Sometimes when you first arrive in a new city you instantly get a good feeling about the place, and that’s exactly what happened when I touched down in Hobart. Found at the base of Kunanyi (Mount Wellington), the Tasmanian capital is a waterfront city famous for art, culture, food and maritime history. Whilst Hobart is tiny in comparison to Sydney & Melbourne, this little city is bustling with life and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t fall in love with the place when they visited.
You could easily spend a week in Hobart exploring its museums, galleries, restaurants and cultural attractions but most people opt for 2-3 days. Personally, I think the minimum time to spend in Hobart is 48 hours in order complete all of the must-do activities. Here’s my list of the 12 unmissable things you have to do in Hobart in 2021.
1. Eat at Templo Restaurant
Templo has only been open for a few years, but it’s already widely considered the best restaurant in Hobart. Found tucked away in the back streets of the city, the 20-seat neighbourhood restaurant is often booked out weeks in advance and for good reason. Templo offers a seasonal chef’s menu of share plates paired with unique local wines. The food is innovative and utterly delicious, but it’s the intimate atmosphere that brings back visitors again and again.
2. Experience MONA
You won’t find a single Hobart travel guide that doesn’t include MONA and I bet you’re wondering what all of the fuss is about. To put it frankly, MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) is so much more than a museum. As well as the incredible immersive art installations, The MONA site also features a winery, a brewery, several restaurants, a live music lawn and a hotel. Put aside half a day to visit MONA, spend a couple of hours perusing art and then enjoy a wine tasting before grabbing some street food and listening to a live quartet on the lawn. Located eleven kilometres north of Hobart city centre, catch the MONA ferry from Brooke St Pier for $23 return instead of driving or getting the bus. Hop onboard the cool camouflage ferries for a 20-minute scenic cruise of the River Derwent, offering amazing views of the Hobart waterfront with Kunanyi (Mount Wellington) in the backdrop. MONA is also great for a family day out with a huge kids play area and lots of child-friendly art installations.
3. Do a Whisky Tasting at Lark Distillery
As the first small craft whisky distillery in Australia, Lark Distillery is an integral part of Tasmania’s history and the old warehouse is located in the heart of Hobart. Head to the charming cellar door, complete with huge comfy armchairs and a roaring fire, for a guided tasting by the whisky-loving staff members. Tasting flights start at $32, but you can choose to go for one of the premium flights if you’re willing to spend a bit more cash.
Top tip: If you’re not a big whisky drinker, the Sláinte Whisky Liqueur over ice is smooth, sweet and caramelly compared to the stronger classic cask drinks – and it only costs $8!
4. Reach the Summit of Kunanyi (Mount Wellington)
When you’re exploring Hobart I can guarantee that you’ll constantly be looking upwards at Kunanyi (Mount Wellington) towering over the city. Rising to 1271 metres above sea level, the mountain dominates the skyline and it’s a real sight to behold. Luckily, it takes just 30 minutes to reach the summit by car and the sealed road means it can be accessed by campervans & larger motorhomes too. From The Pinnacle summit, you’ll be able to see the greater Hobart region and along the River Derwent to Bruny Island and the South West Wilderness area – the views are breathtaking but do try to visit on a clear day if possible for the best experience. If you love outdoor adventures, I can definitely recommend catching the Explorer Bus to the summit and then hiking or cycling down to Fern Tree where the bus will pick you up again (the bus will transport your bikes too for a small cost).
5. Eat & Drink Your Way Around the Salamanca Market
You should definitely try to plan your trip to Hobart around the weekend in order to experience the wonderful Salamanca Market. Taking place every Saturday, the markets are spread right across historic Salamanca place and feature hundreds of artisan producers selling everything from alpaca wool blankets to lavender-infused fudge. Free tastings are plentiful, with the opportunity to try local gins, whiskeys, biltong jerky, nougat & much more. Don’t miss the famous scallop pies from Smiths and excellent coffee from Stand By Me Espresso (they accept Keep Cups).
Top tip: The market gets super busy so try and arrive before 9am to avoid the long entry queues later in the morning.
