Whilst it might be the smallest capital city across Australia, Hobart certainly doesn’t let their size hold them back, packing so much into such a small area. One of the most unique cities in the country, Hobart is charming and sweet to walk around, with an abundance of colonial architecture around a city that looks like it is a preserved moment in time.
In the past, Hobart has been easily forgotten amongst the big city lights of Melbourne, Sydney and even the Gold Coast. But in recent years, tourism has been booming in Tasmania, with visitors flocking to the little island for it’s world class sites, amazing food and wine, and old school charm.
Still holding onto the feel of a big country town, weekend getaways are incredibly easy from Hobart, with a handful of amazing country destinations less than an hour away from the city. Or if you have bigger plans to explore even more of the island, you can literally drive from one end to the other in just a few hours, with the drive from Hobart to Launceston taking only 4 hours.
Here’s a list of the top 10 things to do in Hobart to help you plan your visit to this charming little city.
1. Cascade Brewery
Established in 1824, Cascade Brewery is actually the oldest brewery in Australia, set at the foot of Mount Wellington. It’s still operating today, brewing up their signature beers along with a range of pale ales and craft beers, wines and even ciders.
These days there’s a wonderful restaurant and beer garden right across the road from the historic factory front, where you can relax in the sunshine and try some of Cascade’s different drinks. They also have an epic dessert menu, from which we can’t recommend the caramel slice more highly.
If you want to learn more about the brewery you can also grab a ticket to the Cascade History & Brewery Experience, which takes you back in time to learn everything there is to know about this iconic brand. The walking tour takes about 75 minutes and costs $30 per person, which includes 4 tastings of your choice.
Address: 140 Cascade Road, South Hobart
Opening hours: The Cascade Brewery is open from 10am until late from Sunday to Friday in the summer time, closing at 5pm on Saturdays and 5:30pm everyday throughout the winter season (April 1st until September 30th).
For more information check out the Cascade Brewery website.
2. Salamanca Markets
Without a doubt one of the best markets we have ever been to around Australia, the Salamanca Markets are iconic, with more than 300 stores that line the street in front of Salamanca Place.
Held every Saturday of the year – rain, hail or shine – you can find absolutely everything at the Salamanca markets, with stalls offering locally made produce, gifts, vintage posters, souvenirs, fashion and jewellery, woodwork, locally distilled spirits, wines, cheeses and more.
There’s even the opportunity to meet a range of local authors and artists who are willing to sign their work when you purchase.
The market is also peppered with food trucks as well, offering all kinds of different choices. The scallop pie is a huge favourite in Tasmania, as well as lots of the gluten free desserts, who also offer samples if you’re lucky. Make sure you take some cash with you, as not every stall at the market will have eftpos facilities.
Address: Salamanca Place, Hobart
Opening hours: The Salamanca Markets are held every Saturday from 8:30am to 3pm.
3. Food & Wine
Over the last few years Tasmania has had a huge boom in dining options, with award-winning restaurants and fine dining experiences popping up all over the place, all using the very best local Tasmanian produce.
In fact, visitors from mainland Australia are often planning their visits to Hobart around when they can get a reservation to their favourite restaurant! It’s absolutely become such a big thing these days to eat and drink your way through Tassie.
Find out more: Check out some of the best food and wine tours in Hobart
4. Mount Wellington
Also known by it’s tradition Aboriginal name – Kunanyi.
On a clear day Mount Wellington can offer some pretty spectacular views over Hobart and the surrounding areas. On an overcast day, a visit to Mount Wellington can just make you feel like you are actually on the inside of a cloud.
Standing at 1271 metres above sea level, Mount Wellington is only about half an hour from the centre of Hobart, but feels like it’s worlds away. The winding road to the top of the mountain will offer you spectacular views along the way, as well as stunning wilderness and natural beauty every way you turn.
It can be extremely cold at the top of Mount Wellington, with temperatures regularly dropping into the negatives and snow forecast even during the summer months. No matter what time of the year you visit, a heavy winter coat, beanie and closed shoes are an absolute must.
