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20 fun things to do in Hobart, Tasmania

Fun things to do in Hobart

A complete visitors guide of fun things to do in Hobart.  We introduce you to all the best places to eat, stay and play in Hobart, the capital of Tasmania and Australia’s most southern city.  Plus some top tips to help you fit as much exploring, foodie delights and relaxation into your stay as possible.

Hobart, is the most southern city in Australia located on the island state of Tasmania.  Whether you’re enticed by the warm southern hospitality, the stunning landscapes, the need to breathe some of the worlds cleanest air or the promise of incredibly fresh and creatively prepared local produce, you need to experience Hobart.

The top 20 fun things to do in Hobart

1.  MONA the Museum of Old and New Art

MONA art museum in Hobart

Whether you are an art lover or an occasional gallery visitor MONA has become a part of the Hobart landscape.  You really do need to make the trip out if only for the great location, design and impressive views.  With some excellent restaurants and fabulous modern architecture it’s a destination as much as an art collection.

MONA is a high technology gallery, none of the exhibits have labels or information sheets, instead you must carry around a phone like device and headphones to get information on each piece.  Interestingly there wasn’t an app alternative to download, not in the Android store anyway.

The curation of the collection is eclectic with a well documented bent towards shock value. I don’t think it would be possible to NOT notice the entire hallway of genitals or the room sized poop machine but there is much more to the collection than the more sensationalized pieces.

2. Salamanca Markets

Salamanca Market

With Tasmania’s fresh air and growing reputation for artisan producers and growers it’s not surprising that markets are an essential part of experiencing Hobart.  With around 300 open air stalls every Saturday from 8.30 am the Salamanca market is diverse and extremely popular.  There’s produce, artisan products, crafts, clothing, live music and plenty of ready to eat options to enjoy as you wander around or in the nearby parks and waterfront.  I’d suggest getting in early for the best choice, by 2 pm many of the stalls are packing up.

3.  Farm Gate Markets

Existing on a smaller scale than Salamanca, the Farm Gate Markets are held every Sunday morning and distinguish themselves by being only open to local producers.  An inner city street is closed off to host them and set up with some seating and live music to add to the atmosphere.  We only bought a few things but what we had was delicious, I’m still raving about how succulent the locally caught octopus was although perhaps it was a little early to wash it down with the ouzo shot.

Do you love local foodie markets as much as we do? Find more details of when, where and why in our top markets in Hobart article

4.  Street Eats @ Franko

Street eats @ Franko

For a market of a different type but an equally essential part of the city’s social and food culture is the Street Eats @ Franko held every Friday night from 4 pm until around 9 pm in Franklin Square.  Food trucks and stall line the path around the fountain, musicians play on the stage and locals and visitors stake out a spot at the tables, low walls and grass areas around the park.

There’s a fabulous selection of food options and alcohol can be purchased on site.  On the evening we went the food choices included paella, fresh local oysters, waghu beef, grilled seafood, sliders and gourmet burgers, gluten free donuts dressed with fairy floss and dozens of other options.  It’s a great place to spend a casual Friday night.

5. Mount Wellington

The backdrop to Hobart is Mount Wellington also known by it’s Aboriginal name of Kunanyi that can be simply translated as ‘mountain’.  At 1271 meters above sea level it’s a dramatic sight and can offer some incredible views out over the city and harbor. Do plan your visit well though, it’s been known to snow on the mountain even during summer and it spends a lot of time shrouded in cloud that can completely block out any view.

There are many recreational options on the mountain including hiking and mountain biking and at the top there is an all weather lookout to shelter from the elements.

Metro buses don’t run to the top but there are a variety of tour and shuttle options available to get up there.

Find out more about Mount Wellington park and check weather conditions on the official site.

6.  Mount Nelson

If Mount Wellington is in the clouds then the lower and closer option of Mount Nelson can be a good alternative.  You can catch the 458 metro bus to here from stop N at Franklin Square in the city, it’ll take around 30 minutes.  At the top are some fabulous views of the city and harbor, a signal station and a good cafe.

