenery. You'll find plenty to do during summer, as you'll be able to lounge on the beach, discover the nearby hiking trails, and relax at a luxurious resort. Also, you can check out the nightlife.


Summer Weather in Cairns
Avg Temp
(°C/°F)
Avg Rain
(mm/inches)
January 29°C (84°F) 429 mm (16.9 in)
February 29°C (83°F) 469 mm (18.5 in)
March 28°C (82°F) 471 mm (18.5 in)

Is Cairns worth visiting in the Autumn?

This is the shoulder season for travel in Cairns. As a very touristy destination, even in the shoulder season you'll see plenty of tourists when you visit. However, good prices and deals are to be found at this time of year.

The weather in Cairns is fairly warm during autumn, and stays around 27°C (80°F). But it can get as warm as 29°C (85°F) at times, too. It's also quite rainy during this season, so be prepared.

During this season it's fun to experience the hiking.


Autumn Weather in Cairns
Avg Temp
(°C/°F)
Avg Rain
(mm/inches)
April 27°C (80°F) 273 mm (10.8 in)
May 25°C (78°F) 118 mm (4.6 in)
June 23°C (74°F) 62 mm (2.5 in)

Is Cairns worth visiting in the Winter?

The warm weather in winter is one of the reasons people visit at this time of year. Temperatures average around 23°C (73°F) with daily high temperatures often more than 26°C (78°F).

The low season for travel in Cairns is during the winter. This is an extremely touristy destination, so in the low season you'll still see plenty of other travelers when you visit, but less than other times of the year. Good deals are to be found on hotels and tours because it's not the best time of year to visit.

This is a great time of year to enjoy a meal at a restaurant and dance the night away.


Winter Weather in Cairns
Avg Temp
(°C/°F)
Avg Rain
(mm/inches)
July 23°C (73°F) 35 mm (1.4 in)
August 24°C (75°F) 34 mm (1.3 in)
September 25°C (77°F) 40 mm (1.6 in)

Is Cairns worth visiting in the Spring?

Spring is the shoulder season for travel in Cairns. As a very touristy destination, even in the shoulder season you'll see plenty of tourists when you visit. However, good prices and deals are to be found at this time of year.

The warm weather in spring is one of the reasons people visit at this time of year. Temperatures average around 27°C (80°F) with daily high temperatures often more than 30°C (86°F).

You'll find plenty to do during spring, as you'll be able to find the best deals at the shops and enjoy the evening activities.


Spring Weather in Cairns
Avg Temp
(°C/°F)
Avg Rain
(mm/inches)
October 27°C (80°F) 44 mm (1.7 in)
November 28°C (82°F) 104 mm (4.1 in)
December 29°C (83°F) 211 mm (8.3 in)

Things to Consider Before Visiting Cairns

Museums: Cairns isn't a place that's filled with a huge number of sights and attractions. Most visitors spend their time exploring nature and the outdoors, but there are some interesting cultural sights around town as well. Make sure you check out the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park as well as the Cairns Aquarium.

Lots of Tourists
Cairns sees a high number of visitors every year, which means you might have to wait in line and deal with large crowds during your visit.

Getting Around
The area is not very walkable, and public transit is not great here, so it might be difficult to get around without arranging your own transportation.

The Cost
Depending on your budget, schedule, and travel style, Cairns might be an expensive destination for you. You can find out the travel costs for Cairns here or see if Cairns is expensive here.

Related

What is Cairns most famous for?

Cairns is most famous for its stunning beaches, nearby rainforests, and easy access to the world's largest reef system. People visit this impressive city for its great nightlife, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, and hiking. Also, it's known for food, resorts, and shopping. It is often described as tropical, idyllic, outdoorsy, and adventure-filled.

What is the most famous sight in Cairns?

The most popular sight in Cairns is the Great Barrier Reef. You can see prices and costs for this and other sights in Cairns on our travel costs page.

Or, see tickets, activities, and tours for the Great Barrier Reef and other attractions here.

How touristy is Cairns? Is it a popular city to visit?

Cairns is a very touristy city that attracts travelers from around the globe. Here are some of the most popular activities and tours. (Prices in US Dollars)

  • Cairns Pub & Club Tour: $27
  • Mountain Bike Tour - Cairns: $188
  • Cairns Kuranda Tour: $229
  • Skypark Adventure Day Pass: $182
  • Cairns Aquarium General Admission & Coral Conservation Tour: $53
  • Dunk Island Day Tour | Cairns Day Return: $121
  • Wunyami Cultural Tour on Green Island's Eco Adventure: $134
  • Kuranda Half Day with Petting Zoo & Horse Trail Ride Tour: $162

How long should I spend in Cairns?

The ideal length of time for a trip to Cairns is at least three or as many as five days. Since Cairns has a variety of activities such as scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, hiking, and nightlife, most people need this much time to see and do everything here.

If you have a specific amount of time for your trip, see our advice about how much time to spend here: Should I spend 1, 2, or 3 days in Cairns?, Should I spend 3, 4, or 5 days in Cairns?, and Should I spend 1 or 2 weeks in Cairns?.