Sometimes it’s the destinations closest to your home that can take you by surprise. We’ve travelled long and far to some pretty incredible places around this world but we’d never taken the time to explore our own home country of Australia, let alone Tasmania.
Tasmania, with a population of only 519,000 is becoming an increasingly sought after holiday destination and after spending 10 days in this state we are starting to understand why. The landscapes are forever changing, there’s an extensive culinary scene with locally sourced produce, world-class wineries, picturesque beaches (that are never crowded), epic mountain ranges, hikes galore, cute coastal towns, rural farm villages, amazing wildlife and a very laid back Aussie vibe.
Exploring is the key in Tasmania and it’s definitely a place you will keep coming back too!
Tasmania Road Trip Itinerary: Interactive Map
Below is the ultimate Tasmania road trip map, that would ideally be done in 10-11 days but could be done in 6 if you skip certain places.
If you have less time, we suggest choosing either north+east (Launceston) or south+east (Hobart).
Car Rental in Tasmania
The first thing you’ll realise when you get to Tasmania is, you’ll need a car! We rented our car directly from Hobart Airport with Bargain Car Rentals and they were far cheaper than their competitors. The service was quick, pain-free and the car was fine. For a 10-day economy car rental, we paid $560 AUD plus $150 in gas over 10 days. Aside from a regular vehicle, many people choose to travel around Tasmania in full-blown houses on wheels, caravans, campervans, motorbikes or 4WD’s. Anything goes as long as it gets you from A to B!
The BEST Tasmania Road Trip Itinerary
Below is our itinerary over the course of 10 days. Tasmania may be small but there’s so much to see. How long would we recommend? It depends what you’re coming for, but generally speaking, nothing less than 6 days if you want to see the main sights but even then you may find yourself rushing.
DAY 1: HOBART
You’ve arrived into Hobart, the capital of Tasmania or maybe you’ve come into Devonport via ferry (if that is the case, do this itinerary in reverse). Either way, if you’ve been to Sydney or Melbourne before you’ll be shocked to see the difference of this small Tasmanian capital. Hobart, whilst small, still has a lot to offer, especially in the restaurant department! There’s a very dynamic food scene combined with rich history, parks, shopping and preserved towns.
To start the day off right, grab a freshly baked croissant and coffee from Daci & Daci Bakery. You’ll be coming back for seconds, we assure you. Next, make your way to the famous MONA (Museum of Old & New Art), a unique interactive museum that is sure to leave an impression with some downright crazy exhibitions including an entire wall of 100+ uniquely shaped vaginas. Allow at least 2 hours. Not for the vaginas, but for the whole museum. Entry $28 AUD. Get there as it opens (10 am) as it gets very crowded.
When you’ve finished marvelling at the artworks at the MONA, carry on to Bonorong Wildlife Park where you can get up close with wombats, Tasmanian devils and our furry friend, the koalas. Entry is $29 AUD and includes a tour (check the times). Here are some very interesting facts about these creatures. Word of warning, don’t try and pat them, they are very aggressive with their teeth.
When you’re done, spend the afternoon sampling beers at Cascade Brewery, Australia’s oldest operating brewery. Or sample whiskey at Lark Distillery, one of Hobart’s famous whiskey bars. Salamanca Place has a large range of restaurants to choose from for dinner for those sweet tooth lovers, Honey Badger Dessert Cafe will do the trick (or make you sick).
Set your alarm for 4:30 am… we promise it’ll be worth it.
- Budget: Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse
- Midrange: Zero Davey Boutique Apartment Hotel
- Luxury: MACq1 Hotel
Top Tours in Hobart
If organized tours are your thing, here are some recommendations from GetMyGuide:
DAY 2: HOBART
Rise and SHINE, it’s time for sunrise over Mount Wellington.
