Tasmania is an island of stunning beauty, rich history, and fantastic food. Whether it’s the instantly recognizable profile of Cradle Mountain, the tannin-stained waters of the Gordon River, or simply relaxing with a coffee down by the Salamanca waterfront, there is something here for everyone.
You’ll also be very pleased to know that ‘Tassie’ is the perfect size for a road trip. There is so much you can see and do in 7 days, you’ll be planning your return on Inspirock before you know it.
The itinerary for Tasmania Road Trip
Day 1 – Hobart
Hobart is only a small city, which makes it really easy to get around and visit your favorite attractions.
Towering above the city is the imposing Mt. Wellington (Kunanyi). It’s only a 20-minute drive to the top and the views are some of the best in Australia!
If you’re in Hobart on a Saturday then the Salamanca Markets are a Tasmanian mainstay that you really should experience. Alternatively, if it’s a Sunday morning then a warm doughnut and a freshly brewed coffee from the Farmgate Markets would be a great way to start your day.
After a bite to eat in Salamanca, take a stroll across to Brooke Street Pier where you can catch the ferry to MONA – the Museum of Old and New Art. MONA has been acclaimed widely as one of the most exciting modern museums in the world right now. Some exhibits will make you think, others will shock, but beneath it all is a playful sense of humor that is guaranteed to get you smiling.
Day 2 – Hobart to Strahan
The drive to Strahan will take you through one of the most beautiful stretches of countryside in Tasmania.
There are numerous national parks where you can stretch your legs, either for a moment, or for hours.
Mt. Field National Park offers many walking trails, but the best of the lot is also the shortest: Russell Falls. It’s only a short walk from the café and is even wheelchair accessible.
After a bite to eat at the Hungry Wombat in Derwent Bridge, a visit to ‘The Wall in the Wilderness’ is recommended. Already years in the making, artist Greg Duncan estimates it will take another decade to complete his hand-carved history of the highlands. This is craftsmanship at its finest.
The section of road between Derwent Bridge and Queenstown is known by locals as the ’99 Bends’. The reason quickly becomes obvious as the smooth tarmac dips and winds its way down the western face of the range. So much fun!
Queenstown is quite the eye-opener. Rich in Tasmanian mining history, this is also the home of Australia’s only gravel football field. That’s right, they breed them tough on the west coast!
If you’ve timed your drive nicely (and booked ahead) then you’ll be arriving in Strahan around 3 pm, just in time to board the Gordon River Afternoon Highlights Cruise. This exploration of Macquarie Harbor is simply magnificent. With water like glass, the reflections of the ancient Huon pines take you back into prehistoric times, while the tour of Sarah Island is a sobering window into Tasmania’s convict history.
Day 3 –Strahan to Cradle Mountain
Tasmania’s west coast is famous for its pioneering railway network that winds its way through ancient rainforests and along sheer escarpments. The terrain was fierce yet their spirit was strong! The perfect way to find out more is to let the West Coast Wilderness Railway company take you on a steam train adventure, with half-day tours that depart mornings and return you by midday.
The drive to Cradle Mountain is another one to remember. From sea level, up the western ranges and past numerous sites showcasing Tasmania’s hydroelectric heritage. And then the Vale of Belvoir unfolds before you!
There’s a small layover on the western edge of the conservation area where you can park your car and make the short walk to the lookout. The views are incredible and are at their best on a day when the clouds drift down the valley, dappled sun playing over the hills and streams.
Check into your accommodation at Cradle Mountain, take some time to explore the artistic talents on display in the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Gallery (it’s free), and perhaps even indulge in some relaxation at the Waldheim Alpine Spa.
Day 4 – Cradle Mountain
Cradle Mountain is one of Tasmania’s most popular tourist destinations, and for very good reason.
There is a maze of trails in the area, varying from the multi-day Overland Track to many short walks suitable for the whole family.
