Tasmania, nicknamed Tassie, is an island south of Australia, separated from the mainland by the 240 km of the Bass strait. Despite being the 26th biggest island in the world, Tasmania is Australia’s smallest state (since the ACT is technically a territory), counting a little over 500,000 inhabitants. It takes roughly 3 hours to drive coast to coast, both in a north to south or west to east direction.
The capital Hobart is well connected to mainland Australia with daily flights to and from the biggest cities. Although the most adventurous way to reach Tassie is definitely by ship. We couldn’t miss the sailing aboard the Spirit of Tasmania ferry, that operates each night covering the route from Melbourne Victoria, to Devonport in the north of the island.
With over 42% of its land being National Parks and protected areas, Tasmania is a wild and still relatively untouched destination, full of natural attractions and outdoors activities, a must see for the intrepid traveller.
So here comes our Tasmania itinerary guide!
WHAT TO SEE IN TASMANIA IN 2 WEEKS
As you know well, there’s never enough time when one is travelling. We would have loved to spend months in Tasmania, unfortunately time is always limited and precious, even more during this pandemic (READ MORE: Zero covid cases in Melbourne, we did it!).
We did stay 15 days though, and believe it is a reasonable length for a trip to Tassie.
Two weeks are in fact sufficient to make a full lap of the island, whether you are starting from Hobart or Devonport, and enjoy its most famous sights without rushing too much.
We understand many travellers coming to Australia don’t have enough time to include Tasmania in their itinerary, but if you have the chance to be down under for longer periods of time, perhaps on a Working Holiday Visa as we are, please go to Tassie and you can thank us later! 🙂
TASMANIA ITINERARY GUIDE MAP
(Flying straight to Hobart? Click here to be redirected further down)
If you are travelling aboard the Spirit of Tasmania from Melbourne, you’ll land in the city of Devonport. We strongly recommend to bring your own car or van to Tassie, the true perk of travelling by ship vs by plane. Tasmanian rental companies obviously take the advantage of being on an off shore island, and are pretty happy to charge you more than what you’d pay in the rest of Australia. Plus, we were so proud to bring our van Penny all the way down to Tasmania!
The town of Devonport is little more than a harbour centre. From here you have to choose whether you’d like to do a clockwise or anti-clockwise lap of Tassie. As we were craving for some mountain scenery after our trip to warm South Australia, we headed west towards Cradle Mountain.
CRADLE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
You haven’t even driven 100 km, but you have already reached one of the most iconic spots in Tasmania: Cradle Mountain.
The area of Cradle Mountain and its National Park of the same name, cover a protected territory in the north west of Tasmania, where unique flora, fauna and landscapes are the protagonists. Mountain ridges and lakes filling ancient volcano craters are some of the most incredible views which can best be appreciated from the summit of Cradle Mountain on a clear day.
We’d like to quote botanist Gustav Weindorfer, one of the earliest promoters of this area, once he reached the mountaintop:
“This must be a National Park for the people for all time. It is magnificent, and people must know about it and enjoy it.“
Other than the main hiking trail to the summit via Crater Lake (1,545m. 5-7 hours return), plenty of other tracks are up for grabs when in Cradle Mountain National Park, both long and short, hard and easy. (Dove Lake circuit, 2 hours; Marion’s Lookout, 4 hours). Animal lovers will be spoiled too, thanks to the likes of rare species as wombats, pademelons, echidnas, and the iconic tasmanian devil.
TIP: Head to Devils at Cradle Wildlife Park to see the symbolic Tasmanian devil and support its preservation. Located a couple of km from Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre, entry ticket 25$ pp.
TASMANIAN NATIONAL PARKS PASS
We suggest to spend at least 3 days around the park, to admire the surroundings and to be sure of enjoying a nice day of sun. Unluckily during your journey you’ll learn how Tasmania’s position deep in the south of our planet makes it exposed to frigid winds coming from Antarctica, meaning it’s often windy and cold, and weather conditions can turn quickly in a matter of hours. (See the Weather section at the end of this article).
A National Parks pass is required to enter any of the 19 parks in Tasmania. Daily passes start from 20$ per person/40$ per vehicle (doesn’t apply to Cradle Mountain). But a holiday pass, valid for 2 months, is the best option at 40$ per person/80$ per vehicle (includes Cradle Mountain). A Cradle Mountain day pass is 25$ per person, includes shuttle bus service. Get your National Park pass here.
Don’t forget to display your National Park Pass on your vehicle’s dashboard when going for a hike. Also, keep a digital copy of it on your phone as back up.
