February 16, 2023
10 mins Read
There’s been a lot for Hobart to write home about over the last decade. When the (quite literally) groundbreaking subterranean Museum Of Old and New Art (MONA) opened in 2011, it proved the catalyst for a cultural renaissance in the Tasmanian capital that’s showing no signs of abating. The list of incredible things to do in Hobart just keeps growing.
All par for the course of a visit today is cutting-edge festivals such as midwinter’s Dark Mofo, hip eateries that make use of the freshest Tassie produce and boutique hotels that key into the city’s heritage and character.
A compact and pretty city tucked between the River Derwent and Kunanyi/Mt Wellington, it doesn’t take long to get to grips with Tassie’s capital – in fact, 72 hours might just do the trick. Get the most out of your stay with our Hobart city guide.
There’s no better way to introduce yourself to the city’s charms than by exploring its storied waterfront and surroundings on foot. From an iconic market to serious espresso bars, an interesting folk museum and a world-renowned distillery, there’s plenty to see and do in historic Hobart.
Hobart is a city that’s swimming in good cafes and bakeries – the struggle won’t be in finding something decent but in choosing between the myriad options on offer. There are two stellar joints in the area known as Sullivan’s Cove and adjacent Battery Point: Parklane Espresso brews a mean coffee and is great for people watching, while Jackman and McRoss is a bit of a local institution renowned for its seasonal cakes and pastries.
Here, old piers that stretch out into the harbour and the elegant sandstone buildings that flank it have been repurposed into modern spaces with boutique hotels and waterside eateries; at the vibrant Brooke Street Pier you’ll find a weekly market in Hobart for Tasmanian goods and design as well as the departure point for the MONA ferry and other adventures.
A stone’s throw from here, Salamanca Place is home to galleries, theatres and restaurants in its 1830s Georgian warehouses as well as the must-visit Salamanca Market on Saturdays, where you’ll find purveyors of the best local produce.
Take Kelly’s Steps from Salamanca Place to explore the historic suburb of Battery Point – home to the country’s oldest folk museum, Narryna Heritage Museum, an 1830s merchant’s house that tells the story of early colonial life in Hobart, and some of the city’s earliest cottages at Arthur Circus. Back down near the waterfront, stop in for a pre-dinner aperitif at Lark Distillery’s Whisky Stall and sample an award-winning dram of Tasmanian single malt whisky.
While Salamanca Place, Battery Point and Sullivan’s Cove may have a slightly touristy feel, that’s not to say the area’s devoid of great restaurants. Aloft is one of Hobart’s heavy hitters, occupying a plum spot on the city’s waterfront. Diners will be torn between admiring the harbour views and absorbing the action that’s taking place in the open kitchen, where the restaurant’s chefs deftly prepare seasonal plates of modern pan-Asian cuisine.
Decked out in soul-soothing shades of green on the waterfront, Moss Hotel is steeped in Hobart heritage.
You don’t have to venture far from Hobart to get a taste of Tassie’s famed wilderness. Kunanyi/Mt Wellington is only 20 minutes from the centre by car or the hop-on, hop-off Explorer Bus. From the summit on a clear day, you’re treated to a panorama of the city, its waterways and Bruny Island beyond. Spend today getting acquainted with Hobart city’s natural beauty and working up an appetite ready for another round of gourmet indulgences.
On the doorstep of Hobart and encompassing Kunanyi/Mt Wellington, Wellington Park is a wilderness laced with walking tracks including the two-kilometre Myrtle Gully Trail and the nearly eight-kilometre-long Organ Pipes Track, one of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks. Once you’ve conquered one of those head up to the summit of Kunanyi/Mt Wellington, tread the boardwalks and wander around the lookout platforms while gorging on city views.
Wellington Park also plays host to a surprisingly good – and design-conscious – cafe that’s housed within a shipping container. Relax post-hike with a matcha latte, and maybe a sausage roll too, at Lost Freight, located halfway up Kunanyi/Mt Wellington.
