Hobart has never looked as appealing to international and domestic visitors as it does now. In 2013, thanks to its flourishing gastronomic scene and the arrival of the world-class MONA museum, Hobart earned the prestigious title of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel Cities. It sent hip tourists flocking to Tasmanian capital, helping the city shine in a brand new light.
Hobart has come a long way since its establishment as a penal settlement back in 1800s. Today the city prides itself in being one of Australia’s coolest and most vibrant cities. Tourism is booming and the air in Hobart is filled with self-confidence, pride, and a certain level of excitement.
Hobart was one of the stops on our 2 week trip around Tasmania, and it was a pleasure to explore. We came for the food, for the beautiful waterfront, and the famous Salamanca Market, but left feeling like there was so much more to Hobart than its main attractions. One day, we’ll definitely be back, but for now we’ll do what we can to encourage others to add this great city to their Australia Itinerary.
Best Time to Visit Hobart
Unlike the rest of the Australian continent, Tasmania (and particularly Hobart) does not lavish in 30°C temperatures. EVER! Summer in Hobart is short and not scorchingly hot, often only lasting for about 2 months from December to January. Hobart’s residents and visitors get to enjoy pleasant 22-23°C days (at most) and mild evenings. Hobart during the summer is full of activities and events, making it by far the best and busiest time for visitors.
Winter temperatures in Hobart range between 3-11°C, but the thermometer drops well below that near Mt Wellington. It does without saying that that winter is probably the least favourable season to visit the Tasmanian capital.
Fall and Spring can be pleasant, with the average highs ranging from 15-20°C, but the weather during these months can also be rather unpredictable with strong winds and sudden temperature drops. If you are happy to layer up, fall and spring can be a great time to visit Tasmania outside of the high season.
Top Things to Do in Hobart
Hobart is a beautiful city full of historic buildings and charming neighbourhoods with Georgian and Victorian architecture dating back to mid 1800s.
No visit to Hobart is complete without a trip to the top of the alpine rocky summit of Mount Wellington. When the weather is clear, the top of the mountain offers fantastic views of Hobart and surroundings along with spectacular walking and mountain biking trails.
The next great Hobart attraction to add to your list is Salamanca Place. Formerly a set of warehouses for the port of Hobart Town, today Salamanca Place consists of rows of Georgian sandstone buildings with restaurants, galleries, craft shops, and offices. Its a unique area worth exploring on any day of the week, but it’s especially popular on Saturdays, when Salamanca Place plays host to the famous Salamanca Market. The market started with just 12 stalls in 1972 and has since grown to over 300, becoming Tasmania’s most visited attraction with over 25,000 visitors every Saturday.
Behind Salamanca Place, you’ll find Battery Point, originally a site of an artillery battery,and today its listed as Hobart’s oldest and most historic residential area. It’s a lovely neighbourhood for a leisurely walk, with charming Victorian houses, quiet cafes, and antique shops.
Culture vultures will love visiting Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) which is located within the Moorilla winery on the Berriedale peninsula in Hobart. MONA is a fairly new addition to Hobart’s must-see list (MONA was officially opened on 21 January 2011), but it has quickly become one of locals and visitors favourite. MONA is unlike any other museum you have ever been to, catering to a more progressive young demographic with its unique and sometimes controversial exhibits and exhibitions.
If you are anything like us and feel like a visit to a museum is not high on your priority list, go anyway! There is so much more to MONA than the exhibits! MONA often hosts festivals, like the MONA FOMA (Festival of Music and Art), concerts, and other events. But even without any special events, walking around the MONA grounds is a treat in itself. Plus, the green space around the back is a wonderful spot for a wine and cheese picnic.
Hobart’s Waterfront is another popular spot to visit during your time in the city. You can take a walk along one of the finest deepwater ports in the world and admire the historic buildings and beautiful boats. Don’t forget to pop into a fish and chips shop along the way.
