The 24 Best Things to Do in Tasmania (2020 Guide)

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From the Freycinet National Park to historic Port Arthur here is my list of the best things to do in Tasmania. 

Tasmania is especially well known for its breathtaking east coast which includes the Freycinet National Park and the Bay of Fires.

Away from the coast, you’ll find probably the countries most famous destination – Cradle Mountain situated in the heart of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.

Simply put, there are so many things to do in Tasmania!

READ MORE: Don’t miss our complete travel guide to exploring Australia!

The Best Things to Do in Tasmania

Many would say Tassie has more in common with New Zealand than Australia.

Stunning mountain vistas go hand in hand with desolate coastlines plus you can experience 4 seasons in a day at almost any point in the year. 

The country’s stunning east coast keeps the beach lovers happy whereas the countries rugged interior appeals to the hikers and campers.

If road trips are your thing then Tasmania has them by the bucket load.

Throw in some spectacular food and wildlife galore, all topped off with plenty of history and culture and it’s easy to see why some believe this is one of the most spectacular areas of the Australasian continent.  

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best things to do in Tasmania

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars, which has the largest range of cars for the best value on the market.

The East Coast

Tasmania’s east coast is far more accessible than the west, and is home to many of the most popular attractions.

Hike to Wineglass Bay in the Freycinet National Park 

We’ll start with the east coast’s biggest hitter. Simply put the Freycinet National Park is breathtakingly beautiful.

Of all the things to do in Tasmania, this has to make it to the top of your itinerary. 

The park is blessed with some breathtaking coastal views, fantastic hikes and even a few decent snorkelling spots. 

If you are driving in Tasmania then you will probably want to pick up a parks pass which allows you to park in all of Tasmania’s National Parks.

Holiday passes cost $60 AUD per vehicle, whereas 24-hour passes cost $24 AUD per vehicle. Therefore so long as you spend at least 3 days in Tasmania’s National Parks the pass will have paid for itself. 

Probably the most famous and photographed location is the spectacular Wineglass Bay.

This rather lovely piece of coastline can be accessed via the Hazard Beach track or the Wineglass Bay track, the latter of the trails being the shorter and less spectacular of the two. 

Unsurprisingly the trails around Wineglass Bay are popular.

That being said, there are plenty of stunning beaches throughout the park that receive a smattering of visitors.

Both Sleepy Bay and Honeymoon Bay are great options if you want somewhere a little quieter.

However, it’s the beaches that are the draw here as opposed the hiking trails.

Honeymoon Bay is a particularly lovely place to take a dip and Sleepy Bay has a short but lovely coastal track that’s worth checking out. 

Our favourite undiscovered gem would have to be the Friendly Beaches in the northern section of the National Park.

If you’re based in Hobart for a short stay, you can book a day tour to get out here and save yourself the hassle of having to drive.

Wineglas Bay Freycinet Tasmania
Gorgeous views over Wineglass Bay

Scramble Across Rocks in the Bay of Fires 

At the very north of Tasmania’s east coast trail lies the gorgeous Bay of Fires.

Its name comes from the fires of the native Aboriginal people spotted by Captain Tobias Furneaux. 

The bay is famous for the fire coloured lichen that clings to the rocks throughout the park. Its most famous beach is Binalong Bay, just outside the sleepy coastal town of St Helens.

To the north of Binalong Bay lies the Bay of Fires. Head to the very end of C848 where you will find The Gardens situated at the heart of the Bay of Fires.

From here it’s onto the lichen-covered rocks where you can explore the bay of fires up close and personal.

The nearby town of St Helens has the widest variety of accommodation options.

However Scamander, a tiny beach town 30 minutes or so south has a couple of great midrange options. Plus there are some stunning deserted beaches nearby.

READ MORE: Use our guide to plan your 2-week Tasmania itinerary.

Bay of Fires Tasmania
Taking a stroll through the bay of fires

Go Hiking or Biking on Maria Island

This gorgeous little island 45-minutes by ferry from the town of Triabunna is home to some great hiking and biking trails.

Many people spend a couple of days on the island, staying in the lodges near the ferry harbour or camping elsewhere on the island. 

Some of the most popular hiking trails take you to the painted cliffs, mount maria, and the fossil cliffs.

However, there are plenty more trails to keep you active with spectacular views all over the island. 

