In the top end of Queensland, Cairns is one of Australia’s laid-back cities where the outdoors is enjoyed at some famous scenic places.

Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Cairns has several notable scenic places close to the city centre. The most famous ones are the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.

Great Barrier Reef

The world’s largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the world. This is the most famous scenic location near Cairns, attracting thousands of travellers wanting to swim, snorkel or dive in the Great Barrier Reef. If swimming isn’t your thing, you can go on a glass-bottom boat or a helicopter to really view the reef in all its beauty.

Daintree Rainforest

At 180 million years old, the Daintree Rainforest is the oldest rainforest in the world. That alone makes it one of the most famous scenic spots to visit from Cairns. To see the rainforest, you can take a 60 – 90-minute cruise along the Daintree River allowing you to spot some wildlife such as the saltwater crocodile. You can also take a walk through the rainforest and get up and close to view one of the most complex ecosystems on Earth.

Fitzroy Island

Fitzroy Island has a bit of everything for visitors to explore and see. It is just off the coast from the city, with boats departing from Cairns to the island. On the island, you can explore the untouched forests, relax on the beaches or snorkel and try to spot some marine life while at it!

Green Island

Similar to Fitzroy Island, Green Island is a little tropical paradise surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef. Green Island is a fantastic place to spend the day, with the beach and stunning turquoise water completely surrounding the island. There are plenty of ways to explore the wonders of Green Island both in and out of the water. You can snorkel or dive to view marine life. Hire a canoe or go on a glass-bottom boat.  Or go up high in a helicopter to view the reef from the sky. If you prefer to stay on land, you can explore the tropical rainforest, walk along the jetty or take a stroll on the sand while viewing the ocean.

Atherton Tablelands

An hour and half drive from the city, Atherton Tablelands has a lot to offer, from parks to lakes. Atherton Tablelands is one of the more hidden gems in Cairns, but one to not miss. Visit Paronella Park to explore the rainforest near the Mena Creek Falls for a great view of the falls. The Rainforestation Nature Park has native Australian wildlife to view such as kangaroos, koalas and even the Tasmanian Devils, the only ones located in Cairns.

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Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward began with a passion for travel and turned it into a thriving tourism business. He co-founded Sightseeing Tours Australia after starting out as a tour guide in Melbourne. Cameron delights in helping visitors get the most from their trip to Australia. Whether he's leading tours or writing about his favourite places, Cameron loves sharing his local insight with fellow travellers.

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