When you arrive at Cairns Airport, you need a quick and efficient car hire pick-up with no red tape and the keys in your hand. We can offer you the best car rental deal, so you can hit the road quickly.
Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns in northern Queensland is the ideal place for a holiday. Although the real natural delights lie offshore, the city is a cosmopolitan and tropical gem. There are activities galore, from a simple stroll on the Esplanade to ballooning, hang-gliding, sky-diving and, of course, diving in the underwater wonderland.
A car rental makes it easy to navigate the city and its beautiful surroundings. Cairns is a spread-out city and the lovely beaches are located to the north and south rather than near the CBD, so having your own wheels is a definite advantage. Booking in advance means you can pick up your Cairns Airport car hire and drive away with no worries!
Great Prices, Right Car
Don’t spend hours scouring the internet for quotes to compare. Airportrentals.com delivers a full selection of Cairns Airport car hire options, thanks to our simple search engine! Just input your travel details, including the dates for your rental, and you will have a list of the many car rental suppliers at Cairns Airport. A huge range of companies and brands are displayed on the site, from the local Cairns Affordable Car Rentals to the multinationals of Hertz and Budget. Reviews and vehicle features are displayed with each result to help you make an informed decision.
Comparisons are easy with so many rental brands together on one site. Airport Rentals makes it even easier with filters to narrow down the Cairns car hire options. Filter by fleet, class or transmission to find the perfect vehicle, be it a luxury SUV or a simple economy hatchback. We are constantly working with suppliers to bring our customers the best and cheapest prices online, so there is no need to worry about paying a premium for the convenience.
Car Rental Cairns Airport: Where to Now in Queensland?
Picking up your car hire at Cairns Airport is easy- the difficult part is deciding where to take it! To the north is Port Douglas, a coastal resort town with beautiful beaches. Also nearby is the beautiful Daintree Rainforest, a great place to visit on a road trip. The Cape York Peninsula is a remote but scenic part of the country, often overlooked by tourists.
South of Cairns, a series of lovely beach towns and cities lead down the coast towards Brisbane and the Gold Coast. A highlight is the Whitsundays, the islands which lie offshore near Airlie Beach. This bucket list destination is a tropical paradise, a must-visit part of the Queensland coast and easily accessible in a rental car.
Wherever your travels take you, a car hire from Cairns Airport is a great way to begin the journey!
At AirportRentals.com we have many options for your car rental at Cairns Airport.
We have the major brands which have late model car rentals located directly at Cairns Airport. This is the most convenient car hire option, however you often pay more to pick up direct from Cairns Airport.
We also have car hire suppliers who are located very near Cairns Airport and offer a complimentary shuttle. They pick you up and take you to their office to collect the car.
Whilst the cars on offer for hire are often the same late model vehicles, there are some great savings to be made if you don't mind the shuttle ride.
On Airport Brands:
Avis Car Rental is located in the Cairns Airport Terminal Building, Cairns, QLD 4870 and also 135 Lake Street, Cairns, QLD 4870. They have a great range of late Cairns car hire model vehicles. As well as the Compact, Standard, Intermediate and Full Size vehicles they have a range of Prestige and Luxury vehicles.
Budget Car Rentals is located in the Cairns Airport Terminal Building, Cairns QLD 4870 and also have a branch at 153 Lake Street, Cairns, QLD 4870. They have late model Cairns car rental vehicles starting with the Compact range up to SUV, 4WD and Passenger Vans.
Europcar Car Rental is located in the Cairns Airport Terminal Building, Cairns, QLD 4870 and a nearby branch on Abbott Street, Cairns, QLD 4870. They have late model vehicles with an average age of 11 months old. Cairns Airport car hire options available with Europcar include Economy, Compact, Intermediate, Standard car types as well as having VW Golf and Mercedes Benz A Class.
