This island state off the coast of mainland Australia is known for the lush greenery and rugged wilderness of its national parks, and the thriving arts and culture scene of its capital, Hobart. Tasmania’s most visited attraction is the buzzing, creative inner-city Salamanca Markets – a great place to pick up some unique souvenirs! – and it’s only a stone’s throw from the city to enjoy some of the most breathtaking scenery that Australia has to offer.
Tasmania is known as the Garden State for good reason, with one-tenth of the state remaining as unspoiled rainforest, so if you’re a fan of bushwalking, hiking or bird-watching, you’re bound to have a wonderful visit.
Spanning only 364 km north to south, and 306 km east to west, there’s plenty packed into this compact island, including an astonishing 7 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Tasmania is a perfect destination for seeing plenty of diverse urban and regional, natural and man-made attractions in a quick and easy trip.
Lets explore the best places to visit in Tasmania:
The capital city of Tasmania is nestled among the foothills of Mt Wellington (a stunning mountain that is well worth a visit in its own right). Hobart is best known for the funky, fashionable Salamanca Markets, widely considered Australia’s best outdoor markets.
But there’s plenty more to do here: from walking tracks and trails, gorgeous parks and gardens, to fascinating history and delicious cuisine, there’s something here for everyone.
The galleries and museums here are particularly renowned, especially MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art). The Battery Point walk is also fascinating: the classic architecture feels like something out of a Victorian storybook, and reminds you that Hobart is indeed Australia’s second oldest city.
Additionally, Tasmania’s Botanical Gardens are particularly gorgeous, and only a short walk from the city centre.
But perhaps the most fun you can have here is wandering the inner-city laneways and coming across hidden treasures!
2. Miena and the Central Plateau Conservation Area
Miena is a gorgeous lakeside town, and a popular getaway for Hobart-dwellers.
Located in the heart of the Central Highlands, the town boasts excellent fishing, spectacular scenery, a relaxing atmosphere and stunning views of the Great Lake, Australia’s second-largest freshwater lake.
If you can brave the cold, the snowy Miena winters are quite lovely.
It’s also a stone’s throw away from the Central Plateau Conservation Area, aptly nicknamed the Land of a Thousand Lakes, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Tasmania Wilderness site.
h2>3. St Helens
St Helens is the largest town on the North-East Coast, and an excellent place to base yourself while exploring what this area has to offer: the stunning Bay of Fires, Binalong Bay, Georges Bay, Peron Dunes and the St Columba Falls.
St Helens is lovely in its own right, with gorgeous sea views, friendly locals and a relaxed atmosphere.
As the second largest fishing port in Tasmania, it’s also a great place for casting a line, or eating the freshest and tastiest seafood imaginable!
4. Port Arthur
The small seaside town of Port Arthur is Tasmania’s most popular attraction.
One of Australia’s most significant historical sites, the town boasts excellently preserved buildings from the town’s previous incarnation as a convict settlement, and acts as an open-air museum to Australia’s convict past: indeed, Port Arthur is one of several sites that form the UNESCO World Heritage serial-listed Australian Convict Sites.
Port Arthur is considered the best-preserved of these sites.
From 1833 to 1853, Port Arthur was the destination to which convicts sent to Australia who had reoffended would be sent on to; it was also where rebellious convicts from other sites were relocated to.
The Port Arthur penitentiary was an example of the “Separate Prison Typology”, emerging from the theories of Jeremy Bentham, known for the infamous panopticon.
This system also signified a shift from physical to psychological punishment, including extended periods of sensory deprivation.
Port Arthur prisoners were also used for hard labor; some of the prisoners used were as young as 9 years old.
Those who died in the prison were buried in unmarked graves at the nearby Isle of the Dead.
Tourists are attracted to the lovely scenery, but also the fascinating insight into Australia’s history.
The town is also known for the many ghost stories surrounding it, and lantern-lit ghost tours are available.
There is also a fascinating museum on-site which is well worth a visit.
5. Three Capes Track
Starting with a boat ride outside of the Port Arthur township before commencing on a 46km easy-to-moderate walking trail, the Three Capes Track deserves a mention in its own right: the scenery is breathtaking, with cliffs jutting straight out of the sea, and plenty of marine life such as seals and dolphins.
There’s huts on the way so that you can stay the night in comfort, and the track itself is well-maintained.
Pick up the information book from the Parks and Wildlife Service so that you can fully understand and enjoy what makes this track so special.
6. Little Blue Lake
The color of this lake is what makes it particularly worth a visit: originally a mining hole, the unusual, vivid aqua-blue color comes from its high mineral content (which is also why swimming is not advised here, but it’s a popular waterskiing spot). You can also make this your starting point for a hike up Mt Cameron, or make your way on to Mt William National Park.
Devonport lies at the northern tip of Tasmania, and is the main population centre in the region.
