This Tasmania Travel Guide is designed to help you discover the joys of the “Apple Isle”. Tasmania offers UNESCO sites, colonial history, natural beauty and 2800km of walking tracks. It’s also an excellent place for foodies with some of the freshest seafood in the country, fantastic dairy products and truly delicious local lamb.
Almost the same size as Ireland or Sri Lanka, Tasmania is compact but bursting with things to see and do!
Why you should visit Tasmania
Few international visitors manage to get to Tasmania, and even us locals tend to leave the state for our later years and what a mistake that is. We finally visited Tasmania in 2016 and had a memorable three weeks driving around the island and still not seeing it all!
- Natural and Cultural UNESCO World Heritage sites
- Fantastic colonial architecture, especially in Port Arthur and Hobart
- The cleanest air in the world
- An abundance of fresh local seafood
- Some of Australia’s most picturesque walking trails
Tasmania is the perfect destination for adventure and outdoor lovers. There are 19 National Parks across the state, offering a ridiculous number of epic hikes, places to climb, paddle and cycle. Active travellers could easily spend months here and not do it all.
Regions of Tasmania
So let’s dig in and start building your itinerary, I am sure by the time we are done, you will wish you had more time to explore Tasmania.
Tasmania’s capital and largest city, Hobart is home to just under 250,000 people, more than half the population of the state. Hobart is the perfect size city for a long weekend getaway, but it is also an excellent base for exploring both the south and east coast.
Things to try to see on a visit to Hobart
- Cascade Brewery – the oldest operating brewery in Australia offers daily tours and tastings
- Cascade Female Factory – an excellent living history performance
- Salamanca Market – held on the waterfront, one of the highlights of the week
- Mona (Museum of Old and New Art) – innovative collection and lovely location
- Mount Wellington – fantastic views over the region
Local tip: Try to plan your itinerary so you are in Hobart on a Saturday to check out the weekly Salamanca Market.
The south of Tasmania offers fantastic food experiences, deserted beaches and the Huon Valley’s cider country.
Highlights of the south include:
- Bruny Island – join a tour or head over on the car ferry and spend a day to two exploring the island and it’s produce.
- Huon Valley – wine and cider country with stunning ancient forests
- The Tasman Peninsula and Port Arthur – Australia’s convict history and harsh coastal landscape
- South Cape Bay walk – the southernmost walk in Australia and easily done in one day
- Hastings Caves & Thermal Springs – The largest dolomite cave in Australia open to the public
Local tip: Southern Tasmania is a hiking paradise. Check out these 35 walks for starters.
The East Coast
So far this is our favourite part of Tasmania, we are coast lovers, and this is one very spectacular coastline, Add to that five National Parks, and you have plenty to keep you busy. While it’s a perfect spot to visit at any time of the year, unless you can handle icy water the swimming season is very short.
Hightlights not to be mised along the East Coast include:
- Freycinet National Park – walk to the Wineglass Bay lookout
- Coles Bay – take a walk along the Friendly Beaches
- Maria Island – explore this island just off the coast
- Bay of Fires and Binalong Bay – take a close look at the pretty red-stained rocks
Local tip: Coles Bay is an excellent base for a 2-3 day stop to allow time to explore Freycinet National Park fully. We loved our stay at Hazards Escape – an Airbnb in Coles Bay.
Tasmania’s second city, pronounced Lon-ceston, is full of lovely examples of the early 19th century styles of architecture. You will also find it very hard to escape a trip to Launceston without a few extra kilograms either on the scales or in your luggage.
- Cataract Gorge – the most famous spot in town
- Boags Centre for Beer Lovers – needs no explanation 🙂
- Brickendon and Woolmers Estates – part of the Convict sites UNESCO listing
- Tamar Valley Wine Route – cool-climate classics like Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris
- Ben Lomond National Park – a park full of Alpine thrills
North and North West
Other than Cradle Mountains the North West is definitely the road less travelled. This far corner of the state attracts hardcore hikers, fishing enthusiasts and travellers on a slow lap of the state.
Highlights of the North and North West of Tasmania include:
- Stanley – a fishing paradise
- Tarkine Wilderness – 477,000 hectares of wilderness and the largest temperate rainforest in Australia
- Walls of Jerusalem National Park – one of the states most remote hiking playgrounds
- Arthur River – take a cruise along the waterways of Tasmania’s westernmost town
- Cradle Mountain – do a day walk or take the six-day Overland Track.
Local tip: Try to spend at least one night at Cradle Mountain Lodge or one of the nearby properties, local wildlife come to visit at dusk, and they are very friendly.
