Cairns Car Hire

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  • Cairns is in the north of Queensland, approximately 2400 KM’s from Sydney and almost 3,000 KM’s from Melbourne.
  • Driving to Cairns from Perth is possible however it would take 3 days with plenty of stops as it is 5,100 KM’s
  • The closest major hub is Brisbane. You can fly into Brisbane and then up to Cairns in under an hour.
  • Cairns is a humid sub-tropical hotspot. The temperature varies between 25-35 degrees all year round.
  • You will drive on the left hand side of the road, and the maximum speed limit on the freeways is 110 KM/H
  • You can hire a mini car eg. a Hyundai Accent or similar from around $ 42 a day if you book in advance, and a compact car such as a VW Golf will cost you from around $ 47 a day.

Cairns Transport

Cairns Airport (code: CNS)

Cairns international airport is the country’s fifth busiest airport and flies both internationally and domestically. It is located the furthest north and therefore its close proximity to Asia makes it a common destination. The airlines that operate there on a daily basis are Quantas, Virgin Blue and Jetstar. The airport is easily accessible from the city by car, taxi or using the local shuttle bus, ran by Excellence Coaches.

Car hire TOP TIPS for Cairns

  • The average price for a rental car in Cairns is $ 39.90 a day.
  • The most popular rental car in Cairns is a Kia Rio with an average price of $ 34.25, but the cheapest in the last 12 months was $15.30 a day which was rented in February using Europcar.
  • The cheapest overall was Hyundai Accent for $ 13.48 per day which was rented in April using East Coast Rentals.
  • The Mitsubishi ASX was most popular larger vehicle with an average price of $ 38.72 and the cheapest sold was $ 19.92 per day.
  • The most popular supplier was East Coast Rentals, but the cheapest in the last 12 months was alos East Coast Rentals.

Cairns driving Tips

  • Hiring a car is the recommended way to see this region, as a lot of the sights are outside the town.

  • The speed limit in the city centre is 40 km per hour to improve road safety but is 50 km per hour on suburban residential streets.
  • Be aware that random roadside breathalyzer checks for alcohol units is a rather regular occurrence in Cairns.
  • Be cautious when driving in less built up areas, as animals such as kangaroos often wonder onto the roads.


There are regular buses which start from City Place and run to all over the city including the Northern beaches. Long distance coaches also run interstate from Reef Terminal on the Cairns Esplanade.

Things to do in Cairns


Cairns is an eco tourism hub with most visitors accessing the Great Barrier Reef then there are land based adventures to Mossman Gorge on the edge of the Daintree Forest and Cape Tribulation. Also there are a few tourist attractions in and around Cairns plus premium golf courses

Start the day with a walk along the beach

To start with first thing in every day before it heats up is an early morning walk along the sandy beaches then cool off with a swim in your hotel pool on return. Okay and now for some exploring in and around Cairns with a trip on the old steam train to Kurandra. Kurandra is less than 10kms form Cairns and the steam train winds its way up the foothills and being higher its always a little cooler than down on the coast. There is food and other delicacies and a weekly market with all sorts of goodies. On the return trip you can take the rainforest ride on a gondala back to Cairns. This is a very pleasant and peaceful trip.

Further afield about an hours drive north is Mossman Gorge where the rain forest has trees over a hundred years old. Best to take a walking tour and you will be likely to get an enthusiastic person from the local indigenous tribe whose ancestors have been in the area for 1000’s of years. Their knowledge and history plus their stories of the “dreamtime” is an invaluable experience.

More adventurous

For the more adventurous the longer trip and overnight stay at Cape Tribulation which includes camping out, river cruising and bush walks – watch out for those “crocs”.

Great Barrier Reef tours

Now for the ultimate experience with a day tour to the Great Barrier Reef. This is a full day adventure with a one to two hour boat trip on a well equipped fit for purpose large ocean going vessel. There are plenty of supplies on board with morning and afternoon tea as well as an ample lunch provided. The main focus is snorkelling or for the experienced scuba diving to special parts of the Reef where there are many colourful and expansive corals with the sea life as equally amazing. There is something for everyone from the novice to the expert and the young to old.

If you are still looking for something else there is always the Casino to whittle away your hard earned, good luck.

Eating out in Cairns

Like most major tourist destinations there are loads of different cuisines with much fusion and contemporary influences given the rich cultural mix of Far North Queensland.:

The Reef Casino is a testament to the rich cultural impact on food with a wide selection of restaurants to satisfy the palette and budget. There is one there that is sure to work

Noa in Collins Ave Edgehill is slightly out of town with a relaxed open dining experience shared with locals. For lunches there is the shaded deck or fine outdoor dining of an evening once the heat of the day has passed. The menu offers many of the big city favourites and some local specialities centred on seafood fresh from the Coral Sea as well as land based produce from the nearby Atherton Tablelands

To take the outdoor dining experience to a new level try Tha Fish which is located at the Cairns Marina with stunning water views as well as the backdrop of the nearby mountains. This is an enjoyable seafood affair without busting the budget, there is also a kids menu

Guide to Cairns

Cairns is situated in far north Queensland is a sprawling tropical holiday and lifestyle regional centre with a local population of approx. 0.1m people and attracting more than 2m visitors annually with a strong mix of both domestic and international tourists. Many international tourists either start or end their Australian adventure in Cairns as they take the challenge of the long drive up or down the east coast to or from the likes of th major capital cities of Brisbane or Sydney and maybe even Melbourne for an extra long drive 3000kms plus.

Cairns is warm to hot all year round with high humidity during the summer months of December to February. Cairns is very well positioned for tourists wanting to go out to the barrier reef as well as visit the lively holiday spot of Port Douglas an hours drive further north.

Cairns climate

There are original locals plus those that have migrated from the south in search of warmer weather, a relaxed lifestyle plus a lower cost of living. With the locals there is a diverse ethnic mix with the first Australians being well represented then some islanders of Polynesian background plus those who have links to the people of Papua New Guinea. There are also plenty of from Anglo heritage

A word of warning

Being this far north there are more things that can kill you namely crocodiles which can be in any of the waterways including along the beaches. Also at the beach during the summer months, November to March, there are stingers in the water. These jellyfish type creatures can make humans quite ill if stung and in some cases affixation due to swelling of the airways

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FAQs about car hire in Cairns

Most frequently asked questions about hiring a car in Cairns

Prices start at $24.00 per day for a compact Kio Rio or similar
You can hire a Toyota Carolla or similar for around $27.00 per day
At Cairns airport you can find East Coast Rentals, Alamo, Europcar, Enterprise, Sixt and Hertz.
You will get the cheapest prices by booking in advance online, and East Coast car rental is normally the cheapest on Enjoy.
Cairns is generally way less expensive than the large cities of Australia. On average while traveling there you’ll spend $57 per day.
Having a car during your trip in Cairns will be worth it because it will allow you to explore at your own pace and see the beauty of the land as your tour through it.
If you’re planning to drive around the Cairns and to other cities, then prepare for long rides. At least driving in Cairns, and Australia in general, is pleasant, with the roads being in great condition.
Cairns is one of the almost mandatory places to visit if you want to visit the Great Barrier Reef. That is why exploring the Cairns, means taking a boat and discovering the largest living organism on the planet.
The best time to travel to Cairns in Australia is from February to December, where you have pleasant or warm weather and moderate precipitation. The average maximum temperature in Cairns is 29°C in January and 23°C in July.
For small cars the budget friendly options begin at $198 for a week, which means more or less $28 a day.
The cheapest offers allow you to rent a car for a whole month for $869, or $29 per day. As mentioned earlier, this depends on the season you book and the car type.
The average price of a litre of fuel in Cairns can vary between $ 1.40 and $ 2.00.

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