I grew up in Hobart… spending the 80’s and 90’s calling this truly unique Island home. I moved away in 1999 a time when Hobart was very much at a turning point. Cafe culture was just beginning, shops were extending their trading hours and the gourmet food and wine scene were just about to explode onto the world stage.
It is crazy for me to think I have now been a visitor to Hobart as long as I have been a resident. I consider myself extremely lucky as this island paradise has been a very regular holiday destination for me since ’99… and lets just say… I know the spots. There are the places that have been great for years, the places that are part of the fabric that makes Hobart… Hobart, and there are the new places that are shaping new and improved Hobart. And let’s not forget about the beauty of nature that surrounds this city providing vistas, recreation and atmosphere in all directions.
I know some people are apprehensive about a trip to Tasmania… putting it on the list of places they want to visit but never feel like they have the time. I always tell people to come for a weekend in Hobart first. Forget the big East and West Coast trip and just enjoy Hobart on your first visit. Don’t even try and fit in Bruny Island, the Huon Valley, Richmond Wineries, Tasman Peninsula or the Derwent Valley. Follow my weekend guide and leave any further afield trips for your guaranteed return visits.
Saying that… I would recommend hiring a car. Most things are accessible on foot but a car is really handy and helps a lot if the weather is bad.
If there is still some daylight when you arrive situate yourself with The Waterfront and Salamanca area. The best place in Hobart to watch the sunset is The Glass House bar on the end of the floating Brooke Street Pier. If the sun has already set or if you are in need of a warm up, head to Nant Whisky Bar for a pre-dinner cocktail or a premium Tasmanian Whisky. When you are hungry for dinner you wont have to go far as the Salamanca area has something for everyone. Grab a cheap and cheerful burger from the historical cottage come hipter hang out (complete with bus in the beer garden) Preachers. Grab a classic Italian meal from within the warm and stylish Maldini. Enjoy Middle-Eastern share plates at Syra in Salamanca Square. Or enjoy the best of Tasmania’s finest produce with a South American twist at Frank Restaurant.
There is nowhere better to be in Hobart, on a Saturday morning, than at the world famous Salamanca Market. One of the largest weekly open-air markets in the world, ‘Salamanca’ is the perfect place to find the best of the State’s wares all on display at once. Even if you are not in the market for shopping it is still worth checking it out and soaking up the atmosphere. Salamanca is also the perfect place for Saturday morning breakfast. I recommend Machine Laundry Cafe in Salamanca Square, Tricycle Cafe at the entrance to the Peacock Theatre in Salamanca Place or the iconic Retro Cafe on the corner of Salamanca Place and Montpelier Retreat right in the heart of the Market.
Saturday afternoon has to be reserved for a trip to MONA. Pre-book your ferry tickets well ahead of time (I recommend buying the lux Posh Pit ticket). This is not like any other museum in the world. Give yourself a full afternoon to enjoy the art, amazing building and hospitality of the bars and restaurants on site. If the sun is shining there is nowhere better to be than on a beanbag overlooking the vineyards and Derwent River with a glass or two of Tasmania’s finest.
You might need to sober up after an afternoon at MONA and a walk up to North Hobart might be just the right idea. Elizabeth St in North Hobart has a handful of really beautiful restaurants and some great pubs as well as Hobart’s oldest cinema, The State. If you are hungry head to Capital for a great Italian meal then enjoy a cocktail and perhaps a dessert at the extremely funky contemporary Mexican bar and restaurant Panco Villa.
Farmer’s Markets are always a great way to get to know a place and Hobart’s Farm Gate Market is no exception. Grab a coffee at Ecru on Criterion Street in the city before strolling through the Market and grabbing some breakfast. You might also like to quickly stroll around the city for a look.
From the city wander through Battery Point. Stop for a swing in Arthur’s Circus and snap the classic Hobart photograph of Battery Point with Mt Wellington in the background from out front of Jackman & McCross. If the weather is clear and you can see the mountain grab a sandwich from Jackman’s and jump in your car for a drive up the mountain. Drive to the summit for an absolutely breathtaking view then park at the “Springs”, put on your walking shoes and head off along the Organ Pipes track. Take in the start of the track for spectacular views up to the fluted rock formations known as the Organic Pipes or keep walking to complete the 3 hour circuit.
A visit to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery is well worthwhile.
Whisky has become a huge business in Tasmania recently and in addition to Nant it is also worth doing a tasting at Lark Distillery.
There is spectacular coffee and outstanding gluten free and vegetarian/vegan food available from Straight Up cafe in the CBD.
The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra is also world class and it’s well worth checking if there are any concerts scheduled during your stay.