TUCKED away in the southern-most point of the island state of Tasmania, Hobart is a diverse little capital city that oozes charm. With a population of 220,000 Hobart sits at the foot of Mount Wellington and on the banks of tranquil Derwent River. For a smaller capital city, it's overflowing with a range of attractions for visitors whether it be its soul-soothing seaside lifestyle, world heritage wilderness, enchanting valleys, unspoilt Gregorian and Victorian architecture or alluring boutique wineries nearby.
Its old-world charm and deep sense of history is what makes Hobart stand out amongst the mainland of Australia's other capitals and there are countless attractions - it packs a punch in the world of travel and tourism, whether it's a tour of a Cascade Brewery, a visit to Salamanca Place for one of the world's best markets or exploration and play at Mount Wellington, Seven Mile Beach and Sandy Bay. Then there's a plethora of museums and galleries, Botanical Gardens, the Cadbury Chocolate Factory and chilling Louisa's Walk, where you can go back in time and discover the life of a convict woman.
Where to stay in Hobart
There’s no shortage of accommodation options in Hobart, many of which have their own defining characteristics that can make your time in Tassie that much more memorable.
The Henry Jones Art Hotel
Considered by many to the be the premier place to stay in Hobart, the Henry Jones Art Hotel certainly lives up to its reputation and name with a collection of luxurious rooms, beautiful art, and convenient location. The Henry Jones, deemed Australia’s first dedicated art hotel, houses a separate area called The Lounge in which you can relax and indulge in a variety of works from Tasmanian artists. The hotel also sits on the edge of the harbour, providing guests with beautiful aquatic views.
The Alabama Hotel
The fun and quirky Alabama Hotel, situated a few blocks away from the Sullivans Cove harbour, is a hip spot that won’t break the bank. Blending a time gone by with today’s love of everything vintage, the Alabama is a funky and fun place to stay despite not having all the trappings of a classic hotel. There are no elevators or en suite bathrooms, and none of the 17 rooms have a TV. All of this helps keep the vintage feel of the building, erected in 1860, intact. Before you think you’re too far off the grid, there is free Wi-Fi as well as an awesome service staff, rad décor, and a sweet balcony bar/lounge area.
If you’re looking for a more personal touch, The Islington is an outstanding choice. While the price tag skews towards the higher end, it’s well worth it, with plush digs, beautiful shared outdoor space, a crackling indoor fireplace, and chefs that produce freshly baked goods that you are free to take as you wish. The award-winning Islington is just over 2km away from the city centre.
The Best Restaurants, Cafés and Bars in Hobart
Despite its modest size, Hobart has built up quite the reputation when it comes to delicious food and drink. When you’re ready for a pit stop, consider dropping in to some of these popular eateries for some mouth-watering treats.
Pigeon Hole Café
The Pigeon Hole Café at the corner of Goulburn St. and Molle St. in West Hobart is a fantastic place to get your day started, regroup to plan your next move, or simply grab that little pick-me-up you need to keep on truckin’.
Proud owners Richard and Belinda Weston, incorporate home-grown oils and general produce from their Weston Farms to the dishes at Pigeon Hole.
The café is a favourite of locals who have made it a regular part of their day. The small, intimate location makes for a great social environment, though it can be crowded on weekends. The Pigeon Hole doesn’t take reservations but trust us, the wait is worth it.
For a bit of European flair, Smolt offers up exquisite dishes inspired by the culinary delights found throughout Italy and Spain. Another feather in the cap of Salamanca Place, this popular eatery is a great place to celebrate an anniversary or birthday. The contemporary look and feel is complemented by the innovative dishes featuring locally sourced bits and pieces. Feel free to check it out for brunch, lunch, dinner or just a quick drink.
Fat Pig Farm
For a dining experience that really gives you an up-close-and-personal view of Hobart’s wonderful local produce, head to Fat Pig Farm for a feast to remember. You’ll be wined and dined with several courses featuring seasonal ingredients taken straight from the farms’ paddocks and gardens. As you anticipate the next delectable dish, you’ll be able to watch Chef Matthew Evans, host of Gourmet Farmer on SBS, work his magic in the open kitchen.
If you’re not in the mood for glasses with stems or handles, Hobart has no shortage of places in which you can indulge in your favourite tipple, as long as that spirit is whisky.
Known as one of the foremost Australian producers of this fine drink, a trip to Hobart’s dedicated distilleries is a must for every whisky lover.
In particular, the Lark Distillery Cellar Door is a can’t-miss, located just near the waterfront in downtown Hobart. Lark has been taking advantage of the region’s climate since 1992 to craft amazing malt whiskies. At the cellar door you can sample some of the 150-plus varieties. Just remember that it might be in your best interest to leave your rental
behind for this one!
If Lark whets your appetite, you can walk further into the city to Heartwood Malt Whiskey or stay down by the harbour to hit up Nant Whisky Bar. No matter which way you turn, you’ll be treated to the finest drops Hobart has to offer.
Alternatively, you can hop on the Tasman Highway (also known as the A3) and head over the bridge and back toward the airport toward Cambridge. That’s where you’ll find the Sullivan’s Cove distillery. Sample a dram at the cellar door or pay for a tasting and/or a tour, which run on the hour from 10-4 Monday through Friday, from one of the most revered producers in the world.
