Affectionately known to locals as “Tassie”, Tasmania is the only island state in Australia. It’s well-known for its rugged wilderness, clean air, fascinating art scene, great hiking, and equally fabulous food and wine.
Tassie is an area of Australia that is seldom visited by international tourists, but in my opinion, is extremely underrated!
By international standard, some of Tasmania’s stunning landscapes have regularly found their way onto world-renowned “best of” travel destination lists. Tourism hotspots such as Wineglass Bay, the Bay of Fires and Cradle Mountain, have been notably featured in Lonely Planet’s annual ‘Best of Travel’ in previous years.
Since visiting Tasmania, I haven’t been able to stop talking it up. Although I’m Australian born and bred and have been fortunate enough to travel extensively within my home country, Tasmania was one state that I hadn’t previously had the chance to fully explore. And to be honest, the one week I spent there simply wasn’t long enough.
But if you’re planning to visit Australia, then indeed Tasmania should be added to your itinerary. This comprehensive guide details everything you need to know before you visit Tasmania, including how to get there, when to go, and what to do, plus a few sample itineraries.
Why Should You Visit Tasmania?
I get it; the rest of Australia is so large and there are so many places to see – why should you spend the limited time you have touring around Tasmania?
Well, for one if you like to get away from the crowds of tourists, love good food and wine, or if you’re a bit of a nature lover, then Tasmania is somewhere you should absolutely add to your bucket list – stat!
Tasmania has been dubbed one of the world’s last accessible wilderness frontiers!
In spite of this, traveling around Tasmania is actually no more difficult than traveling around the rest of Australia. And with 80% of the island is covered in world heritage wilderness areas and national parks, it’s very easy to find a spot away from the tourists and get your nature fix.
Tasmania has the cleanest air in the world!
Tasmania is often referred to as the only place in the world where you could bottle the air. In fact, the only place on earth where the air is cleaner is Antarctica.
Tasmania’s food, wine, and arts scene are second to none!
I’m not kidding. This little island, quite possibly, has the best food producers, best wineries and most incredible museums in Australia.
For more information, be sure to read our complete guide on 8 Reasons You Should Visit Tasmania!
Do you know the little heart-shaped island at the bottom of mainland Australia that quite often gets left off maps? Yep – that’s Tasmania!
Most international visitors tend to skip Tassie in favor of other ‘more accessible’ Aussie hotspots because there is a common misconception that it’s too difficult to get there. In fact, you can reach Tassie in under an hour’s flight from Melbourne.
Tasmania may seem small in comparison to the rest of Australia – it is, after all, the country’s smallest state. However, it is quite a large island. Being 6.8 million hectares in size, Tasmania is actually larger than Switzerland, Ireland or Sri Lanka. And over 500,000 Aussies call the island state home!
How to Get to Tasmania
There are two ways you can reach Tasmania from mainland Australia:
By Plane: Tasmania’s two largest cities – Hobart and Launceston – are serviced by regular passenger flights from Australia’s mainland. Flight time from Melbourne is approximately 45 minutes, and 90 minutes from Sydney.
There are also regular connections from other Australian and International cities. All of Australia’s major airlines – Qantas, Virgin Australia, Tigerair and Jetstar – offer flights to Hobart and Launceston.
By Boat: The Spirit of Tasmania car and passenger ferry offers regular services across the Bass Strait from Melbourne to Devonport. The journey takes between 9 and 11 hours.
How to Get Around Tasmania
Rent a Vehicle
As mentioned earlier, Tasmania is a big island. Most of the best things to see and do in Tasmania are located outside the main cities, but easily reachable by car. For this reason, I would highly recommend hiring a car or campervan and planning a road trip!
The roads in Tasmania are much the same as the rest of the country – sealed and well maintained. To hire a car in Australia, you will most likely require an international driver’s license, as many travel insurance companies will not cover you without obtaining one before you leave your home country. Be sure to check your travel insurance policy before you leave home.
Also, remember that Australians drive on the left-hand side of the road!
Take Public Transport
While the island may be big, the cities of Hobart and Launceston are relatively small, and most of the attractions within the city limits are easily reachable on foot, bike, taxi or public buses. Rideshare services, such as Uber, are also available in Hobart and Launceston.
So, if you plan on spending most of your time in one of these two cities, then there is no need to rent a vehicle. However, if you just stay in the city, you are really missing out on the best that Tasmania has to offer.
If driving is not an option, there are a few public bus services connecting Hobart and Launceston, as well as some regional areas around the island. The two main bus companies are Tassielink and Redline.
But once again, you will likely miss some of the more remote attractions. If you are planning to catch a bus around Tassie and are okay with sticking to the regular tourist trail, then both these bus companies offer a variety of routes that may be suitable.
