Recent Searches
Clear
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

star-55,616
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
Green Island

Green Island

star-5925
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
#3
Barron Gorge National Park

Barron Gorge National Park

star-51,871
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
#4
Kuranda Scenic Railway

Kuranda Scenic Railway

star-51,030
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
#5
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

star-4.51,104
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
#6
Atherton Tablelands

Atherton Tablelands

star-51,661
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
#7
RainForeStation Nature Park

RainForeStation Nature Park

star-4.5873
The RainForeStation Nature Park is 100 acres of pristine World Heritage rainforest situated just half an hour’s drive from Cairns.Here, visitors can get involved with nature by taking a ride through the tropical rainforest on an Army Duck Rainforest Tour, where an experienced guide will explain about the tropical plants and wildlife in the park. Elsewhere, the Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience will provide an insight into Aboriginal culture, with demonstrations in traditional-style dwellings.Visitors can also get up close to native Australian animals within the Koala and Wildlife Park, where trained and enthusiastic wildlife keepers will lead their guests along boardwalks that enable close-up encounters of crocodiles, dingoes, wombats, snakes, kangaroos, and wallabies.More
#8
Australian Butterfly Sanctuary

Australian Butterfly Sanctuary

star-4.51,052
More than 1,500 tropical butterflies—from the electric blue Ulysses to the green and yellow Cairns Birdwing—call this world-class aviary home. Stationed in the heart of the Kuranda rainforest, the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary has been impressing visitors with both its whimsical nature and state-of-the-art laboratory since it first opened in 1987.Interested travelers can follow free 30-minute tours that include up-close looks at the caterpillar breeding nursery. Here, you can see newly born butterflies before they’re released into the aviary and learn about the stages of development that lead to the birth of these fanciful creatures.The sanctuary’s laboratory is another popular stop that showcases efforts to keep the aviary well stocked. While just two percent of eggs survive in the wild, more than 80 percent mature here thanks to lab experts. Catch a peek at the hard-working scientists who keep this facility thriving.More
#9
Kuranda Koala Gardens

Kuranda Koala Gardens

star-4.51,058
Located in the village of Kuranda, this compact wildlife park gives you the chance to have close encounters with native Australian wildlife. Free-range enclosures are surrounded by lush rainforest and play host to kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, and koalas, while freshwater crocodiles glide through a tropical lagoon.More
#10
Birdworld Kuranda

Birdworld Kuranda

star-4.51,023
Queensland's lush, tropical north is alive with colorful bird life, and you can experience the festive cacophony of chirps on a visit to Birdworld Kuranda. Over 60 different species of birds make their home in this enclave of forest and waterfalls, and the landscape is built to mimic the surroundings the birds would find in the wild. When walking the open-air aviary, there’s the chance a bird could simply fly up and land on your shoulder, or a curious parrot might cock its head sideways and inspect you while sitting on a tree branch. Visitors also have the chance to hand-feed birds under the supervision of the aviary staff. Keep an eye out to spot Amazonian macaws, kingfishers, and Australian black swans.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Cairns & the Tropical North

Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

star-4
625
From
US$85.50
Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

star-4.5
303
From
US$72.09

Recent reviews from experiences in Cairns & the Tropical North

star-5
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.
star-4
Comfortable boat, relaxed crew, beautiful snorkelling
Alison_P, Feb. 2021
Outer Reef Pontoon Experience from Cairns
It was also good not to have staff constantly upwelling activities.
star-5
A day of Australiana - Kuranda
manny011, Dec. 2020
Best of Kuranda Including Skyrail, Kuranda Scenic Railway and Rainforestation
Once in Kuranda there were so many great activities to choose from we were spoilt for choice - Butterflies, markets filled with local arts, crafts and produce, wild life, army ducks tours into the rain forest.
star-5
I rate this tour a really pleasant way to spend a day away from Cairns in the peace and tranquility of the island.
Bruce_B, Nov. 2020
Green Island Day Trip from Cairns
We were fortunate enough to see a reef shark and a very large sea turtle and many other fish species teeming below, especially the Giant Trevally and Sergeant Fish ( Collingwood Fish).
star-5
Unforgettable Atherton Tablelands Eating and Drinking Experience.
Ken_S, Oct. 2020
Boutique Atherton Tablelands Small-Group Food and Wine Tasting Tour from Cairns
It was nice to see that everyone felt included as a group BUT THEN felt the tour had been designed exclusively for them.
star-5
Paradise!
Neringa M, Aug. 2019
Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns
If you visit Cairns, make sure to visit Fitzroy Island.
star-4
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 Wildlife Encounter 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...
Dauphin, Jul. 2016
Classic Kuranda by Skyrail and Scenic Railway Including Rainforestation, Koala and Wildlife Park and Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience
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....
star-5
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.
star-5
I was grateful that the tour company...
kedwards01, 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.
star-5
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.
star-4
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.
star-5
Hartley's is a nice place to see...
Jeff S, Mar. 2010
Hartley's Crocodile Adventure Half-Day Tour
Hartley's is a nice place to see Australian wildlife.
star-5
A very scenic train trip, well worth...
Kathryn F, Mar. 2010
Kuranda Scenic Railway Day Trip from Cairns
Very beautiful train back to Cairns, and Barron Falls in full fall was a treat.
star-5
By far the best way to see the Great...
John S, Feb. 2008
Great Barrier Reef Scenic Helicopter Tour and Cruise from Cairns
By far the best way to see the Great Barrier Reef.
star-5
Definitely must do while in Cairns! You...
MIRAN S, Nov. 2008
Great Barrier Reef Scenic Helicopter Tour and Cruise from Cairns
You get to see the Great Barrier Reef from the water and from the air.
star-5
Excellent Day Trip to the Great Barrier Reef!
chilowinter22, Feb. 2020
Great Barrier Reef Luxury Snorkel and Dive Cruise from Cairns
We even got to see a turtle and a giant clam!
star-5
Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!
mauriciamartinez, Dec. 2019
Seastar Luxury Outer Great Barrier Reef Island and Reef Tour from Cairns
The experience with a smaller group is priceless; we took three different trips to visit multiple reefs, and this one was BY FAR the best experience!

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.
Q:
What are the top things to do in Cairns & the Tropical North?
Q:
What are the top activities in Cairns & the Tropical North?
Q:
What are the top things to do near Cairns & the Tropical North?
Q:
What do I need to know before visiting Cairns & the Tropical North?