Things to do in Australia | A Cairns Vacation with All the Australia Highlights

Queenstown Diner with a View

How to see the best of Australia on a short vacation to Cairns

We’re continuing our blog series, Things to Do in Australia, where we outline how you can see all the major Australian Highlights on a short vacation while staying in just one or two cities. So far we’ve talked about how you can see Beaches & Aquatic Life, Wildlife, Rainforest, Outback, Food & Wine, Modern City Culture & Art and Indigenous Culture in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide.

Today we look at one of the most famous gateways to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns (pronounced “cans”). Cairns is a stylish city in Tropical North Queensland. It’s a relaxed city with great food and an laid back atmosphere. Just outside of Cairns you’ll find the only place in the world where two World Heritage Sites meet. You can dive the depths of the Great Barrier Reef or soar above the world’s oldest tropical rainforest.

Here are things you can do in Cairns to hit all the major Australian highlights.


Beaches & Aquatic Life

No visit to Cairns is complete without a trip to the Great Barrier Reef. There are many ways you can experience the Great Barrier Reef.

Go snorkeling, or go diving.

Fly through the water on a seabob

Go Fishing . Some of the biggest marlins in the world are caught off the coast of Cairns.

Find Nemo.

Meet turtles.

Swim with dolphins.

Go whale watching.

If you’re craving some time on the beach, head just outside Cairns to get your toes in the sand.

Two hours south of Cairns you’ll find Mission Beach.

Closer to Cairns you’ll find Palm Cove.

For an island getaway, take a sail boat out to Low Isles on the Great Barrier Reef.


Cairns and the surrounding areas provide many opportunities to see and learn about the tropical wildlife of the region.

Get up close and personal some of Australia’s most precious and beautiful birds in their rainforest habitat at Birdworld Kuranda.

Meet Kanagroos and cuddle a Koala at the Kuranda Koala Gardens

Closer to the city, visit the Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome. Located in a glass dome on top of the Reef Hotel Casino, the Cairns Wildlife Dome lets you get close to cute rainforest animals as they roam freely through their enclosures.

Zip line through the trees.

Meet a crocodile.

Or trick your friends into thinking you were almost eaten by a crocodile.

Just north of Cairns, visit Hartley’s Creek for a huge, multifaceted wildlife experience at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, Hartley’s Night Adventures and Zootastic Wildlife Encounters. Here you can… See a famous crocodile feeding show…

Touch a baby crocodile…

Hold a snake…


Cairns is, hands-down, the best place in Australia to see the rainforest. Just north of Cairns you’ll find Kuranda, a beautiful village hidden in the tropical rainforest. Here you can experience the rainforest and it’s culture. The best part is the journey to the village. You get to ride on the Skyrail through the rainforest!

And Barron Falls.

Then, head back to Cairns on a scenic railway ride.

Further north, past Port Douglas, you’ll find the oldest rainforest in the world, Daintree. There are many ways you can explore Daintree.

Take a guided walk through the jungle.

Go Jungle Surfing.

Cruise through the forest on the river.

Just explore the beauty!


Visit the green jungle one day and head out to the red Outback the next on a day trip to Chillagoe- Mungana Caves Park.

Food & Wine

Cairns has a fix for every foodie and lover of wine. They also have an established coffee shop scene that not only serves up amazing coffee, but also yummy small plates. Head to Grafton Street and Spence Street for a variety of trendy spots.

For an amazing steak, head to Waterbar & Grill.

Modern City Culture & Art

Cairns is a laidback city with a lively nightlife. It has a large creative scene and several festivals that celebrate the culture of the city. See Cairn’s contemporary art at KickArts. The museum also host workshops where you can make your own art.

At the Cairns Regional Gallery see the works of art by National and International artists, with a strong focus on local and indigenous works.

Visit The Esplanade for public art.

Indigenous Culture

Cairns is a wonderful place to learn about Australia’s Indigenous Culture. The local Aboriginal people have lived on the land continuously for over 40,000 years. The area is steeped in storytelling, art and eye-opening cultural experiences.

Take an Indigenous tour of Daintree. Take a walkabout learn about bush foods and the uses for native plants. Catch your own mud crab for lunch!

Head to Tjapukai to get a deeper understanding of Australia’s diverse Aboriginal heritage. Visit by Day.

A trip to Cairns and Tropical North Queensland should defiantly be on your bucket list. Are you ready for your Australian Adventure? Let us help you plane a trip of a lifetime!

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