We’re always searching for a bargain and travelling on a budget is a great way to get one!

Cairns is the tropical gateway of North Queensland providing millions of tourists each year with a base to visit the Atherton Tablelands, Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation. It’s also where you can make your way to the Great Barrier Reef which makes the city an extremely popular tour destination. The beauty of Cairns is that its warm climate makes it the perfect getaway for thrill seekers who are searching for adventure such as scuba diving, bungee jumping or even skydiving. If you prefer a more laid back holiday, the city has lush gardens to stroll in during the day and markets to explore at night.

We’ve complied the below list detailing some of our favourite free or low cost activities in and around Cairns!

  • Swim at the lagoon

    Located along the esplanade is the Cairns lagoon. The lagoon provides a great swimming area for families, as well as a safe environment that is patrolled by lifeguards. From here you can swim to your hearts content with views of Trinity Inlet for you to look out on. There are BBQ facilities dotted around the lagoon but also shops and restaurants surrounding the area. Further down the esplanade you’ll find volley ball nets, a playground and skate park to enjoy! The Cairns lagoon is popular amongst locals and visitors alike and well worth a visit.

  • Rusty’s Farmer Market

    This farmers market is open on the mornings of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Head here to buy all your fresh fruits and vegetables if you’re wanting to cut back on costs and prepare some meals on your holiday. A great tip is to come bright and early in the morning for the best produce or right before the market closes as prices are usually slashed and much cheaper. Most backpackers accommodation have shared kitchens where you can prepare meals to save on paying restaurant prices for three meals each day!

  • Gilligan’s Backpackers

    This hostel markets itself as a luxe backpacker’s property with many facilities and amenities to ensure their guests have an amazing time there. It’s centrally located next to Rusty’s Farmers Market and shops, and have their own lagoon, free Wi-Fi and fitness centre for all guests to use. Their deck bar and entertainment venues mean you only need to step out of your room to be in the heart of the action and you have a choice of dormitory or hotel room accommodation for every type of budget. When your trip begins, the hostel even has their own free airport shuttle service that will you pick you up and take you to Gilligan’s.

  • Kuranda trails

    There’s heaps to do in the rainforest that surrounds the village of Kuranda, you can take the scenic railway journey for amazing views of the world heritage listed forest and its picturesque waterfalls, or even head to the wildlife park to see some of Australia’s native animals. Choose from shaded forest walks during the hottest months or walk the delightful open air tracks when its slightly cooler. The rainforest is beautiful in this part of the world and should not be missed!

  • Great Barrier Reef

    With over 290 reef sites in the Great Barrier Reef, you simply must visit this natural wonder while you’re in Cairns. To get the best value for money, there are cheap tours that can whisk you to some of the reef sites where you can snorkel for hours exploring the underwater world. If you’re going to splurge on anything while visiting Cairns it should absolutely be on a tour of the Great Barrier Reef! Last Minute Day Tours have a number of budget friendly reef tours for you to enjoy that wont break the bank!

Related article: Is Port Douglas near Cairns?