It is known for its lovely views of the Mersey River, its gorgeous arboretum, the Mersey Bluff lighthouse, and being the northern starting point of the 480 km Tasmanian Trail.
It is also the home of the oldest Aboriginal museum in Australia, Tiagarra, which offers a fascinating insight into the many Aboriginal sites in the area, including ancient art, as well as the Tiagarra walking track.
8. Wineglass Bay and Coles Bay
These two bays are perhaps the most spectacular scenery that Tasmania has to offer, and are also a great place to do some water sports, bushwalking, rock climbing or fishing.
These bays are iconic Tasmania, and a much-loved holiday destination by locals and tourists alike.
Accommodation in the area ranges from budget to luxury, so a perfect for romantic getaways or shoestring tourism alike.
9. Narawntapu National Park
This national park boasts diverse scenery, flora and fauna, with low coastal ranges, Bass Strait beaches, lagoons, dunes and wetlands.
Nicknamed the “Serengeti of Tasmania”, it’s a wonderful place to view Australian native wildlife in their natural habitat: you won’t have to wait long to spot a wombat, a wallaby or a roo! Platypuses and echidnas also inhabit the park, as well as a wide variety of birdlife, and even three species of bats.
10. Tarkine Wilderness Area
The Tarkine is a 447,000 hectare tract of temperate rainforest, containing pine, leatherwood and myrtle trees.
It is also home to many Aboriginal heritage sites, and teeming with animal life, including several rare and threatened species.
The Tarkine is a wonderfully calming, gorgeous and serene place to visit; especially in the Forest Reserve, it’s easy to forget about civilization entirely as you enjoy an adventure into natural, unspoiled beauty.
Some highlights of the Tarkine are the Philosopher Falls, the Wee Georgie Wood Steam Railway, and a river cruise of the Pieman River.
11. Zoodoo Zoo
Half an hour from Hobart, the adorably-named Zoodoo Zoo has all manner of local and exotic animals, and opportunities to get up close and personal: on the safari bus tour, you can hand-feed camels and zebras, and during the animal presentations, you can even feed a lion! You can also enjoy the Encounters on offer with animals such as friendly meerkats and marmosets.
This is also a perfect spot to see the famous Tasmanian Devil, which is a fun experience for wildlife-lovers and Looney Tunes fans alike.
While you’re in the area, make sure to spend some time enjoying the local town, Richmond: famous for its gorgeous bridge, Georgian architecture and the Hobart Town Historical Model Village.
12. King Island
King Island is an island in the Bass Strait, between the Australian mainland state of Victoria, and Tasmania’s North West Coast.
The island is particularly famous for its culinary delights: cheeses beloved throughout Australia, premium beef, and divine crayfish.
The snowy-white beaches are a little bit of paradise, and there’s plenty of fascinating flora and fauna to enjoy as well.
The island is also known for its three lighthouses, including Australia’s tallest, the 48-metre Cape Wickham Lighthouse.
(Tasmania’s waters are known as some of the world’s choppiest, with over 1000 recorded shipwrecks, so the lighthouse keepers would have had plenty of work to do!) You can also enjoy a splendid golf course, fishing, or one of the many guided tours of the island that will introduce you to its fascinating history.
13. Overland Track
This track is not for the faint-hearted (temperatures change rapidly, and deaths have occurred), but if you have a good level of fitness, then this remote alpine walk is an iconic Australian experience, and considered one of the world’s best bushwalks.
The 65km, six-day trek through the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park spans from Ronny Creek in Cradle Valley (next to Cradle Mountain) to the north, and Australia’s deepest lake – Lake St Clair – to the south.
You’ll be able to understand why UNESCO has registered some of this track as part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area: with stunning views of rainforests, eucalypt forest, meadows and valleys, and the potential for side trips to breathtaking waterfalls, the diverse scenery makes for a uniquely memorable experience.
Deloraine is a picturesque riverside town in the foothills of the Great Western Tiers mountain range, with a lovely historical Georgian and Victorian streetscape and a fascinating arts and crafts culture: as well as many local galleries, antique and craft shops, Deloraine also hosts the largest craft fair in the country.
The food here is also excellent: the town is particularly known for its raspberries, cheese and salmon.
While the town is lovely in its own right, it’s also a perfect base to explore further afield: Cradle Mountain, the Great Western Tiers, Central Highlands and Mole Creek Karst National Park are all easily accessible from Deloraine.
15. Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake
Cradle Mountain is an iconic Tasmanian destination: Tasmania’s fifth-highest mountain rises around the crystal-clear blue waters of Dove Lake, making for spectacular lake and mountain views.
The whole area is rich in flora, fauna and unusually diverse fungi.
There’s a 6-7 hour hiking trail, which is across some difficult territory and best suited for the experienced hiker, but certainly worth it for the lovely view from the summit.
However, if you’re not the mountain-climbing type, the views from the foothills still make this a must-see destination!