Mount Wellington is a short 30-35 minute drive from the CBD and it offers breathing taking panoramic views of Hobart and surrounding areas. We chose to visit at sunrise and would highly recommend doing the same. The constant changing of light and colours is simply beautiful. It is at least 10 degrees colder up there, so dress appropriately! If it gets too cold there’s a pinnacle observation shelter to get warm.
It’s free to visit and you can drive directly to the top so there’s no hiking involved. If you’re prone to motion sickness, take something prior and please watch out for the animals on the way up! There are plenty of walks to do around the base of Mt Wellington if hiking is your thing. See here for options.
Once you’ve got back to the city, grab yourself some breakfast at Machine Laundry Cafe or the famous Jackman & McRoss and slowly stroll towards the preserved town of Battery Point, a quaint suburb with cottages, cute roundabouts and historical landmarks. Go shopping on Liverpool street, roam around Elizabeth Street Pier and if you love ciders, visit Willie Smiths Apple Shed in Huon Valley (30 minutes from the city) for lunch and a refreshing cider! End the day with dinner at Frank’s, an Argentinian restaurant with great steaks and even better vegetable side dishes.
TOP TIPS: (for foodies!)
- SALAMANCA MARKETS:The Salamanca Markets are Australia’s largest open-air market and are one of Tasmania’s main attractions! Please note they only take place on Saturday mornings from 8:30 – 3:30 and host 100’s of fresh food, clothing, music and an unforgettable atmosphere (so we’ve been told!). Unfortunately, we were in Hobart on a Monday & Tuesday (not recommended!) and missed this experience. If you can, plan to be in Hobart over a weekend to enjoy what all these markets have to offer. Devastated we missed out on all the free samples.
- STREET EATS @ FRANKO: Every Friday from 4:30pm – 9:30pm between November and April, Franklin Square boats a hyperactive street food night market featuring funky stalls, music, food, beer, wine & ciders. Picnic rugs are provided.
Day 3: PORT ARTHUR & THE TASMAN PENNINSULA
Say farewell to Hobart and a big hello to the Tasman Penninsula.
Head straight towards Eagle Hawk Neck, a narrow isthmus that connects the Tasman Peninsula with the Forestier Peninsula. Walk down to the Tesselated Pavements and soak in the beautiful scenery of the Tasman Arch.
Continue your drive along the coast towards the historical site of Port Arthur for a look into the fascinating convict past. Tickets are $39 which includes a guided tour and a boat ride. You also have the option to do a self-guided tour with audio for an extra charge. If you’re into spooky tours, stick around for the nighttime ghost tour.
Our next stop was rather different! Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a town where everything starts with doo? Well, you can, here in Tasmania. There’s such a thing and it’s called, “Doo Town“. How doolightful! Grab a snack at the doo-lishus food truck before checking out the nearby blowhole.
Along the peninsula you can also get up close and personal with the Tasmanian Devils at The Unzoo, sample Tasmanian chocolate at the chocolate factory and if you have more time consider walking The Cape Hauy walk. Avoid eating at Port Arthur and instead, stop into Bangor Wine and Oyster Shed (even if you don’t like oysters) for a wine tasting and lunch. The rosé was just delightful!
We spent the night in the small coastal town of Swansea. There are short walks to do around the headland or you could eat fish and chips on the beach from Oyster Bay Seafood. Not a must do, but a decent place to break up the drive.
Note: If you wish to visit Maria Island, (more info below) spend the night in Triabunna, not Swansea.
Top Tours in Port Arthur
Day 4: THE GREAT EASTERN DRIVE
By now you will have begun the Great Eastern Drive! 176km’s of vineyards, coastal towns, bays, beaches and never-ending beauty.
Just 10 minutes from Swansea is Kates Berry Farm. Sample a variety of jams, including “adults only jams” and enjoy a berry-filled breakfast before hitting up some wineries along the east coast trail.
