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Walking Tour of Cairns
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Walking Tour of Cairns

Our advice is that you should grab a map from your hotel (there are plenty of free maps available in Cairns - even the taxis hand out a great little fold out map), put on a comfortable pair of walking shoes, grab the camera and hit the streets. The locals are friendly and always willing to have a chat or to offer a suggestion on places to visit or things to do during your stay.

It is important to dress comfortably and be sure to grab a bottle of water. The weather in Cairns is simple. It is either hot and dry or hot and wet. If you have fair skin it is a good idea to throw a bottle of sunscreen in your bag just in case. Even though there is plenty of shelter in the City it is easy to get burnt without realising it. Dress is very casual in North Queensland. Shorts and t-shirts are more than acceptable anytime day or night. Some restaurants in five star hotels might like you to dress a little smarter (perhaps a shirt and trousers) but these restaurants are a rarity. It is the tropics and people dress accordingly.

Cairns City has a relaxed and easy going pace that makes it the perfect place to spend a day exploring. In the warmer summer months it can be demanding for those people travelling from cooler northern climates however most shops and arcades are air-conditioned providing the perfect respite from the heat and humidity.

Most of the activity in Cairns focuses on the waterfront. The main tourist strip is the Esplanade which runs for approximately 6km parallel to the Coast. It is only the three blocks at the southern end that are busy with restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops. The Esplanade itself is very popular for people wanting to go for a pleasant walk, bike ride or roller blade. There are shelters and toilets along the length of this coastal parkland and the view is very attractive.

In the actual city itself there are about 10 blocks that form the basis of the CBD. These have everything that the seasoned traveller could possibly want. There are banks, chemists (pharmacies), travel agents, food stores, restaurants, bars, photographic shops, souvenir shops, duty free stores, clothing retailers, doctors, dentists, lawyers, internet cafes and beauty salons.

From a shopping point of view there plenty of specialty stores to investigate during your day. These sell everything from opals to cigars and everything in between.

There are also two main shopping centres, The Pier Marketplace and Cairns Central. The Pier is located on the waterfront and it is a very popular place to visit for both tourists and locals alike. There are over 100 specialty retailers with a large aquarium and numerous restaurants and cafes. Most visitors to Cairns include a visit to The Pier during their stay. Cairns Central is a large centre, set near the restaurant area in Shield St. This is a very functional shopping centre containing over 180 shops and a cinema complex. If you are looking for a specific item it is likely that you will find it in Cairns Central.

There are a surprising number of art galleries featuring works from local artists including painters, sculptors and photographers in the City centre. In the heart of the Cairns you can also visit the Regional Gallery which is an impressive attraction hosting a number of displays of culturally significant artwork from throughout North Queensland. The Gallery showcases a lot of work from Torres Strait and Aboriginal Communities throughout Cape York.

There are a lot of restaurants and cafes throughout the CBD. Most serve great coffee and they are reasonably priced. There are more than enough eateries open and trading to ensure that you can enjoy a meal at breakfast, lunch or dinner.

A stroll along the waterfront encompasses Trinity Wharf, where to larger passenger cruise ships dock, past the Cairns Yacht Squadron, by The Hilton Hotel, Marlin Marina and The Pier Marketplace. This area is where all of the reef and fishing charter operators leave from. Early in the morning it can be a real hive of activity as up to 8,000 people board their boats for their trip to The Great Barrier Reef.

Public transport is readily available in the CBD. The main mall in the CBD is also the transit terminal for public transport (blue buses). Taxi ranks are located throughout the City itself. If you are driving into the City and planning to park and then go on a walking tour there are a number of undercover car parks available that are relatively inexpensive. If you park at a meter the cost is about $1 per hour and if the meter expires you will be given a ticket (our parking officers are tough).

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