There is a lot to see when you travel to Tasmania! Although this small island in the south of Australia is famous for its spectacular natural scenery, it also has charming towns, beautiful beaches and small villages typical of the English countryside. Tassie is one of the most important places in the history of the country, in fact, you can visit several convict sites. To top it off, we assure you that you will enjoy a lot of food.
Here we leave you a lot of plans to do in the top places to see in Tasmania explained in detail, so you can get your mouth started. Get ready, let’s get started!
Formerly linked to the mainland by the current Wilsons Promontory National Park, Tasmania is a small island about the size of Ireland. It has the cleanest water and air in the world, and its west coast is one of the most “uninhabitable” areas in the world, due to the rain and wind it receives (the famous Roaring Forties).
Something the island is also well known for is the Tasmanian Devil. Here you have to keep in mind that it is a very, very elusive critter and, unlike other Australian animals, seeing it in the wild is complicated. As is almost always the case in the Antipodes, the best way to get around Tasmania is to rent a car or van. If you prefer not to drive in Australia, you have this one-week tour of Tasmania from Hobart, which includes all the places to see in Tasmania.
Well, let’s get down to business! Here are the best things to do in Tasmania and the places you can’t miss on your first (or second, or third…) trip to this Australian island. We promise you’ll end up wanting to be there right now!
Hobart, the first place to see in Tasmania
We could not start the review of the main places to see in Tasmania by any other place than its most important city. And the fact is that, surely, you will arrive at Hobart airport or, at least, you will pass by there whatever route you take.
Founded in 1803, it is the second oldest capital of Australia (after Sydney). It has always been a city, let’s say, “secondary”, but is gaining more and more cultural and tourist importance. Today, even many young Aussies move there, looking for a quieter lifestyle and cheaper houses. We confess that we went without great expectations and, although we were caught right at the beginning of the pandemic and could not enjoy it as we wanted, we liked it a lot!
Here is a summary of the main places to visit in Hobart:
This large, industrial style area is home every Saturday to the best market to see in Tasmania. There you will find many products of the island of the highest quality, clothing, second hand stuff … In addition, there are several cool places for brunch, like the Retro Cafe.
Just behind the previous one, and on a small hill, is one of the most charming neighborhoods in Australia. In addition to beautiful houses and gardens, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a village, or the Tassie of a few years ago.
The best place for a stroll, while enjoying the view and a tasty fish and chips. In its surroundings there are several very cool old buildings, and there is also the Mawson’s Hut Replica Museum, about the expeditions to Antarctica. Be careful, it is not in this port where the famous Sydney to Hobart race that takes place on Boxing Day in Australia arrives, but next to the Cenotaph, a couple of kilometers away.
The Museum of Old and New Art is famous for its provocative and engaging collections. It is about 12 kilometers from the center, you can get there by a small boat that leaves from the same port. You have more info on the official website of the Mona, a must for your list of things to do in Tasmania!
One of the most spectacular places you will see in Tasmania is this mountain of about 1270 meters high. At the top you have different viewpoints with spectacular views and several trekking trails. Be careful if you go up, the weather “up there” can be very harsh. You can get there with your own car, with this bus from the center of Hobart. As a curiosity, we tell you that the road that arrives was built in the Great Depression simply to give work to the people, and has been controversial since then.
Cascades Factory Female Historic Site
It is one of the most interesting places to see in Tasmania, and in all Australia, related to the convicts, since only women worked there. It is 4 kilometers from the center and you can visit it at your own pace or with a tour (more info at the Cascades Factory website).
Not far from the previous point is this old distillery, Gothic style. It produces Cascade beer, one of the most typical beverages of Tassie.
Tasmanian Botanical Garden
Also on the outskirts of the city are these beautiful botanical gardens, opened only two years after the famous Botanic Gardens of Sydney.
