The Great North-eastern Queensland region has been a tourist destination for Australian and International travellers for as long as we can remember. All year-round travellers arrive in Cairns to explore one of the world’s oldest standing rainforests Cape Tribulation, and of course one of the great wonders of the world the Great Barrier Reef. But up in Northern Queensland there is so much more to see than the rainforest and the reef – our Cairns Airport Car Hire team has put together a list of their favourite things to do everything from their go-to cafes, how they spend their days off, to where they’re heading on a long weekend. All the in’s and outs and local insider secrets from our Cairns staff to make sure you can have the BEST time on your Cairns road trip!

Christine Lawsons, Rental Agent

What are some of your favourite cafes and restaurants to enjoy in Cairns?

One of my absolute favourites has to be Coffee Works – located in the Atherton Tablelands coffee works is a local coffee roastery. You’re immediately invited in by the fresh coffee aroma – in addition to coffee they also make their own chocolate you’ve got to try their Lemon Myrtle. It’s my favourite! The vibe is outback, they have BBQ lunches and you can even tour the roasting area. It’s a must!

Mareeba Deli is a local favourite right in Cairns – they serve up homemade Italian foods, and delicious coffee and they have vegan options as well.

Jacques Coffee and Skybury Coffee are two great little local cafes – they both roast their own coffee and aren’t far from our rental office.

You’d be silly to visit Cairns and not treat yourself to ice cream. Emerald Creek Ice Creamery is a local ice shop that uses local fruits in all their flavours – even dragon fruit!

How would you spend your day off in Cairns?

On my days off, I enjoy grabbing a coffee from one of my favourite cafes and visiting the museum at Centenary Park in Mareeba. There’s no rush so I take things slow, enjoying a tour of the museum learning about the tobacco industry that used to reside here in Cairns – after that I end the day at the Gateway Hotel on main street to enjoy a cold drink and a tasty meal.

There’s a three-day weekend coming up, where are you heading?

Something that most people might not think about when they visit Cairns is hot air ballooning – it’s a great way to see Cairns’s beautiful landscape from a different perspective.

What should someone do before their flight?

If someone has the day free before heading back to reality, I’d recommend visiting the Barron Falls in Kuranda – they’re truly magnificent when they’re in full force.

Terry, Rental Sales Agent

What are a few of your favourite cafes, restaurants, or bars?

There are definitely a few – Cairns has no shortage of venues to choose from. First would be 3 Wolves – a locally own and operated distillery known for using local products to create local spirits. Next would be Villa Romano, I am heading here if I am looking for dinner and a view – situated downtown overlooking the esplanade their food is great and the ambiance is welcoming. Third would be Candy, one of my favourite cafes; great coffee and the value for your money is excellent. Now I’ve saved the best for last – Fettas Greek Taverna not only has amazing Greek food but the experience is second to none – they restaurants interior design, and allowance to smash a few plates while you are there make for a great cultural dining experience.

What is your favourite thing tourist thing to do in Cairns?

The Cairns Art Gallery is always enjoyable – especially on a rainy day. I then like to head up to Palm Cove to enjoy lunch overlooking the ocean and Palm Trees – it’s the perfect way to relax.

How do you make the most out of a long weekend in Cairns?

When I long weekends around I love to jump in my car and make my way up to Cooktown – not only is the drive lots of fun but the heritage along the way is truly unique.

Along the way you can stop at Chilligoe, located in Northern Queensland National Park where you can spend an afternoon exploring giant limestone caves. Then continuing up the road you’ll reach the Undara Volcanic National Park where you will explore the ancient lava tubed caves, it’s also a great place to spend the night on your drive up to Cooktown.

What is the best thing in Cairns to do before your flight?

Visiting the lakes and botanical gardens – they’re nice and close to our office making it easy to enjoy your last afternoon completely stress-free.

Paula, Rental Agent

Where is your favourite place to visit?

The Daintree Rainforest – no question. As soon as you cross the ferry you begin your journey through the world’s OLDEST surviving rain forest. A great place to visit while you are there is the Daintree Discovery Centre: a paid at your leisure high above the treetops walk through the rainforest. You may even spot a cassowary or two while having a coffee or snack at their café, Thornton’s or as I knew it as the “Café on the Sea” is a busy café that is right on the beach.

What is your favourite tourist thing to do in Cairns?

Snorkelling off the Great Barrier Reef! Ocean Safari in Cape Tribulation is the ONLY tour that heads out to the far North Reef unlike any other tours in Port Douglas and Cairns. Ocean Safari takes you to two different snorkelling locations off the reef to showcase a variety of different marine life. Only operating as a half day tour you spend more time on the reef compared to full-day tours and less time on the boat with fewer people! It’s really a win-win!

What is the best thing to do on long weekend in Cairns?

Surrounding Cairns are three boardwalks that take you through varying scenery showcasing the natural beauty of the Northern QLD region. First up is Jindalba, you will spend the day walking through the rainforest ducking under tree branches, crossing bridges, passing by massive trees with wildlife surrounding you. The second is Madja – this is where the Rainforest meets the mouth of the river. As you walk through the dense rainforest the path transitions to Mangroves as you reach the river. Lastly is Dubuji – this path runs perpendicular between the rainforest and the beach, a comparison of scenery you will only find here!

How to make the most of your time in Cairns before your flight?

Choose from one of the 8 different coastal walks that surround Cairns! Ellis Beach, Palm Cove, Clifton Beach, Kewarra & Trinity, Yorkeys Knob, Holloways, and Machans Beach are all so amazing. Depending on how much time you have I’d suggest revisiting your favourite with a cup of coffee to take every last bit of your holiday before returning your rental back to us at East Coast Car Rentals.