The best all-rounder in our opinion is the 2-hour Dove Lake circuit. Iconic views of Cradle Mountain and its famous King Billy pine boatshed in the foreground, the surreal ‘Ballroom Forest’ of ancient myrtle-beech trees, towering cliffs…it’s got the lot and it isn’t overly demanding on your legs either.
If you’re looking for a more adventurous option, then the offerings from Cradle Mountain Canyons may be more your style. Half-day tours are available, and they will get you immersed (literally) into some of Tasmania’s most rugged chasms and rivers.
To round out the day, consider a guided tour of the Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary at Devils@Cradle. The endangered Tasmanian devil is going through a rough time and its very survival is at stake due to the recent emergence of the devil facial tumor disease, so every little bit of support for these wonderful marsupials is appreciated.
Day 5 – Cradle Mountain to Launceston
It doesn’t matter what the time of year or what the weather, when you’re underground it’s the all the same.
Mole Creek has two amazing caves for you to explore: Marakoopa and King Solomon’s. In their depths, you’ll find gorgeous glow worms lighting up the darkness, bubbling cave streams, and even the occasional critter.
The road into Launceston will take you through some of Tasmania’s lushest farmland, often referred to as the ‘food bowl’ of Australia.
On arrival in Launceston, follow the West Tamar Road just 5 minutes to the west and spend the afternoon exploring Cataract Gorge. The world’s longest single-span chairlift provides great views up and down the gorge, just don’t look down! On those hot summer days, you can take a dip in the riverside swimming pool, or perhaps wander the parks and gardens with a peacock for a friend.
For those who like to explore the local cuisine, a visit to Launceston really should incorporate a dinner at either Brisbane Street Bistro or Stillwater restaurant. Both have been consistently creating innovative, modern dishes of the highest quality for years. This is some of the best food you’ll find anywhere on the island.
Day 6 – Launceston
No visit to Tasmania can be considered complete without a tour of some of the dozens of wineries that dot its shores.
The Tamar Valley is one of Australia’s premier cool-climate wine regions, producing sparkling wines considered by many to be the equal of Champagne. It has even been voted as one of the Top 10 wine routes in the world. Most vineyards have an open cellar door where you can indulge in a tasting or three, with many also offering lunch.
You could spend days exploring the Tamar Valley, but only one is more than enough to appreciate the terroir, the climate and the flavors of this beautiful region. Drop by Wine Tasmania online for more information on the Tamar Valley Wine Route.
Day 7 – Launceston to Hobart
The road south to Hobart can be driven in a little more than two hours if you’re in a hurry, but why rush? The rolling pastures of the midlands offer a gorgeous backdrop to the drive, and there are numerous villages you can explore including Campbell Town, Ross, Oatlands, and Kempton.
Ross is one of the prettiest, and you could easily spend an hour wandering its broad, tree-lined streets and the green banks of the Macquarie River. The locals also rave about the vanilla slice from the Ross Bakery, and with good reason. The ‘full’ version is a meal in itself, but thankfully they do offer a half-size for those who don’t want to spoil their lunch.
Many visitors to Tasmania simply drive straight through to Hobart, but we recommend making a detour that not too many tourists know about. Keep an eye out for the junction at Jericho and take the left-hand option to Richmond.
It’s a lovely drive, and on arrival to the heritage village of Richmond, you’ll see why so many locals make this their weekend destination of choice. In summer you can enjoy a paddleboat on the river, and there’s always a few ducks eager for a handful of breadcrumbs. Arts and crafts are everywhere, and for those interested in Australia’s convict history the stories abound.
The final leg of the itinerary will take you to Hobart via the Coal River Valley, another of Tasmania’s very best wine regions. If you’ve got the time you really should try to slip in another tasting, or perhaps enjoy a spot of fruit picking with the children at Coal Valley Farm.
