Tasmania is a wonderfully idyllic island. An Australian territory, it lies roughly 240km to the south of the Australian mainland. All kinds of reserves and national parks dot the island, among them the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Home, of course, to the great Cradle Mountain. Down in the southwest corner of Tasmania, lies the Southwest National Park. Which, because of its unique geological formations, valleys and silent lakes, seems to draw visitors back into a cleaner, almost prehistoric natural setting. The way the world may have been before humans began to build with metal and bricks. At the northern end of the island, visitors will find the pastel-hued lavender fields of Bridestowe Estate. These fields rest just 50km from Launceston, a thriving port-city on the Tamar river. Known for the Cataract Gorge, and the Queen Victoria Museum. Evidently, a 10 day Tasmania itinerary could include so many things.
That being said, this Cultural Scribbles 10 day Tasmania itinerary will focus on the must-see attractions, with a peppering of the more cultural activities on the island. I’ll begin by offering a brief summary of the itinerary, for those who simply want the names of places to visit. Following this I’ll flesh out the details of each place in a thorough 10 day itinerary. And lastly, we’ll take a look at some of the best places to stay in Tasmania (budget-adjusted).
If you’re interested in a more tropical trip, take a look at the Cultural Scribbles Costa Rica 10 day itinerary.
A Brief Summary of the 10 Day Tasmania Itinerary
For those of you who don’t have time to read the whole itinerary, here is a quick overview. But for much richer information and detail, keep reading on.
- Hobart – Day 1
- Mount Wellington and Mona – Day 2
- Port Arthur and Tasman National Park – Day 3
- Freycinet National Park – Day 4
- Bicheno Beach and Bay of Fires – Day 5
- Mount William National Park – Day 6
- Launceston – Day 7
- Cradle Mountain – Day 8
- West Coast – Day 9
- Bruny Island – Day 10
10 day tasmania itinerary
Day 1: Hobart
Car Hire – The ideal way to get around for the duration of this 10 day Tasmania itinerary
The charming capital city of the island will likely mark the beginning of your journey on this 10 day Tasmania itinerary. That is assuming you will be flying into Tasmania’s main airport: Hobart Airport. The best way to get around Tasmania is by car, and there are plenty of affordable car rental companies in Hobart. The best is Drive Car Hire. You can book ahead with them (they guarantee your booking) and collect your car at Hobart Airport. Additionally, they will allow you to drive to Bruny Island. A luxury not all car rental companies in Tasmania will allow. But it works well for us because Bruny Island is part of our 10 day Tasmania itinerary. It is also worth noting that you can drive from one end of the island to another in under 5 hours.
Things to see and do
There is so much culture to absorb in Hobart, and the ultimate way to get to know the city is through a sightseeing tour. A fantastic way to learn about the city, whilst maintaining a sense of independence and choice, is with this hop-on-hop-off double decker bus tour. The bus stops at all the major attractions: Salamanca Place, Cascade Brewery, Female Factory, Aquatic Centre, Royal Tasmanian Botanical gardens and many more. And the beautiful part is, your ticket is valid for 24 hours. So you can simply hop on and off the bus as you please.
Perhaps you’d like to jump off at Battery Point, a historic suburb lined with colonial-style cottages. Named after the battery of guns which were fixed on the point in 1818 as part of the Hobart coastal defences. Or maybe you’ll decide to venture into Salamanca Place, and spend some time in the quaint art galleries and cafes. Furthermore, Salamanca plays host to the marvellous Salamance Market. A favourite among tourists, this market brings something different to the city every weekend. Taking place every Saturday, visitors will be able to explore more than 300 stalls and peruse everything from paintings to pavlovas.
If we withdraw slightly from the very human setting described so far, we will see that the backdrop of this city is the monumental Mount Wellington. Which, aside from gracing Hobart’s citizens and visitors with tremendous views, offers a number of hiking and cycling trails.
Day 2: Mount Wellington and MONA
Mount Wellington Walks
Assuming that you’ll hire that car we spoke about previously, you’ll want to use it to get from Hobart to Mount Wellington car park. Which will take approximately 30 minutes. From there, and for a scenic, relaxing walk, take the Organ Pipes Track. So named because of the fluted dolerite columns that tower over those walking the trail. The mostly flat track stretches around the base of the cliffs for roughly 3km, gifting hikers with a sense of the sensational scale of these rock formations. As hikers gradually gain height throughout the walk, the eucalypt woodlands begin to sparsen, and the astonishing views become apparent. You’ll be able to look out over Hobart, the River Derwent, Storm Bay and Bruny Island. In early summer your hike will be further coloured by the blossoming of Telopea Truncata, the Tasmania Waratah plant.
