Should you visit Canberra or Cairns?
Should I visit Canberra or Cairns? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the data, which all comes from actual travelers.
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."
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 $122, while the average daily cost in Cairns is $77. 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 Canberra and Cairns in more detail.
An average hotel room with basic furnishings costs about $152 in Canberra For the most convenient locations and nicer amenities you can expect to pay a bit more.
An average hotel room with basic furnishings costs about $62 in Cairns For the most convenient locations and nicer amenities you can expect to pay a bit more.
Food in Canberra costs travelers about $32 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.
Food in Cairns costs travelers about $24 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
Typical Food prices in Canberra
For Canberra, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:
Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cairns
For Cairns, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:
Spirit of Dinner Cruise:
Cairns Aquarium by Twilight with 3 Course Dinner:
Small-Group Afternoon Cairns City Tour with Harbour Dinner Cruise:
Public transportation tends to be much less expensive in Canberra than paying for a taxi or private car service, as is expected. Typically, people spend $22 on transportation in Canberra on average per day.
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 $8.34 per person, per day on transportation in Cairns.
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):
Canberra -> Sydney -> Jindabyne -> Perisher Ski Resort : Private Transfer:
Canberra - Sydney Private Transfers:
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.:
Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns City - Cairns Airport:
Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Trinity Beach:
Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Port Douglas.:
Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Palm Cove.:
Port Douglas Transfers from Cairns:
Port Douglas Transfers between Cairns Airport & Port Douglas (Private Chauffeur):
Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns City - Cairns Airport:
Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport -Trinity Beach.:
Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Port Douglas.:
Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Palm Cove.:
Express Private Transfer from Cairns Airport to Cairns City:
Sightseeing expenses in Canberra, including the cost of admission tickets for day tours, museums, and attractions, usually cost an average of $16 per day, per person.
Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in Cairns can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $37 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.
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:
Building and Architecture Tour | 10am Daily:
Canberra - Murrumbateman Private Group Winery Tours:
Canberra - Southern Highlands Winery Tour:
Capture Canberra Photography Tours:
Day Tour from Canberra to Batemans Bay - with Oyster Tasting Kayak Tour:
Day Tour from Canberra to Batemans Bay With Indigenous Experience:
Private Canberra Secrets Highlights Tour:
Skip the Line: Telstra Tower Observation Deck Ticket:
Ultimate Museum Experience | Tour + Dine + Shop (10am daily):
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:
1.5-Hour Segway Tour of Cairns and Botanic Gardens:
14-Day Cape York Camping Tour:
2 Day Liveaboard Yacht Great Barrier Reef 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:
ATV Buggy Adventure & Rainforest experience Half-Day Tour:
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:
Barron River Half-Day Rafting Tour from Cairns:
Best of the Kuranda Rainforest Full-Day Tour:
Typically, people visiting Canberra spend on average $14 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
Typically, people visiting Cairns spend on average $8.24 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
Typical Alcohol prices in Canberra
Here are a few samples of the prices for alcohol and nightlife in Canberra from other travelers:
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 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.
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