Tasmania, Australia used to be the butt of many Aussie jokes. But it’s not quite like that anymore. As people everywhere are learning about the magnificence of this island state, it is blossoming into a tourism, foodie and outdoor adventure mecca. With remote wilderness landscapes, expansive surf beaches, an emerging café scene, and regular music and arts festivals, now is the time to visit Australia’s island state (before the secret’s well and truly out about Tasmanian holidays).
As a Tasmanian myself, I often hear people saying “I have always wanted to go to Tasmania, but never had the chance”, or “one day I’ll go to Tasmania”. It might be the southern-most point in Australia and the edge of the world, but with incredibly cheap and quick flights from the mainland there is no excuse any more. Only 1 hour and $50-$100 by plane from Melbourne and you are transported to another world. A world of tranquility, the freshest air, and the most exciting adventures.
You can be forgiven for wondering “what would a Tasmanian holiday actually look like?” Well, here is a Tasmania itinerary I prepared earlier. Jam packed full of the best this beautiful state has to offer.
DAY 1: HOBART
So you’ve arrived in Hobart. Welcome to Tasmania’s exquisite capital city — the perfect place to start your journey!
After sorting out a rental car (trust me, in Tassie you’ll need one) and checking into your accommodation it’s time to hit MONA. MONA is the Museum of Old and New Art and it has been getting some serious attention recently. This museum is guaranteed to make an impression with the attention-grabbing art. You can even see an artificial poo machine… now that’s something you don’t see that every day.
A walk around Sullivan’s Cove and the wharf is a great way to spend a pleasant evening in Hobart. This area extends into Salamanca so there are plenty of restaurants and bars to keep you occupied. Make sure to try some of Tasmania’s well-renowned whiskey, wine, and seafood if you can.
DAY 2: HOBART OR BRUNY ISLAND
Head down to the beautiful sandstone-clad Salamanca Place in the morning. Locals know that Salamanca is the place for brunch. The pick of the bunch would be the Machine Laundry Café, or head up to nearby Battery Point to eat at Jackman and McRoss or Pollen Tea Room.
In the afternoon, pay Mt Wellington a visit for the (uncontested) best view of Hobart. It’s a comfortable 20min drive from the CBD and the road takes you to the summit. All along the mountain there are plenty of places to stop and admire including Secret Falls at the Foothills, having a bite to eat at the Fern Tree Tavern, or walking the Pipeline Track. A full list of walks around the mountain area can be found at Greater Hobart Trails. I would recommend a stop at the Organ Pipes walking track on the drive down. It only takes 20mins walking until you’re right up close and personal with the imposing rock spires.
If you’re heading up in winter there is regularly snow and the road might be closed (plus it’s freezing cold eek!), so be prepared!
For the best evening vibes head to the suburb of North Hobart. North Hobart boasts a restaurant strip that puts all others to shame and it continues to get better and better. Along the North Hobart strip you can indulge in a drink or two at Room For a Pony, grab some mouth-watering food at Pancho Villa or Capital, or see some live music at the Republic Bar.
ALTERNATIVE: If Mount Wellington and Salamanca don’t tickle your fancy, a trip to Bruny Island for the day is a great alternative.
DAY 3: TASMAN PENINSULA
It’s time to say goodbye to beautiful Hobart and start exploring further from the capital. Where’s the best place to venture to first? Well it’s gotta be the Tasman Peninsula. This is the epicentre of rugged landscapes and Tassie history. Drive on down to Eaglehawk Neck which will take about an hour and a half. At Eaglehawk Neck you will find extensive views out to Tasman Cape.
In the Eaglehawk Neck area there is plenty to see. If you’re on Instagram you have most likely already gawked at the geometric patterns of the Tessellated Pavement — now it’s time to see them in real life. Also it is worth seeing Tasman Arch and the Blow Hole. These are all only a couple of minutes away.
Next, head to the former convict settlement of Port Arthur. Here you can uncover Tasmania’s fascinating convict past. Many of the sites are well-preserved plus there are plenty of picnic spots to enjoy a packed lunch. If you’re feeling a bit spooky then there are ghost tours at night around many of the old prison buildings. This tour gets the nerves going and also provides some more intriguing insight. You can buy tickets for the Port Arthur Historic Site here.
Once you’ve had your dose of convict history, drive down to the start of the Cape Hauy walking track. There is a well maintained camping area at Fortescue Bay located amongst picturesque bushland and beaches. This is a spectacular place to camp (assuming the weather is good) and it at the starting point for one of Tasmania’s greatest short walks.
DAY 4: THE CAPES
Today is going to be a big day so start early. It’s time to pack up the campsite, put on those hiking boots and start this epic day walk. The Cape Hauy walk is a relatively leisurely 3.5/4 hours return. This hike will show you dramatic and jaw-dropping sea cliff views. Since the Three Capes Track was developed the infrastructure here has improved a lot so the tracks are a lot easier now. Keep your eye on the ocean too because pods of seals and dolphins are commonplace around here!
The Cape Hauy walk is the easiest (and quickest) of the cape walks but provides equally spectacular views. If you are looking for something more challenging then Cape Raoul or Cape Pillar might be for you.
In the afternoon, settle back into the car and head up to Tasmania’s East Coast. It’s now aptly named the “Great Eastern Drive” and you will soon see why. The coastal scenery is spectacular! Aim for Coles Bay which has a huge range of camping and other accommodation options. This is about a 3 hour drive from Cape Hauy so plan accordingly.
