Discover majestic waterfalls, hike around glacial lakes, indulge in gourmet food and wine on an epic road trip around Australia’s island state.
The Apple Isle may appear small by comparison to the rest of Australia but it will take you longer than a week to explore all Tasmania has to offer. We’ve condensed the best parts into a 7-day road trip itinerary that will leave you longing to come back.
DAY ONE: LAUNCESTON
Our 7-day journey begins and ends in the riverside city of Launceston. As one of Australia’s oldest cities, you’ll find Colonial and Victorian-era charm aplenty, in addition to first-class restaurants and popular cafes, picturesque hiking trails and waterfalls. Oh, and the vineyards of Tamar Valley are a 25-minute drive from the city centre.
Looking down George Street, Launceston. (Photo: Lusy Productions)
You’ll have an extra day to explore Launceston at the end of the journey, so don’t try to squash all the best bits into 24 hours.
For your first taste of Tasmania’s panoramic beauty make your way to Cataract Gorge. There are four walking trails to choose from which range in length from one-kilometre to 3.4 kilometres. Refuel at the Gorge Restaurant or Basin Café, take a dip in the swimming pool if you’re visiting in the warmer months – and don’t leave without crossing the famous suspension bridge.
Take a dip at Cataract Gorge. (Image: Jarrad Seng)
Charlie’s Dessert House
Treat yourself to an afternoon sugar-hit at Charlie’s Dessert House. Choose from a wide selection of cakes, cookies, brownie pans, waffles and fondue to share. You can also order from the vegan smoothie menu if you’re that way inclined. Our favourite? The oversized warm cookie – just bring friends as it feeds 4-6 people!
Check in to Stillwater SEVEN for a night in one of their luxurious waterfront rooms on the site of a former 1830s flour mill. Dine on-site at Stillwater – one of Launceston’s most celebrated restaurants.
Check in to Stillwater Seven. (Image: Anjie Blair)
DAY TWO: LAUNCESTON TO SHEFFIELD
Rise early to get the most out of the day as there will be plenty of stops to make along the way to the mural town of Sheffield – a great spot to base yourself to explore Cradle Mountain.
About 40 minutes into your journey you’ll want to make a stop at Deloraine. The town might be small – with a population of only 2000 – but it is big on character and stands in the shadow of the Great Western Tiers. The historic streets are lined with charming Georgian and Victorian era buildings, cafes, bakeries and art and craft stores. If you’re planning a trip in November line it up with the arrival of Australia’s biggest craft fair.
Melita Honey Farm
Sneak in a quick trip to Melita Honey Farm (17 minutes away) to purchase Tasmania’s famous Leatherwood honey, and taste many other varieties while you’re there. Purchase beeswax goods, nougat and see the bees hard at work.
Take a 35-minute detour to nearby Liffey Falls (note they are in the opposite direction so you’ll have to backtrack). The four waterfalls are easily reached by two walking tracks that are accessed from separate car parks. A good downpour of rain in the days before your arrival will guarantee the falls are at their most impressive.
Take a 35-minute detour to nearby Liffey Falls.
Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm
Head back towards the Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm, a short 11-minute drive from Deloraine, for a walk around the farm and brunch at the Raspberry Farm Café. Don’t forget to pick up some raspberry and chocolate treats on your way out.
Ashgrove Tasmanian Farm
Continue your drive for a further 7 minutes and you’ll hit Ashgrove Tasmanian Farm. Have your esky handy and stock up on some of Australia’s best cheese – the perfect accompaniment to all the wine you’ll be enjoying in the near future. You’ll also find the creamiest ice cream you’ll ever taste, freshly bottled milk, cream and butter.
Stock up on some of Australia’s best cheese at Ashgrove.
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Drive an hour and a half to spend the afternoon at Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and walk the easy two-hour loop around Dove Lake (or try one of the many other walks in Cradle Mountain). As you traverse the 5.7-kilometre trail below the craggy spires of Cradle Mountain you’ll come across the impressive Glacier Rock, the moss-covered Ballroom Forest and the dilapidated 1940s-built Boatshed.
The lake is located just over an hour from Sheffield. Keep in mind you’ll have to pay a park access fee, but that also includes the Dove Lake Shuttle Bus which regularly departs the visitor centre for the lake. Just remember to take note of the last shuttle back to the car park so you don’t get stranded.
Dove Lake at Cradle Mountain (Photo: Emilie Ristevski)
After an action-packed day, you’ll be looking forward to bed. Spend a night in a traditional B&B in Sheffield at the charming Acacia Bed & Breakfast. If you want to stay closer, we’ve rounded up our pick of the best Cradle Mountain accommodation. There are also a number of good restaurants to try if you do.
DAY THREE: SHEFFIELD TO HOBART
Sheffield’s mural trail should be first up on the agenda today. For more information, stop in at the Visitor’s Centre or follow the map here. Before you head south, read up on the other top things to do in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
Explore Sheffield’s street art mural trail.
Lake St Clair
Take the Great Lake and Central Plateau route through Deloraine towards Hobart, but take a detour west until you hit Lake St Clair – it will take you about two and half hours. Stretch your legs and make time to sit on the rocks by the edge, watching the clouds roll past in the crystal-clear reflection of the lake.
There are a number of walking trails nearby, but we’d recommend taking the Platypus Bay Track. It’s an easy five-kilometre walk, but if you’re short on time just walk the first 1.5 kilometres until you hit the platypus lookout hide (after crossing the Watersmeet Bridge and bearing right towards the lake). Sit on the shoreline and keep very quiet for your chance to spot the shy platypus at play in the lake (note: the best time to see them is at dusk). If you’re able to extend your trip we’d highly recommend booking a night at Pumphouse Point.
Drive just under two hours and you’ll reach Russell Falls for one of the prettiest natural sights in Tasmania. It’s a 20-minute return walk, making this a quick but worthwhile pit stop before continuing on for the final one-hour leg of your journey to Hobart.
Russell Falls is one of the prettiest natural sights in Tasmania
Spend the next two nights in Hobart at Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse. The boutique hostel in Battery Point offers chic accommodation on a budget (and feels nothing like a hostel!). It is also within walking distance of Salamanca Square. If you’re after a drink and a tasty meal before you call it a night, head around the corner to Preachers. Alternatively, check out some of the other top places to stay in Hobart to choose your own.
DAY FOUR: HOBART
Head down to Salamanca Square for breakfast at Machine Laundry Café – a retro-style cafe operating alongside a coin laundromat and serving up an American-diner-style menu. It is one of a handful of must-try cafes in Hobart.
Misty Salamanca Square in the morning
Take the 25-minute ferry from Hobart to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) to experience the confronting and macabre art inside Australia’s most envelope-pushing museum. Note the museum is open Wednesday to Monday 10am to 6pm.
Before you start your journey up kunanyi/Mount Wellington make sure to get your coffee fix at Lost Freight – a cafe in a shipping container. They also have a selection of savoury and sweet eats if you’re feeling like a light lunch. It is an easy – if admittedly slightly scary – drive to the top (just don’t look over the edge as you wind your way up), alternatively you can hike to the top for the best view in Hobart. Prepare to be surprised by the terrain – and wind!
Views from kunanyi/ Mount Wellington. (Image: Luke Tscharke)
One of Hobart’s prettiest neighbourhoods, Battery Point, is full of charming streets, boutique shopping, restaurants and bars to explore. See if you can find the Pink House – one of the city’s most Instagrammed locations – and make your way to the heritage renowned Arthurs Circus – just be sure not to disturb the locals as you admire the small community park and playground.
There is really no end to incredible things to do in Hobart, but if you’re arriving on a Saturday you can’t go past a visit to Salamanca Market for all the best produce and gourmet treats your heart could desire.
Salamanca Market is Tasmania’s most visited attraction.
DAY FIVE: HOBART TO COLES BAY
Hit the road early to take in the abundance of towns and sites worth a detour on the way to Coles Bay. This route will take you the long way round to stop in at some of Tasmania’s charming midland towns, including Richmond, Oatlands and Ross before reaching the coastal town of Coles Bay on the outskirts of Freycinet National Park.
Sullivan’s Cove Distillery
A short 15-minute drive outside of Hobart is Sullivan’s Cove Distillery. They open at 10am – which may be a little early for a tasting but it is worth stopping in for a bottle of craft whiskey and a tour.
