Welcome to Hobart

Unlike the convicts before you, set yourself free when you visit Port Arthur (which is not far from Hobart)


Hobart is a stunning harbour city at the bottom of Tasmania. It's famously known as the finish line for the international Sydney to Hobart yacht race every December. Sailors and party-goers flock from all over the world to be part of the celebrations, but it has so much more to offer. This super cool city is full of charm and contradictions.

There's no shortage of things to do in Hobart, from uncovering the seedy convict past, exploring the stunning bushlands and beaches to sampling the local mouth-watering food and wine, and jaw-dropping galleries and museums. When you visit Hobart, you're literally overwhelmed with things to see and do. This destination is very on-trend so make sure Hobart is on your travel bucket list.
 

Getting to & around Hobart:

Fly to Hobart. Flights are inexpensive and regular from all Australian cities. When you arrive, it’s a 15-minute commute to the heart of the city. Alternatively, take the ferry from Melbourne and arrives in Devonport. From there, it's a 3-hour drive to Hobart.

I definitely recommend hiring a car so you can get around Hobart and the nearby places easily. Having your own wheels means you can self drive to all the nearby wonderlands of Hobart without having to book tours and fit into group schedules.


Tours & popular things to do in Hobart

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Tour Hobart in a horse-drawn carriage. Photo: Tanya Challice Photography
 

  • When you visit Hobart, I recommend booking a guided tour so you can uncover the secrets of this city. There's plenty of options from walking and hiking tours, bus tours (including hop-on-hop-off buses) and self-guided tours. If you're on a tight budget, why not book a Hobart city free walking tour. As you walk around Hobart city, your guide will share the many dark secrets and convict past that will send chills down your spine.

  • MUST-SEE: Port Arthur which is 90 minutes from Hobart. Port Arthur is undoubtedly Hobart's most spectacular attraction, and it doubles as a historical museum. This world heritage gaol was built by convicts in the 1820s and is Australia’s version of Alcatraz. Wander through Port Arthur's buildings,  historic houses and stunning gardens which are full of stories, mysteries, and secrets of tortured inmates.  This prison accepted everyone, from the worst criminals, social outcasts, the uneducated, to anyone who disagreed with the politics of the day. Port Arthur is one of the most haunted places in Australia, and is as beautiful as it is eerie. I highly recommend doing a ghost tour at night.  Your entry ticket to Port Arthur historic site includes a guided walking tour and harbour cruise, plus access to more than 30 buildings, ruins, restored houses, gardens and walking trails.

    • Get there: Self-drive to Port Arthur (which takes around 90 minutes). Alternatively, take the Port Arthur shuttle bus for $48 per person. Otherwise, board an all-inclusive tour bus from Hobart and enjoy a scenic drive along the coast to the Tasman Peninsula. Most tours include a visit to the Tessellated Pavement - which is the result of saltwater eroding rocks to create 'mosaic' titles.

 

A visit to Hobart must include the stunning Port Arthur historical site, which is a truly spectacular place
 

  •  Hobart Convict Penitentiary is home to past infamous crime and punishment stories of Van Diemen’s Land. The historical site includes underground tunnels, solitary cells and the gallows that were later turned into Hobart’s Jail and Supreme Court. Access to this site is by guide only. 

  • An easy 10 minutes walk from Hobart's waterfront is Salamanca Place which is an eclectic mix of colonial warehouses and modern architecture. Here you'll find galleries, theatres, craft and jewelry shops, restaurants and cafes. Salamanca shows all things Tasmania. Get a scallop pie at Banjos bakery, or head to Honey badger dessert cafe which only sells sweet treats, or go to one of the laneway wine bars. Salamanca Place is the perfect place to wander around and do a bit of window shopping. 

  • Walk up Kelly's Steps that connect Salamanca Place to the suburb of Battery Point. These sandstone steps are an architectural landmark in Hobart (and are named after adventurer James Kelly.) At the top of the steps you'll find the gorgeous Battery Point which is a historic town on a clifftop. Walk along Kelly Street and check out the historic houses, pubs, shops. 

  • Mawson Hut Historical Replica site located down by the wharf provides visitors with amazing insight into Antarctic Expedition back in 1911-1914 led by Sir Douglas Mawson and his team down into the unforgiving lands.
     

