brisbane-cairns-road-trip-feature

Brisbane to Cairns road trip itinerary

Discover some of the hottest spots along the Queensland coast and how to get to them on 4 wheels.

A Brisbane to Cairns road trip touches on some of the country's most beautiful forest-to-sea landscapes.

We've prepared three epic road trips for you to take it in, lasting from one to three weeks. They come complete with the must-see spots and must-do activities and how to get to them. All you have to do now is book your car and go.

Search for your ride from Melbourne

Brisbane to Cairns map

Get your bearings before you take off. Here's what a straightforward journey will look like (excluding those fun little side trips).

Recommended itineraries based on length

7-day Brisbane to Cairns itinerary

Brisbane-Cairns itinerary overview

    • Distance: 1,913km
    • Highlights and attractions: Fraser Island, Whitehaven Beach, Great Barrier Reef, Atherton Tablelands
    • Landscape: Coastal, rainforest, islands
    • Recommended vehicle type: Economy or mid-sized (SUV with 4WD needed if driving on Fraser Island)

Day Itinerary
Day 1

Distance: 140km

Approx. drive time: 2 hours

Brisbane to Noosa

Day 2

Distance: 0km (if going on the tour)

Approx. drive time: 0

Noosa to Fraser Island

Day 3

Distance: 377km

Approx. drive time: 4 hours and 20 minutes

Fraser Island to Agnes Water

Day 4

Distance: 706km

Approx. drive time: 7 hours and 45 minutes

Agnes Water to Airlie Beach

Day 5

Distance: 0km (no driving due to tour)

Approx. drive time: 0

Airlie Beach to Whitsunday Islands

Day 6

Distance: 690km

Approx. drive time: 8 hours and 25 minutes

Airlie Beach to Cairns via Atherton Tablelands

Day 7

Distance: 0km

Approx. drive time: 0

Cairns

Brisbane: Ibis Styles Brisbane Elizabeth Street
Brisbane: Ibis Styles Brisbane Elizabeth Street

Finder Hotels

Agnes Water: Agnes Water Beach Holiday
Agnes Water: Agnes Water Beach Holiday

Finder Hotels

Airlie Beach: Colonial Palms Motor Inn
Airlie Beach: Colonial Palms Motor Inn

Finder Hotels

Cairns: Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside
Cairns: Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside

Finder Hotels


14-day Brisbane to Cairns itinerary

Itinerary overview

    • Distance: 1,922km
    • Highlights and attractions: Great Barrier Reef, Fraser Island, Magnetic Island, Daintree Rainforest
    • Landscape: Coastal, forested national parks
    • Recommended vehicle type: Economy or mid-sized (SUV with 4WD needed if driving on Fraser Island)

Day Itinerary
Day 1

Distance: 0km

Approx. drive time: 0

Brisbane

Days 2 and 3

Distance: 140km

Approx. drive time: 4km

Brisbane to Sunshine Coast

Days 4 and 5

Distance: 118km

Approx. drive time: 1 hour and 40 minutes

Sunshine Coast to Fraser Island

Day 6

Distance: 336km

Approx. drive time: 4 hours

Fraser Island to town of Seventeen Seventy and Agnes Water

Days 7 to 9

Distance: 706km

Approx. drive time: 8 hours

Agnes Water to Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands

Days 10 and 11

Distance: 275km

Approx. drive time: 3 hours

Airlie Beach to Townsville and Magnetic Island

Days 12 to 14

Distance: 347km

Approx. drive time: 4 hours

Magnetic Island to Cairns

Brisbane: Ibis Styles Brisbane Elizabeth Street
Brisbane: Ibis Styles Brisbane Elizabeth Street

Finder Hotels

Fraser Island: Sailfish on Fraser (book only if not doing a Fraser Island tour)
Fraser Island: Sailfish on Fraser (book only if not doing a Fraser Island tour)

Finder Hotels

Agnes Water: Agnes Water Beach Holiday
Agnes Water: Agnes Water Beach Holiday

Finder Hotels

Airlie Beach: Colonial Palms Motor Inn
Airlie Beach: Colonial Palms Motor Inn

Finder Hotels

Magnetic Island: Bungalow Bay Koala Village YHA
Magnetic Island: Bungalow Bay Koala Village YHA

Finder Hotels

Cairns: Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside
Cairns: Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside

Finder Hotels


21-day Brisbane to Cairns itinerary

Itinerary overview

    • Distance: 1,957km
    • Highlights and attractions: Noosa National Park, Fraser Island, Whitsunday Islands, Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest
    • Landscape: Coastal, rainforest, waterfalls
    • Recommended vehicle type: Economy or mid-sized (SUV with 4WD needed if driving on Fraser Island)

Day Itinerary
Days 1 and 2

Distance: 0km

Approx. drive time: 0

Brisbane

Days 3 and 4

Distance: 238km

Approx. drive time: 2 hours and 50 minutes

Brisbane to Sunshine Coast

Days 5 and 6

Distance: 0km

Approx. drive time: 0

Sunshine Coast to Fraser Island

Days 7 and 8

Distance: 322km

Approx. drive time: 3 hours and 40 minutes

Fraser Island to Agnes Water and town of Seventeen Seventy

Days 9 to 11

Distance: 0km

Approx. drive time: 0

Agnes Water to Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands

Days 12 and 13

Distance: 275km

Approx. drive time: 3 hours

Airlie Beach to Townsville

Days 14 and 15

Distance: 30km (distance dependent on which attractions you visit)

