Over recent years, Cairns has become something of a Mecca for backpackers, attracting young independent travellers and working holiday makers from all over the world, who see Cairns as an affordable party and adventure destination. Competition is fierce among local businesses, and the restaurants, nightclubs and bars in Cairns work tirelessly to make sure backpackers have a great time and find everything they are looking for.
Cairns entertainment is renowened among backpackers. One of these reasons for Cairns' unrivalled popularity among backpackers is the weather. We could say that the Cairns weather is fine most of the year. Even during the wet season, which usually lasts from December to April, the weather is still warm. Another reason for Cairns being so popular with backpackers is that you don't have to sell one of your kidneys to afford a holiday here. Everywhere you look, there are budget options, not only CAIRNS BACKPACKERS HOSTELS, but also budget options when it comes to tours, dining and partying.

The range of activities on offer in Cairns is dizzying, and is growing all the time. That's why Cairns is also called 'the adventure tourism capital of Australia'. These activities range from white water rafting to bungy jumping, from scuba diving to skydiving and much more. And you don't have to be rich to afford a bit of adrenaline in Cairns. Cairns tour operators understand that backpackers represent a major tourist group and how difficult is to travel on a budget. Many of them offer affordable tours to suit travellers who are watching their money. If you want to know what's available in Cairns when it comes to activities and things to do, have a look at our TOURS section. However, if you don't have much time to search through the dozens of companies, and we will reply to you with the companies and tours that are more suitable for your needs.

However, nothing is cheaper than free, and Cairns is home to a beautiful 4800 square metre lagoon, located right on the Cairns Esplanade. The Lagoon has become the focal point where life in Cairns revolves around, and is a great place for backpackers to hang out and meet other backpackers. Besides the lagoon (free to use between 6.30am to 10.30pm) the Cairns City Council has built public barbecues as well, where all you need to bring is your food. Every weekend, different performers entertain the public with their music or arts. And we assure you you won't have to pay a penny.


Cairns nightclubs provide entertainment for backpackers every night of the week. Everything we said in our introduction about Cairns as a backpackers destination applies as well to the Cairns nightlife. Backpackers from all over the world include Cairns on their itinerary because there couldn't possibly be a much friendlier backpackers destination in Australia. Cairns is top of the tops as the number of backpackers visiting Cairns demonstrates. The local entertainment industry soon realised that backpackers needed their own party venues, and businesses compete at improving Cairns backpacking nightlife. Not to mention the Cairns backpackers hostels themselves, many of which offer their own entertainment.

In 2007 Cairns received the visit of world class acts, such as Ministry of Sound's John Course, Silverchair, Powderfinger, and Vanilla Ice among many others. However, a lot of backpackers are simply looking for a place to party until the early hours of the morning, where they can meet up with other backpackers and where they can find drinks at reasonable prices. Don't despair, you will find these places and much more in Cairns. But if you want a comprehensive list of all the nightlife venues in Cairns, please visit our CAIRNS NIGHTLIFE page.

102 Lake Street, Cairns (MAP)
Phone (07) 4028 3448

Free pool. All night. All day. Every day!

You can always get a game on one of the TEN state-of-the art pool tables at the iconic Down Under Bar, with loads of elbow room and space to figure out your next shot. Open seven days a week from 3:00pm to midnight, the Down Under Bar in Cairns is the best pool venue in Tropical North Queensland.

Serving gourmet pizza, burgers, pasta, chicken Parma, hamgurgers, steak, fish and chips as well as a range of bar snacks starting from just $3, you won't go hungry while you're enjoying a drink and a game.

A brilliant bar, great sounds, fabulous food, this is for players who want only the best pool experience.

And if you're planning a party or event, whether it's a birthday, bucks or hens party, a corporate event or a fundraiser, Down Under Bar can tailor an event for you, with a fantastic atmosphere and plenty of pool tables and darts, you can be guaranteed loads of to fun things to do!

Cairns nightlife at Gilligans backpackers.Gilligans Backpackers Hostel and Resort in Cairns offers great nightlife. GILLIGANS
57-89 Grafton Street, Cairns (MAP)
Phone (07) 4041 6566 / Fax (07) 4041 6577

A different party every night of the week!

As a Gilligan's guest you can laze in the pool, sample local cuisine, sip cocktails, shop, browse over local produce markets, catch up with friends over the internet, or dance the night away - all without leaving this holiday haven.

Gilligan's award winning hostel is home to Cairns' best entertainment venue. Housing three large bars under one roof which consists of a large beer hall, deck bar and mezzanine bar upstairs. The Attic lounge bar is the newest edition to Cairns' nightlife, boasting an antique and chic feel. The Attic is a venue that knows how to mix its tunes and its drinks. Weekly Entertainment:

Monday: Open Mic Night and Dive in pool Movies / Tuesday: World Famous Jelly Wrestling / Wednesday: Wacky Wednesday's with Bogan Bingo / Thursday: Flirt Ladies Night / Friday: Live music on the deck / Saturday: International DJ acts and Live bands / Sunday: Chill by the pool with live music and a free BBQ.

THE HERITAGE was open in September 08, on the grounds where the famous Troppos used to be. This pub, bar and restaurant has three different rooms, with DJs, including a fantastic two-side terrace overlooking the busy streets of Cairns city centre. At The Heritage you can choose how to spend your nights, whether is relaxing with friends or partying until very late.

