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Cairns car hire

Tick off all of Cairns’ best bits for less than $27 a day.

With four wheels to help you explore Cairns, you can visit some bleach-white beaches, hike through the rainforest, go whitewater rafting and indulge in some regional paddock-to-table delights all in the space of a day.

Before you hit the road read up on how much you should expect to pay for rentals, popular pick-up and drop off spots and some of our favourite itineraries to make the most of your holiday.

Book car rental in Cairns:

Compare hire cars and prices in Cairns

We’ve done the numbers to give you an idea of how much your type of vehicle will cost to hire in Cairns.

Our figures are based on a quote from our engine for a rental car from Cairns Airport for 5 days, booked a month in advance for a driver aged 25+.

Small economy car

  • Car: Fiat Punto
  • Seats: 4
  • Luggage: 1 large bag and 1 small bag
  • Rental company: Jucy
  • Cost: $134 for 5 days or $26.80 per day

Medium car

  • Car: Toyota Corolla Hatch
  • Seats: 5
  • Luggage: 1 large bag and 1 small bag
  • Rental company: Ace Rental Cars
  • Cost: $141.02 for 5 days or $28.20 per day

Large car

  • Car: Toyota Corolla Sedan
  • Seats: 5
  • Luggage: 2 large bags, 1 small bag
  • Rental company: Alamo
  • Cost: $155.10 for 5 days or $31.02 per day

SUV/Estate car

  • Car: Mitsubishi Outlander
  • Seats: 5
  • Luggage: 3 large bags
  • Rental company: Carhood
  • Cost: $249.98 for 5 days or $49.99 per day

Prices mentioned above were retrieved on 2 October 2018 and change constantly. Get the latest prices for your car hire today.


Car hire locations in Cairns

Car rental companies such as Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Redspot and Thrifty can be found in and around Cairns. These companies and others are available at major airports and cities. This includes:

  • Cairns Airport
  • Cairns Downtown
  • Palm Cove

3 popular driving routes in Cairns

Cairns to Port Douglas

  • How long is the drive? 135km, round-trip
  • How long do I need? 1 day
  • Must-sees along the way: Great Barrier Reef Drive, Rex Lookout, Four Mile Beach, Macrossan Street, Low Isles

Travelling from Cairns to Port Douglas takes just over an hour taking in views out over the tie-dye-blue waters of the Coral Sea. A trip here is all about the picture-perfect beaches and relaxing on the water.


Cairns to Mission Beach

  • How long is the drive? 344 km, round-trip
  • How long do I need? 1-2 days
  • Must-sees along the way: North Mission beach, Bicton Hill, Kennedy Walking Track, Dunk Island, Canecutter Way and Paronella Park.

Point your car south of Cairns now and you’ll reach Mission Beach in two hours. The route skims the edges of rainforest national parks and banana farms. Once there, Mission Beach serves up 14 kilometres of Victoria sponge cake coloured sands and four mellow coastal villages, made up of laid-back cafes and eateries


The Atherton Tablelands

  • How long is the drive? 284 km, round-trip
  • How long do I need? 1-2 days
  • Must-sees along the way: Lake Barrine Crater Lake, Crystal Caves, Heales Lookout, Yungaburra, Curtain Fig Tree, Malanda Falls Park, Millaa Millaa Falls and Crawford’s Lookout

You can follow National Route One all the way from Cairns to the Atherton Tablelands. This plateau and its two main villages Atherton and Mareeba are famous for their paddock-to-plate offerings – you can sample local produce everywhere from a dairy to a woodwork shop.


