Rooms are as rare as a hen’s dentures on weekends, so our first piece of advice is book early.It seems everyone wants a piece of the Tassie capital these days — and with good reason. A rich history to explore, revitalised cultural agenda, robust festival calendar, and sensational food and wine scene are just some of the many attractions. The city also makes a great base for exploring further afield, including stunning natural landscapes like Bruny Island and the Tasman Peninsula.
Enjoy this Hobart travel guide.
Need to know
Capital of: Tasmania
Base yourself: City, Salamanca, Hunter Street Waterfront
Average hotel price per room/per night: AUD $180
Best breakfasts: City, Salamanca, Battery Point
Great coffee: City, Salamanca, Battery Point
Top spots for a beverage: Hunter Street Waterfront, Constitution Dock, Derwent Valley wineries
Best times to visit Hobart
Tasmania has four very distinct seasons and summer and autumn are ideal times to explore the island. Enjoy a beach swim on the dry, warm days in January and February, as average temperatures hover in the high 20s. From March to May, autumn colours dominate the landscape and temperatures range from the high teens to low 20s. You’ll need a jumper in the evening.
Winter brings icy Antarctic winds, which drag the temperature down towards zero overnight. Pack multiple warm layers. Spring sends temperatures back up into the mid teens, but the higher rainfall calls for a waterproof jacket.
Save on top Hobart attractions
Consider purchasing an Australia Multi-City Flexi Attractions Pass for your visit. You’ll save up to 40% on many top attractions and things to do. Choose a five or seven-attraction pass. Passes are valid for three months from the date of issue.
The Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) is the main cultural game in Hobart — and has been since it opened back in 2011, seemingly single-handedly turning Tasmania’s tourism fortunes around.
Despite the hype, you can’t help but be impressed by Mona. The artworks and antiquities at that adorn the shadowy caverns and corridors will polarise, but that’s the point. The museum is located down river from the city centre and cruise transfers depart from the Mona Brooke Street Ferry Terminal.
For a close encounter with the local arts community, head for the refurbished merchant warehouses of the once notorious Salamanca waterfront. Sailors and smugglers have long since departed and the arts community has moved in.
Check out the Salamanca Arts Centre for its eclectic programme of exhibits, music and live performance at the Peacock Theatre. The Despard Gallery in Castray Esplanade is also worth a visit for fine contemporary art.
Watch our guide for Sky News Business Class to top places to stay and eat in Hobart:
Adam Ford, editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and host of Tour the World, regularly joins the team at Sky News Business Class to discuss top destinations around the world. Looking for ideas for things to do in Hobart?
Hobart for history lovers
Hobart is home to an absolute wealth of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian architecture.
To get the backstory on Australia’s second oldest capital city, sign up for a historical walking tour. Hobart Historic Tours covers the waterfront precinct around Hunter Street and Constitution Dock, and a number of city streets leading across to Salamanca.
Once you finish at Salamanca, take the stone Kelly Steps behind the Salamanca Arts Centre up to Battery Point. This has to be one of the most charming residential precincts anywhere in the country. Take a stroll around Arthur’s Circus (by the way, Australia’s only ‘Circus’) with its original colonial cottages.
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery is also a must see, not only for its collection but also the historic buildings incorporated in the complex. They include Tassie’s oldest public building, the Commissariat, and the Bond Store, constructed in 1826.
The latter was largely engulfed by the wrap-around classical revival-style Customs House built in 1902, but from the rear the original building is clearly visible.
Great places to eat in Hobart
A word of warning: you are going to eat a lot in Hobart.
The food is absolutely extraordinary and how the locals aren’t rolling down the street is anyone’s guess.
There are numerous amazing cafes to try. Our top pick is the tiny Pollen Tea Room on Hampden Road in Battery Point with its sublime baked eggs breakfast, but Jackman and McRoss across the road is also excellent. There’s another Jackman and McRoss in the city.
