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

Should you visit Katoomba or Cairns?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the prices of travel for Katoomba and Cairns. We’ll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget. So, let's dig into it.

Katoomba

Designated an UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000, the Blue Mountains are located just west of Sydney in the highlands of New South Wales, Australia.

This area can be generally expensive, but is on par with other destinations in Australia and around Sydney. Plenty of luxury places can be found here that cost more than average, but plenty of cheaper places to stay can be found here, too. Expect to pay for various activities such as tours and entrance fees, too.

The landscape is sprawling with majestic scenery over a rugged terrain of steep cliffs, forests, waterfalls, and villages. Whether you come to hike, climb, bike, or drive to the scenic viewpoints, a curtain of tranquility falls upon the mountains in a blue haze from which they get their name.

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 Katoomba?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Katoomba is $124, while the average daily cost in Cairns is $87. 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 Katoomba and Cairns in more detail.



Accommodation

Accommodation prices vary by location and style, but travelers pay on average about $142 for a double occupancy room in Katoomba.

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
    Katoomba $71
    Cairns $39
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Katoomba $142
    Cairns $78

Food

The average traveler spends about $16 per day in Katoomba 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
    Katoomba $16
    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

The cost of a taxi ride in Katoomba is significantly more than public transportation. On average, past travelers have spent $46 per person, per day, on local transportation in Katoomba.

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.
    Katoomba $46
    Cairns $11

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cairns

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

  • Airport Transfers between Cairns Airport and Cairns City: $14
  • Express Private Transfer from Cairns Airport to Cairns City: $22
  • Port Douglas Transfers from Cairns: $49
  • Airport Transfer - Cairns City To Airport: $53
  • Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns City - Cairns Airport: $62
  • Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport -Trinity Beach.: $71
  • Cairns Airport transfer to Cairns City: $76
  • Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Palm Cove.: $89
  • Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns City - Cairns Airport: $89
  • Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Trinity Beach: $107
  • Cairns Airport (CNS) Departure Transfer (Cairns Hotels to Cairns CNS Airport): $112
  • Port Douglas Transfers between Cairns Airport & Port Douglas (Private Chauffeur): $118

Is it cheaper to fly into Katoomba or Cairns?

Prices for flights to both Cairns and Katoomba 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.





Entertainment

Entertainment and activities in Katoomba typically cost an average of $49 per person, per day. This includes fees paid for admission tickets to museums and attractions, day tours, and other sightseeing expenses.

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.
    Katoomba $49
    Cairns $34

Tours and Activities in Katoomba

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Katoomba are as follows:

  • Amazing Full Day Abseiling Adventure in the Blue Mountains: $198
  • Bathurst Wine Trail Full-Day Private Tour with Tastings: $371
  • Blue Mountains 1-Hour Trike Tour of Three Sisters: $111
  • Blue Mountains Botanic Garden and Bilpin Tour from Katoomba with Cider Tasting: $167
  • Blue Mountains Hop-on Hop-off Tour with Optional Scenic World Rides: $43
  • Blue Mountains Secret Places Adventure: $118
  • Blue Mountains Vintage Cadillac Tour with Local Guide: $502
  • Blue Mountains: 4WD Adventure Tour with Local Guide: $197
  • Full-Day Canyoning Experience at Stunning Empress Canyon: $205
  • Half-Day Abseiling Adventure in Blue Mountains National Park: $119
  • Juggler Canyon and Abseiling Adventure Blue Mountains: $198
  • Ninety Minute Wombat Adventures Guided Tour: $67

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:

  • Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome Entry Ticket: $20
  • Cairns Self-Guided Audio Tour: $20
  • Cairns Aquarium Admission Ticket: $35
  • Paronella Park Ticket: $36
  • Cairns 90-Minute Sunset Cruise with Welcome Drink: $37
  • Cairns 2-Hour Harbor Cruise with Afternoon Tea: $37
  • From Kuranda Scenic Railway Train Tickets: $41
  • Paronella Park and Mamu Tropical Skywalk Ticket Combo: $50
  • Half-Day Rainforest River Tubing Adventure: $56
  • City Sunset Bike Tour: $56
  • Kuranda: 1-Hour Rainforest ATV Tour: $58
  • Fitzroy Island Full-Day Adventure Tour from Cairns: $62

Alcohol

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


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Katoomba -
    Cairns $12

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 Katoomba and Cairns, we can see that Katoomba 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 Katoomba would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Katoomba than you might in Cairns.

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Katoomba vs. Cairns Travel Comparison

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