The gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is the vibrant hub of tropical Far North Queensland. It boasts a spectacular setting backed by the Atherton Tablelands, with palm-lined streets, beautiful beaches and a bustling waterfront esplanade.

Cairns is a major tourist center, with a great selection of accommodation to suit all budgets and plenty of cafes and shopping plazas. It has a lively nightlife, with pubs, bars and nightclubs clustered in the city center, together with a range of restaurants showcasing cuisines from around the world.

Don’t miss a visit to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park where you can hear stories of indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people presented through music and dance. The Flecker Botanic Gardens is also of note, with more than 100 tropical palm species and picturesque walking trails, and you can learn more about the city’s heritage at the Cairns Historical Society Museum.

While the city of Cairns doesn’t have any natural beaches, there are plenty of idyllic stretches of sand along the surrounding coast between Trinity Bay and Port Douglas. Or you can cool off in the creatively designed, lagoon-style pool that lies in the center of the city.

Spend a day exploring the lush Atherton Tableland to the northwest of Cairns, with waterfall walks and rainforest hikes, as well as the charismatic town of Kuranda that is famed for its market. You can ride the Kuranda Scenic Railway through the World Heritage-listed rainforests of Barron Gorge National Park or take the Skyrail cableway for a bird’s eye view.