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Things to do in Cairns & the Tropical North

Things to do in  Cairns & the Tropical North

Welcome to Cairns & the Tropical North

Nestled on the Queensland coast, Cairns attracts visitors from around the world as the gateway to Australia’s Tropical North and the Great Barrier Reef. Set 1,499 miles (2,413 kilometers) north of Sydney, the city of Cairns is the perfect home base for adventure lovers, and boasts tropical climes, nearly endless diving possibilities, and a vibrant food and drink scene. Biking, Segway, and walking tours hit attractions such as the Cairns Historical Society Museum and Cairns Regional Gallery. Outside the city, popular day-trip destinations include the ecotourism destination Cape Tribulation in Daintree National Park, the Cape York Peninsula, and Cooktown.

Top 10 attractions in Cairns & the Tropical North

#1
Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

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Encompassing roughly 3,000 individual reefs and dotted with almost 900 islands and coral cays (small sandy isles), Australia's Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most unforgettable natural treasures. Snorkelers and certified divers flock here to see the unparalleled array of marine life.More
#2
Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge

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Marking the southern border of Daintree National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Mossman Gorge is one of the most popular places to experience the world’s oldest rain forest. Dating back more than 130 million years, the dense forest and scenic river gorge harbor a rich biodiversity and provide a stunning backdrop for hikers and swimmers.More
#3
Green Island

Green Island

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Marooned off the coast of Cairns in north Queensland, Green Island is a tropical paradise of lush rainforest, white sandy beaches, and crystalline waters. The idyllic island is part of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef National Park, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and harbors an extraordinary variety of coral reefs, exotic fish, and marine life.More
#4
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures

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Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures introduces visitors to Australia’s most famous reptiles (and other native species) through an informative and educational day out. Visitors can observe crocs on a cruise through a lagoon mimicking the creatures’ natural habitat and learn how crocodiles are sustainably farmed.More
#5
Kuranda Scenic Railway

Kuranda Scenic Railway

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Winding its way through the ancient rainforests, dramatic gorges, and UNESCO World Heritage-listed landscapes of Queensland’s tropical north, the Kuranda Scenic Railway is one of Australia’s most spectacular train journeys. Running 23 miles (37 kilometers) from Cairns in the south to Kuranda in the north, the route is a thrilling one. As it passes through an impressive 15 tunnels and across 37 bridges, the railway affords panoramic views of the Barron Gorge National Park.More
#6
Barron Gorge National Park

Barron Gorge National Park

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Queensland’s Barron Gorge National Park extends from the town of Lake Placid, and the surrounding lowlands, all the way to the high Atherton Tableland. The area—which is full of beautiful forests, waterfalls, gorges, and wildlife—is easily accessible from the city of Cairns and is one of the most popular outdoor areas in the region.More
#7
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

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Soaring through the treetops of Barron Gorge National Park, the 4.7-mile-long (7.5-kilometer) Skyrail Rainforest Cableway offers an unforgettable outdoor experience. Glide over North Queensland’s UNESCO World Heritage–listed tropical rain forest and enjoy unbeatable aerial views over its forests, gorges, and waterfalls.More
#8
Atherton Tablelands

Atherton Tablelands

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Offering welcome relief from the sweltering temperatures of Queensland’s tropical north, the sweeping plateaus of the Atherton Tablelands lie within easy day-trip distance of Cairns. Covering an area of 20,000 square miles (32,000 square kilometers), the lush landscapes also provide scenic terrain for bush walking and bird-watching.More
#9
Fitzroy Island

Fitzroy Island

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Fitzroy Island is a small forest-covered island fringed by white-sand beaches that lies in the sheltered Great Barrier Reef. Easily accessible from Cairns, it’s a popular day-trip destination and you can also stay there overnight at the resort or campground. Most of the island is protected as part of the Fitzroy Island National Park.More
#10
Paronella Park

Paronella Park

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Queensland’s Paronella Park is the result of Jose Paronella’s dream of building a Spanish-style castle. The spacious grounds beside the Mena Creek Falls include the castle building as well as lush tropical rainforest, a suspension bridge, tennis courts, a tunnel, and bridges. Opened to the public in 1935, Paronella Park is a local favorite and has won multiple awards—including eco-tourism awards.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Cairns & the Tropical North

Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling and Diving Cruise from Cairns
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Kuranda Scenic Railway Day Trip from Cairns
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Silverswift Outer Great Barrier Reef Dive and Snorkel Cruise from Cairns
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Green Island Discovery Including Glass Bottom Boat Tour Departing Cairns
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Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

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Kuranda tour via Kuranda Scenic Rail and Skyrail - small group tour
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Rainforest River Tubing from Cairns

Rainforest River Tubing from Cairns

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Things to do in Cairns & the Tropical North this...

