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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
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
#3
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
#4
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
#5
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
#6
Daintree Rainforest

Daintree Rainforest

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From the dramatic jungle-clad gorges, wild rivers, and tumbling waterfalls of Daintree National Park to the deserted coast of Cape Tribulation along the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest is Australia’s largest stretch of rain forest, covering 460 square miles (1,200 square kilometers). A protected UNESCO World Heritage Site and a hiker’s paradise, the rainforest is renowned for its extraordinary biodiversity.More
#7
Australian Butterfly Sanctuary

Australian Butterfly Sanctuary

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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
#8
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
#9
Kuranda

Kuranda

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The picturesque mountain town of Kuranda is tucked into forest-clad hills 16 miles (25 kilometers) northwest of Cairns in Queensland, Australia. The journey to Kuranda is part of its appeal; visitors get spectacular views of lush forests and towering waterfalls, whether traveling there by train, skyrail, or road. The laid-back town is known for its outdoor markets, eateries, wildlife tours, and alternative vibe.More
#10
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

Trip ideas

Top activities in Cairns & the Tropical North

Kuranda Scenic Railway Day Trip from Cairns
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Green Island Day Trip from Cairns
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Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns
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Ocean Freedom Great Barrier Reef Personal Luxury Snorkel & Dive Cruise, Cairns
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Outer Reef Pontoon Experience from Cairns
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Rainforest River Tubing from Cairns
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Cape Tribulation, Mossman Gorge, and Daintree Rainforest Premium Day Tour
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Green Island Discovery Including Glass Bottom Boat Tour Departing Cairns
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Silverswift Outer Great Barrier Reef Dive and Snorkel Cruise from Cairns
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Atherton Tablelands Waterfalls and Rainforest Day Tour Departing Cairns
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Recent reviews from experiences in Cairns & the Tropical North

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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!
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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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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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Unique experience! Picked...
Dragana_P, Nov 2021
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Day Trip from Cairns
Trip back to Cairns is stunning, high over trees and waterfall.
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Great Dinner, wonderful staff.
Paul_M, Aug 2021
Cairns Luxury Catamaran Harbor and Dinner Cruise
What a lovely way to spend a warm winter evening in Cairns.
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Simply Breathtaking!
Sanchita_S, Aug 2021
Skip the Line Kuranda Scenic Railway Gold Class and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
The views of the rainforest and the Barron Falls were breathtaking from both the train and the cableway.
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Spectacular!
Sanchita_S, Aug 2021
Atherton Tablelands Waterfalls and Rainforest Day Tour Departing Cairns
We went to Babinda Boulders, Josephine Falls, Millaa Millaa Waterfall and Lake Eacham.
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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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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.
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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.
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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 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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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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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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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.
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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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