Read also: The Best Places To Visit In New Zealand
Travel to Tasmania: Bruny Island
Bruny Island is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and interesting places to see in Tasmania even if you travel alone. Many European explorers (the most famous, of course, Bruni d’Entrecasteaux) passed through the island, coming into immediate contact with the Aborigines. Truganini, the last original inhabitant of the island, had an intense life that is recounted in one of the best books about Australia.
It is about an hour southwest of Hobart. To get there, you have to take a ferry from the town of Kettering, which costs 38 dollars (with the return trip, valid for one month, included). We leave you the ferry schedules to Bruny Island here. Bruny Island would actually be two small islands joined by an isthmus, which is called The Neck. Right there is the famous viewpoint, with incredible views of both seas, and a plaque dedicated to Truganini.
Don’t miss it, if you can, at sunset, it’s magical! So, not only will you enjoy the change of light, but you will share that moment with very few people. If you are lucky, you may also see some little penguins “coming home”, as happens at Phillip Island. For us, one of the best things to do in Tasmania! Besides The Neck, on Bruny Island you can also see a beautiful lighthouse and a quarantine station (where immigrants and members of the Anzac passed through). You can also get lost in the South Bruny National Park, with different trekking options.
Port Arthur, the most historic place to see in Tasmania
Although it is part of the Tasman Peninsula (the next place to see in Tasmania we are going to tell you about), we preferred to dedicate a point per se to Port Arthur. But why? As we told you above, Tasmania was one of the most important settlements during the time when Australia was a penal colony. Port Arthur was the jewel in the crown: it is close to Hobart and its geographical characteristics made it, almost, a “natural prison” from which escape was very difficult.
Construction of the prison began in 1830, and it operated until 1877. It quickly became one of the first tourist attractions in Australia. So much so that, unfortunately, it was the site of the only mass shooting in the country’s history, which occurred in 1996 and in which 25 people were killed. Since 2010, Port Arthur is a World Heritage Site, as it is part of the Australian Convict Sites.
Admission to Port Arthur today includes a two consecutive day pass, an optional (recommended) 40-minute guided tour, and a 25-minute cruise around the site. For up-to-date schedules and prices we recommend you check the Port Arthur website. Inside you can explore all the buildings at your leisure, and they are super interesting! Some have small exhibitions, although perhaps the most striking is the church with no roof! There is also a restaurant that is often recommended when eating in Tasmania.
There are a couple of other places to see when you travel to Tasmania related to Port Arthur. One of them is the Eaglehawk Neck, an impressive isthmus that had to be crossed by those who wanted to escape from the prison (and where there is also the Tesselated Pavement, a very photogenic rock formation with great views).
The second is the Coal Mine Historic Site, an old coal mine where the most “rebellious” convicts of Port Arthur who misbehaved were sent to work. The latter is less well preserved (hence the free visit) and, being more remote and isolated, conveys more the idea of harshness. If you like history, both are worth a visit!
The incredible landscapes of the Tasman Peninsula
Although the peninsula is best known for the historical site of Port Arthur, there are many, many things to do there: villages, bays, old mines… you can even dive! However, the main attraction is the wild nature of its coastline, with three capes, Hauy, Pillar and Raoul, which are simply breathtaking! There is a legendary trekking that goes around the three capes. It is “only” 48 kilometers, but it is designed to be done in four days due to the characteristics of the terrain and the climate.
In the area there are also several natural wonders that you can not miss, because they are brutal! Grottoes, arches, small gulfs, cliffs that take your breath away… Some of the coolest of the Tasman Peninsula are the Remarkable Cave, the Tasman Arch, the Devil’s Kitchen or the Waterfall Bay, the latter with waterfall included. In front of Cape Pillar is the Tasman Island, with cliffs of almost 300 meters and a colony of seals and penguins. Near Cape Hauy, we have Fortrescue Bay, a beautiful bay with crystal clear waters.