7.  Hobart Museum & Art Gallery

Hobart museum and art gallery

If you don’t have the time to get out to MONA or the $50 combined ticket price for the ferry and entry seem a little steep then Hobart is home to another excellent art museum located in a gorgeous heritage building right on the waterfront.  In addition to a solid permanent collection it also hosts some interesting visiting collections, the current feature being the remarkable Tasmanian Devil.

Find out more about current and upcoming exhibitions.

8.  Take a day trip to the Port Arthur historic site

Historic church at Port Arthur convict site

The largest and most complete of the World Heritage Australian Convict Sites is located at Port Arthur, about 90 minutes from the city.  This is an excellent day trip, or stay longer to explore as you certainly won’t see it all in the one day.

We didn’t rent a vehicle on this visit so took this tour  including transfers, entry and the cruise, I’ll add a full post on Port Arthur and the tour soon.

9.  Seek out the local produce

Whether you peruse the local stores, eat in the many excellent restaurants, join a foodie tour or wander the markets an essential part of a visit to Hobart is the food, I really think as more people venture south they could well put up a serious challenge to Melbourne’s title.

They may not be to everyones’ taste but the oyster farms around Hobart would be offering up some of the best in the world.  As someone with very strong ties to NZ I have always maintained that nothing can challenge a Bluff oyster for it’s best in the world title but the Tassie oysters have done just that.  And to be fair I did make sure to try them in quantity in multiple places to be absolutely certain.

10.  Explore Battery Point

Salamanca Place Battery Point

At the southern end of the waterfront you find Salamanca and Battery Point.  The markets are on here on a Saturday but for the rest of the week it has a variety of interesting shops and restaurants to explore within the old sandstone buildings set into the cliff.  As you continue walking around you will come to Kelly’s steps built in 1839 to connect Salamanca Place to the top of the cliff at Battery Point.

Up the top you can wander through the streets filled with historic houses that get progressively bigger and fancier the further you go.  There’s a park that overlooks the water that was the site of the original Battery and if you continue on you’ll come to Arthurs Circus, a circular park surrounded by tiny single frontage cottages, some of the oldest in old Hobart town.

While up here you might want to seek out Jackman and McRoss, a bakery of some renown with delicious sweet treats and also known for that Hobart specialty, the scallop pie.

11.  Heritage city walk

Whether you choose to discover Hobarts heritage as you wander the city streets, join an organised tour or loosely follow  a self-guided walking map with detours for food, coffee and other things that attract your attention along the way as we did, you really do need to take the time to appreciate this early Australian settlement and the substantial remaining architecture from the period.

The Heritage Tasmania self-guided tour is one example of what is available, either follow the map or for extra insight follow along on the accompanying podcast.

12. Cascade Brewery

Cascade Brewery Hobart

The Cascade Brewery Company was established on this site in 1824 and with its distinctive Gothic facade is now the oldest operating brewery in Australia.  It’s only around 4 km from the city centre and you can get out here on a Metro Bus from Franklin Square in around 10 minutes.

They run a walking tour of the site which is highly rated but do remember if you want to do this you must be wearing long trousers and enclosed shoes, also that to see it in operation you must visit on a weekday.  It’s very popular so I’d suggest phoning ahead for a booking.

If you happen to arrive out here in the wrong attire or don’t have time for the tour I’d recommend a tasting paddle of your selection of 4 beers and/or ciders and taking a seat in the peaceful manicured gardens.

13. The Female Factory

Not far from Cascade Brewery is the World Heritage Female Factory, one of the 11 Australian convict sites.  ‘Factory’ was used in place of the word prison for womens’ detention sites at that time.  It’s a short walk down through Cascade park and along the road.  This is only a small site and not much remains of the original, only the one building and walls but it’s been marked out and if you can coincide your arrival with a tour start time it’s an interesting insight into the life of a female convict at that time.

