Hobart residents are known to be of hardy types with a fancy for pine tree aroma, salty sea splashes and cool layers. With an impressive wardrobe of knitted hats and leather boots, they happily spend their Sunday afternoons down at the Harbour taverns. They feel proud to be from the largest city in Tasmania. If your heart beats for the same things, it’s easy to get a liking of the place. The city of Hobart is one with its scenic surroundings and enjoys a picturesque location in the hilly landscape. The city spreads far down the island’s east coast. Just behind, the mountain of Mount Wellington shoots up and gives a fantastic view of the surroundings. Hobart is the capital of Tasmania, which besides being an island also is its very own state, south of mainland Australia. Hobart is also the country’s second oldest city after Sydney with a clear British appearance. The Europeans settled here at the beginning of the 1800s. Before that, Aboriginal people lived here but were driven away, tortured and murdered by the newcomers. Hobart has a particularly dark history that is painful and hard to forget. The discriminations played out only a few generations ago, and the wounds have not yet healed.
For a long time, the city was overlooked by tourists, but this has started to change lately. Hobart has gone from being a pure working city of fishing traditions, changing into a blossoming hip place with pleasant traditional architecture and secluded bars. The city has been put on the map and has become a destination, something that was unimaginable twenty years ago. The progress takes time and works at a slow pace. In the centre, more and more bohemian cafes are popping up serving hot drinks to stressed morning people. And when darkness falls, the people move towards the old harbour district to meet over a beer. Beautiful sandstone buildings are located at Hobart’s popular Salamanca Place, overlooking the waterfront. There are small antique shops and art galleries. And on Saturdays, the popular market Salamanca market where both small and large things are on sale is taking place. Among the most recent additions to the city’s cultural range include the major museum of art, MONA, Museum of Old and New Art. In addition to all kinds of different exhibitions, they also have a fine restaurant. MONA has become something of an institution and arranges two music festivals during the year.
Sights and experiences
Discover and explore
The 1,270 m high mountain Mount Wellington (wellingtonpark.org.au) is towering over the city and offers an unbeatable view of Hobart. In clear weather, you can see all the way to Maria Island. During the colder months, the mountain is particularly beautiful, dressed in winter white above the clouds. You can either drive to the top, hike all the way or take the public transport here. Bus 48 and 49 stop halfway up. Otherwise, Mount Wellington Descent (mtwellingtondescent.com.au) is a fun alternative. Go to the top of the mountain, then follow guides showing you the way down while you all ride on mountain bikes (wotif.com/things-to-do/mount-wellington-bicycle-descent.a264081.activity-details).
Art and culture
Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) (mona.net.au), is the name of the giant building the museum built on the initiative of the Australian millionaire and art mogul, David Walsh. Here you can see hundreds of works of art from Walsh’s own collection. The museum is a multi-award winner and has in a short time become an obvious experience for art lovers. Take the fast ferry in 25 minutes to get here while you get a view of Hobart (wotif.com/things-to-do/city-tour-with-mona-museum-admission-ferry-ride.a253564.activity-details). There is also a restaurant and a bar on site. When you are in the mood for art, also visit the Salamanca Arts Centre (salarts.org.au) down at Hobart’s harbour. Amongst narrow alleys and old buildings, you will find several art galleries and a theatre.
History and parks
From Salamanca Place, you can take the stone staircase to Kelly’s Steps up towards Battery Point, where Hobart’s port workers lived for a long time. Wander along the streets among the British-styled brick buildings, housing small second-hand shops where you can shop for used books and furnishings for a low cost. There are lots of restaurants and cafés with lace tablecloths and homemade cakes where you can rest your feet. You can follow a guided tour to hear about Hobart’s dark past (wotif.com/things-to-do/hobarts-dark-past-walking-tour.a425738.activity-details).
Sports, entertainment and events
MONA FOMA, short-term MOFO, is a music festival that takes place in mid-January each year (mofo.net.au) down by the Princes Wharf. The festival goes on for a week and is getting bigger and bigger. It combines popular live performances with DJs. During the winter, its darker counterpart, Dark Mofo, is being arranged, an event that has attracted a lot of attention. Another major event organized in the city is the conclusion of the major yacht race, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. The competition is considered one of the world’s most difficult in its branch and starts in Sydney on Boxing Day every year. When the sailors arrive in Hobart on New Year’s Eve, everyone goes out to celebrate.
The main shopping street is in the centre of the Elizabeth Street Mall. Here you will find major brands and the most common clothing stores. Every Saturday, a market is held down at the Salamanca Place, the so-called Salamanca Market (hobartcity.com.au/Hobart/Salamanca_Market), which is a true weekend tradition for local residents. Buskers compliments the experience while you slowly browse and cruise between works of art, woodworks and knitted thick pullovers. There is an abundance of fresh berries and fruits when the season allows. Take your time when visiting the market. There is much to see.
Just as the name indicates, pasta and pizza is being served at Solo Pasta and Pizza (solopastaandpizza.com.au) at 50B King Street. It is a lively restaurant with an ongoing stream of guests. Don’t worry if there is no seat, they also offer take-away dishes. And everything has reasonable prices. If you are looking for Hobart’s best cup of coffee, head to Yellow Bernard (yellowbernard.com) at 109 Collins Street. Her, top-quality hot brews are served by real caffeine geeks. The staff is super friendly and professional. There can be long queues as it is a popular stop during the morning hours.
