Cairns’ bar scene has evolved recently to become as vibrant and diverse as the city itself.
From the sophisticated to the funky and the let-it-all-hang-out laid-back, check out our guide to the best bars the city has to offer.
IN THE CBD
This dimly-lit laneway bar is serious about its spirits and has quickly become a favourite haunt for locals.
Three Wolves specialises in whiskey and cocktails but has plenty more on the menu, including craft beer, wine and tasty food.
Every year since it opened, it’s been a finalist in the Australian Bartender Magazine awards.
GO THERE: 32 Abbott Street, Cairns
The biggest brew-pub in the region and always packed to the rafters, Hemingway’s Cairns Wharf has a 19 metre-long bar and 20 beer taps.
Beer, of course, comes first and the offerings truly do reflect Far North Queensland, with many of the ales inspired by the colourful characters of the region’s history.
The heritage-listed venue has views over Trinity Inlet and you can also book a brewery tour.
GO THERE: Wharf Street, Cairns
If wine and cheese is your thing, this is the place to go.
Located in a beautifully restored former 1920s NAB Bank, the quaint bar exudes old-school charm, with its timber furnishings and soft mood lighting.
As well as an extensive wine list, The Chambers also has ciders, beers, spirits and cocktails.
GO THERE: 21 Spence Street, Cairns City
Flamingos Tiki Bar
Fun tropical vibes and rum-based cocktails are front and centre at this new bar, which draws inspiration from the Polynesian-themed tiki bars of yesteryear.
The intimate Esplanade bar is dotted with tiki god statues, hula girl prints and bamboo, and the cocktails are more than just a drink – they’re an experience.
GO THERE: 43 The Esplanade, Cairns
Rocco by Crystalbrook @ Riley
Cairns’ highest rooftop bar is newly opened and offers visitors a 270 degree view over the city and the Coral Sea.
But views aside, the sweet and savoury cocktails and stellar champagne menu are worth the trip alone.
Don’t forget to check out the mouth-watering Mediterranean-inspired food menu too.
GO THERE: 131-141 The Esplanade, Cairns
This is definitely a bar for the tropics, featuring day beds, decks over flowing ponds and fire pits as well as a view over the Cairns Marina.
The drinks menu is extensive and you can also order a bite to eat from the tapas bar menu.
GO THERE: 6/2 Pierpoint Road, Cairns
The Backyard @ The Shangri-La Cairns Marina
A new waterfront bar that’s cool, lively, fun and funky.
Cocktails are king and are served in mugs, while the food menu includes a multicultural version of Aussie backyard fare, with sweet and savoury bagels among the specialities.
GO THERE: Pierpoint Rd, Cairns
Gin Social @ The Hilton Hotel
Gin lovers unite!
This bar features over 40 of the world’s best gins as well as a curated cocktail list, fine wines and craft beers.
It’s located in the air-conditioned comfort of the Hilton Hotel Cairns, at the southern end of the Esplanade.
GO THERE: 34 The Esplanade, Cairns
Attic Lounge Bar @ Gilligan’s
The Attic Lounge Bar is a favoured party playground, with delicious cocktails, VIP bottle service and cocktail booth service.
In the early evening there’s a cocktail lounge feel and later, The Attic becomes a pumping nightclub.
GO THERE: 89 Grafton St, Cairns
The Conservatory Bar
The Conservatory Bar’s operators reckon it’s the comfiest place in Cairns for a catch-up drink and a grazing board – and we’re not about to disagree.
With leather lounges, live music and nice vibes, it’s your home away from home.
GO THERE: 12-14 Lake St, Cairns
This venue is famous worldwide for its table dancing, which is mandatory.
There’s a restaurant downstairs and the nightclub is upstairs, which opens onto a balcony looking over fig trees.
It specialises in groups and parties.
GO THERE: 24 Shields St, Cairns
Macalister Brewing Company
A brewpub with a beautiful view over cane fields, which are occasionally burnt off because of a nearby infestation of electric ants, providing quite a show for beer drinkers.
Local food trucks provide the food and every Friday afternoon Macalisters is packed with tradies and other locals getting their weekend off to a relaxing start.
GO THERE: Unit 3, 6 Danbulan St, Smithfield
AJ Hackett Bungy Bar
Enjoy drinks and a show as you watch the fearless throw themselves off the bungy tower, which is 140 metres above sea level.
You can also climb above the rainforest canopy to the top of the tower for free, to check out the views over the Coral Sea. Sunday sessions also offer live music.
GO THERE: End of McGregor Road, Smithfield
The Beach Shack @ Kewarra Beach Resort
Beachside bevvies and wood-fired pizza are the name of the game at The Beach Shack.
It also features perhaps the country’s most Instagrammed coconut tree, which is now propped up after being eroded by high rainfall and tides in early 2018.
GO THERE: 80 Kewarra St, Kewarra Beach
Pooches are welcome at Hopscotch’s outdoor patio, where there’s a fun garden-inspired cocktail vibe.
As well as being a bar, it’s also an Italian trattoria and chophouse.
GO THERE: 532 Mulgrave Rd Earlville
Mountain View Hotel
If you’re looking for an original country pub, head to the Gilles Range, just outside Gordonvale, to this iconic hotel constructed in 1926.
It has a magnificent beer garden and deck, overlooking the Little Mulgrave River, and is popular with motorcyclists who spend their weekends winding up and down the range.
GO THERE: 864 Gillies Range Road, Little Mulgrave