Looking for the perfect dinner option to conclude your Tasmanian road trip? For modern Australian, you’ll love Aloft, perched high above Sullivan’s Cove. Or for the very best of Italy with a Tasmanian twist, book yourself into Templo and reminisce on the excitement, adventure, and experiences of the last seven days over some of the finest food in Tasmania.
If you’re one of the lucky ones who can stay longer, consider extending your road trip to include these other fantastic locations:
- Bay of Fires – Stunning beaches and neon red rocks
- Freycinet National Park – The world-famous Wineglass Bay
- Stanley – Explore the volcanic plug known as ‘The Nut’
- Tasman Peninsula and Port Arthur – Discover Tasmania’s brutal convict past, in one of the most achingly beautiful locations on the island
- The Huon Valley – Green valleys, apple orchards and cider brewing
Tips for making the most of your time in Tasmania
Tasmania experiences a cool temperate climate, which means in winter temperatures generally don’t drop below freezing, and in summer they rarely exceed 30°C (86°F). However, the extremely varied geography and the island’s exposure to the Southern Ocean mean that conditions can change very quickly and for your own safety you’ll need to be prepared for the chance that it does snow, particularly if you’re hiking.
Getting around Tasmania is a piece of cake if you’ve hired yourself a rental vehicle (buses are available, but they are few and far between). There are numerous providers that will help you out, and all are of a very good quality.
Keep in mind that in Australia you’ll be driving on the left-hand side of the road, but once you’re out of the major city centers (they aren’t that big to be honest) you’ll find hardly any traffic of concern.
Please remember that at dawn, dusk, and during the evening there will be numerous native animals grazing by the roadside. Drive to the conditions and you’ll be fine, but always be ready for swift braking and keep your distance from the car in front.
The public transport system in Hobart is decent and should serve you well. However, if you’re staying near the center of town you’ll find that almost all attractions and restaurant precincts are within walking distance.
Hobart is currently experiencing a boom in dining options. Whether it’s street food, markets, fine dining, or something between, you can guarantee you’ll find something that satisfies. The major dining districts of Hobart include Salamanca, North Hobart and Hobart’s CBD, all being within easy walking distance of each other.
For dining recommendations across Hobart and Tasmania, drop by Fork and Foot and we’ll point you in the right direction!
Unless there is a special event or it’s a public holiday, you should find a high availability of accommodation in Hobart and Launceston. However, in some of the more remote locations that do see high tourist numbers, such as Cradle Mountain and Strahan, it is recommended that you book as early as possible.
If you’re looking for advice on hiking options in Tasmania, we’ve written up numerous hiking experiences of our own on Fork and Foot . If you need more information there is also the fantastic forum Bushwalk.com .
Note that access to National Parks requires an entry permit for your vehicle. There are numerous types of passes available but the best one for tourists planning on visiting more than one park is the eight-week ‘Holiday’ pass that will provide unlimited entry to all parks across Tasmania.
If you’re only planning on visiting a single park then a ‘Daily’ pass may be the most cost-effective option.
Visit the Parks and Wildlife Service website for more information and to make your purchase.
Tasmania has so much to offer everyone that visits its beautiful shores. The locals are a friendly lot as well, so don’t ever feel afraid to pull up and ask them a question or two if you’re feeling a little lost. They’ll be more than happy to set you off in the right direction.
The itinerary we’ve outlined above is a fantastic place to start, but we’re all different, so why not use Inspirock to tailor it to your own preferences and passions?
As with any great road trip, if you come to Tasmania with an open mind and a genuine desire to find the best in a destination, then you can guarantee you’ll be repaid with memories for a lifetime!
About Our Guest Blogger
Karen and Andrew are ‘Fork and Foot‘ and they LOVE food and travel! Giving up the corporate life they now travel the globe, opening up new holiday horizons to their readers through the cuisine, landscapes, and cultures of the world. Slow travel is their philosophy, taking the time to dig a little deeper and peel back the layers of a destination, sharing with their community through engaging stories, inspirational photography and an odd sense of humor. Tasting the world, one step at a time!