Interestingly the northwestern coast is a marine reserve with a few interesting spots. Look out for some of the huge stingrays!

The island is home to a large population of wombats, wallabies, kangaroos, Cape Barron geese, and even the elusive Tasmanian devil.

There are no shops or cars on the island so bring everything you need.

Wombat Maria Island
A Wombat enjoy the afternoon sunshine on Maria Island

Hiking in the Douglas-Apsley National Park

Just north of Bicheno, there is the lovely Douglas-Apsley National Park. Sadly, it is often skipped by travellers as they head towards Freycinet or the Bay of Fires. 

Home to spectacular waterfalls, rocky peaks and abundant wildlife it’s hard to understand why more people aren’t here. There are numerous hiking trails with some excellent 4+ hour routes offering spectacular views. 

Aside from the scenery, the parks major selling point is that you will avoid the crowds that descend on Freycinet in the summer months. 

You will also need a Parks Pass here.  

Watch the Penguins at Bicheno

Gorgeous little Bicheno hugs the coast between Freycinet and Douglas-Apsley. Many will base themselves here for that reason and to get a break from the crowds at Freycinet.

However, Bicheno itself is famous for its penguins. These can be viewed on daily dusk tours.

There are not souvenir stands or restaurants and photos are not allowed.

It’s a wonderful wildlife watching experience and one of the top things to see in Tasmania.  

Go Hiking in the Mount William National Park

Nestled in the countries northeastern corner is the Mount William National Park. This is one of the most overlooked Tasmania attractions.

The park is home to numerous hiking trails with the 1.5-hour return walk to the highest point, Mount William, offering some amazing views.

Aside from hiking, there are opportunities to spot wildlife, surf and dive. 

READ MORE: Be sure to add these 10 places to your Tasmanian itinerary.

Hobart and Around

Tasmania’s main city is Hobart, and it also happens to be one of the funkiest cities in all of Australia.

As such you should definitely set aside a couple of days to hang out here and find all the cool attractions close by.

Enjoy Views of Hobart from Mount Wellington

Lovely little Hobart is Tasmania’s capital, and whilst it doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of Sydney or Melbourne it is still a place that warrants a couple of days of exploring. 

One of Hobart’s top sights is Mount Wellington. Offering spectacular views over Hobart and quite away beyond this is best visited on a clear day.

However, Tasmania, being Tasmania, you can certainly expect 4 seasons in a day pretty much all year round. 

Stuff Yourself at Salamanca Market

One of the best things to do in Tasmania is to eat some of the amazing produce the apple island has to offer. 

If you’re in Hobart on a Saturday then make sure you head to Salamanca Market to sample some of the amazing food on offer.

If you’re not in the city on a Saturday then head over to Battery Point to chow down at some fantastic eateries.

Mt Wellington Hobart
Views over Hobart and the River Derwent from Mt Wellington

Marvel at MONA

This incredible museum is one of the most important artistic installations in Australia.

The brainchild of Tasmanian millionaire David Walsh, MONA displays ancient, modern and contemporary art covering a wide variety of sometimes, controversial themes. 

David Walsh has described it as a “subversive adult Disneyland.” 

The Museum of Old and New Art, to use its full name, is accessed by car or ferry, with ferry’s heading out from Frank Street Pier. 

For many that visit Tasmania, and certainly Hobart, this is certainly one of the highlights.

  • Address: 655 Main Rd, Berriedale TAS 7011, Australia
  • Opening Hours: 10 am – 6 pm Wednesday to Sunday

Learn About Tasmania’s History at Port Arthur 

This is Tasmania’s history with the Western world truly began. Port Arthur began life as a lumber camp in 1830.

However between 1833 until its cessation in 1853, it was the destination for thousands of convicts. 

It became the home of many of Britain’s most hardened criminals and those who had reoffended since being transported to Australia.

Its status as a Unesco World Heritage site demonstrates its important place in both Australia and Tasmania’s history. 

The site is extremely well preserved and does an incredible job of explaining the importance of the site and the legacy of Britain’s penal colonies on Australia.

The site follows the entire history of transportation as punishment and how this policy impacted Australia and it’s growing foreign population.

Simply put this is one of the most important and iconic sites in Australia. 

There is more than enough to keep you busy for a day and although it is certainly doable as a day trip from Hobart, staying the night gives you the opportunity to explore the Tasman Peninsula the next day. 

