Updated: March 20, 2024

Escape the ordinary and immerse yourself in the hidden treasures of North Queensland, Australia. While the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands steal the spotlight, there's an extraordinary experience that awaits.

Nestled in the captivating region of Cairns, Queensland, lie two gems - the Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway - waiting to be explored on a remarkable day trip. 

Brace yourself for a tropical getaway aboard historical railway carriage and state-of-the-art gondola, immersing yourself in the Kuranda Rainforest's awe-inspiring beauty.

Our comprehensive guide will help you navigate the multitude of tour options, comparing top-rated Kuranda Scenic Railway & Skyrail Tours from Cairns and highlighting key attractions. Read practical information on what to expect, as well as essential tips to help you craft an unforgettable Australian adventure. 

Let’s uncover the hidden gems of North Queensland's untamed beauty together! 

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Compare Top-Rated Scenic Railway and Skyrail Tours from Cairns

Let's begin with our curated selection of the finest Scenic Railway and Skyrail Tours from Cairns, offering a diverse array of options to suit your preferences, from the luxurious golden pass ticket to the more budget-friendly packages. We have carefully chosen these top-rated tours based on their value and quality.

Below, you'll find convenient quick links to each tour for easy access, accompanied by detailed descriptions that showcase the distinctive features, inclusions, and pricing of each option.

Quick Booking Links to 4 Top-Rated Tours

Descriptions of the Scenic Railway and Skyrail Tours from Cairns


This is the most sought-after Kuranda Day Trip from Cairns. Your 7-hour journey begins with a convenient hotel pickup before embarking on a magnificent adventure through the World Heritage-listed rainforest aboard the Kuranda Scenic Railway. Another highlight is the exhilarating ride on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. 

Once in Kuranda Village, you'll have ample time to explore its vibrant markets, eclectic shops, and picturesque walking trails. If you prefer, hop aboard a delightful river cruise (seasonal) for 2.5 hours. As the tour wraps up, enjoy the 2:00 PM Skyrail return, gliding over the world's oldest continually-surviving tropical rainforest.


  • 1-way ticket for Kuranda Scenic Railway
  • 1-way ticket for Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
  • Pickup and drop-off at most major hotels in central Cairns

Tour Details

  • Departs from: Pickup from major hotels in central Cairns (except northern beach area)
  • Starting Time: 9:00 AM
  • Duration: approx. 7 hours


Travelers seeking a customizable Kuranda adventure will be thrilled with this full-day tour operated by the renowned Down Under Tours. With multiple options to choose from, you have the freedom to select the itinerary that best suits your preferences. All tours include a one-way journey aboard the Kuranda Scenic Railway, as well as free time in the village.

Additionally, the tour includes a ride on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and convenient hotel pick-up and drop-off services. For added experiences, you can opt for the "Rainforestation Package" featuring a visit to the Rainforestation Nature Park and an exciting amphibious Army Duck tour, or choose the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park package, with a didgeridoo demonstration.


  • Cairns pickup and drop-off
  • One-way trip on Kuranda Scenic Railway
  • Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
  • Rainforestation Nature Park (if option selected)
  • Kuranda Boarding Pass
  • Written itinerary available in German, Italian, French, Spanish, Japanese and Mandarin

Tour Details

  • Departs from: Pickup available from designated locations in Cairns, Northern Beaches and Port Douglas
  • Starting Time: Varies depending on chosen tour
  • Duration: approx. 7 to 10 hours (depending on chosen option)


This tour is ideal for those seeking a touch of luxury and convenience. Indulge in a premium journey to the village of Kuranda, bypassing the lines and enjoying exclusive Gold Class service aboard the Kuranda Scenic Railway. As you relax in premium seating you can savor the included refreshments, such as Australian wine, coffee and tea.

Receive a complimentary gift package including a pen, postcard, badge, and souvenir guide as a delightful addition to your experience. Upon arrival, explore Kuranda at your leisure. As you heading back, enjoy the scenic ride with the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, treating you to breathtaking views of the mountains and coastline.


