How to explore Cairns on a budget

How to explore Cairns on a budget

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 08/29/2019

Reading time: 3 mins

Cairns is a tropical oasis located in North Queensland and is famous for being the gateway to both the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.

This fact alone makes it a must-visit city for your next Australian holiday. With so many activities to do in the area and a lot of ground to cover, it’s no secret that the costs can add up, so how do you do Cairns on a budget? For the budget-friendly traveller, we’ve compiled a list of cheap and free attractions that can’t be missed if you do come to the laid back city of Cairns.

  • Hike into ancient rainforests

    A popular day trip taken from Cairns is visiting the world’s oldest rainforest, the Daintree. Not many know that it’s the world’s most complex rainforest system and actually older than the Amazon Rainforest by millions of years. You can venture down the many walking trails along the rainforest, zip line through the canopy, go crocodile spotting along the Daintree River or visit one of the many waterfalls. The drive is 2 hours of North of Cairns and the cheapest way to get there is by tour bus who will usually take you to Mossman Gorge, giant boulders that rest sleepily in a popular swimming spot, and on a crocodile river cruise.

  • Explore the markets of Cairns

    There are quite a few markets to visit throughout Cairns where you can wander around. At the Cairns Night Market, for example, you can enjoy the live entertainment and window shop at all the arts and crafts stalls. The atmosphere itself is a great reason to spend a night at the markets. You can even grab a Chinese massage that has become an iconic feature of the market due to its cheap prices. Another market that has become a staple for tourists to visit is Rusty’s Markets. The market has become such a spectacle that it’s a 3-day event on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Here you can purchase gifts for your family and friends back home or purchase cheaper fresh vegetables and fruit, perfect to snack on during the day.

  • Journey to the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef 

    For most visitors to Cairns, their main reason for visiting the city is to go to the Great Barrier Reef. Whether you want to snorkel, dive or just play around on the pontoon, there’s something for everyone. While it’s common knowledge that no trip out to the Great Barrier Reef is a cheap one, with a little research you can find some great quality tours that start from just $115 Australian dollars a person like at Sightseeing Tours Australia.

  • Relax at the Esplanade Lagoon

    Centrally located in the heart of Cairns is the Esplanade Lagoon, perfect for a quick dip when the hot tropical humidity gets to you. This is probably the most popular free activity in Cairns that is enjoyed by both tourists and locals alike as it has become a social meeting place where families and friends enjoy sun-baking, swimming or walking on the scenic Esplanade boardwalk.

Related article: Making the most of your wet season visit to Cairns

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.

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