Tasmania might be Australia’s smallest state, but it delivers big on epic nature, delicious food and wine and world-class art. Whether you relish an opportunity to journey through the wilderness or have an appetite for the best Australian produce, this idyllic island delivers on all fronts.
Hiring a car and hitting the road is an easy way to explore the island and will allow you to visit all the major drawcards, from the Museum of New and Old Art (MONA) in Hobart to the magnificent Cradle Mountain. Discover the five best places to visit in Tasmania and what you need to see and do when you’re there.
Wilderness seekers will love Lake St Clair National Park, the home of Cradle Mountain — one of the state’s most iconic natural attractions just a one–and-a-half-hour drive from Devonport. With terrain ranging from open grassland to dense rainforest, this blissful destination is ideal for those wanting to escape into nature. The best way to explore Cradle Mountain is on foot, whether it’s an easy stroll along the banks of the Pencil Pine Creek or via the epic six-day Cradle Mountain Huts Walk along the Overland Track, which includes freshly cooked meals and cosy private huts.
You’ll need a good night’s sleep after a day of exploring and any of the luxurious cabins or suites at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, located on the edge of the national park, will do the trick. Relax in front of the wood fire at the onsite Tavern Bar & Bistro and replenish yourself with hearty offerings such as Roland Range porterhouse steak and wild mushroom pizza.
A two-hour drive from Hobart at the southern end of Tasmania, Bruny Island is a haven for those who love top-notch food and exploring the outdoors. Kickstart your day with a walk to The Neck lookout for spectacular 360-degree views of the island. Continue your adventure by wandering through the Mavista rainforest, where you’ll find the towering Mavista Falls and an abundance of local wildlife, including white wallabies.
Spend an afternoon relaxing and sampling the revered cheeses at Bruny Island Cheese Co. before making your way to locally owned and operated farm, Get Shucked, for oysters plucked straight from the ocean and a glass of 42 Degrees South sparkling wine. While you can easily do a day trip to this laid-back isle, spending the night in one of Adventure Bay Retreat’s four luxury self-contained boltholes is a perfect way to round off your trip.
Tasmania’s dynamic capital city, Hobart is renowned for its diverse art scenes, fabulous eateries and chic accommodation offerings. Grab a croque monsieur and coffee at Pigeon Hole before hitting up the bustling Salamanca Market, held every Saturday and browse over 300 stalls offering fresh produce and handmade products. From here you can walk five minutes to Brooke Street Pier, where a ferry will take you on a 25-minute ride to MONA, where a boundary-pushing rotation of modern art sits within a striking concrete structure.
Dinner at modern Italian osteria, Fico, will delight any gourmand. Chefs Federica Andrisani and Oskar Rossi conjure weekly menus that take full advantage of homegrown and regional produce to deliver dishes such as risotto cacio e pepe and taleggio tortellini with pumpkin. The iconic MACq1 hotel on the Hobart harbourfront is a sophisticated base for your stay in the city. The modern-meets-historic rooms are chic and spacious with floor-to-ceiling windows and king-sized beds that feature wall-sized artworks as bedheads. Pop down to the Evolve Spirits Bar in the hotel for a Tasmanian whisky flight and a peek at artefacts dating as far back as 550 million years.
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It’s rare to find a beautiful slice of wilderness so close to a city’s centre and Cataract Gorge is just a 15-minute walk from Launceston CBD. This five-kilometre stretch of forested river reserve surrounding a dramatic gorge is a recreational hub for swimming, walking and spending time in nature. Take in the spectacular views from the world’s longest single-span chairlift or the 60-metre-long suspension bridge, before dipping your toes into the public pool and admiring the local residents that include pademelons, peacocks and wallabies. When you’re ready to take a break, tuck into dishes such as Tasmanian bush pepper calamari and crispy spiced Rannoch quail at The Gorge Restaurant.
Return to the comfort of Peppers Silo Launceston — a hotel that was converted from four former grain silos and sits on the banks of the Tamar River. Each of the 108 rooms offers enviable views across the Tamar Valley. Onsite restaurant Grain of the Silos champions local produce and serves up dishes such as scotch fillet with potato and onion gratin, winter green and jus.
Only 40 minutes drive south-west of Hobart, the Huon Valley is brimming with natural beauty and peppered with small farms and orchards making this the ultimate gourmet getaway.
Huonville is the region’s largest town and makes for a great starting point for discovering the valley. For lunch, head to Home Hill Winery for dishes such as twice-baked cauliflower soufflé, lamb sirloin and white bean cassoulet, matched with a glass of their signature award-winning chardonnay. Stop in at Willie Smiths Apple Shed — where they’ve been growing apples since 1888 — for a relaxed afternoon touring the distillery and enjoying a fresh cider tasting.
The Hartz Mountains National Park within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is one of the valley’s biggest drawcards. Shaped by ancient glaciers, this staggeringly beautiful park boasts rugged mountains and pristine lakes. There are plenty of walks you can do in the park no matter your fitness levels. The 3.4-kilometre return track to Lake Esperance, which is mostly boardwalk, is a great route for beginner hikers and families. More experienced walkers can tackle the 7.7 kilometre Hartz Mountain Walk.
Whether you’re returning in the evenings or want somewhere to relax during the day, The Coast House is a spacious and modern retreat on Beaupre Point, a private peninsula a few minutes from Cygnet village. Tuck into the complementary gourmet hamper filled with Tassie delicacies, before relaxing in the bath overlooking bucolic views.
Image credit: Tourism Tasmania, Rob Burnett, Emilie Ristevski, Luke Tscharke, Stu Gibson, Jess Bonde