Hertz Car Rental is located in the Cairns Airport Terminal Building, Cairns QLD 4870 and a city car hire branch at 1 Abbott & Shields Street, Cairns, QLD 4870. They have late model rental vehicles with car types ranging from Compact to the FJ Cruiser 4WD.
Redspot Car Rental is 100% Australian owned and are conveniently located in the Cairns Airport Terminal Building, Cairns, QLD, alongside the major brands. They are late model rental cars and often priced very competitively. The Cairns car rental range start with Economy vehicles like the Nissan Micra and goes up to the 8 seater cars like the Kia Carnival.
Thrifty Car Rental is in the Cairns Airport Terminal Building and at Cnr Sheridan and Aplin Streets, Cairns QLD 4870 terminal alongside the other major car hire brands. They are late model vehicles in 15 car types including Premium 4WD and Intermediate Vans.
Firefly Car Rental is serviced by Hertz at the Hertz desk. Same rental cars but often very well priced. Look out for these deals.
Auto Europe Car Rental will be one of the brands you see above. More often than not Europcar or Thrifty. Look out for this Cairns Airport car hire brand as you can often pocket a great saving.
Apollo Car Rental is serviced by Hertz with different payment and terms and conditions. Have a read of these as at certain times of the year they can be the best deal for your Cairns car hire.
Off Airport Brands:
Atlas Car Rental is the newest addition to our offering and is located at 410 Sheridan Street, Cairns, QLD 4870. They operate a complimentary shuttle from the airport so you can pick up your Cairns car hire. They are late model cars. Check the map below to see their location.
East Coast Car Rental has one of the biggest car rental fleets in Cairns and is located at 146 Sheridan Street, Cairns, QLD 4870. They service the airport by way of a complimentary shuttle and their office is located close by. They have late model cars and are often the best rates for new cars.
Ace Car Rentals is located at 147 Lake Street, Cairns, QLD 4870 and operates a shuttle at no charge from the airport. The Cairns car hire range is 2-4 years old.
Cairns, located in the north of Queensland, is one of Australia’s larger towns, and is especially famous for its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef - easily accessible with a rental vehicle. The population of Cairns is roughly 150,000, but thanks to a multitude of tourist hot spots, the region attracts as many as 2 million visitors each year.
One of Cairns’ notable features is that it sits at one end of the 1,700-kilometre Bruce Highway, which runs between this northern city and Brisbane. Cairns is also a starting or finishing point for the Captain Cook Highway that covers just 75 kilometres and takes you to the city of Mossman - a roadtrip we highly recommend once you've picked up your car hire from Cairns Airport or one of the other depots on offer.
Cairns – The Traffic Report
The Cairns CBD is based on a simple grid layout with the bay fringing the north-east border. The traffic in this area is comparatively low, so making your way around in a rental car won’t be too difficult at all. Naturally, roads are busiest at rush hour before and after normal work times, so it may be easier to avoid travelling in your Cairns car hire shortly before 9am and after 5pm if possible.
Driving from Cairns Airport in a car hire to the CBD
Cairns Airport is extremely close to the city centre, just 6 kilometres away in your car hire. This will only take you 10 minutes to drive – just head south out of the airport and follow National Route 1 into town.
Tips for driving in Cairns
In summer, parked cars can get extremely hot. Don’t leave food in the car, aim to park your Cairns car rental in the shade whenever possible and leave windows cracked an inch for air.
Once you leave the city, be wary that you might come across animals on the road at night in country areas. Kangaroos, for example, are a common sight and can be very dangerous to hit in your Cairns car hire while driving.
As many tourists walk through town during their stays, keep an eye out for people stepping onto the roads while driving your car rental in busy central areas.
Rainy season in Cairns brings extremely heavy rainfall. If you’re out driving in your Cairns car hire when it happens, take it slow and pull over to wait it out if you are uncomfortable.
Road trips from Cairns
Port Douglas: The drive to Port Douglas in a rental car is worth it just for the views. This 70-kilometre trip will take a little over an hour, and waiting on the other end is a gorgeous beach-side town that’s a popular spot for Great Barrier Reef tours.
