With its stunning wilderness areas, fascinating convict history and legendary foodie scene, Tasmania has rapidly become one of Australia’s must-visit destinations. While the island is relatively small, there’s a surprising amount to see and a self-driving Tasmania itinerary is the best way to do it.
To help you plan, we’ve put together a 14-day Tasmania itinerary, covering the south, west, north and east of the “Apple Isle”. It will take you from the lively streets of Hobart to the rugged peak of Cradle Mountain and the spellbinding beaches of the Freycinet Peninsula. Along the way, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to delve into the local history and taste the gourmet produce that makes this tiny island so special.
Day 1 to Day 2: Hobart
Nestled in the foothills of kunanyi/Mount Wellington, Hobart is a former British penal colony that now serves as the bustling capital of Tasmania. It oozes heritage charm, with a gorgeous waterfront setting and outstanding restaurants, plus one of Australia’s most innovative contemporary art galleries.
Coincide your visit with a Saturday to experience the famous Salamanca Market before a stroll between the Georgian cottages, antique stores and cafes of Battery Point. A short catamaran ride up the Derwent River will take you to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), which features underground galleries and gourmet dining experiences.
Where to stay in Hobart
From backpackers to five-star luxury hotels, Hobart offers accommodation for all budgets and tastes. Stay inside the 19th-century IXL factory at the Henry Jones Art Hotel or enjoy the waterfront views of MACq 01, which features rooms named after Tasmanian inventors, explorers and convicts. Hobart is also home to one of Australia’s oldest hotels, Hadley’s, a National Trust-listed property.
Day 3-4: Strahan
Next on your 14 day Tasmania Itinerary, depart Hobart for the four-hour drive to Strahan, a picturesque harbour-front village on Tasmania’s West Coast. You can break up the journey at Lake St Clair, which was carved by glaciers over millions of years and is fringed by hiking trails.
The route also takes you down the 90+ bends that spiral into Queenstown, which boomed on the back of gold and copper mining in the 19th century. Surrounding Queenstown’s rocky “moonscape” are the temperate rainforests of Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, with plenty of short walks if you need to stretch your legs.
Once in Strahan, jump aboard a cruise to explore the Gordon River and visit the notorious penal settlement of Sarah Island. Alternatively, you can ride the West Coast Wilderness Railway to Queenstown or climb to the magnificent Henty Dunes that overlook Ocean Beach, Tasmania’s longest stretch of sand. In the evening, why not attend Australia’s longest-running play, “The Ship That Never Was”, which details an attempted convict escape from Sarah Island.
Where to stay in Strahan
Overlooking the water is Strahan Village, a collection of heritage cottages and modern suites where you can stay for a couple of nights. Set behind white picket fences, the cottages are tastefully decorated to reflect Strahan’s heritage and are just a short stroll from local pubs, bistros and seafood restaurants.
Day 5-6: Cradle Mountain
From Strahan, drive through the rugged terrain of Tasmania’s “wild west” to Cradle Mountain, one of the state’s most iconic national parks. It encompasses sparkling glacial tarns and wild alpine moors, as well as its photogenic namesake peak.
Impressive views of Cradle Mountain are available from the shores of Dove Lake, which provides a starting point for several walks. Whether you want an easy, 10-minute stroll or to experience part of the legendary Overland Track, there are hiking options to suit all abilities and interests. For sweeping panoramas across the park, climb to Marion’s Lookout or Hanson’s Peak, keeping in mind that the weather can be highly changeable and you should come prepared for all conditions.
During your time in Cradle Mountain, take time to browse the exhibits at the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre and see the historic chalet that was built by early conservationists, Gustav and Kate Weindorfer. If you want to see Tasmanian devils up close, head to [email protected], a sanctuary that is helping to conserve the threatened species, along with spotted-tail and eastern quolls. You can also check out the changing art exhibitions at the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Gallery or indulge with a therapeutic treatment at the Waldheim Alpine Spa.
Where to stay in Cradle Mountain
From rustic cabins surrounded by bushland to high-end lodges, Cradle Mountain offers a diverse range of accommodation options. You can bunk down in one of the well-appointed cabins of the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village and Cradle Mountain Highlanders or splurge at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, which is home to the paddock-to-plate Highland Restaurant.
Day 7: Stanley
On Day 7, depart Cradle Mountain early for the drive north to Devonport, which takes you beneath the majestic peak of Mount Roland. After winding through rural countryside, you’ll eventually hit the coast, with the impressive Bass Highway hugging the strait west to Stanley.
Dominated by the sheer-sided volcanic plug of the Nut, this charming town is clustered with heritage buildings. Stop in at the Stanley Discovery Centre to learn more about the people and events that have shaped its past, then admire the quaint Poet’s Cottage and the Bay View Hotel.
