A Travel Price Comparison for Australia Canberra vs. Cairns for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Canberra or Cairns?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Should I visit Canberra or Cairns? 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.

Where Should I go: Canberra or Cairns?

Canberra

There is something special about the capital city of Australia. Canberra's not just a wonderful spot for outdoor adventures. It's a city completely designed and built up around the coast of an artificial lake. When architects Walter Burley and Marion Mahony Griffin proposed their plans for Canberra it was met with a lot of criticism. Many people thought it would be a "waste of a good sheep pasture."

Cairns

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 Canberra?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Canberra is $107, while the average daily cost in Cairns is $76. 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. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Canberra and Cairns in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Canberra $66
    Cairns $34
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Canberra $132
    Cairns $68
Compare Hotels in Canberra and Cairns

Looking for a hotel in Canberra or Cairns? 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.

Hotels in Canberra


Hotels in Cairns


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Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Canberra $20
    Cairns $9.69

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Canberra

Also for Canberra, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Airport Transfer: from Canberra to Canberra Airport (CBR): $33
  • Canberra -> Sydney -> Jindabyne -> Perisher Ski Resort : Private Transfer: $474
  • Canberra - Sydney Private Transfers: $474

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cairns

Also for Cairns, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Premium, private bus transfer. Cairns City - Cairns Airport.: $135
  • Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns City - Cairns Airport: $89
  • Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Trinity Beach: $107
  • Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Port Douglas.: $244
  • Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Palm Cove.: $125
  • Port Douglas Transfers between Cairns Airport & Port Douglas (Private Chauffeur): $118
  • Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns City - Cairns Airport: $62
  • Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport -Trinity Beach.: $71
  • Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Port Douglas.: $171
  • Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Palm Cove.: $89
  • From Fitzroy Island Return Catamaran Transfer: $60
  • Express Private Transfer from Cairns Airport to Cairns City: $22

Is it cheaper to fly into Canberra or Cairns?

Prices for flights to both Cairns and Canberra 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.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Canberra $28
    Cairns $22
Typical Food prices in Canberra

For Canberra, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Lunch
    $16

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: $90
  • Cairns Aquarium by Twilight with 3 Course Dinner: $99
  • Afternoon Tour with Evening Dinner Cruise: $134
  • Small-Group Afternoon Cairns City Tour with Harbour Dinner Cruise: $154

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Canberra $14
    Cairns $30

Tours and Activities in Canberra

For Canberra, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Batemans Bay Overnight Kayak Camping Tour from Canberra - All Inclusive: $513
  • Building and Architecture Tour | 10am Daily: $12
  • Canberra - Murrumbateman Private Group Winery Tours: $522
  • Canberra - Southern Highlands Winery Tour: $422
  • Capture Canberra Photography Tours: $371
  • Day Tour from Canberra to Batemans Bay - with Oyster Tasting Kayak Tour: $178
  • Day Tour from Canberra to Batemans Bay With Indigenous Experience: $180
  • Private Canberra Secrets Highlights Tour: $789
  • Skip the Line: Telstra Tower Observation Deck Ticket: $5.93
  • Ultimate Museum Experience | Tour + Dine + Shop (10am daily): $51

Typical Entertainment prices in Cairns

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Cairns's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • Scuba Diving
    $36

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: $2,350
  • 2 Day Reef & Rainforest Adventure: $619
  • 2-Day Cape Tribulation and Daintree Rainforest Tour from Cairns /Port Douglas: $221
  • 2-Day Green Island Cruise and Kuranda Day Trip: $316
  • Aboriginal Cultural Daintree Rainforest Tour from Cairns or Port Douglas: $210
  • Atherton Tablelands Waterfalls and Rainforest Day Tour Departing Cairns: $95
  • Barron Gorge and Kuranda National Park Half Day Rainforest and Waterfall 4WD Tour from Cairns: $124
  • Cairns 4WD Waterfall and Rainforest Tour Including Kuranda Scenic Railway or Skyrail Rainforest Cableway: $166
  • Cairns Adventure Package- 4 tours in 3 days!: $325
  • Cairns Aquarium Admission Ticket: $35
  • Cairns Aquarium Family Tickets: $104
  • Cairns Aquarium General Admission Ticket: $32

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Canberra $13
    Cairns $11
Typical Alcohol prices in Canberra

Here are a few samples of the prices for alcohol and nightlife in Canberra from other travelers:


  • Drinks at a Bar
    $9.14

Sample the Local Flavors in Canberra

Also in Canberra, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Capital Brewery Full-Day Tour: $123
  • From Winery, Distillery, & Tasting Tour with Lunch: $144

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: $233


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Canberra and Cairns, we can see that Canberra 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 Canberra would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Canberra than you might in Cairns.


