Cairns is known for its scenic beauty, whether it be the stunning weather or the majestic mountains. The tropical destination is also famous for its vibrant food scene. Cairns offers a plethora of eats & drinks options, from five-star restaurants to modest street food stalls. However, travellers would undoubtedly prefer affordable and delicious eats while exploring the city.

Here are some of the best places for eats & drinks in Cairns for backpackers

Rusty’s Market is situated in the heart of Cairns and offers a colorful and vibrant food scene for locals and travelers alike. The market features a plethora of stalls selling fresh fruits and vegetables, locally-made condiments and sauces, artisanal bread, and exotic meats. The market is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and is an excellent place for backpackers to explore the diversity in Cairn’s food scene.

The Pier Bar is a prime spot for backpackers to enjoy drinks and meals while enjoying the stunning ocean views. The bar serves an extensive range of drinks, including beers, cocktails, and spirits, and the menu offers classic pub grub such as burgers, pizzas and seafood.

Lillypad, Muddys & Pete and Paulz great breakfast locations

The Lillipad Cafe is a vibrant little eatery located Grafton Street in Cairns. The cafe is known for its relaxed atmosphere and simple, fresh food. The menu features a range of eclectic vegetarian-friendly options, including colorful salads, sandwiches, quiches and open toasts.

Muddys Cafe in Cairns is a popular breakfast and lunch spot along the Esplanade that serves delicious food, including smoothies, burgers, salads, and sandwiches. The cafe is known for its friendly and accommodating service, cozy atmosphere, and outdoor seating area that allows you to enjoy Cairns’ beautiful weather while savoring your meal. If you’re in town, Muddys Cafe is definitely worth checking out!

Pete and Paul’s Breakfast Bar is a café located in the heart of Cairns, Australia. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists to grab breakfast, brunch, or lunch. The café offers a wide variety of food options, including vegetarian and gluten-free options. One of the specialties of the café is their homemade granola that is served with yogurt and fruits. They also serve sandwiches, burgers, smoothies, and freshly-brewed coffee.

Bayleaf Balinese Restaurant makes use of exotic Indonesian spices to create authentic Balinese dishes in Cairns. The restaurant’s decor is also inspired by the Balinese aesthetic, which adds to the overall experience of dining at Bayleaf. The menu is reasonably priced, and the portions are generous, so backpackers can enjoy a hearty meal while experiencing the taste of Indonesia.

Prawn Star boat restaurant

Prawn Star is a unique concept seafood restaurant in Cairns. It’s located on a fishing trawler docked at the Cairns Marina. The restaurant serves daily-fresh seafood such as prawns, oysters, and barramundi. It has a relaxed atmosphere, and guests can dine at picnic tables on the docks next to the trawlers. Prawn Star is perfect for backpackers looking to try fresh seafood with a unique dining experience.

Pho Viet is a casual and cozy eatery located on Abbott street Cairns, Australia, that specializes in serving authentic Vietnamese cuisine, particularly noodle dishes.

Nightlife in Cairns

Cairns is a vibrant and lively city with a bustling nightlife scene. There are numerous bars, clubs, and pubs catering to all tastes and budgets. The city comes alive after dark with live music, DJs, and special events.

The waterfront boardwalk and Esplanade are popular spots for a night out, with many bars and restaurants offering scenic views of the Coral Sea. From trivia nights to rooftop bars and night markets, Cairns has something for everyone to enjoy after the sun sets.

The Woolshed: A popular multi-level bar and nightclub known for its lively atmosphere, live music, and affordable drinks.

Gilligan’s: An iconic Cairns backpacker hostel that also features a backpacker eats & drinks bar and nightclub. It boasts a massive outdoor pool area and hosts regular events and parties.

P.J. O’Brien’s: An authentic Irish pub that serves up traditional pub fare, live music, and a wide selection of beers on tap.

Salt House: A chic waterfront bar and restaurant that offers modern Australian cuisine, cocktails, and check out there Monday nights if you’re a backpacker.

The Pier Bar: A casual bar and eatery that overlooks the Cairns Marina. It’s a popular spot for after-work drinks, Sunday sessions, and live music.

Rattle n Hum Cairns is a popular pub located in the heart of Cairns, Queensland, Australia. It is a lively and energetic pub that offers a great selection of drinks, including beer, wine, spirits, and cocktails. The pub has a great atmosphere, with live music and DJ’s playing throughout the week.

3 wolves bar is a popular nightlife spot in the heart of Cairns, located on the corner of Lake Street and Shields Street. The bar is known for its extensive drinks menu, lively atmosphere, and friendly staff.