When Tim and I first visited Tasmania in 2014, people had one of two reactions. The first was, “Is that in Africa?” and the second was, “Why? There’s nothing to do there.” Now, four years later, the attitude towards Tasmania has changed dramatically! Australia’s island state (by the way, no, Tasmania is not in Africa) has become a hot destination for those who love hiking, wildlife and locally sourced food. While Tasmania has always had a lot to offer, the global travel community has only recently “discovered” the magic of this off-the-beaten path destination.
We loved Tasmania so much when we visited for a week in 2014, that we knew we would have to come back for a longer amount of time on our honeymoon trip around the world.
Below is the road trip itinerary we followed for this second visit. You can definitely cover this route in a shorter amount of time, but we wanted to take it slow. Alternatively, if you have 3 weeks like we did but want to spend less time in each place, you can fit in a bit more, which I’ll highlight in my recommendations!
Read More: Our 3 Week Road Trip Adventure
Days 1-4: Hobart
Hobart is the capital of Tasmania, and is likely where you’ll be flying in and out of. This is also where you should plan to pick up and drop off your rental car for the duration of your time in Tasmania.
We spent four nights in Hobart staying at an Airbnb, and I think this is a perfect amount of time for making the most of what the region offers.
You may have noticed we stay in a lot of Airbnbs. We find they are often the best value for money, and most have kitchens and laundry facilities which makes our backpacking hearts so happy. Click here to save $40 on Airbnb accommodation on your next trip.
In and around Hobart, I highly recommend visiting Mount Wellington. You can drive up to the summit, or hike from midway up the mountain from the Organ Pipes trailhead, linking that trail with the Zig Zag Trail and Panorama Trail for a great 2-3 hour hike. You’ll be rewarded with amazing views of Hobart and its surrounds.
Another world-renowned attraction is the Museum of Old and New Art, which is perhaps best known for its confronting and explicit exhibits, including a machine that makes actual poop.
Hobart also makes a good base for several day trips in the southeastern region of the island.
- Maria Island: This island is accessible by ferry from a town about an hour and a half from Hobart. It’s a great place for short day walks to see unique Tasmania wildlife and geology, as well as learn a bit of history!
Read More: Maria Island Day Trip
- Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary: This is a fantastic sanctuary for getting up close with Tasmanian wildlife in an ethical way.
- Tasman Peninsula and Port Arthur: Port Arthur Penitentiary is a fascinating destination on the Tasman Peninsula, and on the way, you can visit the unique Tessellated Pavements.
- Southwest National Park: You can explore the remote wilderness on a day trip from Hobart, where you can see the national park (most of which is inaccessible by car) on a scenic flight, bush walk and harbor cruise for $360 on Viator. This same tour is also available to be redeemed with 24,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points.
We both have the Chase Ultimate Rewards Sapphire Reserve Card. It has a larger annual fee ($450 per year), but it comes with $300 cash back on travel purchases and access to airport lounges around the world (which typically range from $20-50 per visit without a pass). If you apply and are approved, you can earn 50,000 bonus points. That is the equivalent of about five weeks of rental car usage in Tasmania. Note: I will also receive a small commission in points if you apply and are approved. Learn more here.
Days 5-8: Bicheno
From Hobart, it’s a quick 2.5 hours drive to Bicheno. This was our second time visiting Bicheno, and we even stayed in the same Airbnb again. Bicheno is a small coastal town with amazing seafood and adorable fairy penguins that come ashore to nest every evening.
For a perfect day in Bicheno, I recommend visiting the Bicheno Blowhole to watch the explosion of water that bursts from the rocks during high tide. Head over to the fish monger to buy some fresh catch and have them cook it for you or cook yourself back in your accommodation. Once it’s dark outside, grab a red-light flashlight (white light hurts their eyes) and head to the rocky beach to try to spot the fairy penguins. Please be respectful of these wild animals by not blocking their path or getting to close.
Bicheno is also perfectly located for a day trip to Freycinet National Park, which is about a 45 minute drive from town. This is one of my favorite national parks. You can take the short hike up to the Wineglass Bay viewpoint, or continue on to Hazards Beach via picturesque coves for a full day of walking in the park. The spectacular aqua water and orange rocks are well worth the 6 hours hike!
On a third day in Bicheno, I recommend exploring the Bay of Fires in the north, particularly if it’s a clear and sunny day. This area is famous for the vibrant orange rocks that give the place its name, but to be honest, Tim and I didn’t think it was that impressive or different from what you see in Freycinet. That said, we also think we may have headed to the wrong place, and it was a cloudy day. Near the Bay of Fires, you can also head inland about an hour to St. Colomba Falls for a short hike to see the waterfalls and a visit to the Pyengana Dairy Company and the historic Pub in the Paddock.