DAY 5: FREYCINET NATIONAL PARK
Now you’re in Coles Bay you can access the many amazing day hikes nearby. People come here is primarily to see Wineglass Bay so you should, too. There are several walks which get you to Wineglass Bay or to some amazing views. There is the traditional saddle walk over the Hazards Mountains with a half-way lookout point, or you can climb up Mount Amos for a view with some serious height advantage.
If you just feel like quickly seeing Wineglass Bay and then heading back and relaxing then I would recommend doing the lookout walk (1hr return) and then coming back to Honeymoon Bay. Honeymoon Bay is within the borders of Freycinet National Park and is a secluded, peaceful beach. It is the perfect place to kick back and read a book. Sunsets and sunrises anywhere around Freycinet National Park are bold and worth watching.
Coles Bay is a great base for kayaking and fishing if you want a break from hikes. For surfers, Friendly Beaches is only a short drive away and gets great waves.
DAY 6: EAST COAST AND BAY OF FIRES
Continue making your way up the coast. When going through Bicheno don’t forget to stop for a pie at Blue Edge Bakery – they’re pretty famous in Tassie! Bicheno itself is a pleasant seaside town with a beautiful beach. It is worthwhile taking a break from driving and hanging out here for a while.
If you are looking for a break from the coast, taking a side trip to Douglas Apsley National Park is a good option. This National Park is packed full of waterfalls and has a famous watering hole. The watering hole is the perfect place for a refreshing dip.
The stretch of coastline that steals my heart is the Bay of Fires, just north of the Binalong Bay along the upper sections of the Great Eastern Drive. It is easy to spend hours strolling along the vast empty beaches admiring the striking coastline. Much of the coastline is an orange colour due to the lichen and it gives a spectacular effect.
DAY 7: LAUNCESTON AND SURROUNDS
Today aim for Tasmania’s second biggest city: Launceston. Along the way there is an excellent dairy at Pyengana that produces delicious award-winning cheeses and ice cream. All these joys can be found at their Holy Cow Café.
Only a few minutes’ drive from the dairy is St Columba Falls, one of the highest water cascades in Tasmania. The waterfall is only a short walk to reach from the carpark. The rolling farming hills around Scottsdale are very picturesque to drive past as you continue on to Launceston.
When arriving in Launceston head to the Queen Victoria Museum. This place has some great exhibits on Launceston’s railway heritage, blacksmith factories and Tasmanian fauna. For lunch, the café on site has affordable food and seating inside an old railway carriage. If museums are not your thing, driving along the Tamar Valley just north of Launceston is another option. This region is full of rich farmland with many wineries, berry farms and lavender fields. Don’t forget to visit Bridestowe Lavender Estate (especially during bloom in December and January)! Many businesses sell products right from the farm or cellar door, so stop off at any that take your fancy.
In the evening grab some BBQ items from a supermarket (along with anything you picked up in the Tamar Valley) and head to the Cataract Gorge. This canyon is only a few minutes drive out of the town centre and is a pleasant picnic spot with free BBQs on site. It’s one of Launceston’s icons and a great place to spend an evening. You can go swimming in the pool or Gorge itself for free, so pack the swimmers and go for a refreshing dip.
DAY 8: CRADLE MOUNTAIN AND LIFFEY FALLS
Time to head to one of Tasmania’s most famous locations: Cradle Mountain. Pay Liffey Falls a visit along the way for a gorgeous pitstop. It’s a peaceful waterfall nestled amongst lush Tasmanian rainforest and worth some time.
There are many styles of accommodation within the Cradle Mountain National Park. You can choose between camping, cabins or lodges. There are many stunning walks for all abilities and capturing the beauty of Cradle Mountain is possible with most of them. Easier walks such as the Dove Lake Circuit are accessible and stunning. If you’re game then you can try the Cradle Mountain summit which gets pretty steep towards the end but is comfortably a day walk. Visit the Information Centre on site for a comprehensive list of walks and check the weather before leaving, conditions can change quickly!
DAY 9: STANLEY AND THE NORTH-WEST
When you feel satisfied with what you’ve seen at Cradle Mountain you can pack up camp and make your way along the Northwest Coast. There are many great locations to stop and take in the views, such as Table Cape which is a lighthouse-topped landmass with tulip fields bursting into colour during spring.
Boat Harbour is another spot worth checking out. This place is a small seaside town with a calm sheltered beach perfect to have a picnic on. Stanley is a unique location to visit made famous by ‘The Nut’, a large rock landmass towering above the fishing village below. Climbing The Nut is a bit of a Stanley rite of passage.
DAY 10: THE HARDEST PART (LEAVING)
On Day 10 you will probably have to make your way back to wherever you’re leaving from and this can be done in several ways.
Leaving from Launceston would give you more time to relax and is the best option. Driving to Launceston from Stanley would take about 2:30hrs and can be done via Burnie and Devonport.
If you’re leaving from Hobart you can drive down directly through the Midlands Highway which would take around 4:45hrs but isn’t the most scenic route. Alternatively you can take the longer (around 6:00hrs) and winder option which goes down the western side of Tassie. Here you can pass through rugged Tasmanian destinations such as Queenstown and Derwent Bridge (and possibly pop into Strahan).
Having grown up in Tasmania it is a place that I will always recommend to family and friends. Tasmania is truly unique and will take your breath away. The Apple Isle is packed full of adventure and 10 days will give you a good sample. With a growing tourism industry, the time to visit Tasmania is now. The infrastructure is in place and the numbers are starting to creep up so get in while you can. If you enjoy good food, an emerging art scene, and rugged natural beauty, then this is the place for you. There is so much more than what is mentioned in this Tasmania Itinerary but it is a good start.