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We’d like to tell you that we’ve become more flexible, but the truth is that we were always flexible. If you need to change the dates of your rental or you decide to travel somewhere else, you can modify your booking in the My Booking section without charge (although the rental price may change).

Car Rental in Cairns

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Cairns, Australia
Unable to find any location
Driver's country of residence is United States of America (USA) and age is 30-65
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500+ Trusted Providers:

Cheapest Car Rental Rates

Cairns Airport Car Rental
Intermediate
Toyota Corolla or similar
Toyota Corolla
  • 5
  • 2
  • 4
  • A/C
  • Auto.
SIXT
$32.70 / per day
View
Cairns Airport Car Rental
Standard
Toyota Camry or similar
Toyota Camry
  • 5
  • 2
  • 4
  • A/C
  • Auto.
SIXT
$34.89 / per day
View
Cairns Airport Car Rental
Intermediate
Toyota Corolla Sedan or similar
Toyota Corolla Sedan
  • 5
  • 2
  • 4
  • A/C
  • Auto.
Thrifty Australia
$48.07 / per day
View
Cairns Airport Car Rental
Compact
Hyundai Accent or similar
Hyundai Accent
  • 5
  • 2
  • 5
  • A/C
  • Auto.
Bargain Car Rentals
$49.11 / per day
View

Most Popular Car Rental Deals

Cairns Airport Car Rental
Economy
Nissan X-Trail or similar
Nissan X-Trail
  • 5x
  • 2x
  • 4x
  • A/C
  • Auto.
Bargain Car Rentals
$51.84 / per day
View
Cairns Airport Car Rental
Economy
Hyundai Accent or similar
Hyundai Accent
  • 5x
  • 1x
  • 5x
  • A/C
  • Auto.
EastCoast Car Rentals
$57.13 / per day
View
Cairns Airport Car Rental
Economy
Suzuki Swift or similar
Suzuki Swift
  • 5x
  • x
  • 5x
  • A/C
  • Auto.
SIXT
$60.76 / per day
View
Cairns Airport Car Rental
Compact
Hyundai Accent Sedan or similar
Hyundai Accent Sedan
  • 5x
  • 1x
  • 5x
  • A/C
  • Man.
SIXT
$61.04 / per day
View
The above prices are only approximate and were last updated at 18:07 on 2020-10-23. Prices may vary based on the booking dates, length of rental, and car class.

Travel Information

Language
English
Currency
AUD
Country code
61
Average car rental length
5 days
Economy car rental price
$42.15 / per day
Traffic direction
Left-hand
Speed limit out of town
80 - 100 km/h
50 - 62 mi/h
Speed limit within town
50 km/h
31 mi/h
Acceptable limit of BAC
0.05%
Rating
9.5

Why rent a car in Cairns?

Cairns is a great place to explore by car. The largest city in the region of Far North Queensland, it is the center of the most tropical part of Australia. The nature is stunning here with plenty of unique attractions and the sea coast is even more dramatic and impressive than in the rest of Australia. So are the distances - so getting a rental car is your best bet to see as much as you can.

One-Way Car Rentals in Cairns

The most popular one-way rental options for pick up in Cairns and drop off in another city include:

  • From Cairns to Gold Coast - 35 offers from US$ 76.16 per day
  • From Cairns to Brisbane - 35 offers from US$ 76.16 per day
  • From Cairns to Townsville - 35 offers from US$ 46.07 per day

Top ways to enter Cairns

  • Cairns Airport: The seventh-busiest in Australia, Cairns Airport serves around 5 million travelers every year. The airport has flights by 20 different airlines and is connected to many domestic destinations all over Queensland and the rest of Australia as well as to Singapore, Papua New Guinea, China, South Korea, and Japan. Conveniently, the airport is located just 6km (4 miles) from Cairns’ city center and can be reached in about 10 minutes.
  • Townsville Airport: Served by 8 different airlines, Townsville Airport handles about 2 million travelers every year. As of 2019, the airport only has domestic flights. Townsville Airport is located 340km (211 miles) south of Cairns and can be reached in about four hours. Most of this drive goes along the coast and also crosses Wooroonooran National Park offering plenty of scenic views.

Useful city facts

  • Cairns experiences a tropical monsoon climate with a wet season from November to May and a dry season from June to October. Cairns is the most humid large city of Australia. The average temperature is 28°C  (82°F) from December to February, the hottest months, and 212°C  (71°F) in July, the coldest month. 
  • With around 145,000 inhabitants, Cairns is the fifth most-populous city in the state of Queensland. Located in the northernmost part of Australia, Cairns is a remote destination located nearly 1,700km (1,056 miles) from the state capital, Brisbane, and about 2,500km (1,553 miles) from the capital of Australia, Canberra. The nearest capital city to Cairns, therefore, is not Canberra, but Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. 
  • Historically inhabited by the Gimuy Walubara Yidinji people who still live in and around the city to this day, 8.9% of Cairns inhabitants are Native Australians, a number that is significantly higher than for Australia as a whole.

Top destinations and activities

  • The Great Barrier Reef. The number one attraction for visitors coming to Cairns and a natural wonder of the world, there’s no other place in the world like the Great Barrier Reef. The amazing coral structure and a number of coral islands can be accessed by boat from Cairns. While there are excellent opportunities for scuba diving, even just seeing the reef would be an experience of a lifetime.
  • Cairns Botanical Gardens. Divided into five separate zones, such as the Rainforest Boardwalk and the Mangroves Boardwalk, the botanical gardens introduce visitors to different types of flora characteristic of tropical Northern Australia. If you’re short on time and cannot visit the actual rainforests, coming to the gardens is your best bet to see as much as you can.
  • Cairns Museum. Focusing on the history of human habitation of the Cairns area, this small, but unique museum has plenty of objects, photographs, and other artifacts relating to all things Cairns. If you’re interested in how Cairns grew and changed from a native settlement to a mining and farming town to the largest city in Northern Queensland, this is the right place to visit.

Traffic and parking tips

  • One of the largest road hazards in Australia is the wildlife. Take extra caution when driving in bad weather or after dark as this is when most of the collisions with wildlife take place.
  • Mobile coverage is rarely available outside of major highways and population centers, so take extra caution when traveling in rural areas.
  • Another great risk when traveling off of main highways is the heat. The temperatures can reach extremes very easily, especially during the summer months and in inland areas. Always stay properly hydrated and plan your route in advance to be able to refill your water supplies.
  • Driving under the influence laws differ from territory to territory in Australia. In Queensland, the legal alcohol limit is 0.05% for experienced drivers and 0.00% for novice drivers and drivers with provisional licences. Exceeding the limit can lead to large fines and a driver licence ban.
  • Proof of insurance and the car’s documentation needs to be in the car whenever you’re driving.
  • When driving, you need to have your passport or ID card with you at all times.
  • The primary, nationwide emergency number in Australia is 000. 

Toll roads

There are a number of toll roads in Australia, mainly in the states of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. 

Most toll roads in Australia use an open toll system with mainline barrier toll gates. All toll roads in Australia use cashless payment systems. You can purchase a prepaid pass for most toll roads. Some rental cars in Australia are equipped with an electronic toll transponder, the price of which is usually included in the rental price. Ask your car rental provider about it in advance. 

Different toll roads are operated by different companies, so there is no nation-wide system in place. 

For more information about the toll roads in the state of Queensland, visit the state’s toll road website.

Ideas for a day-trip

  • Kuranda. Located in the nearby mountains and surrounded by lush jungle, Kuranda is a famous outdoors destination. There are many hiking trails, and you can also park your rental car in the town and take a trip on a skyrail that takes you right through the rainforest with plenty of interesting stops on the way. Located just 27km (17 miles) northwest of Cairns, Kuranda can be reached in half an hour.
  • Daintree National Park. If Kuranda didn’t satiate your appetite for rainforest, Daintree is where the jungle gets really dense and impressive. Mangroves and palms dominate the area and unique Australian animals like amethystine the python, platypus, and musky-rat kangaroo are all native to the forest. There are plenty of hiking opportunities, but it’s advisable to hire a guide or at least do some research and plan a route in advance - some of the animal species can be quite dangerous. Located about 125km (77 miles) north of Cairns, Daintree National Park can be reached in just over two hours.
  • Mission Beach. While Queensland has no shortage of stunning beaches, Mission Beach might just be number one among them. Tropical and pristine, it offers a more relaxed atmosphere than beaches around Cairns or Brisbane. See if you can spot the rare and unique cassowary bird while visiting. From here, you can also easily reach the beautiful Dunk and Bedarra Islands. Mission Beach is about 140km (87 miles) south of Cairns and can be reached by car in two hours.