The ghost tours that run every night are definitely a highlight and will certainly have you looking over your shoulder as you head home. 

  • Address: Arthur Hwy, Port Arthur TAS 7182, Australia
  • Opening Hours: 9 am – 5 pm, 7 days a week
Port Arthur Tasmania
Port Arthurs church, still standing tall

Explore the Deserted Coalmines on the Tasman Peninsula 

Connected to “mainland” Tasmania by the thinnest stretches of land at the Eagles Neck (one of the reasons why Port Arthur was considered to be an inescapable prison) the Tasman Peninsula is home some excellent historical sites and spectacular coastal scenery.  

Up in the northwestern portion of the peninsula, you will find the Lime Bay Coalmines.

It was here many convicts and later miners were put to work in often atrocious conditions.

The surrounding area is home to plenty of deserted walking trails and rugged coastlines. 

Enjoy Fish and Chips in Doo Town

If you are feeling peckish then head to the tiny village of Doo Town where there is an exceptional fish and chip van next to the Tasman Blow Hole

This quirky little town where every house name begins with Doo, is located right on the coast so expect to find plenty of awesome coastal views!

The area surrounding the Devils Kitchen, a short drive from Doo Town is home to some lovely views, which on a wet and windy day give the impression that you are stood at the edge of the world.   

Tasman Peninsula Tasmania
Spectacular views from the Tasman Peninsula

Launceston and Around

Launceston is another favourite spot to visit in Tasmania, and you’ll fall in love with its laidback vibe.

It’s also a great place to use as a base when exploring all of the other epic Tasmania activities!

Take a Dip in Launceston’s Cataract Gorge 

Lovely little Launceston, Tasmania’s second city, is home to a few sites that are worth checking out.

It’s most noteworthy site is the lovely Cataract Gorge which is home to some nice walking trails and a great swimming area. Taking a dip here as the summer is setting on summers day is particularly lovely experience.

Central Launceston is home to some lovely museums, breweries, restaurants, and galleries if you fancy some indoor activities.

It’s also a great place to base yourself to go and explore the Tamar Valley and the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail

Meet a Platypus in the Tamar Valley 

From Launceston, this valley runs north for 64 kilometres taking in some lovely rolling hills, quirky wildlife parks and a rather spectacular bakery.

Head up towards Beauty Point at the northern end of the valley where you will find Seahorse World and the Platypus House.

The platypus house gives you the opportunity to see the worlds only two monotremes up close and personal. The enclosures give you an opportunity to observe Platypus’s interacting and playing with one another. Spotting them in the wild is incredibly rare so getting the opportunity to see these awesome creatures close up is a great experience.

The Tamar Valley is also home to a few wineries most notably Velo Wines and the Ninth Island Vineyard.

If you fancy learning about the area’s mining industry then head further up the coast and explore the Beaconsfield Mine, one of the richest small gold mines in Australia. 

Halfway up the Tamar Valley on the western side, you will find the small town of Exeter which is home to the incredible Exeter Bakery serving a mind-boggling assortment of pies – the perfect Australian road trip snack.

Tamar Valley
In the heart of the Tamar Valley

Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail 

If you are into food then this absolute one of the top things to do in Tasmania.

This trail runs from the Launceston area all the way up to the northern coastal town of Stanley.

It consists of a collection of gourmet producers selling their wares in their own restaurants and farm shops. 

The food is phenomenal and solidifies Tasmania’s reputation as a gourmet goldmine. 

There are 33 producers in total, and of course, it’s not possible to visit them all.

However, I would definitely recommend Melta Honey Farm, 41° South Salmon and Ginseng, Van Diemens Land Creamery, The Raspberry Farm Cafe, Ashgrove Cheese (the wasabi cheese s mind-blowing), House of Anvers and Hursey Seafoods up in Stanley. 

Get ready to enjoy some of Tasmania’s most delicious produce. 

Northeastern Tasmania

Let’s keep on travelling around now and check out the best things to do in Northeastern Tasmania.

Enjoy Fish Chips and Sunset at the Nut in Stanley 

Jutting out from the mainland like a crooked finger is the tiny village of Stanley.

Sticking out on a split from the mainland and being almost entirely surrounded by the ocean it gives Stanley a uniquely desolate feel.   