To see these unique places there are some viewpoints and small treks, but the best way to do it, without a doubt, is to take a 3-hour cruise between Port Arthur and Eaglehawk Neck. We did it and we loved it, not only because we caught a day with the water “moving” and we had a great time, but because the views from the sea are unique and privileged. Can you imagine being able to see those towering cliffs from the water? Also, if you are lucky, you can see animals such as whales in Australia, dolphins or seals. We recommend you to book your cruise in advance!
You can also take the Tasman Peninsula day tour, cruise included, from Hobart. If you prefer (even) more action, you can also do a one-day kayak tour of the Tasman Peninsula. Our first idea, in fact, was to sign up for this second activity… but in the end I bailed. Next time!
Travel to Tasmania: a trekking in Freycinet National Park
One of the most beautiful places to see in Tasmania (and there is a lot of competition!) is the Freycinet National Park. Personally, it was one of the first images I saw when we decided to visit the island, and I couldn’t stop until I saw it! This National Park, about two and a half hours northeast of Hobart, is basically a totally green peninsula, which protects the beautiful beach of Wineglass Bay. The most typical thing to do there is one of these treks, depending on the time (and desire) you have:
Wineglass Bay viewpoint
About 3 kilometers that can be covered in an hour and a half. It can be done by more or less everyone, so you can find it a little bit crowded. Fortunately, this was not our case. The panoramic view from there is unique, one of the best to see in Tasmania, a must!
The round trip to the beach is about 6 kilometers, which takes about three hours. It is quite steep, and both the outward and return you have to go the same way.
Ring road through Freycinet National Park
About 15 kilometers, to spend the day. We would have liked to do this one, but we had little time and did not want to risk it. Next time!
To enter the park you have to pay a small fee (when we went, 24 dollars). You have updated info on the official website of Freycinet National Park.
The village of Coles Bay
The arrival is really mythical, thanks to the mountains of The Hazards. If you can, do not miss them at sunset, because they are colored orange and it is a real beauty!
Other places to visit in the park are the Honeymoon and Sleepy bays, the Friendly Beaches and the road to the Cape Tourville lighthouse.
You may also like: Places To Visit Before They Disappear
The Bay of Fires
Continuing our travel to Tasmania about 120 kilometers north of the previous point, we reach another of those places to see in Tasmania that are a must-see and impressive! The Bay of Fires (“Larapuna” in the native language and “bay of fires” in English) is a coastline of about 30 kilometers, famous for its beaches of turquoise water and white sand with bays and rock formations in orange tones. A delight to behold!
Although there is no road that runs along the entire coast, there are several accesses. The best ones to enjoy the views are Ansons Bay and, above all, The Gardens, in the south. Although we always thought that the name was given precisely because of the stones, it turns out that it is so named because the explorer Furneux, in 1773, saw smoke in the air when he traveled through the area. The orange of the stones is caused by a fungus typical of the Tasmanian east coast, hence it is also in The Hazards.
Cradle Mountain and surroundings
One of the most famous places to see in Tasmania, especially if you like mountains and hiking, is the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. This area is uniquely beautiful, remote, with endemic flora and fauna. There is also Mount Ossa, the highest peak of the island, with 1617 meters. One of the most important treks in Australia, the Overland Trek, runs through Cradle Mountain National Park. With 80 kilometers long, it is usually done in about 5 or 6 days. Whatever the weather, you should always be super prepared to see different seasons in the same day.
And, as we told you in the article about the weather in Australia, in this area of Tasmania the climate is alpine. The weather is even more unpredictable than in the rest of the island, so it is recommended not to book anything until you are more or less sure about the weather you are going to find, and of course go very, very prepared. For Andrea, seeing Cradle Mountain was a must to do in Tasmania. Unfortunately, the weather played a trick on us and we had to leave it for next time. We’ll be back!
Launceston, the other city to see in Tasmania
With 85,000 inhabitants, Launceston is the second city of Tasmania and the twelfth of Australia. The city was founded in 1804 by the British mainly to “mark territory”. Launceston is located in the center of the Tamar River region, very green and hilly. It is a very good base to explore the north of the island. Launceston has a “vibe”. Its center is full of historic buildings (like the Custom House or the Macquarie House) and it is one of the cities with the best cafes and bookstores we have visited in Australia… and that always gives points!
