Launceston Guide

The spirited traveller’s guide to Launceston

Launceston, Tasmania's second-largest city, effortlessly blends urban and rural charms. The city boasts an abundance of historical streetscapes, including stunning architectural styles ranging from Georgian to mid-20th century. It is also home to an urban wilderness and an array of delicious culinary experiences, making it the perfect destination and within easy reach from Spirit of Tasmania’s embarkation point in Devonport.

Launceston is one of only two Australian cities recognised as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. The Launceston Harvest Market is held every Saturday, offering a selection of local produce and mouth-watering gourmet treats.

As one of Australia's oldest settlements, Launceston has an exceptionally well-preserved cityscape, which includes picturesque parks and is located along the banks of the North Esk River and kanamaluka/River Tamar.

The city offers a wide range of cultural experiences, with the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG) being the largest regional gallery in Australia. In addition, Design Tasmania showcases the artistry of Tasmania's local artisans and makers. For sports enthusiasts, UTAS Stadium hosts AFL matches.

Whether you take a stroll through the towering walls of Cataract Gorge, savour a meal on the waterfront, or cruise the Tamar's waters, Launceston has something for everyone. 

And beyond the city you are spoilt for choice too, whether you immerse yourself in history, reward your tastebuds with paddock to plate experiences, take on the world class mountain bike trails or follow the famous Tamar Valley Wine route one of the world’s premium cool climate wine regions.

Launceston and the surrounding region is sure to leave an impression. For more information on the region and an updated list of things to do, please view Visit Northern Tasmania's Website.  


Shop for Tasmanian produce at Harvest Market

This fabulous Saturday farmers’ market features up to 80 stalls each week, brimming with the finest local produce from juicy tomatoes to homemade bread, olive oils, pies, artisanal cheeses, meats, flowers, seafood – you name it. It’s all sold by the very hands that made it, so the passion behind the produce shines through.


Walk through fields of lavender at Bridestowe Lavender Estate

A 50-minute drive out of the city is Bridestowe Lavender Estate, where nearby in 1921, London perfumer CK Denny founded his farm with a humble packet of lavender seeds sourced from the French Alps. Today, the site attracts visitors from all over the world for its picture-perfect fields of purple, paddock-to-plate dishes including lavender ice cream and beautiful manicured gardens – not to mention the heavenly scent dancing on the air.


Explore Cataract Gorge

Launceston is framed on all sides by breathtaking nature, but right on the fringe of the city itself is one of its most beautiful feats: Cataract Gorge. This dreamy spot can be reached via a 15-minute riverside walk from central Launceston. Here, dramatic valley walls covered in velvety greenery rise from the waters of the South Esk River, which can be crossed via the ornate 19th-century Kings Bridge. A café and swimming pool can be found on the southern side, while the northern side is home to a pretty Victorian Garden, brimming with leafy ferns and exotic plants.


Spot little penguins at Low Head

A 45-minute drive from the heart of Launceston is Low Head, where the River Tamar meets the Bass Strait. Here, every night at sunset, up to 200 little penguins emerge from the sea onto the shore to return to their burrows in a magical waddling promenade. Low Head Penguin Tours offers a penguin-watching experience that allows visitors to witness this spectacle while respecting the needs of these sensitive creatures.


Tee off at the top-rated golf courses of Barnbougle

For golf lovers, Launceston means one thing and one thing only: Barnbougle. One of the most sought-after golfing spots in the world, this site – an hour’s drive from the city – is home to not just one, but two top-rated courses: Barnbougle Dunes and Barnbougle Lost Farm. Set on the coast on an old potato farm, the 18 holes of The Dunes and 20 holes of Lost Farm are designed to blend seamlessly into the wild beauty of the landscape. The ultimate reward after several hours on the wind-kissed course? A sumptuous lunch at the Lost Farm Restaurant overlooking the coastline, where dishes of locally-sourced produce are served alongside fine Tasmanian and Australian wines.


Immerse yourself in craftsmanship at Design Tasmania

Design Tasmania is a not-for-profit organisation shining a spotlight on the artisanal talent of Tasmania, from the fields of woodcraft, glassblowing, pottery, jewellery-making and more. The beating heart of the island’s craft community, the centre provides a platform for both established and emerging designers to showcase their work on an international stage. Interactive events can include weaving workshops and kids’ tours, while there’s a pop-up design store selling a curated selection of work from Tasmanian and Australian designers – the perfect place to source a souvenir that’s above-the-average.


A venue and beer for all occasions at DuCane Brewery

Launceston’s first brewpub is designed for locals, families, bushwalkers, and outdoor adventurers to gather and celebrate the character and culture of Tasmania’s outdoors tradition.

The centrepiece of Du Cane’s kitchen is a big Italian woodfired pizza oven.

Du Cane beer is totally Tasmanian (brewed by Launnie’s own Will Horan) and their food showcases local, nutritious ingredients. Du Cane combine these with fun and playful spaces, to create the sense of communion that comes from being together in the bush.

Whether you’re planning the next trip into the mountains, finishing up after a day on the trails, or meeting up with other families for an afternoon of simple socialising, you are going to love hanging out at Du Cane.


Craft beer at Saint John, St John Street

Beer-lovers are sure to be in heaven at this bar, where up to 17 taps of local and international craft beers are on offer at any one time – that’s not to mention the selection of over a hundred canned and bottled varieties. Taking a non-beer lover along? There are craft ciders, vinos and premium spirits on offer, too, which are sure to satiate them long enough for you to work your way through the menu.


Chef-Hatted Australian fare at MudBar Restaurant, Old Launceston Seaport

This chef-hatted restaurant takes pride of place on Launceston’s waterfront, inviting you to drink in harbour views as well as local Tasmanian wines. When it comes to the cuisine, expect contemporary Australian flavours with a piquant Asian twist: oysters presented in myriad ways (including tempura batter with chilli and lime), Dijon-roasted lamb, soy duck and porterhouse steak with red thai curry sauce.


Wine at Josef Chromy Wines, Relbia Road

This sprawling, 61-hectare vineyard is so beautiful it’s hard to believe it’s just south of a thriving cosmopolitan city. Dotted with leafy vines, century-old oak trees, lakes and rolling greenery, the estate is certainly a dreamy spot for a glass (or two) – and you’ll be spoilt for choice from the pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot gris, riesling and sauvignon blanc varieties produced here at one of Australia’s most acclaimed cellar doors. When a quick drink rolls into a long afternoon, the chef-hatted restaurant is on hand with charcuterie, oysters and hearty plates to keep you well fed.


French cuisine at Brisbane Street Bistro, Brisbane Street

You’ll feel cocooned in cosiness as soon as you step into this old-world bistro, whose dark wood, soft lighting and flocked wallpaper creates an intimate atmosphere. Classic French cooking meets modern Australian flavours here, resulting in dishes such as confit duck cassoulet and the tempting hot chocolate and dark stout pudding with burnt honey ice cream.

Photo credits:

Must See & Do (from top to bottom): Harvest Launceston Farmers' Market (Curly Haslam-Coates and Corey Gilham) - Rob Burnett, Bridestowe Lavender Estate - Luke Tscharke, Cataract Gorge Reserve - Emilie Ristevski, Low Head Pilot Station and Low Head Lighthouse - Tourism Tasmania & Owen Hughes, Barnbougle Dunes Golf Links - AirSwing Media.

Must Eat & Drink (from top to bottom): DuCane Brewery - Nick Hanson Visuals, Saint John Craft Beer - Chris Crerar, Mud Bar and Restaurant - Chris Crerar, Effervescence Tasmania - Andrew Wilson.