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As a leading car hire company in Cairns, outstanding customer service is paramount to us. Our dedicated team is always ready to assist you with your travel needs, ensuring seamless car hire experience throughout your journey. Discover the Great Barrier Reef or beautiful rainforests in comfort, knowing that our customer care is available 24/7 to assist you with any inquiries or concerns related to your car hire.

Car Hire in Cairns

Exploring Cairns: the City and Its Surroundings by Car

City car amid Cairns landscape, Kuranda Railway, coastal view

A sparkling jewel in the crown of Australia's northern coastline, Cairns is a city that demands to be experienced. Nestled among tropical rainforests and with the Great Barrier Reef at its doorstep, the city offers stunning natural beauty, an array of cultural experiences and an exciting palette of adventures. With the convenience of a car, you can comfortably navigate and uncover the splendour of Cairns and its captivating surroundings.

Your roadtrip can commence at the iconic Cairns Esplanade Boardwalk, a popular seaside promenade, and continue to the Mount Whitfield Conservation Park, less than 10 minutes drive north of the city center. This reserve offers beautiful walks with panoramic views over Cairns. Further north, the coastal path leads to the charming beach communities of Trinity Beach and Palm Cove, which are approximately 20-30 minutes drive from Cairns. Travelling a bit further on the Captain Cook Highway, you will reach Port Douglas; the drive between these two sites, renowned as one of the most scenic coastal drives in Australia, typically takes an hour.

Another must-visit spot near Cairns is the Kuranda's rainforest, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, which can be reached in half an hour's drive. Further inland, the Atherton Tablelands, approximately 90 minutes drive away, are home to numerous waterfalls, stunning landscapes and charming towns. All these destinations are easily accessible by car, making Cairns the perfect base for exploring the breathtaking beauty of North Queensland.

Car Hire in Cairns

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the cost to hire a car in Cairns?

The cost to hire a car in Cairns fluctuates based on factors such as car size, duration of hire, and the time of year. Prices generally start from around $20 per day for basic small cars and can go up to $120 per day for luxury models and larger vehicles.

2. What car model is most often hired in Cairns?

Being a popular tourist destination renowned for outdoor adventures, SUVs and 4WDs are frequently hired in Cairns to navigate the local terrain. Models such as the Toyota RAV4 and Mitsubishi Outlander are popular choices.

3. What are the popular places to hire a car in Cairns?

Popular places to hire a car include Cairns Airport and downtown Cairns. Car hire companies typically have offices or kiosks at these locations for easy pickup and return.

4. Is there a 24-hour pickup and return service?

Yes, most car hire companies in Cairns offer 24-hour pickup and return services, usually through their kiosks located at Cairns Airport.

5. What's the minimum hire period?

The minimum hire period typically depends on the specific car hire company, but generally, it is for a period of 24 hours.

6. What is the minimum age requirement to hire a car in Cairns?

The minimum age requirement to hire a car in Cairns is 21 years. However, drivers under the age of 25 may incur a 'young driver surcharge.'

7. What documents are required to hire or drive a car in Cairns?

To hire or drive a car in Cairns, you need a valid driver’s licence (Australian or International), proof of identity and a credit card for security purposes.

8. What is the best time of year to visit Cairns by car?

The winter months of June to August are often considered the best time to visit Cairns by car due to the pleasant weather and lower humidity.

9. What are the main airports in Cairns?

The main airport in Cairns is Cairns Airport, located just a few kilometres from the city centre.

10. Can I pick up the car in Cairns and return it in another city?

Yes, most car hire companies allow for different city pick-up and returns, though it may incur an extra fee known as a 'one-way fee'.

Car Hire Reviews


Cairns – 03-01-2024. I am very pleased with the car hire service provided in Cairns. As an experienced and mature driver, I appreciate a smooth process and that's exactly what I got. The price was reasonable, and the quality of the vehicle was top-notch. I drove comfortably through the city and even ventured into the beautiful Atherton Tablelands. As a frequent traveller, I value excellent service and this car hire company delivers it in spades. The cars were well-maintained, comfortable and clean and the staff was helpful and accommodating.


