Hobart is the capital of the insular state of Tasmania, in the southeast of Australia.
It’s a young city like the rest of Australia, with little more than 200 years of history. Nevertheless its past as penal settlement and present as quiet harbour town make of Hobart a characteristic destination, different from Australian metropolis like Sydney and Melbourne.
Thanks to its small dimension – Hobart counts some 200,000 inhabitants – it’s easy to move quickly from one place to the next to visit the surroundings in few days.
We spent 4 days in Hobart during our recent 2-week roadtrip in Tasmania, which you can read about here.
Here’s what to see in Hobart, both in town and around it.
WHAT TO SEE IN HOBART CITY
The best way to take in the whole extent of Hobart’s deep bay is by reaching the top of Mount Wellington, a mountain range dominating the city from 1,270 metres above sea level.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to climb all the way up, there’s a beautiful paved road leading to the mountain peak. The more sporty people can also go up by push bike or walk the last few hundreds of metres along the fantastic boardwalk. You’ll be rewarded with unrivaled views over Hobart, both from the rocks overlooking the parking area and from the large windows of the indoor panoramic terrace.
TIP: as for most viewpoints, it’s always smart to come at sunset time to enjoy golden hour, but you won’t be the only one to think that. However the weather in Hobart isn’t always kind, therefore don’t rule out the option of going up Mount Wellington at sunrise or early in the morning, in order to beat the crowds and the clouds.
TASMANIAN MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery houses permanent and temporary exhibitions which offer valuable info about the history of Tasmania. Entry to the museum is free.
Here are shown the geographic maps drawn by Dutch seafarers who were the first westerners to step onto the island back in 1642 (although they didn’t settle down), naming it Van Diemen’s Land in honour of the then governor of Dutch East Indies.
A wing of the museum is dedicated to the South Pole and Antarctica. Hobart still is a global base from where expeditions leave to the icy continent, not too far away from Tasmania itself.
Another section of the Tasmanian Museum tells the sad story of the aboriginals of Tasmania, who were exterminated by the war and diseases brought by the British settlers. They were even exiled to Flinders Island first and Oyster Cove later, where the last individuals of pure aboriginal ancestry perished.
One more unhappy story is the one about the Tasmanian Tiger, the biggest carnivorous marsupial ever existed, similar to a wolfdog with a striped back. Due to the many attacks to sheep herds (which had been introduced by Europeans…) the local government decided upon a 1£ bounty for every Tasmanian tiger head. Soon the number of animals in the wild collapsed to very few samples.
Incredibly, the Tasmanian Tiger was declared a protected species only 59 days before the death of the last specimen, which was held in captivity at Hobart Zoo, in 1936.
We suggest you to be in Hobart during the weekend, not to miss the next two attractions.
The first one is Salamanca Market, held every Saturday morning at Salamanca Place. A market renown in all Australia for its variety and size, with over 300 stalls in which to find literally anything: from food stands to those selling local favorite alcoholic drinks: gin, wine and beer. And then aboriginal artifacts, rare collectibles, leathers, clothes and fabrics, flowers, fruit and jams, books and souvenirs.
Heaven for flea market lovers!
MONA – MUSEUM OF OLD AND NEW ART
The second attraction to attend on weekend days is the MONA, museum of old and new art, open to the public from Friday to Monday only.
MONA too is famous Australia wide and a multi award winner for its architecture, environment and exhibitions as much unique as they are controversial. Get ready to see a museum like you’ve never seen before. This is a private collection, where rules have been rewritten, or we should say torn out.
The way in is via a spiral staircase or elevator to reach three levels down. MONA is completely underground and most rooms are quite dark and also a bit claustrophobic. Inside MONA sparkling bars, spaces filled with strobo lights, silent rooms, live music and much more can be found. A true five senses experience.
Here boring taglines don’t exist, infact every guest is given an I-Phone and earplugs to use as map to roam around the three museum levels, reading and listening to the artists’ descriptions (in Covid times visitors are invited to download the app on their phones, despite being Tasmania Covid-free in February 2021 too at the time of our visit).