  • One way Kuranda Scenic Railway ride in Gold Class
  • One way by Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
  • Pickup and drop-off

Tour Details

  • Departs from: Pickup available from designated locations in Cairns, Northern Beaches and Port Douglas
  • Starting Time: 8:00 AM
  • Duration: approx. 8 hours


Discover the ultimate all-inclusive adventure with this 10-hours full day trip. Alongside the iconic Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail ride, the tour includes a range of exciting inclusions, such as visits to the Butterfly Sanctuary and Koala and Wildlife Park.

On top of that, you can experience the thrill of a unique Amphibious WWII Army Duck ride and immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience. With captivating wildlife encounters, engaging cultural activities in Kuranda village, and a delicious included lunch, this tour showcases the best of Kuranda.


  • Lunch
  • Driver/guide
  • Australian Butterfly Sanctuary
  • Koala and Wildlife Park
  • Amphibious WWII Army Duck ride
  • Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience

Tour Details

  • Departs from: Pickup available from designated locations in Cairns City, Palm Cove and Port Douglas
  • Starting Time: 7:30 AM (for tours departing from Cairns)
  • Duration: approx. 10 hours

Where is Kuranda?

Kuranda Signage at Kuranda Train Station Queensland Australia

Kuranda, lovingly called the "Village in the Rainforest," is a charming tourist destination nestled high up in the tropical mountains of Far North Queensland, Australia. Situated at an elevation of 328 meters (1,076 feet) above sea level, this small town is nestled within the World Heritage-listed rainforest. 

Just a short 25-kilometer (16-mile) journey northwest of Cairns, Kuranda welcomes visitors with its unique location and picturesque setting, making it a popular choice for visitors seeking a serene rainforest experience.

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What is the Kuranda Scenic Railway, and what can you Expect During a Ride?

Kuranda Scenic Railway Queensland Australia

The Kuranda Scenic Railway boasts a rich history, with its construction dating back to 1882-1891, making it a remarkable piece of North Queensland's past. The historical railway journey either begins at Cairns Railway Station or at Freshwater Station, where you'll step aboard the vintage carriages and be transported back in time amidst polished timber interiors and nostalgic charm.

Sit back and enjoy the captivating ride through the World Heritage protected tropical rainforest, where you'll traverse into the spectacular Barron Gorge, and marvel at cascading waterfalls. Admire the engineering marvels of hand-carved tunnels and bridges that span breathtaking gorges, showcasing the incredible craftsmanship behind this iconic railway. 

You can capture the enchantment through the open windows, providing unobstructed views for remarkable photographsAs you journey, informative onboard commentary will offer fascinating insights into the railway's history and the attractions along the way, further enhancing your experience.

What is the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, and what can you Expect During a Ride?

The cable car zips through the tropical rainforest of Cairns in Northern Queensland Australia

The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is a unique aerial cable way system that allows visitors to glide meters above the top of the rainforest. It's a unique adventure where you can experience the beauty of the jungle canopy between Smithfield (Cairns) and Kuranda from a different perspective.

Step into the comfort of an enclosed 6-person gondola and prepare for a fantastic 7.5-kilometer (4.5-mile) journey. From above, witness the stunning beauty of rainforest and Barron Gorge, with panoramic views of the highlands, forest, and Coral Sea below. 

The journey takes 1.5 hours, with 2 stops at lookout stations. There, you have the chance to hop offwhere knowledgeable guides will take you on informative boardwalk tours, allowing you to immerse yourself in the rainforest's beauty up close. Whether you traverse sunny skies, gentle clouds, or even mystical fog, the gondola ride remains truly captivating.

What Else Can I Do and See on the Scenic Railway and Skyrail Tours from Cairns?

There are many attractions and things to do that await you on your Kuranda adventure. 

