Tasmania, or “Tassie,” Australia’s smallest state, seems mysterious to those who haven’t been there. The Bass Strait is a strait between Australia and Tasmania. Perhaps it’s the vastness of the arid landscape. Almost half of Tasmania’s land mass lies in national parks and World Heritage Areas, with sparkling alpine lakes, wild rivers, and mist-cloaked peaks.
Maybe it’s the grotesque fauna, which includes both living Tasmanian devils and the long-extinct thylacine tiger. Or perhaps it’s the ghostly convict past and eerily preserved heritage towns. Today, this mystique lures more and more tourists who are discovering the island’s many jewels.
Shaped appropriately like a heart, Tasmania is also a foodie’s delight. Hanging out at a waterfront café or restaurant is one of the best things to do in the port city of Hobart, where delectable local specialties such as gloriously creamy cheeses, crisp fruits, and succulent seafood can be found.
Best Places to Visit Tasmania
The Spirit of Tasmania sails from Melbourne to Devonport, providing a scenic and unusual means of reaching the island. Even better, you can drive yourself. If you decide to go this route, you should get a map of Tasmania’s tourist destinations and start planning your trip. Check out our suggested itineraries for touring this beautiful state of Tasmania.
1. Cradle Mountain and Lake St. Clair National Park
Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, located in northern Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area, is the crown jewel of the state’s many natural wonders. The island’s highest peak, Mount Ossa, stands at 1,616 meters and is just one of many spectacular features, such as glacier-carved crags, glittering lakes, beech forests, alpine heathland, and jagged dolerite peaks.
Famous hikes can be found all over Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. Favorite day walks include the Lake Dove Walk, with magnificent views of Cradle Mountain (1,545 meters), and the Weindorfer Walk, a six-kilometer circuit through dense forests. A week of hiking in Tasmania is sure to be more than enough to fill your time there.
2. Take in Some Hobart Culture
Once a quiet backwater with a troubled convict past, Tasmania’s capital is now a vibrant center of contemporary culture. Its picturesque location between the ocean and the towering peak of Kunanyi/Mount Wellington has undoubtedly served as a muse to many of the city’s gifted artists.
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The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery takes a more traditional look at the country’s art and natural history, while the 2011-opened MONA: Museum of Old and New Art pushes the envelope of the art world with its provocative and confronting exhibits.
3. The Third Historic Site of Port Arthur
An eye-opening glimpse into Tasmania’s troubled past can be found at the historic Port Arthur convict settlement. The ruins are included in the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property and are located about an hour’s drive southeast of Hobart. In 1830, Governor Sir George Arthur established a harsh penal settlement at this location, forcing convicts to work in the area’s coal mines and timber forests.
The guard tower, church, model prison, and hospital all survived the 1897 fire that destroyed much of the town. The nearby Coal Mines Historic Site is also worth a look, as is the museum, which houses interesting documents and relics from the penal settlement. Two full days are included with your admission ticket so you can take in all the sights, as well as an orientation walk and a harbor cruise lasting a combined 25 minutes.
4. Freycinet National Park
inscribed on the List of World Heritage Sites Freycinet National Park is one of Australia’s oldest and most beautiful nature reserves, located on the east coast of sunny Tasmania. Hiking the park’s many beautiful trails is the best way to see everything it has to offer.
Wineglass Bay, one of Australia’s best beaches, is the crown jewel of this picturesque peninsula. It features a perfect curve of powder-white sand and azure sea. The Wineglass Bay Circuit is one of Australia’s best hikes, and it offers the chance to explore pristine bushland on the way to secluded bays and lookouts.
Keep your eyes peeled for some of the park’s avian residents as you stroll. There are a variety of native bird species, including black cockatoos, kookaburras, and marine birds.
5. Views from Kunanyi/Mount Wellington
The undulating 1,270-meter-tall Kunanyi/Mount Wellington to the west of Hobart serves as a constant reminder of the untamed wilderness that is so close to this seaside capital.
The Pinnacle, at the end of a winding, snow-covered mountain road, offers stunning panoramas of Hobart, the Derwent Valley, and the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. There are boardwalks up to the lookouts, and a pavilion with historical photos of Hobart and Mount Wellington can be found at the peak.
6. National Park of Tasman
Located 56 kilometers east of Hobart on the windswept Tasman Peninsula, Tasman National Park safeguards some of Australia’s most breathtaking coastal scenery. This park encompasses the extreme southeastern corner of Tasmania, with nothing but water between it and Antarctica.
It’s an unspoiled natural wonder. Dolerite cliffs soar 300 meters above the water, islands sparkle in the distance, waterfalls plunge into the sea, and twisted rock formations bear the scars of time spent at the mercy of the elements.
7. Hike the Trail of the Three Capes
The Three Capes Track is a 48-kilometer hiking trail in Tasman National Park that begins and ends in the World Heritage-listed town of Port Arthur. The trail begins near Port Arthur, and from there you can take a boat to the edge of the continent, where you can enjoy spectacular views of the Tasman Sea.
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You’ll get to see wombats, wallabies, and echidnas, and walk through pristine eucalyptus forests and windswept heathland on your way to relaxing in eco-friendly cabins.
8. In Launceston’s Cataract Gorge
The South Esk River carved the wild and romantic Cataract Gorge over the course of many centuries; it is only a 15-minute stroll along the river from the heart of Launceston. The gorge is one of the most visited places in Launceston due to its breathtaking views.
Paths cut into the cliff face on both sides of the gorge offer breathtaking views of the river far below and were first constructed in the 1890s.
9. Taking a stroll through Salamanca Place
Salamanca Place is a major attraction on Hobart’s waterfront because of its beautifully restored sandstone buildings. Beautiful Georgian buildings along the old Hobart commercial district were constructed by convicts between 1835 and 1860. Cafés and restaurants have become art galleries.
Along this stretch of cobblestone, you’ll find restaurants with outdoor seating, shops selling antiques and souvenirs, and the Salamanca Arts Centre, home to exhibition spaces, performance halls, and workshops. Visitors and locals alike can find just about anything they’re looking for at the Salamanca Markets each and every Saturday.
10. Check out Bruny Island
About 55 minutes from Hobart by car and ferry, Bruny Island is a popular day trip from the city for foodies and nature buffs. Kettering, a coastal town, can be seen from the island across the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. You can take an island tasting tour to try some of the island’s famous gastronomic treats like fresh seafood, artisan cheeses, and locally made chocolates and candies.
Located at the southernmost point of the island, South Bruny National Park boasts stunning coastal scenery, including soaring green sea cliffs, protected beaches, and challenging surf breaks.
Tasmania, an island state about 240 kilometers south of mainland Australia, is home to some of Australia’s most stunning natural attractions and is rapidly growing as a tourist hotspot.
Its national parks are home to many species found nowhere else on Earth, and its rugged coastline is perfect for water sports like kayaking and whale- and dolphin-watching thanks to the area’s relative isolation.