Days 9-11: Stanley
We headed straight to Stanley from Bicheno (about a 5 hour drive from the east coast to the northwest region of the island). Stanley is most famous for The Nut – an iconic lump of rock that looms over the city. What makes this landmark even more interesting is that it’s molten core of an ancient volcano!
In Stanley, there are two main attractions that draw in visitors. The first is the aforementioned Nut, which you can access right from town via a chairlift or a short but steep climb. Once on top of the nut, you can walk the 2km loop around it to see amazing cliff views and spot wildlife like wallabies.
The second big draw to Stanley is Highfield historic site, which is a great example of homesteading in Tasmania in the 1800s. You can visit the inside of the buildings and have a great view of The Nut from there as well.
With a few days in Stanley, you also have the opportunity to make a few day trips:
- Rocky Cape National Park and Fern Glade Reserve: Driving east from Stanley, you can stop in Rocky Cape National Park and take a few short hikes to aboriginal caves. Heading east a little bit more, you can visit Fern Glade Reserve, which is a great place to reliably spot the elusive platypus. When we spoke with a woman who was very involved with the reserve, she said that if you stay for at least an hour, she can almost guarantee a sighting. The platypus uses the river as a highway in the early evening just before dusk so you have a good chance of seeing one swimming by!
- Tarkine Wilderness: South of Stanley, you can follow the tourist route around the Tarkine Wilderness to visit sinkholes, rivers and view points. My favorite stop was the Trowutta Arch. The route has two portions, which can be completed in one day if you don’t plan to do any of the hikes longer than an hour– a coastal portion and a rainforest portion. You can read more about the route here.
Alternative Stop: You can amend this itinerary to stop in Launceston for a day or two from Hobart before getting to Stanley. Launceston is the second largest city in Tasmania and has a charming food and drink scene. When we visited in 2014, we stayed on a sheep farm Airbnb and saw an echidna (porcupine-like animal) while hiking at Cataract Gorge. From Launceston, you can then easily get to Stanley and sync back up with this itinerary.
Days 12-16: Cradle Mountain
It’s a short 2-hour drive from Stanley to Cradle Mountain. The alpine region offers a large range of accommodations from luxurious to budget-friendly. We stayed on the budget end at Discovery Parks and it was perfectly located directly across the street from the National Park visitor center.
You realistically only need a couple of days in Cradle Mountain, but we stayed several nights to unwind and really relax. The weather here can be very erratic, but if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the unique spikes of Cradle Mountain over Dove Lake.
There are many hiking options in Cradle Mountain, ranging from the relaxing and easy Dove Lake Circuit to the very challenging Summit Hike. You can get more information from the helpful team at the visitor center about the hiking opportunities in the region!
Read More: What to Expect Cradle Mountain Summit Hike
If you are interested in Tassie wildlife (and who isn’t!?), Devils@Cradle is a great place to visit for a few hours. Tasmanian devils are at risk in the wild due to a contagious face cancer. The breeding program at the sanctuary aims to create an “insurance population” with healthy genes that can resist the disease in the wild. They have a similar program for quolls, which look like bigger, spotted ferrets, kind of.
Alternative Stop: You can head further down the west coast from Stanley to visit Strahan for 2 nights. This is another stop we made in 2014. We enjoyed visiting Hogarth Falls, Henty Sand Dunes and the quirky town production “The Ship that Never Was”. Many visitors also love visiting the Gordon River via a cruise. We never did this river cruise, but if we had known that you visit haunted places during it we would have been much more interested! From here you can then drive back east into Cradle Mountain.
Days 17-18: Bruny Island
From Cradle Mountain we headed way south to Bruny Island. To get to Bruny Island, you must take a car ferry. You can buy your return ticket when you get to the ferry terminal (about $30 AUD). We only stayed 2 nights in Bruny Island but I wish we could have stayed longer! This idyllic region is full of big coastal views, unique wildlife like white wallabies (which are actually albino), and amazing farm to table food.
We stayed in Adventure Bay on the southern half of the island, right by the trailhead for the Fluted Cape walk. This 3 hour walk climbs up the coastal cliffs and offers amazing views of the crashing waves below.
After working up an appetite, I recommend heading to the northern part of the island to indulge in some food and drink. Enjoy beer and cheese tasting at the aptly named Bruny Island Beer and Cheese , followed by oysters at Get Shucked and ending with some honey at a little shack on the main road. If you still have some stamina, take the stairs up The Neck Lookout to get a view over both halves of the island and water surrounding either side.
Day 19: Fly out
From Bruny Island, it’s about 2 hours including the ferry ride back to Hobart to catch your departing flight!
Have you traveled to Tasmania? Any other must-see stops or amazing places to eat?
Primary Route Map
Alternative Route Map