Only got a couple of days to get to know a new city? Our Big Five City Guides can help. We break each destination down into culture, history, dining, shopping and relaxation must-sees and dos.
Tried booking a hotel in Hobart recently?
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.
This Hobart travel guide is packed with ideas for things to see and do. Enjoy your visit.
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?
Consider purchasing an Australia Multi-City Flexi Attractions Pass for your visit to Hobart. 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 that adorn the shadowy caverns and corridors are polarising, 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. Lovers of fine contemporary art should also drop by the Despard Gallery in Castray Esplanade.
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, climb 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.
History buffs will also want to spend quality time at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery — not only for its collection, but also the historic buildings that are 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.
The tucker is tops in this part of the world, and how the locals aren’t rolling down the street is anyone’s guess.
There are endless characterful cafes to patronise for breakfast or brunch. One of our favs is the tiny Pollen Tea Room on Hampden Road in Battery Point (which serves sublime baked eggs), 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 consistently good coffee, a no fuss 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 another popular option for enjoying the catch of the day, or if you can hold out until dinner time, The Drunken Admiral across the way in Hunter Street serves up sensational seafood chowder. Having first opened back in the 1970s, they’ve had plenty of time to get the recipe just right.
There are lots of other eateries willing to fill your dinner dance card. If you’re celebrating something special, The Source at Mona is reputably excellent, and Frank on the waterfront is an absolute feast for all five senses. The vividly coloured interior perfectly underscores the South American-inspired menu of sizzling shared plates. If you’re totally flummoxed by the extensive menu, relinquish control and allow the wait staff to arrange a tasting banquet. You won’t be disappointed.
Also on the waterfront, Asian Gourmet on the Pier draws locals and visitors alike with its favoursome food and breezy setting. 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, this is a top dining pick at any time of the year.
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 a pre or post-dinner drink in the atmospheric IXL Long Bar. It often has live music and stages lively exhibitions of contemporary art.
Speaking of tipples, why not try a local drop? Tassie’s winemaking, brewing and distilling efforts garner endless accolades on the world stage, and whatever your choice of poison, Hobart has a tasting experience to match. Book a wine tour to the Coal River or Huon Valleys, or soak up the Dickensian aura of the Cascade Brewery (brewery tours with tastings are offered daily). Whisky lovers will feel warm and fuzzy at the Lark Distillery cellar door on Davey Street.
Browsing the wares at the perennial Salamanca Market is an essential part of any visit to Hobart, so time your stay to include a Saturday (the only day that the market operates).
This vast conglomeration of stalls offers a wide range of locally made home and kitchenwares, knitwear, jewellery, ceramics, paper goods and more. Salamanca is also the spot to buy fresh produce if you’re self-catering or after supplies for a waterfront picnic. The next best thing to a morning at the market is a weekday wander along Salamanca Place, which is home to a number of permanent shops selling clothing and homewares manufactured in Tassie.
There’s no shortage of things to do in Hobart that will leave you feeling relaxed and revitalised.
Rising 1,200 metres behind the city and often robed in fluffy cloud, kunanyi / Mount Wellington dwarfs the surrounding landscape. Heading up to the summit is a must-do for the incredible views of the city and wider region. There are myriad walking trails on the mountain, but if you plan to explore on foot, keep in mind that weather conditions can change rapidly (so have a plan for every eventuality).
If you’re looking for an easy and cost effective way to see more of the city and travel between attractions, purchase a ticket to ride on the city’s iconic hop on hop off bus. Commentary is provided and you can hop on and off as often (or as seldom!) as you like. A side-trip extension by mini-bus to the Mount Wellington summit is available.
That epic mountaintop vista may inspire you to hire a car 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, as is New Norfolk in the Derwent Valley. Here you can drift from one winery (pinot noir is the drop de jour here), antique store and quintessential country pub to the next. Several local pubs lay claim to being the oldest watering hole in Australia.
If your visit to New Norfolk has you hankering to tarry, book a stay at the Woodbridge on the Derwent — a genteel boutique hotel that sits by the Derwent River. The main building dates back to 1825 and has been lovingly restored. There are just eight superbly appointed guest suites, all with gorgeous river views.
The Woodbridge on the Derwent is also a relaxed alternative to staying in town. It’s an easy 15-minute drive from the hotel to Mona, and 30 minutes to the city centre.
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
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.