The lookout is only a few metres from the car park and there is an enclosed window covered shelter at the top as well that you can hide in if it gets too cold for you outside. There are also a few different walks around the top of the mountain if you want to explore a little further.
5. Bruny Island
Close enough to Hobart for a day trip, but also far enough to be a weekend getaway, is the beautiful rugged land of Bruny Island. Accessible by a 15 minute vehicular ferry from Kerrering, it’s about a 40 minute drive from the heart of Hobart.
Bruny Island feels like a country dream, with tall gum trees, long dry grass gently swaying in the breeze, and all kinds of wildlife calling the island their home. Head straight to The Neck, right in the middle of the North and South island, where you will find stunning views of the isthmus and the beaches on each side.
Also known for it’s delicious food and wine, Bruny Island is a foodie dream, with farms dedicated to all kinds of delicious produce. Some of the highlights include Bruny Island Premium Wines Bar & Grill, Bruny Island Berry Farm, Bruny Island Cheese Co., Get Shucked Oyster Farm and Bruny Island House of Whisky.
6. Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary
Get up close and personal to some of Australia’s most loved native wildlife, as well as some little critters that are found just on Tasmania. Bonorong is very specifically a wildlife sanctuary, where the aim to get as many healthy animals back into the wild as possible.
While they are living at Bonorong however, they are more than happy to meet you! The animals are often changing at Bonorong, as they come in, get better and are rehabilitated back into their natural habitats, but there are always an abundance of characters here to play with. It’s also a great place to get to know the infamous Tassie Devil, who can often be found at the sanctuary.
Bonorong also have a 24/7 wildlife rescue service and a wildlife hospital, that are equipped to help injured or distressed animals any time of the day or night. If you are in need of advice or assistance please call 0447 264 625.
Address: 593 Briggs Road, Brighton
Admission: Tickets to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary cost $31 per adult (with discounts for children and families), which also includes a 45 minute tour to meet the wombats, devils and koalas. Animal encounters are also available for an additional fee if you want to get even closer to the animals.
Opening hours: Open from 9am to 5pm each day, with daily tours at 11:30am, 2pm and 3:30pm for about 45 minutes.
7. Port Arthur Historic Site
Port Arthur certainly has a dark history. Australia’s most intact and evocative convict site, it was a place designed for punishment, where repeat offender criminals were sent, away from their homes and families, in the early 1800’s. It was also the site of the worst mass shooting massacre in Australia’s history, where more than 35 people died in a random attack.
Operating from it’s establishment in 1830 until it’s closure in 1877, around 12,000 convicts passed through the gates and served sentences at Port Arthur. Their crimes varied from horrific murders to crimes as petty as stealing a handkerchief. For some they learned trades and skills to help them when they were released. For others, Port Arthur was a living nightmare.
These days, the Port Arthur Historic Site has been restored as well as it can be, as a site of education and learning, as well as a World Heritage-listed Historic Site. It tells the story of an early Australia, where transportation of convicts was common to this tiny part of Tasmania.
Start first by jumping on an Introductory Guided Walking Tour to get a bit of an outline of the area before you start checking out individual buildings. The guides at Port Arthur are extremely knowledgeable and give an excellent insight into some of the history.
Try and check out as many of the historical buildings, ruins, restored houses and gardens as you can, they each have something unique and interesting to offer. We found the silent prison and it’s story particularly interesting, and it is extremely well preserved for being almost 200 years old.
Address: Arthur Highway, Port Arthur
Admission: An adult ticket to Port Arthur costs $40 per person which includes entry for two consecutive days, a 40 minute guided introductory walking tour, a 25 minute harbour cruise, access to the Port Arthur Gallery and access to more than 30 historic buildings, ruins, restored houses, heritage gardens and walking trails.
There are also a number of extra tours you can choose which cost a little extra including the After Dark Package, Escape From Port Arthur Tour, Isle of the Dead Cemetery Tour and the Port Arthur Ghost Tour.
