Cairns on a Budget is all about having the most fun possible

Cairns is a world-renowned travel destination for many reasons.

As a result, many people feel travelling to Cairns is out of their budget; however, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

You can still experience the very best of Cairns on a budget.

If you’re on a tight budget when visiting, you’re still able to see many of the top attractions as there are numerous things to do in Cairns that cost little to no money.


The best place to shop if you are staying in Cairns on Friday, Saturday or Sunday

is Rusty’s markets.  Rusty’s is a farm market, its so unique to North Queensland because of the amazing fruits and vegetables that grow here and then there are the people who work at Rusty’s like Linda from Barista Sista – you wont find a better coffee in Cairns or the many food vans on the Sheridan side of the markets and if you are really lucky the local band Fingerprint might bless you with some tunes

Don’t let a limited budget stop you from visiting one of the best places in the world.

Cairns is excellently suited for budget travellers, offering many affordable accommodations– from dormitory style buildings and hotels to camp grounds.

In addition to affordable places to stay in Cairns, there are also many eateries and dining options, which are specially tailored to those visiting Cairns on a budget.

Popular dining options for budgets include Barnacle Bills, Fetta’s Greek Taverna, Cock n’Bull Pub and Rattle N Hum. Although, budget-friendly options cost less, they are still in ideal locations to make the most of your time in Cairns.


Cairns City and Marina


Even on a budget when visiting Cairns, you still have an abundance of things to do, many of which are free. No trip to North Queensland would be complete without visiting the Great Barrier Reef.

When on a budget, you’re still able to see the Great Barrier Reef in a number of ways. For example, booking a smaller boat instead of a larger boat offers tour and scuba diving opportunities.

Compass Cruises offers a great budget tour to the Outer Barrier Reef for $115 or check out Reef Experience Cairns only all inclusive reef tour which includes a scuba dive in the price.

Cairns is also known as Australia’s backpacking capital as it’s ideally located near the Daintree Rainforest.

As a result, you can backpack through the world’s oldest living rainforest without spending a dime.

You can even camp in the rainforest for more budget friendly options.

The Cairns Museum and many art galleries are cost effective options for visiting Cairns as well.

While you’re there, you can check out the many markets, unique boutiques and even nightclubs, which often offer discounts to backpackers.

There are many things to do in Cairns for people on a budget– from people watching to movies.

Around every corner, you’ll find something free or low cost to do, including an abundance of beaches to visit for sunbathing, swimming and checking out the amazing marine life, such as Trinity Beach, Palm Cove and Ellis Beach.

No matter where you go when visiting Cairns on a budget, you still have plenty of things to do in Cairns. Your Cairns experience won’t be limited just because you’re on a budget.


Cairns weather

Cairns Weather
Cairns Weather

About Cairns

Population of 142,000

Cairns is in the Tropical North Queensland
Latitude 16° 51′ south,
Longitude 145° 43′ east

How to Get to Cairns

By Car – Cairns is 1700 km drive from Brisbane

Cairns is located about 1,700 km (1,056 mi) from Brisbane, and about 2,700 km (1,678 mi) from Sydney by road.

Cairns is the adventure Capital of Australia,  Tropical Paradise and  a popular travel destination for local and  foreign tourists because of its tropical climate.

It serves as a starting point for people wanting to visit the Great Barrier Reef, The Daintree Rainforest and Far North Queensland.

By Train –  The Spirit of Queensland

  • Route: Brisbane – Cairns
  • Duration: 24 hours
  • Distance: 1681 kilometres
  • Frequency: Three times weekly departing from Roma Street, Station in Brisbane on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday Friday and Saturday
  • Special needs: Wheelchair access, Dietary needs
  • Route: Cairns to Brisbane
  • Departs Cairns: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday at 9am

Find out more by visiting the Queensland Rail fact sheet

Plan your trip network map

The Tilt train

  • Route: Brisbane – Cairns; Brisbane – Rockhampton; Brisbane – Bundaberg
  • Duration: 1 night (25 hours) / 9 hours
  • Distance: 1681 kilometres / 638 kilometres
  • Frequency: Two times weekly Monday & Friday
  • Special needs: Wheelchair access, Dietary needs


By Plane – Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia & Tiger Airways have numerous flights daily to Cairns

Visit their website to find out more

Virgin Australia
Tiger Airways