When is the best time to visit Canberra or Cairns?

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.

Should I visit Canberra or Cairns in the Summer?

Both Cairns and Canberra are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities.


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In the summer, Canberra is cooler than Cairns. Typically, the summer temperatures in Canberra in January are around 20°C (68°F), and Cairns is about 29°C (84°F).

It rains a lot this time of the year in Cairns. In January, Canberra usually receives less rain than Cairns. At this time of the year, Canberra gets 87 mm (3.4 in) of rain, while Cairns receives 429 mm (16.9 in) of rain.


  • Summer Average Temperatures January
    Canberra 20°C (68°F) 
    Cairns 29°C (84°F)

Should I visit Canberra or Cairns in the Autumn?

Both Cairns and Canberra during the autumn are popular places to visit.


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In April, Canberra is generally much colder than Cairns. Temperatures in Canberra average around 17°C (63°F), and Cairns stays around 27°C (80°F).

Cairns gets a good bit of rain this time of year. It rains a lot this time of the year in Canberra. Canberra usually gets less rain in April than Cairns. Canberra gets 110 mm (4.3 in) of rain, while Cairns receives 273 mm (10.8 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures April
    Canberra 17°C (63°F) 
    Cairns 27°C (80°F)

Should I visit Canberra or Cairns in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Canberra and Cairns.


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Canberra is much colder than Cairns in the winter. The temperature in Canberra is usually 11°C (52°F) in July, and Cairns stays around 23°C (73°F).

In July, Canberra usually receives more rain than Cairns. At this time of the year, Canberra gets 43 mm (1.7 in) of rain, while Cairns receives 35 mm (1.4 in) of rain.


  • Winter Average Temperatures July
    Canberra 11°C (52°F) 
    Cairns 23°C (73°F)

Should I visit Canberra or Cairns in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Canberra as well as Cairns.


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In the spring, Canberra is much colder than Cairns. Typically, the spring temperatures in Canberra in October are around 15°C (60°F), and Cairns is about 27°C (80°F).

Canberra usually gets more rain in October than Cairns. Canberra gets 95 mm (3.7 in) of rain, while Cairns receives 44 mm (1.7 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures October
    Canberra 15°C (60°F) 
    Cairns 27°C (80°F)

Typical Weather for Cairns and Canberra

Canberra Cairns
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 20°C (68°F) 87 mm (3.4 in) 29°C (84°F) 429 mm (16.9 in)
Feb 20°C (68°F) 107 mm (4.2 in) 29°C (83°F) 469 mm (18.5 in)
Mar 19°C (67°F) 131 mm (5.2 in) 28°C (82°F) 471 mm (18.5 in)
Apr 17°C (63°F) 110 mm (4.3 in) 27°C (80°F) 273 mm (10.8 in)
May 14°C (58°F) 87 mm (3.4 in) 25°C (78°F) 118 mm (4.6 in)
Jun 12°C (54°F) 90 mm (3.5 in) 23°C (74°F) 62 mm (2.5 in)
Jul 11°C (52°F) 43 mm (1.7 in) 23°C (73°F) 35 mm (1.4 in)
Aug 12°C (53°F) 66 mm (2.6 in) 24°C (75°F) 34 mm (1.3 in)
Sep 14°C (56°F) 63 mm (2.5 in) 25°C (77°F) 40 mm (1.6 in)
Oct 15°C (60°F) 95 mm (3.7 in) 27°C (80°F) 44 mm (1.7 in)
Nov 17°C (63°F) 104 mm (4.1 in) 28°C (82°F) 104 mm (4.1 in)
Dec 19°C (66°F) 79 mm (3.1 in) 29°C (83°F) 211 mm (8.3 in)


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Canberra vs. Cairns Travel Comparison

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