Cairns, located in North Queensland, Australia has the unique distinction of having two World Heritage listed sites. It’s the gateway to the Seventh Wonder of the World, The Great Barrier Reef and another of the earth’s most unique and precious places, The Daintree Rainforest. With its breathtaking scenery and warm climate it has taken its place as the most desired domestic holiday spot and world class international tourist destination. With a little ingenuity, this marvelous city often referred to as Australia’s jewel, can be experienced on even the tightest of budgets.

Top Budget Tours in Cairns

Cairns Attractions

Great Barrier Reef

Budget Reef Trips

No visit to Northern Australia is complete without a visit to The Great Barrier Reef. Take in the world’s largest living structure and witness the reef’s incredible aquatic life from a glass bottom boat. Day trips start at $99 and family rates from around $325

The Esplanade

cairns-on-a-budget

The Esplanade is one of Cairns’ greatest and most affordable attractions. From Yoga to Zumba, fitness programs for all fitness levels and ages are offered free. When you’re finished burning up the calories, you can cool down in a salt-water lagoon surrounded by sand with a clear view of the Coral Sea. Shops, art and live entertainment are open to the backpacker set and families alike.

Galleries & Museums

Photograph: David Campbell | Courtesy Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

Don’t miss the opportunity to discover Cairns’ rich and varied culture expressed through indigenous and contemporary art displayed in its host of art galleries. For $5 dollars per person and $12.00 per family, the Cairns museum offers a diversity of collections that illustrate Cairns’ growth from frontier town for gold miners to the top class tourist attraction it is today.

Botanic Gardens

Cairns botanic gardens centre

Cairns has one of the best botanic exhibits in Australia. Located only 4 kilometres from the heart of the city, the gardens are a prime example of the types of plants that grow in the tropical atmosphere of the Daintree Rainforest. Dating back to the late 1800s, the gardens are well established, well cared for and absolutely free.

 

Daintree Rainforest

DaintreeIf at all possible, splurge the money you’ve saved on your free tours and cheap lodging on a trip to the world’s oldest surviving rainforest. Day trips are available starting at around $100 or you can purchase a $42 multi-pass to come and go without worry of racking up more charges on subsequent trips. The pristine beaches, cascading waterfalls and diverse flora and fauna are an unforgettable must-see and well worth the cost.

Tips:

Travel light. For freedom, mobility and to keep fatigue at bay, pack as lightly as possible. A seasoned traveler’s rule of thumb is to pack your bags and then throw out half of what you packed. Backpackers, whittle your things down to fit into a 30 – 40 litre pack. Make your must-have items perform double duty, for instance men’s walk shorts can double as a boardshorts.

  • For the most part, you can save money by choosing a hostel over a hotel with dorm rooms starting at $23. Some cannot accommodate small children, so families may want to call ahead. Don’t overlook the hotels. Some offer great values if booked early and online.
  • Cook your own food when possible. Even a rudimentary kitchen in a hostel helps keep costs down. Take advantage of the more than 30 FREE BBQs on the Esplanade. The more you cook for yourself, the more money you’ll have left over for a night on the town or souvenirs for the family back home.

20 great tours under $100

See more budget tours