Join a Tour
Another alternative is to join a group tour around Tasmania. Tourradar lists several small group adventure tours between 3 and 16 days long, with varied travel styles including basic, adventure, hiking, family trips, and comfort.
The Best Times to Visit Tasmania
Summer (December to February)
Tasmania’s cities and towns are buzzing throughout the summer months (December to February), as this is the peak tourist and festival season. Summer is also the best time to escape the crowds and head into the wilderness for outdoor activities such as hiking, white-water rafting and mountain biking.
Given Tasmania’s proximity to the south pole, the island experiences relatively cool climates throughout the year, even during the summer. So, it is wise to always pack layers.
Winter (May to September)
The wintertime (May through September) in Tasmania is seriously underrated, in my opinion. I visited in June and although the temperature was cool – waterproof puffer jackets and layers are a must – the lack of tourists seriously made up for the cooler weather.
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy hiking trails all to themselves, but caution needs to be exercised at this time of year as the weather can be unpredictable and people occasionally find themselves stranded overnight in the Tasmanian wilderness during the winter months. If you’re not an experienced or prepared hiker, be sure to stick to the signed trails.
Hobart’s acclaimed winter food and arts festival, Dark Mofo, is held annually during the winter solstice month of June. It’s well worth timing your trip to Tassie along with the festival dates, so you can experience the wacky modern art exhibitions, world-class music events, and spectacular food and wine experiences that this month-long event offers.
Spring and Autumn (October through November and March through April) are also great times to visit Tasmania. The crowds tend to thin out and accommodation and airfares tend to be cheaper than the summer months. There are also a few food and wine festivals during the shoulder seasons and hiking conditions are still relatively good – although the odd snowfall or windstorm is still possible.
How Much Time Do You Need to Visit Tasmania?
There is a lot to see in Tasmania, so you’ll want to allow at least a few days or one week. If you really want to see the entire island, you would need at least 2-3 weeks, however.
To help you plan your trip, below are a few sample itineraries for 3 days, one week or two weeks on the island so you can make a plan that suits the amount of time that you have to spend in Tasmania.
3 Day Itinerary
If you only have a few days, it is possible to add a long-weekend or three-day trip to Tasmania as a side trip from Melbourne. Just a short hop over the Bass Straight, only 45 minutes flight away. In three days, you are able to at least explore one of both of the main cities – Hobart and Launceston.
Option 1 – Explore Launceston and its Surrounds
Option 2 – Explore Hobart and its Surrounds
Book a return flight to Hobart. Spend the three days exploring Hobart city and waterfront, visit MONA Museum, take a drive (or hike) up to the top of Mount Wellington, and visit the historic Port Arthur convict settlement.
Allow a full day for a trip to Freycinet National Park to see Wineglass Bay, or go hiking in Mount Field National Park, or head off on a food odyssey around Bruny Island.
Option 3 – Fly into Hobart and out of Launceston (or Vice Versa)
We recommend booking your departure flight from Melbourne to one of these two cities and your return flight from the other. Spend one day exploring each city and one day doing a road trip between Hobart and Launceston, stopping off at a few of the attractions along the way.
One Week Itinerary
One week is the ideal amount of time to get a good taste of Tasmania’s main tourist drawcards, the majority of which are located along the East Coast Drive. This is also one of the most popular and most easily accessible regions of Tasmania.
During our visit, we opted for a one-week road trip from Hobart and Launceston along the popular east coast of Tasmania. To complete this same itinerary, I would suggest booking your inbound flight to Hobart and return from Launceston.
This itinerary was the perfect amount of time to visit the Bay of Fires, Freycinet National Park, Wineglass Bay, Port Arthur, and Bruny Island. It also includes some time to explore the main cities.
In Hobart we visited MONA Museum, the Salamanca Markets, and Mount Wellington; and in Launceston, we added Cataract Gorge and the Tamar Valley wine region to our itinerary.
Two Week Itinerary
If you have more time and are determined to get a taste of the ‘entire’ island, you could start with the one-week itinerary above and extend it to include a second week.
During the second week, I would suggest exploring the central and north-western parts, including Cradle Mountain National Park, Mount Field National Park, Burnie and more.
The western region of Tasmania is much more remote than the east side. The density of National Parks is much larger in the western and central regions, meaning that you can expect to do a lot more hiking.
On the plus side, the remoteness of the western side of the island means there are far fewer tourists, so if you like a bit of peace and quiet, you will probably really enjoy this region. There are also some great cozy cabins and BnBs with stunning nature settings around this part of the island.