Most popular rental types and cars

The most popular rental car types in Cairns are intermediate, compact, and standard. The most popular rental car is the Toyota Corolla, followed by the Kia Rio and the Toyota Camry.

Further destinations

  • Port Douglas. A calm and pretty resort town, Port Douglas is home to many impressive beaches as well as the Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary, a place with different habitats, such as wetlands and grasslands, that house animal species like emus, crocodiles, and kangaroos. Port Douglas is about 67km (42 miles) north of Cairns, a picturesque one hour’s drive along the coast.
  • Mossman Gorge. A part of the native Kuku Yalanji area, Mossman Gorge is a place where some locals come to escape the unbearable heat of the Australian summer. Walking across a suspension bridge above Rex Creek is a thrilling experience and you might even spot local wildlife like Boyd’s forest dragon and the Australian brush turkey. Mossman Gorge is about 78km (48 miles) north of Cairns and can be reached in one hour.
  • Brisbane. An adventure like no other, the road from Cairns to the state capital and Australia’s third largest city is 1,700km (1,056 miles) long and takes at least two days to do. You should come well-prepared with water, supplies, and maps, but those who dare to do it will be rewarded with fantastic views and pristine beaches along the way as well as a stunning city at the end of the trip.

Car Rental Prices in Cairns

  • Large cars - from $92 per day
  • Medium cars - from $76 per day
  • People Carriers/Vans - from $124 per day
  • Premium cars - from $103 per day
  • Small cars - from $68 per day
  • SUVs - from $110 per day

How can I save money on my rental car?

Keep these tips in mind when booking a rental car in Cairns:

  • Compare the rates of different rental car providers
  • Book your rental car well in advance
  • Plan your route before you go
  • Know your fuel and mileage requirements
  • Visit during the month when the rental prices are the cheapest. According to our data, visiting Cairns is the cheapest in June when renting a car is about 41% cheaper than the yearly average and 67% cheaper than booking a car in November when it’s springtime in Cairns.

Top 8 Cities near Cairns

  1. Townsville Car Rentals from $41.03 per day
    284.3 km / 176.6 miles away
  2. Mackay Car Rentals from $70.53 per day
    597.2 km / 371.1 miles away
  3. Proserpine Car Rentals from $40.69 per day
    497.2 km / 309.0 miles away
  4. Rockhampton Car Rentals from $30.90 per day
    874.0 km / 543.1 miles away
  5. Gladstone Car Rentals from $30.90 per day
    962.9 km / 598.3 miles away
  6. 694.5 km / 431.6 miles away
  7. Thangool Car Rentals from $31.89 per day
    982.8 km / 610.7 miles away
  8. Emerald Car Rentals from $30.90 per day
    784.8 km / 487.6 miles away

Top 20 Locations near Cairns

  1. Cairns Airport Car Rentals from $32.70 per day
  2. 284.3 km / 176.6 miles away
  3. 497.2 km / 309.0 miles away
  4. Mackay Airport Car Rentals from $70.53 per day
    597.2 km / 371.1 miles away
  5. Emerald Airport Car Rentals from $30.90 per day
    784.8 km / 487.6 miles away
  6. 874.0 km / 543.1 miles away
  7. 962.9 km / 598.3 miles away
  8. Thangool Airport Car Rentals from $31.89 per day
    982.8 km / 610.7 miles away
  9. Roma Airport Car Rentals from $32.46 per day
    1118.4 km / 694.9 miles away
  10. 1121.9 km / 697.1 miles away
  11. 1193.4 km / 741.5 miles away
  12. 1259.3 km / 782.5 miles away
  13. 1318.9 km / 819.5 miles away
  14. 1343.5 km / 834.8 miles away
  15. 1375.3 km / 854.6 miles away
  16. Brisbane Airport Car Rentals from $19.58 per day
    1391.1 km / 864.4 miles away
  17. 1391.4 km / 864.6 miles away
  18. 1454.7 km / 903.9 miles away
  19. 1457.1 km / 905.4 miles away
  20. Moree Airport Car Rentals from $31.89 per day
    1462.8 km / 909.0 miles away

Map of Car Rental Locations

Which is the cheapest month to rent a car in Cairns?