There are several art pieces featuring explicit content, definitely we don’t recommend to come here with kids. Among the most absurd ones there’s Tim, a man with his whole back covered in tattoos who is effectively part of the museum attractions and spends his days inside it (streaming during Covid!). But also a waterfall placement that creates words, or a room filled waist high with engine oil, to be contemplated from a narrow passage.
TIP: a must do rather than a tip. Booking tickets online is mandatory due to the limited opening days. Price 30$AU, info and times here.
ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDEN
As in every respectable Australian town and even more true for capital cities, Hobart too has a botanical garden worth visiting, thanks to the huge variety of endemic plants to be found in Australia. The Royal Botanic Garden lies a couple of kilometres north to the Cbd, give yourself a good half hour to get there on foot.
Once here you can relax on the lawns, stroll around the themed sections like the rainforest, the lily pond or the nursery. Enjoy the regal area of Queen’s Domain while getting back to town.
WHAT TO SEE IN HOBART SURROUNDINGS
Let’s now move on to the points of interest out of town that can be reached on a day trip, meaning they are less than 100km or 1h30 from Hobart.
The most popular destination in this sense is certainly Bruny Island, known for its isthmus you can see in the photo below. The island is achievable via ferry from Kettering dock, some 30 km south of the capital.
The vessel carries passengers and cars across the bay every half hour taking 15-20 minutes (38$AU return per vehicle, timetable here). Once landed on Bruny Island you’ll have several activities to undertake.
Food lovers can soon find the first stops: Get Shucked Oysters, to enjoy the freshest oysters farmed inches from the shore, and the almost nextdoor Bruny Island Cheese Company, a nice factory nestled among the trees where to taste the best Tasmanian cheese combined by some wine or craft beer.
More interesting spots are the lighthouse at the southern tip and the sandy beaches at Adventure Bay and Cloudy Bay.
Hiking in the woods in the south of Bruny Island may present you with the opportunity to see the White Wallaby in the wild, a peculiar species derivating from a rare genetic mutation.
TIP: destinations in the south of the island are reachable via partly unsealed roads, which will slow you down. Refer to road signs along the way that state distances and driving times on Bruny Island. Be aware the last ferries leave around 6pm.
MOUNT FIELD NATIONAL PARK
Arguably the most gorgeous National Park close to Hobart, Mount Field NP allows to get an idea about the untouched nature that covers a great amount of Tassie. Indeed there are 19 National Parks encircling large protected areas statewide.
At Mount Field NP you can start easy walks for every kind of hiker, in order to see the massive redwoods at Tall Trees and the magnificent waterfalls of Russell Falls and Horseshoe Falls.
Night time is a special moment too, as along the path leading to the falls you can see glow worms, tiny creatures that glow in the dark to attract their preys thanks to the phenomenon of bioluminescence.
READ ALSO: 5 OF THE BEST WATERFALLS IN TASMANIA
TAHUNE AIRWALK & HASTING CAVES
In the wild Huon Valley you can try both thrilling experiences and wind down in hot spring water.
Let’s start with Tahune Adventure Park, an outdoor hub for adventure sports topped by the Tahune Airwalk, a spectacular walk suspended above the tree canopy, offering sensational views. Other activities include kayaking, crossing a tibetan bridge or gliding down a long zipline.
After the thrills it is time to go underground inside the dolomite rocks at Hasting Caves. The grottoes are suitable for everyone, featuring sections with stairs and railings, with no narrow passages.
Let’s end the day with a hot dip in the pool next to the caves, which gathers the warm spring water rich in minerals coming out at 28°C, a true bliss in cool Tasmania.
East of Hobart we find Tasman Peninsula, an area filled with history and natural wonders. This is the home of historic site of Port Arthur, once penal settlement in 19th century, now converted to a museum. Amongst the ruins you can visit the penitentiary and the church built by convicts.
The southeastern shores of the peninsula offer jagged coastlines and breathtaking views within the Tasman National Park. We list some of the many panoramic spots: Tessellated Pavement, a proper natural flooring brushed by the sea; the rocky formations at Devil’s Kitchen and Tasman Arch; and Remarkable Cave, a marine cave dug by the violent waves of the Tasman Sea.
Here ends our post on what to see in Hobart.
You can plan your trip to Tassie with the help of our article Tasmania: 2-week itinerary guide.
Have a great time in Hobart!
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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