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Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Forest, meaning there is so much to see and do both in Cairns and the surrounding area. This one-day guide concentrates on the city itself, fitting in as many attractions as possibly in a limited time frame...

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nightlife Seeker
  • Nature Lover
  • Foodie
  • Luxury Traveller
  • Thrifty Traveller
  • Trendsetter
  • Like a Local

12 Places

6 City Tips

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Map

12 Places

Pete & Paulz Breaky Bar

Restaurants

Cairns Botanic Gardens

Gardens

Rusty's Market

Flea & Street Markets

Meldrum's Pies In Paradise

Restaurants

Esplanade Boardwalk

Hiking Trails

Luminous Lights

Gift & Speciality Shops

Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

Sports Complexes

Samurai Gallery Australia

Art Museums

St Monica's Cathedral

Churches & Cathedrals

JUTE Theatre Company

Theatres

Barnacle Bill's

Restaurants

The Reef Hotel Casino

Casinos

LynnePP's City Tips

  • Use insect repellent, especially at dusk and dawn.
  • It is the tropics here, so "slip, slop, slap:" slip on a shirt, slop on the sunscreen, and slap on a hat.
  • Cairns City does not have a natural beach.
  • Cyclone season is usually November through May.
  • Cairns has two seasons, wet and dry. Wet season is January through April.
  • Cairns City is 10 minutes by car from the airport.
  • Save
    Pete & Paulz Breaky Bar
    Restaurants (Cafe, Australian)
    See more photos
    LynnePP Says:

    Look no further than Pete & Paulz in Sheridan Street for that down-to-earth brekkie like Mom used to make. This is the perfect start to your day.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Trendsetter
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Opens at 5am.
    • It gets crowded quickly, so try to make it early, before the breakfast rush.
    • Ask for a table outside.
    • Try the Eggs Benedict with Salmon.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #57 of 483 restaurants in Cairns
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Best breakfast and excellent service! 09/09/2018
    • Great acia bowl and well priced 08/09/2018
    • Pete & Paulz Breaky Bar
    Address:
    35 Sheridan St
    Cairns, Queensland 4870
    Australia
    Phone:
    +61 403 546 321
    Price range:
    US$4 - US$14
    Hours:
    Wed - Mon
    5:00 AM - 12:00 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Cairns Botanic Gardens
    Gardens
    See more photos
    LynnePP Says:

    The Botanic Gardens is home to over 4,000 species of tropical plants. The bamboo collection is a real must-see, and there is a great display of rainforest plants which were once a major source of food and medicine for the local aboriginals.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Entry is free.
    • Opens at 7.30am.
    • Most walkways in the Flecker Gardens have wheelchair access.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #8 of 139 things to do in Cairns
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Beautifully kept gardens 16/09/2018
    • Beautiful gardens 16/09/2018
    • Cairns Botanic Gardens
    Address:
    64 Collins Ave
    Cairns, Queensland 4870
    Australia
    Phone:
    +61 7 4032 6650
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    7:30 AM - 5:30 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Rusty's Market
    Flea & Street Markets
    See more photos
    LynnePP Says:

    With more than 180 stalls, Rusty's is the place to come for fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as flowers, bric-a-brac, clothing and jewellery. Sample some of the exotic fruits in season — delicious!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • Open from 5am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
    • Two hours free parking is available at the carpark above Rusty's.
    • Visit the Cairns Gypsy Fortune Tellers in the arcade.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #25 of 139 things to do in Cairns
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Good market! 09/09/2018
    • Nice little setup 23/08/2018
    • Rusty's Market
    Address:
    57-89 Grafton St
    Cairns, Queensland 4870
    Australia
    Phone:
    +61 7 4040 2705
    Other:
  • Save
    Meldrum's Pies In Paradise
    Restaurants (Cafe, Fast food, Australian)
    See more photos
    LynnePP Says:

    Light, flaky pastry full of tasty filling? Yummo! Meldrum's gourmet pies are mouth watering. Grab a pie and eat at the tables provided, or take away and enjoy at the Esplanade.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Get here early, as the popular pies sell out fast.
    • Medrum's caters to vegetarians.
    • Gluten- and lactose-free pies are available.
    • Try the scallop and prawn pie.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #42 of 483 restaurants in Cairns
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Mixed result 15/09/2018
    • Disappointed 13/09/2018
    • Meldrum's Pies In Paradise
    Address:
    94 Grafton St
    Cairns, Queensland 4870
    Australia
    Phone:
    +61 7 4051 8333
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    7:00 AM - 4:30 PM
    Sat
    6:30 AM - 2:30 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Esplanade Boardwalk
    Hiking Trails
    See more photos
    LynnePP Says:

    This boardwalk is 800 meters long and a great place to have your lunch while watching the pelicans. At intervals along the walkway, there are displays explaining the history of Cairns, aboriginal traditions, and native plants and animals.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Use of BBQ and picnic facilities if they are free.
    • Bring binoculars for bird watching.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #11 of 139 things to do in Cairns
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Sunshine state 16/09/2018
    • a very pleasant walk 16/09/2018
    • Esplanade Boardwalk
    Address:
    The Esplanade
    Cairns, Queensland 4870
    Australia
    Phone:
    +61 7 4044 3715
    Other:
  • Save
    Luminous Lights
    Gift & Speciality Shops
    See more photos
    LynnePP Says:

    Brighten up your life and drop in to Luminous Lights at the Pier. Stepping into this store is like stepping into a fairyland.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Trendsetter
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • This is a good place to buy that special gift!
    • The shop offers free shipping within Australia for orders over $150.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #9 of 28 Shopping in Cairns
    • Have a look 15/09/2017
    • Light and sparkles 15/09/2016
    Address:
    Shop G19A the Pier Shopping Centre
    Cairns, Queensland 4870
    Australia
    Phone:
    +61 457 183 040
    Other:
  • Save
    Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
    Sports Complexes
    See more photos
    LynnePP Says:

    Take some time out of your busy schedule for a quick dip in this artificial saltwater lagoon. No crocs or marine stingers here!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Entry to the lagoon is free.
    • Toilet and shower facilities are beside the lagoon.
    • Lifeguards are on duty as long as the pool is open.
    • The lagoon is closed on Wednesday mornings for maintenance.
    • The pool has a disability access point at one end.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #10 of 139 things to do in Cairns
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Fantastic public space 17/09/2018
    • Great idea 16/09/2018
    • Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
    Address:
    52 - 54 The Esplanade Cairns
    Cairns, Queensland 4870
    Australia
    Phone:
    +61 7 4044 3715
    Hours:
    Wed
    12:00 PM - 9:00 PM
    Thu - Tue
    6:00 AM - 9:00 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Samurai Gallery Australia
    Art Museums
    See more photos
    LynnePP Says:

    Samurai Gallery is a journey through time and place to the Samurai, members of the military class in feudal Japan. A longtime collector of Japanese artifacts, the owner shares weapons, armour, artifacts and traditional dress, some of which are hundreds of years old.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The displays are well labelled.
    • Look for the Tachi/long sword dating back to the 11th century.
    • Some items are for sale.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #31 of 139 things to do in Cairns
    • A Great Find 16/07/2018
    • Like a time warp into a part of Japan 06/06/2018
    • Samurai Gallery Australia
    Address:
    20/22 Shields St
    Level 1 - First Floor
    Cairns, Queensland 4870
    Australia
    Phone:
    +61 417 642 921
    Price range:
    US$5 - US$5
    Other:
  • Save
    St Monica's Cathedral
    Churches & Cathedrals
    See more photos
    LynnePP Says:

    Every picture tells a story, and the stories on the stained-glass panels in St. Monica's Cathedral are breathtaking. The Creation Windows and the Peace Windows are reason alone to visit this church.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Pick up a brochure at the entrance of the Cathedral.
    • Be respectful and keep noise to a minimum.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #13 of 139 things to do in Cairns
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Beautiful Church 07/09/2018
    • Beautiful building. 02/09/2018
    • St Monica's Cathedral
    Address:
    181 Abbott Street
    Cairns, Queensland 4870
    Australia
    Phone:
    +61 7 4046 5600
    Other:
  • Save
    JUTE Theatre Company
    Theatres
    See more photos
    LynnePP Says:

    The performances at this theatre are mostly written and acted by locals. The stories are based on Australian themes and are both entertaining and original. The atmosphere is laid back and casual, making JUTE a great cultural activity for all ages to enjoy.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Trendsetter
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The show runs for 80 minutes with no interval.
    • Bookings are advisable.
    • Off-street parking is available, as is free on-street parking.
    • After the show, drop into Bernie's Bar next door if you have the time.
    • Go to the 7.30pm show.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #80 of 139 things to do in Cairns
    • Paradise is singing 17/10/2016
    • Wonderful local talent 27/06/2016
    • JUTE Theatre Company
    Address:
    96 Abbott St
    Cairns, Queensland 4870
    Australia
    Phone:
    +61 7 4050 9444
    Price range:
    US$41 - US$41
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Barnacle Bill's
    Restaurants (Seafood, Australian)
    See more photos
    LynnePP Says:

    Barnacle Bills is waterfront dining at it's best. Only the freshest seafood is served to you by the friendly staff here, and both indoor and outdoor seating are available.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • There is an early bird special for those who want an early dinner.
    • Non seafood eaters are catered to.
    • There is a good variety of wines on offer.
    • Try the Barramundi and Coral Trout Karumba.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #78 of 483 restaurants in Cairns
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Magnificent local seafood 10/09/2018
    • Fabulous evening meal 08/09/2018
    • Barnacle Bill's
    Address:
    103 Esplanade
    Cairns, Queensland 4870
    Australia
    Phone:
    +61 7 4051 2241
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    11:30 AM - 11:45 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    The Reef Hotel Casino
    Casinos
    See more photos
    LynnePP Says:

    A little flutter at the casino is a nice way to end the day. Try your luck at one of the card games, and browse the variety of bars serving cocktails, wines, beers and spirits. There's also live entertainment on offer here.

    Good for
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • Visitors under 18 years are not allowed.
    • Dress is smart casual.
    • Cameras and calculators are not allowed.
    • Onsite parking is available at a fee.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #53 of 139 things to do in Cairns
    • cheap and nasty 13/09/2018
    • Not the best 01/09/2018
    • The Reef Hotel Casino
    Address:
    35-41 Wharf St.
    Cairns, Queensland 4870
    Australia
    Phone:
    +61 7 4030 8888
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 AM - 5:00 AM
    Other:
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