Daintree Rainforest: The World Heritage Listed Daintree Rainforest is one of the premiere tourist attractions in Australia, and it’s only 2.5 hours – 125 kilometres – from Cairns Airport in your car hire. Check out the walks, tours, 4WD trips, beaches and the zipline!
Undara Lava Tubes: For a longer trip, drive 3.5 hours (260 kilometres) inland to the Undara Lava Tubes by Mount Surprise. Set upon a volcanic national park, these tubes are actually giant underground tunnels formed by a lava flow more than 190,000 years ago. Note that access is by guided tour only once you've parked up your Cairns car hire.
Car parking in Cairns city with your Cairns car rental
There are more than 6,400 council-provided car parks in Cairns to leave your car hire, 1,400 of which are in the central city. These are a mix of on-street and off-street parks, and generally cost $1.20 per hour.
As well as this, there are private parking buildings throughout the CBD, such as the Koppens Carpark on Grafton Street, the Hartley Street Carpark, and the Convention Centre on Sheridan Street.
Learn more about parking spots for your Cairns car rental and permits on the city council website here.
Car parking at Cairns Airport
There are several options for parks at Cairns Airport.
Most lots offer the first 10 minutes for free to allow you to make pick ups and drop offs easily.
The T1 car park is right next to the international terminal and costs $6 for 10-30 minutes or $7 for 30-60 minutes, and has a maximum charge of $27 for the first 24 hours.
The T2 park is next to the domestic terminal and has the same fees as the international park.
Another option is the T2 covered car park, which is a smaller area next to the uncovered T2. Prices here are a little more expensive at $11 for 30-60 minutes and $14 for 1-2 hours to leave your Cairns car rental. There is no free 10 minutes in this park.
To save on cash, book your airport parking online before you go with your Cairns car hire.
The cost of fuel in the far north of Australia does tend to be higher than that in southern states. Prices are generally at their lowest at the start of the week on Mondays and Tuesdays, then peak later in the week.
Fuel stations close to Cairns Airport
You’ll need to refill the tank before you return your Cairns Airport car rental, so here are the nearest petrol stations to Cairns Airport.
Portsmith Fuel: 45 Arnold Street (6 kilometres)
Coles Express: 291-293 Sheridan Street (4.5 kilometres)
Caltex Australia Ltd: 131 Sheridan Street (5.5 kilometres)
BP: 230-238 Sheridan Street (4.5 kilometres)
Portsmith Fuel: 475 Draper Street (9 kilometres)
How much does fuel cost in Cairns?
Fuel prices do rise and fall internationally as they do with a car rental in Australia as a whole, but you can usually expect to pay roughly 120 cents per litre in Cairns. As the fuel stations are all quite close with many situated on Sheridan Street, it’s easy to drive down this road and see if any of the outlets are offering cheaper petrol to fill up your Cairns car hire.
The RACQ (Royal Automobile Club of Queensland) offers a price watch for fair fuel costs. Follow the link here for more information.
Cairns isn’t even one of Australia’s 10 biggest cities, but it’s still known around the world for its flawless scenery, and as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Whether you’re visiting just to see this natural wonder, or if you plan to drive further afield in North Tropical Queensland, there are several places you can pick up your Cairns car hire from the Airport to Cairns City and Palm Cove.
Cairns City is reasonably small, so it’s easy to get started on your road trip from town now matter which direction you’re headed. There are regular shuttles from the airport to the city centre, making it easy to get in and pick up your Cairns car hire. Rental companies operating out of Cairns City include Europcar, East Coast Car Rentals, Hertz, Budget, Avis, Honk, Thrifty, Ace Rental Cars, Apollo Rental Cars, Keddy by Europcar, Cairns Affordable Car Rentals and Jucy Car Rentals.