This part of your journey will allow you to sample some of the world’s most renowned wines. The wineries are all relatively close together and all offer a different experience. Gala Estate, holds tastings in a 100-year-old home, still with its original stove and lounge room making for a very personal experience. Devil’s Corner is one of the more popular and modern wineries along this route, especially for lunch. Spring Vale had a cute picnic area. The tastings at all these wineries were free.
Aim to spend the night in Bicheno. Bicheno is the closest coastal town to the famous Coles Bay and Freycinet National Park and is a great base for you to explore the region tomorrow! Allow enough time to walk around the town and if you’re there in time, have lunch at The Farm Shed, visit the beach and then head for a relaxed dinner at The Gulch which boasts fresh fish and chips on the wharf, accompanied by 1000’s of seagulls.
DAY 5: COLES BAY & FREYCINET NATIONAL PARK
Have breakfast at Blue Edge Bakery in Bicheno (great pastries, coffee and sandwiches) and travel 30 minutes towards Coles Bay. It’s a good idea to pack sandwiches or snacks as there aren’t too many places to grab food inside the National Park without the high price inflation. The bakery has you sorted!
The primary reason tourists visit Freycinet National Park is to hike to the famous Wineglass Bay lookout. It took roughly 30 minutes to get to the top and Jacob did it in no shoes, which caught the attention of a lot of other tourists who had bulky boots and walking poles…
There is a “do it yourself ” parking pass which allows you to buy a ticket and leave the receipt on your car. Rangers do come and inspect so don’t get yourself a fine by trying to avoid the system. The parking pass is $24 AUD. If you wish to walk down to wineglass bay, it is a 1.5-hour walk but remember, once you go down, you have to come back up! There are also Wineglass boat tours for a different experience.
You could spend hours in this National Park, especially if the weather is on your side. Be sure to stop by Honeymoon Bay for a swim and it won’t take long before you feel like you’ve just entered a movie scene. On your way out, don’t miss the Friendly Beaches in Coles Bay. Before you ask, yep, that’s their real name and they’re definitely pretty friendly! Stunning.
Overnight: Bicheno or Freycinet National Park. If budget isn’t a concern, be sure to treat yourselves to a night ( or two) at Freycinet Lodge!
Top Tours in Freycinet National Park
DAY 6: BAY OF FIRES
The Bay of Fires stretches from Binalong Bay in the south to Eddystone Point in the north and is an impressive combination of untouched wilderness with perfect strands of beaches. There are many white sandy beaches and inlets to explore. This area is famous for its orange-hued granite rocks which are actually produced by a lichen. There’s a fun fact for the day! It was really impressive to see, especially from above on our drone!
Do note that The Bay Of Fires refers to a whole area, not just a singular bay. The closest town is St Helens and there are a handful of restaurants to choose from. In Tasmania standards, it’s one of the “larger” of the towns. (Not including Hobart or Launceston). Binalong Bay Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Tasmania and where we spent our Australia Day although unfortunately, the weather wasn’t on our side.
The drive from Bay of Fires directly to Launceston isn’t too long (2 hours 45min) but after a day on the beach relaxing we chose to break it up by spending a night in the very quiet town of Pioneer. This is a very quiet country town with no restaurants or cafes so it’s best to stop in St Helens prior and get yourself some dinner for the evening. Our accommodation, Pioneer Lodge (one of the only two) was a large farmhouse with an old-school kitchen, but it was a unique place to spend the night. They have cooking facilities and breakfast included. Just don’t expect luxury!
Note: If you’re pressed for time, you can drive directly from The Bay Of Fires to Launceston (2 hours and 50 minutes).
DAY 7: LAUNCESTON via DERBY
After breakfast head for the small town of Derby which is close by. Derby is famous for its Blue Derby Mountain Bike trails with more than 100km of trails to chose from.
You can rent the bikes from Vertigo MTB in the centre of town and spend as little or as long on the mountain as you wish for $59 AUD. I, unfortunately, had a big fall within the first 15 minutes and opted out for the rest of the morning but Jacob enjoyed over 40km’s worth, accident-free.
