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Best Bars and Nightclubs in Cairns, Port Douglas and Palm Cove

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Roma Doonga
Updated Mon 26 Feb 2024

Guide to Bars & Nightlife in Cairns 2024

Cairns is home to a vibrant, bustling scene that really does come alive at night! Whether you’re after a sunset-lit arvo session, a crazy night of raving to DJ sets or a classy poolside platter and cocktail, our corner of the world has something for everyone in the Far North Region.

We've got a guide to the best nightlife in Cairns, Port Douglas and Palm Cove! Live it up on your holiday in tropical North Queensland with our tried-and-tested guide to Cairns’s nightlife, clubs and bars! These gems are always busy and luminous, and a good time is ensured. So, let’s go show off your newfound Cairns tan with a night on the town... in style!

Best Bars and Nightclubs in Cairns

  1. Gilligans
  2. The Woolshed
  3. XS
  4. The Ultimate Party Bus
  5. Flamingo's Tiki Bar
  6. Three Wolves
  7. Wolf Lane Distillery
  8. The Pier Bar
  9. Salt House
  10. Elixir Music Bar

Best Pubs and Casino's in Cairns

  1. Cock and Bull
  2. Dunwoody's Hotel
  3. PJ O'Brien's
  4. The Reef Hotel Casino

Best Nightlife in Palm Cove

Best Nightlife in Port Douglas

Best Nightclubs in Cairns


Located three blocks back from the Esplanade and split across three different bars, Gilligan’s is a backpacker’s paradise with vibes to cater to everyone in your merry band of travellers. Start your evening by cracking a cold one out on the Beach Bar, then let your resident hype queen lead you to the Main Bar to elevate your party game with some cocktails. When it starts to get rowdy, head up to the Attic to really let your hair down and dance with friends old and new.

Two girls outside a Gilligans sign in beachwear

The Woolshed

The Woolshed has been a mainstay for tourists and locals alike in Cairns’ nightlife scene since its birth in ’94. With a misted balcony overlooking City Place’s iconic strip of fig trees festooned with lights, the Woolshed is a great place to cool down with a beer or a cocktail after enjoying a day under the rays. Don’t forget to check out The Cotton Club downstairs for a juicy steak or burger first!

Neon purple sign The Shed


You may be far from the big smoke, but there’s still plenty of glitz and glamour in Cairns’ sunny CBD to satisfy your cosmopolitan tastes. Just a few doors down from Gilligan’s and touted as Cairns’ number one nightclub, XS is the place to be for those who like the finer things in life. As such, let this be your excuse to ditch the singlets and pluggers for a night in favour of something a little fancier. Life is to be lived in excess, so do it at XS.

DJ Booth at a nightclub signed XS

Image: XS Nightlife

The Ultimate Party Bus

Double-deckers may be big in London, but they’re better in Cairns. This ultimate party package is the best way to kick off your holidays and get a taste of Cairns’ nightlife. You and a double-decker load of your new best friends will be privately escorted to five different bars, where you’ll receive VIP drinks prices, break the ice with some party games, and score some free photography to document your big night out. Includes a complimentary drink at each destination, how’s that for bang for your buck?

Group of friends on top of a double decker bus in neon outfits

Image: The Party Bus Cairns

Best Bars in Cairns

Flamingo's Tiki Bar

No tropical paradise is complete without a homage to Tiki.  Flamingos’ tropical, Tiki-themed decor screams holiday mode and boasts an expansive and impressive range of cocktails with mixologists who like to put on a show. Tucked away beneath street level on the Esplanade, this intimate sanctuary is a great place to woo your summer love with the good graces of the Tiki gods smiling down on you.

Two bartenders making firey drinks at a tiki bar

Image: Flamingo's Tiki Bar

Three Wolves

Tucked away down a little red brick laneway off Abbott St, Three Wolves conjures the bygone spirit of the speakeasy bar. Get carried away in the sleek, sexy interior as you sip on the Wolf Pack’s specialty whiskeys and graze on tapas and charcuterie boards. Three Wolves also plays host to a weekly comedy showcase on Monday nights, but get in quick — this is a sellout event adored by visitors and locals!

A drink being poured in a bar

Image: Three Wolves

Wolf Lane Distillery

Just next door to Three Wolves you’ll find their sibling venue, Wolf Lane Distillery — Cairns’ first gin distillery! Taste the tropics with their nationally favoured and two-time gold medal-winning Tropical Gin, infused with locally sourced native lemon myrtle, pepper-berry and macadamia, or the Queenslander’s take on a sloe gin, which swaps the sloe berries for locally grown Davidson Plums. Wolf Lane is a must for anyone who considers themself a gin drinker.

Image: Wolf Lane Distillery

Salt House

You’ll never be starved for a good view in Cairns, and Salt House is no exception to the rule. Perched on Pier Point Road, the gorgeous contemporary timber interior with high ceilings and wide-open windows opens out onto an expansive view of the Cairns waterfront. Kick off the week with Salty Mondays where the drinks are cheap, the vibes are in abundance, and backpackers and locals mingle and trade stories.

