Which place is cheaper, Brisbane or Cairns?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
Should I visit Cairns or Brisbane? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.
Cairns is a adventure-filled, tropical, and idyllic city. It's also popular because of the shopping, nightlife, and food.
Brisbane is a active, relaxed, and diverse coastal city. Because this is such a big city, visitors will find many sights and attractions around town. It's also popular because of the hiking, shopping, and museums.
Visitors will generally find more to do in Cairns than Brisbane. While Brisbane is larger than Cairns, Cairns has more sights, attractions, and activities for tourists. Cairns is very popular for its food, nightlife, resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, and hiking, while Brisbane attracts visitors for its museums and big city activities. Cairns is more touristy than Brisbane and is known for its stunning beaches, nearby rainforests, and easy access to the world's largest reef system. It is also well known for the Great Barrier Reef. Brisbane is famous for its sports culture, beautiful weather, and outdoor areas.
Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Brisbane and Cairns. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.
Brisbane is an excellent place to visit for its museums and history. However, Cairns is lacking in options for its museums and landmarks.
Brisbane offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. The Cultural Centre is where you'll find many of the city's museums. It sits on the banks of the Brisbane River and is home to the State Library of Queensland, the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre, and Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art. This is also where you'll find the Queensland Performing Arts Centre. Also popular is the Brisbane Botanic Gardens and the Wheel of Brisbane.
Cairns offers a handful of options for museums and historical sights. 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.
Cairns is great for its local flavors and cuisine. Also, Brisbane is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for its local cuisine and restaurants.
Cairns has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. 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.
Brisbane offers number of good local restaurants to choose from. You'll find all of the standard eateries around town, with casual cafes, family-friendly restaurants, and some fine dining experiences to choose from.
Cairns is an amazing city to visit for its evening party scene. Also, Brisbane is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for nightlife.
Cairns has a colorful and one-of-a-kind nightlife scene. 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.
Brisbane has plenty to do after the sun goes down. Fortitude Valley is the entertainment district in the city, and it really comes to life at night. There are also many venues that take advantage of the beautiful weather with outdoor and rooftop bars.
Cairns is great for its luxury resorts. However, Brisbane is not a resort destination.
Vacationers can choose from a number of terrific resorts in Cairns. 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.
Brisbane is not a resort destination.
Cairns is an amazing city to visit for snorkeling and scuba diving. Also, Brisbane is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for the nearby scuba diving and snorkeling.
The scuba diving and snorkeling in Cairns is not to be missed. 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.
Brisbane has a few areas where visitors often go scuba diving or snorkeling. There are some good snorkeling and diving spots near the city. One of the best is the Tangalooma Wrecks off Moreton Island.
Cairns is an amazing city to visit for the beach. Also, Brisbane is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for its beaches.
With world-famous beaches, Cairns is a very popular vacation destination. 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).
You'll have a great beach vacation in Brisbane. For the best beaches, you'll want to take a day trip out of town, but there are also some nice beaches right by the city. About 30 minutes from town is family-friend Suttons Beach, or you can stay in the city center and check out the man-made Streets Beach. Shorncliffe Beach is another option that's less than a half hour from town.
Cairns is an amazing city to visit for hiking. Also, Brisbane is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for the nearby hiking options.
Many people visit Cairns specifically for its 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.
Brisbane has hiking trails worth exploring. There are a number of hikes outside of town that you can enjoy as a day trip. Check out the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, Keperra Bushland Reserve, or D'Aguilar National Park to the north of town. To the south is Toohey Forest Park, Springwood Conservation Park , and Venmans Bushland National Park.
Shoppers can find a variety of great stores in both Cairns and Brisbane.
Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Cairns. 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.
Brisbane is an extremely popular place for shoppers. It's one of the most popular cities for retail therapy in Queensland. Queen Street Mall is an open air shopping mall and James Street is a favorite shopping street in town.
Cairns is an amazing city to visit for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Brisbane is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for its family-friendly activities.
Cairns is one of the most popular family destinations. With the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest nearby, this is a playground for kids and adults alike. There are sandy beaches, rainforest walks, turtle rehabilitation centers, scenic railways, adventure sports, and so much more.