For a simpler lunch option, you can go down to the port at Constitution Wharf. Out on a pier lies the boat Flipper’s (flippersfishandchips.com.au/menu) that fry fresh fish and shellfish for you to enjoy while overlooking the water. Every Saturday night, many of the locals go to Preachers (facebook.com/preachershobart) at 5 Knopwood Street. Here you will find a relaxing atmosphere. The bar is housed in an historical building with an odd décor. They have 16 kinds of draught beer and more on bottle. Many of the beer comes from microbreweries with odd names.
Good to know
Visit Tasmanian Travel and Information Centre (hobarttravelcentre.com.au) if you need tips and help with bookings and maps. The information centre is located on 20 Davey Street at the intersection of Davey Street and Elizabeth Street. For discount cards, guided tours and activities with current prices you can take a look at wotif’s website (wotif.com/discover/australia/tasmania/hobart.d6052485).
Warnings and preparations
Don’t forget to pack rainwear and umbrella as it rains a lot in Hobart. It is usually said that it rains at least seven days out of ten. The temperature can drop quickly and during the winter it could be freezing temperatures and frost. And the winds are strong down the harbour. Warm clothing is key in Hobart. Pack a thick sweater and a warm hat, no matter what season you plan your visit.
Hobart International Airport (wotif.com/Flights) is located 17 km from the city. The bus company Redline (tasredline.com.au/index.php/airport-shuttles) drive buses to Hobart, and they meet all arriving flights. If you prefer a taxi, there are taxis waiting outside. A trip to the city takes about 20 minutes. Hobart city centre is relatively small and is great exploring on foot. But there are many buses in the city if you don’t feel like walking. Tickets for local traffic (metrotas.com.au) can be purchased in most news agencies and grocery stores. If you travel a lot, it may be worth investing in an electronic bus card, please see their website for more details. The bus company Tassielink (tassielink.com.au) is the largest company offering longer bus trips within Tasmania and their buses stop, among other places, on Brisbane Street. Several major rental companies have offices in Hobart, including Avis and Hertz (wotif.com/Car-Hire).
Discovery Holiday Park (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Discovery_Parks_Hobart.htm) has both simple campsites and cottages with room for up to six people to rent. The park is a ten-minutes’ drive from Hobart’s city centre on 673 East Derwent Highway. The slightly timeworn but nice hostel called the Pickled Frog (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/The_Pickled_Frog.htm) is centrally located on 281 Liverpool Street and cannot be missed. Its screaming-green colour makes the building, which formerly was a pub, to stand out. The hostel is cheap, noisy and crowded. They have free Wi-Fi and a large living room. They run buses for free to various attractions around Hobart several times a week. If you want to meet backpackers from all over the world, check in at the Pickled Frog. In addition to dormitories there are also single- and double bedrooms for rent.
Graham Apartments (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Graham_Apartments.htm) rent out fully equipped two-and three bedroom apartments in the district of New Town in the northern part of Hobart. The apartments are in a slightly higher price range and can be a good option for families who do not want to stay in hotels or hostels but are prepared taking the bus into the city. The apartments are in a lovely green area surrounded by older buildings. Located on 321 Davey Street in the south of Hobart, lies the Islington Hotel (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Islington_Hotel.htm). It is a slightly more expensive and more luxurious accommodation option. The hotel is small, where each room is individually decorated and adorned with artwork. The staff is helpful and will do their best to ensure you enjoy your stay at the Islington. The kitchen serves good food and focuses on local and seasonal ingredients when possible.
A Saturday in Hobart
08:00 – City breakfast
Start the day with a filling breakfast or a light brunch at the Boutique Espresso at 162 Macquarie Street. They serve tasty coffee with perfectly frothed milk. Try one of their bagels or croissants too. The café is discreet and does not look much for the world, but you will not be disappointed if you come here. The staff know what they are doing.
11:00 – Bargain-time
After filling up on coffee and breakfast, it is time to go to the Salamanca Markets (salamanca.com.au), which is down in the port, held every Saturday at Salamanca Place. At this time of day, there is a lot of hustle and bustle, and many are moving between the different market stalls. Look for knitted garments, sample local specialties and listen to street performers playing their acoustic guitars in the background.
13:00 – Mountaineering
Head to Hobart’s highest and best viewpoint – Mount Wellington (wellingtonpark.org.au) at just over 1,200 meters altitude. Wander on foot all the way up or take the bus as help for half the trip. Or why not follow the guides from Mount Wellington Descent (wotif.com/things-to-do/mount-wellington-bicycle-descent.a264081.activity-details) on a fast-paced bike ride down the mountain. No matter how you get here, the view is worth all the toil.
16:00 – View from the water
You are not yet tired. So you join in on a guided kayak tour together with Roaring 40 ‘s Kayaking (wotif.com/things-to-do/cliffs-caves-beaches-kayaking-adventure.a346160.activity-details). You meet other adventurous travellers at Davey Street from where they take you to your kayaks. Together with the rest of the group you discover another side of Hobart. The knowledgeable guides tell you about Tasmania and you tuck into a lunch at one of the beautiful beaches before the excursion continues to eventually take you back to Hobart.
18:00 – Miniburgers
After all the exercise you are hungry again. You head towards Jack Greene (jackgreene.com.au) at 49 Salamanca Place. They cook perfect burgers where Tasmanian products are in focus. Choose a plate of miniburgers to try several different flavours. They have crisp French fries and a lot of good beers to try. You do best to pre-book to make sure you get a table on a Saturday night. This place is popular.
20:00 – Historic harbour district
During the last hours of the evening, you continue exploring the historic harbour district. There are quite a few options to choose from. Perhaps you make a visit to the South American restaurant called Frank (frankrestaurant.com.au) or Post Street Social (poststreetsocial.com.au). Or move uptown towards Preachers (facebook.com/preachershobart) to try out the local beer types.