There’s no doubt Tasmania is having a moment. The past few years have elevated Australia’s southern, sleepy island to a desirable holiday destination for travellers from near and far. While MONA and its winter and summer festivals have no doubt played a key role, the wealth of great food and wine and beautiful natural destinations have helped drive the appeal of Tasmania for those seeking a short adventure away.
While there’s plenty to explore in Tasmania, a few days is perfect for sampling one or two of its key destinations. Here’s our ideas for how to spend a few days in Van Dieman’s land – the only problem you may have is limiting it to just a weekend.
We recommend flying into Hobart, preferably a day before ‘official’ weekend time kicks off. Arriving in Hobart, head straight into town for a caffeine boost at Pilgrim Coffee, or for those with more of an appetite, the delicious pastries at Pigeon Whole Bakers are just around the corner in the historic Mercury Building.
With a spring in your step, beat the weekend crowds with a visit to MONA. For the full experience, we recommend taking the ‘Mona Roma’ fast ferry up the River Derwent, providing scenic views of Hobart and giving the gallery a fittingly dramatic first impression. You’ll want to put aside a few hours at least for exploring MONA, particularly as new exhibition ‘The Museum of Everything’ invites a closer look at all nature of strange and interesting objects. When you’re finished immersing yourself in the art, head upstairs to taste some local brews at the Cellar Door or a late lunch at The Source restaurant – both illuminated by the golden patterns of a John Olsen work above that lends its name to the restaurant.
In the afternoon, you could either head back into Hobart to explore the city further, or take a short trip over the river for some of the best local wineries or a whisky tasting (Tasmania took out the best in the world in 2015) at Sullivan’s Cove Whisky Distillery. If you’re in town, be sure to stop by LUC. Design, an impeccably curated collection of homewares and design furniture, and grab a drink at Ettie’s Wine Bar, an elegant space in the heart of the city.
Dinner options are relatively varied in central Hobart but we particularly love Frank on the waterfront for it’s relaxed yet expertly-crafted approach to Argentinian fare. Wind down the night with a nightcap nearby at The Glass House on Brooke Street pier, a space that feels like you’re floating at the end of the world as you look at on the water. And when it comes to resting your head, look no further than ‘The Barn’, a lovingly renovated heritage barn owned by local couple Alex & Liz. Available through Air BnB, it’s a design-enthusiast’s dream, preserving its rustic charm with some standout features and well-chosen furnishings.
Start your morning with one of the interesting dishes prepared right in front of you at the aptly-named Small-fry cafe, where the bar seats only a few and the food is made to order. If the bigger fare doesn’t get your attention the incredible donuts certainly will.
After breakfast, jump in the car and head out of the city to see more of Tasmania; our recommendations would be the Freycinet Coast on the north-east side of the island, or Lake St Clair for the unforgettable experience of Pumphouse Point. Whichever you choose, allocate around 2.5-3 hours to get there and be sure to fill up petrol, as it gets pretty remote.
For those staying at Pumphouse Point, you’ll be treated to a historic setting and memorable guest experience (from the shared dinner proceedings to the spectacle of the lake itself), so once you’re there bunker down for the evening and enjoy.
For those heading to the Freycinet Coast, our top pick for accommodation is a tie between Piermont in Swansea or the eco-retreat Aplite House near Coles Bay. Both offer proximity to the Freycinet National Park, Bicheno and the myriad of stunning natural landscapes in the region. Enjoy local oysters shucked to order or chilli mussels with local champagne at the Freycinet Marine Farm (the picnic tables are all part of the charm) or the woodfired pizza at Tombolo is a cheap and cheerful local option.
Start the day with a hearty breakfast and a walk in the great outdoors – whether it’s coastal or mountainous, you can bet there’s a beautiful view to be seen. Aim to head back to Hobart by late morning to make it back for a late lunch at Berta or Born in Brunswick, both in North Hobart and with a focus on relaxed, seasonal fare (and great coffee).
After lunch, spend a little time looking around the North Hobart strip, or if time permits, you might want to make a quick stop at Mount Wellington to take in those postcard views of the city – and being only 15 minutes from central Hobart, it’s not much of a stretch.
Heading back through town, the airport is a short trip further, just in time for a late afternoon flight home. While it might be a whirlwind trip to Tasmania, it’s safe to say there’s enough there to keep coming back time and time again.