14.  Take a cruise on the River Derwent

Fun things to do in Hobart

The Derwent river flows over 200 km from Lake St Clair in Tasmania’s central highlands, down through the city of Hobart until it joins the Tasman Sea at Storm Bay.  The forested banks were once settled by Tasmania’s Aboriginal communities, later they were farmed by European settlers and today there is a mix of industry, recreation, fishing and transportation taking place along its length.

There are several options to take a short cruise on the lower river and it’s well worth getting out in the bay to see the city from the water.  We did the trip up to MONA on their camo catamaran on a gorgeous sunny day and it really is very beautiful.

15.  Eat seafood on the pier

Mures restaurants on the waterfront in Hobart

Surrounded by pristine waters, fish and seafood has always been a mainstay of the Tasmanian diet.  There are plenty of options to enjoy it from around the piers and waterfront of Hobart city, many with an excellent view or ideally situated for an after dinner stroll.  Choose from fine dining though to fish and chips from a floating barge and everything in between.

For fine dining Landscape restaurant was superb and at the budget end if you’re looking for something a little different the Mures Lower Deck serves up it’s famous chowder that’s talked about for all the right reasons along side cold seafood platters, fish and chips and many other alternatives.  Sit out on their wharf front tables and enjoy a relaxed evening.

16.  Watch the sunrise from the waterfront

In Australia the sun rises in the east, I always love to watch it come up with the colours of the sky reflected in a body of water.  In Hobart city that’s the end of the Derwent river.  We had a stunning view from our hotel room but there are plenty of spots around the piers to enjoy it.

17. Wildlife experiences

Tasmania has some wonderful native wildlife to enjoy if you have the opportunity to get out of the city.  You have a better chance of seeing platypus and wombats here than most other places in Australia and it’s the only place you’ll find the Tasmanian Devil or birds such as the 40 spotted pardalote.  On the water you may spot an extensive range of seabirds, penguins, seals, dolphins and whales.  We were lucky enough to even get 2 separate sightings of albino wallaby on Bruny Island.

If time doesn’t allow you to get too far afield and you want to learn more about Tasmanian wildlife then Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is the place to go, see the Tasmanian Devil, koalas and wombats up close and learn about them through informative talks by the keepers.  You can walk in a field of kangaroos and hand feed them here too which is a great experience if you haven’t seen them up close before.

We didn’t have time to do the Tasman Island or Bruny Island Wilderness cruise with Pennicott Journeys this trip but they both look amazing and we’ve promised ourselves next time.  Both see good numbers of wildlife and stunning coastal scenery.  We did do the Bruny Island day tour with them and it was probably the best day tour I have been on so we thoroughly recommend the company.

18.  Take a food tour

With so much good food around, talented artisan producers and friendly southern hospitality, Hobart is the ideal place to do a food tour.  Again there are a number to choose from, some will take you on a walking tour of the city to local establishments and through the markets but the one we chose was the Bruny Island Gourmet tour, click the link for a run down of our day in foodie paradise.  Our guide Tim had a wealth of information to share and kept us entertained and well fed for the entire day, he switched up the itinerary as needed to get the best timing and make the most of the time we had.

19.  Visit Bruny Island

Bruny Island Day Trip

Bruny is really 2 islands, north Bruny and south Bruny joined by this sandy isthmus with a hillock in the middle.  Climb the 238 steps to the lookout at the top of the hill for incredible views out over both sides.  The island is spectacularly beautiful, rugged in parts, quiet and serene in others.  The beaches are just beautiful and mostly deserted.  It would be a remote place to live, crossing to the mainland for supplies that you didn’t grow or catch yourself but a day wasn’t nearly enough out here, we’d love to come back with our own vehicle and a few days to spare.

In this hillside as you climb up there are many holes that are the burrows of mutton birds and fairy penguins.  They’ve built tunnels from the water under the road to prevent the penguins getting hurt as they come ashore to their burrows in the evening.  These are only a few of the wildlife attractions the island has to offer, there are seals, dolphins, many other seabirds, wallabies including the rare white and albinos, colourful birds and echidna.