Where to Stay in Tasmania
Where to Stay in Hobart
Luxury Hotels in Hobart
Mid-Range Hotels in Hobart
Budget Hotels in Hobart
Where to Stay in Launceston
Luxury Hotels in Launceston
Mid-Range Hotels in Launceston
Budget Hotels in Launceston
Where to Stay on Tasmania’s East Coast
Where to Stay in Central Tasmania
Where to Stay in Western Tasmania
Where to Eat in Tasmania
If you love food, then you are going to LOVE Tasmania! The island is well-known for its fresh seafood, world-class culinary establishments, artisan food producers and award-winning wineries. Tasmania’s food producers include a vast array of artisan dairy farms, coffee roasteries, cold climate wines, fresh seafood, whiskey and gin distilleries, and craft breweries – just to name a few.
- Check out the artisan food stalls at the Salamanca Markets
- Wait alongside Hobart’s trendiest locals for a coveted bunch spot at Small-fry’s tiny 12-seat communal dining table.
- Book a table in advance for the ultimate farm-to-table dining experience at The Source Restaurant – MONA’s premier fine-dining establishment, offering the freshest local and seasonal produce.
- For something a little different, try a cooking class at The Agrarian Kitchen.
- Head off on a day trip around Bruny Island sampling locally sourced or produced oysters, cheese, chocolate, whiskey and beer (details below).
- Go south from Launceston and sample some of the finest Tasmanian wines at Josef Chromy Cellar Door Café and Winery.
- Along the east coast, you won’t want to miss Lifebuoy Café and Quail Street Emporium for great coffee and antiques.
- Sample a cheese board and wine while watching the dairy cows hard at work at the Pyengana Dairy.
- Feed the pigs a ‘beer’ at The Pub in the Paddock.
- Sample beautiful fresh oysters at the Mellshell Oyster Shack at Coles Bay.
Launceston is another food and wine lovers haven. Some of the best places to eat include:
- Moores Hill Estate in the Tamar Valley is Tasmania’s first completely off-the-grid winery.
- Bluestone Bar and Kitchen offers a unique dining experience, combining fresh local produce with Asian flavors.
- Stillwater offers a fine dining experience, set in an old flour mill overlooking the water.
- Take a day trip to admire the stunning modern cellar door at Clover Hill Winery, and sample some of Australia’s finest sparkling wines, made the traditional French way.
Top 10 Things to See and Do in Tasmania
1) Explore the Natural Wilderness of Cradle Mountain
One of the most stunning places in Tasmania, if not the world. Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is one of Tasmania’s most visited regions and is located around 2.5 hours’ drive from Launceston. It’s part of the Tasmanian World Heritage Wilderness Area, and the surrounding landscape ranges from grasslands to rainforest, lakes, and mountains. If you’re lucky you might spot a Tasmanian Devil.
Cradle Mountain offers a diverse range of walking trails, from easy one-day hikes to multi-day treks for the more adventurous. There is a range of accommodation options available within the park – from cabins and chalets to campgrounds.
2) Learn About Port Authur’s Dark History
Port Arthur is a UNESCO World Heritage listed convict settlement built back in the early 1800s. Located around one-hour drive south-east of Hobart and retains a somewhat dark-history.
The site features a restaurant, bar, cemetery, beautiful gardens and ruins from old colonial buildings and a coal mine. Don’t forget to wear good walking shoes, as Port Arthur is a large site to explore. The evening ghost tour is a must-do experience!
3) Admire the Controversial Works of Art at MONA
Nowhere in the world will you encounter the same controversial and cutting-edge, modern works of art than MONA Museum in Hobart. Since opening in 2011, MONA has been making a name for itself all over Australia, if not the world, for its unique interpretations of modern expressionist artworks.
Kids, adults and even non-art-lovers will be captured by what’s on offer. The museum is set in a subterranean gallery that resembles a purpose-built mine shaft, featuring unique artworks such as the poop machine. There’s also a multitude of excellent food venues, bars, a winery, and accommodation.
If you’re staying in Hobart city, I highly recommend catching the MONA ROMA ferry from Hobart Waterfront. The spectacular 30-minute ride along the Derwent River is an experience in itself.
4) Feast Your Way Around Bruny Island
If food is the main reason you decided to visit Tasmania, then you cannot go past Bruny Island. Located under an hour’s drive south of Hobart, and a short vehicle ferry ride from the mainland, Bruny Island is quite simply foodie heaven!
On one tiny island you’ll find freshly shucked oysters (that you can purchase from a drive-thru window) at Get Shucked, many different varieties of gin and whiskey, locally brewed beers and artisan cheeses at …, hand-made chocolates, and so much more! And you simply cannot miss the stunning views from the Neck Lookout.