Cairns – 10-10-2023. First-rate car hire experience in Cairns. I have had my fair share of car rental encounters but this was by far, one of the best. The customer service was great, car was in pristine condition and the pricing was affordable. Having lived in Cairns all my life, I can truly appreciate a local business that upholds high values and standards. I would definitely recommend them to locals and visitors alike.


Cairns – 25-07-2023. As a Cairns local, I often host family and friends who visit from out of town. When my relatives came for a visit last July, I decided to hire a car for their stay. Thanks to this car hire company's competitive pricing and variety of car options, their trip was that much more comfortable and convenient. This saved us the hassle of using public transport, allowing us to explore the city and surrounding areas with ease. It also gave my relatives the chance to explore parts of the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest in their own time. This company truly understands the needs of its customers.


Cairns – 18-06-2023. My wife and I hired a car in Cairns and enjoyed top-notch service. The process from start to finish was straightforward. The price was good, and the car we hired was perfect to drive through the stunning Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation. Their friendly and helpful staff helped make our holiday unforgettable. I will surely hire from them again when we return. Overall, this experience was definitely value for money.


Cairns – 27-05-2023. So impressed with their car hire service in Cairns! I hired a compact car for my solo trip, and the price was absolutely worth it. The car was clean, fuel-efficient and comfortable. It made my trip to the local markets, galleries, and the esplanade a delightful experience. This car hire company made it possible for me to explore Cairns at my own pace and with optimum comfort. Highly recommended for any type of traveller!.


Cairns – 05-02-2023. Exceptional car hire service in Cairns! I have hired cars before but this experience stands out for all the right reasons. The staff were knowledgeable and friendly, the prices were reasonable, and the process was seamless. Plus, a hired car truly is the best way to explore Cairns and the surrounding wonders of Queensland. Would hire from them again without hesitation.

Cairns Road Connections

Guidance for Tourists Hiring Cars

  1. Cairns - Port Douglas: A quick 1 hour journey (67 km) via Captain Cook Highway/State Route 44. The road is well-paved and offers spectacular coastal views.
  2. Cairns - Brisbane: Long journey of around 1682 km, taking about 19 hours via National Route 1. Very well-maintained route with multiple rest areas.
  3. Cairns - Townsville: A standard 4-hour drive (346 km) via Bruce Highway/ National Route 1. Roads are in good condition with plenty of roadside amenities.
  4. Cairns - Mareeba: An adventurous 1 hour 20 minutes drive (69 km) via Kennedy Highway/State Route 52. Fascinating landscapes along the way.
  5. Cairns - Cooktown: Approximately 4 hours (327 km) drive via Mulligan Highway/State Route 81, well-paved road offering panoramic rural views.
  6. Cairns - Karanda: Just a short 30 minutes drive (25 km) via National Route 1/State Route 44, the route is scenic with a well-maintained road condition.
  7. Cairns - Mission Beach: Taking around 2 hours (138 km) via Bruce Highway/State Route 1, offering beachside views with good road conditions.

Driving in Cairns

Frequently Asked Questions

1. On which side of the road do drivers in Cairns drive?

In Cairns, like the rest of Australia, driving is on the left side of the road.

2. What is the general speed limit in Cairns?

The speed limit in urban areas in Cairns is usually 50km/h, while on most freeways and highways, it's 100-110km/h unless otherwise signposted.

3. Can I drive in Cairns with my overseas driver's license?

Yes, you can drive in Cairns with an overseas driver’s license. However, if it's not in English, you will need an International Driving Permit (IDP) along with your licence.

4. Where are speed cameras located in Cairns?

Speed cameras are located throughout Cairns and the wider country to enforce the speed limits. They can be fixed or mobile, so always adhere to the displayed speed limit.

5. Are there any special driving rules in Cairns I should be aware of?

One unique rule in Cairns, like the rest of Australia, is the 'hook turn'. This rule applies at intersections where a sign indicates to do so. When making a right turn, you must do it from the left lane.

