Once known as little more than a far-flung former penal colony, Tasmania has truly reinvented itself to become a top destination for nature, culture, and wine lovers alike.
If the name Tasmania evokes little more to you than a whirling Looney Tunes character or a remote outpost of Australia, you'll be interested to know that this small island is much more thanmeets the eye. Once known as Van Diemen's land when used to house convicted criminals, and Truwunna by the Aboriginals long before that, today Tasmania is one of Australia's six states with a thriving economy based on tourism, agriculture, and viniculture. Though the island is a part of Australia, the flora and fauna of Tasmania couldn't be more different than the typical images of dry, scorching outback that come to mind when thinking of the country. A lush and verdant island, Tasmania has a relatively cooler and temperate climate than mainland Australia, though plenty of beautiful beaches abound to enjoy during the summer months. A dramatic topography, with mountains and granite formations contrasting with deep, rolling valleys, means that delightful surprises lay around every corner of this small, yet diverse island.
Planning a trip to Tasmania? Don't forget to bring your appetite! With its thriving agricultural economy and world-renowned vineyards, Tasmania has become a prime destination for food and wine lovers. The island is abundant with a bounty of delights fresh from the land and sea, including oysters, salmon, apples, and artisanal cheese, just to name a few. Tasmania is quickly raising in the ranks globally for its wines, and specializes in crafting pinot noirs and sparkling wines. It's also become known for its whiskey and gin distilleries. As with everything Tasmania produces, the unique flavor and personality of the remote island and its inhabitants seem to imbue their products with a flavor not found anywhere else.
A Week in Tasmania
Our recommended itinerary takes you from bustling cities, to deep verdant forest, to stunning beaches and back again. For this itinerary, we recommend renting a car. All of the segments can be done in a day, with plenty of time for sightseeing stops and lunch.
Day 1: Hobart - Arrive in Hobart and settle in. Spend the day exploring the vibrant capital city, wandering its colorful streets and endless assortment of boutiques, hip cafes, and delectable restaurants. Take the ferry to explore art at the MONA, and make the 30-minute drive up to the summit of Mount Wellington for fantastic views of the city and harbor beyond.
Day 2: Orford - Make the hour's drive to Orford, where you can take the 30-minute ferry ride to Maria Island. This car-less island is a fantastic place for hiking and walking, and houses the fascinating former convict settlement, Darlington.
Day 3:Swansea & Freycinet Peninsula- Today a gorgeous coastal drive takes you to Swansea along the Freycinet Peninsua, famous for its white sand beaches and granite peaks. Stop by the Mayfield Bay Coastal Reserve for gorgeous views, and snorkeling or scuba diving for the adventurous. Visit Wineglass Bay to savor the world-famous views of this remote treasure.
Day 4: Launceston - Today, consider taking a side route to Binalong Bay, the gateway to the Bay of Fires, to see more of Tasmania's beautiful beaches before heading inland towards Tasmania's second largest city, Launceston. Enjoy strolling along its seafront boardwalk and picturesque streets, and swing by Cataract Gorge for fantastic views of the river and gorge walls. For wine lovers, head just north of the city to the Tamar Valley, where over 20 vineyards will be sure to have something to delight your palate.
Day 5:Devonport - Continue on to this charming seaside town, known for its bustling port (regular ferries run from here to Melbourne) and great walks. On the way, stop by Narawntapu National Park, where visitors can see wallabies, wombats, kangaroos, and perhaps even the elusive Tasmanian devil. Lillico Beach, just 10 minutes from town, is the best spot to see the world's smallest species of penguin in their natural habitat from viewing platforms.
Day 6: Strahan - Head south and stop by Cradle Mountain, a true highlight of Tasmania. At this World Heritage-listed natural park, visitors can enjoy fantastic views as they stroll around Dove Lake, take hikes of various duration and difficulty level, and spot wildlife if they're lucky. Continue on to Queenstown, a former gold mining town that still retains grand landmarks from days gone by, before stopping for the night in Strahan, a picturesque town where visitors can kayak in its harbor, or walk along Ocean Beach, the longest beach in Tasmania.
Day 7:Hobart - Return to Hobart via Lyell Highway, which takes you through the World Heritage wilderness of western Tasmania. Hikers can stop by Mount Field National Park, a treasure trove of lush forest, old growth trees, and a series of stunning waterfalls. Finish your adventure in Hobart with a feast of Tasmania's finest delicacies and a glass of pinot noir from one the country's fantastic vineyards.
Taking a cruise and only have one day in Hobart? Below you will find our recommendations to make the most of your day in Tasmania!
A Day in Hobart
Visit: -Salamanca Place - Every Saturday, this square is host to Salamanca Market, where over 300 stalls sell fresh food, art, and other delights. During the week, check out the colorful sandstone warehouses that have been converted into hip galleries, boutiques, and restaurants.
-MONA, or the Museum of Old and New Art, lies just outside of Hobart and is accessible by ferry from the city's waterfront. Enjoy the ferry ride and explore the museum, whose cavernous halls are filled with unique and thought provoking works. There's also a large variety of cafes, restaurants, and bars for a quick snack, meal or drink after taking in all the exhibits.
-Mount Wellington provides fantastic views of Hobart, as well as plenty of forest and bushland for walking and hiking.
-Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, housed in historic buildings along Hobart's waterfront, offers visitors fascinating exhibits and artifacts to bring Tasmania's past to life.
Eat: -Classic Australian fare like lamingtons, sausage rolls and beef pies with a updated spin at Jackman & McRoss
-Tasmanian lamb and fresh seafood at Landscape
-Pastries and sourdough baguettes at Pigeon Whole Bakers
-Upscale pub fare & Tasmanian brews at Tom McHugo's
-Fresh seafood with a view at the waterfront Glass House Hobart
-Authentic upscale Cantonese cuisine at Me Wah
-Fresh bagels and coffee at Bury Me Standing
Buy: Handmade art or jewelry at Salamanca Market, fresh local jam or chutney
In this article by the New Yorker, read the fascinating story of the Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, a species once prolific on the island but hunted to ostensible extinction in the 20th century. Today, the search continues to discover whether any tigers remain.
Gin lover? Discover Tasmania's emerging gin industry in this article highlighting some of the island's dedicated and enterprising distillers.
Plan your winery tour with this selection of the best wineries of Tasmania, with great information about their specialties and process.
Discover the stunning views of Cradle Mountain in the drone video below!