5) See the Stunning Red Rocks at the Bay of Fires
This one my absolute favorite place in Tasmania. With white-sand beaches, stunning turquoise waters and contrasting red rocks, the Bay of Fires is a photographer’s dream. The boulders get their ‘red’ color from lichen (a type of algae) that has grown on the granite boulders over many years.
Located on the northeast coast of Tasmania, the Bay of Fires is a good reason to visit Tasmania alone. While the coastline stretches over 50 km, the sleepy coastal village of Binalong Bay is the best point to access the bay and take a walk around the shoreline. For a unique viewpoint, opt for a boat ride along the coastline with Bay of Fires Eco Tours or you can do a 2 day tour of the Bay of Fires and Wineglass Bay.
6) Descend into Cataract Gorge in Launceston
Just 15 minutes’ walk from downtown Launceston, Cataract Gorge is a deep chasm carved between two rock faces by the Esk River. The views are simply stunning.
Take a stroll along the suspension bridge, tackle one of the many hiking trails, take a cruise along the Esk River, or for the less adventurous, there’s a chair lift that takes you across the gorge. Alternatively, you can simply admire the views over a glass of wine at the Gorge Restaurant.
7) Go on a Wine Trail Around the Tamar Valley
Within a half-hour from Launceston, you’ll find Tasmania’s premier wine region along the Tamar River. The cool climate of this region makes the perfect conditions for Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Gewurztraminer.
With more than 30 cellar doors, the Tamar Valley Wine Route is well-signed and offers a great day trip option from Launceston. Be sure to check out Australia’s first completely off-the-grid winery – Moore’s Hill Estate.
8) Take in the Stunning Views of Wineglass Bay at Freycinet National Park
A visit to Tasmania wouldn’t be complete without seeing the jewel of the island – Wineglass Bay! Located on the Freycinet Peninsula, on the east coast of Tasmania, there are many hiking trails and viewpoints to see this stunning National Park. Wineglass Bay is about 2.5 hours’ drive from Hobart.
There’s a multitude of activities to enjoy in Freycinet National Park, including Wineglass Bay boat tours, kayaking, quad biking, bushwalking and helicopter tours. Most accommodation is located around Coles Bay, ranging from camping to luxury lodges.
9) Admire the Vistas from Mount Wellington
Towering over the city of Hobart, Mount Wellington offers spectacular views of the city and the Derwent River when it’s not covered in clouds.
There is plenty of hiking and biking trails around the mountain, as well as rock climbing for the adventurous at heart. This is undoubtedly one of the best free things to do in Hobart.
10) Tackle one of Tasmania’s Epic Hiking Trails
Tasmania is a haven for serious and amateur hikers. The island has various trails available from half-hour walks to spectacular viewpoints, to 6-day long treks in the remote wilderness.
If you’re not much of a hiker and looking for a bushwalk that allows you to reach a beautiful viewpoint within a few hours, the Wineglass Bay Lookout trail is a perfect option. It’s only 90 minutes return. Cradle Mountain also offers several day-hikes.
For serious hikers, the epic 46 km coastal trail along the Three Capes Track is sure to impress., or the Overland Track through the iconic Cradle Mountain region. For one the most remote walking trails on earth check out the South Coast Track, but you’ll have to allow yourself at least 6 days to complete this one.
Tasmania also offers many multi-day lodge-to-lodge treks, where you hike 10-18 km during the day and stay in luxury lodges overnight, with multi-course food and wine experiences – the epitome of luxury adventure travel. Hikes to check out include the Bay of Fires Lodge Walk, Cradle Mountain Huts Walk, and the Maria Island Walk.
Other Things to Do in Tasmania
- See a Tasmanian Devil at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary
- Visit one of the many excellent cold-climate wineries all over the Island
- Check out the spectacular rock formations at Tasman National Park
- Go shopping for foodies and other goodies at the Salamanca Markets in Hobart
- See the Aurora Australis (similar to the Aurora Borealis, but much rarer)
- Climb “The Nut” at Stanley
- Go Clay Target Shooting at Twamley Farm
- Run through the Lavender Fields at Bridestowe Estate
- Celebrate all things sparkling wine related at Effervescence Tasmania Festival, which runs during the month of November
- Check out the beautifully painted cliffs on Maria Island
- Visit the Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs
- Stay at the very Instagrammable Pumphouse Point Hotel
- Take a cruise along the Gordon river
Read our Top 10 Places To Visit In Tasmania article for more things to do!
Tasmania Wrap Up
We hope this article has inspired you to visit Tasmania and has all the information you need to plan your own trip. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below. For more information about Tasmania, be sure to check out the Tourism Tasmania website.
We hope that this article has helped inspire you to visit Tasmania. If you have any questions or have your own travel tips to share please leave these in the comments below.
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