The Top Things to See and Do in Hobart, Tasmania

View over Hobart from the Lookout on top of Mount Wellington
View over Hobart from the Lookout on top of Mount Wellington | © Genevieve Vallee / Alamy Stock Photo
Lauren Timmer

Tasmania’s capital city packs a lot of punch despite its small size. From exciting restaurants and exceptional wine to unusual cultural experiences and incredible scenery, Hobart is full to the brim with exciting things to do, see and taste.

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With a bit of forward planning and a relatively early start, you can try to squeeze most of Hobart’s attractions into one day – but if you can, allow a few extra days so you can take the time to really appreciate one of the most unique and fascinating cities in Australia. Here are some of the top things to see and do in Hobart.

Experience MONA

Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art officially opened in 2011 and has been making waves ever since. The brainchild of Australian businessman David Walsh, the MONA houses his extensive art collection and is an architectural labyrinth of wonder. As Mark Wilsdon, co-CEO of MONA, told Culture Trip: “Visitors to MONA can expect the unexpected. MONA doesn’t follow conventional thinking and structures around a museum or a gallery – it’s certainly not a ‘white cube’ model of a traditional museum. We like the experience to be one of discovery and a bit of confusion, with the intervention of events, performances, food and beverage as part of the overall experience.” There are tunnels, rooms within rooms, light wells at random intervals and much more to keep visitors shocked, amazed and potentially confused. Just a 20-minute ferry ride from Brooke Street Pier, MONA is a place that visitors won’t forget anytime soon. Pro tip: Once the museum has shown you everything it has to offer, head around the corner to Moorilla for some wine and a chance to reflect on everything that you’ve seen.

Stroll through Salamanca Market

On Saturday mornings, Hobart springs to life with the arrival of Salamanca Market. Just follow the gentle stream of people through the harbour, and you will find the market right next to the waterfront. Grab a coffee and go for a wander, or take a seat at one of the cafés around the edge of the market and watch the world go by. Local traders, farmers and artisans pitch their stalls here first thing, so make sure to allow enough time to have a look at everything, and maybe even enjoy some free tasters, too. Pro tip: The market closes at 3pm, so stock up on some snacks and gifts before then. Grab a bag of fresh apricots if the season is right, they make excellent road trip fuel!

Explore Battery Point

The suburb of Battery Point dates back to the early 1800s, when Hobart Town was founded, and used to be home to the battery of guns that made up part of Tasmania’s coastal defence. The quaint neighbourhood is made up of winding roads, fragrant rose bushes, independent boutiques, cafés and the cute cottages of Arthur Circus. From Princes Park, take in the views out to the ocean and back to the harbour. Pro tip: Jackman & McRoss is a local institution in Battery Point, popular with locals and tourists alike. Grab a table on the street corner while enjoying one of their many delicious baked treats.

Climb kunanyi / Mount Wellington

In 2013, the Australian government announced a dual naming policy, which saw the dramatic backdrop to Hobart once again be referred to by its Aboriginal name, kunanyi. It is an absolute must-see when in the city – the brave can take a long hike to the top, or just hop in the car for a 30-minute drive to the pinnacle. The expansive views over Hobart and up to the Derwent River and Coal River Valley are truly breathtaking, and a series of wooden walkways provide a number of different viewpoints. Pro tip: Keep an eye on the weather, which can change very quickly in Hobart. Pick a sunny day with little wind, and try to go early to avoid the crowds – the road can get quite busy around the winding bends.

Go wine tasting

Hobart is conveniently located just a 20-minute drive from the Coal River Valley, one of Tasmania’s major wine-producing areas. Jump in the car or, even better, get a driver, and explore the beautiful scenery and some family-run wineries. The road to Richmond is home to many of these, and make sure to stop in the little town – historic buildings and inviting bakeries await. Pro tip: Pooley Wines not only offers an extensive wine tasting, but also has a courtyard restaurant with views across the valley where you can treat yourself to a wood-fired pizza before heading off to explore even more of Tasmania’s exceptional wine.

Indulge in dinner at Aloft

The restaurant scene in Hobart is really taking off at the moment, but if you only splash out on one place, then make it Aloft. Found on the top floor of Brooke Street Pier, it is widely considered to be the best restaurant in the city, if not the entire state. With à la carte and tasting options available, expect delicately flavoured dishes with some Asian twists – using only the freshest Tasmanian produce. Book in advance to nab a window seat and watch the sunset over the harbour and out to the ocean. Pro tip: Order the tasting menu to get more for your money, then sit back and relax as a series of delicious and exquisitely presented dishes make their way to the table at a gentle pace.