THE WOOLSHED is Cairns number one party venue, where hundreds of backpackers get together first to have dinner but then to keep on partying. The Woolshed is famous for their theme nights such as 'Mr and Mrs Backpackers' competition. But if there is one night that is the most popular then that's Wednesday night, when the Wet T-shirt competition takes place and the place is full to the brim. Winners of any of the competitions receive great prices, from East Coast travel packages to always very handy cash. The Woolshed is open every night of the week, from 6pm until the sun is up. If you make it there before 10pm you won't have to pay an entry fee. Don't miss it!

THE JACK, another one of the fabulous Cairns backpackers hostels, is also a good place to find Cairns nightlife and live entertainment. The Jack has played an important role in the Cairns music scene, with local bands playing from Thurdays to Sundays. There is also a huge plasma TV for sport maniacs to follow their favourite games. Located in the heart of Cairns, The Jack is a good choice to have a good time in Cairns.

THE PIER BAR is the answer for those who still want to enjoy a fun night out but don't have to be part of a wild night. The Pier is located overlooking the water of the Coral Sea and is possibly Cairns classiest venue. The crowd at The Pier Bar is a bit older than you will find in other bars and a bit more calm as well. There is an extensive wine and beer menu, with some delicious cocktails also, although the prices a a bit more expensive.

THE LOUNGE, is Cairns nightlife newest addition. The Lounge is more a cocktail bar than a disco, offering a round the world cocktail menu. The place is really captivating, with a lighting systems that helps set the mood, cosy armchairs that help you relax and Djs that make sure the you have one of the most chilled nights out in Cairns.

VELVET UNDERGROUND, located within the Reef Casino premises, offers some good acts as well and is open every weekend, playing a wide variety of good dance music.


Even backpackers on the tightest of shoestring budgets won't go hungry in Cairns. Many of the hostels provide their customers with meals at ridiculously low prices, not to mention the kitchen all hostels have, where backpackers can store and prepare their own meals. But because we know that you didn't come to Cairns to be cooking yourself, you can still find many bars and restaurants around town that offer meal options ranging from as little as $5 or $6.

There are some restaurants and bars in Cairns who have specialised in the backpackers market and it's there where'll find the best deals in town. However, it's still worth checking the menu at other Cairns restaurants and decide for yourself. Some of them, although not specially aimed at the backpackers, have delicious food at down to earth prices. And you can always find the usual fast food places in Cairns, such as McDonals, Sizzler or Red Rooster.

On this page we will name the Cairns restaurants that are most popular among backpackers, but, as we said before, don't forget that they are not the only ones and you can find good deals all over town. You can check them all in our CAIRNS DINING page.

P.J O'BRIENS is Cairns' only Irish pub and, like Irish pubs the world over, is very popular. We don't know whether it is the Irish sense of humour, the Irish beer or what it is, but what we cannot deny is that Irish pubs are always a good option. PJ O'Briens is located right in the main street of Cairns and it's impossible to miss. There is always a good crowd sitting outside (remember smoking is not allowed inside anymore). PJ O'Briens offers amazing meal deals: buy any selected beer or wine (only certain brands, but when your are on a budget I don't think the brand is so imporant) any night of the week between 5pm and 9pm and you can choose from a range of meals, including meat, salads or fish for just $5. And the portions are very hearty as well!

THE HERITAGE opened in September 08, offers pub food at very reasonable prices. The restaurant is located in one of Cairns most iconic buildings and you can enjoy great food and after go for a bit of dancing or enjoy a very relaxed atmosphere until late.

THE WOOLSHED, although best known as Cairns number one backpackers party venue, also serves quality meals at very affordable prices. The Woolshed offers an extensive menu ranging from pizzas and pasta to prime meat cuts, curries and even vegetarian options. This Cairns restaurant is open every night from 6pm and gets very busy as backpackers from hostels all over town congregate there. Although the meals are fairly simple, you always have the option of paying a few extra dollars and upgrading your meal.

RHINO BAR, also in a very central location in Cairns, offers a different system that works well with Cairns backpackers. They call it 'Beat the Clock' and basically, the earlier you get there the cheaper your meal will be. At 6pm meals cost $4 and every half an hour from then you have to add $1. So if you make it to Rhino Bar, upstairs on the Corner of Lake and Spence streets, at 6.30pm, you will have to pay $5. If you make it at 8pm, then the price of your meal will have increased to $10. The range of dishes to choose from is wide, with huge pizzas. On Sundays get ready to enjoy a BBQ on the balcony.

THE COCK N BULL is a typical British pub, although with a bit of Australian flair. Although a bit more expensive than the rest and located a few block away from the heart of Cairns, meals at Cock n Bull are hearty and well cooked. They specialise in meat, with a Carnivore menu that is varied, but there are other alternatives such as curries or vegetarian dishes.

At THE GRAND HOTEL you will enjoy traditional Aussie food at fantastic prices. Located just opposite Cairns Central, The Grand Hotel offers some of the best food in Cairns, including an all day breakfast and brunch menu as well as legendary burgers. It is a popular spot among Cairns locals, which proves that it's good value for money.