Cairns is perhaps Australia's most unabashed tourist-friendly city. Every year, more than two million tourists take cheap flights to Cairns for its near-perfect climate and its proximity to the jaw-droppingly awesome attractions of the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest. Cairns is the only place in the world where two World Heritage Areas meet.
Cairns city is a great base and has plenty to occupy tourists while they're between reef or rainforest trips. There's a wonderful Esplanade that's comprises a swimming lagoon that's open between 6am and 10pm daily, an amphitheatre, picnic and barbecue spots, walking trails, a children's playground called Muddy's and shops, restaurants and markets both day and night. Just 4km from the centre of the city are the Cairns Botanic Gardens. Lush and very, very green, these 38km of gardens are made up of the Flecker Gardens and Centenary Lakes, where a boardwalk will wind you through mangroves and tropical rainforest. Behind the gardens, Mt Whitfield Conservation Park is more than 300 hectares of forested mountain range.