Head to the Tassie capital for cafes serving farm-fresh fare, hotels steeped in history and underground art that’ll absorb you for hours.
Good coffee and chefs doing wonders with fresh local produce. Groundbreaking art and breathtaking nature at your fingertips. A tangible sense of history to be explored in a myriad of interesting ways. All of the above forms part of the Hobart experience – and here are some pointers for packing it all in.
For somewhere that feels like a bit of a local’s secret, head to Pigeon Hole in the quiet streets of West Hobart, not far from the city centre. This welcoming little spot is supported by its own farm, Weston Farm, so you’re guaranteed only the freshest and most seasonal of ingredients end up on your plate.
Try the oat porridge with warm farm apples and whey caramel or the slow-baked smoky beans on polenta bread with zesty tomatillo verde. Coffee is by local roasters Villino and there’s a good tea menu, too, which includes honey-soaked chai.
In recent years, Hobart has honed the art of fine dining with a twist, with creative chefs working magic with the freshest produce Tasmania has to offer – from veggies to seafood – in considered spaces tucked into interesting corners of the city. From Templo to Dier Makr to the recently closed Franklin, which became a cult hit among foodies when it opened in 2014.
Among the cream of the crop is European-inspired Fico, a small-seater restaurant that describes itself as a ‘neo bistro’ that blurs the lines between fine dining and a traditional bistro. It makes all its pasta by hand and uses the best Tassie fare from small local producers such as Phil & Jenny’s Pigeons, Tas Truffles, Kettering Quail and Tongola Cheese. There’s an extensive wine list, too, encompassing the best bottles from Australia and Europe.
Hidden behind the Odeon Theatre in the city centre, In the Hanging Garden is a cultural precinct that spans almost an entire block.
Initially conceived to host Dark Mofo’s late-night revellers, it now serves as a multifaceted and flexible indoor/outdoor space to serve the local community: an extensive tiered beer garden with outdoor dining, bars and live music complete with garden green and room to park a food truck or two.
Its resident kitchen serves Pan-Asian cuisine from Oryza and Basque-country inspired meals from La Sardina Loca.
Based across two historic buildings that have variously served as grain store, ship’s chandler, sail maker, print shop and tavern, Hobart’s newest boutique hotel has a truly old soul.
Decked out from top to bottom in soul-soothing shades of green, Moss Hotel is a sanctuary above the bustle of Salamanca Place on the waterfront. Through the use of native greenery, original timbers and stonework, the heritage of each space is brought to life and complemented by hyper-local finishes: be it the mini bar contents, handmade furniture or the crisp green apple left waiting for you on the bedside table.
Moss Hotel also featured in our 100 ways to holiday here this year list. Read more about it here.
As Australia’s first storytelling hotel, the five-star MACq 01 Hotel was designed to bring Tasmania’s fascinating stories to life.
Based on the historic Macquarie Wharf, which in previous lives has been a bustling wharf market and later a giant shipping shed, the hotel has 114 rooms matched with 114 unique character tales that give visitors insight into the island state’s storied past – convicts, sailors, beekeepers and Indigenous trailblazers among them.
Each of the suites reflect one of four different Tasmanian character traits: Colourful and Quirky rooms come eclectic and bold; Grounded Yet Exceptional are all about earthy materials and highly crafted details; Fighting Believers are edgy but sophisticated; and Curious and Creative feel organic and light.
A stay at Islington Hotel offers a different perspective on Hobart. This 11-room luxury bolthole, formerly a stately home, is tucked away in the quiet, leafy suburb of South Hobart – not far from the base of kunanyi/Mt Wellington and the historic sites of the Cascade Brewery and the Cascades Female Factory.
With corridors and rooms filled with a careful collection of art and antiques, the Islington Hotel blends the historic and the modern with aplomb and has the added boon of a first-class degustation menu served five days a week in its stunning mountain-view conservatory.
The first stop on your Hobart itinerary has to be Mona: the mad-cap subterranean art museum credited with kick-starting Tassie’s creative renaissance when it opened almost a decade ago.
Catch the bespoke ferry service from Brooke Street Pier down the River Derwent and prepare to be absorbed for a whole day. The museum’s fascinating collection spans antiquities to modern art (you can’t miss the monumental Sidney Nolan artwork Snake, which takes up an entire gallery) to contemporary works by luminaries like light artist James Turrell.
Come up for air and sustenance at one of the on-site eateries: The Source Restaurant, The Museum Cafe or futuristic Faro. And sip and swill on Mona’s own Moorilla wine and Moo Brew beer at the Cellar Door or Moorilla Wine Bar.
For a full immersion, the museum also offers accommodation by way of its ‘luxury dens’ overlooking the river, Mona Pavilions.
There’s no better way to feel the spirit of Hobart than by exploring its historic waterfront and surrounds on foot. Here, old piers that stretch out into harbour and the elegant sandstone buildings that flank it have been repurposed into modern spaces with boutique hotels and waterside eateries.
A stone’s throw from here, Salamanca Place harbours galleries, theatres and restaurants in its 1830s Georgian warehouses as well as the must-visit Salamanca Market on Saturdays, which hosts purveyors of the best local produce. Take Kelly’s Steps from Salamanca Place to explore the historic suburb of Battery Point – home to Hobart’s best bakery, Jackman and McRoss.
Back down near the waterfront, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) offers a fascinating insight into the land you’re standing on, including essential learning on the history and culture of the Tasmanian Aboriginal, or palawa, people.
You don’t have to venture far from Hobart to find Tassie’s famed wilderness. In fact, kunanyi/Mt Wellington – which stands sentinel above the city – is only 20 minutes’ drive from the centre by car or the hop-on hop-off Explorer Bus.
From the summit on a clear day you’ll be treated to a sweeping panorama of the city, its waterways and Bruny Island beyond. And you can explore a wide range of short walks or mountain bike trails from up here too, which take in a diverse range of landscapes including fern gullies, eucalypt forests and alpine boulder fields.
On the way back down, stop off at Cascade Brewery at the foot of the mountain – Australia’s oldest, which offers tours, tastings and drinks in the garden.