Find out more on the Port Arthur Historic Site website.
Opening hours: The visitors centre at Port Arthur is open from 9am each morning until the end of the nightly Ghost Tour each evening, with the grounds and gardens generally closing around dusk. The houses and buildings are open between 10am and 5pm each day, with some houses closing later in the summer months.
8. Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
Only a short distance from the centre of Hobart, the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens sprawls over 14 hectares and is a wonderful place to take a minute to stop and breath amongst your sightseeing. There are a number of cultural heritage walls and landscapes around the gardens, as well as highlights like the Conservatory, Anniversary Arch and Lily Pond.
While you’re here, check out the Botanical Shop in the visitors centre which has all kinds of Tasmanian merchandise, as well as unusual botanical gifts, or check out the Gardens Restaurant, with sweeping views over the gardens and the Derwent River, it’s the perfect place for lunch.
Address: Lower Domain Road, Hobart
Opening hours: The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens are open from 8am until 6:30pm daily between October and April, with reduced hours during the winter months.
9. Battery Point
Take a step back in time with a walk around the suburb of Battery Point. One of the earliest towns to be developed in Hobart in the early 1800’s, the charming streets and sandstone buildings make you feel like the whole area has been pretty much untouched for well over a hundred years.
Check out the Battery Point Historic Walk as a guide for your own self-guided tour of the area, which will take you up winding lane ways, past the old seafarers’ cottages, and right through a historical precinct, that hasn’t changed at all since it was built. The self-guided tour will start you off from Kelly’s Steps on Salamanca Place leading you on a winding journey from Battery Square and Princes Park.
Battery Point is also a great place to base yourself, with plenty of hotels and apartments to stay at in the area, within walking distance of restaurants, cafes and the infamous Salamanca Place.
Also known as the Museum of Old and New Art.
Talk to anyone that has visited MONA and they’re likely to tell you just how AMAZING it was. So incredible, an absolute can’t miss in Hobart, the whole reason they even made the trip in the first place. Unfortunately that was not our experience.
It wouldn’t be right to create a list of the best things to do in Hobart without including MONA, considering it is so highly recommended by almost every reputable travel website, as well as any Tasmania travel guides. But we’re here to controversially say that if you’re on the fence about whether or not to visit, save your time and money.
MONA is designed to shock, with exhibits designed to be controversial, upsetting and confronting. There are rooms designed to make you feel physically on edge, to throw off your equilibrium and make you feel highly uncomfortable.
In all honesty, MONA kept me on the verge of a panic attack during my whole visit. Not only were there exhibits that were extremely disturbing, horrifying and explicit, there was something about the lights and sounds throughout the museum that just kept me on the edge and highly anxious. If you’re sensitive to sounds and lights or have conditions such as high anxiety or epilepsy I would highly recommend doing significant research before visiting.
Our honest opinion is that we wish we had of saved our money and not given into the hype. By some of the later rooms I couldn’t even look at the art work on the walls, with each artist creating something more disturbing and off-putting than the last, and all I could think of was getting the fuck out of there.
Address: 655 Main Road, Berriedale
Admission: Tickets cost $30 per adult, but is free to anyone from Tasmania or under the age of 18 (ID will be required to confirm eligibility for tickets).
Opening hours: MONA is open from 10am until 5pm each day during the winter season with the exception of Tuesdays when the museum is closed. The winter season runs from the end of April until the end of November each year, with extended hours in the summer months.
To make the most out of your day book a Hobart City Sightseeing tour that includes admission to MONA.
Best time to visit Hobart
Hobart might just have some of the worst weather in Australia. Being the most southern state in the county you can expect winter most of the year here, with rain often showering down all year round and summer lasting for a very short period each year.
Visit during the “summer months” of January and February when you might get a little more sunshine and warmer days. However, the weather is definitely temperamental in Tasmania, so no matter what time of the year you visit make sure you pack some warm clothing options, a good jacket and some closed shoes.
Although it might be a little busier and pricier during this time, the better weather more than makes up for it.
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