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What Time Do Nightclubs Shut in Cairns?

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Tom Linkins
Updated Tue 21 Feb 2023

Two girls holding beer

Nightclubs in Cairns tend to close or lockout patrons at around 3 am and are legally prohibited from selling alcohol after 3 am. This shouldn’t be too much of a stick in the mud for any party people in search of a vibey night out in Cairns, though. The culture up north is super chill and as a result, a night on the town can look pretty different from your average sesh, and even start a lot earlier. 

Legend has it that Queenslanders have a tendency to get on the grog as soon as they can, so whether you’re into classic Aussie pubs or chic, dimly lit cocktail bars, you’re sure to find plenty of likeminded individuals settling in for a drink in the early afternoons. As they say, when in Queensland … do as the Queenslanders do! So, strap on your foxiest sarong, throw on your good thongs and get all of the lads on tour and girls’ trip girlies to the nearest watering hole for a languid afternoon of day drinking, live music, and golden hour photoshoots. After all, there’s nothing like cracking open a cold one with your mates after a day of snorkelling through paradise, or — for those of us who have to work for a living — being a cog in the corporate machine.

Of course, none of this is to say that Cairns doesn’t come alive once the sun sets. As the biggest city in the region, it naturally has the biggest nightlife. You’ve got dozens and dozens of nightclubs, cocktail bars, and pubs to tickle your fancy.

Best Clubs in Cairns

The Shed sign in neon

If you’re on the hunt for the perfect sunset Insta-shot to accompany the perfect Instgramable cocktail, your best bet is Three Wolves, Salt House or the Pier Bar. For a slightly sportier spot version, hit up Dunwoody’s, the Cock and Bull, or PJ O’Brien’s for a sunset beer and game of pool — karaoke at PJ O’Brien’s goes off on Wednesdays, too, with $100 prizes up for grabs! When it’s time to let the good times possess you and get your bawdy movin’, pull up to the XS, the Attic, or Gilligan’s. If you’re a lady and out on a Thursday, be sure to add the Woolshed to your itinerary for free entry and free champagne after 9 pm! 

Keep in mind that some clubs will charge a minimal entry fee of around $15 on Fridays and Saturdays after 9 pm. And, as always, stay street smart and keep an eye on your mates. Be sure to report any drink spiking or predatory behaviour to your bar staff or security in the hopefully unlikely event that either activity should occur.

What is the dress code for Cairns clubs?

Two girls having casual cocktails

As mentioned earlier, Cairns is all about embracing the laidback lifestyle. This is as ‘island time’ as you can get without actually being on an island, so lean in and get casual. I’m talking jeans-and-a-ponytail chic, moo moos, hessian sacks, Havaianas and three-quarter length boardies a la 2003. Let your fashion faux pas run free. And don’t be afraid to organise a silly little themed night out. Some of the best nights out I’ve ever had have been on Leeds’ legendary Otley Run, a 15-stop pub crawl complete with themed costumes. Get all your travel buddies and fellow backpackers on the same page and embark on a wild night out with costumes to boot. As there’s rarely ever a dress code for entry in Cairns, this makes for a fantastic way to see the city’s sights and link up with new mates while on the booze.

Start planning your Cairns getaway today and let the good times roll! Chat with our amazing travel staff for further guidance.

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