Soak up history on a Heritage City Walk

Established in 1804, Hobart is the second-oldest European settlement in Australia. Quickly evolving into another penal colony for the British, the city is still full of relics from this time, including early colonial-era architecture, old gaols and captivating stories. Formerly known as Sullivan’s Cove, one of the most interesting things you can do in Hobart is to take a self-guided walking tour through the city streets, visiting some interesting places – from the City Flour Mill and the Hospital to Parliament House – and learning about the events that shaped Hobart into the cosmopolitan capital it is today. Pro tip: If you’d prefer something a little spookier or more interactive, join a Hobart ghost tour to explore the streets after dark and uncover the secrets and dark stories of the city’s oldest buildings.

Have a beer at Australia’s oldest brewery

Located in a suitably dramatic old building at the foot of towering kunanyi / Mount Wellington, Cascade Brewery is another must in Tasmania’s capital. Founded in 1824, Cascade is Australia’s oldest operating brewery, and after all this time, they sure know a thing or two about beer. Head to the newly revamped Cascade Brewery Bar to try a couple – after all, it’s a cultural institution – and sample some uniquely Tassie food, including smoked wallaby, salmon and local cheese. Pro tip: The heritage gardens are just as good as the beer! Don’t pass up the chance to go exploring.

Try Street Eats @ Franko

During the summer on Friday nights, Franko is the place to be. With a heady and eclectic mix of food trucks, stalls, bars and musical acts to keep you grooving long after the sun sets, Street Eats @ Franko offers the perfect opportunity to see Hobart at its vibrant, quirky best. It is also a unique chance to try a veritable cornucopia of eats and treats from across the island – and the world. Pro tip: Come down early and bring a blanket to grab a spot on the lawn and enjoy people-watching before the sun goes down and the city lights come on.

Commune with wildlife at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary

Just outside of Hobart, Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary not only offers the chance to come face to face with a Tasmanian devil, but it also is Tasmania’s largest Wildlife Rescue Service – home to a menagerie of animals including koalas, quolls, emus and snakes. Far more than just a place to see native wildlife, Bonorong is a social enterprise, educating, inspiring and protecting some of the country’s rarest animals. Pro tip: If you love wildlife and nature, squeeze in some sightseeing and wildlife spotting on a full-day Tasman Island or Bruny Island Wilderness Cruise. One of the best ways to explore the island’s rugged and beautiful coastline, you can also see seals, dolphins and whales in the wild.

Take a dip at the Hastings Cave State Reserve and Thermal Springs

In the lush Huon Valley, about 90 minutes from Hobart, Hastings Cave State Reserve is one of the most beautiful and unusual destinations in Tasmania. Hidden under the lush rainforest landscape with its fern-filled glades, dense forest and natural springs, the Hastings Caves are filled with huge stalagmites and stalactites and make for an impressive day trip from the capital. After exploring the caves, you can choose to do the 10-minute Platypus Loop from the thermal pool to the springs, keeping your eyes open for these unique and unusual creatures, or the 30-minute Hot Springs Walk, which is well worth it. Reward yourself with a relaxing dip in the naturally heated pool before heading back to the city. Pro tip: You can also combine a day trip out to Hastings Cave State Reserve with a visit to the Tahune Airwalk and/or a ride on the Ida Bay Railway.

Take a tour of Port Arthur Historic Site

Another (in)famous part of Australian history, the Port Arthur Historic Site is the largest – and most complete – of the 11 World Heritage-listed Australian Convict Sites. An hour and a half from the city, Port Arthur is one of those places you really must visit when you’re in Tasmania, and the tours of the site are as interesting as they are educational. As well as exploring the historical ruins and buildings, including the penitentiary and the asylum for the criminally insane, you can also go on a harbour cruise, visit the Isle of the Dead and see the Port Arthur Gallery, house museums and gardens. Pro tip: Taking a tour from Hobart is a great way to visit the Port Arthur Historic Site. Most tours also stop off at the coastline on the way, so you can take pictures and visit the beautiful Tasman Arch and Devils Kitchen.

Additional reporting by Cassie Wilkins

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