Famous for being the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns has so much more going on. The laidback city is the perfect way to explore Queensland’s tropical north.

It’s a paradise where two worlds collide: the rainforest and the reef. There’s a wealth of reasons why the region should be on your bucket list.

Cairns Botanic Gardens

Described as a tropical paradise, the Cairns Botanic Gardens is the best place to explore the country’s tropical plants in spectacular surroundings all for free (donations are welcome). Just 4km (2.5miles) from the Cairns city centre and spanning 38 hectares of native Australian gardens, it encompasses three key areas:

  • Flecker Botanic Gardens (the main botanic collection), Orchid House, The Fernery and aboriginal Plant Use Garden
  • Centenary Lakes which has the tranquil 493-metre long rainforest boardwalk featuring Amazon Pond Lilies, native fruit trees, ample bird life, a Freshwater Lake and a Saltwater Lake with the chance of seeing a crocodile
  • Mount Whitfield Conservation Park is perfect for a walk with its hiking tracks offering spectacular views across Cairns, its suburbs and Trinity Bay. This is also the perfect spot for some bird watching; it’s the stomping ground of the Australian brush-turkey and orange-footed scrubfowl. Red-legged pademelons (small wallabies) also wander in the forest.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

When visiting Australia, you will explore the land and no doubt, the ocean too – but what about the sky? The Skyrail Rainforest Cablewayin Cairns offers visitors an exciting and unique way to travel on a journey to discover the world’s oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest.

The purpose-built attraction offers a birds-eye view across the vast landscape. Starting at the Smithfield Terminal, 15 minutes from Cairns city, you will board your gondola and begin the journey sweeping over the magnificent rainforest. You can even see the fringes of the Great Barrier Reef from above before arriving at the Red Peak Rainforest Station approximately 10 minutes later.

It’s at the Red Peak when the adventure really begins, and you get the opportunity to descend through the world’s oldest tropical rainforest. The Red Peak has complimentary ranger-guided tours, the rainforest boardwalk loop and the Rainforest Discovery Zone.

The journey doesn’t end there though. Hop on the Skyrail one more time to glide into Barron Falls for more breath-taking panoramic views.

Beaches

Just north of the city, Cairns’ glorious beaches are waiting. For those wanting to spend the day whiling away the time by the sea, Palm Cove Beach should be your first port of call. It’s one of the region’s most iconic beaches with classic soft sand and clear blue sea.

Five minutes north of Palm Cove, Ellis Beach is waiting. With a total population of just 24 people, it’s the perfect place for a peaceful and relaxing break away from city life.

Machans Beach is closest to Cairns. It’s lined with a rock wall, so while it may not be the best sunbathing, it does make for the perfect spot for a stroll along the waterfront.

There’s plenty to explore in Cairns, from unspoilt beaches to the treetops of the rainforest. Hiring a car would be beneficial to guarantee you don’t miss any sights you have set your heart on seeing. Compare car hire in Cairns to ensure you get the best deal.

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