Car rental prices in Cairns vary a lot according to the time of year. This graph compares month-to-month price changes to help you find the best offer.
Average Rental Price in Cairns
$42.03
January
$39.15
February
$49.47
March
$49.99
April
$46.19
May
$31.68
June
$39.77
July
$32.03
August
$36.42
September
$35.71
October
$37.20
November
$35.85
December
The best month to rent a car in Cairns is June (when prices for an Economy class start from $31.68). This is 20% cheaper than the yearly average and 37% cheaper than renting in April (when rental prices start at $49.99 for a Compact class). Knowing this can help you find the best price.

What’s the usual rental length in Cairns?

Travel lengths vary from month to month: in November, travelers rent a car for an average of 20 days in May, the average rental period is 2 days.
Average Rental Length in Cairns
8
January
7
February
7
March
6
April
2
May
4
June
5
July
4
August
15
September
3
October
20
November
10
December

What's the most popular month to rent a car in Cairns?

While travelers visit Cairns year-round, the most popular month for renting a car is March, and the least popular is April.
Popularity of Car Rental in Cairns by Monthly Searches
80%
January
502%
February
610%
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
3%
November
4%
December

Most Popular Car Models of Rental Suppliers

Rental Agency Model Doors Luggage Type
Thrifty Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 5 2 Station wagons
Thrifty Toyota Corolla 4 2 Medium cars
Thrifty Toyota Yaris 4 1 Small cars
Thrifty Mitsubishi Outlander 5 2 Station wagons
Thrifty Toyota Camry 4 2 Large cars
Bargain Car Rentals Hyundai Accent 5 2 Medium cars
EastCoast Car Rentals Suzuki Swift 4 2 Small cars
EastCoast Car Rentals Toyota Corolla Sedan 4 2 Large cars
EastCoast Car Rentals Hyundai Accent 4 2 Medium cars
Bargain Car Rentals Nissan X-Trail 4 2 SUVs

Our Customers Reviews

Australia
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
October 16, 2020
Yes you definitely need to rent a car. You wouldn't be able to see a lot of things if you didn't have a car or it would cost you a fortune doing paid organised day tours.
Australia
Toyota Yaris
October 16, 2020
Excellent location Car was important in us getting around
Australia
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
October 4, 2020
We stayed 10 days in the Cairns area, travelling to Atherton, Cape Tribulation, Port Douglas as well as around Cairns. We did a day trip to Green Island and the outer reef. You can park your car next to the departure point at a cost. When travelling Atherton, I recommend the Babinda Boulders and Josephine Falls. There are so many places to see around the area!
Australia
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
September 30, 2020
Cairns is a beautiful place ✈️ We were happy as there is lot too do From the Sunlover Barrier reef cruise 🛥snorkeling 🏊‍♂️to the Karunda Train ride/ Skyrail so much fun. 👍👍🚡🚂 Then the Cairns Swimming esplanade just beautiful. 🌴🌴💦 The Big 4 Cairns is the best we’ve ever stayed at with most activities are FREE kids had a awesome time Everybody we encountered in Cairns were so friendly, We were sad we missed some of the waterfalls & boulder rock / paronella park & Trinity beach we ran out of time. But Overall Great job Cairns 👍👍 I can’t believe this in our backyard
Australia
Toyota Corolla
September 17, 2020
Definitely need a car if you plan on visiting Port Douglas, the Northern Beaches and other places in the mountains.
Australia
Toyota Corolla
September 16, 2020
We stayed up in port Douglas for little holiday, Yes I would recommend both cairns and port Douglas
Australia
Toyota Corolla
September 5, 2020
Good to have a car in cairns and attractions are quite spread out.
Australia
Hyundai i20
August 31, 2020
Perfect to travel the coast and stop where you like
United Kingdom
Toyota Corolla Sedan
November 19, 2019
Definitely need a car to explore the beautiful coast.
Australia
Kia Rio
September 4, 2019
Plenty to see and do in and around Cairns. Stayed in Port Douglas whic is by far the best of the beach locations in reasonable proximity to cairns (approximately 50 minute drive). Great place for a relaxed holiday.
Australia
Toyota Corolla Sedan
September 2, 2019
To see as much as you can, a car is the simplest solution. Every attraction is right at your fingertips.
Australia
Kia Rio
August 31, 2019
Port Douglas very pretty place. Barron Falls a must see
United Kingdom
Kia Sportage
August 15, 2019
Great place - very relaxed with a good 'vibe'. Lots to do including diving and some good day trips up to Kuranda plus close to Cape Trib and Daintree River.
Australia
Kia Sportage
July 7, 2019
Great food on the esplanade, lovely beaches to explore to the North, Sunday market in Port Douglas.
Australia
Kia Sportage
May 14, 2019
So much to see in Cairns and a car is the best way to get out there.
United Kingdom
Kia Rio
February 19, 2019
Our 1st trip to Oz and we were glad it was to cairn's. Well kept and friendly. A very nice city with a good vibe.
Australia
Hyundai i20
February 17, 2019
You need a car to get anywhere worthwhile
Australia
Hyundai i20
January 18, 2019
Great place with lots to see & do
Australia
Kia Rio
January 1, 2019
A must - Kuranda, Barron Falls by car, Port Douglas, Hartleys croc farm, Mareeba, Atherton Tablelands, lookouts around Cairns.
Australia
Kia Rio
December 12, 2018
Tropical paradise. Friendly people & great beaches. Port Douglas was fantastic.
Australia
Hyundai i20
November 29, 2018
A car is needed to go see some of the beautiful places outside the city center.
Australia
Hyundai i20
November 12, 2018
Definitely head up to Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation, both very beautiful areas
Australia
Hyundai i20
September 3, 2018
Just beware of the front mudguards in the small car range when parking. I normally drive a SUV and needed to remind myself how low to the ground the front mudguards in small cars are.
United States of America (USA)
Subaru Forester
August 14, 2018
It was very helpful to have a car in Cairns. It gave the flexibility to go places and see things. Parking was available in plenty. We had booked our hotel 1/2 hour away from the main city which was beautiful but easy to reach and having a car was very helpful. Not much traffic at all.

