Should you visit Alice Springs or Cairns?
Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel cost comparison between Alice Springs and Cairns can help. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.
Alice Springs is in the middle of Central Australia and is most famous as a base for exploring the famous rock, Uluru. Alice Springs itself has grown dramatically from what was once a small outpost. The tourist boom began in the early 1980s and the population is now somewhere around 28,000. The city now has all of the necessary facilities to cater to the influx of tourists who swing through to see Uluru. The town is 1500km from Darwin, which is the closest major city. Adelaide is just as far to the south. It's remote location means that costs can be higher than they are elsewhere in Australia. Expect to pay more for anything from fruits and vegetables to clothing and souvenirs. When making a reservation for a hotel, do note that the rating scale differs from elsewhere in Australia or in most western countries. The ratings come from the amenities available and have little to do with the actual room quality.
Most travelers go to Cairns specifically to visit Great Barrier Reef. The city itself is surprisingly large and cosmopolitan with a population of approximately 140,000. The city's economy is almost exclusively based on tourism, although you will find some jobs centered around agriculture, or more specifically sugar cane, bananas, coffee, tea, wine, and some tropical fruits. The city itself is surrounded by rainforest and makes a great base for exploring Kuranda, with the Barron Gorge National Park and the Daintree offering a quieter tropical getaway than Cairns.
Which city is cheaper, Cairns or Alice Springs?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in Alice Springs is $84, while the average daily cost in Cairns is $83. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Alice Springs and Cairns in more detail.
Travelers usually pay around $88 for a double occupancy room in Alice Springs If you want to be in a premiere location or have high end amenities, you can expect to pay a bit more.
An average hotel room with basic furnishings costs about $76 in Cairns For the most convenient locations and nicer amenities you can expect to pay a bit more.
The average traveler spends about $21 per day in Alice Springs for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.
Food in Cairns costs travelers about $25 per day on average. Restaurants can vary significantly in price, so choose wisely if you're trying to save money. Fast food and street stalls are typically your cheapest options, which sit down restaurants can be significantly more expensive.
Meals for one day
Alice Springs $21
Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Alice Springs
For Alice Springs, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:
From Uluru Full-Day Tour with BBQ Dinner:
Ayers Rock Day Trip from Alice Springs Including Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Sunset BBQ Dinner:
Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cairns
For Cairns, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:
Guided Twilight Tour of the Aquarium with Dinner:
Cairns Aquarium by Twilight with 3 Course Dinner:
Afternoon Tour with Evening Dinner Cruise:
Small-Group Afternoon Cairns City Tour with Harbour Dinner Cruise:
Alice Springs's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $18 per person, per day on transportation in Alice Springs.
Cairns's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $11 per person, per day on transportation in Cairns.
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Alice Springs
Also for Alice Springs, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
From Ayers Rock Resort to Luxury Transfer:
Alice Springs to Uluru (Ayers Rock) Coach Transfer:
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cairns
Also for Cairns, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Cairns to Mission Beach Private Transfer:
Cairns to Port Douglas Private Transfer:
Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Port Douglas.:
Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Port Douglas.:
Corporate Bus, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Palm Cove:
Premium, private bus transfer. Cairns City - Cairns Airport.:
Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Palm Cove.:
Port Douglas Transfers between Cairns Airport & Port Douglas (Private Chauffeur):
Cairns Airport (CNS) Departure Transfer (Cairns Hotels to Cairns CNS Airport):
Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Trinity Beach:
Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns City - Cairns Airport:
Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Palm Cove.:
Is it cheaper to fly into Alice Springs or Cairns?
Prices for flights to both Cairns and Alice Springs change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.
Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in Alice Springs can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $12 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.
Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in Cairns can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $33 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.
Tours and Activities in Alice Springs
Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Alice Springs.
3-Day Alice Springs to Uluru (Ayers Rock) via Kings Canyon Tour:
3-Day Uluru Camping Tour from Alice Springs Including Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon:
3-Day Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon 4WD Small-Group Eco-Tour from Alice Springs:
Alice Springs Camel Tour:
Alice Springs Desert Park General Entry Ticket:
Alice Springs Highlights Half-Day Tour:
Alice Springs Telegraph Station Entry and Tour Ticket:
Alice Springs, Uluru Ayers Rock & Kings Canyon 8 Days Touring Package:
4WD Palm Valley Tour with Lunch:
Best of Alice Springs Full Day Tour:
Chambers Pillar and Rainbow Valley 1 Day 4WD Tour:
East MacDonnell Ranges 1 Day 4WD Tour:
Typical Entertainment prices in Cairns
Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Cairns's activities, tours, and tickets:
Tours and Activities in Cairns
For Cairns, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:
14-Day Cape York Camping Tour:
2 Day Reef & Rainforest Adventure:
2-Day Cape Tribulation and Daintree Rainforest Tour from Cairns /Port Douglas:
2-Day Green Island Cruise and Kuranda Day Trip:
Aboriginal Cultural Daintree Rainforest Tour from Cairns or Port Douglas:
Atherton Tablelands Waterfalls and Rainforest Day Tour Departing Cairns:
Barron Gorge and Kuranda National Park Half Day Rainforest and Waterfall 4WD Tour from Cairns:
Cairns 4WD Waterfall and Rainforest Tour Including Kuranda Scenic Railway or Skyrail Rainforest Cableway:
Cairns Adventure Package- 4 tours in 3 days!:
Cairns Aquarium Admission Ticket:
Cairns Aquarium Family Tickets:
Cairns Aquarium General Admission Ticket:
Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In Alice Springs, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $15.
Typically, people visiting Cairns spend on average $12 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
Typical Alcohol prices in Alice Springs
Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in Alice Springs:
Sample the Local Flavors in Cairns
Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Cairns:
Tablelands Food & Wine Tour:
When comparing the travel costs between Alice Springs and Cairns, we can see that Alice Springs is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in Pacific, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.
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