Image: Salt House

The Pier Bar

Drop into the Pier Bar on Thursday nights for a Latin spectacular. It all kicks off at 8 pm with a free masterclass in salsa from Sabor Dance Co. and Jose Martinez, a local salsa guru. Bolstered by tips from the experts and a little liquid courage, guests are invited to join the fun and put their new moves to the test later in the evening. The Pier Bar also spin disco on ‘What the Funk Wednesdays’ and have their resident DJ on the decks to keep your body movin’ all weekend long.

Image: The Pier Bar

Elixir Music Bar

Music is the heart and soul of this funky Cairns favourite. Championing homegrown talent, there’s never a moment’s silence at Elixir, with everything from open mic nights and comedy to bingo like you’ve never played it before. Located one block back from the Esplanade, descending into the underground world of Elixir Music Bar promises an evening full of good drinks, great music, and the best company.

Image: Elixir Music Bar

Best Pubs in Cairns

Cock and Bull

The Cock and Bull is as Aussie as it gets. Home to the Australian Drinking Team and Cairns Game Fishing Club, the conversation around here flows as smoothly as the beer on tap. Saddle up for an ice-cold Shark Pale Ale, Marlin Pilsner or — if you dare — a Croc 6X Ale and get the trade secrets from the locals on where and how to hook the legendary big barra.

Image: Cock and Bull

Dunwoody's Hotel

Loved by locals, Dunwoody’s fits the bill of the perfect pub. Championing live sport and traditional pub food with a contemporary twist, be sure to cheer on your team at the Sports Bar and crack open a coldie with the locals for deep, impassioned chats about the merits of your favourite game.

Cocktails on a bar

Image: Dunwoodys Hotel

PJ O'Brien's

Glean some luck from the Irish at PJ O’Brien’s, Cairns’ favourite authentic Irish pub. Catch trivia on Tuesdays, karaoke on Wednesdays, and live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Discover what the Irish call ‘the Craic’ and what Aussies call ‘a bloody good time’.

Best Casino in Cairns

The Reef Hotel Casino

Located in the five-star Pullman Hotel, the Reef Hotel Casino lays claim to being Far North Queensland’s number one entertainment complex. As well as live music and fine dining, you can also try your luck at Blackjack, Roulette, Mini and Midi Baccarat, Reef Routine, Sic-Bo, Rapid Roulette and the Money Wheel. Shake the dice and steal the rice, player!

Red Neon sign saying casino

Best Nightlife in Palm Cove- No Nightlife just live music

The Surf Club

At the heart of every seaside community is a great Surf Life Saving Club. Palm Cove’s Surf Club is perched on the crests of the sand dunes and opens out to a stunning view of waves rolling in from the Pacific. Personally, we can’t think of a better place to enjoy an Aperol while you let the salt and surf dry off.

two people jumping between palm trees

Palm Cove Tavern

Embrace the laidback nature of tropical Queensland at Palm Cove Tavern’s Sunday Sesh — a Sunday afternoon fiesta with the greatest local talent. So, get on down, grab a bevvie and a seat in the sprawling beer garden, and let the live tunes lull you into serenity.

Food and cocktails

Image: Palm Cove Tavern

Best Nightlife in Port Douglas

The Clink

Looking for some good ole’ razzle dazzle to spice up your trip? The Clink is your one-stop spot for all things cabaret and comedy. Offering a local twist on international productions, this is a great intimate experience to chase your cocktails with. Visit The Clink’s website to see what’s on when you’re in town.

Jimmy Rum's

Step into the exotic world of Jimmy Rum’s, a sexy, exuberant and affordable cocktail lounge in the heart of Port Douglas mixing from 5 PM til late (excluding Sundays and Mondays). Sip on Insta-worthy cocktails like the tropical Passionista (kaffir lime vodka, passionfruit and lime) or go bonkers with their Famous Lava Chill (white rum, gin, Amaretto, falernum, pineapple, orange, lime and grenadine) — so big it serves two!

Nightlife photo of bar

Image: Jimmy Rum's

Iron Bar

Famous for ribs and a ripper of a good time, this Port Douglas darling is nestled on Macrossan St, just down the road from the Flagstaff Hill Lighthouse. Iron Bar is open til 2 AM and hosts local DJs every weekend. Boujee babes on a budget can enjoy oyster happy hour from noon til 1 PM and 5 PM to 6 PM.

Image: Iron Bar

Paddy's Irish Pub

Get around Paddy’s on Macrossan for a Guinness and $18 Sunday roast. Get rowdy with the locals while your favourite games play on the big screen and stay up-to-date on their rotation of live music (Thursdays through to Sundays) via their Insta. Like any good pub, Paddy’s comes equipped with pool tables. Get into it.

Image: Paddy's Irish Pub

Get the party started on the reef and in the rainforest and make some new mates with the Cairns Express Backpacker Package, or indulge in a unique and affordable dining experience on the Spirit of Cairns Dinner Cruise.

Get in touch with a friendly, local travel experts for any more advice on where to go and what to do during your time in Cairns today! 

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