Two Folk Espresso in Wellington Court offers a straight forward, no fuss coffee menu and a great location for people watching. Over in the Salamanca precinct, Tricycle Café and Bar in the Salamanca Arts Centre is insanely popular.
On to lunch, and while the days of buying fresh seafood straight off the trawlers at Constitution Dock have come to an end, the next best thing is fish and chips from one of the floating seafood stands permanently moored there. The garrulous seagull population can’t be wrong.
Nearby, Mures is also a popular option, or if you can hold out until dinner time, The Drunken Admiral across the way in Hunter Street serves up sensational seafood chowder. They opened back in the 1970s, so they’ve had plenty of time to get the recipe just right.
Situated at the Ibis Styles hotel, Mr Good Guy is a hip and happening spot to enjoy a bite to eat in the heart of the city. The eatery offers a modern Asian menu with a variety of shared plates.
The ultra-cool Henry Jones Art Hotel — housed in a former jam factory on the historic waterfront — may be booked solid during your visit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an aperitif in the atmospheric IXL Long Bar. The bar offers a superb cocktail list, live music and lively exhibitions of contemporary art.
For dinner there are plenty of innovative eateries to choose from. The Source at MONA is reputably excellent, and Frank on the waterfront is an absolute must-try. The vividly coloured interior perfectly underscores the South American-inspired menu of sizzling shared plates. If you’re totally bamboozled by the extensive menu, relinquish control and allow the wait staff to arrange a tasting banquet to share. You won’t be disappointed. Book well in advance.
With its prime location on the Hobart waterfront, Asian Gourmet on the Pier is a feast for the senses. Locals and tourists alike are drawn by the diverse flavours served with beautiful views of Sullivans Cove Public Marina — which is right on the restaurant’s Elizabeth Pier doorstep. The menu features dishes from across China — tender Cantonese-style chicken, for example, and mapo tofu, which has that chilli kick so loved in Sichuan. While summer is the ideal time to enjoy the waterfront views from the alfresco seating area, Asian Gourmet on the Pier is a top dining pick at any time of the year. Review: Patricia Maunder
Where to shop in Hobart
A visit to Hobart’s perennial Salamanca Market is a must, so time your stay to include a Saturday morning.
The market is massive and you’ll find a good selection of useful, locally made products that will make a great souvenir of your visit. It’s also the spot for to buy fresh produce if you are self-catering or after supplies for a waterfront picnic.
There are also a number of permanent shops along Salamanca Place that sell clothing and homewares manufactured in Tassie.
Ways to relax in Hobart
There’s no shortage of things to do in Hobart and the surrounding region that will leave you feeling relaxed and revitalised.
Purchase a ticket for the city’s iconic hop on hop off bus, which will take you on a circuit of the top attractions around town. Hop on and off as many times as you want — or just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride — and commentary! A return side trip by mini-bus is available to the peak of kunanyi / Mount Wellington, where you can take in the absolutely magnificent views.
Hire a car or book a tour and head off to explore some of the many picturesque spots within easy reach of the city. The historic township of Richmond in the Coal River Valley is one option; New Norfolk in the Derwent Valley is another. Here you can visit wineries (pinot noir is the drop de jour), antique stores and quintessential country pubs — several of which seem to lay claim to being the oldest watering hole in Australia.
Where to stay in Hobart
Woodbridge on the Derwent
If you decide to spend a night or two in the area, check in to the magnificent Woodbridge on the Derwent — a boutique luxury hotel and Tasmania’s only member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group.
The main building dates back to 1825 and has been lovingly restored. There are just eight superbly appointed suites, all with gorgeous river views. Breakfast and a superb four course set dinner are served in the Pavilion and bespoke local experiences like private cooking and wine master classes are also available. The Woodbridge on the Derwent actually makes a great alternative to staying in town. MONA is an easy 15-minute drive and the city just 30 minutes.
The writer travelled as a guest of Woodbridge on the Derwent.
Do you have any tips to add to our Hobart travel guide? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.