It’s most famous and prominent feature is a huge rocky outcrop called the Nut. The views from the top, particularly at sunset are spectacular. 

The final destination on the Cradle to Coast is the excellent Hursey Seafood located at the base of the Nut serving a wide variety of excellent seafood. 

After chowing down on some incredible seafood head up to the Nut to hike along the Nut summit circuit to work off the calories and take in some spectacular sunset views.

Sunset Stanley
Watching the sunset from the top of the Nut in Stanley

Take a Dip at Boat Harbour Beach 

This gorgeous beach resort is sort of a hidden gem along Tasmania’s northern coast.

Reasonably well known amongst Tasmanians it’s very much of the beaten track for everyone else. 

There are numerous awesome accommodation options along with the beachfront offering the perfect place for some rest and relaxation. 

The waves aren’t anywhere near the size of what the island’s east coast has to offer, this really is more of a place to relax, take a dip and enjoy the scenery. 

Explore the Caves at Mole Creek Karst National Park

Welcome to one of Tasmania’s most unusual National Parks. The park is home to over 300 known caves and sinkholes. 

There are numerous public caves that can be visited independently as well as caves that you will need to a tour to access.

This is certainly one of Tasmania’s more unique attractions. 

Cradle Mountain and Around

Arguably the top Tasmania attraction, Cradle Mountain should not be missed when exploring the island.

Hike to the Summit of Cradle Mountain

If you’re not sure what to do in Tasmania, then this is one of the first things that should be added to your itinerary. 

This may be Tasmania’s most famous location. At the heart of this national park is the absolutely stunning cradle mountain.

It is also here where the islands famous overland track begins. 

Due to the park’s isolated nature, it is best to stay within its borders to avoid long daily drives.

As with Freycinet, you will need a Parks Pass to park your vehicle here. 

Getting around the park can be a bit of a pain. There is one main road that will bring you down to the Dove Lake car park, and a couple of other smaller ones.

These car parks are the starting point for a number of excellent hikes.

However, as you would expect, spaces are limited so your other option is to park at the ranger station and catch the free bus to the place of your choice.

If you get in early enough however you obviously have more chance of getting a space.

The area around Cradle Mountain is possibly the most spectacular area of the park. It is home to numerous hiking trails varying between light strolls and epic ascents. 

The Dove Lake circuit takes you around Dove Lake (unsurprisingly) which sits at the base of Cradle Mountain.

It is this trail that is home to the boathouse which offers one of the most famous photos in Tasmania.

The hike is very easy and should take you a couple of hours. 

READ MORE: Check out this guide to hiking and camping in Tasmania!

There is an excellent trail that combines Marion’s Lookout, the Cradle Mountain Summit, Lake Wilks and part of the Dove Lake Circuit.

It should take around 6 hours and you do need to be reasonably fit as there are some extremely steep ascents and some serious scrambling on the track up to the Cradle Mountain summit.

If it is wet or icy, do not attempt the summit track as it is extremely dangerous. 

From Dove Lake, car park takes the right-hand route of the track past the boathouse. Follow this until there is a right-hand turn leading up a steep track to Marion’s lookout.

Follow this track all the way to the base of cradle mountain. From here it is more about scrambling and bouldering than hiking.

However, the summit does offer some amazing views and is a great point to take a break.

Head down from the summit and bear right, running along the base of Cradle Mountain and then take a left down past Lake Wilks and then follow this back onto the Dove Lake circuit. Simply incredible. 

Cradle Mountain Tasmania
Awesome views over Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake from Marions Lookout

Straughn and Queenstown 

These quaint little towns are a true demonstration of Tasmania’s rugged and wild west, with a testament to the riches that lay beneath the ground.

As you roll in along the Lyell highway into Queenstown you will see the legacy mining has had on this region of the island. 

Queenstown certainly retains that pioneer town feel, and at one point it was the worlds richest mining town.

Naturally, this has left its mark on the surrounding landscape. The ‘moonscape’ could not be more different than other parts of Tasmania.

However, it gives the town a slightly surreal feeling, similar to that of Coober Peedy (the famous opal mining site) in South Australia.

There are a couple of art galleries and viewpoints nearby. However, for a real pioneer feel, stay at the Empire Hotel in Central Queenstown. Great value with excellent food to boot. 