Hobart Harbour is a magical place to explore, and is right in the city
 

  • Wander around Hobart Harbour which is just on the edge of the city. The great thing about Hobart is that the city is compact so getting around by foot is easy. While you're on the harbour, there's shops, local art galleries and fresh seafood being sold straight off the boats. Why not take a 1-hour Hobart harbour cruise up the Derwent River. Cruises are very affordable and board at the Murray Street Pier.

Visit the Cascades Female Factory, which was an all women prison in Hobart. Photo: Alastair Bett
 

  • Add Cascade brewery to your itinerary.  This is Australia's oldest brewery and is a 180-year-old Gothic castle set on gorgeous heritage gardens. Take the 1.5 hour Cascade brewery tour and sample the beers and ciders and find out the secrets to making a good brew. Cascade Brewery is in South Hobart (and not far from the city), and is at the foothills of Mt Wellington. Catch the metro bus which takes about 10 minutes or self-drive.

  • Visit Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary and see the famous Tasmanian Devils, koalas, kangaroos, wombats, and other native animals. Bonorong is a safe haven for injured and orphaned wildlife which makes this sanctuary even more wonderful. This is your chance to see wildlife being nursed back to health, and to feed them.

  • Do a Sim737 where you take control of Boeing 737 deck without leaving the ground. Tailor the flight experience to suit you ranging from immediately airborne to imitate real-world domestic pilots, including logging flight plans and other procedures. 


Hobart's national parks & gardens

Mount Field and Russell Falls combine the best walks, views, rainforests and wildlife
 

  • Visit Mount Wellington (also known as Kunanyi) for spectacular views of Hobart. There are many ways to visit Mount Wellington including driving your car, a tour or shuttle bus, a bike ride, or a hike. Heads-up: the mountain is high up and cold so rug up, even in summer.

  • Mount Field National Park and Russell Falls are an hour's drive from Hobart, and has great walks, stunning views, rainforests and fern forests, wildlife, and some of the world's tallest trees. There are walks for every level of fitness so no one misses out. I would definitely recommend adding Mt Field to your itinerary. Further up the 16km winding gravel road is the stunning Lake Dobson and also the opened in winter the Mount Mawson Ski fields.

  • Take a stroll around the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. The Botanic Gardens are about 2 km from the city centre, and it's free. Check out the sub-antarctic house filled with plants that thrive in cold and windy conditions, the conservatory, the stunning Japanese Garden, and the community food garden. The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens is the perfect place to hang out and literally ‘smell the roses’.
     

Explore the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
 

  • If you're up for a challenge, head to Tasman National Park to hike the multi-day Three Cape track. This 4-day trek is 48km and wraps around the cliff face, providing amazing scenic views of the rugged coastline and out to the wild Southern Ocean. The start and endpoint are the historical Port Arthur site (90 minutes from Hobart). Highlight in the Tasman National Park including the stunning Devils Kitchen, The Blowhole and Tasman Arch. This is also where the world-renowned surf break, Shipstern Bluff is located. If not up for the Three Capes walk or don’t have the time, there are a number of walks that showcase the rugged coastline. There's also day hikes that take you around the coastal cliffs at Cape Hauy, Cape Raoul and Shipsterns Bluff.

  • If keen to come face to face with the Tasmania Devil visit the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo, with various animals without the cages.  This Unzoo is on your way to Port Arthur and 'words just don't do this place justice'. Just a few of the other animals you’ll bump into include, kangaroos, wombats, quolls and possums.
     

Meet the local Tasmanian Devils - and I mean the wildlife! Photo: Tourism Australia
 

  •  Around 100 km south of Hobart is the Hasting Caves and Thermal Springs where you can venture underground into an elaborate cave system with its amazing geological display of archaic dolomite formations. Afterwards you may want to have a soak in the mineral swimming pool that is thermally heated to a cozy 28°C. 

  • An hour and a half drive south-west of Hobart venture to Tahune Airwalk an incredible 50 minute walk through the southern part of Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area and over the Huon River. It is suitable for all ages and fitness levels, and it enables you to get up and close with the wildlife without challenging yourself. Other attractions at Tahune include a glider, swinging bridge, bike track and Segway tours, all of which are very fun!