Let's dive into the highlights:

Kuranda Village: This charming little village shines with its quirky charm, vibrant colors, and the tranquil embrace of the pristine rainforest that envelops it. Here, you can partake in a myriad of activities and wander through its lively markets, teeming with local arts, crafts, and delightful souvenirs. Indulge in delectable cuisine and immerse yourself completely in the vibrant atmosphere of this extraordinary village.

Kuranda Koala Gardens: This acclaimed, eco-friendly wildlife park promises an up-close encounter with adorable koalas. You can immerse yourself in the beauty of Australia's iconic wildlife, from freshwater crocodiles and wombats to wallabies and snakes. You can even hand-feed eastern grey kangaroos and swamp wallabies. Capture a cherished memory by posing for a souvenir picture, where you have the unique opportunity to hold a koala.

Birldworld Kuranda: This extraordinary destination boasts one of Australia's largest collections of free-flying birds, with over 350 species gracefully. You can encounter rare and stunning exotic birds, alongside native Australian species. Every corner of this unique rainforest immersion exhibit replicates the diverse natural habitats of nearly 80 bird species, allowing you to observe and appreciate their beauty in an awe-inspiring environment.

Butterfly Sanctuary: For butterfly enthusiasts, this is an absolute must-visit destination. It proudly holds the title of being the largest butterfly free-flight aviary and exhibit in the Southern Hemisphere. Step into a mesmerizing world where over 1500 magnificent tropical butterflies call home. If you wear something vibrant, the chances of these beautiful creatures fluttering all around you become even greater...

Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience: This immersive journey, led by local Indigenous Pamagirri Guides, offers a unique chance to appreciate the cultural heritage of the Aboriginal people. During the one-hour experience, you can marvel at mesmerizing didgeridoo demonstrations and traditional dances that beautifully narrate stories of ancient wisdom and time-honored traditions.

Army Duck Rainforest Tour: Seize the opportunity to explore the rainforest in a remarkable World War II army duck. This adventure allows you to experience the thrill of traveling both on land and in water, thanks to the amphibious nature of the vehicle. Prepare for a truly unparalleled perspective as you soak in the captivating sights from both vantage points. The duration of the tour is 45 minutes. 

What to Expect from the Scenic Railway and Skyrail Tours from Cairns?

During a Scenic Railway and Skyrail Tour from Cairns, you can anticipate a day filled with breathtaking landscapes, cultural encounters, and memorable experiences. 

Here's a breakdown of what you can expect:

  • Departure: Most tours provide convenient hotel pick-up and drop-off services. Pick-ups are typically offered from designated locations in central Cairns, with some tours extending to places like Palm Cove and Port Douglas.
  • Duration: These tours generally span from 7 to 10 hours, ensuring ample time to explore and immerse yourself in the scenic wonders of the region.
  • Typical Itinerary: The itinerary usually includes a one-way ride aboard the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway, offering breathtaking views along the way. Alternatively, you may start with the incredible ride on the Skyrail and return on the Scenic Railway. Free time is provided in Kuranda Village, allowing you to explore the village and its attractions at your own pace. Some tours include additional activities like visits to the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary and Koala and Wildlife Park. You may have the opportunity to take a tour through the rainforest in an amphibious WWII Army Duck or experience the rich culture of the Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience. In the late afternoon, you can expect to depart from Kuranda and make your way back to Cairns.
  • Suitability: Most people can participate in these tours as they are wheelchair accessible. Strollers are also accommodated, ensuring a family-friendly experience.
  • What to know: Keep in mind that Skyrail operations can be affected by bad weather. However, if the tour needs to be canceled due to unfavorable weather, don't worry. Tour operators usually offer an alternative date for rescheduling or a full refund, ensuring that you're taken care of.