It also has a couple of very remarkable green areas. The first is City Park, a typical urban garden that reminded us a lot of London parks, with beautiful flowers and an amazing vintage nursery. The second, on the outskirts, is the Cataract Gorge Reserve, a spectacular park dominated by the suspension bridge over the river and with several trails for short treks.
Honestly, visiting Launceston was not on our list of things to do in Tasmania. We ended up there because, due to the weather, we missed the west coast. In the end, we liked it a lot! If you stay overnight in the city (even if you go with a van, there are no campgrounds there) we highly recommend staying at the Pod Inn, a capsule hotel. It was our first experience and we loved it, we slept very well. Besides, it is well priced.
Travel the Heritage Highway, something different to do in Tasmania.
And if with Launceston we were surprised, with the road that goes from there to Hobart, even more! The tourist route is about 250 kilometers long and it’s really worth it! In this area, also known as the Midlands (as in England!) of Tassie, is the historical heart of the island. As you pass through its bucolic villages, you’ll feel like you’re back in the British Isles, you’ll see. Besides, the most productive farms are still there. There are a lot of villages but, in our opinion, the stops you can not skip are:
This small Georgian style village was founded by Lachlan Macquarie himself. It has a lot of beautiful little houses, with original constructions even from 1809. On Sundays, one of the most famous markets to see in Tasmania is held here.
This beautiful town is, more or less, halfway, and there was a small fortress there. It highlights the beautiful bridge over the river, built by convicts and with reliefs of characters who lived on the island. There you can also visit, free of charge, what remains of the Ross Female Factory, one of the four stations for female convicts in Tasmania. Finally, you can’t leave without trying the pies from the Ross Bakery, especially the scallop and curry pie, they are spectacular!
On the main street of this town there are no less than 87 buildings of historical interest. Not for nothing is it the most important Georgian style town in Australia, you feel like in a movie! There is also the Callington Mill and a small lake where you can see the typical Tasmanian black swans.
Perhaps a little less “charming” than the rest, it is important especially for the whiskey distillery of Old Kempton. The town takes its name from Anthony Fenn Kemp, the “father” of Tasmania.
West coast, the unknown point to see in Tasmania
Dominated by the famous Roaring Forties winds, the Tasmanian west coast is practically uninhabited. It is one of the places where it rains the most in the world, and the strong wind is practically constant; thus, the waves, which come directly from South America (omg!) are the strongest and most dangerous that one can find. The queen and mistress of this area to see during your travel to Tasmania is nature. So much so, that the western region is occupied almost entirely by National Parks, in which there are still areas where very few humans have set foot.
Together with Cradle Mountain, it forms the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and occupies about 20% of the island’s surface. Almost nothing! One of the visitable spots on the west coast is the town of Strathan, on the coast. That’s where we planned to go, to take it as a base for visiting the main tourist spots in the area:
Sarah Island and Macquarie Harbour
In this lost place a penal colony was created in 1822 to send the convicts who messed up once in Australia. It was famous for its harsh conditions and, at the time, could only be reached by boat from Hobart, can you imagine?
Cruises depart from Strahan to visit this river, which penetrates the wilderness. It is the best way to discover an almost virgin area, dominated by the Huon pine, typical of Tasmania. We recommend you book your Gordon River cruise here as far in advance as possible.
Perhaps the easiest and most practical option to enjoy a bit of the Wilderness World, as in a small space you have viewpoints, villages, history, lots of nature and, of course, the deepest lake in Australia. It can also be visited on a day trip from Hobart that you can book here. Gordon Dam. This arched dam was built in the 1970s for hydroelectric power. At 198 meters high and 140 meters wide, it is the largest, and of course the most famous, dam you can see in Tasmania.