Which place is cheaper, Cairns or Darwin?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
If you're trying to decide where to visit between Darwin or Cairns, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.
Darwin is a multicultural, authentic, and local town. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.
Cairns is a tropical, idyllic, and outdoorsy city. And you can't forget about the hiking, shopping, and nightlife.
Travelers will usually find more to do in Cairns than Darwin, as it is bigger with more sights, attractions, and activities for visitors. Cairns is more popular for its food, nightlife, resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, hiking, and shopping, while Darwin is known for its museums. Cairns is more touristy than Darwin and is popular for its stunning beaches, nearby rainforests, and easy access to the world's largest reef system. It is also home to the Great Barrier Reef. Darwin is popular for its outdoor markets and tropical weather.
Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Cairns and Darwin. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.
Darwin is a popular place for its museums and history. However, Cairns is lacking in options for its museums and landmarks.
If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Darwin. You can check out the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, explore the city's Waterfront Precinct, and spend some time at the Darwin Military Museum.
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 notable for its local cuisine and restaurants. Also, Darwin is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its restaurants.
Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Cairns. 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.
Darwin is becoming an appealing option for foodies. There are plenty of local restaurants that serve seafood or local twists on international flavors. Many restaurants offer Barramundi that is prepared in unique ways. You can try the Barramundi Bibimbap or the Crispy Baby Barramundi.
Cairns is terrific for nightlife and partying. Also, Darwin is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its evening party scene.
Cairns is a must-see party destination. 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.
With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Darwin. You'll find the most bars along Mitchell Street or in the Waterfront Precinct area. There are also some popular nightclubs and music venues in town.
Cairns is notable for its resorts. However, Darwin is not a resort destination.
Cairns is a popular resort destination that attracts visitors from everywhere.
Darwin is not a resort destination.
Cairns is terrific for its diving and snorkeling. However, Darwin is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.
People travel to Cairns specifically to enjoy its famous scuba diving and snorkeling areas. 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.
Darwin is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.
Cairns is terrific for the beache. Also, Darwin is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for the beach.
The beaches in Cairns are among the best in the world. 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).
Plenty of visitors enjoy relaxing on the beach in Darwin. Most people don't swim at the beaches because of the saltwater crocodiles and jellyfish. You can hang out in the sand though and Mindil Beach is a favorite spot for locals.
Cairns is terrific for the nearby hiking options. Also, Darwin is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its hiking trails.
Known for its hiking, Cairns draws a crowd to experience the nature and the trails. 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.
Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Darwin. In addition to city walks, there are many national parks that make great day trips from town. Litchfield National Park has many hikes as does Mary River National Park. The town is also known as the gateway to Kakadu National Park.
Cairns is notable for its shopping opportunities. Also, Darwin is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its shopping areas.
Cairns is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. 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.
Darwin has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. There are shopping malls, art galleries, and trendy boutiques around town.
Cairns is terrific for its family-friendly activities. Also, Darwin is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its kid-friendly activities.
Cairns is an amazing family-friendly city to visit. 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.
You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Darwin. Kids will enjoy the many outdoor activities in town and in the surrounding areas. There are wildlife parks and several national parks in the area like Litchfield National Park. For many families, this is a stop off on there way to Kakadu National Park.
Cairns is notable for its romantic activities. Also, Darwin is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for couples.
Cairns is a very popular place to visit for couples. 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.
Darwin is a good town for couples to visit. The beautiful weather means that you can spend most of your time outdoors. Sunset picnics are popular, but for many visitors, it's all about the day trips to nearby parks.
Cairns is terrific for backpackers. Also, Darwin is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for backpackers and budget travelers.
Backpackers and budget travelers come from all over the world to visit Cairns. 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.
Darwin is a good town to visit for backpackers. There are a handful of hostels in town that make this an easy place to spend a night or two for backpackers.
Both Darwin and Cairns offer good public transit options.
Darwin has a few public transit options. There are public buses around town. There's also a waterfront shuttle.
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.
Darwin is a popular place for its ease of walking around. However, Cairns is lacking in options for its walkability.
Darwin is a somewhat walkable town. There are biking and walking paths around town.
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.
In either Darwin or Cairns, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Cairns than Darwin because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Darwin, and 3-5 days is enough time in Cairns.
Families should spend more time in Cairns than Darwin. 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 Darwin. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Cairns that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.
Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Cairns than Darwin 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.
Many travelers enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the destination of Darwin. Hikers are also drawn to this area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.
Many travelers enjoy the shopping and nightlife when visiting the destination of Cairns. Hikers are also drawn to this area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.
Darwin 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 great place to explore. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.
It's hard to know how much time to spend in Darwin. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. 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.
It's hard to know how much time to spend in Cairns. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. With all of its activities, you can easily fill five days here. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.
Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the authentic destination of Darwin. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.
Travelers enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the adventure-filled destination of Cairns. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in 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 Darwin is $111, while the average daily cost in Cairns is $95. 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 Darwin and Cairns in more detail.
Looking for a hotel in Darwin 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.
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.
Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Darwin:
Some specific examples of transportation prices in Darwin:
Also for Cairns, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Prices for flights to both Cairns and Darwin 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.
Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Darwin.
For Cairns, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:
Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Darwin are as follows:
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:
Here are a few samples of the prices for alcohol and nightlife in Darwin from other travelers:
Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Cairns:
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Darwin and Cairns, we can see that Darwin 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 Darwin would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Darwin than you might in Cairns.
Cairns is bigger, and its population is about 66% larger than the population of Darwin. When comparing the population of Darwin vs. Cairns, 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 places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the southern hemisphere, summer is in January and winter is in July.
Both Cairns and Darwin during the summer are popular places to visit. Many visitors come to Darwin in the summer for the beaches, the hiking, and the family-friendly experiences. Also, most visitors come to Cairns for the beaches, snorkeling, the hiking, and the family-friendly experiences during these months.
In the summer, Darwin is around the same temperature as Cairns. Typically, the summer temperatures in Darwin in January average around 29°C (83°F), and Cairns averages at about 29°C (84°F).
Cairns gets a good bit of rain this time of year. It rains a lot this time of the year in Darwin. Darwin usually gets around the same amount of rain in January as Cairns. Darwin gets 437 mm (17.2 in) of rain, while Cairns receives 429 mm (16.9 in) of rain this time of the year. November to March is the rainy season in Cairns.
The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Darwin and Cairns. Most visitors come to Darwin for the hiking trails and the shopping scene during these months. Also, the autumn months attract visitors to Cairns because of the hiking trails and the shopping scene.
In April, Darwin is generally around the same temperature as Cairns. Daily temperatures in Darwin average around 29°C (84°F), and Cairns fluctuates around 27°C (80°F).
Cairns receives a lot of rain in the autumn. In April, Darwin usually receives less rain than Cairns. Darwin gets 85 mm (3.3 in) of rain, while Cairns receives 273 mm (10.8 in) of rain each month for the autumn. April to October in Cairns is the dry season.
The winter brings many poeple to Darwin as well as Cairns. The winter months attract visitors to Darwin because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Cairns this time of year.
Darwin is around the same temperature as Cairns in the winter. The daily temperature in Darwin averages around 25°C (77°F) in July, and Cairns fluctuates around 23°C (73°F).
Darwin usually gets less rain in July than Cairns. Darwin gets 1 mm (0 in) of rain, while Cairns receives 35 mm (1.4 in) of rain this time of the year.
Both Cairns and Darwin are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. The beaches are the main draw to Darwin this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Cairns for the beaches.
In the spring, Darwin is around the same temperature as Cairns. Typically, the spring temperatures in Darwin in October average around 29°C (85°F), and Cairns averages at about 27°C (80°F).
In October, Darwin usually receives more rain than Cairns. Darwin gets 76 mm (3 in) of rain, while Cairns receives 44 mm (1.7 in) of rain each month for the spring. The dry season in Cairns is April to October. The rainy season in Cairns is November to March.
|Temp (°C)||Rain (mm)||Temp (°C)||Rain (mm)|
|Jan||29°C (83°F)||437 mm (17.2 in)||29°C (84°F)||429 mm (16.9 in)|
|Feb||28°C (83°F)||343 mm (13.5 in)||29°C (83°F)||469 mm (18.5 in)|
|Mar||28°C (83°F)||342 mm (13.5 in)||28°C (82°F)||471 mm (18.5 in)|
|Apr||29°C (84°F)||85 mm (3.3 in)||27°C (80°F)||273 mm (10.8 in)|
|May||27°C (81°F)||29 mm (1.1 in)||25°C (78°F)||118 mm (4.6 in)|
|Jun||26°C (78°F)||2 mm (0.1 in)||23°C (74°F)||62 mm (2.5 in)|
|Jul||25°C (77°F)||1 mm (0 in)||23°C (73°F)||35 mm (1.4 in)|
|Aug||26°C (79°F)||8 mm (0.3 in)||24°C (75°F)||34 mm (1.3 in)|
|Sep||28°C (83°F)||19 mm (0.7 in)||25°C (77°F)||40 mm (1.6 in)|
|Oct||29°C (85°F)||76 mm (3 in)||27°C (80°F)||44 mm (1.7 in)|
|Nov||30°C (85°F)||131 mm (5.2 in)||28°C (82°F)||104 mm (4.1 in)|
|Dec||29°C (85°F)||234 mm (9.2 in)||29°C (83°F)||211 mm (8.3 in)|
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