9 Travel Tips for your Scenic Railway and Skyrail Day Trip

Here are some valuable travel tips to enhance your Scenic Railway and Skyrail adventure:

  1. Check the Route: For an optimal experience, we recommend taking the train up to Kuranda in the morning and enjoying the Skyrail descent in the afternoon. This choice offers two advantages. Firstly, the morning ride on the historic train, which lacks air conditioning, provides a cooler journey before the weather heats up. Secondly, as foggy conditions can occasionally limit visibility in the morning, you'll have clearer views during your Skyrail ride later in the day.
  2. Dress Comfortably and Layer Up: As the weather in the rainforest can be unpredictable, it's important to dress in comfortable and practical attire. Opt for lightweight, breathable clothing, and consider layering your clothing to adapt to changing temperatures throughout the day. Comfortable walking shoes are a must, as you'll be exploring and walking extensively during your excursion.
  3. Carry Essential Supplies: Bring a small backpack with essentials such as a refillable water bottle, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a hat. You also may want to bring some snacks along.
  4. Enjoy the Extras: Take advantage of any additional activities or attractions offered along the way, such as guided walks, wildlife encounters, or cultural experiences. These extras can add depth and richness to your day trip, providing unforgettable memories.
  5. Luggage and Bag Restrictions: Please note that large bags or luggage are not allowed on the Scenic Railway and Skyrail. Travel light and only bring essential items to make your experience hassle-free.
  6. Dietary Requirements: If you book a tour that includes lunch, and you have any specific dietary requirements, make sure to inform the tour operator at the time of booking. They will make necessary arrangements to accommodate your needs.
  7. Itinerary Flexibility: Keep in mind that the tour operator may make itinerary adjustments based on weather conditions or limited availability. These changes are made to ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience for all participants.
  8. Prepare for Motion Sickness: Some individuals may experience travel sickness during the Skyrail railway journey. Prepare accordingly by bringing necessary medications or remedies to mitigate any discomfort.
  9. Respect the Environment: While enjoying your Kuranda adventure, remember to respect the pristine rainforest surroundings. Follow designated paths, dispose of waste properly, and avoid touching or disturbing any wildlife or vegetation.

FAQ - Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail Tours from Cairns

Where is the Kuranda Scenic Railway?

The Kuranda Scenic Railway is located in Far North Queensland, Australia. The railway route runs from Cairns to Kuranda, a picturesque mountain village nestled in the rainforest. The journey takes you through breathtaking landscapes, including dense rainforest, cascading waterfalls, and panoramic views of the Barron Gorge National Park.

How much is Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail Tours from Cairns?

The prices for Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail tours from Cairns can range from 100 euros to 180 euros per person. The cost varies based on factors such as the included activities and the type of Scenic Railway ticket chosen, whether it's a Heritage ticket with standard carriages or a Gold ticket offering a more luxurious service. >> Check our recommendations to find the option that suits your preferences and budget.

How Long is the Kuranda Scenic Railway Trip from Cairns?

The Kuranda Scenic Railway ride from Cairns offers a captivating experience that lasts approximately 1 hour and 55 minutes. Departing from Cairns Railway Station, the journey takes you on a scenic route to Kuranda, with a 5-minute stop at Freshwater Station and a 10-minute stop at Barron Falls Lookout along the way.

If you depart from Freshwater Station, the journey takes 1.5 hours.

How long does the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Ride take?

The one-way journey aboard the Skyrail gondola lasts approximately 1.5 hours and includes two stops at thelookout stations at Red Peak and Barron Falls. During these stops, you can enjoy the incredible view, capture stunning shots, , and fully immerse yourself in the beauty of the rainforest. There are also knowledgeable guides that offer informative boardwalk tours, providing an opportunity to intimately experience the captivating beauty of the rainforest.

How long do I need in Kuranda?

The recommended duration for Kuranda is around 2 to 3 hours, but it can vary based on individual preferences. Some may need more time to fully explore, while others may find less time sufficient. Enjoy your visit and make the most of your time in Kuranda!

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