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.

Rusty’s markets. Rusty’s is a farm market, it is so unique to North Queensland because of the fantastic fruits and vegetables that grow here, and then there are the people who work at Rusty’s like Linda from Barista Sista – you won’t 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. Rusty’s Markets are held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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 campgrounds.

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 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. Starting with a visit to the Great Barrier Reef.

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 the only all inclusive reef tour for the best value for your money.

Daintree Rainforest

Next visit the oldest tropical rainforest in the World the Daintree Rainforest.

There are several cheap Daintree tours that include fantastic options that don’t break the bank.

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  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 and see. Your Cairns experience won’t be limited just because you’re on a budget.


Cairns Weather


  • Population of 142,000
  • Location :Latitude 16° 51′ south, Longitude 145° 43′ east

How to Get to here

By Car – Cairns is a 1700 km drive from Brisbane and about 2,700 km (1,678 mi) from Sydney by road.

This is the adventure Capital of Australia,  A Tropical Paradise and a popular travel destination for local and foreign tourists alike.

Gateway to the  Great Barrier Reef, The Daintree Rainforest.

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 9 am

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