If you don’t manage to get to Hobart on a Saturday, it’s not the end of the world. Salamanca Place is still worth a visit to see the beautiful heritage sandstone buildings and explore the galleries and cafés tucked inside them (and if you can afford to pay for accommodation in the Salamanca area, you won’t be disappointed). On Sundays Hobart hosts the Farm Gate Market, a farmers market where all of the stall holders grow & produce their own food & drink from scratch, creating the ultimate paddock to plate shopping experience.
6. Explore Hobart Waterfront
Hobart waterfront is pretty much the heart of the city and a great place to really take in the history & beauty of the capital. Wander along the water’s edge at Constitution Dock, admiring the fishing boats & the statue of Tasmanian Antarctic explorer Louis Bernacchi along with his pet husky and Arctic animals beside him. Next, continue north along the harbour to the Sullivan’s Cove area, where you’ll find beautiful old buildings as well as lively bars and restaurants.
7. Visit the Cascades Female Factory
Whilst there are historic convict sites all over the country detailing the forced migration of British men and boys in the mid-nineteenth century, Cascades Female Factory is the most significant cultural site in Australia that housed female convicts. Admission to the former workhouse will provide an insight into the journey these women took from England to the penal colony, their living conditions, their forced labour and their punishment for misdemeanors. The factory is a 10 minute drive outside of the city or you can catch a public bus.
8. Take a Tour of Cascade Brewery
Not to be confused with the female prison, Cascade Brewery is just down the road and proudly holds the title of Australia’s oldest brewery. The iconic sandstone building tucked away in the shadows of Mount Wellington is still used to brew beer, albeit on a larger scale than what was produced in the early 19th century. For $30 you can enjoy an hour-long tour of the brewery, learning about the types of hops & barley used, the yeast fermentation process and how Cascade beers are bottled and distributed around the country. After visiting both the on-site brewery and cidery, you’ll definitely have worked up a thirst for a tasting paddle, which is included in the price.
9. Wander Around Historic Battery Point
Battery Point is found on the hill just above Salamanca and it’s one of the earliest settlement villages in the whole of Tasmania. Head up to the charming little village via Kelly’s Steps at Salamanca Place and enjoy a peaceful afternoon exploring winding streets whilst admiring the colonial architecture and the old seafarer’s cottages. Get coffee from 63 Degree Espresso and freshly baked bread from Jackman & McRoss. Da Angelo Ristorante is the best restaurant in Battery Point (and the second best restaurant in the whole of Hobart) – visit for Italian-inspired brunch, lunch & dinner. Fancy a few drinks? Definitely choose Preachers for craft beer, cocktails and an epic courtyard beer garden complete with a bus for you to enjoy your drinks inside.
10. Find Unusual Plant Species in the Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens
Whilst every city in Australia has a Royal Botanic Gardens, I think the one in Hobart is particularly special as it is found high on a hill overlooking the River Derwent and the Tasman Bridge. Don’t miss Australia’s only Subantarctic Plant House as well as the lily pond for epic photo opportunities.
11. Have a Pint at Tasmania’s Oldest Pub
The Hope And Anchor Tavern on Macquarie St first received their license in 1807 under the trading name The Whale Fishery, making it the oldest pub in the whole of Tasmania. Whilst the name was eventually changed to something more pleasant, The Hope and Anchor still retains its historic characteristics with wood panelled walls, mounted deer heads and a lively atmosphere. The food is ok, but there are much better places to eat in the city – I recommend grabbing a beer and relaxing by the roaring log fire before heading elsewhere for dinner.
12. Brunch at Born in Brunswick
Born in Brunswick is widely considered the best breakfast spot in the city and it provides a great opportunity to visit bohemian North Hobart. With a focus on locally sourced, sustainable & seasonal food, brunch at Born in Brunswick offers everything from Tasmanian octopus & chorizo scrambled eggs to vegan spiced apple hot cakes with vanilla custard and nutty oat crumble. Given that Born in Brunswick is inspired by Melbourne café culture, you can imagine how good the coffee is.