From the flat-topped summit of the Nut, you can enjoy 360-degree views across the region. Accessible on foot or via a chairlift, the Nut is also home to former convict barracks at the Highland Historic Site.
Where to stay in Stanley
Stanley boasts a variety of beachfront apartments, inns and B&Bs where you can stay overnight, including the Stanley Village Waterfront and @TheBeach. There are impressive views across the town from the Stanley Seaview Inn while the Stanley Hotel offers rooms in the heart of all the action.
Day 8: Bridestowe Lavender Fields and Launceston
From Stanley, retrace your steps along the Bass Highway through Burnie and Penguin before arriving in the beautiful Tamar River Valley. Renowned for its wineries and gourmet produce, it’s also the gateway to Bridestowe Estate, the largest lavender farm in the Southern Hemisphere. In December and January, its fields ignite a spectacular purple as the lavender comes into bloom, with a range of lavender-infused products and dishes available to try on-site.
It’s a short drive from Bridestowe to Launceston, Tasmania’s northern hub, which is home to elegant colonial buildings and attractive parks. Delve into the local history at the Queen Victoria Museum, which also operates a sister Art Gallery, then ride the chairlift that leads across the magnificent Cataract Gorge.
Where to stay in Launceston
There is no shortage of accommodation in Launceston to add to your Tasmania Itinerary, no matter your budget or style. Use your stay to support important social causes at the Change Overnight or enjoy old-meets-new at the Hotel Grand Chancellor. Boutique stays are on offer at the Auldington and Relbia Lodge while a collection of 1960s silos on the banks of the Tamar River have been transformed into the Peppers Silo.
Day 9: Bay of Fires
Soak up the majestic scenery of Tasmania’s north east as you head towards Binalong Bay, which serves as the gateway to the Bay of Fires. With blindingly white beaches and crystal clear waters, this idyllic part of the island is unique for the orange lichen that covers its granite boulders.
The Bay of Fires is a popular getaway destination for locals wanting to fish, surf and kayak, with plenty of secluded coves and inlets to explore. A wealth of animals and birdlife can be spotted on beach walks and the offshore reef is home to a diversity of marine life that can be encountered while diving or snorkelling.
Where to stay in the Bay of Fires
Campsites are dotted throughout the Bay of Fires Conservation Area and in adjacent Mount William National Park. In Binalong Bay, you’ll find plenty of holiday houses available for rent, together with the caravan-friendly Hillcrest Tourist Park. You can glamp at the Bay of Fires Bush Retreat or stay at the comfortable Queechy Motel. Slightly further south from Binalong Bay is lively St. Helens, which has a wider choice of accommodation.
Day 10-11: Freycinet National Park
From the Bay of Fires, follow the east coast south through Scamander, Falmouth and Bicheno before making a detour to Freycinet National Park. Dominated by the dramatic pink granite peaks of the Hazards, it encompasses white sandy beaches and secluded bays that are ideally explored on foot, by kayak or boat.
No visit to Freycinet is complete without making the steep climb over the Hazards to Wineglass Bay, an aptly named stretch of sand that is one of Tasmania’s most photographed. From here, you can continue along the isthmus that leads to Hazards Beach or, for a more challenging hike, why not climb to the summit of Mount Amos, from where you’ll be treated to panoramic views across the park.
If hiking isn’t your thing, you can jump aboard a cruise to explore Wineglass Bay and the Freycinet Peninsula from the water or slowly paddle under your own steam during a kayaking tour. Birdwatchers shouldn’t miss a visit to the RAMSAR-listed Moulting Lagoon, which provides a sanctuary for black swans and migratory species.
Where to stay in Freycinet National Park
Freycinet National Park is dotted with campsites where you can stay overnight surrounded by nature and accompanied by friendly wildlife. Alternatively, you can enjoy a touch of luxury at Freycinet Lodge, which perches on the edge of Honeymoon Bay. In the town of Coles Bay, you’ll find plenty of private holiday homes available for rent and the Big4 Iluka that caters well to caravaners. If money is no object, splurge in one of the beautifully appointed suites of Saffire Freycinet.
Day 12: Port Arthur
Follow the East Coast south from Freycinet to the town of Sorell, which serves as the gateway to the Tasman Peninsula. Surrounded by soaring dolerite cliffs and breathtaking beaches, it’s also the setting for one of Australia’s most famous convict sites at Port Arthur.
Constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries, Port Arthur’s UNESCO-listed ruins include a massive penitentiary and the photogenic shell of the inmate-built Convict Church. Join a guided tour to learn about the harsh realities of life here and hear about those who attempted to escape into the wilds of Tasmania. Entrance to the Port Arthur Historic Site includes a harbour cruise and access to the Port Arthur Gallery, as well as the beautifully landscaped gardens.
