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    Car hire from Cairns Airport, Australia

    Although known by most as the gateway to one of the world’s seven natural wonders, The Great Barrier Reef, the city of Cairns has much to offer its visitors. Its location in North Queensland is tropical and clad in vast swathes of jungle and swampy marshlands – a stark difference from the common perception of Australia and its dusty, sparse outback or pristine beaches (although Queensland has these too!). North Queensland’s Daintree rainforest offers the largest diversity of plants and animals anywhere in Australia and is situated just 2 hours north of Cairns by car, close to Cape Tribulation. This beautiful beach is somewhat of a misnomer – it was given this unfortunate name by Captain Cook on his voyage to Antarctica following damage to his ship, however nowadays is an idyllic, lengthy stretch of perfect beach.

    The Great Barrier Reef tends to bring nearly 900,000 visitors to the area each year – no wonder, as it’s the world’s largest feature created by living organisms and can even be viewed from space. This enormous volume of tourism is both beneficial and detrimental to the health of the reef. On one hand, funds from revenues are making a significant contribution towards protection of the great submarine wonder, however excessive human contact with coral is contributing to the death of some sections, along with global warming. Simply touching corals can cause whole colonies to die, as our oily skin disrupts the balance of mucus within the coral, so when visiting be careful not to walk on or touch these structures.

    The native Aborigines and Torres Strait Islander peoples have long celebrated the reef in their cultures and religions. Cairns has some interesting centres to learn about these practices, such as the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, which can be found just outside the city limits. Cairns itself has become a very cosmopolitan city in recent decades, however the positive effects of tourism can be felt in its mind-set – even the skyscraper-populated Central Business District has a more relaxed feel to it than its counterparts in other Australian metropolises. Speaking of, Brisbane is the closest major city and lies 900 miles to the south, as the capital of Queensland. For truly adventurous travellers, Cairns can provide a jumping off point for a once-in-a-lifetime road trip that takes in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

    Here at Auto Europe we have links with some of the best suppliers of car rental at Cairns Airport. We’ve been in the car hire business since 1954 and have been helping people to travel the world at their own pace in style ever since. We’ve built strong links with our suppliers and can confidently offer our customers the best prices on the market. Browse our booking engine or chat with one of our dedicated customer service team to see what we can do for your holiday! Check out the opinions and ratings of other Auto Europe customers by reading the comments they posted on our Cairns car hire reviews page following their car rental experience in the city.

    Airport Information

    Cairns Airport (CNS)
    Address: Airport Ave, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia
    Wesbite: Cairns Airport Website
    Tel: +61 7 4080 6703
    Location: The airport is located 2 miles north of the city centre.
    Airlines serving Cairns Airport: Several Domestic and International airlines serve Cairns, including Air New Zealand, Alliance Airlines, Asia Pacific Airlines, Jetstar Airways, Qantas and Virgin Australia.


    Cairns Airport has two terminals - one that handles Domestic flights and the other for International travel. These terminals are not far from one another and the distance can be walked via a covered path that takes around 5 minutes. Both terminals are built on what used to be a mangrove swamp, like much of the rest of the city. International flights operate at Terminal 1, with all Domestic travel occurring at Terminal 2, which was built in the 1980s and renovated in 2010. The airport offers non-stop flights across Australia, New Zealand and Asia, to destinations including Auckland, Hong Kong, Bali, Melbourne, Osaka, Tokyo and Shenzhen.

    Car hire Pick up and Drop off

    We work with a great variety of suppliers of car hire at Cairns Airport, including Alamo, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty. Car rental desks for all suppliers can be found in the Arrivals hall of both terminals, with their facilities located on-site. Please ensure that you bring your valid driving licence, the credit card with which you made your booking and 2 proofs of address, or your supplier may refuse to give you the car. Make sure that you are familiar with your insurance policy and make the supplier aware of any damage to the vehicle before your departure to avoid any disputes when returning the vehicle.

    Car hire desks opening hours

    Company Opening Hours
    Alamo 5am - 12:30am
    Enterprise 5am - 12:30
    Europcar 5am - 1am
    Hertz 4am - 11:30
    Thrifty 5am - 12am

    Airport Facilities

    Cairns Airport is a major transport hub for the entire North Queensland region and has brought much wealth and connectivity to the area. It is the seventh busiest airport in Australia. As such, the airport facilities are impressive – it boasts international shops, comprehensive culinary options, several customer lounges and accessibility across both terminals. Forward planning is advised for those with special requirements, so that the airport can best plan how to assist you. Unfortunately, passengers are unable to sleep in the airport terminal, so you will need to book alternative accommodation if spending a night’s stopover in Cairns Airport.

    Transportation / How to get to the airport

    By Car
    Returning your car hire to Cairns Airport is a simple process and only takes around 15 minutes in good traffic. Take Lake Street northwards along the coast and turn off onto Airport Avenue. Rush hour traffic does not typically affect this route; however leave a little extra time for your journey just in case. Mobil, Shell and United Petroleum all have petrol stations along Lake Street, so be sure to return your car hire with the agreed amount of fuel so as to avoid being charged out of your deposit by your supplier.

    By Bus and Taxi
    The Airport Connect bus service runs from Cairns city centre and the Northern Beaches directly to the airport for around 4AUD one-way. The service is run by Sun Palm Transport who have a desk at the Arrivals area in both terminals and can direct you to the bus stop. The 121 bus also runs from the Central Bus Station to the airport and costs less, but takes just over an hour.

    The only regulated taxi service within the Cairns municipality is Cairns Taxis, who operate also at the airport. Taxi ranks can be found just outside each terminal. Please be aware that a charge of around 5AUD will be added to taxi fares to and from the airport.

    Parking Tips

    There are 3 different official parking options available at Cairns Airport. Each option varies in price, distance from the airport and the amount of storm or sun shelter available. Currently 10 minutes of free parking is possible at both terminals for those dropping off or picking up friends and family. It is far cheaper to pre-book digitally, however it is possible to pay by credit card or cash upon arrival.

    For tips on driving in Australia, visit our handy Australia driving information page.

    Useful links

    Official Tourist Information