The best way to reach this track is to drive to the Chalet Carpark, via Pinnacle Road. The walk takes you southwards, towards the zig zag junction and the pinnacle track. The ‘out and back’ trail will take you around an hour to walk. If hiking is your thing, then you may want to explore further. Try Fern Tree Park, The Springs, The Chalet, Big Bend and The Pinnacle Track. It’s also worth considering these walks in winter, as the snow really adds a shine to the whole experience. You can easily spend a whole day hiking around Mount Wellington.
MONA – Museum of Old and New Art
If you’re less of a hiker and more of a culture enthusiast, then it might be a good idea to spend just the morning pacing the trails. That way you can head back to Hobart and spend your afternoon at MONA. The building itself is a work of art, lighting up the River Derwent with its fluorescent orange and purple beams. Inside is where the real magic is stored though. An ever-changing array of spectacular modern and traditional artwork graces the interior spaces of this electric venue. Even their website is an experience.
Day 3: Port Arthur and Tasman National Park
About a 90 minute drive from Hobart, resting on the Tasman Peninsula, lies Port Arthur. In the 19th century, the sight was a penal settlement where convicts were kept during British colonisation. Today, it stands as a fascinating open-air museum. The sight includes the large penitentiary and the remains of the convict church, built by prisoners. Additionally, just opposite the main penitentiary there is a separate prison building which was used for solitary confinement. Further, the site also houses a museum and a hospital. The most intimate way to explore the site is with a guided tour.
Once you’ve sufficiently saturated your brain with history, you may want to explore Tasman National Park. Known for its lofty sea cliffs, splendid rock formations and awesome coves, the natural beauty will simply blow you away. But whatever you do, be sure to visit Devil’s Kitchen, a cliffside observation platform that affords the most striking views out over the rock faces and the sea. Further, you may want to venture towards Fortescue Bay, too. Here you’ll find a white sandy beach, set to the backdrop of forested hills. It is a great place to camp.
Day 4: Freycinet National Park
Now your real road trip begins. Early on the fourth day, you’ll set off from Eaglehawk Neck (a narrow isthmus that connects the Tasman Peninsula with the Forestier Peninsula) and drive for two and a half hours to Freycinet National Park. Another dazzling natural gem on the east coast of Tasmania, Freycinet is best known for the unmatchable beauty of Wineglass Bay. The shimmering water of the bay is a dreamy place to take a swim. And then you can let yourself sink into the grainy white sand beach. Although Wineglass Bay is incredible, the ideal way to take in its magic is actually from above. If you hit the trail and head towards Mount Amos, which is just a 4km return walk (though quite steep), it will afford you an unbeatable view over the bay.
Day 5: Bicheno Beach and Bay of Fires
In the morning make the drive up to Bicheno, a sparkling coastal town nestled between Douglas-Apsley National Park and Freycinet National Park. Here, you’ll find what is quite possibly Tasmania’s nicest beach. So you may want to have a coffee and some breakfast in town and head down to the beach for a couple of hours. Additionally, if you’d like to visit another museum, you can make a stop in Swansea, which is 30 minutes south of Bicheno. There you’ll be able to visit the East Coast Heritage Museum. A quaint little place with a very local touch.
Bay of Fires – A must-see for your 10 day Tasmania Itinerary
Once you’ve absorbed the beauty of Bicheno, it’s time to make your way further up coast to the Bay of Fires (2 hour drive). Resting on the north-eastern coast of the island, stretching from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point, the Bay of Fires is truly a sight to behold. It features white sand and clear waters, which alone, would make it a wonderful place to spend some time. But as it happens, the bay is home to marvellous assortments of orange rocks. Which, contrasted with the cool blue sea in the background, make for a surprisingly unique view. The bay was given its name by Captain Tobias Furneaux in 1773, when he saw aboriginal tribespeople tending to fires on the beach from his boat.
Aside from stunning scenery, the bay is a great place for wildlife watching, fishing, surfing, boating, snorkelling and hiking. In fact, if you take the Bay of Fires lodge walk you’ll end up at the lighthouse. Which will afford you a magnificent view.
