Cairns Travel Information

By air

Cairns International Airport (IATA: CNS) is the primary international gateway into the region and is also serviced by many domestic flights. Cairns airport has two terminals, a domestic terminal and an international terminal, both within walking distance from each other.

The international airlines serving Cairns are:

  • Qantas flying in direct from Narita (Tokyo).
  • Jetstar from Singapore, Osaka and Auckland.
  • Air Niugini flying from Port Moresby.
  • Blue Pacific flying from Auckland
  • Air New Zealand flying from Auckland.
  • Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong.
  • Airlines PNG flying from Port Moresby, Tabubil and Mt Hagen.
  • Continental Airlines flying from Guam.
  • Airfast Indonesia flying from Timika.
  • Korean Air flying from Incheon.
  • Plus various Charters operating out of China.

The domestic airlines serving Cairns are:

  • Qantas flying from Horn Island, Weipa, Gove/Nhulunbuy, Darwin, Perth, Alice Springs, Uluru, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and the Gold Coast.
  • Virgin Blue flying from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
  • Jetstar flying from Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.
  • Mac-Air flying from regional Queensland including Townsville and Mount Isa

The hourly-or-so Airport Shuttle bus into town costs $7, while a taxi will do the same trip directly to your destination for around $15. To the Cairns Beaches Shuttle prices vary, but indicative - Palm Cove  $18 pp each way, taxis around $60 for 4 persons. Scheduled (every 30 mins) buses run between the Cairns CBD and the Cairns Beaches. Prices vary - but indicative - Palm Cove (furthest) is $10 return. Scheduled buses do not run past Palm Cove and for points beyond (Ellis Beach, Port Douglas) the only public transport is by the various 'meet & greet' services operating from Cairns Airport.

By sea

A number of well known cruise ships stop off in Cairns. The Port of Cairns is one of Australia’s busiest cruise destinations with major international cruise ships scheduled annually and its array of domestic tour vessels operating on a daily basis.
The Port provides capacity for up to two cruise vessels with a dedicated cruise terminal on Wharf 2/3. The terminal, located in the heart of the City, is an easy walk to downtown shopping.

Close by, Cairns Marlin Marina provides first-class facilities and customer service for a diverse fleet including some of the world’s most advanced superyachts.

The state of the art floating marina, in the heart of Cairns,  accommodates a variety of cruising vessels including superyachts up to 80m. Cairns Marlin Marina is a short walk to the tropical swimming lagoon, 5 star hotels, shopping, dining, casino and the city’s vibrant nightlife. 
Australia’s most popular superyacht marina, Cairns Marlin Marina also provides first class facilities to cruising yachts and is home to Australia’s largest tourism and game fishing fleets.

By land

Cairns Railway Station is right in the city centre, easily within walking distance of the waterfront and most hotels.

Queensland Railways Tilt train and The Sunlander services connect Cairns to Brisbane (via Townsville and Rockhampton), taking 32 hours for the full journey. Even though the Tilt Train reaches speeds of 160km/h between Townsville and Brisbane, the diesel Tilt Train running between Brisbane and Cairns runs at a maximum of 80km/h between Townsville and Cairns due to the poor alignment of the line. Although a trip between Townsville and Cairns takes 4 hours by car, it can take over 7 hours by train.

The Kuranda Scenic Railway, also operated by Queensland Rail, runs from Cairns to Kuranda, stopping over the majestic Barron Gorge to allow passengers to leave the train and enjoy the beautiful view over the water falls.

The Savannahlander  travels from Cairns to Kuranda and then continues via Mt Surprise (setdown for Undara visits) on to the outback town of Forsayth.

By car

The 1700-km Bruce Highway running south along the coast connects Cairns to the state capital of Brisbane. It takes 22 hours to drive without stopping, and you should allow at least 2-3 days of solid driving, or longer for a more relaxed pace of drive up the coast. There are regular towns along the coast which make good stopping off and sightseeing points.