Cairns - Palm Cove
For travellers heading north towards the Daintree Forest or Port Douglas, it may make more sense to pick up your car hire from Palm Cove, which is roughly 30 minutes north of Cairns City. Here, you can hire vehicles from Avis Australia.
Cairns Airport is only 10 minutes north of the CBD by in your Cairns car hire, and it keeps things simple to pick up your rental vehicle as soon as you land if you need wheels to get around. The airport is a good place to start from regardless of whether you’re heading up or down the coast, or even just straight into Cairns. Suppliers with depots at Cairns Airport are Europcar, East Coast Car Rentals, Hertz, Budget, Avis, Atlas Car & Truck Rental, Honk, Thrifty, Redspot Car Rentals, Ace Rental Cars, AutoEurope, Firefly, Apollo Rental Cars, Keddy by Europcar, Cairns Affordable Car Rentals, Europcar Australia INT, and Sixt Australia.
Cairns Attractions: Old Favourites and Hidden Highlights
Cairns doesn’t get all the hype that cities like Sydney and Brisbane are showered with, but that doesn’t mean this tropical spot isn’t an absolute pearler. It’s not just the climate, the exotic food and the stunning natural surroundings that make this city something special - there’s a bunch of amazing things to do in Cairns which’ll keep you busy for as long as you’re sticking around. Sorting out a Cairns Airport car hire will let you whip around all the different attractions as quickly or slowly as suits your schedule, so make sure to sort out your transport well ahead of time to nab a mint deal. Below is just a small sample of the kind of attractions that could brighten up your next Cairns trip.
Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures
One of the wonderful advantages of renting a car out of Cairns is the wide range of driving experiences and activities that can be had within a relatively short distance from the Cairns Airport. This means you can take full advantage of every minute of your time, even if you arrive into Cairns a few hours earlier than your hotel or accommodation check in time. A day trip along the Great Barrier Reef Drive between the trendy Resort Village of Palm Cove and the rainforest hideaway of Cape Tribulation is best experienced in parts over a couple of days to make it a truly relaxing and enjoyable experience.
Only 15 minutes north of Palm Cove is the award winning Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures wildlife attraction and crocodile farm. Guests typically will stay upwards of four hours and there is a great restaurant with a wide range of meals and snacks available. The shows and boat cruise at Hartley’s are included in the one admission price and can be experienced by self-drivers over a three day period by using their return pass system which requires ID to be shown on re-entry. Activities include the crocodile spotting lagoon cruises, crocodile feeding shows, crocodile farm tours, cassowary feeding shows, wallaby feeding plus a range of walk-in displays including birds, kanagaroos and other wildlife. The park is very hands on and there are opportunities to have your photo taken with a koala, python or baby crocodile at various times of the day.
Birdworld Kuranda is the kind of place that will leave you dazzled by the array of wildlife on this planet - and just how much of it you’ve never even seen before.
Here, you’ll discover incredible new birds as 60 species fly all around you. Amongst them are many of Australia’s favourites, such as the brightly coloured lorikeets, impressive cassowaries, cheeky macaws, and fabulously pink galahs.
This facility replicates the birds’ natural habitats, so you’ll also enjoy the rainforest atmosphere and bright surroundings (almost as much as the birds do). Pick up a car rental in Cairns and drive out to Birdworld in less than an hour!
Out of all of Australia’s plentiful natural wonders, are there any that even come close to the Great Barrier Reef? It’s the world’s largest coral reef at 2,300 kilometres in length, and there’s really no other half-decent way to see this epic attraction than from the air.
GBR Helicopters will take you cruising over this massive ecosystem, so you’ll easily be able to see the surreal blues and greens of this lush reef that’s so full of life. The team offers a number of flight packages to cater to all levels of interest and budget.
A Cairns car hire can be a huge advantage here, as you’ll either take off in the city or an hour up the coast in Port Douglas.
