How To Spend 5 Days in Tasmania
My dad’s side of my family has its roots in Australia. I took my first trip to visit when I was in high school, and I liked Australia, but I wasn’t totally mesmerized by it yet. I was 15, and not many things about the world really impressed me yet (you remember those days, right?). A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Australia again, and I knew I wanted this time to be different. This time, I wanted to find different experiences and climates and atmospheres to build a better understanding of the country that half of my family calls home. So, along with visiting Sydney, I spent time in the Gold Coast and Byron Bay, and took a detour (along with my first long solo trip) down – like way down – to Tasmania.
While less visited and a bit more off the beaten path than some of Australia’s other, more famous destinations, I was drawn to Tasmania’s remote location and promise of rugged landscape, abundant wildlife, and impressive culinary scene. Tasmania is one of 6 states in Australia, and the only one that’s disconnected from the country’s mainland. But, with all that said, the island is actually only a short and cheap flight from the mainland continent, so it’s easily accessible, making it perfect for a quick trip! Because this was a solo trip for me, I spent months doing research and plotting out my itinerary, making sure that I could see as much of east coast Tasmania as possible with 5 days, a limited budget, and somewhat limited mobility.
For an introduction to Tasmania over a short amount of time, you’ll want to fly in and out of Hobart, and focus your itinerary on exploring the sights in and around the capital city. But, don’t think for a second that you’d be missing out on anything! For a small state, there is so much to see and do in such high concentration, that you won’t be bored. In fact, you'll probably run out of time trying to fit it all in. Here’s how I spent 5 days in Tasmania, in and around Hobart.
Tip: You will need to rent (‘hire’) a car for this itinerary. I got mine for around $40-$50 USD per day, and I only hired mine for 3 out of the 5 days of my trip, in order to visit the Tasman Peninsula and Freycinet National Park. Days 1 and 2 I was able to do without using a car.
How to Spend 5 Days in Tasmania
Day 1: Explore Hobart
Hobart is one of those places where on the surface, it seems like a pretty straightforward little city. But once you're there, everything changes, and suddenly, Hobart feels like a discovery waiting to happen around every corner. As the second-oldest city in Australia, Hobart is rife with old-era Gregorian architecture and nods to the city’s place in the country’s fascinating convict history. But it’s so much more than that, too. This small but sprawling city situated on both sides of the massive Derwent River packs a huge punch of history, cultural immersion, and hip, modern places to hang out. Because Tasmania’s still somewhat up-and-coming from a tourism perspective, most every place you’ll visit in Hobart is in good odds of being uncrowded and inviting – perfect for exploring everything at your own pace. With my limited time in Hobart, here are some places I went that I highly recommend:
MONA (Museum of Old and New Art): How do I even begin to describe this place? It’s thought-provoking, intriguing, and entirely bizarre, and people who visit can’t stop raving about it, so you’ll have to see it for yourself. With no car, you can take the museum’s ferry from Hobart CBD (central business district), which will bring you right to the museum’s entrance.
Salamanca Market: If you happen to be in Tassie on a Saturday, the Salamanca outdoor market is non-negotiable.
Walk around Battery Point: Battery Point is one of Hobart’s oldest and most stunning neighborhoods. This area used to be the site of a battery of guns that protected Hobart, and is worth a stroll to check out the cute cafes and historic buildings.
Head to the Waterfront: The Waterfront in Hobart is stunning. Walk down by the docks to see the Derwent River up close and personal. The Waterfront is also home to a bunch of good restaurants, bars, and breweries that are all worth a visit, too.
Visit Mount Wellington: No trip to Hobart is complete without a visit to Mount Wellington. Head up to the car park at the mountain’s summit for a ridiculous view of Hobart, Bruny Island, the Tasman Peninsula, and beyond on a clear day. Bring an extra jacket, because it gets chilly!
Frank Restaurant: a waterfront South American-inspired restaurant, and perfect if you’re a solo traveler because of the window-facing tables! Don’t overlook the sopaipillas. Arguably the simplest thing on the menu, but one of the tastiest.
Mezethes Greek Taverna: located at Salamanca Square, the building this restaurant is housed in is old, with cobblestoned sidewalks leading up to it. It’s charming and super cool, even just looking at it. It gets even better once you taste the food.
Ti Ama: Search ‘pizza in Hobart’ on Google, and for whatever reason, Ti Ama won’t come up. But, the pizza is GOOD, and it’s cooked up in a disco ball pizza oven, so what else do I need to say, really? This place was recommended to me by an employee of the hotel I was staying at, and it was delicious.
