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Backpacking Australia? Top Reasons to Visit Cairns

Outer Great Barrier Reef, Norman Reef, Cairns, Australia (photo: Laya Clode, Unsplash)

Outer Great Barrier Reef, Norman Reef, Cairns

Thinking of backpacking Australia? You should visit Cairns, a major city on the east coast, in Far North Queensland.

Once a sleepy sugar-milling town, it's now a destination for sailing, diving, snorkeling, hiking, rafting, skydiving, and many other adventurous activities.

While Cairns is a popular travel destination for all kinds of tourists, young backpackers are a significant fraction of its more than two million annual visitors.

Thus, our team at Tourism Cairns will point out some of the top things to do in Cairns and other reasons why travelers backpacking Australia should visit.

Reasons to Visit Cairns when Backpacking Australia

The Lagoon and Esplanade

Cairns' primary attraction is a swimming pool filled with crystal clear seawater and surrounded by sandy beaches.

Located on the Esplanade, the vast four-hectare Lagoon is the perfect place to socialize, sunbathe, and cool off in the heart of the city.

The Esplanade is an ocean view, a three-kilometer boardwalk with great views and facilities. 

Workout with the outdoor fitness equipment; shower after a salty swim at the Lagoon; grill local food at one of the free BBQ areas; or enjoy an old-fashioned night out.

Since the boardwalk is located in the busiest part of town, there's something happening around the area 24/7.

It is lined with bars, restaurants, and pubs, providing an excellent environment day or night.

Great Party Scene

Speaking of nightlife, Cairns CDB is surrounded by bars, pubs, and clubs teeming with activity seven days a week.

Whether you like a laid-back pub to have a beer with friends while watching a football match or prefer a livelier venue to dance all night, this area has something for every backpacker.

One of the top backpacking tips for this area, though? Taking advantage of the 2-for-1 happy hour deals, happening at most bars and pubs mid-afternoon once or twice a week.

Cheap Accommodation Options

The selection of backpacker-friendly accommodation in Cairns is huge.

Not only do they offer a friendly atmosphere, but also vattractive price points at very convenient locations.

This means most hostels and budget hotels are located within the Central Business District or a short distance from it.

These are the perfect places to meet new people. Facilities such as “common” kitchens, TV rooms, computer rooms, lounges, swimming pools, and even BBQ areas facilitate mingling with other like-minded travelers.

Typically, these budget accommodation options will offer both dorm rooms (cheapest rates) and private double or twin rooms with either en-suite or shared facilities.

No matter which room you book, you will likely have a simple, but well looked after abode.

Great Barrier Reef and Rainforest Gateway

Cairns is very blessed for the amount of beautiful and unique attractions it has to offer.

There is so much to see and do around the region, meaning the number of tours available is endless.

The number one place to go in Cairns? The Great Barrier Reef!

Cairns is one of the easiest places to access the biggest barrier reef in the world, so it naturally draws many snorkelers and divers.

Thankfully, those backpacking Australia will find many budget tour options to explore this natural wonder of the world.

Another one of the top things to do in Cairns is to visit Cape Tribulation. Also known as the Daintree Rainforest, it is one of the oldest in the world.

Whether you go on a day trip or overnight there, you'll have several accommodation options to choose from.

Adrenaline Junkies' Paradise

In addition to natural attractions, Cairns offers a plethora of adventure sports, perfect for adrenaline seekers.

Popular tours that depart from the region daily include skydiving over the beach, bungee jumping, Minjin swinging in the rainforest, and white water rafting down one of the most raging rivers in Australia.

Tamer outdoor activities include horse riding, quad biking, flyboarding, sea kayaking, and hot air ballooning.

If any of these Cairns tours look attractive to you, research package options for great discounts!


This story is brought to you in partnership with Tourism Cairns.

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