Top 11 Suppliers in Cairns in 2020

National
National
Exceptional 9.2
+61740349045 / +61740349052
Beaufort St, Aeroglen QLD 4870
Enterprise
Enterprise
Excellent 8.8
+61740349045
Beaufort St, Aeroglen QLD 4870
Europcar
Europcar
Excellent 8.6
+610740349088
Terminal Building Cairns Airport, Cairns City QLD 4870
Working hours
Mon:08:00-19:30
Tue:08:00-19:30
Wed:08:00-19:30
Thu:08:00-19:30
Fri:08:00-19:30
Sat:08:00-19:30
Sun:08:00-19:30
Keddy
Keddy
Excellent 8.6
+610740349088
Terminal Building Cairns Airport, Cairns City QLD 4870
Working hours
Mon:00:01-01:00; 05:00-23:59
Tue:00:01-01:00; 05:00-23:59
Wed:00:01-01:00; 05:00-23:59
Thu:00:01-01:00; 05:00-23:59
Fri:00:01-01:00; 05:00-23:59
Sat:00:01-01:00; 05:00-23:59
Sun:00:01-01:00; 05:00-23:59
Alamo
Alamo
Excellent 8.5
740349045
Terminal Building Airport Ave
Working hours
Mon:08:00-20:00
Tue:08:00-20:00
Wed:08:00-20:00
Thu:08:00-20:00
Fri:08:00-20:00
Sat:08:00-19:30
Sun:08:00-19:30
Avis
Avis
Excellent 8.5
0740339555
Terminal Building
Working hours
Mon:08:00-20:00
Tue:08:00-20:00
Wed:08:00-20:00
Thu:08:00-20:00
Fri:08:00-20:00
Sat:09:00-17:00
Sun:09:00-17:00
Budget
Budget
Excellent 8.5
0740339777
Terminal Building Cairns Airport
Working hours
Mon:08:00-20:00
Tue:08:00-20:00
Wed:08:00-20:00
Thu:08:00-20:00
Fri:08:00-20:00
Sat:09:00-17:00
Sun:09:00-17:00
EastCoast Car Rentals
EastCoast Car Rentals
Excellent 8.5
+611800474258 / +61755558908
411 Sheridan Street, Cairns, 4870
Working hours
Mon:07:00-21:00
Tue:07:00-21:00
Wed:07:00-21:00
Thu:07:00-21:00
Fri:07:00-21:00
Sat:08:00-19:30
Sun:08:00-19:30
SIXT
SIXT
Excellent 8.3
+61755558908
411 Sheridan St, Cairns North QLD 4870
Alamo
Alamo
Excellent 8
+61740349045
Beaufort Street, Aeroglen QLD 4870
Ace Rent a car
Ace Rent a car
Very good 7.5
61740410895 / 3173487251
147 Lake Street
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