With the Great Barrier Reef on one side and The Daintree Rainforest on the other, Cairns is sandwiched between two of Australia’s most famed World Heritage sites. Plan a holiday with our Cairns travel guide to explore the buzzing tropical paradise where you can lounge by the lagoon, trek through the tropics and island hop, you won’t find a better spot to be so spoiled for choice.
Looking for sun, sand and smiles? As Queensland’s northernmost city, Cairns offers the perfect mix of metropolitan convenience and tropical relaxation. A tourist mecca, the locals are every bit as laid back as the holidaymakers, and fun awaits around every palm-tree covered corner.Wedged between ancient rainforest and the world’s most famous coral reef, this city should be at the very top of any nature lover’s bucket list. The dense inland greenery hides a wealth of wildlife and waterfalls, while the warm, crystal blue waters of the Coral Sea wave tourists towards the Great Barrier Reef.Ready to book your Cairns adventure, but wondering where to stay? Qantas Hotels allows you to choose from over 200,000 hotel and accommodation options worldwide, including a curated selection of Cairns’ very best. You’ll also earn 3 Qantas Points per A$1 spent* with Qantas Hotels.So whether it’s your first time to the city or your twentieth, let’s take a look at what you need to know about Cairns and its hotels to make the most of your stay.
Places to see
What is the best area to stay in Cairns?
- Cairns City: The town’s beating heart, Cairns City occupies the blocks immediately surrounding the pier and harbour area. If you want to be in the middle of the action, with easy access to drinking, dining and touring options, it’s best to aim here.
- Cairns North: Wrapping around the bay between Cairns City and Cairns Airport, Cairns North boasts the city’s longest stretch of waterfront. The balcony views from the hotels of the area are enviable to say the least.
- Palm Cove: A stunning stretch of palm-lined sand found 27 km north of Cairns City, this satellite suburb is up there with the most photographable places in Australia.
- Holloways Beach: A more relaxed, local stay can be enjoyed at Holloways Beach, a suburb in the north of the city. A long beach stretches from one end to the other, and there’ll be times when you feel like you’re the only one there.
What are Cairns’ must-see attractions?
- Skyrail Rainforest Cableway: Journey above the rainforest canopy with Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, a fully enclosed cable car that stretches 7.5 km over the lush greenery surrounding Cairns. Two stops along the way will allow you to stretch your legs and learn about the ecosystem.
- Barron Gorge National Park: Famed for its wealth of waterfalls, Barron Gorge has a number of hikes to choose from, each of which offers something unique and spectacular.
- Cairns Railway: An option for those who’d rather explore the rainforest from the ground, the Cairns Railway sees a restored train taking visitors straight through the undergrowth.
- Australian Butterfly Sanctuary: This aviary is home to no fewer than 2000 butterflies, all of which are friendly. Educational exhibits take you through the fascinating existence of these beautiful creatures.
- Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park: Indigenous Australians boast the oldest culture on earth. Tjapukai places it centre stage, with a cultural centre showcasing art, performance and delicious traditional food.
Find the right hotel
What are Cairns’ best hotels for solo travellers?Perfectly private and business friendly, these hotels also offer ample opportunities to socialise should you want them. Check out Cairns Plaza Hotel, ibis Styles Cairns and Cairns Sheridan Hotel if you’re a solo traveller in Cairns (and earn 3 Qantas Points per A$1 spent with Qantas Hotels while you do it!).
What are Cairns’ best hotels for couples?Are you and your partner ready to use your Qantas Points to book your next getaway with Qantas Hotels? Romantic, secluded and luxurious, couples travelling to Cairns could do far worse than experiencing the hospitality offered up by Bay Village Tropical Retreat, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cairns and Pacific Hotel Cairns.
What are Cairns’ best hotels for families?Heading to Cairns with your tribe? Cairns Colonial Club Resort, Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort and Palm Royale Cairns are family-friendly hotels that will ensure you are warmly welcomed and entertained.
What are Cairns’ best hotels?After the best of the best? Luxurious 5-star escapes can be found at Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina, Hilton Cairns and Pullman Cairns International.
Location and views
What are Cairns’ best hotels for location and views?Cairns is a gorgeous tropical paradise, and you can enjoy it in all its glory if you choose to stay at Pullman Reef Hotel Casino, Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside and Cairns Harbour Lights - hotels that boast both an awesome location and stunning views.
What is the best way to get around Cairns?
Public transportSunbus operates the public transport in Far North Queensland, and has routes that cover all of Cairns’ most popular tourist spots. Use the TransLink journey planner to find your ride.
Private transportBesides car hire, rideshare apps are a great choice in Cairns. Uber is available, or you can use Cairns Taxis, the local taxi provider.
Why book with Qantas Hotels?
Pay less and use Qantas Points to book^
Earn 3 Qantas Points per $1 spent, even when you use Points Plus Pay^
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Frequently Asked Questions
How much do Cairns hotels cost?On average a 3-star hotel in Cairns costs $130 per night, a 4-star costs $180 and a 5-star costs $250 (be aware that these prices may be higher on weekends and at times of increased demand).
How do I get to Cairns?Cairns is a long way from anything - the nearest Australian capital is Brisbane, 1680 km or 20 hours’ drive away. As such, plane is by far the most popular mode of transport to and from the city, with Cairns airport taking flights from all Australian capitals.
Where should I visit outside of Cairns?Far North Queensland is a tropical paradise waiting to be explored, so check out lush Fitzroy Island, the ancient Daintree Rainforest (the oldest rainforest in the world), and take the obvious opportunity to cruise and dive the Great Barrier Reef.