The West Coast is home to Tasmania’s vast wilderness World Heritage Area, the Franklin Gordon River. The newest and increasingly popular attraction is the West Coast Wilderness Railway. The train travels through 35km of stunning rainforest on a 4-hour trip.
- Strahan – interesting town and the starting point of many river cruises
- Franklin Gordon River National Park – hiking, rafting and waterfalls
- Sarah Island – for a little over a decade considered the harshest convict settlement
- Queenstown – a mining pioneer town
- Montezuma Falls – the highest waterfall in Tasmania
Local tip: It’s best to avoid the west coast in winter when Strahan receives 2-3 weeks worth of rain per month.
Advice To Help You Plan Your Visit
A little planning can take your Tasmanian holiday from memorable to perfect. We have tried to answer the most common questions we get below but if you have one we have missed head over to our Facebook Group and ask a local for help.
When is the best time to visit Tasmania?
Tasmania has four distinct seasons with very mild summers (temperatures usually reaching the low 20s and cold winters where snow is not uncommon on Mount Wellington. The eastern side of the state is colder and wetter than the western side. It’s worth remembering that Tasmania is the closest place to Antarctica so it can get pretty chilly!
Most people consider November to February to be the best time to visit the island; however, we think spring and autumn are a better choice with good walking and exploring weather. The lower crowds make it easier to find great accommodation at affordable prices.
The winter is too cold for multi-day hikes unless you are very well prepared but do note some tracks are closed over July and August.
Tasmania Events Calendar
Tasmania has a pretty busy events calendar. Along with being good fun, these festivals can see an influx of mainlanders so book accommodation early.
- January – Mona Foma
- January – Cygnet Folk Festival
- February – Festivale
- March – Ten Days on the Island (every other year)
- March/April – Spiegeltent Hobart
- April – Targa Tasmania
- June – Dark Mofo
- September – Blooming Tasmania Flower & Garden Festival
- October – Devonport Food & Wine Festival
- October – Bloomin’ Tulips Festival
- December – Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
- Dec/Jan – The Taste of Tasmania
- Dec/Jan – Falls Festival
School Holidays in Tasmania 2020-2021
Book your tours and accommodation early if you will be travelling in school vacation periods.
Public Holidays in Tasmania 2020-2021
Public holidays may see some attractions closed or with reduced hours, particularly Good Friday and Christmas Day.
How to get to Tasmania
There are four airports on the island:
- Hobart – Daily flights from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. It takes one hour, 45 minutes to fly from Sydney and one hour from Melbourne. There are flights almost hourly from Melbourne
- Launceston – Daily flights from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane
- Devenport – Daily flights from Melbourne
- Burnie – Daily flights from Melbourne
You can also fly from Melbourne to King or Flinders Islands.
Many people fly into the north and out of the south, which is an excellent way to do it. If flights are cheaper for a return trip, the drive up the middle of the island between Hobart and Launceston is only a few hours.
Quite a few cruises visit Tasmania with the main stop being in Hobart; however, there are also anchorages in Coles Bay, Port Arthur and Burnie giving you a chance to see some of the best parts of the country while you are visiting.
The Spirit of Tasmania Ferry
The main benefit of taking the ferry from Melbourne to Tasmania is that you can take your car, motorbike or caravan with you.
There are two ferries daily between Melbourne and the northern city of Devonport. You can choose between a day or a night trip, which takes between 9-11 hours. Tickets are best purchased a few months out as the last-minute they can get quite pricey.
The journey can get a little rough so if you are prone to seasickness be sure to get some medication before you leave.
Local’s tip: If you suffer from seasickness, take a day ferry, the seas are generally rougher at night.
Cruise ships also often include a stop at Hobart en route to New Zealand.
How to get around Tasmania
Tasmania is one state where renting a car and driving around the island is the best choice. If you can’t drive or prefer not to rent a car, then taking a tour is probably the next best option.
- Hobart to Launceston – 2hrs 30m
- Hobart to Port Arthur – 1hr 40m
- Hobart to Cradle Mountain – 4hrs
- Hobart to Wineglass Bay – 2hrs 45m
- Hobart to Bruny Island – 1hr 50m
- Launceston to Cradle Mountain – 2hrs
There are some excellent tours run by eco-certified operators that will help you reach the best parts of Tasmania. There are also luxury tours, walking tours and fully escorted tours for those who prefer to do things in style.
Public Transport in Tasmania
There is no passenger train service in Tasmania. Two companies offer long-distance buses.
- Redline travel between Hobart, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie.
- Tassielink travel between the East Coast, Tasman Peninsular, Huon Valley and Queenstown and several smaller places.
Using public transport requires planning and patience as services are limited and not always direct, but it can be done!
Main image credit: Tourism Tasmania/Kathryn Leahy