If mountain biking isn’t your thing (I don’t blame you), you can choose a more appropriate activity like wine tasting at Piper Brooks or Jansz Winery, take a walk along the beach at Bridport or during the summer season (January being the best) make a worthy pit stop at Bridestowe Lavender Estate and marvel at the never-ending rows of bright purple lavender fields. Don’t forget to try the lavender flavoured ice cream! Launceston can be reached within 45 minutes from here.
Photo Credit: Georgie Sharp.
Top Tours in Launceston
DAY 8: TAMAR VALLEY
There’s always more room for wine and the Tamar Valley is one of the most popular of the wine routes in Tasmania. You can jump on a tour from Launceston or head out on your own and stop in as many or as little as you like. Our top picks were Velo, Wines for Joanie, Moore Hill Estate, and a family-owned vineyard, Iron Pot Bay Vineyard. Is there such a thing as too much cheese and wine in a day? I don’t think so.
If the weather calls for it, take a drive to Batman’s Bridge and Low Head Lighthouse for a relaxing afternoon.
Top Tip: On the 4th Sunday of every month between November and April, Moore Hill Estate holds “Sparkling Seafood Sundays” which includes fresh seafood dishes along side delicious wines. You don’t need to purchase tickets, just make a reservation and show up hungry and thirsty!
DAY 9: LAUNCESTON
Today we spent the day exploring the city of Launceston! A vibrant hub for food, wine and culture. Make a reservation for breakfast at Stillwater Cafe, a restored 1830s flour mill on the Tamar River. The green and red bowls were both delicious!
Just outside Stillwater Cafe, you’ll find the beginning of the Cataract Gorge. A beautiful gorge super close to the city centre. The gorge is the perfect place for a long walk or run, a place to relax or in the warmer months, a swim in either the gorge or it’s very own pool. For those more prone to hiking, head out on the Zig Zag Track.
The rest of the day could be spent shopping in the CBD, taking a tour of the James Boag Brewery, relaxing in City Park, visiting the Automotive Museum, taking in the art at The Queen Victoria Museum and MOST importantly, making room for all the food from one of the many high-quality restaurants including dessert at Charlie’s Dessert Bar. Drool. Here are some top recommendations for restaurants.
It would take up half the post if we listed every single winery in Tasmania but there are two more worth mentioning a short drive from the city so if you have the time, check them out! Joseph Cromey Wines (shown below) and Leaning Church Vineyard were two standouts for us. Have a beautiful sit-down lunch at the award-winning restaurant in Joseph Cromey or devour a kick-ass cheese plate alongside your favourite glass of wine. Mmm wine and cheese.
Overnight: Launceston (or Mole Creek to break up the drive tomorrow)
DAY 10: CRADLE MOUNTAIN & MOLE CREEK
Prepare yourself for a whole day out! This was one of our biggest days.
Drive from Launceston towards Cradle Mountain but first, take the edge off with breakfast at The Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm (40 minutes from Launceston). They have a huge selection of delicious meals with fresh raspberries galore! Jump back on the road and carry on to the Mole Creek Caves.
There are 2 caves to see, The Marakoopa Caves which is home to the largest concentration of glow worms in the country and The King Solomon Caves which are the dry caves. You can’t access the caves without being on a tour. Marakoopa tours leave on the hour starting at 10:00 am and King Solomon at 10:30 am. Entry ( + tour) is $19 AUD. It’s 9 degrees in the caves so bring a jacket.
The drive to Cradle Mountain is a further 1.5 hours (or just under). Cradle Mountain is one of Tasmania’s famous attractions. Shuttle buses leave from the visitor centre and drop hikers to designated spots throughout the park. There is a range of walks to do from easy to challenging with the most popular hike being around Dove Lake. This can be completed in 2-3 hours and is easy to moderate.
