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A modern city on the edge of the ancient rainforest, Cairns is the launchpad for UNESCO World Heritage Sites, stunning natural beauty and buzzing nightlife. It’s a small city, with a compact centre but it’s got a big heart and plenty to keep visitors busy. The Great Barrier Reef is on the doorstep, your pick of sensational northern beaches is close by and the tropical climate keeps things relaxed but never dull. In the city, the Esplanade and Boardwalk are the places to go and hang out, or cool off in the Lagoon. Then make use of the great transport facilities to explore the surrounding area.
CBD - The Pier, Esplanade and more are all located in the heart of the downtown area, with shopping plazas, cafes and restaurants serving food from around the world.
Northern Beaches - The tropical north of Queensland is littered with superb beaches where you relax and soak up the sun, with the rainforest lining the interior.
Daintree Rainforest - A few hours north of Cairns, this nature reserve is a tropical paradise, with a laid back atmosphere and it’s not overrun with mass tourism.
Lake Placid - In the Barron Gorge National Park, this peaceful body of water is surrounded by rainforest and lush vegetation, with a choice of excellent picnic spots too.
The City Botanic Gardens are full of tropical plants, many or which had traditional uses amongst the Aboriginal people of the area. From here, head to the Centenary Lakes, with a rainforest boardwalk that passes small creeks and ponds but beware because there are crocodiles about. The Mount Whitfield Conservation park is another top natural attraction in Cairns. The city itself has no beach but there’s a big choice close by at the Northern Beaches, but always check it’s safe to swim before taking the plunge. In the city, get cultural at a choice of museums, including the Cairns Museum and Cairns Regional Gallery.
If you love adventure sports then you’ve certainly come to the right place. With a selection of landscapes including mountains, beaches and rainforest, there is plenty of choice. Skydive above the city or scuba dive in the waters along the coast, or if you’re in the city, head to the Lagoon for a refreshing dip, especially during times of the year when the beaches are a little less safe thanks to jellyfish. Explore stunning natural attractions such as the Daintree Forest and Great Barrier Reef and get up close with animals including koalas, turtles and wallabies, and perhaps less close to the crocodiles found around the region. Go on a bike tour, whale watch off the coast or bungy jump in the best place in Australia to hurl yourself off a platform.