If you’ve still got energy to burn after this morning’s walk then hit the Hobart Rivulet Walk. A bit of a hidden gem, it offers glimpses of the city’s history as it winds up from the city to the foot of Kunanyi/Mt Wellington over 2.7 gentle kilometres. Along the Rivulet Walk you’ll come across the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site; stop for a while to reflect on the sombre stories of the female convicts this institution once housed.
It’s not far from the Rivulet Walk trail to reach Pigeon Hole Cafe – one of Hobart’s best for brunch and lunch. Situated in the quiet streets of West Hobart, not far from the city centre, it’s a cosy little joint that’s committed to a no-waste food philosophy and supported by its own farm, Weston Farm, guaranteeing only the most seasonal of ingredients end up on your plate.
If a liquid lunch sounds more appetising then visit the nearby Cascade Brewery. Australia’s oldest continuously operating brewery, Cascade was established in 1824. Enjoy a pint of pale ale and a cheese plate in its heritage beer garden. True beer lovers can also sign up for one of the daily guided brewery tours.
Succumb to the postprandial dip and let someone else take the reins for sightseeing this afternoon. Hop aboard one of Pennicott Wilderness Journeys’ famous yellow eco boats and spend three hours cruising around the rugged coastline of pristine Bruny Island. You’ll enter sea caves; search for seals, dolphins and whales; and learn plenty about the geology and ecology of the area.
Once you’ve freshened up back at your Hobart hotel head into the CBD and prepare your senses for the edgy fare on offer at Dier Makr. The seasonal tasting menu showcases the technical mastery of chef-owner Kobi Ruzicka and his team, with every last bit of produce refashioned into something delectable, from vegetable offcuts to leftover whey.
MACq 01 Hotel is a storytelling hotel on Hobart’s historic Macquarie Wharf that brings Tassie’s history to life.
There’s plenty more to discover beyond Hobart’s rugged good looks, fresh clean air and intriguing historic centre. Get to know Hobart’s arty side today, with a visit to headline-grabbing MONA, the impressive collection at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and its most bohemian suburb, NoHo.
One too many cocktails at Dier Makr last night? Have a lazy start to the day with a stroll around bohemian North Hobart, home to a glut of cafes and restaurants. Pay a visit to the State Bookstore, adjoining the much-loved arthouse State Cinema, which is perfect for a little browse. And if the mood takes you, call in at Contemporary Art Tasmania too.
Among the hipster haunts of North Hobart, Room For A Pony is a standout. Housed within a former petrol station, this cool cafe has a great atmosphere and plenty of outdoor seating, should the Tasmanian weather gods deliver the goods. The Chinese fried chilli omelette, served on rice with oyster sauce, has arguably become something of a house signature.
It would be remiss to write a Hobart city guide and not mention local cultural landmark, MONA. It’s worth carving out at least a couple of hours to explore all this ever-eclectic and always-evolving museum has to offer.
Arrive in style by catching the MONA Ferry: cruising from the waterfront along the River Derwent on a camouflaged catamaran is all part of the immersive experience. Then wander underground to explore the art, curiosities and experiential installations. The galleries feature more than 350 works, spanning ancient to contemporary from owner David Walsh’s idiosyncratic personal collection.
For lunch, choose between The Source Restaurant, burger bar Dubsy’s or futuristic Faro. Then sip on MONA’s own Moorilla wine and Moo Brew beer at the Moorilla Wine Bar.
After the ferry has dropped you back at Hobart’s Brooke Street Pier, venture to the nearby Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG). Whether you’re travelling with the whole brood or on a couple’s romantic weekend break, it’s a fine spot to mop up an hour or two. There’s an entire gallery dedicated just to the under-sevens here, and an impressive collection of colonial artworks and artefacts to boot.
Whichever direction you head from TMAG you’ll find rich culinary pickings. If you’re on the hunt for something at the fancy end of the scale, try CBD bistro Fico which is less than a 10-minute walk away. A self-proclaimed ‘casual fine dining experience’, this Hobart restaurant is all about taking Italian classics and reimagining them with contemporary tweaks.
The funky art-filled Alabama Hotel offers affordable rooms with a boutique touch.
Looking at other things to do and see in Hobart? We’ve got you covered with our ultimate travel guide to the city.
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