Salamanca Market in Salamanca Place is the signature marketplace of Tasmania, let alone Hobart. Considered the city's premier tourist attraction, it's held every Saturday from 8.30am to 3.30pm and thousands of people flock there for the food, entertainment, eclectic stalls and entertainment. Hundreds of stalls go for hundreds of metres either side of the street that is lined with elm trees. Lots of grass area makes it perfect for a picnic. Also check out the renovated sandstone buildings that have been converted to funky cafes and galleries.
Island Market is an indoor market boasting the local region's produce and arts and crafts. It's located in Moonah and is fast becoming one of the city's best markets.
Hobart Showground Sunday Market
Hobart Showground Sunday Market is another option that is chock-full of glassware and ceramics, restored furniture, arts and crafts, second-hand clothing, tools and books. But one of its highlights is the vast range of home-made cakes, jams and chutneys - something to sink your teeth into.
What to do in Hobart
What Hobart lacks in size, it more than makes up for in quality year-round attractions. No matter the temperature outside, no Hobart vacation would be complete without a visit to these travel hotspots.
Sullivans Cove and Salamanca Place
The waterfront at Sullivans Cove, located in the eastern portion of Hobart, is perhaps the liveliest district in the entire city. It’s here you’ll find historic Salamanca Place, filled with boutique shops bursting with hand-crafted goods as well as a strong variety of restaurants and cafés. The area really explodes each Saturday morning, as thousands of visitors and locals mix and mingle at the famous Salamanca Markets. With more than 300 stalls, you’ll be able to slowly stroll the aisles, browsing amazing local produce, jams and spreads as well as everything flowers and handmade crafts. Good luck deciding which of the amazing breakfast and lunch options to choose from, as there is a dizzying array of scrumptious sausage rolls, bacon and egg combos, and delectable baked goods on offer.
Bruny Island sits directly south of Hobart and is one of the most beautiful, scenic destinations in all of Tasmania.
To get there, drive to the Bruny Island Ferry in Kettering, approximately 35 minutes on the A6 and B38 freeways. Once you hit the island, the rest is up to you.
Conquer some steep stairs at various points around the island to earn amazing 360-degree views, or lace up your boots and explore one of the dozens of great hiking trails. Afterwards you can dine out on the locally produced food and drink stops dotted around the island. Sample fantastically fresh oysters, chunks of decadent chocolate, or enjoy a taste of locally produced whisky or wine.
Although there are a handful of these awesome artisans, Bruny Island remains largely undisturbed. That means untouched forests and island views and beaches on which to relax and enjoy the serenity. Stay for a just a few hours or make this island oasis your home for a night or two, camping or caravanning or staying in a quaint cottage.
For an eye-opening experience in Hobart that will have you talking your friends’ ears off upon your return home, it’s hard to go past MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art. Don’t be fooled; this isn’t your grandparents’ museum. These walls house some of the most eclectic, interesting and thought-provoking pieces you’ll ever come across.
Since opening its doors in 2011, MONA has become a go-to destination for those in Hobart looking to expand their horizons. With a constantly evolving inventory of pieces and convenient iPhone guides provided for each visitor, you’ll have no trouble wandering the halls and devouring what’s held within.
Not everything is age-appropriate, so you might want to leave inquisitive little ones out of this one if you can. You don’t have to be an art history major or obsessed with culture to enjoy the rotating installations inside MONA. After taking it all in, wash it down with a delicious Moorilla wine or frosty Moo Brew beer at the Cellar Door.
There's no shortage of fun and entertaining things to do in Hobart from day tours to such attractions as a Cadbury Chocolate Factory or Cascade Brewery to some serious dance action at one of several nightclubs or hotels in town.
Some of the hotspots for partying after dark include Salamanca Place, North Hobart and Sandy Bay. There are venues for all types and tastes, from pubs on the waterside and bars rocking on with local bands, Irish pubs and dance clubs.
Try Wrest Point Casino for a dabble, drink and a dance and if your entertainment taste extend to theatre make sure you check out one of Australia's oldest working theatres
End the Year with Yachts
As you can surmise from the name, the capital of Tasmania plays a pretty big role in the annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
Thousands of Australians around the country, still full from their delicious Christmas day feasts, gather around their TVs on Boxing Day in anticipation. The five-day race sees dozens of yachts, some carrying crews of seasoned veterans while other passengers include celebrities and other local personalities, take off from Sydney and follow the east coast of Australia for 628 nautical miles down to Hobart. A boat called Perpetual Loyal set a record in 2016 by finishing the race in 1 day, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds.
If you are in Hobart at the end of the year, it’s well worth partaking in some of the festivities surrounding the event. As the yachts cruise into the Constitution Dock area down near the harbour, Salamanca Place buzzes with activity and excitement. You don’t need your sea legs or know the difference between port, stern, aft, and bow to have a good time when the Sydney to Hobart race comes to town.
The Essentials - Hobart
Temperature: January 21C - July 11C
Country Code: 61
Timezone: GMT + 10 (+11 between 1st Sunday in October & 1st Sunday in April)