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Awash with bars, cafes and restaurants, Cairns is a tropical town geared up to receive visitors. It's so close to the Great Barrier Reef, the magical Daintree Rainforest and hippy town Kuranda that it's a magnet for everyone who wants to explore this region, and the best places to stay in Cairns really do come in all shapes, sizes and budgets.
You might think Cairns' lack of a beach might put a dampener on the party, but for many people Cairns is the beginning or the end of a journey up Australia's east coast, and this is a great place to meet people and share tips and journeys. And most people cope just fine with the beautiful lagoon in the centre of town, or catch a bus to the near-perfect beaches just to the north of town.
As well as welcoming and farewelling visitors, Cairns is surrounded by sugar cane, coffee and banana country, which creates an unexpected order to the views around town.
As well as being used as a base for some fantastic day trips, Cairns is becoming a bit of an adventure capital, with diving, sailing, skydiving, hang gliding, ballooning, kayaking, whale watching and mountain biking all on offer.
There are also plenty of operators who'll ferry you out into the Atherton Tablelands and up the coast in 4WDs. And of course the Kuranda Scenic Railway. And you're surrounded by pristine rainforest riddled with little tracks and trails.
Cairns also has a number of attractions set up solely for their numerous guests - like the Wildlife Dome, which is like a fancy indoor zoo, the Tjapukai Cultural Park, an indigenous-owned cultural centre, and numerous markets.
- The Shangri-La Hotel, Cairns is a five star luxury resort with all the trappings. You're right on the edge of the marina, with views over the water, the lush, topical hotel gardens or Cairns itself. As well as enjoying a peaceful spot, there are excellent facilities, including a fitness centre, and of course, waterfront dining.
Still not sure? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Cairns, or contact one of our friendly Gurus for advice. Or you can widen the net and check out all our Queensland recommendations.
Best Hotels in Cairns
Shangri-La Hotel, Cairns 256 rooms from $118Cairns (Pierpoint Road)
Five star luxury with all the trappings. Large and spacious rooms all with balconies with views either over the city, gardens or bay. Excellent facilities including outdoor pool, fitness centre and spa, and waterfront dining. A great spot on the Marina away from the main street.GymLively area - Located on MarinaSailing - Can be booked nearby.Swimming Pool - Indoor/outdoor
Lizard Island 40 rooms from $1343Cairns
A luxury hotel boasting epic sea views. Find utter tranquility in the simply dressed rooms; all white on white with plenty of light, dark wooden floors and large terraces (the best have plunge pools). Feast on exemplary seafood dishes in the restaurant and spend days exploring the reef. Superb.Beach Life - It's everything one dreams of, white sands, turquoise seas and, of course, there's the reef too.Diving - Book a half or full-day excursion and let the hotel take you to numerous diving hot spots.Restrictions on children - Children over 10 are welcome.Views - Great views from hotelRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith