It’s no wonder Tasmania is fast becoming Australia’s hottest destination. Think of it as a mini-Australia – all the fun packed into one tiny island. It’s rich in history, scenic views, ideal surf, epic hiking trails and crystal-blue bays, with a bourgeoning food and wine scene to boot.
Ask a local or someone who’s travelled the Apple Isle, and they’ll tell you that the best way to see it is by car. So, we’ve carved out a 10-day self-drive route that’s full of adventure to give you a great taste of Van Diemen’s Land.
While 10 days is the perfect amount of time to take on this trip, you can easily shorten or lengthen it depending on what you want to do.
Best time to visit Tasmania
Tassie doesn’t get quite as warm as its northern sister states, so a summer trip is ideal – December, January and February are the peak season. However, if you prefer a more quiet holiday, then you may want to try September or October for the beautiful spring season, or the cooler but pleasant autumn climate in March and April.
What to pack for Tasmania
Packing for Tasmania can get a little tricky, so we’ve put together a list of essentials:
- Poncho or raincoat
- Comfortable hiking shoes
- Windproof clothes
- Scarf and beanie
- Smart-casual outfit (for that fine-dining experience)
- Snacks and water
- Day 1 – Hobart
Our journey through Tasmania begins in its quaint capital city, Hobart. Car hire in Hobart is easy – SIXT has a location at both Hobart airport and right in the city itself. Stroll through Sullivans Cove to see the iconic 19th-century sandstone warehouses before heading to Salamanca Place to the bustling markets. Next, you might want to pay a visit to the famous Barilla Bay Oysters for those freshly shucked goodies. And, of course, no trip to Hobart is ever complete without a visit to MONA, known as not only one of the best art museums in Australia, but one of the best museums in the world. It’s situated on a winery, so you know the views won’t disappoint and the food rivals any top-end restaurant. Plus, there’s the art, but we’d need a whole post to cover that!
Day 2 – Hobart to Port Arthur
101 km | 1.5-hour drive
Step back in time at the Port Arthur Historic Site to explore Australia’s convict past. Visit the prison buildings, dockyards or church dating back hundreds of years and a museum holding many artifacts recovered in archaeological projects.
From here, serious hikers can attempt the Three Capes Track. This four-day, three-night trek covers 46 km of Tasmania’s most south-east point. From cliff-hugging coastlines to soaring eucalypt forests and the Tasman Sea by your side, it’s as raw as it gets.
Day 3 – Port Arthur to Swansea
156 km | 2.25-hour drive
If you enjoyed the historic buildings, oysters, and beautiful scenery of Hobart, then Swansea is the town for you. Overlooking Great Oyster Bay, and surrounded by the peaks of Freycinet National Park, Swansea is a must on your Tasmanian road trip. For the history buffs, take a self-guided walk of Swansea past Schouten House, Meredith House, and Morris’ General Store to see what this place is all about.
Day 4 – Swansea to Freycinet National Park
35 km | 30-minute drive
Bordered by rugged mountains and white sandy beaches, Freycinet National Park is truly a sight for sore eyes. There are few places on Earth where you will find such contrast in the landscape, making this park one of the gems of Tasmania. Day-trippers can go for a nice wine cruise out on the bay, or for the more adventurous traveller, hire a 4wd vehicle and tackle some of the scenic back roads!
Day 5 – Freycinet National Park to Bay of Fires
114 km | 1.75-hour drive
So awe-inspiring is the Bay of Fires, over 50 km of sugary-white sand stretches along rocky coastlines with secluded inlets forming entries to the impossibly clear ocean beyond. Stay in St Helens or Binalong Bay overnight, and enjoy the award-winning Bay of Fires walk. If you’re a big-time hiker, you can do a full four-day trek, though there are plenty of shorter walks that can be done in a day or just a few hours if you are limited on time.
Day 6 – Bay of Fires to Nabowla
145 km | 2.25-hour drive
This unassuming, quaint country town is quite the jaw-dropper. With lush violet fields of lavender sprawling across 260 acres, it is home to one of the most breathtaking landscapes in the country. Bridestowe Lavender Estate is one of Tasmania’s best-kept secrets. Don’t miss the sunset – it’s the stuff dreams are made of.
Day 7 – Nabowla to Launceston
53 km | 45-minute drive
Tasmania’s second largest city and cultural hub, Launceston, is another must-see – and potentially a starting point for your trip. With the luxury of having an airport and being surrounded by some of Tasmania’s most amazing food and wine country, Launceston has the perfect balance of metropolitan frills and rural comfort. Architecture, museums, vineyards, and hiking trails are all just a stone’s throw away from the centre of Launceston.
Launceston is also the gateway to Tasmania’s oldest and premier wine region: the Tamar Valley. Home to cool-climate wines, mouth-watering fresh local produce, and award-winning vineyard restaurants, the valley could easily claim to be the best of the Tasmania food and wine trails (download our map to see the rest of the wine trails). With more than 32 vineyards offering somewhat of a specialty cellar door tasting, this one is a real celebration of Tasmania’s fine wine and culinary talent. The Jansz Tasmania winery in Piper Brook is our pick – devoted to sparking varieties, they offer tastings paired with local cheeses.
Day 8 – Launceston to Stanley
225 km | 2.5-hour drive
Filled with old colonial buildings, and nestled in the shadow of ‘The Nut’ on Tasmania’s northeast coast is beautiful and intriguing Stanley. Famous for its fish and chips, chairlift ride, and local penguins (yes, actual penguins) coming in to nest, Stanley is a place that can really feel like home. If you’re feeling energetic, take a walk up the winding path to the top of The Nut for one of the most beautiful panoramic views Tasmania has to offer.
Day 9 – Stanley to Cradle Mountain
175 km | 2-hour drive
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park has received worldwide acclaim for two of its natural wonders: the six-day bushwalk known as the Overland Track, and the iconic Cradle Mountain. The park features ancient pines, glacial lakes, and a rugged mountain terrain – no wonder it’s a hit with outdoor enthusiasts. Set out on foot, in a canoe or with your 4WD hire.
Day 10 – Cradle Mountain to Strahan
138 km | 2-hour drive
The final stop on your Tasmanian road trip tour is the town of Strahan. Don’t be fooled by its tiny population of 660 people. Being the gateway to World Heritage-listed Frankin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, the warmer months bring plenty of tourists to add some hustle and bustle to this quaint port town. Those up for a hike should visit the nearby Hogarth Falls for some picturesque trails and scenery.
From Strahan, you can drive to Launceston Airport in just over three and a half hours. If you’re returning your hire car in Hobart Airport instead, it’s a slightly longer drive at four and a half hours. Either way, you can return home after this road trip knowing you saw Tasmania in the very best way possible.
That’s our recommendation for making the most of a Tasmania Roadtrip. You’ll certainly make your own discoveries along the way, but to help you get there, remember to download our maps. Happy driving!