Alabama Hotel: For a cheap place to stay, the Alabama Hotel is probably one of the cheapest in the city. Just know that you will be getting what you pay for (shared restrooms, simple rooms, thin walls). The hotel makes up for this because of its central location (5-10 minute walk to the Waterfront), great conversation, and even better beer and cider selection.
Hobart Brewing Company: Tasmania makes some great beer. This is one place to try if you’re into beer, and it’s only a quick stroll from the Waterfront.
Gold Bar: Low key, semi-hidden speakeasy with good cocktails. Ask the bartender to create something for you based on your taste preferences.
Institut Polaire: One of many nods you’ll find here to Tasmania’s close proximity to the Antarctic. This Antarctica-inspired bar has cool, minimal decor and delicious gin-based cocktails.
Shambles Brewery: Another tasty brewery with tons of space, but a bit of a younger (college? high school?) crowd.
Day 2: Take a Day Trip to Bruny Island
Initially, Bruny Island stuck out to me as a must-see because of the unique geography that can be found here: a narrow, long isthmus connecting two parts of this island together. In other words, a photographer's DREAM destination! But as my luck had it, the parking structure to the isthmus was closed for construction, and I didn't get to see it at all. Fortunately, Bruny Island has a lot of other things going for it too. Specifically, the island, which is only about an hour outside of Hobart, is a treasure trove of drool-worthy culinary magic. To get there, I took a day tour with Bruny Island Safaris, and as part of the tour, we spent the entire day sampling oysters, fudge, cheese, honey, cider, and more. I don't like oysters, but I tried my very first one here. I still don't like them, but the rest of my tour group was in heaven, and many of them went back to buy a bag of oysters by the dozen after the tour, so I guess this is the place to get them! In addition to all the food, we also visited some seriously stunning spots all over the island, including the Bruny Lighthouse and Adventure Bay. Along the way, we ran into dolphins, wallabies, and even a seal. I may not have gotten my isthmus, but Bruny Island overall was sensational, and I don't think a trip to Tasmania would be complete without giving this place at least one day to explore.
Where I Went*:
(*in case you want to drive it yourself, though I recommend hopping on a tour as you need to take a vehicle ferry to get there, and many of the roads on the island are gravely)
Artisan Cheese, Beer, and Bread Cafe
Bruny Island Fudge
Bruny Island Honey
Day 3: Rent a Car to Drive the Tasman Peninsula
The Tasman Peninsula is a prime example of what I said earlier about there being such a high concentration of things to do and see in Tasmania. Rent a car to drive the Tasman Peninsula, and you'll find yourself stopping every few minutes to jump out and see something new and epic. Leave early and plan to spend the full day driving around. Some stops only require a few minutes to check out, but others, like Port Arthur, will have you wanting to spend a few hours exploring at minimum.
Where I Went:
Pirate's Bay Drive
Day 4: Take The Great Eastern Drive up to Freycinet National Park
The Great Eastern Drive is an experience in itself, and worthwhile to check out if you have an extra day (for more info on this, here's a great driving tour resource). But, I simply used the drive as a means to an end, to get to the Freycinet National Park. Freycinet is known for its lush, emerald green bush, round, other-worldly orange and red rock formations, wildlife, and beaches. It's also home to one of the most famous and widely photographed beaches in the world, Wineglass Bay.
On the way to Freycinet, I stopped for coffee at Arkitect Coffee in Swansea, and for a casual wine tasting at the Craigie Knowe Vineyard. Most cellar doors like Craigie Knowe offer free wine tasting, which was a surprise to me!
Once at Freycinet, here are some stops I highly recommend:
Cape Tourville Lighthouse
Since the drive up to Freycinet is pretty long (2.5 - 3 hours without stops), you'll want to stay here for the night. There are a handful of accommodations in Coles Bay near Freycinet, but the only one located inside the Park itself is the Freycinet Lodge, which is where I stayed. For more info on my stay and why I cannot recommend this hotel enough, check out my full review here.
Day 5: Drive Back to Hobart to Catch Your Flight
Day 5, for me, was a travel day. If you stay at the Freycinet Lodge, enjoy a lazy morning in your hotel room eating breakfast in bed and admiring the view of the gorgeous surroundings, because I promise there is nothing else like it in the world. Stroll along the beach or grab a quick coffee in Coles Bay if you have time. I left Freycinet around 9 am in order to catch my 1:15 pm flight to Sydney.
I know that it's possible to fall in love with a place in a short amount of time, and Tasmania was no exception. I think it's safe to say that anyone who visits will be just as obsessed as I was with Tassie's insane wildlife, other-worldly geography, rich history, and rugged beaches, too.
Have you been to Tasmania? What was your favorite thing that you did while you were there? If you haven't been yet, I hope this post has secured Tasmania a spot on your bucket list.