Recent reviews from experiences in Cairns & the Tropical North

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A great place
Michael_D, Mar. 2022
Cairns Aquarium and small group City Sightseeing Tour
Great place to see all the fish, sharks, rays and other species that are in the sea and reefs around Cairns
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The tubing trip was...
HongWen_H, Jan. 2022
Rainforest River Tubing from Cairns
The tubing trip was enjoyable and well organised, all team staffs were funny and caring, we had a great time and highly recommend it if you are looking for activities to do in Cairns!
star-4
Great Experience but Beware the Coach Pick Up/ Drop off Schedule
peterstafford, Mar. 2022
Skip the Line Kuranda Scenic Railway Gold Class and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
I recommend anyone doing this tour to check how long the coach pick up and drop off is before deciding what to do.
star-5
Great scenic views, wonderful experience!!.
Lealoosina_S, Feb. 2022
Kuranda tour via Skyrail and Kuranda Scenic Rail - small group tour
A great day full of wonderful views of Barron falls and so much more.
star-5
Great staff. Super friendly. Amazing experience!
Majed_B, Jan. 2022
Ocean Freedom Great Barrier Reef Personal Luxury Snorkel & Dive Cruise, Cairns
I really recommend this company to anyone thinking to see the Great Barrier Reef.
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The Best Swim at Mossman Gorge
Pagan_B, Dec. 2021
Cape Tribulation, Mossman Gorge, and Daintree Rainforest Premium Day Tour
So this tour was the perfect way to see the Daintree and Mosman Gorge all at once.
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The flight enabled us to...
Julie_S, Sep. 2021
40-Minute Great Barrier Reef Scenic Flight from Cairns
The flight enabled us to see the beautiful colours of the great barrier reef off cairns, staff, pilot and plane great
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Great Day Out
DarrylG, Jul. 2021
Cairns Estuary Fishing
It was a beautiful stretch of water and got to see a lot of the estuary system.
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Wonderful Cairns Hinterland Experience.
Ken_S, Oct. 2020
The Original Day Tour to Paronella Park, Lake Barrine and Millaa Millaa Falls
To combine that with a stop at Milla Milla Falls, a beautiful lunch at Innisfail and scones at Lake Barrine was a magical way to spend a day sightseeing around the Cairns hinterland.
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Paradise!
Neringa M, Aug. 2019
Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns
If you visit Cairns, make sure to visit Fitzroy Island.
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Nice trip, well organized with the...
kincaid42, Sep. 2017
Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns
Nice trip, well organized with the purchased included lunch and activities.
star-5
Excellent tour. Anna was quite...
Andrew H, Mar. 2018
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures Day Trip from Cairns
Anna was quite informative about both this tour as well as other activities to be found in Cairns.
star-5
This is absolutely excellent value...
Jilly_B, Jul. 2016
Classic Kuranda by Skyrail and Scenic Railway, Rainforestation & lunch. CKB
This is absolutely excellent value for money, it had breathtaking views and is a very fun filled packed day with lots of activities, the Duck Tour was very interesting and we fell in love with the Koalas, the Skyrail is unique....
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I was grateful that the tour company...
Kevin_E, May 2016
Skip the Line Kuranda Scenic Railway Gold Class and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
I was grateful that the tour company contacted us in advance enough so that we could rearrange our tours to make sure that we were able to visit Kuranda.
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This trip was absolutely made by our...
Rob A, Aug. 2016
Chillagoe Caves and Outback Day Trip from Cairns
The trip and the caves were interesting and it was good to see another side of Oz on our short trip to Cairns
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This was one of my highlights in...
Stefan M, May 2017
Atherton Tablelands Rain Forest by Night from Cairns
Even the sounds in the night are worth to visit the jungle after sunset.
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It was a fantastic day for the...
Shelley W, Sep. 2015
Green Island Day Trip from Cairns
Children loved snorkeling and the island is a fantastic place to visit.
star-5
Excellent day out, great places to...
LEE H, Aug. 2015
Daintree and Cape Tribulation Tour from Cairns
Excellent day out, great places to visit , good time levels out of the bus.
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Fantastic day. Well organized and...
Jennifer G, Apr. 2013
Green Island Day Trip from Cairns
Food beautiful, activities well worth doing, glass bottom boat and submarine.
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i prefer skyrail to train.But by...
Mya A, Dec. 2011
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Day Trip from Cairns
But by train , could see Baron fall better.

All about Cairns & the Tropical North

When to visit

The mercury is always high in tropical Cairns, but the drier winter months (June through October) offer the most pleasant temperatures for hiking and snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef. Those willing to brave the summer rain, which brings with it better underwater visibility and lusher rain forest, can also find great deals and thinner crowds.

Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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