If snuggling up with Australia’s most cuddly icon isn’t already on your bucket list, get your pen and paper ready because it’s about to be. The Kuranda Koala Gardens are a sanctuary for these Australian natives, and is where you can watch them as the sleep, eat, sleep, roam, sleep, and eat some more!
Plus, there are also several other Aussie favourites that call the gardens home, such as kangaroos, wallabies, wombats (the koala’s closest relative), freshwater crocodiles, and even snakes.
And of course, the entire experience is found amongst the lush green scenery that Queensland is known for. Drive there straight in less than 45 minutes with a Cairns car rental.
Discover ancient rainforest and take a journey to one of the longest standing surviving rainforests on earth. If you’re in the Cairns or Port Douglas area, Skyrail is a must do activity. Gliding beneath the rainforest canopy in comfortable gondola cabins, the Skyrail journey immerses you in a unique rainforest experience where you’ll become immersed in the tropical rainforest environment. Red Peak and Barron Falls (two rainforest stations), give visitors the opportunity to explore and learn about the ancient environment on Ranger guided boardwalk tours and at the CSIRO Rainforest Interpretation Centre. A Qantas Award for Excellence winner for Sustainable Tourism on a number of occassions, Skyrail is a world class tourist experience accessible to a wide range of people, providing its guests with a truly unique rainforest experience.
Location: Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, Corner of Captain Cook Highway and Cairns Western Arterial Road, Cairns, Smithfield QLD 4878, Australia
Opening Hours: 9:00am to 5:15pm
The Crystal Caves
This may be a museum of sorts, but it’s nothing like any museum you’ve been to before. This is a mind blowing tribute to one man’s passion for gemstones, fossils and amazing minerals. To display his growing collection of more than 600 specimens, René Boissevain made a massive network of tunnels and grottos, mimicking a natural underground cave system. Something new is waiting around every corner, and by the end you’ll feel like you’ve visited a whole different world. The Crystal Caves is an hour drive from Cairns in a rental car.
Address: 69 Main St, Atherton QLD 4883, Australia
Opening Hours: 9AM–5PM
If you’re the active type looking for a bit of an adrenaline buzz, point your Australia car hire towards Cairns Zoom. From clambering around the outside of a huge dome (with some stunner views into the bargain) to high ropes obstacle courses and daring ziplines, there’s something here for every kind of thrillseeker. Even if adrenaline isn’t really your cup of tea (or if you’ve got kids too young for the scarier activities), there’s a bunch of wildlife experiences to enjoy including reptile presentations, bird feeding and a croc show.
Address: 35/41 Wharf St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia
Opening Hours: 9AM–6:15PM (closes 8pm on Saturday)
Passions of Paradise
Having one of the seven wonders of the natural world on your doorstep is a pretty big plus to visiting Cairns, to put it mildly. Passions of Paradise offer a few different ways to experience the wonderful underwater world of the world’s most famous reef, but scuba diving or snorkelling will get you closest to this wildly colourful place. If you’d prefer to stay high and dry though, you can always opt for a glass-bottom boat tour. Park up your Cairns car hire and dive into paradise.
Address: 1 Spence St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia
Opening Hours: 6.30AM-7PM
Kuranda River Boat
Those who like their adventures to be on the relaxing side will find a Kuranda River Boat cruise to be a dream experience. Park up your Cairns car rental and serenely slice your way through the calm waters of the Barron River with ancient tropical rainforest rising up on either side and the occasional crocodile basking on a bank. You’ll learn about the history of the region and have plenty of opportunities to snap pics of this incredible place.
Address: A short walk from Kuranda Railway & Skyrail Stations by the Esplanade of the River Barron
Of course, you’re not always going to want to be cooking up your own food. Sometimes you’ll want to treat yourself, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better place to do that than Ochre Restaurant. Head your Cairns car hire down to Marlin Parade to discover the most highly awarded restaurant in Cairns, specialising in local cuisine and native produce with an eye to sustainability. With a fresh catch of seafood every day and arguably the finest beef in the country, Ochre will make for a truly indulgent night out.