Bay of Fires Camping
As you may imagine, the bay area is a fantastic place for a seaside camping session. And as a matter of fact, many of the campsites around the area are free. But you’ll have to bring your own tent for some of them. The best area for camping is the southern section of the Bay of Fires Conservation Area (north of Binalong Bay, continuing up to the gardens). There you will find several campsites, providing tents, caravans and campervans. These include Grants Lagoon, Jeanneret, Swimcart, Cosy South, Cosy North, Seatons Cove and Sloop Reef. For more information on the facilities at each individual campsite, check here.
Day 6: Mount William National Park
On the morning of the sixth day, you’ll make a scenic one hour drive up the coast to Mount William National Park. Remember to grab some food on the way because there aren’t many food options at the park. When you arrive, you’ll be met with powdery white beaches and turquoise waters. However, the real thrill of this national park lies slightly inland, in the grasslands and amongst the forests. This rugged landscape is home to many of Tasmania’s marsupials. And as you walk around you may spot kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and echidnas. Not to mention the rich coastal birdlife, consisting of over 100 species, from little honeyeaters to giant albatrosses. It really is one of the richest landscapes to explore within this 10 day Tasmania itinerary.
Furthermore, the northeast coast of Tasmania holds a vivid history of aboriginal life. In fact, the park’s namesake (Mount William), is also known as Wukalina, from the aboriginal tongue. More than ninety shell middens have been discovered in the park, along with sixty rich archaeological sites. During European settlement, the area was generally used for farming. Another landmark, namely the Eddystone Point Lighthouse, made from pink granite, is worth a visit too.
Once you’ve finished exploring Mount William, it’s time to make your way inland to Launceston, where you’ll stay for the night.
Day 7: Launceston
If everything has gone to plan, then you should be waking up in Launceston. Built around the idyllic Tamar river, Launceston is one of Australia’s oldest cities. With a decidedly more European influence than many other cities in Tasmania, you will find an array of colonial and historic buildings here. In fact, the city is named after a city in Cornwall, in the UK, as with many other cities in Australia, including Perth. Given the city’s historic and cultural vibrations, it is only fitting that it houses a brilliant museum and art gallery. The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery plays host to a wonderful assortment of art, history and natural science displays. They even have a planetarium, where you can sit and marvel at the simulated night sky. Further, each planetarium show is followed by a tour of the real night sky – how great is that?
Perhaps the most alluring attraction in Launceston is Cataract Gorge. Which is found at the lower section of the South Esk River. You can visit and learn about the gorge in two main ways. Either, head out on a cruise and explore the gorge from the water. Or, you can go on a walking tour. Both come with a guide.
Day 8: Cradle Mountain
One for the hikers amongst you – Cradle Mountain is known for its beautiful tracks. You’ll want to leave Launceston fairly early, as it takes around two hours to drive to Cradle Mountain. And this really is a place that you’ll want a whole day for. Moreover, it is worth getting yourself some food on the way here because opportunities in the park will be few and far between. Also, all national parks in Tasmania require visitors to have a pass. You can buy them directly from the visitors centres or online.
To hike Cradle Mountain is to be spoilt for choice. There are over 20 self-guided walking tracks around Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake, ranging from 20 minutes to 9 hours. Here are a few you may want to consider:
Cradle Mountain Walks
The Enchanted Stroll: Wander along the banks of the Pencil Pine River, taking in the luscious variety of greenery around you. From button grass plains to mossy myrtle forests. And, if you set off early enough, you may spot the tricky platypus as it plays in the pools. This is a very easy, 20 minute circular walk.
The Waterfalls Walk: A relaxing stroll featuring soft-falling waterfalls and contemplative rivers. If you follow the Dove Canyon track you will arrive at Pencil Pine Falls in just 5 minutes. Which is a great spot for a light swim. From there, continue along the boardwalk path to Knyvet Falls. The return journey is simply the way you came. As such, this walk is easy, and will take around 40 minutes depending on how long you stop to swim.
Dove Canyon Track: Continuing past Knyvet Falls, this track follows the flow of the Pencil Pine River. You’ll trek through thick forests before the track climbs to the top of Dove Canyon. Here, you are met by 70m cliffs that comprise the boundaries of Dove River. On a clear day, you can enjoy the views out over Cradle Valley and Cradle Mountain. It is worth noting that this is a more difficult track, and involves scaling up rocks at one or two points. All in all it will take around 3 hours to walk.