Approx. drive time: 1 hour

Townsville to Magnetic Island

Day 16

Distance: 235km

Approx. drive time: 3 hours

Magnetic Island to Mission Beach

Days 17 to 19

Distance: 274km

Approx. drive time: 4 hours

Mission Beach to Cairns via Atherton Tablelands

Days 20 and 21

Distance: 583km

Approx. drive time: 5 hours and 30 minutes

Cairns to Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation

Brisbane: Ibis Styles Brisbane Elizabeth Street
Brisbane: Ibis Styles Brisbane Elizabeth Street

Finder Hotels

Fraser Island: Sailfish on Fraser (book only if not doing a Fraser Island tour)
Fraser Island: Sailfish on Fraser (book only if not doing a Fraser Island tour)

Finder Hotels

Agnes Water: Agnes Water Beach Holiday
Agnes Water: Agnes Water Beach Holiday

Finder Hotels

Airlie Beach: Colonial Palms Motor Inn
Airlie Beach: Colonial Palms Motor Inn

Finder Hotels

Magnetic Island: Bungalow Bay Koala Village YHA
Magnetic Island: Bungalow Bay Koala Village YHA

Finder Hotels

Cairns: Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside
Cairns: Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside

Finder Hotels

Mission Beach: Eco Village Resort Mission Beach
Mission Beach: Eco Village Resort Mission Beach

Finder Hotels

Cape Tribulation: Heritage Lodge in the Daintree
Cape Tribulation: Heritage Lodge in the Daintree

Finder Hotels


Need a car? Book a ride now

Destination overview

  • Weather: Queensland’s weather is similar for destinations all along the coast. Tropical North Queensland locations such as Cairns, the Daintree Rainforest and Mission Beach experience hot and humid weather year-round with temperatures hovering around 31°C. Rainy season is November to April. Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands have the same weather along with stinger season during the rainy season so wetsuits must be worn. Further south in Noosa and Brisbane the rainy season is also November to April, though stingers are not an issue and there is less rain. Temperatures in winter are still above 20°C.
  • Best time to visit: The shoulder seasons of April to May and October to November are the best months to visit as the temperatures are warm, the rain is minimal and there are fewer crowds.
  • Recommended vehicle type: Economy or mid-sized (SUV with 4WD needed if driving on Fraser Island)

Car hire deals in Brisbane

UBER UBER
Exclusive

$12 off first ride

Valid on your first Uber ride anywhere in Australia (T&Cs apply). Only available through Finder.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Europcar Europcar

Up to 20% off car hire

Valid for rentals until 1 August 2019 at participating locations across Australia and New Zealand. Minimum of 2 days rental and must be booked 21 days prior vehicle pick up. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Get deal

Deal ends

Europcar Europcar

Up to 35% off car hire

Valid from 8 July - 31 December 2019. Destinations include Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Italy, France and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Get deal

Deal ends

Europcar Europcar

$1/day one-way car hire in Australia

Valid on select dates on select car hire relocations in Australia. Destinations updated regularly.

Last verified

DriveNow DriveNow

Campervan hire from $5/day

Available on select routes, dates and locations in Australia and New Zealand.

Last verified

Skyscanner Car Hire Skyscanner Car Hire

Gold Coast car hire from $30

Valid for travel on select dates until May 2020 with Avis, Budget, Sixt, Europcar and more. Destinations close from Gold Coast include Brisbane, Toowoomba, Lamington National Park and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Get deal

Deal ends

Skyscanner Car Hire Skyscanner Car Hire

Brisbane car hire from $24

Valid for travel on select dates until May 2020 with Avis, Budget, Sixt, Europcar and more. Destinations close from Brisbane include Gold Coast, Moreton Island, Sunshine Cost and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Get deal

Deal ends

Skyscanner Car Hire Skyscanner Car Hire

Cairns car hire from $24

Valid for travel on select dates until May 2020 with Avis, Budget, Sixt, Europcar and more. Destinations close from Cairns include Palm Cove, Mareeba and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Get deal

Deal ends

Avis Avis

Australia car hires from $109

Valid for travel on select dates in 2019. Destinations include Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart and more. Sample fare is for a 5-seat SUV from Perth Airport. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Get deal

Deal ends

EasyRentCars.com EasyRentCars.com

Up to 50% off Melbourne car hires

Valid for rentals from 29 May - 31 August 2019 with Aucar across Australia, Melbourne. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Get deal

Deal ends

Europcar Europcar

Up to 20% off Australia and New Zealand car hire

Valid for travel on select dates with pick-ups in Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. Discount applies to all participating stations in Australia and New Zealand. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Get deal

Deal ends

Europcar Europcar

25% off premium hire insurance

Get up to 25% off on your car rental when you purchase GoZen Cover. Valid at participating locations across Australia and New Zealand. T&C's apply.

Last verified

DriveMyCar DriveMyCar

Car hire from $24 per day

Hire cars across Australia from as little as $24 per day.

Last verified

DriveNow DriveNow

Hire a car and get your fourth day free

Hire a car with Budget Car Hire through DriveNow for a minimum of four consecutive days and get your fourth day free of base rate charges. Available for pick ups at the airport in Cairns, Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne (Tullamarine). Valid on select vehicles including family, full-size and SUVs.

Last verified


Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.
Ask a question
Go to site