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. Adam Ford checks in from historic Hobart...

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 revitalised cultural scene, a robust festival calendar, and sensational food and wine 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.

Hobart travel guide

Hobart travel guide

Need to know

Capital of: Tasmania
Base yourself: City, Salamanca, Hunter Street Waterfront
Average hotel price per room/per night: $180 AUD
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
Must-do tours: Hop on/hop off bus tour, Mount Wellington summit tour, Richmond wine tour

Best times to visit

Of Tasmania’s diverse seasons, 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. As the leaves change from March to May, mild days offer temperatures in the high teens to low 20s. You’ll need a jumper in the evening.

Winter brings icy Antarctic winds, dragging the temperature down toward zero overnight. Pack multiple warm layers. Spring sends temperatures back up into the mid teens, but the higher rainfall calls for a waterproof jacket.

Hobart travel guide

Spring and summer are perfect for exploring the wine producing regions around Hobart.

Hobart tours & experiences

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 from five, seven or ten attraction passes. Passes are valid for three months from the date of issue.

Hobart travel guide

A Hobart hop on hop off bus tour is included in the Australia Multi-City Flexi Attractions Pass. Image: Patricia Maunder

Culture

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.

Hobart travel guide

Hobart travel guide: The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). Image: Adam Ford

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:

Hobart City Guide – Top Things to See and Do – The Big Bus

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?

History

Hobart is home to an absolute wealth of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian architecture.

To get the back-story on Australia’s second oldest capital city, sign up for a historic 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.

Hobart travel guide

Hobart travel guide: Customs House Hotel. Image: Adam Ford

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.

Hobart travel guide

Image: Adam Ford

Dining

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. You’ll find pumping Pilgrim Coffee just around the corner from there. Over in the Salamanca precinct, Tricycle Café & Bar in the Salamanca Arts Centre is insanely popular.

Hobart travel guide

Hobart travel guide: Tricycle Café & Bar. Image: Adam Ford

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 70’s, so they’ve had plenty of time to get the recipe just right.

Hobart travel guide

Image courtesy of Asian Gourmet on the Pier

Review: Asian Gourmet on the Pier

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 scent of spices, diverse Oriental flavours and beautiful views of Sullivans Cove marina, which is right on the restaurant’s Elizabeth Pier doorstep.

The menu, including several banquet options, focuses strongly on China: tender Cantonese-style chicken, for example, and mapo tofu, which has that chilli kick so loved in Sichuan. However, there are classics available from across the Asian region, and the quality of ingredients is readily apparent. Ask about local seafood options.

Drinks are also many and varied, including cocktails and mocktails. The extensive wine list boasts a generous selection from Tasmania’s Coal River Valley, and the Chinese tea choices are also notable.

While summer visits are ideal – when the sunny waterfront views are a feast for the eyes from alfresco seating or through the large picture windows – Asian Gourmet on the Pier is a top option any time of year, day or night. The bright, spacious dining room is graciously decorated with traditional Chinese art and a scattering of contemporary paintings. The service is remarkably warm and accommodating.

Asian Gourmet on the Pier
Franklin Wharf, Hobart
Reviewer: Patricia Maunder


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.

Hobart travel guide

Hobart travel guide: Henry Jones Art Hotel. Image: Adam Ford

For dinner there is any number 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.

Hobart travel guide

Hobart travel guide: Frank. Image: Everything Everything Photography

Shopping

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 jam-packed with the usual kum ba ya paraphernalia. However, you will 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 – supplies for a waterfront picnic.

There are also a number of permanent shops along Salamanca Place that sell clothing and homewares manufactured in Tassie.

Hobart travel guide

Hobart travel guide: Salamanca Market. Image: Bigstock

Relaxation

There’s no shortage of things to do in Hobart and the surrounding region that will leave you feeling relaxed and revitalised.

Book a ticket on 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 Mount Wellington, where you can take in the absolutely magnificent views.

Hobart travel guide

Hobart travel guide: Mount Wellington. Image: Bigstock

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.

Stay

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.

Hobart travel guide

Image courtesy of Woodbridge on the Derwent

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.

Adam 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 send us a message.

Additional images: Bigstock

 

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is a Melbourne-based travel presenter, producer, writer, blogger and photographer, and has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Adam lived in London for six years and worked as a travel consultant for three years before taking up the opportunity to travel the world as host of the Tour the World television series on Network Ten. Adam loves to uncover 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. He regards himself as a flash-packer – a little bit of extra comfort goes along way!


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