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Where to stay in Cairns

VacationRenter offers 1,061 holiday rentals in Cairns, and we’re confident that you’ll find a property that meets your budget for your next adventure. Whether you’re seeking a holiday home near Reef Teach, a room in a hostel close to Cairns Art Gallery, or you’re looking for a place that also gives you close access to Cairns — our goal is to help you find exactly what you need. Our website lists a wide selection of holiday homes from leading travel sites such as Vrbo, HomeAway,, and many more. Want a private pool, need a patio, or seeking specific amenities? Simply filter your search results with the click of a button! Finding your dream vacation rental at a reasonable price has never been this easy. Before you know it, you’ll be travelling to Cairns in no time.

Where Is Cairns Located in Australia?

Cairns is a small city in the far northeast end of Queensland that’s geographically closer to Papua New Guinea than Brisbane. The Cairns Airport, with both domestic and international terminals, is within city limits. Brisbane is a two-hour flight and 1,000 miles south down the coast, while further south is Sydney in a three-hour flight. Darwin is nearly 1,500 miles west and two and a half hours by air. The city’s downtown is walkable and there are public busses and rental cars available for further distances.

What Is Cairns, Australia Known For?

In addition to being commonly known as “the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef,” Cairns is also well-loved for its tropical climate and rainforests. The landscape is known to be the only place where one World Heritage Area meets another — from the Wet Tropics Rainforest to the Great Barrier Reef. The area’s economy is strongly dependent on tourism, especially adventure sports, though agriculture comes in second with crops such as sugar cane, tea, coffee, bananas, and the world’s first tropical wine region. Many visitors come to the region for one type of adventure and discover so much more in the area surrounding the city. The most popular outdoor adventures include skydiving, scuba diving, hot air balloon rides, and rainforest walks. Hang gliding, golf, snorkeling, and white water rafting are also available options. There are many tour operators in town, especially near The Esplanade. Beaches north and south of the city offer swimming and surfing, as there is no beach in town. Most visitors use the city as a launchpad for adventures around the area.

Where to Go in Cairns, Queensland

  • Esplanade & Lagoon: The main feature of the promenade by the pier is the large, but shallow lagoon-style pool in the middle of the city facing the ocean. It is free and open to the public. The promenade is lined with barbecues and picnic tables for a casual, low-cost outdoor experience.
  • Cairns Botanical Gardens: A lush and lovely botanical park located in Edge Hill, Cairns Botanical Gardens is known for its tropical collections that may be the best in Australia. The park, which can be found near the north end of the Esplanade, is divided into five gardens, a rainforest boardwalk, and includes both a freshwater lake and a saltwater lake. It is free to enter the park, plus free guided and self-guided audio tours are also available. There you’ll find a shop, a restaurant, and a cafe.
  • Cairns ZOOM & Wildlife Dome: A wildlife and adventure park built inside of a dome, Cairns ZOOM & Wildlife Dome also contains a man-made rainforest on top of The Reef Hotel Casino, at the southern edge of the Esplanade. The park offers ropes courses, a power jump, dome climb, and wildlife experiences. Climb the outside of the dome, freefall jump from the top, and then cuddle a koala or kiss a crocodile when you’re done! There is a gift shop that sells snacks and the casino contains three restaurants on the floors below.

Popular Destinations Near Cairns

  • Kuranda: The world’s oldest tropical rainforest is accessible by car or bus. You can also take the Kuranda Scenic Railway in about two hours, which includes a scenic stop at the Barron Gorge. Kuranda Village is a charming rainforest village offering plenty of scenic walks, heritage markets, galleries, restaurants, and entertainment such as Koala Gardens and Birdworld. The SkyRail Rainforest Cableway glides above the rainforest canopy, creating unbelievable views of the prehistoric landscape, including Barron Falls. For the most unique experience, take the train one way and the cableway the other for roundtrip travel between Cairns and Kuranda.
  • Great Barrier Reef: The famous UNESCO World Heritage Site of Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral formation in the world and offers incomparable scuba diving sights. The reef is made up of groups of islands with varying biodiversity, along most of the Queensland coast. Different groups of islands tend to be better for different corals and marine life; they are not all the same. Tours offering a range of amenities are available in most coastal towns, but Cairns is the largest town closest to the reef.
  • Port Douglas: A former fishing village turned tourist hub an hour north of Cairns, Port Douglas is filled with boutiques, restaurants, resorts, tour operators, and Four Mile Beach. Daintree National Park is an hour northwest of town and is the oldest surviving rainforest in Australia.

Best Neighborhoods in Cairns

  • Esplanade: Esplanade stretches just over a mile from Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome to Lily Street. This neighborhood features all needs for tourists — from restaurants, bars, and cafes to tour operators, small boutiques, and galleries. The upmarket restaurants on The Esplanade often offer early-bird dinner specials for patrons dining and departing by 7:00 pm.
  • Central Business District: Much of the Central Business District is centered along Bruce Highway as it winds through the city. Services such as grocery chains, post offices, banks, and money changers are located near the highway in addition to all other locals’ needs. Accommodations not on the Esplanade are situated just a few blocks inland and in most cases near Sheridan Street or Bunda Street.

Home-types in Cairns

Cairns has a variety of property types for you to consider when booking a trip. Here are the most popular property types in Cairns:

Points of interests in Cairns

Cairns has several popular points of interest for you to check out when visiting the area. Here are the most popular points of interest in Cairns: