Cairns Lagoon

Want to see the best Cairns has to offer within its CBD? There are plenty of fun things to do in the Cairns city as the city is teaming with activities and hidden gems to get stuck into.

1. Cairns Aquarium

Opened in 2017, the Cairns Aquarium is Cairns newest attraction and is a great day out. Can’t afford to get out to the reef or get seasick too often? The Cairns Aquarium is the solution.

Even those who plan on heading out to the reef, this aquarium is the only one in the world dedicated to Tropical North Queensland and is teaming with all types of TNQ life – therefore you’re almost 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 – enjoy the magic of the Great Barrier Reef …with air-conditioning!

Sarah Latham Cairns Aquarium

2. Cairns Lagoon

As the beautiful Cairns beaches are slightly further out of town, Cairns city has created its very own lagoon.

Refreshing and beautiful, the lagoon is set smack bang in the middle of the CBD on the Cairns Esplanade. Overlooking the ocean, it’s fish statue fountains are a Cairns icon. Open 7 days a week, it’s definitely worth taking a dip.

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 Cairns Night Markets also boast a multitude of stalls. From massages, to bush hats, glass blowing, souvenir stores and nail salons the night markets is a great place to wander around and pick up something unique along the way.

Open from 5pm to 11pm 7 days a week.

4. Cairns Zoom

What would you expect hidden in the roof of the casino at your home town? A crocodile? …

At Cairns we do things a little differently here. The top floor of the Cairns Casino (also home to the luxurious Pullman Reef Hotel Casino) is the Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome. Find yourself exploring a whole new world hidden above the pokies, cuddling koalas and zip lining over a 4m saltwater crocodile – no we’re not joking.

Cairns Zoom is open everyday from 9am to 615pm. 

Sarah Latham Cairns Zoom

5. Exercise on the Esplanade – For Free!

The Cairns Esplanade is teaming with exercise stations all for free use. Work out with a front row view of the ocean – the fresh sea breeze is better than any gym.

In addition, Cairns also offers multiple fitness classes – again, all for free. Choose from Zumba, Boxing, Yoga, Aqua Exercises… Find the latest information on class times and locations here.

6. Art Galleries

Cairns doesn’t only have a thriving dramatic arts scene, 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 Cairns Art Gallery on Abbott Street, UnderArt Gallery on Spence Street, Kickart Contemporary Arts on Abbott Street or Doongal Aboriginal Art on the Esplanade.

And if any of it captures your eye, there are opportunities to purchase some of these.

7. Esplanade Markets

Want markets in the day as well as night? Cairns has you covered. The Cairns Esplanade Markets are on every Saturday at the Lagoon with Cairns locals selling a variety of souvenirs, clothes, massages and other items.

Have a wander through between 8am and 4pm.

8. Live Music on the Esplanade

Love live music? Between 2-5pm every weekend, the esplanade is home to a variety go live bands all performing for free. Bring a picnic, sit back on the grass and soak in the relaxed atmosphere.

9. Prawn Star

Looking for an experience authentic to Cairns you’re unlikely to get anywhere else? Make sure you head down to Prawn Star at the Cairns Harbour. Dine in a converted fishing boat in the marina, as you dig in to fresh seafood. The menu includes oysters, salmon and of course, an abundance of prawns. Deelish.

10. Rusty’s Market

Want to shop where the locals do? Rusty’s is your answer. With the best fruit and veg you will find in Cairns, farmers from around Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands sell their produce every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the infamous Rusty’s Market.

Located between Sheridan and Grafton Street, if you turn up on a Sunday afternoon you are sure to nab some last minute deals.

If you are looking for more things to do in Cairns city, but happy to go slightly further afield, read my 18 Things To Do Within a 50km Radius of Cairns and for a more comprehensive list of things to do in the Cairns region read by 101 Things To Do in Cairns.