Crater Lake: This walk will take you to Crater Falls and through a charming forest made up of sassafras trees. Additionally, you’ll discover the glacial lake, which is bordered by 200m cliff faces cloaked in various flora. Medium difficulty, and it will take around 3 hours.
Cradle Mountain in Winter
If you’re visiting Tasmania in the winter months, you may be wondering if you can still trek around Cradle Mountain. The answer is a resounding yes. And what’s more, the region is even more spectacular during winter. The summit receives regular snowfalls in winter, and actually it’s not uncommon to see snow in any month of the year.
Day 9: West Coast (the driving day of your 10 day Tasmania Itinerary)
The ninth day in Tasmania will be somewhat of a road trip day. But with plenty of reason to stop and explore along the way. You’ll be driving for a total of six hours, but the trip is split into two halves. Firstly, the west coast is home to some of Tasmania’s most beautiful waterfall trails. So we’ll begin the day with a drive from Cradle Mountain to Montezuma Falls (3 hours). Here you can take a pleasant walk along the trails and their bridges, gazing at Tasmania highest waterfall. You may even spot the Tasmanian Devil in this area. There are a number of trails leading up to the waterfall, so you’ll have no trouble finding a route. But be prepared to spend about 90 minutes walking if you want to get to the top.
Once you’ve experienced Montezuma, jump back in the car and head to the quaint little mountain town of Zeehan. Where you can spend some time absorbing the local culture and learning about the history of the west coast. An opportunity afforded to you by the West Coast Heritage Centre – a complex of buildings and collections that will give you an insight into the cultural heritage of the west coast of Tasmania. After frolicking through the museum sites, it’s time to head to Nelson falls. Another natural site listed under UNESCO’s world heritage, Nelson Falls has some fantastic nature trails.
Then from Nelson Falls, make the trip back to Hobart (3 hours) to stay the night, and get ready for Bruny Island the next day.
Day 10: Bruny Island
Last but not least, the spectacular Bruny Island. A great day trip from Hobart, during which you can taste the island’s delightful fare. Including Bruny Island cheese, honey, chocolate and oysters. Not to mention you’ll get to see a handful of the island’s lighthouses, and an interesting collection of wildlife – such as wallabies and echidnas. There’s a lot to see on land here, including Adventure Bay and Cape Bruny, with its beautiful white-stone lighthouse. But there’s an awful lot to see at sea, too.
On an organised wilderness cruise, you will have the chance to spot all kinds of wildlife. You could see migrating whales, dolphins, seabirds and seals, as well as fantastic cliffs and caves. Back to land now, you may want to take some time walking along the ‘neck’ of Bruny Island. This is the isthmus of land that connects the north and south sections of Bruny. If you climb the steps to Truganini Lookout, it affords you a stunning 360-degrfee view of the whole landscape.
where to stay during your 10 day Tasmania itinerary
|Hobart||Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse||Macquarie Manor Hotel||Hotel Grand Chancellor|
|Tasman Peninsula||NRMA Port Arthur Holiday Park||Masons Cottages||Stewarts Bay Lodge|
|Freycinet||Free Campsites (bring a tent)||N/A||Freycinet Lodge|
|Bay of Fires||Free Campsites||Anchor Wheel Motel||Seachange Ocean Frontage|
|Launceston||Launceston Backpackers||Auldington Hotel||Country Club Tasmania|
|Cradle Mountain||N/A||N/A||Cradle Mountain Highlanders|
I do sincerely hope that this Cultural Scribbles 10 day Tasmania Itinerary has been useful for you. Stunning natural beauty and unique cultural heritage await anyone who travels to this alluring island. And it does seem to be less well-known as a holiday destination than some places on our planet. So who knows, maybe you’ll be able to avoid large groups of tourists. Having said that, there are a number of well-guided and interesting walks and cruises to enjoy too. Whether you travel solo, or take your friends and families, I trust that you will have a superb time in Tasmania.
Additionally, if you are keen to camp your way around Tasmania at a very low cost, check out this article on free camping in Tasmania. And, if you’d like to camp on the little gem of an island just off the south eastern coast of the mainland, take a look at this article on camping Bruny Island.