[All content and prices updated September 2013]

Why you should add Cairns to your Indie/RTW trip

  • Cairns is the gateway to northern Queensland, where you’ll find a wide variety of activities.
  • Cairns is where you’ll end up if wanting to head to the Great Barrier Reef.
  • It’s also the base for visiting the Atherton tablelands and Cape Tribulation.
  • The city is surrounded by tropical rainforests, and the well-developed tourist infrastructure makes it just as easy to head out on land as it does on sea.
  • It’s a typical tropical city – laid back, slow pace, focus on relaxation and all that nature has to offer. Who doesn’t like a town like that?
  • Though small, it’s worth a visit as part of your longer trip – lots to do in the surrounding areas, and when you’re tired from all the activities, it’s a great place to just hang out and chill.

Indie travel tips for Cairns

  • Dive the Great Barrier Reef. ‘Nuff said.
  • If culture is what you seek on your travels, then look into Aboriginal Culture Walks to learn more about them, their culture, and the ecosystem they live in.
  • Outside the Great Barrier Reef, Atherton Tablelands, and the Daintree Rainforest, there are lots of other natural attractions to check out in Cairns while you’re there:
    • Centenary Lakes
    • Lake Placid
    • Smithfield and Mount Whitfield Conservation Parks
    • City Botanical Gardens
  • Cool off in the artificial lagoon on the promenade near the pier. A great place to bring the kids if you’re a family traveler.
  • Go hiking in one of the nearly 200 hiking tracks in the nearby rainforest covered mountains.


Cairns has a large international airport where you can find flights to and from places like Japan, China, New Zealand, Guan, and Indonesia, among others. If you can’t find a favorable flight into Cairns, you may want to look into Brisbane, then take a bus or train or rent your own wheels to get around. There is also a domestic terminal for flights within Australia.


Cairns is a popular tourist destination with all the nearby attractions that are popular worldwide. Because of that, there are loads of hostels in the city, and prices are pretty affordable for Australia.