Car Hire in Cairns
Browse cars in Cairns
Hassle-free car hire
Skip the rental counter
Book and unlock cars with your phone, when you want to. No rental counters, no access cards, no worries.
Convenient locations near you
Rent cars owned by locals - parked on your street, or near the airport.
Only pay for what you need
Rent by the hour or day, and say goodbye to membership fees.
Save money on your trip
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Frequently asked questions
International drivers are welcome to rent cars in Cairns. You just need to hold a full unrestricted driver licence from your home country, with a formal English translation if it is in another language.
Our pricing works slightly differently from traditional car rental companies. When you borrow a car with Car Next Door, you pay for both the time you have the car and the distance you drive, as well as your damage cover and booking fee.
Car Next Door trips are covered through Mobility Mutual - a member-owned mutual risk protection fund that’s specifically designed for our car-sharing community. Each time you borrow a car with Car Next Door you will be able to select the excess option which best suits your needs.
No credit card? No problem. Once you’ve joined up as a free member to our community, you can hire a car without a credit card. We accept any Visa or Mastercard debit or credit card - just make sure it has the necessary funds available! Note that all members will be charged a $150 deposit on their first booking, which will be returned after the trip is completed.
Useful Information about Cairns
New to Cairns or just stopping by? It’s not only about car hire in Cairns. Whether you’re heading straight from Cairns airport or driving in from elsewhere, we’ve got you covered. Discover where to go and what to see during your trip.
What to do in Cairns
Cairns is a laid-back city best enjoyed outdoors. The gateway to North Queensland, visit Cairns for:
- the Great Barrier Reef
- Wet Tropics World Heritage Rainforest
- bustling markets
- world-class cafés
- beaches just a stone's throw away.
7 of the best day trips from Cairns city
When you’re in a city wedged between the wet tropics and the Great Barrier Reef, you know the road trips are going to be good. Jump in your hire car and get ready for adventure.
Experience the bustling mountain towns or head off the beaten path with these seven unmissable road trips from Cairns.
Cairns: must-sees and must-dos
A laid-back yet vibrant city, Cairns is where your holiday will begin. Your day might look like this:
- Hit the morning markets.
- Swim in the sparkling Esplanade Lagoon or Trinity Beach.
- Taste fresh seafood off the back of a fish trawler.
- Spend the afternoon by the pool with your long-awaited holiday read, or shop up a storm.
- Finish the day off in style at one of Cairns’ world-class cafés, restaurants or rooftop bars.
But in Cairns, connecting with nature goes deeper and you get the chance to experience local indignous culture on guided tours. Or explore the Daintree rainforest with Kuku Yalanji people at the Mossman Gorge Centre, a short drive north of Cairns.
Another must-see to the north is Port Douglas. Rent a car and hit the road to enjoy sophisticated dining, shopping and sprawling natural beaches. Over 80% of the land is protected under World Heritage listing.
And of course, you must see the Great Barrier Reef. Grab a car hire in Cairns and head to the reef on your own time. Choose from an array of reef tours, or head up in a light plane and see the stunning views from above.
Exploring a little further afield, jump on the car ferry that takes you over the Daintree River and towards Cape Tribulation. Feel awed amongst the world’s oldest rainforest, and eat some ice cream made from local exoctic ingredients. And for a less indulgent but equally enjoyable treat, try some of the famous local tropical fruits.
What to know about the seasons in Cairns
The first thing you need to know: there's no bad time to visit Cairns. Every season delivers natural wonders, city sophistication, laid back beaches and friendly locals.
Winter: June to August
Cairns and surrounds are at their busiest in June, July and August. But don’t let that put you off – there’s a mighty good reason for that. As those from colder climes escape winter, you can join them in enjoying the balmy Cairns welcome.
- Enjoy a road trip to Palm Cove or adventure up Cape York.
- Dive with rare dwarf minke whales.
- Camp under endless stars.
- Explore the reef and its many islands.
Spring: September to November
Spring is when things start heating up again in Cairns. The dry weather makes for endless opportunities to explore.
- Soak in freshwater swimming holes.
- Dive the Great Barrier Reef.
- Hike untouched national parks.
- Experience the awe inspiring annual coral spawning event.
Summer: December to February
While hot and humid, visit Cairns in December, January or February to see nature come alive.
- Treat your tastebuds to some of the freshest tropical fruit you’ll find anywhere in the world.
- Marvel at the world’s oldest rainforest fresh from rain – take in the smells and watch the colours brighten in front of your eyes.
- Keep your eyes open for the famous Cassowaries and their young, too, who roam freely through summer.
Autumn: March to May
The heat continues through March, April and May, but you can rely on a rejuvenating afternoon shower most days.
- Chase waterfalls at their magnificent peaks.Chase waterfalls at their magnificent peaks.
- Go a white water rafting adventure.
- Enjoy a secluded and cool rainforest cabin.
- Grab a car hire in Cairns and road trip through the outback as it turns a lush green.
Want to learn more about Cairns? Visit Queensland Tourism.
Driving in Cairns
You can drive in Cairns (and hire a car in Cairns) with an overseas or interstate licence. You may also drive with an international driver’s licence, but you don’t need one. If your licence is not written in English, you will need a formal English translation. Make sure you check the rules for each state you visit.
Road rules to be aware of
If you’re not familiar with them, there are a few road rules you should brush up on before you get behind the wheel of your rental in Cairns:
You can’t touch your mobile phone while driving, except for navigation if it’s in an approved phone cradle. To make or answer calls or play music, your phone must be in a phone cradle and able to be operated without touching it. For any other function, you must pull over into a car park before touching your phone.
You can’t turn on a red light, even if the way is clear. There are only a small number of intersections in Queensland that allow this and they are clearly signed. If there’s no sign permitting it, you can’t turn on a red light.
You can’t do a U turn unless there’s a sign permitting it. Unlike some other Australian states, in Queensland you can only do a U turn at an intersection if there’s a sign stating ‘U turn permitted’.
Pedestrians sometimes have right of way at intersections. Pedestrians will sometimes get a green light at the same time as turning traffic. You must wait for any pedestrians to cross the road before you can turn.
You must park ‘facing the direction of traffic’, which means the car must be parked facing the direction it would be if it were driving down that road. In Australia where we drive on the left side of the road, this means the passenger side of the car needs to be closest to the kerb.