A Travel Price Comparison for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons Gold Coast vs. Cairns

Should you visit Gold Coast or Cairns?

Should I visit Gold Coast 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.

Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is one of Australia's premier destinations. Famous for gorgeous beaches, warm weather, watersports, and plenty of activities for all ages, millions of tourists from Australia as well as everywhere in the world flock to this region every year. With beaches, national parks, theme parks, shopping and dining, nice resorts, boating, fishing, diving, theme parks and more, the Gold Coast offers something for everyone.

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 Gold Coast?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Gold Coast is $90, while the average daily cost in Cairns is $79. 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 Gold Coast and Cairns in more detail.



Accommodation

An average hotel room with basic furnishings costs about $100 in Gold Coast 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 $78 in Cairns For the most convenient locations and nicer amenities you can expect to pay a bit more.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Gold Coast $50
    Cairns $39
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Gold Coast $100
    Cairns $78

Food

The average traveler spends about $25 per day in Gold Coast 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 $26 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 Meals for one day
    Gold Coast $25
    Cairns $26

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: $77
  • Cairns Aquarium by Twilight with 3 Course Dinner: $99
  • Small-Group Afternoon Cairns City Tour with Harbour Dinner Cruise: $154

Local Transportation

Gold Coast'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 $21 per person, per day on transportation in Gold Coast.

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.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Gold Coast $21
    Cairns $11

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Gold Coast

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

  • Private Gold Coast Airport Departure Transfer: $89
  • Private Gold Coast Airport Arrival Transfer to Byron Bay: $164
  • Private Airport Transfer to Gold Coast Airport (OOL) from South Gold Coast 1-6px: $47
  • Private Airport Transfer to Gold Coast Airport (OOL) from North Gold Coast 1-6px: $67
  • Private Airport Transfer to Brisbane Airport (BNE) from South Gold Coast 1-6 pax: $132
  • Private Airport Transfer to Brisbane Airport (BNE) from North Gold Coast 1-6 pax: $107
  • Private 24 Seat Mini Bus Gold Coast CBD to Gold Coast Airport Transfer: $268
  • Private 13 Seat Mini Bus Gold Coast CBD to Gold Coast Airport Transfer: $236
  • Gold Coast Airport Transfers : Gold Coast City to Airport OOL in Luxury Van: $118
  • Gold Coast Airport Transfers : Gold Coast City to Airport OOL in Luxury Car: $128
  • Gold Coast Airport Transfers : Gold Coast City to Airport OOL in Business Car: $92
  • Gold Coast Airport Departure Transfer: $18

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cairns

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

  • Cairns to Mission Beach Private Transfer: $303
  • Cairns to Port Douglas Private Transfer: $252
  • Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Port Douglas.: $244
  • Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Port Douglas.: $171
  • Corporate Bus, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Palm Cove: $171
  • Premium, private bus transfer. Cairns City - Cairns Airport.: $135
  • Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Palm Cove.: $125
  • Port Douglas Transfers between Cairns Airport & Port Douglas (Private Chauffeur): $118
  • Cairns Airport (CNS) Departure Transfer (Cairns Hotels to Cairns CNS Airport): $112
  • Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Trinity Beach: $107
  • Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns City - Cairns Airport: $89
  • Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Palm Cove.: $89

Entertainment

Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in Gold Coast can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $17 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 $34 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Gold Coast $17
    Cairns $34

Tours and Activities in Gold Coast

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Gold Coast.

  • 4-Day Australian Outback Tour from the Gold Coast to Sydney: $905
  • Aquaduck Gold Coast Tour: $29
  • Birthday Tour: $130
  • Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary Ticket: $29
  • Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary Ticket & Koala Photo: $50
  • Full-Day Guided Sightseeing Tour of the Gold Coast Waterfalls: $161
  • Full-day Springbrook National Park Tour from the Gold Coast: $84
  • Glow Worm Evening Eco-Adventure from the Gold Coast: $76
  • Gold Coast Local Craft Beer and Breweries Tour: $143
  • Gold Coast Sailing Cruise with sparkling wine & nibbles platter: $62
  • World Heritage Rain Forest and Wilderness Tour: $115
  • Hens Party Winery tour: $121

Typical Entertainment prices in Cairns

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


  • Scuba Diving
    $41

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: $72
  • 14-Day Cape York Camping Tour: $2,350
  • 2 Day Liveaboard Yacht Great Barrier Reef Tour: $358
  • 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
  • ATV Buggy Adventure & Rainforest experience Half-Day Tour: $102
  • 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
  • Barron River Half-Day Rafting Tour from Cairns: $88
  • Best of the Kuranda Rainforest Full-Day Tour: $203

Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In Gold Coast, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $4.79.

Typically, people visiting Cairns spend on average $12 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Gold Coast $4.79
    Cairns $12

Sample the Local Flavors in Gold Coast

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Gold Coast:

  • Mt Tamborine Winery & Distillery Tour + 2 Course Lunch: $117

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 comparing the travel costs between Gold Coast and Cairns, we can see that Gold Coast 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.

Budget Your Trip

Budget Your Trip has average travel costs for thousands of cities around the world, all provided by other travelers. You can also register to organize your spending by category and location with graphs, maps, charts, and tables.

Share This Page
Pin This Page
Gold Coast vs. Cairns Travel Comparison

Some of the links on this website are sponsored or affiliate links which help to financially support this site. By clicking the link and making a purchase, we may receive a small commission, but this does not affect the price of your purchase.