6. Do I need to know about any road signs unique to Cairns or Australia?

Most road signs are international, but there may be some warnings about local wildlife that are unique to Australia. Always pay close attention to signs, especially those designed to protect wildlife and provide public safety information.

7. How do tolls work in Cairns?

There are no toll roads in Cairns itself. In other parts of Australia, tolls could be paid in cash, cards or electronically, depending on the toll booth. There are online services for payment if your car is not equipped with an electronic tag.

8. What is the minimum age to hire a car in Cairns?

The minimum age to hire a car in Cairns is generally 21 years. However, this can vary between car hire companies.

9. Is it difficult to find parking in Cairns?

Parking in Cairns is usually straightforward. There's plenty of street parking, and many shopping centres offer free parking.

10. What should I do if I get into a car accident in Cairns?

If you're involved in an accident, you should stop your car at the scene, assist any injured person, and contact the police. You should also notify your car hire company as soon as possible.

11. Are there any specific rules for motorway driving?

On motorways, you should keep left unless overtaking, and always adhere to the posted speed limit.

12. How do pedestrian crossings work in Cairns?

You must give way to pedestrians at pedestrian crossings – not doing so is against the law.

13. Can I hire a car in Cairns and drop it off in another city?

Some car hire companies in Cairns allow one-way rentals, so you can hire a car in Cairns and drop it off in another city. Additional fees may apply.

14. Is it safe to drive in rural areas at night?

Driving in rural areas at night requires caution due to the potential presence of wildlife on the roads, so it's best to avoid it if possible.

15. Can I drive off-road with my hired car?

Off-road driving is generally not allowed with hired cars for safety reasons and to prevent damage to the vehicle.

Explore Cairns

Car Hire Destination Guide

  1. Great Barrier Reef: World's largest coral reef system, ideal for snorkelling, diving and scenic flights.
  2. Daintree Rainforest: Breathtaking World Heritage site rich in wildlife and picturesque landscapes.
  3. Kuranda Scenic Railway: Journey through lush rainforest, deep ravines and picturesque waterfalls.
  4. Palm Cove: Stunning beach suburb known for its spa resorts and seafront dining.
  5. Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park: Offers an insight into indigenous Australian culture with shows and interactive experiences.
  6. Green Island: Beautiful coral cay boasting a rainforest, sandy beaches and abundant marine life.
  7. Barron Gorge National Park: Known for its rugged rainforest scenery, waterfalls and the Barron River.
  8. Paronella Park: Historic castle ruins, lush gardens and natural beauty nestled amidst rainforests.

Cairns Roadtrip Adventures

Top Driving Routes from Cairns

  1. Cairns to Port Douglas: Affectionately known as 'The Great Barrier Reef Drive'. Offering 70 kilometers of coastal roads with incredible views of the rainforest and the Coral Sea.
  2. Cairns to Cape Tribulation: A 140-kilometer journey - enjoy the unspoiled beauty of two World Heritage-listed sites - the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
  3. Cairns to Atherton Tablelands: A 90-kilometer drive unveiling lush highland landscapes, stunning waterfalls and unique local wildlife.
  4. Cairns to Mission Beach: Enjoy a 140-kilometer scenic coastal drive encountering the region's pristine beaches, sparkling waters and vibrant rainforest vegetation.
  5. Cairns to Kuranda: At just 27 kilometers, this scenic route allows you to discover the World Heritage-listed Barron Gorge National Park and the 'village in the rainforest' - Kuranda.
  6. Tropical Coast Queensland: This 430-kilometer drive from Cairns to the historical sugar-cane town of Innisfail highlights the best of Queensland's untouched natural beauty.
  7. Outback Queensland Adventure: Spanning 1,200 kilometers from Cairns, this route takes you through breathtaking landscapes, charming historical townships and Australia's largest sapphire gemfields.
  8. Cairns to Cooktown – Great Barrier Reef Drive: An extraordinary journey of 330 kilometers that takes you along the tropical coast, through the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, and to the historic Cooktown, offering extraordinary views throughout.