Where to stay in Port Arthur
Adjacent to the historic site is the community of Port Arthur, which is home to a wide choice of private holiday rentals, villas and a motor inn. You can stay overnight at Stewarts Bay Lodge, Sea Change Safety Cove or the Bay Retreat, with more options available in nearby Taranna.
Day 13: Bruny Island
From Port Arthur, return to Hobart and continue driving south along the Channel to the picturesque port of Kettering. Ferries depart from here to beautiful Bruny Island, a locals favourite that is renowned for its blissful beaches, rugged hiking trails and gourmet produce.
Stop at The Neck to soak up the elevated views towards South Bruny and tour the Cape Bruny Lighthouse, which is the longest continually staffed lighthouse in Australia. Delicious dairy products can be sampled at the Bruny Island Cheese Company while some of the freshest oysters in the world are served up at Get Shucked. For up-close views of the wildlife that call Bruny’s coastline “home”, join a thrilling cruise from the ever-popular beachside town of Adventure Bay.
Where to stay in Bruny Island
Bruny Island boasts no shortage of accommodation to choose from, including basic campsites, laid-back holiday homes and luxury beachfront retreats. Stay at the friendly Captain Cook Holiday Park, enjoy the environmentally-conscious offerings at 43 Degrees.
Day 14: Hobart
After a leisurely morning on Bruny, take the return ferry to Kettering and drive north to Hobart where your 14-day Tasmania itinerary comes to an end.
Tasmania Itinerary Visitors Guide
When is the best time to visit Tasmania?
Summer (December to February) is the most popular time to visit Tasmania, with daily temperatures in the mid-20s and little rainfall to dampen your adventures. But accommodation prices are at their highest and rental cars are in hot demand with an influx of visitors from the mainland and abroad. If you plan to do a Tasmania itinerary in the summertime, book your trip well in advance and be prepared to compete with the crowds flocking to the Apple Isle to watch the Sydney to Hobart yacht race come in.
With far fewer crowds and cool, dry days, autumn is one of the best times to visit Tasmania. Not only will you have your pick of accommodation but you’ll be treated to the changing colours and the opportunity to join the locals in watching the annual “turning of the fagus”.
While winter in Tasmania is synonymous with short daylight hours and freezing cold temperatures, it’s also a beautiful time to visit the island. The Central Highlands, Ben Lomond and Mount Wellington are often blanketed in snow and festivals featuring open fires, mulled wine and twinkling lights bring people out of hibernation. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that rainfall is at its highest over the winter months, particularly on the West Coast, which experiences up to 20 rain days per month in the middle of winter!
While spring officially extends from September through to November in Tasmania, you might not know it has arrived until October. The landscapes are lush and green with the orchards in full bloom, making this a particularly stunning time for a self-driving Tasmania itinerary. The only drawback of visiting in spring is the strong winds, although these rarely stay around for more than a couple of days at a time.
How to get to Tasmania
As an island state, the only way of getting to Tasmania is by sea or air. There are daily flights to both Hobart and Launceston from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, as well as regular services from the Gold Coast, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth to Hobart. You can also fly direct from Melbourne to Wynyard, Devonport, King and Flinders Island.
If you want to bring your own car, you can arrive aboard the “Spirit of Tasmania” ferry, which departs from Melbourne and arrives in Devonport on the north coast of the island.
Getting around Tasmania
For most visitors to Tasmania, renting a car (or bringing their own) is the most popular way of exploring the island state, allowing you to create the itinerary you want and be flexible with your plans. Tasmania’s small size, relatively good roads and lack of major freeways make it an ideal place for scenic driving, although you shouldn’t underestimate the time it takes to get from one side of the island to the other.
With no train services in Tasmania, your only option when it comes to public transport is buses. There are routes connecting all of the major centres, plus plenty of regional bus services that provide a slow but leisurely way of getting around.
If you don’t want to self-drive and don’t have time to tour Tasmania by public transport, a multi-day tour is your best option. There are several excellent options taking in the Apple Isle’s most iconic attractions, as well as specialist adventure tours for those wanting to hike, mountain bike, white water raft or kayak.
More than 14 days in Tasmania: Extend you Tasmania Itinerary
If you’ve got more than 14 days to spend on the island, here are some of our top picks for Tasmanian itinerary additions.
- New Norfolk + Mount Field National Park: Antiques and one of Tasmania’s most photographed waterfalls
- Richmond + Coal River Valley: Australia’s oldest bridge and pinot country
- Tarkine – Breathtaking wilderness and river cruises
- Maria Island – Painted cliffs and friendly wildlife
- Mole Creek – Spectacular cave formations and rural scenery
- Evandale – Historic Georgian town and penny farthing races
- Lake Pedder and Gordon Dam – Glacial lake and vertigo-inducing abseiling
When you have finished your 14 day Tasmania Itinerary, why not head over to Magnetic Island and explore the wonders of this truly breathtaking Queensland Island.