QUEENSTOWN AND STRAHAN
After driving some 150 km through winding roads, you’ll arrive to the central west coast of Tasmania. Here the rainforest meets the ocean, a historic land which was sighted for the first time by Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman in 1642. The drive alone is worth the trip, and as any rainforest, it gets even more mystic when it’s drizzling and a light fog covers the area.
The most popular activities can be done around the major towns: Strahan is the small harbour city found at the mouth of Gordon River. Cruising the latter, a water flow embedded among the thickest rainforest, offers unrivalled views. Queenstown, still an important mining hub, even provides the opportunity to visit some underground working mines. But the reason many visitors stop here is to experience the West Coast Wilderness Railway. This is a restored steam train route linking the old gold and copper mines to the sea at Strahan, riding through steep inclines in the middle of the rainforest. A journey as historic as it is exciting that we will never forget.
TOUR TIPS: Gordon River Cruises, Strahan. Starting at 140$ for a 6-hour tour. West Coast Wilderness Railway, departing both Queenstown and Strahan, prices from 115$ for a 4-hour tour.
WILDERNESS WORLD HERITAGE AREA
From Queenstown the A10 is the only highway to drive east. Being such a massive area you may have not realised it, but you are now in the heart of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA), one of the largest conservation areas in the world, covering over 20% of Tasmania.
Among the numerous National Parks here, you are truly spoilt for choice. To name a few, you have Walls of Jerusalem NP and Lake St Clair NP (adjoining Cradle Mountain NP) to the north of A10. Whilst Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers NP and Mount Field NP lie to the south of the highway.
Keep a couple of days for this area, depending on your hiking wishes and skills. Shorter walks can be combined in a day too, for example Lake St Clair and Franklin River trail are only separated by a 30 km drive.
By now you should be almost one week in and half way through your trip in Tasmania.
Tasmania’s capital city sits in the southeast of the island, and is home to almost half of Tasmanians. Once a penal colony and a whaling port, today Hobart acts as a trendy tourist destination. The most popular sights are 1,300m high Mount Wellington, the MOMA Museum of Old and Modern Art, and the Salamanca Market.
Camping sites are widespread in proximity to Hobart (on Bruny Island too). Alternatively if you don’t mind the 1 hour commute each way, you might as well use your lodging in Hobart as your base to start off and visit the nearby sights on a day trip.
ACCOMMODATION TIP: After a week of relentless hiking, we got pampered staying at MACq 01, a stunning hotel boasting harbour view rooms in the heart of Hobart. Other than premium accommodation, guests enjoy complimentary storytelling tours of the historic wharf location and the city of Hobart (storytelling tours also open to public, more info here).
Around Hobart are a number of coastal settings, including peninsulas, islands and countless bays. Some unmissable as Bruny Island, also known for its fresh oysters grown meters from the shore and some of the best cheese in the state. Or Tasman Peninsula, where you can visit the historic penal settlement of Port Arhtur and the Tasman National Park. And also Maria Island, arguably the ultimate Tasmanian island destination, where motor vehicles aren’t allowed but bicycles and bush camping are. Plus you may be lucky enough to spot the Tasmanian devil in the wild on Maria Island! This part of Tassie will easily keep you busy for 4 days.
DRIVING TIP: if you travel from Tasman Peninsula towards Freycinet, beware that minor roads like C335, C336 feature gravel sections. In particular C320 has warning signs stating that a 4WD vehicle is required. We drove on gravel with our van on C335 and it was ok, however it was a rather slow detour!
COLES BAY & FREYCINET PENINSULA
If Cradle Mountain is the king among the attractions in the west, Freycinet Peninsula is the queen in the east. Located 160 km away from Hobart, Freycinet is the most popular daytrip hotspot from the capital city. If possible avoid it on weekends in peak season (See the Weather&Season section at the end of our Tasmania itinerary guide).
Why so? Mainly because of the stunning view over Wineglass Bay, a photo you’ll surely have seen on any guide about Tasmania and that we can’t help repeating here in our itinerary.
The lookout is achievable via a 2.6-km-long return hike, a medium intensity excursion with a few steep sections. Of course many other trails can be followed in the stunning Freycinet National Park. You can double down, cross the lookout point and reach Wineglass Beach and back (5km, 3.5hrs). Or you can complete the 11-km loop via Hazards Beach (5 hours). Which will also lead you to Honeymoon Bay and Coles Bay.