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Tips for driving/FAQs

  • Keep left. As with the rest of Australia, Queenslanders drive on the left-hand side of the road. On multi-lane roads where the speed limit is 90km/h or more, you are not allowed to drive in the right-hand lane unless you are overtaking or about to turn right.
  • Watch out for animals. It’s not uncommon for animals such as kangaroos, bandicoots and pigs to stray onto the roads in Cairns, especially at night. Yellow signposts alert drivers to areas where wildlife regularly strays onto the roads. It’s a good idea to reduce your speed in these regions.
  • Prepare for the glare. If you’re driving west from Cairns, try to avoid being on the road while the sun is setting as glare can make it difficult to see the road ahead properly.
  • Parking. Try not to leave any valuables in the car especially during the hot summer months. The inside of a car can get incredibly hot, to the point where CD's can melt. A beach towel can be handy for putting on hot seats when you’re ready to set off again.
  • Cane trains. Keep an eye out for "Give Way" signs at train crossings throughout North Queensland. The cane trains travel on their own lines hauling sugar cane to various mills. When they cross main roads there are usually signals but on the back roads, there are only signs.
  • Younger drivers. A few car hire companies will rent a vehicle to a driver with a provisional licence. Redspot is probably the best-known brand in this group. If you’re under 24 you may also need to pay a surcharge and be restricted on the types of vehicles you can hire.
  • Excess reduction. Basic insurance is standard with hire cars but the excess on these policies is often high. Drivers can opt to take out additional cover that will reduce this in the event of an accident. You can compare your options here.

Car hire deals

Europcar Europcar

Up to 20% off base rate

Valid for rentals until 16 December 2018 at participating locations across Australia and New Zealand. Must book 21 days in advance and for a minimum of 2 days to redeem offer. T&Cs apply.

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Deal ends

DriveNow DriveNow

Campervan hire from $5/day

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

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Europcar Europcar

$1/day one-way car hire in Australia

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

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Hertz Hertz

1 day free weekend car hire

Valid until 28 February 2019 across Australia. Minimum rental of 3 days to get 1 day free and must include Saturday. T&Cs apply.

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Coupon code ends

Hertz Hertz

25% off car hire

Valid until 28 February 2019 across Australia. Minimum car hire of 7 days. T&Cs apply.

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Hertz Hertz

1 day free car hire

Valid until 28 February 2019 across Australia. Minimum car hire of 5 days. T&Cs apply.

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Coupon code ends

Enterprise Rent a Car Enterprise Rent a Car

Up to 10% off Australia car hire

Valid until 31 December 2018. including over Christmas. Minimum of 3 days rental. T&Cs apply.

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Avis Avis

Fifth day free SUV car hire

Valid until 16 December 2018 across Australia. Must hire 5 consecutive days. T&Cs apply.

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Coupon code ends

Avis Avis

Earn double Qantas points on 4+ days car hire

Valid on until 16 December 2018 across Australia. Minimum rental of 4 days to redeem offer. T&Cs apply.

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Coupon code ends

Budget Car Rental Budget Car Rental

Free upgrade car hire

Valid from 1 October - 16 December 2018 across Australia. Minimum rental of three days. T&Cs apply.

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Avis Avis

7-day Australia car hire for the price of 5 days

Valid from 1 October - 16 December 2018. Minimum rental of seven days. T&Cs apply.

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Coupon code ends

Avis Avis

Double upgrade car hire

Valid for rentals from 28 January - 30 April 2019 across Australia. Minimum of three days rental. T&Cs apply.

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Europcar Europcar

15% off the 5+ day hires

Valid on select dates until 16 December 2018 in Australia or New Zealand. T&Cs apply.

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Hertz Hertz

20% off car hire

Valid until 15 December 2018. Minimum of 7 days rental in Australia.

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DriveMyCar DriveMyCar

Car hire from $23 per day

Hire cars across Australia from as little as $32 per day.

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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.

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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.

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Popular Car Hire coupon codes

Last checked Code description Code
7 Dec 2018 $20 off first ride FIN****
22 Nov 2018 Third day free with car hire bookings TPL****
13 Nov 2018 10% off USA car hire + 30% off Legoland tickets BCD****
24 Sep 2018 $30 off on car rental SAV****
3 Dec 2018 Up to 15% off Taiwan car hire D06****
5 Dec 2018 $1 car hire per day in Northern Territory ********

Stephanie Yip

Stef is the Travel Editor at finder.com.au and has been writing about travel for over a decade. She's visited over 50 countries and has had some incredible experiences, including hot air ballooning over Cappadocia, hitchhiking across Romania and seeing the Northern Lights (twice!). And while she’d never say no to a luxury escape, she's far more likely to stretch her travel dollars as far as they can go by keeping her ear to the ground for unbeatable travel bargains. And she'll tell you all about them, too! Stef has had articles featured on Travel Weekly, Escape and Hostelworld.

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