Hobart Guide

The spirited traveller’s guide to Hobart

The waterside city of Hobart is one of Tasmania’s most sought-after destinations for good reason – and an absolute must if you’ve yet to dip your toe into the myriad wonders of this island state.

There’s something for every type of traveller here, from the gourmand to the art critic, history buff, nature-dweller and lover of luxury alike. It’s one of few cities in the world where a vibrant cosmopolitan scene sits in the midst of breathtaking nature: you can be at the peak of Mount Wellington one moment and at a hip bar with smoking cocktail in-hand the next. Its heritage as a bustling port and 19th-century penal colony is evident at every turn, from the cottages of Battery Point to the warehouses of Salamanca Place. It’s as if the stories of its past residents whisper on the breeze as you stroll the cobbled laneways. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in local life, scratch a little deeper beneath the surface to find hidden laneway cafés, farmers’ markets and buzzing spots to dance the night away.

You’ll find Tassie’s storied capital on the southeast coast, a scenic 3.5-hour drive from the Spirit of Tasmania landing point at Devonport. For the ultimate freedom, simply drive your own car aboard Spirit of Tasmania so you can hit the road on arrival, ready to explore.

Whether you’re heading straight there or building it into your wider itinerary, be sure to allow at least two days to discover the incredible breadth and depth of what the city has to offer – and the true spirit of Hobart.


Feel the chill at the subantarctic collection, Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens

The spirited traveller likes to dig a little deeper – but how about as far as the Antarctic? This is literally and figuratively one of the coolest spots in Hobart: a one-of-a-kind plant house that showcases flora of the sub-Antarctic region. The climate-controlled space is thick with icy fog and mist, creating the perfect environment for the specimens which have been collected by hand-selected by gardens staff and scientists on field trips to Macquarie Island.


Discover history and art on the Battery Point Sculpture Trail

Its name, inspired by the addition of a battery of guns added to the site in the early 1800s, is a nod to the storied history this waterside suburb enjoys. In fact, it may feel like nothing much has changed since this time as you navigate the quaint streets and laneways lined with 19th-century cottages. Today this trendy spot is home to some of the most sought-after real estate in Hobart, upmarket boutiques and achingly-cool eateries, all waiting to be uncovered. The award-winning sculpture trail winds through some of the city’s oldest residences and tells the story of each place through thought-provoking art.


Experience the extraordinary at Museum of Old and New Art (Mona)

The addition of this avant-garde museum to Hobart’s Berriedale waterside really upped the ante for the city, gaining it recognition on an international scale. As Australia’s largest private museum, Mona houses an awe-inspiring curation of contemporary and historic pieces, all within an architectural marvel that is a work of art in itself. The site is also home to gourmet restaurants and luxe riverside accommodation. And did we mention there’s wine to sup from the onsite vineyard?


Browse Salamanca Market for artisanal produce

The beating heart of the city can surely be found at this vibrant outdoor market, held every Saturday at Battery Point. Mingle with the locals as they peruse the wares of more than 230 stallholders, which include regional artisans, designers and producers. Jewellery, homemade jams, pottery, clothing, books, fresh fruit veggies, coffee, ciders, beers… the very best produce Tasmania has to offer is all on display here. It’s perfect for stocking your pantry if you’re enjoying a self-catering, self-drive escape.


Dance with the locals at Rektango, Salamanca Arts Centre

Every Friday, the pretty courtyard of Salamanca Art Centre comes to life with fabulous live music, and locals dancing to the sounds of everything from disco to funk and Latin sambas. The chill of winter is offset with mulled wine and fire pits, while sunshine brings the sangria out. The best part? This musician-led event is free of charge – after all, you can’t put a price on pure, unbridled joy.  


Go kayaking through sea caves

Kayaking may not be the first activity that springs to mind for a city break, but this is a fabulous way to immerse yourself in Hobart’s beauty off the beaten track if you’ve already conquered Mt Wellington. Roaring 40s Kayaking offers a full-day experience to Storm Bay on the Derwent River just 20km from the city, home to pretty bays, sea caves and soft, sandy beaches all waiting to be explored – if you’re lucky, you might even spot resident seals, whales and dolphins. This is a favourite spot for locals, who head here of a weekend for adventure and relaxation.


