Getting to Cairns - Transport by Air, Train, Road & Boat

Getting to Cairns

Cairns By Air

Cairns Airport is the main gateway to Tropical North Queensland. It boasts international, domestic and general aviation terminals. It is serviced by major international, national and state air carriers. There are many direct flights for international travellers: New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, Guam and Papua New Guinea as well as Singapore via Darwin. Cairns Airport is Australia's fifth busiest in terms of international passengers.

Cairns Airport offers both domestic and international flights. Airfield operations are 24 hours, and terminal operations including shops, cafes at both pre and post immigration points are open in accordance with flight schedules.

The website has live details on the current departures and arrivals at both the domestic and international terminals, updated every three minutes. If you're arriving in Cairns by plane then you might need an airport transfer to get you to your accommodation.

Cairns By Train

The Sunlander

Sunlander Train Route MapMore Info

Offering passengers a comfortable and scenic way to view the inland coast of Queensland, the Sunlander travels return from Brisbane to Cairns three times per week. The Sunlander meanders its way through the scenic, lush countryside of inland coastal towns of Bundaberg and Gladstone through to the sub-tropical region in Mackay, Proserpine and Bowen, until reaching its final destination of Cairns.

Passengers can travel in first or economy class sleeping berths and seating is also available. Waterways Restaurant also provides an excellent array of sumptuous meals accompanied with quality Australian wines, as well as a licensed buffet car.

For a totally relaxing and unwinding experience, this multi award-winning train offers the Queenslander Class, an ideal way to experience the picturesque coastal stretch between Brisbane and Cairns, in comfortable, fully air-conditioned lounge cars, club cars and dining facilities.

Making for a leisurely 31-hour journey, The Queenslander offers first class travel with comfortable single or double sleeping berths, overhead reading lights, washbasins, fresh crisp linen, stationery packs, toiletries and bathrobes are provided in each cabin. Sumptuous meals are presented in the fine dining atmosphere of the Coral Cay Restaurant, while the Daintree Lounge provides the perfect place to wile away the hours with a cool drink and live entertainment.

Spirit of Queensland

Spirit of QueenslandTrain Route MapMore Info

Queensland Rail's brand new Tilt Train fleet was launched in October 2013 and focuses on relaxation, comfort and modern facilities. Connecting visitors to major tourist destinations from South East to Central Queensland, the new Spirit of Queensland train boasts an Australian first, the revolutionary RailBed - seats that convert to a lie-flat bad.

As Australia's fastest train, this service operates in each direction between Brisbane and Cairns and is outfitted with state-of-the-art facilities and catering. Providing a smooth and comfortable ride, the Spirit of Queensland is perfect for day trips and a wonderful choice to explore any of the amazing spots along the Capricorn and Coral Coasts including Fraser Island, Hervey Bay, Rockhampton and more. 

Offering the same journey as the Sunlander, only within 24 hours. Find out more about the Spirit of Queensland.

Cairns By Boat

ferry from CairnsCairns is well serviced with marinas for boating enthusiasts. A rising number of overseas cruise ships call at the Cairns Seaport regularly. It is Australia's busiest cruise port with over 200 international and domestic cruise ship visits a year and provides a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and a 213 berth Marina accommodating a variety of cruising vessels, superyachts and reef vessels. Cairns Seaport offers extensive and experienced ship building and repair services offering some of the most experienced, quality assured luxury repair facilities for superyachts in the southern hemisphere.

Cairns By Road

Road to CairnsThe distance to Cairns by the most practicable direct route is:

  • 1700 km from Brisbane
  • 2700 km from Sydney
  • 2800 km from Darwin
  • 3100 km from Melbourne

You could hire a car from another city and depending on whether the facilities are available you can drop it off to the same provider when you arrive in Cairns. Otherwise, get an airport transfer from the nearest airport to where you are staying.

Cairns By Coach

Coach travel is an efficient and pleasurable way to see the countryside. Major coach companies operate luxury, air conditioned vehicles with express services between major Australian cities and Cairns.