Head to Hastings Caves Thermal Springs. Photo: Jess Bonde
 

  • Go camping at Cockle Creek for some digital downtime. Cockle Creek is 2 hours drive south of Hobart and very close to the bottom tip of Tasmania. This area has a rich Indigenous history and plenty of walks to enjoy including trekking into the South West National Park, or from Fishers Point Lighthouse to South East Cape, and strolling along the beach at Recherche Bay.

  • Enjoy a safari over 5 days. This is where you get to explore the areas between Tasmania’s two major cities - Hobart and Launceston. On Safari you will hike, camp, and canoe your way through Tassie’s national parks. If you’re not up for spending too much time in a tent, there are day tours available.


Hobart's beaches, boats & water

Take a walk around Bruny Island Lighthouse Bay. The Tassie beaches stretch for miles and miles. Photo: Adam Gibson
 

Fancy a dip? Hobart has endless stretches of beaches. 

  • Head to Long Beach or Nutgrove Beach which are in the exclusive suburb of Sandy Bay (and only 4 kilometres south of Battery Point). Sandy Bay is also where you'll find Hobart's Wrest Point Hotel Casino.

  • Other popular beaches and just a short drive out of the city are Seven Mile, Bellerive, Clifton and Park Beach. Lucky for you, even when it's swimming season, you can still go for miles without running into another person. In summer and autumn, the water is beautiful to swim in, but in cooler months you might just want to take a nice walk along the beach.

  • Add a day trip to Bruny Island to your itinerary. Bruny Island and South of Hobart and is a 40-minute drive followed by a 20-minute ferry ride to Bruny Island. Here you'll find beaches, wildlife, and the-best-of-the-best local produce including cheese factories, berry farms, freshly shucked Tasmanian oysters, whiskey distilleries and wine cellar doors. For a different Bruny island adventure, book a twilight sail. A must-see whilst on the island is the heritage-listed Cape Bruny 1836 lighthouse that rises 114 metre overlooking the rugged Tasmanian coastline. Favourite beaches on Bruny Island include Cloudy Bay, Adventure Bay and The Neck.

  •  Hobart Aquatic Centre is centrally located and if you are keen get rid of some aches and pains in the cold, head down not the aquatic centre to do a few laps in the heated pools or jump in the spa, sauna or steam room. 

Book a cruise around Hobart Harbour. Photo: Tourism Australia

Go cruising: 

  • Go Twilight Yacht Racing and be part of the crew of a Helsal IV, a 62 foot Sydney to Hobart veteran. No experience needed and you can either learn the ropes or sit back and hang on.  

  • Take a Tasman Island cruise from Port Arthur to Eaglehawk Neck in the South East of Tasmania. This coastline is part of the Tasman National Park, and is abundant in beautiful cliffs, caves, rock formations and waterfalls! The cruise is 3 hours long and definitely worth a look.

  • Book a sailing adventure where you'll go past a number of Tassie’s national parks. Keep your eyes peeled for whales, dolphins, seals, albatross and much more wildlife! 

  • North of Hobart - Go river rafting on the Derwent River for the day. For the more serious adventurer, go river rafting on the Franklin River where tours can last up to 10 days! The Franklin River has waterfalls, green forests and plenty of native wildlife. 


Museums & galleries

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Take a free tour of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery which is right on Hobart Harbour 
 
  • Visit the MONA art gallery and museum. The MONA is officially known as the Museum of Old and New Art and has one of the world's largest private collections of art and the exhibits are designed to shock. Even if you're not an art lover, it's worth the experience. There's a few controversial exhibits but plenty of quirky things to look at. Get there by car, bus or catching the MONA ferry.

  • MONA's owner is also responsible for the Dark MoFo Festival which is held in June each year. This winter celebration has an alternate and haunting theme with offbeat theatre productions alongside classical films, light shows and much more. 

  • Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery is a museum, art gallery and herbarium all in one. It's right on the Hobart Harbour, and is free to visit. (There are charges for special exhibits.) There are literally thousands of objects on display, from fine art to fossils. See the displays of preserved Tasmanian mammals including Tasmanian devils, quolls, wallabies, pademelons and echidnas. The staff are passionate and knowledgeable on all things Tassie so ask lots of questions and settle in for a good chat.

  • The Maritime Museum of Tasmania ship lovers and maritime buffs will love this collection of nautical displays. The museum is conveniently located close to the waterfront in town.