Brisbane is a very family-friendly place to visit. Kids will love a visit to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary or White Ridge Farm. And, of course, you should take a ride on the iconic Wheel of Brisbane. If you're willing to head out of town you can visit the fun Tangalooma Island Resort. Streets Beach is also fun to visit.
Cairns is great for couples. Also, Brisbane is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for romance.
Cairns is a great city if you're traveling as a couple. It's a beautiful tropical setting with world class beaches and diverse marine life. Couples who enjoy the outdoors and adventure will love this amazing destination. You can experience the area's wildlife, relax on sandy beaches, or pamper yourself with a spa treatment. There is plenty of luxury, but also adventure-filled activities to choose from.
Brisbane is a nice destination for couples. The waterfront setting and romantic restaurants offer a nice getaway for couples. There are many outdoor spaces that are fun to explore as well.
Cairns is an amazing city to visit for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Brisbane is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for backpackers.
A large number of backpackers visit Cairns, as it is a very popular city for budget travelers. Backpackers flock to this coastal town for its easy access to the Great Barrier Reef and its many activities and vibrant energy. There are adventure sports, wild nightclubs, and no shortage of places to hang out with other backpackers.
Backpackers come from all over to visit Brisbane. Many backpackers breeze through Brisbane in favor of other nearby destinations, but there are actually a number of hostels in town and some interesting things to do.
Brisbane is an excellent place to visit for its student-friendly activities. However, Cairns is not popular with students.
Brisbane is a very popular coastal city for students and younger travelers. Many students appreciate the local vibe, warm weather, and excellent education opportunities that the city offers.
Cairns is not popular with students.
Visitors will find nice public transit in both Cairns and Brisbane.
Cairns has some public transit options. Sunbus operates a public bus service that travels through the city center and to many beaches. Most routes start at Cairns City Mall.
You'll find some public transit in Brisbane, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There are buses, trains, and ferries around town, but many people prefer to have their own vehicle. Ferries are the most fun and scenic way to get around.
Brisbane is an excellent place to visit for its ease of walking around. However, Cairns is lacking in options for its walkability.
Brisbane is a very walkable destination. There's a good network of paths that make parts of the city walkable.
Cairns is generally not very walkable. While you can walk around many parts of the city center, most visitors want to head into the rainforest or experience the nearby day trips, which require a vehicle.
Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Cairns and Brisbane. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Cairns than in Brisbane. Usually, 3-5 days is a good amount of time for Cairns, and 2-3 days is enough time in Brisbane.
Families should spend more time in Cairns than Brisbane. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Cairns, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.
Couples should spend more time in Cairns than Brisbane. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Cairns that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.
Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Cairns than Brisbane if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Cairns.
The city of Cairns offers food and scuba diving and snorkeling. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.
Many travelers enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the destination of Brisbane. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.
Cairns is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.
Brisbane is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.
Cairns is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Cairns, five days is sufficent for most. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.
It's hard to know how much time to spend in Brisbane. Most people come for the beaches. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.
Cairns is a great place to explore. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This city offers something for everyone.
Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the relaxed destination of Brisbane. This coastal city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in Cairns is $96, while the average daily cost in Brisbane is $132. 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 destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Cairns and Brisbane in more detail.
Looking for a hotel in Cairns or Brisbane? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.
Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.
Also for Cairns, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Brisbane:
Also for Brisbane, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Prices for flights to both Brisbane and Cairns 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.
For Cairns, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:
Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Brisbane:
For Brisbane, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:
Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Cairns's activities, tours, and tickets:
For Cairns, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:
For Brisbane, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:
Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Brisbane.
Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Cairns:
Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in Brisbane:
Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Brisbane:
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Cairns and Brisbane, we can see that Brisbane is more expensive. And not only is Cairns much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Cairns would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Cairns and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Brisbane would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Brisbane than you might in Cairns.
Brisbane is bigger, and its population is about 6.2 times larger than the population of Cairns. When comparing the population of Cairns vs. Brisbane, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit and the activities that interest you.
Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the southern hemisphere, summer is in January and winter is in July.
The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Cairns and Brisbane. The beaches, snorkeling, the hiking, and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Cairns this time of year. Furthermore, many travelers come to Brisbane for the beaches, snorkeling, the hiking, the city activities, and the family-friendly experiences.
Cairns is a little warmer than Brisbane in the summer. The daily temperature in Cairns averages around 29°C (84°F) in January, and Brisbane fluctuates around 25°C (77°F).
Brisbane receives a lot of rain in the summer. Cairns gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In January, Cairns usually receives more rain than Brisbane. Cairns gets 429 mm (16.9 in) of rain, while Brisbane receives 169 mm (6.7 in) of rain each month for the summer. Also, November to March is the rainy season in Cairns.
The autumn brings many poeple to Cairns as well as Brisbane. Many travelers come to Cairns for the hiking trails and the shopping scene. Additionally, many visitors come to Brisbane in the autumn for the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, and the shopping scene.
In the autumn, Cairns is a little warmer than Brisbane. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Cairns in April average around 27°C (80°F), and Brisbane averages at about 22°C (71°F).
It's quite rainy in Brisbane. Cairns receives a lot of rain in the autumn. Cairns usually gets more rain in April than Brisbane. Cairns gets 273 mm (10.8 in) of rain, while Brisbane receives 112 mm (4.4 in) of rain this time of the year. Also, April to October in Cairns is the dry season.
Both Brisbane and Cairns are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. Many visitors come to Cairns in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, most visitors come to Brisbane for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months.
In July, Cairns is generally much warmer than Brisbane. Daily temperatures in Cairns average around 23°C (73°F), and Brisbane fluctuates around 15°C (59°F).
In July, Cairns usually receives less rain than Brisbane. Cairns gets 35 mm (1.4 in) of rain, while Brisbane receives 64 mm (2.5 in) of rain each month for the winter.
Both Brisbane and Cairns during the spring are popular places to visit. Most visitors come to Cairns for the beaches during these months. Also, the spring months attract visitors to Brisbane because of the beaches and the activities around the city.
Cairns is a little warmer than Brisbane in the spring. The daily temperature in Cairns averages around 27°C (80°F) in October, and Brisbane fluctuates around 21°C (69°F).
Cairns usually gets less rain in October than Brisbane. Cairns gets 44 mm (1.7 in) of rain, while Brisbane receives 93 mm (3.7 in) of rain this time of the year. April to October is the dry season in Cairns. November to March is the rainy season in Cairns.
|Temp (°C)||Rain (mm)||Temp (°C)||Rain (mm)|
|Jan||29°C (84°F)||429 mm (16.9 in)||25°C (77°F)||169 mm (6.7 in)|
|Feb||29°C (83°F)||469 mm (18.5 in)||25°C (77°F)||152 mm (6 in)|
|Mar||28°C (82°F)||471 mm (18.5 in)||24°C (75°F)||146 mm (5.7 in)|
|Apr||27°C (80°F)||273 mm (10.8 in)||22°C (71°F)||112 mm (4.4 in)|
|May||25°C (78°F)||118 mm (4.6 in)||19°C (66°F)||104 mm (4.1 in)|
|Jun||23°C (74°F)||62 mm (2.5 in)||16°C (61°F)||77 mm (3 in)|
|Jul||23°C (73°F)||35 mm (1.4 in)||15°C (59°F)||64 mm (2.5 in)|
|Aug||24°C (75°F)||34 mm (1.3 in)||16°C (61°F)||46 mm (1.8 in)|
|Sep||25°C (77°F)||40 mm (1.6 in)||18°C (65°F)||33 mm (1.3 in)|
|Oct||27°C (80°F)||44 mm (1.7 in)||21°C (69°F)||93 mm (3.7 in)|
|Nov||28°C (82°F)||104 mm (4.1 in)||23°C (73°F)||107 mm (4.2 in)|
|Dec||29°C (83°F)||211 mm (8.3 in)||24°C (76°F)||127 mm (5 in)|
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