12 Awesome Things to Do in Cairns CBD
Wanting to see the best Cairns has to offer within the city? There are plenty of fun things to do in Cairns CBD – the city is teaming with activities and hidden gems to get stuck into.
Take advantage of your time in Cairns by ticking off as many of these as possible.
1. Cairns Aquarium
Opened in 2017, the Cairns Aquarium is Cairns newest attraction and is a great day activity. Can’t afford to get out to the reef or get seasick? The Cairns Aquarium is the solution. Even those who plan on heading out to the Reef, the Cairns Aquarium is the only aquarium in the world dedicated to Tropical North Queensland and is teaming with all types of TNQ life – therefore you’re guaranteed to experience something you haven’t seen in the wild yet.
Open 9am to 5pm Saturday to Thursday and 9am to 7pm on Friday, general admission tickets are $42 adult, $28 child and $34 concession.
Bring your friends or go adventuring solo, you’re guaranteed a great day – plus, there’s air-conditioning!
Find out more here.
2. Cairns Lagoon
As the beautiful Cairns beaches are slightly further out of town, and the city is surrounded by un-swimmable mudflats, Cairns has created its very own lagoon. Refreshing and beautiful, the lagoon is set right in the middle of the CBD on the Cairns Esplanade. Overlooking the ocean, it’s iconic fish statue fountains are seen across many photos in Cairns. Open 7 days a week, it’s definitely one of the coolest spots to hang out and relax in Cairns.
3. Night Markets
Along the Cairns Esplanade you’ll find the entrance to the famous Cairns Night Markets. Equipped with a large food court, with a variety of international (and cheap!) food, the night market also boasts many stalls. From massages, to bush hats, glass blowing, souvenir stores and nail salons the night market is a great place to stop and shop in the CBD. Open from 5pm to 11pm 7 days a week.
4. Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns Theatre
Get cultured at the Cairns Centre of Contemporary Arts Theatre, located on Abbott Street, the theatre is easy to spot due to the large jelly bean men statues standing in line out the front. Pop in to see the latest Cairns production and experience another side to Cairns culture as the acting and dramatic arts scene is thriving in this small town. Find out the latest production here.
5. Casino Cairns Zoom
What would you expect hidden in the roof of the casino at your home town? 100 security guards anxiously watching the security tapes to find the latest card counter most likely… Well in Cairns, we do things a little differently here. The top floor of the Cairns Casino is the Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome. Find yourself having an amazing day cuddling koalas, and ziplining over a 4m saltwater crocodile – no we’re not joking. Cairns Zoom is open everyday from 9am to 615pm. You can find out more of the different price options here.
6. Exercise on the Esplanade – For Free!
No this isn’t a “go for a walk along the esplanade” must do. The Cairns Esplanade is teaming with exercise stations, all for free use along the esplanade. Work out with a front row view to the ocean and feel the fresh air on your face – it’s better than any gym! You’ll find them dotted all along the Cairns esplanade foreshore.
In addition Cairns also offers multiple fitness classes – all for free – along the Esplanade. There is Zumba, Boxing, Yoga, Aqua Zumba… Find the latest up to date information for when each class is on here and get active!
7. Art Galleries
Cairns isn’t just into theatre, there is also a wonderful array of galleries smattered across the city. From local Indigenous artwork to international artists, immerse yourself for a day or two across all the brilliant artwork on display. Visit the Cairns Art Gallery on Shield Street in the city, the Kickart Contemporary Arts Cairns on Abbott Street or venture over to the Tanks Art Centre on Collins Avenue, just outside of the CBD, in Edgehill. You even have the opportunity to purchase some of the artwork if any captures your eye.
8. Esplanade Markets
Can’t get enough of markets that the Night Markets won’t cut it for you? Well Cairns has you covered, with Esplanade markets every Saturday, market stalls pop up around the Cairns Lagoon with Cairns locals selling a variety of souvenirs, clothes and other services. Check them out between 8am and 4pm every Saturday
9. Live Music on the Esplanade
Love live music? Between 2-5pm every weekend, the esplanade is home to a variety of live bands all performing for free. Sit back on the grass, relax with your friends, bring a picnic and soak in the amazing atmosphere.
10. Prawn Star
Want an experience authentic to Cairns you’re unlikely to get anywhere else? Make sure you head down to Prawn Star in the Cairns harbor. Sit in a converted fishing boat right in the Marina and dig in to some of the freshest seafood you will ever taste. Choose from an amazing menu including oysters, salmon, and of course, an abundance of prawns. Find out more here.
11. Rusty’s Market
Want to shop where the locals do? Want some of the freshest and best fruit and veg you’ll find in Cairns? You’ll get both at Rusty’s Market! Farmers from around Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands bring their produce down to Rusty’s every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Not only is the food fresher than the supermarket chains, it’s also cheaper. Extra tip: turn up Sunday afternoon to get even better deals before the stalls close up for the week.
Trust the locals they know best.
12. BBQ on the Esplanade
Cairns Esplanade is full of free to use barbeques. Grab your new hostel mates, or your friends from around Cairns and head down for a relaxing night and a great atmosphere. You’ll find barbeques all along the esplanade but mostly near the Cairns Lagoon – perfect to finish your meal with a night swim under the stars.
Written by Sarah Latham