How better to discover the nature and ancient culture of Queensland than with the help of local Aboriginal people? Walkabout Cultural Adventures gives you the choice of opting for tours that focus more on culture or sightseeing, but either way you’ll get a glimpse of an Australia that few are ever lucky enough to witness. These tours are kept small so they don’t lose the personal touch and each one is led by a local Aboriginal guide - treating you to an authentic and breathtaking experience. Get your walking shoes on and leave your Cairns rental car parked up for a few hours while you hit the pavement.
Opening Hours: vary
The Australian Armour & Artillery Museum
This one’s for history lovers, and WWII buffs in particular. Not only can you see over a hundred armoured vehicles and artillery pieces, you can even jump in and take a ride in an authentic decommissioned armoured vehicle. Tanks, howitzers, anti-aircraft guns, self-propelled guns… a massive range of armaments and armour is waiting for you to discover! There’s even a shooting gallery that could have you firing authentic WWII firearms. There is parking outside the museum for your Cairns airport car hire.
Address: 1145 Kamerunga Road, Smithfield QLD 4878
Opening Hours: 07 4038 1665
Cairns Ninebot Tours
Even if you’re not up for all the exertion of snorkelling or wildlife tours, you can still get a great look at Cairns itself despite hardly taking a step from your Cairns car hire. Cairns Ninebot offers the city’s only guided Segway tour, kicking off from the Cairns Esplanade and treating visitors to a relaxing journey through some of Cairns’ prettiest and most important places. From mangrove ecosystems to the Botanic Gardens and exotic tropical fruit orchards, you’ll get a great grasp on what Cairns is about - the easy way.
Address: Cairns Esplanade
Contact No. 0451 972 997 or 0473 451 894
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
As fun as all of Cairns’ land-based attractions can be, don’t forget that you’re right on the beautifully tropical Coral Sea - and What’SUP Cairns can get you out and about having fun on the water in no time. SUP stands for Stand Up Paddle or Paddleboarding, the world’s fastest growing water sport. Relaxation, fitness and freedom are all big parts of the SUP experience, and What’SUP gives you the chance to head out on a bunch of different adventure tours or just hire a board so you can explore on your own. Drive on down in your Cairns airport car rental, park up and experience what SUP’s have to offer.
Address: Oceana Walk Shop 20/62 Grafton St
Opening Hours: 9:30AM–3PM
Cairns Jockey Club
If you fancy catching a bit of horse racing excitement before you leave the area, the Cairns Jockey Club is the place to go. For more than a century, the club has been based at Cannon Park toward the southern end of the city (a short drive in a Cairns car hire), and is the home of popular events like Brothers Cairns Cup Day, Cairns Amateurs Ladies Day and Sea FM Hoof Wine & Seafood Race Day.
Address: 585 Mulgrave Rd, Woree QLD 4868, Australia
Contact No. +61 7 4054 1203
Cairns Harbour Cruises
One way to see Cairns at its best is to leave the city behind and head out onto Cairns Harbour for a sunset cruise. As the sun sets behind Cairns’ beautiful mountains, you can soak up the view of the city at the golden hour with a drink in hand. If you really want to make an evening of it, you can even tie in a three course dinner on the waterfront. This is perfect for a romantic night out, a top-notch photography opp, or even just for those who are passionate about great scenery. There is plenty of parking for your Cairns car hire on the waterfront.
The small coral cay of Green Island on the Great Barrier Reef has been one of Cairns’ top tourist attractions for almost fifty years thanks to its lush rainforest, white sand beaches and the crystal clear waters that surround it. Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises will whisk you away to this piece of paradise just 40 minutes from Cairns, giving you the chance to enjoy Green Island and Great Barrier any way you like, whether that’s lazing on the beach, snorkelling among the coral or exploring Green Island National Park. Leave you Cairns car rental parked safely ashore hit the water.
Address: Terminal 1 Spence St, Cairns City QLD 4870