There’s plenty of places to eat and pick up some hand crafted pantry staples and freshly caught or harvested seafood too.  Yes I could be very happy spending some more time out here.

20.  Try out the local tipples

From the cool climate wines to a multitude of craft beers, gins and whisky Hobart has some real winners.  A couple of the popular spots include:

  • Bruny Island Premium Wines, Australias southern most vineyard who also offer up some fabulous local cuisine in their southern Bruny restaurant on site.
  • Lark Distillery on the Hobart waterfront.  Bill Lark brought whisky distilling back to Tasmania in 1992 noting how could you not given the “rich fields of barley, an abundance of wonderfully pure soft water, highland peat bogs, and the perfect climate”.  As a gin drinker and birder myself though I do have to give credit to his wife Lyn for her addition of Tasmanian pepperberry to a smooth botanical blend and naming it ’40 Spotted’ after the rare pardalote found only down here.

When to visit Hobart

Tasmania has a temperate climate and for those who find variety the spice of life it’s well known for being able to offer you all 4 seasons in a single day.

On balance though we visited in late January and found it to be fabulous summer weather, with temperatures ranging from 16 overnight to high 20’s or mid 30’s during the day.  It didn’t rain at all during our stay and despite taking 3 boat trips we didn’t find it windy or choppy at all in the harbour.  That said I did still take both a rain jacket and fleece jacket with me in case we needed them, it has been known to snow on Mt Wellington even in the summer.

The best time to visit Tasmania is generally agreed to be January to April.  Average temperature ranges for the seasons are:

  • Summer        18 ° celcius
  • Autumn         14 ° celcius
  • Winter             9 ° celcius
  • Spring            13 ° celcius

Getting to Hobart city and surrounds

Arriving by air

The Airport in Hobart is referred to as Hobart International Airport, this can be a little confusing if you notice your domestic ticket mentions departing from international but currently the airport exclusively services domestic passenger flights from the mainland.

We flew with Jetstar Australia who offer direct daily flights from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.  It took less than 2.5 hours from Brisbane to be on the ground in Hobart and we were in the city in time for a late morning coffee.  I keep an eye on the Jetstar email newsletters for deals and have seen a few specials come up for Hobart recently so don’t forget to sign up if you’re planning a visit.

The airport is around 20 minutes from the city centre.  The most cost effective way to get to your city accommodation is on the Airport Bus service that meets every flight for $20 per adult or $35 return.  Taxi’s and rental car collection are also available from the airport terminal.

Getting around Hobart

The city itself if compact and perfect to explore on foot.  Inner suburbs and destinations such as Cascade Brewery, the historic Female Factory and Mt Nelson can be easily accessed by the Metro bus service but further afield you will need to join a tour or hire a vehicle.

Driving is on the left across Australia and Tasmanian roads around the Hobart area including down the Tasman Peninsula and on Bruny Island are easy to navigate with relatively low traffic volume.

Where to stay in Hobart

There are a range of accommodation options in Hobart to suit varying needs and budgets but if you possibly can I’d recommend staying on the waterfront.  It’s super convenient to all the key parts of the city including the many restaurants on the pier, Franklin Square, the markets, heritage buildings and Battery Point.  You also get the benefits of the gorgeous sunrises over the water and the constant activity of the port, there’s always something to see.

We stayed at the Hotel Grand Chancellor opposite Constitution Dock and loved the position and the room.  It was clean, modern and well maintained and we found it well priced for the view and location, we’d definitely stay there again and would highly recommend it.

Map of what to do in Hobart

To help orientate yourself in the city and find many of the fun things to do in Hobart mentioned above you might want to take a look at this map.  You can open it in a new window, hover over pins to view the names and additional detail and zoom in and out to see more or less detail.

 

You can save these images to Pinterest to easily find the guide again later

Fun things to do in Hobart
Fun things to do in Hobart

If you’ve been to Hobart we’d love to hear any of your favourite spots that we’ve missed and if you’re planning a trip and have any questions please do ask in the comments section below.

We flew to Tasmania with Jetstar Australia as part of our Jetstar partnership.

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