The bliss of sunny, cheerful Cairns is sure to put a smile on your dial. There is so much to see and do, meaning an action-packed two day getaway in this seaside city. Give your hired car engine a whirr and hit the road so you make the most of 48 hours in Cairns!

We’ve taken the stress out of planning by scheduling activities that flow well from one to the next, so embark on your Cairns adventure with ease.

Day One

Great Barrier Reef 

No trip to Cairns is complete without a journey out to the Great Barrier Reef. This sparkling oceanic region, complete with coral and schools of fish in a spectrum of colours to delight the eyes, is the only living structure on Earth that is visible from outer space.

The dry winter season is actually the most recommended time to go diving because the lack of rainfall offers clearer ocean waters. A key perk of diving in June is the increased likelihood of spotting minke or humpback whales on their migration journey.

Better yet, the typical swimming season runs between April and October. Even in July, the seawater temperatures are around 23-24 degrees Celsius – so the conditions are very suitable for dipping into the water year-round. Grab your snorkelling gear and be sure to take an underwater camera so you can click the marvellous rainbow of colours below!

For those who want to stay dry, plenty of the pontoons above the reef have underwater viewing platforms and observatories, as well as semi-submersible submarines with educational commentary about the 1,500 species of fish and other marine life surrounding you.

Start your once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Reef early in the morning, as most tours can take up a large section of the day. Once you’re back from the waves, hop back in your car and head on over to some lovely evening tourist activities in the city.

Esplanade Boardwalk

With birds dotted throughout the scenic boardwalk, listening to the sweet sounds of them singing and chirping is sure to put you in a relaxing mood after a day out at sea. Take this time for a leisurely stroll, a well earned time to unwind after all the swimming activities of the day.

There is stunning public art installed along the boardwalk for you to contemplate and peruse. In the evenings from Tuesday to Thursday, a 4,800 square metre salt water swimming lagoon is opened up between 6.p.m and 9.p.m so little ones can splash around as the sunset paints the sky in watercolour shades of pink and purple. Lifeguards are always on duty during the opening hours, so parents can relax and enjoy.

If you happen to be staying in Cairns on a weekend, the boardwalk is an entertainment hub for live music. Free entry to a range of musical performances can be enjoyed, lounging on the grass as you let your body rest after the fun events of the day. You’ll be sure to drive back to your accommodation in a blissful mood!

Day Two 

Cairns Botanic Gardens

a young girl hugging a large tree
The interactive touchscreens and interpretive signs placed throughout the gardens will delight both the young and the young at heart.

Delight your eyes after seeing the wonders of blue oceans with the marvels of green gardens in this lush landscape. Only a short drive just over four kilometres from the city centre, these gardens traverse an impressive 38 hectares including the Centenary Lakes, Mount Whitfield Conservation Park and the Flecker Gardens which were established as far back as 1886.

Families will love trailing through the gardens thanks to a range of educational and informative interactive touch screens describing the points of interest and history. Guided tours are on offer for free every Tuesday and Thursday at 10.a.m and 1.p.m. For tech-savvy visitors, there are iPods available for hire providing a detailed self-guided tour through the greenery. Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre also sells novel hand-made crafts and souvenirs.

SkyRail Rainforest Cableway


Stretching a massive 7.5 kilometres over the tops of pristine rainforests, riding the cableway is a must-do. Located at the corner of Cairns Western Arterial Road and Cook Highway, Smithfield, the cableway is a short 15 minute drive from Cairns CBD.

The cable cars glide along the canopies of emerald green trees, dipping through the leaves at certain points. A return trip lasts around 2.5 hours, whereas a single trip is an hour less. Sit back and relax into the comfortable seats as you gaze out the 360 degree glass windows at the surrounding flora and fauna!