Hunt for ghosts at Penitentiary Chapel

There are countless ways to immerse yourself in Hobart’s history – from the Cascades Female Factory to the nearby UNESCO World Heritage-listed Port Arthur Historic Site – but perhaps the most fun of all is a ghost tour. Walk in the footsteps of the incarcerated at the Penitentiary Chapel, one of Australia’s most significant convict sites that provides a fittingly eerie setting for a ghost tour. Built in the early 1830s, the building features 36 unlit cells beneath the chapel floor, once used for the solitary confinement of prisoners.


Homemade pasta at Fico, Macquarie Street

A little slice of Europe in Australia, Fico marries the flavours of Italy with the finest local produce Hobart has to offer, from truffles to organic veggies. The weekly-changing menu is dictated by the season, but you might expect to see handmade, pillowy ravioli, flavour-packed risottos and fresh seafood. With its consistently impressive take on casual fine-dining, it’s no surprise the restaurant won a coveted AGFG Readers’ Choice 2021 Award.


Wine at Sonny, Elizabeth Street

It’s often the most unassuming of places that turn out to be hidden gems, and this tiny wine bar from the founder of Templo is certainly a prime example. One of the finest small bars Hobart has to offer, Sonny houses just 20 guests at a time, who come for the carefully-curated wine selection, fresh pasta made daily and good vibes.


Seasonal Tasmanian fare at Aloft, Brooke Street Pier

This restaurant’s lofty location atop Brooke Street Pier grants breathtaking views across Hobart’s waterfront – and the quality of the dishes is just as high. Making great use of the finest seasonal ingredients Tasmania has to offer, from herbs and vegetables to locally-caught seafood, the menu features dishes such as Jerusaleum artichoke with fennel and goat curd and sashimi with Meyer lemon and sesame.


Cocktails and whisky at Society Salamanca, Battery Point

A dizzying array of spirits and whiskies greets you on arrival at this atmospheric bar. In fact, the selection is so vast that a wooden ladder is required to procure those on the higher shelves. Settling on which tipple to sample first is a dilemma indeed – will it be the Ruby Rose cocktail (dry gin, Aperol, red grapefruit, lemon, sea salt, rose) or an Australian craft gin with house-made tonic?


Picture-perfect dishes at Dier Makr, Collins Street

Another winner in the AGFG Readers’ Choice Awards 2021, Dier Makr offers artfully-presented, bite-size dishes that almost look too pretty to eat. The ever-evolving menu features dishes such as tartlettes of hay-smoked ricotta with sugar snaps and curry leaf, and mackerel with charred peppers and quince and Meyer lemon reduction. Choose your accompanying vino from the wine room or the adjoining Lucinda Wine Bar.


Coffee at Born in Brunswick

Hobart is quickly chasing the tail of Melbourne when it comes to the coffee scene – and you could be forgiven for thinking you were still across the water in this little gem of a café. Aside from blend and single origin espresso, batch brews and pour-over filter coffees, there are brunch cocktails, wines beers and smoothies on offer, too. Feeling peckish? Add a side of indulgent truffled scrambled eggs to your drink order.

Photo credits:

Must See & Do (from top to bottom): Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens - Tourism Tasmania & Geoff Murray, Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) - Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett, Salamanca Place - Alastair Bett, Rektango - Dale Baldwin, Roaring 40s Kayaking - Tourism Australia & Graham Freeman, Port Arthur Historic Site - Poon Wai Nang.

Must Eat & Drink (from top to bottom): Fico - Osborne Images, Templo - Osborne Images, Looking toward Brooke Street Pier - Dale Baldwin, Society Salamanca - Rosie Hastie, Dier Makr - Osborne Images, Drinking coffee - Adam Gibson.