Coles Bay township is where you have the largest choice of accommodation, if you are not camping in Freycinet NP. Two full days around Freycinet are a good amount of time to see its highlights.
TIP: If you do arrive here on a busy weekend, check further campgrounds a bit north at Friendly Beaches.
At this point you are almost at the end of your lap of Tasmania. However, you should save at least 3 more days to see the upper part of the east coast. Not many visitors come up here – we are partly guilty too, as you can see in our Tasmania itinerary guide if one has 2 weeks time it’s hard to fit in the four corners of Tassie – and you can enjoy some amazing views without the crowds of day trippers coming from Hobart.
Our favourite spots were Binalong Bay and Mount William National Park. Just when you thought you’ve seen all the beautiful colours of Tasmania – the 50 shades of green in the rainforest, the golden wheat fields, the white snowcapped peaks, and the bluest bays, in come the stunning rocks around Binalong Bay, orange and red, reminding of Australia’s outback hues. If you are lucky enough to be here on a sunny day, the contrast between the turquoise waters and the flame red rocks will leave you speechless.
We then decided to take one more detour and preferred panoramic A3 to faster A4 highway. This will take you up north for a last glimpse of the rainforest at Mount William NP, where ferns are the undisputed sovereigns.
LAUNCESTON & TAMAR VALLEY
Our last stop on the way back to Devonport – first stop if you are travelling clock wise, use this Tasmania itinerary guide from the bottom to the top! – is Launceston. Launceston is the 2nd city of Tasmania counting a population of roughly 90,000. It is well known to Australians for the nearby Tamar valley, home to dozens of vineyards and a proper foodie destination. Don’t miss it if you are here to indulge yourself with good food after a couple of weeks of non stop hiking.
Launceston and Devonport are 100 km apart. Reward yourself with some classic Tasmanian countryside views along road B71.
This sums up our 2 weeks Tasmania itinerary guide.
If you have less than 10 days available, we suggest to focus either on the west or on the east of Tassie, two quite different sides that will each keep you well entertained during your brief stay.
If instead you have more than 20 days available, you should definitely hop on another ferry for a short crossing to Flinders Island or to King Island, the biggest ones off the coast of Tasmania. Or reach the remote location of Strathgordon in the southwest of the state.
HAVE FUN IN TASSIE!
BEST STAYS IN TASMANIA
- You can book all accommodation in Tasmania with free cancellation here.
- Cradle Mountain Discovery Parks: Don’t miss the chance to sleep within the boundaries of Cradle Mountain NP, at walking distance from the park’s visitor centre and free shuttle bus stop. Book here for camp sites.
- Derwent Bridge Wilderness Hotel: stay in the wilderness, halfway between Strahan and Hobart. Support this beautiful family run hotel, they offer great food too!
- Macq 01 Hotel Hobart: perfect waterfront location in the centre of Hobart, cityview and superior seaview rooms.
- Tasmania Parks overnight camping: browse here to book your camping in any National Park in Tassie.
HOW TO GET AROUND?
- A car is a must in Tasmania, take advantage of the ferry to bring yours. Alternatively, rent a private car to be free to reach any place in Tassie. The cheapest options start from 39€/day, and fuel in Australia is less than 1€ per litre! (1.50AUD).
Check your best rental car options in Australia here.
- Tours: Gordon River Cruises, Strahan. Starting at 140$ for a 6-hour tour. West Coast Wilderness Railway, departing both Queenstown and Strahan, prices from 115$ for a 4-hour tour. Pennycott Wilderness Journeys, boat trips around Hobart and Freycinet, 140$, 3-hour tour.
- Airplane: daily flights to Hobart, Launceston from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide. 1h15min from Melbourne.
- Ship: Spirit of Tasmania ferry. 8-9 hour crossing. Night sailings year round, plus day sailings on weekends and September to April. Fares from 200$ pp, vehicles 99$.
WEATHER&SEASONS – WHEN TO GO TO TASMANIA?
Tasmania does get really cold in winter, snowfalls are common too. Australian summer months (nov-mar) are the warmest and ideal time to visit, although it might be crowded. Avoid school holidays time in December and January if possible. The average temperature will be around 15°C, but we did get 3-4°C at night at Cradle Mountain in early February. Wind is often blowing and it’s rare to get a full day of clear sky or a whole rainy day. Bring a raincoat, sturdy shoes and some warm clothes for the evenings.
DO I NEED TRAVEL INSURANCE?
Yes you do. Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Even if you trust yourself, you can’t always trust others. Better safe than sorry! Get your quote here.
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