Cairns is a popular tourist destination in Australia, and, because of that fact, it has a very long and standard list of things to do. You can go bungy jumping, jump out of an airplane, take a boat out to the Great Barrier Reef and take tours galore. However, these all cost money, and if you’re not down for spending money every day (although these experiences are all definitely worth the splurge), then you might want to consider taking a take or two to indulge in money-free activities. Here are some of the great things to do in Cairns that don’t cost a dime!
Visit the Markets
Markets in Cairns are perfect places to browse fun and fresh items, people-watch, get a little bit of exercise and socialize. Rusty’s Markets occur for three days each weekend (Friday to Sunday) in the CBD between Sheridan and Grafton. Rusty’s contains over 180 stalls with everything from fresh fruit and gourmet food stuffs to jewelry and body products. The Cairns Night Markets start every evening at 5pm and has evolved from the old time open air markets to a permanent fixture with air conditioning in a building at the base of the Royal Harbour Hotel. There is a food court inside, as well as homewares, giftwares, jewelry and coffee shops.
Mt Whitfield Walks
Just outside of town, and nearer to the Cairns airport, lies the Mt. Whitfield Conservation Park. It is here that visitors can participate in one of two walks: the Red Arrow circuit or the Blue Arrow circuit. The Red Arrow circuit is the shorter of the two at just 1.3 kilometers in length. You can walk this one in about 1 hour returning. The Blue Arrow circuit is recommended only for fit people because of the steep slopes and rustic tracks. Returning, this 5.4 kilometer track can take 4 to 5 hours to complete.
Walk the Esplanade, and Stay a While
The Cairns Esplanade is one of the most happening places in the small city. It is here that visitors can swim in a filtered saltwater lagoon pool or take part in free fitness activities and classes. The entertainment calendar is booked up in advance for the Esplanade, and if any of those events don’t suffice, there are plenty of bbq and picnic areas to make your own afternoon or evening in Cairns enjoyable.
It is important to note that the swimming lagoon provides a safe place for locals and visitors to bask in the sun in cool waters without the threat of stingers, which are otherwise a threat in the beaches of north Queensland throughout some months of the year.
Cairns Regional Art Gallery
For a cultural experience, a stop at the Cairns Regional Art Gallery is on the list. Entry does cost $5, but children under 16 get in free, meaning this could make for a great cheap family activity in Cairns. The gallery features domestic and international work, and has a section for both Aboriginal and islander art.
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Check out the Northern Beaches
Cairns itself may not be known for having great beaches, but just north of the city is a 26 kilometer stretch of some of the most gorgeous beaches in Far North Queensland.
Take a day to check out Holloways Beach, Machan Beach, Yorkeys Knob Beach and on to Kewarra Beach and Palm Cove.
Get a glimpse of some of the great hotels in the northern beaches area that also offer beach wedding services.
Plan a trip to the region by checking out some of the budget airlines that fly to Cairns.
What other free things to do in Cairns would YOU recommend be on this list?