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

Should you visit Sydney or Cairns?

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Sydney or Cairns, this travel cost comparison can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Sydney

Sydney, known as the harbour city, is the most famous and frequently visited city in Australia. It is at the economical and cultural heart of the country, and is one of the most beautiful and livable cities in the world. It's situated on the water with stunning views of the famous harbour throughout the city. It's most famous landmarks include the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is also very close wonderful beaches, parks, and nature.

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 Sydney?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Sydney is $150, 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 Sydney and Cairns in more detail.



Accommodation

A hotel room in Sydney is about $180 This assumes double occupancy and modest accommodations.

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
    Sydney $90
    Cairns $39
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Sydney $180
    Cairns $78

Food

In Sydney travelers spend around $35 a day on food. You can save money by choosing casual restaurants or food stalls, or you can spend plenty more by dining in nicer restaurants at every meal.

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
    Sydney $35
    Cairns $26
Typical Food prices in Sydney

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Sydney:


  • Tea
    $2.99
  • Lunch Special
    $11
  • Food/Drink Coogie Beach
    $11
  • Meat Pies
    $3.74

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Sydney

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Sydney.

  • Sydney Opera House Tour and Opera Bar Lunch or Dinner: $52
  • Retro Dinner Cruise on Sydney Harbour: $59
  • Dinner Christmas Party! Nov&Dec: $62
  • Vivid Dinner Cruise Sydney Harbour: $63
  • Latino Dinner Cruise on Sydney Harbour: $67
  • Sydney Harbour 4-Hour Latino Dinner Cruise: $69
  • Harbour Dinner Cruise with 3 or 6-Course Menu: $70
  • Sydney Harbour Sunset Dinner Cruise: $71
  • Taste of Chinatown Food Tour: $77
  • Tall Ship Harbor Twilight Dinner Cruise: $77
  • Sydney Harbour Sunset Dinner Cruise: $78
  • Valentine's Day Dinner Cruise with live Brazilian show on Sydney Harbour: $78

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

While taxis and private drivers typically cost much more than public transportation, people usually spend around $14 per day to get around in Sydney.

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.
    Sydney $14
    Cairns $11
Typical Local Transportation prices in Sydney

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Sydney:


  • Taxi Ride
    $15
  • Taxi to Airport
    $19

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Sydney

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Sydney:

  • Water Taxi Transfer with Taronga Zoo Entry Ticket: $49
  • Transfer in private vehicle from Sydney Downtown City to Airport: $55
  • Transfer in private vehicle from Sydney Airport to Sydney Downtown: $55
  • Transfer in private minivan from Sydney Airport to Sydney Downtown: $75
  • Transfer in private Minivan from Sydney City Downtown to Airport: $75
  • Transfer from Sydney Airport to Sydney Central Business District - ROUND TRIP: $176
  • Transfer between Airport (SYD) and City Center: $13
  • Transfer between Airport (SYD) and Airport Hotels: $7.79
  • Premium Airport Transfer with Meet and Greet: $55
  • Central Hotels to Airport Shuttle Transfer: $14
  • Airport Shuttle Transfer to and from CBD Hotels: $13
  • Sydney's Best Chauffeured Airport Transfers: $50

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cairns

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

  • Airport Transfer - Cairns City To Airport: $53
  • Airport Transfers between Cairns Airport and Cairns City: $14
  • Cairns Airport (CNS) Departure Transfer (Cairns Hotels to Cairns CNS Airport): $112
  • Cairns Airport transfer to Cairns City: $76
  • Cairns to Mission Beach Private Transfer: $303
  • Cairns to Port Douglas Private Transfer: $252
  • Corporate Bus, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Palm Cove: $171
  • Express Private Transfer from Cairns Airport to Cairns City: $22
  • Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Palm Cove.: $89
  • Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Port Douglas.: $171
  • Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport -Trinity Beach.: $71
  • Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns City - Cairns Airport: $62

Is it cheaper to fly into Sydney or Cairns?

Prices for flights to both Cairns and Sydney 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

Activities, things to do, and other forms of entertainment usually cost around $30 per person, per day in Sydney. This cost includes the price of admission tickets to attractions and museums as well as daily tours.

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.
    Sydney $30
    Cairns $34
Typical Entertainment prices in Sydney

Here are a few typical costs in Sydney for activities, ticket prices, and tours that come from previous visitors:


  • Theatre Show
    $34
  • Sydney Tower Visit (for 2)
    $35
  • Blue Mountain Tour/Featherdale Park (for 2)
    $143
  • Powerhouse Museum
    $11

Tours and Activities in Sydney

Here are a few actual costs in Sydney for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • 1 Hour Northern Beaches Trike Tour: $127
  • 10-Day Surf Adventure from Sydney to Brisbane Including Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay and Gold Coast: $2,371
  • 2 Hours Running Tour in Sydney: $170
  • 2-Day Combo: Blue Mountains Experience and Sydney City Tour: $353
  • 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Pass with Cruise and Attractions: $95
  • 2-Day Hunter Valley Small-Group Tasting Tour: $420
  • 2-Hour Sydney Walking Tour along the Tank Stream: $37
  • 2hr Explorer Cruise - Sydney's best value whale watching cruise: $47
  • 3 Hour Discovery Cruise Ultimate Whale Watching Experience: $69
  • 3-Day Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley Small-Group Eco-Tour: $908
  • 3-Day Tour from Sydney to the Gold Coast Including Port Stephens and Byron Bay: $832
  • 3.5 Hours Explore Bondi Beach and Sydney Sightseeing Tour: $168

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

While the amount that someone spends on alcohol while visiting Sydney may vary from person to person, on average a person spends $14 per day on alcoholic beverages.

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


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Sydney $14
    Cairns $12
Typical Alcohol prices in Sydney

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in Sydney:


  • Wine
    $12

Sample the Local Flavors in Sydney

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

  • Private Wine Tour and Tasting: $25
  • Urban Winery Wine Tasting Tour with Cheese Platter: $60
  • Sydney Historic Pub Crawl Walking Tour: $61
  • Balmain Historic Pub Walking Tour with Beer or Wine: $67
  • Brewery, Winery, and Distillery Tasting Tour: $106
  • Northern Beaches Brewery Tour and Tasting: $113
  • Small-Group Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Tour from Sydney: $130
  • Hunter Valley Wine Tour from Sydney with Lunch and 3 Cellar Door Tastings: $138
  • Hunter Valley Small Group Luxury Wine Tasting Tour from Sydney: $138
  • Hunter Valley Tour with 3 Wine Tastings & 2 Course Lunch: $141
  • Full-Day Hunter Valley Wine Tour with Gourmet Lunch: $152
  • Sip n Savour: Southern Highlands Premium Wine Tour from Sydney: $154

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

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Sydney vs. Cairns Travel Comparison

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