Wicked Cheese Company
Continue on to Richmond, a further 15 minutes down the road and stop in at The Wicked Cheese Company’s factory outlet for some divine sampling plates and pick up supplies to enjoy by the fire later on tonight – at factory prices.
Stop in at The Wicked Cheese Company’s factory outlet.
It may be small but Oatlands has the largest number of colonial sandstone buildings – over 150 – in Australia, most of which were built by convicts in the early 1800’s. Only a 40-minute drive from your last pit stop, it’s the perfect place for a history lesson on Tasmania’s convicts, outlaw bushrangers and farmers. Don’t miss The Callington Mill (built in 1837), the old goal and the quaint 1850’s-built Oatlands Uniting Church.
Oatlands is small but mighty. (Image: Brian Dullaghan)
One of the prettiest villages in midland Tasmania is Ross, located 25 minutes from Oatlands. Walk across the sandstone-carved Ross Bridge, which was completed in 1836, and look back on the village to admire the steeple of the Roman Catholic Church in the background. There are over 40 historical sites in Ross, view the interactive map here and take your pick. We’d recommend stopping at Ross Bakery Inn for one of the best custard tarts you will ever have, best enjoyed in the picnic area alongside the bridge.
One of the prettiest villages in midland Tasmania is Ross. (Image: Rob Burnett)
Devils Corner Cellar Door
An hour outside of Ross on route to Coles Bay lies Devils Corner Cellar Door. Stop here for a late lunch, and wine tasting and grab a couple of bottles of wine for the rest of your time in Tasmania.
Cape Tourville Lighthouse Walk and Honeymoon Bay
At this stage in the journey you should make it to Freycinet National Park to enjoy the Cape Tourville Lighthouse Walk before sunset. The 40-minute drive will take you past Coles Bay and into the heart of Freycinet. You’re likely to spot some friendly wallabies in the car park. Watch out for wildlife on the winding roads and stop in at Honeymoon Bay and sit on the rocks to watch the sun go down.
Stop in at Honeymoon Bay. (Image: Kathryn Leahy)
For a luxurious stay in a heritage cottage book a night at Wagner’s Cottages. Pick up some supplies for dinner and take advantage of the kitchen to spend a night in front of the fireplace. There are four self-contained stone cottages set on two acres of landscaped gardens – one dating back to 1860. A continental breakfast is provided, including fresh farm eggs and a home-baked sourdough loaf.
DAY SIX: COLES BAY TO LAUNCESTON
Today you’ll be venturing back to Launceston (two hours from Coles Bay) and continuing on to the Tamar Valley wine region – but not before starting the day at Wineglass Bay.
Awake before dawn to arrive at Wineglass Bay for sunrise. You’ll be rewarded with the lookout all to yourself – or at most, a few other tourists keen to rise early and beat the crowds. Take the trail down to the beach if you can spare the time. Otherwise, sit and take in the views before embarking on the drive back to Launceston.
Wineglass Bay beauty (Photo: Daniel Tran)
Tamar Valley wineries
Stop at Launceston for brunch before driving to the Tamar Valley for a day of cellar door wine tastings. You can use the Tamar Valley Wine Route to plan which vineyards you’d like to visit but our top three include Josef Chromy, Janz and Tamar Ridge.
Josef Chromy is the vineyard to beat. (Image: Jewels Lynch)
For alternative options, read our guide to the best things to do in Launceston.
DAY SEVEN: LAUNCESTON
Squeeze in one more morning of activities in Launceston before your return flight home.
Bridestowe Lavender Estate
Depending on the time of your visit you should take a drive to Bridestowe Lavender Estate to walk through the lavender fields (one of the most beautiful in Australia). It is usually in bloom from December to early February and they are open daily from 9am to 5pm.
Stroll through Bridestowe Lavender Estate (Photo: Luke Tscharke)
Evandale Sunday Markets
A short drive outside Launceston airport you’ll find Evandale. If you’re leaving on a Sunday the Evandale Markets are the perfect last stop on your road trip itinerary. Bring along a gold coin donation for entry and purchase some sweet treats as souvenirs.