If you are traveling on a budget, Hobart is a great city to explore. Weekend Notes have put together a great list of Top 10 Free Things to do in Hobart, which includes a visit to the Botanical Gardens and Open Mic Nights.
Those looking for a longer list, will enjoy browsing through Discover Tasmania’s suggested activities and attractions to check out while visiting Hobart.
Where to Stay in Hobart
In Hobart, there is accommodation to suit everyone’s needs. Bed & Breakfasts, budget, and luxury hotels are available all around the city. There are lots of hostel options to choose from, with Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse and The Pickled Frog being the best rated, offering dorm room beds starting at just $25/night.
Another great option for those traveling on a budget is caravan parks. Discovery Holiday Caravan Park and Barilla Holiday Park offer great accommodation options ranging from unpowered campsites ($17/night) to cabins ($180/night).
Hobart is a great place to find Airbnb accommodation. With over 660 unique accommodation options on offer, there is something to suit every budget. Private rooms in shared houses start at just $25/night and go up to $400-500/night for beautiful waterfront properties.
Don’t have an Airbnb account yet? Sign up now and receive USD $20 to put towards your first Airbnb stay!
The best areas to stay in Hobart are the ones within walking distance to the Waterfront, Battery Point, or Salamanca Place, but there really isn’t a bad area to stay in Hobart. Even outside of Central, West, and North Hobart, neighbourhoods like Sandy Point and Mount Stuart are only about a 30 min walk away from the city centre.
Where to Eat in Hobart
Tasmania has long been renowned for great fresh seasonal local cuisine, and Hobart is one of the best places in the state to sample the best the region has to offer.
The Urban List took the time to put together a great list of the best places to eat in Hobart, featuring all-time favourites, like Smolt, an Italian and Spanish influenced restaurant situated in the heart of Salamanca Square, Me Wah, country’s most praised Asian establishments and The Standard, the best burger joint in town.
As with most well-known restaurants in Tasmania, some of these can be a bit pricey. If you are traveling on a budget consider following advice from The Explorer Blog at the University of Tasmania as they recommend their Top Ten Cheap Eats of Hobart, featuring Pidgeon Hole café, an all-time best for breakfast, and Tas Farm Gate Market, a great choice for cheap grub on a lazy Sunday.
A few other options worth mentioning and ones particularly recommended to us by locals during our visit are: Salamanca Wharf Cafe for breakfast, Drunken Admiral and Mures for great seafood, Sweet Envy for yummy desserts, and of course the amazing selection of food stalls at the Salamanca Market.
If you are visiting on a cold day and craving a warm cup of tea, then mark the Pollen Tea Room in Battery Point on your map.
How Much Time Do You Need in Hobart
You don’t need a ton of time to explore Hobart itself. The city is rather compact so even 2-3 days will give you plenty of time to check out its main attractions at good pace. But Hobart is also a fantastic city to use as a base for exploring other parts of Tasmania.
Popular day trips from Hobart include:
- Port Arthur -a small town and former penal settlement, and home to the Port Arthur Historic Site on the Tasman Peninsula, located about 1.5 hrs south of Hobart.
- Bruny Island – an island located roughly 2 hrs away from Hobart, offers stunning natural beauty along with great food and tour experiences. Bruny Island is particularly famous for its Day Cruises that take visitors around the stunning cliffs of the Tasman Peninsula
- Richmond – a small historic village known for being the home to Australia’s oldest bridge and for being a part of the Southern Wine Route in Tasmania
- Hastings Caves – a State Reserve with a variety of attractions, like thermal springs pool, rich forests, and Newdegate Cave.
- Mt Field National Park – Tasmania’s most accessible national park with diverse landscape ranging from eucalyptus temperate rainforest to alpine moorland.
- Freycinet Peninsula and National Park – renowned for its biggest attraction the Wineglass Bay, which draws thousands of visitors to its granite peaks, secluded bays, and white sandy beaches.