Check out these amazing things to do in Cairns – and they’re all either cheap or free!

Tropical Cairns is the starting point for our our new SELECT tours and the last stop on our northbound ADVENTURE tours.  Whichever tour you choose, you’ll have plenty of time to explore Cairns. There are a bunch of once in a lifetime experiences available to do in Cairns, but a lot of them don’t come cheap! Luckily for you, we’ve got the scoop on plenty of free or relatively cheap things to do when you’re not jumping out of a plane or finding Nemo. Check out the list below:

The Lagoon

Cool off in Cairns’ iconic 4800 square metre swimming lagoon. The Lagoon is filled with salt water from the Trinity Inlet, and offers an all-year round, safe, swimming location without stingers and crocs!

Walsh’s Pyramid

To the south of Cairns is the highest freestanding natural pyramid in the world. The mountain is 922 metres tall, and quite steep so a reasonable level of fitness is required to make the climb.

Crystal Cascades

Crystal Cascades is a secluded freshwater swimming hole, hidden in tropical rainforest. It is made up of a series of small waterfalls that flow into large pools. Make sure you bring your snorkelling gear to check out the fish and eels!

Northern Beaches

The northern beaches are found just 15 minutes from Cairns CBD. The palm tree lined beaches stretch for 26km along the beautiful coastline, and the local Cairns bus service picks up and drops off passengers at nearly every single one of them!

Cairns Museum

The Cairns Museum is founded on the Cairns Historical Society’s amazing collection of objects, photographs and archival records. This collection holds the secrets and memories of the people, places, events, and changing environment of Cairns and Far North Queensland.

Night Markets

Featuring over 70 retail outlets and home to a myriad of food options, Cairns Night Markets are the perfect place to grab dinner and hunt for a bargain.

Cairns Botanic Gardens

Renowned for having one of the best exhibitions of tropical plants in Australia, the Cairns Botanic Gardens are a tropical paradise where you can explore the surroundings and learn about native flora and horticulture. Many plants here cannot be seen elsewhere in the world!

Mt. Whitfield Conservation Park

Mt. Whitfield Conservation Park is a 300-hectares forested mountain range. The park’s Red Arrow, Blue Arrow, and Green Arrow walking circuits are popular bushwalking tracks that offer stunning views! Keep an eye out for local marsupials such as red-legged pademelons and echidnas.

Rusty’s Farmers Market

Visit Rusty’s Market on Friday, Saturday, and Sundays to find locals and tourists in search of the freshest locally grown and harvested produce. You will also find indigenous food and unusual fruits and vegetables from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island stallholders.

Free Live Music

Make sure you check out the huge selection of street entertainers that frequent Cairns Esplanade and CBD. There are also free concerts every weekend on the pop-up stage by the Lagoon.

Esplanade Market

Every Saturday between 8am and 4pm, the market stalls showcase items crafted by the people who sell them. The quality stalls include jewellery, leatherwork, pottery, clothing, skincare, and much more.

Fitness on the Esplanade

The ‘Active Living – Free Fitness’ program consists of classes six days a week along the Esplanade. From Aqua Aerobics to Zumba Fitness, there is something for everyone to try. There are also a series of fitness stations for public use, along with the volleyball courts and skate park!

Stoney Creek Falls

This small creek can be found 15 minutes from Cairns CBD. There are plenty of tiny pools along the way to stop and refresh in whilst absorbing the natural beauty of the surrounding Barron Gorge National Park.

Atherton Tablelands

A beautiful, scenic and unspoilt tableland between 500 and 1000 metres above the Great Barrier Reef, now visited on a number of our current Stray tours, the Atherton Tablelands will not disappoint.

Millaa Millaa Falls
Cool off at Millaa Milla Falls in Atherton Tablelands

Cairns Regional Gallery

The Cairns Regional Gallery is one of the few remaining heritage buildings in the city. It hosts exhibitions of fine arts from major Australian and international collections covering historical and contemporary art. Entry is free on the first Saturday of every month!

Lake Placid

Located at the base of the Barron Gorge, Lake Placid is a large natural lake formed by the Barron River. It’s the perfect location for picnics and short strolls, and small boat and kayak hire is also available.

Lake Morris and the Copperlode Dam

This beautiful dam, completed in 1976, is a freshwater reservoir servicing the city of Cairns. The 16km access road climbs steadily along the face of the Whitfield Range. Magnificent scenic panoramas can be seen from the lookout points on the road.

There is heaps to do in this tropical town, so if you’re starting or finishing your East Coast trip in Cairns, you’ll be sure to have a blast! Find out more about Cairns and check out which of our Stray Tours visit Cairns here.

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Emily is a native creative nerd. This creative crew member's favourite stop is Bay of Islands.

Ready for the ultimate East Coast journey? Choose Stray, and hop on our private bus tours! Forget the hassle of public transport – we're going from Sydney to Cairns and doing it the fun way! Dive deeper, explore more, and get the coolest East Coast vibes only with us!

We've just dropped our sizzling Stray Australia Tours! We've turned the adventure vibes ALL the way up on our new Adventure Tours. And for those craving the perfect mix of discovery and comfort, our new Select Tours got you! Explore the Aussie wonders with all the comfy feels. Are you in?

Select Tours in Australia

Explore in comfort with a touch of adventurous #StraySpirit

Our Southbound Select Tours are curated for those who yearn to explore the East Coast of Australia in comfort but aren't ready to let go of that adventurous Stray spirit. This isn't your typical touristy trek; it's an immersive journey into the vibrant heart and soul of the Land Down Under!

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Feel the wild heart of Australia beating, amped up to 100! Crash at the coolest boutique dorms we've handpicked for you - perfect chill spots between our epic escapades! Experience the unforgettable, bond with new mates, and score memories that’ll stick forever! Ready to roll, Aussie-style?

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