Tasmania (or Tassie, to the locals) is Australia's smallest and least populated state, with only around 500,000 people on the whole island. What it lacks in size, however, it makes up for in quirky museums, impressive landscapes, and incredible food.
In comparison to the rest of Australia, Tasmania's small distances make it a great spot to plan a laid-back road trip, stopping in at beaches, wineries, and charming country towns. Regular direct flights to Tasmania's capital city, Hobart, are available from Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. The island can also be reached by ferry from Melbourne. Read on for our complete list of the top things to do in Tasmania.
The Museum of Old and New Art, just a short ferry ride from Hobart, is Tasmania's most famous cultural institution. Known for annual festivals MONA FOMA and Dark MOFO, as well as its provocative collection of contemporary art that explores themes of sex and death, MONA is the brainchild of enigmatic billionaire David Walsh, who made his money as a professional gambler.
Since 2011, the museum has gained local and international infamy for works like Belgian artist Wim Delvoyea's "Cloaca Professional," a machine that performs the function of the human digestive system.
Tickets are AU$30, plus $22 for the return ferry trip. (Admission is free for Tasmanians and those under 18 years of age.) Though it was designed to be approached from the water, MONA can also be reached by road.
For experienced hikers, the Overland Track is Australia's top alpine walk, covering 40 miles over six days in the northwest of the island. From Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair, you'll trek through the valleys, rainforests, and pastures of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The Aboriginal custodians of Lake St Clair were the Larmairremener of the Big River tribe, and Cradle Mountain was part of the traditional lands of the North tribe.
This trip requires booking ahead and careful planning; there are huts on the trail, but all walkers must also carry a tent, just in case. You will need a pass to walk the track during high season from October to May, which costs AU$200. (The fee is waived during winter.) If that all sounds a little strenuous, you can experience the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park through shorter hikes and lookouts, too.
Visit the Lavender Fields
Tasmania's cool temperate climate makes it the perfect place to grow lavender Down Under, and the flower has been flourishing here since the 1920s. It is mostly produced for perfume and culinary purposes, but is also gaining a reputation as one of the island's most photographed natural attractions.
The Bay of Fires Conservation Area on Tasmania's northeast coast is fringed by crystal-clear water and white-sand beaches that have to be seen to be believed. Orange-stained rocks dot the coastline, creating a stark contrast between the sea and sky as wallabies, kangaroos, dolphins, and Tasmanian Devils roam freely throughout the region.
The guided Bay of Fires Lodge Walk is a well-established luxury experience in this area, alongside plenty of shorter self-guided trails. Many visitors camp or stay at a secluded eco-lodge, with the nearby town of St Helens providing more accommodation and dining options. Don't miss the local oysters and mussels during your stay.
In Freycinet National Park, further down the east coast, the mountains meet the sea in dramatic pink-granite formations. Wineglass Bay is the area's most iconic landmark, forming a smooth curve along the coast. Hiking trails are plentiful, but the fastest way to see the park is on a cruise that stops in at all the highlights.
Honeymoon Bay and the Hazards mountain range are especially worth checking out. Camping and a range of other accommodation are available, with most visitors starting their journey in the village of Coles Bay.
See the Southern Lights
Also known as the Aurora Australis, the Southern Lights are created by solar winds and can be seen year-round over Tasmania, depending on the weather conditions. The full range of colors is rarely visible to the naked eye, but appear ethereal and impressive through a camera lens, so you will most likely see green, yellow, or white light dancing above the horizon.
They are most easily spotted when looking towards the south from a location away from artificial light. Mt Wellington and Mt Nelson near Hobart are good places to try your luck.
Go Wine Tasting
Tasmania is packed with top-notch food and wine, and the climate is suitable for a variety of grapes, including pinot gris, riesling, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, and cabernet sauvignon.
If you find yourself in Launceston, you can explore the Tamar Valley, while the Derwent, Coal River, and Huon Valleys are not far from Hobart. There are also some wineries along the east coast between Swansea and Bicheno.
No visit to Hobart is complete without a trip to Mt Wellington, which offers expansive views over the city and surrounding region from a gorgeous lookout 4,000 feet above sea level. The mountain, called kunanyi by the Indigenous Muwinina people, is surrounded by walking and biking trails, as well as a popular rock climbing area at the Organ Pipes.
While there's a small café at the Springs and bathroom facilities throughout the park, there's no visitors center, so we recommend planning your trip in advance. The summit (known as the Pinnacle) is a half-hour drive from Hobart, with shuttle buses and tours available. Wellington Park is free to enter and open around the clock.
Meet a Tasmanian Devil
Often seen baring their teeth and growling, these small, angry animals were the inspiration for the Looney Tunes character Taz and are also the world's largest carnivorous marsupials. They once lived throughout Australia, but are now only found in Tasmania. Even here, their numbers are rapidly decreasing due to a rare contagious cancer.
Over the past two decades, the Tasmanian government has launched conservation efforts to make sure the Devils don't meet the same fate as their distant relative, the extinct Tasmanian Tiger. You'll see them in most zoos in the state, as well as at the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park, Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, and Cradle Wildlife Park.
In far northwest Tasmania, the Nut is a striking 450-foot high volcanic rock formation that provides spectacular views across the Bass Strait and the Rocky Cape National Park. Take the chairlift or follow the steep walking track to the top. (It'll take around an hour to complete the full circuit on foot.)
At the base of the Nut, the historic village of Stanley makes an ideal base for exploring this rural part of the coast. The chairlift costs AU$17 roundtrip and is closed over winter.
Bruny Island, off the southwest coast of Tasmania, is a quintessential wilderness experience with hiking trails, wildlife encounters, water sports and delicious local food. The island is only around 30 miles long, and the north and south sections are divided by an isthmus locals call the Neck. Birdwatchers should keep an eye out for the endangered forty-spotted pardalote, while white wallabies, echidnas, little penguins, and seals can also be seen on the island.
Lunawanna Alonnah, as Bruny Island was originally named by its Aboriginal custodians, is also significant as the birthplace of Truganini, a Nuenonne woman who lived through the colonization of Tasmania in the 1800s.
You'll need to take a tour or rent a car in Hobart before boarding the ferry to Bruny, as there is no public transport or taxi service on the island. Accommodation offerings range from comfortable cabins to boutique eco-hotels.
Every Saturday, Hobart's Salamanca Place is transformed into a bustling outdoor market, with stalls selling everything from fresh local produce to antiques, fashion, art, and homewares. Salamanca Market was established in 1972 and has grown to become a mainstay on the city's calendar.
Shoppers can enjoy live music and snack on wood-fired pizza, empanadas, local oysters, or a breakfast bun while they browse. The market takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Saturday, except in extreme weather conditions. While you're shopping in Hobart, check out Art Mob, a commercial gallery that features emerging Indigenous artists from all over the country.