  • The State Cinema is an iconic cultural and social venue that has delivered a wide range of national and international films from its eleven screens and a rooftop cinema. You can grab a coffee, glass of wine or a light meal from the large bar café. 

  • Theatre Royal offers an array of culture, comedy, song and dance acts in a gorgeous historical theatre. 

  • Tasmania Cricket Museum located at the cricket ground the museum offers cricket enthusiasts innovative displays and videos including some interactive technology that cover the rich history of the game over the years.


Hobart's markets

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Salamanca markets and Farm Gate markets have all kinds of delicious produce waiting for you
 

The main fresh food markets are Salamanca markets (every Saturday), and Farm Gate market (on every Sunday). You'll also find plenty of roadside stalls selling fresh food on the side of the road. 

  • Salamanca markets are among the best outdoor food and entertainment markets in Australia and they sell everything from farm fresh produce, gin, whiskey, flowers, chocolate, clothing and nik naks. There's also plenty of delicious food trucks serving up all kinds of delicious Tasmanian delights. Salamanca markets open early and most vendors are packing up by lunchtime - so get in early.

  • Farm Gate markets are a smaller version of Salamanca markets and are probably my favourite food markets. Farm Gate markets draw a huge crowd and are the perfect way to start a Sunday. You'll snag all kinds of delicious fresh produce at bargain prices so pack some shopping bags. Once you've done the shopping, buy breakfast and a coffee from one of the food stalls and watch the markets in action. 

  • Hobart Twilight Markets (Friday Nights) located at long beach on Sandy Bay and Brooke Street Pier the markets showcase Tassies food, drinks, design and music. 

  • Street Eats@Franko is a cheap and easy night out with family and friends (Fridays from 4pm). You don't have to cook and you don't have to worry about what cuisine to cook. Just turn up to Franklin Square (in the city centre) and find a food truck that suits your tastebuds.        

  • FOOD FESTIVALTaste of Tasmania is Australia biggest and long-standing food and wine festival, with tasty local offerings and exciting art and music performances with the gorgeous waterfront backdrop. NOTE: Due to COVID, the 2021 festival has been cancelled.  

Hobart food & wine

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Relax and unwind over a wine at the Bruny Island Cheese on Bruny Island. Photo: Adam Gibson
 

Tasmania is famous for Atlantic salmon, Tasmanian scallops, wild Abalone, cheeses, apples (Tassie is known as the Apple Isle), berries, black truffles (arguably the best outside of Europe). You'll be spoilt with choice with delicious food wherever you eat but a few suggestions include:

  • Templo is a popular foodies spot in Hobart with gorgeous food in a boutique and cosy setting. Definitely worth a visit if you’re after some tasty nosh.  

  • Grab some scrumptious hot cooked seafood down at one of the floating food vans or restaurants overlooking the charming waterfront. Some of the options include Flippers and Mako. Fish Frenzy, Customs House, Blue Eye and the Drunken Admiral down by the wharf are other great choices.  

  • Don't miss visiting the famous Jackman and McRoss bakery where there's all kinds of delicious pies and treats including its specialty - the Tasmanian scallop pie.

  • Tasmania is known for its whiskey and gin distilleries so why wouldn't you sample the local drop. There's quite a few to choose from (and many have stalls at the markets). If you're walking around the waterfront, head to the boutique Lark distillery. They make a mean single malt whisky using only Tasmanian ingredients. Lark Distillery was Tassie's first licensed distillery and is locally owned. Not into whiskey...they try their gin.


Tips on where to stay in Hobart

Go 5-star or budget...there's plenty of options. If you can afford to stay in the city and near the harbour, then do. Apart from Hobart CBD being very accessible, it's also quite beautiful. You'll be able to get to most places by foot, and the city has a good metro bus system.

  • Right on the harbour is the very flash MACq 01, or next door is the Henry Jones Art hotel (which was originally an IXL jam factory warehouse).

  • 10 minutes walk away is Salamanca Place where you'll find the Salamanca Wharf hotel or the Salamanca Inn serviced apartments. 

  • There's also plenty of pubs, bed and breakfasts, motels and hostels so start checking out where you're going to stay. My only advice is that if you don't have a car, aim to stay close to the city where you can use public transport and get various tour buses.

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