From October-May, keen hikers can tackle “The Overland Track”. A 6-day hike covering 82km. You have to carry everything with you (food, water, tents, clothes). The weather can change rapidly in Cradle Mountain and it is not recommended for anyone without a high level of fitness and/or experience.
Before you reach Launceston, we’d suggest stopping into Ashgrove Cheese Factory to sample 6 -7 different kinds of cheese and then onwards to Van Diemen’s Land Creamery and end the day with 2 scoops (or more) of ice cream! It’s a 40-minute drive back to Launceston from here.
Top Tours at Cradle Mountain
If organized tours are your thing, here are some recommendations from GetMyGuide:
Accommodation in Cradle Mountain
But WAIT there’s more…
There’s never enough time for everything but had we have had more time, these are some other notable places worth visiting.
1. Bruny Island (South-East Coast):
Take a day trip via ferry (with your car) from Hobart or better yet, stay overnight at one of the many accommodation choices. Explore the island by foot, bicycle or car. Bruny Island offers beautiful scenery, crystal clear waters and small beaches as well as a chance to enjoy Tasmania’s finest cheeses at the Bruny Island Cheese Company. Ferries leave from Kettering, 40 minutes south of Hobart and you can find the schedule here. Note: Some car companies don’t allow you to take the car here so be sure to check the fine print on your rental.
2. Maria Island (East Coast):
A 30-minute ferry from Triabunna will bring you to Maria Island. An island with convict heritage, rare wildlife, great walks and stunning scenery. There are no vehicles allowed on this island making it a very special place to enjoy without any of the chaos. There is some accommodation available but don’t expect 5 stars. You can find the schedule and fares for the ferry here. Note: You will need to bring your own food and water. There are no shops on this island and it is recommended to pre-buy your ferry tickets.
3. Strahan (West Coast):
A small town on the west coast of Hobart tucked between Macquarie Harbour and the rainforest. During the winter it can be a very sleepy fishing village but in the summer months, it comes alive with hoards of tourists. Be sure to take a sunset stroll down Ocean Beach, Tasmania’s longest beach (30km!), a cruise down The Gordon River and enjoy the Tasmanian wilderness (an entirely different scene than the east coast).
Insider Tips for your Tasmanian Road Trip
- If you’re looking for a phone carrier, opt for Telstra. We struggled to get service on Vodaphone through the towns and mountains.
- Please watch out for the wildlife. There is a staggering 1/2 a million animals killed every year on the roads in Tasmania. You literally couldn’t go 1km without seeing a dead animal. It was really awful. Slow down, pay attention to the signs and if you hit an animal, call Bonorong Rescue Centre, Tasmania’s only 24-hour wildlife rescue service.
- It’s a real Aussie thing to eat a meat pie, but you’re in Tasmania so be sure to indulge in a Tasmanian Scallop Pie. They’re sold everywhere.
- Don’t be alarmed if you don’t see a single person for hours at a time on the roads. Tasmania is SO quiet!
- Try to aim for the weekend in Hobart, there’s a lot more going on and a lot of restaurants closed Monday/Tuesdays.
- Visit Mt Wellington at sunrise.
- Get yourself a National Park Pass for $60 if you plan to visit 2 national parks. This allows entry into all of the parks.
- Those pesky parking ticket attenders scout the streets religiously for people overstaying their parking. Don’t presume it won’t happen to you.
- Launceston’s premier event is Festivale, a 3-day event held in February each year. This festival offers you a chance to sample Tasmania’s best produce incl beer, wine, ciders, food, arts and entertainment.
- Petrol stations can be few and far between on the longer roads so if you’re in doubt and you see one, fill ‘er up!
- Some, but not all wineries do free tastings. Ask prior if they will cost. If they do, it’s usually only $5 which is refundable with a bottle of wine purchase.
Who knew kangaroos could lift cars?!
Have you done a road trip to Tasmania before? Anything you’d like to add? We’d love to hear from you!