Straughn is harbourside village offering a very different experience to Queenstown.

From here there are numerous cruises down the stunning Gordon River or out Sarah Island which was once home to a convict prison.

Additionally, there are numerous wild ocean beaches around Straughn. Head out to the Henty Dunes 14km from Straughn to see some of these 30m high sand dunes!  

Southern Tasmania

Let’s head south now!

Marvel at Stalactites and Stalagmites in Hastings Caves

Perched on the very edge of civilisation, Hastings Caves offers spectacular caves and some lovely thermal springs. 

Although it’s only a 90-minute drive from Hobart it is perched on the edge of The Tasmanian Wilderness Area

Go Hiking Around Bruny Island

Just over an hour south of Hobart is the gorgeous Bruny Island. Unlike it’s contemporary, Maria Island, in the East, cars are allowed.

There are regular ferries that make the short journey over from the village of Kettering

Bruny Island is almost two separate islands, albeit with a narrow 5km long stretch of land known as the Neck linking them together.

The islands coastal scenery is magical and with numerous walking trails all over the island, there is certainly no shortage of things to do. 

The southern portion of the island is more commonly known as the South Bruny National Park and is home to the islands best hiking trails and beaches.

The area surrounding Adventure Bay is home to a  fair few trails and is definitely worth checking out. The trail from Fluted Cape to Grass Point is particularly nice. 

It is possible to stay on the island. However, it is a popular option with many travellers so you will need to book in advance!

If you don’t get a spot to stay on the island, you can still go there as a day tour from Hobart.

Do a Wildlife Cruise Around Bruny Island

Bruny Island is famous for its wildlife including penguins, echidnas, and numerous birds.

If you take a wildlife cruise then you are likely to come across the numerous seals and dolphins that call the waters surrounding Bruny Island home. Adventure Bay in the south is a great place to head out from!

Bruny Island Tasmania
Gorgeous views down the neck, Bruny Island

Charter a Boat Around Port Davey

Located the heart of the Tasmanian Wilderness Area this is Tasmania at it’s most rugged and remote.

There are two ways to get here: by foot or by boat. You can charter boats or even hike out to one of the worlds last true wildernesses.

Charting a boat around Port Davey will give you the opportunity to experience spectacular scenery and true isolation.

Tasmania Travel Guide

Now that you know what to do on the island, here’s my little secret mini guide for where to stay and what to eat.

Best Accommodation in Tasmania

Obviously I can’t list every place to stay around the whole island. But here’s my personal recommendation of accommodation if you want to have some cool experiences.

Budget – Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse

This excellent hostel in Hobart is a popular spot for tourists visiting the Apple Isle.

Located in the heart of Hobart, it is a short walk from Battery Point and Salamanca Market making it an excellent choice. 

Offering both dorms and privates it a great option for both solo travellers and couples. 

Midrange – Scamander Sanctuary Holiday Park

This excellent little holiday park in Scamander offers all the perks that one would expect from a good Australian holiday park.

However, it’s the glamping options here that make this such a good choice. 

This is an excellent location close to a number of excellent beaches. And a 40-minute drive up to the Bay of Fires make this an excellent option if you want to avoid the crowds around Binalong Bay and St Helens.

Luxury – Cradle Mountain Hotel

This amazing hotel is ideally located a short drive from Dove Lake.

Offering plenty of luxuries and great food options this is a great option for anyone heading to Cradle Mountain.

Eating in Tasmania

Finally, here’s my list of the best places to eat in Tasmania

Budget – Exeter Bakery 

The Exeter Bakery is affordable and delicious. Located in the Tamar Valley this is a great place to enjoy a classic Aussie pie. 

Midrange – Almost Anywhere on the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail.

Not really a single location here, but pretty much any of the options on the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail make an excellent mid-range eating option. 

Luxury – Hursey Seafood

Located at the end (or beginning depending on how you look at it) of the Cradle to Coast Tasting trail Hursey Seafood restaurant serves a menagerie of ocean critters. 

Not everything is in the luxury price bracket. However, if you fancy some crab or lobster then be prepared to take a big jump into that territory. 

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About the author

Richard Barnes

Richard Barnes is one of half of the British-Chinese couple that make up abearandapig.com, a blog focusing on travel, life as a local and an expat in the middle kingdom and Chinese social media.

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