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Car hire in Cairns

Hiring a car in Cairns

If you love exploring all that nature has to offer but still like to have your modern conveniences close to hand, Cairns could be your dream destination. For many, the city of Cairns (pronounced 'Cans') is the start of the ultimate adventure in Australia, becoming known as the 'gateway to North Queensland'.

Cairns has a laidback, tropical vibe that welcomes travellers with open arms. You don't have to go far to find interesting and beautiful attractions that are sure to fill your camera with photos. In order to see as much of what Cairns and the surrounding area has to offer, it really pays to invest in a hire car.

What you need to know

With Cairns being the arrival point for so much international travel, it won't surprise you to find that there are a lot of choices when it comes to car hire. Some of the biggest and best car hire companies provide vehicles in the city, so you'll be able to find the vehicle that suits your needs.

To make it easier to choose your hire car, use Holiday Autos' booking tool. This will show you all the packages available for the dates of your trip without hiding any costs. You also have the benefit of around the clock support and free cancellation so you know that if you have any problems or your plans change, you won't be out of pocket.

Where to pick up your car

One of the easiest options when it comes to collecting your hire car is to do so from Cairns Airport (CNS). The major car hire companies that operate in Cairns offer pick-up at the airport, with a number of the offices in the airport terminal. Some companies provide a free shuttle bus service to their pick-up points, saving you the need for a taxi.

You can also collect your vehicle from other areas throughout Cairns, as many companies have offices in the city. It is worth checking to see where the your chosen company has offices, as you may find that the airport is the easiest option.

Best Car Hire Companies Cairns


Car Hire Reviews Cairns

  • “The pick-up was easy, it took 5 minutes from arriving at the desk to driving out the car, and the return took even less time.”
    Diane T

Where to go

Cairns has so much on offer that you'll likely struggle to fit everything into your trip. It has a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites nearby, including Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, which are must-sees. In fact, there are so many natural sites to visit that you're sure to fall in love with the area.

If you fancy a dip to cool off after exploring parts of the tropical paradise, you can head to Cairns' lagoon or drive to any of the northern beaches. On top of all of this, there is a lot of history to learn about and there are some great museums in which to do so.

It's easy to see why so many people travel to Cairns even if they aren't exploring the rest of Australia. Make sure you can take it all in by hiring a car and revelling in the freedom it affords you.

Nearby Cairns

To start your adventure in Cairns, you don't need to go far. Simply drive up the Redlynch Intake Road and turn into state Route 91 to reach the idyllic Crystal Cascades. The 19km drive will take you to a series of waterfalls that are truly beautiful to behold. The water falling from the rocks also forms a few swimming holes that are crocodile-free and popular with the locals.

If you want to get a sense of Australia's original culture, drive the 15km to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Recently renovated, the park is award-winning and has so much for you to see and experience. You can watch pear-throwing demonstrations, see how boomerangs work and even head off on a canoe ride that could let you get close to some turtles.

Longer drives

You can't really visit Cairns without taking the drive to see the Great Barrier Reef. You can hop on a boat for a tour of the reef from Port Douglas, which is just over 66km from Cairns. The drive is relatively straight-forward and takes you along the coast so you can enjoy fantastic views. Whether you want to stay on the boat or try snorkelling or scuba diving, you'll be amazed at the natural beauty of the reef and the bright blue waters.

Another must-visit UNESCO World Heritage Site is Daintree Rainforest, which is around two hours from the centre of Cairns via the Captain Cook Highway. Not only is the rainforest absolutely stunning, it also offers a range of things to do including tours, activities and hiking trails.

Top attractions to visit in Cairns

You'll never run out of things to do in and around Cairns, especially if you have a hire car at your disposal. With some amazing attractions on offer, you won't want your holiday to end.

Cairns’ Esplanade, Boardwalk and Lagoon

Popular with locals and tourists alike, Cairns' Esplanade offers an amazing swimming lagoon that has been created on the foreshore of the city. The Lagoon is chlorinated salt water and offers the perfect way to cool off after enjoying the tropical weather. If you don't want to swim, you can also head to the Boardwalk, which provides free barbecues and great picnic areas.

Flecker Botanical Gardens

Flecker Botanical Gardens are the only wet tropic botanic gardens in the entire country. The collection of plants are from all over the world, from South America to South East Asia, all of which can survive in the climate of Cairns. The gardens are beautiful to behold, as is the visitor centre, which is completely made of mirrors. If you have an interest in birdwatching, this is definitely the attraction for you.

Cairns Tropical Zoo

For a chance to get up close and personal with some of Australia's wildlife, spend a day at Cairns Tropical Zoo. Here you can cuddle up with a koala and try your hand at feeding kangaroos - experiences you won't get anywhere else in the world. You'll also get a chance to see some of Australia's scarier inhabitants, although from a safe distance.