Local time Cairns



Travel to Cairns

Flying to Cairns

There are no direct flights to Cairns from the UK, but you can buy a connecting ticket with Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, or Air New Zealand. You can usually find cheaper fares to Australia if you fly between mid-April and mid-June, while Christmas tends to be the most expensive time to visit.

Flight times

From London - 24 hours (including stopover); New York - 26 (including stopover); Los Angeles – 18 hours (including stopover); Toronto - 27 hours (including stopover); Sydney - 3 hours 10 minutes.

Travel by road

Traffic drives on the left in Australia. The minimum driving age is 16. Road quality is good within Cairns, but if you're heading into the outback, roads may be dusty and unsealed and can become very wet during the rainy season. Speed limits are generally 50kph (31mph) in built-up areas and 100kph (62mph) outside urban areas, occasionally rising to 110kph (68mph).

You can drive on your national driving licence, but if it's not in English, it's a good idea to bring an official translation or an International Driving Permit. 

The RACQ (tel: 131 905, in Australia only; www.racq.com.au) is the state's main motoring organisation and can provide further information on driving in Queensland.

Emergency breakdown services

RACQ (tel: 131 111, in Australia only).


Cairns is connected to Townsville, Airlie Beach and Rockhampton to the south by the Bruce Highway (1), and to Port Douglas to the north by the Captain Cook Highway (44). The road from Cape Tribulation to Cooktown is for 4-wheel drives only.


Operators running daily long-haul services between Cairns and Brisbane, via Townsville (5 hours) and Rockhampton (18 hours), include Greyhound Australia (tel: 1300 473 946, in Australia only or +61 7 4690 9850; www.greyhound.com.au) and Premier Motor Service (tel: +61 2 4423 5233; www.premierms.com.au).

Smaller coach companies, including Coral Reef Coaches (tel: +61 7 4098 2800; www.coralreefcoaches.com.au) and Sun Palm Transport (tel: +61 7 4099 1191; www.sunpalmtransport.com.au), run services to northern destinations such as Port Douglas (1 hour) and Cape Tribulation (3 hours).

Time to city

From Townsville - 4 hours 15 minutes; Airlie Beach - 7 hours 15 minutes; Rockhampton - 12 hours; Port Douglas - 1 hour.

Travel by Rail


Comfortable sleeper trains connect Cairns with Brisbane to the south. Cairns is also the starting point for two tourist trains. All trains operate out of Cairns' Bunda Street station at Cairns Shopping Centre.


Queensland Rail (tel: +61 7 3606 6630; www.queenslandrailtravel.com.au) runs the Spirit of Queensland service, which travels up the coastline from Brisbane to Cairns. The train runs five times a week in each direction.

The Savannahlander (tel: +61 7 4053 6848; www.savannahlander.com.au) leaves Cairns once a week on a scenic trip into the outback. The 1960s-era "silver-bullet" train travels through the tropics to Forsayth and back, with an overnight stop before the return journey.

Queensland Rail also runs the Kuranda Scenic Railway (tel: +61 7 4036 9333; www.ksr.com.au), a tourist route that operates daily to and from Kuranda in the Atherton Tablelands.

Journey times

From Brisbane - 24 hours with the Spirit of Queensland service.

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

Book Accommodation

Featured Hotels


Tropic Days Backpackers Hostel

This is simply the best backpackers hostel in town, offering a choice of singles, doubles and small dorms in a beautifully restored Queenslander. There is also a swimming pool surrounded by hammocks for lazy days. One of the best cheap hotels in Cairns for those on a budget.

Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple Resort and Spa

Despite its mouthful of a name, Sea Temple is an elegant apartment-style hotel with direct access to Palm Cove’s palm tree-lined beach. For the ultimate indulgence, book a room with private plunge pool or rooftop spa.

Cairns Queenslander Hotel and Apartments

Just one block from the Cairns Esplanade Memorial Walk and beach, the Cairns Queenslander offers a range of accommodation including spacious private balcony rooms, standard rooms, and self-catering 2 bedroom apartments. For those travelling on business, the hotel is located close to Cairns Central Business District.

Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort

Located just minutes from Cairns city centre, this 5-star family-friendly resort is set on 28 acres of grounds that include swimming pools and a playground for the children, award winning tropical gardens and rainforest areas. The resort offers a range of accommodation, from luxury condos that sleep up to eight people, to spa villas, and tropical ensuite cabins. Tour companies collect at the front of the resort.

The Reef House

The Reef House is influenced by colonial style beach houses, with plantation shutters, latticework and lush greenery. It offers a relaxed tropical vibe and sits in the heart of Palm Cove’s beachfront boulevard.

Floriana Guesthouse

Occupying an enviable location on the Cairns Esplanade, Floriana Guest House is a heritage-listed former private mansion from the 1930s. Styled with period furnishings, it offers traditional hospitality along with an insight into Cairns history.