Cradle mountain lake Tasmania

Top 5 things to do do in Tasmania

If you only do 5 things in Tasmania, it has to be on our list. Cradle Mountain, Mona, Salamanca Market, Port Arthur and Freycinet National Park.

Quick Index Tasmania things to do


What’s Tasmania famous for?

Tasmania is famous for the Tasmanian devil, jaw dropping scenery and fantastic food.

The Tasmanian devil is a rather ugly looking marsupial. Unfortunately, it is now becoming rarer and rarer to see a Tasmanian Devil in the wild. Your best bet is to visit a conservation project.

Tasmanian devil try and spot one only1invillage
You’ll be really lucky if you spot a Tasmanian Devil in the wild.

Apart from the Tasmanian Devil, Tasmania is famous for food. The culinary delights of Tasmania stem from the fresh produce grown in pristine surroundings. It’s easy to find restaurants and cafes in stunning locations too. Tasmania is a foodie paradise.

Tasmania an eating destination only1invillage 5 must do things
Eating fabulous food in Tasmania often goes hand in hand with great scenery.

Main land Australians and Tasmanians rate the cheese, salmon and beef in particular. There is a particular island that is even further than Tasmania, called King Island, where our favourite blue cheese is from. Fortunately, we don’t have to travel to Tasmania to get Roaring Forties cheese, it is widely available in all supermarkets and markets.

5 things you must do in Tasmania
Walking through unspoiled forests is one thing Tasmania is famous for.

Tasmania is also famous for its rugged beauty. It has marvelous mountains and hills with lush green valleys and lakes. Think of trekking through pristine bushlands and ancient forests.

5 things you must do in Tasmania
Magical carpeted forest floors await discovery in Tasmania.

Crystal clear, freezing water and curved bays also fight for your attention. Spectacular views are waiting for you!


Where is Tasmania? Is it part of Australia?

Tasmania map where is Tasmania
Tasmania is sort of south of Melbourne. You can see by the north coast that it used to be part of Australia. New Zealand is red. Indonesia is blue and Papua New Guinea is orange.

Tasmania is part of Australia. There is a running joke that Tasmanians have two heads. We can confirm that they have one head. Tasmania is a separate state, not a separate country!


Best time to go to Tasmania

Tasmanian climate and weather

Tasmania has a temperate climate. It experiences 4 seasons. Tasmania’s weather is the opposite of northern Europe and northern America and Canada. When it’s Summer in Tasmania, it’s Winter in the northern hemisphere. When it’s Autumn in Tasmania, it’s Spring in the northern hemisphere. Tasmania is after all, ‘down under’ too.

Australians who live on the mainland, often joke that Tasmania is a separate country. The winters are milder than on the main land and the summers cooler. It rains a lot in Tasmania, which makes for lush green vegetation. The air is also much cleaner!

Right let’s get onto our unmissable 5 things to do in Tasmania list.


1 Trek the amazing Cradle Mountain Area

The walking tracks of Cradle Mountain are unmissable in our opinion. There’s something so peaceful and calming when you are surrounded by nature’s beauty. The shores of the lake are perfectly framed by the rugged hills. If you only trek one place in Tasmania, Cradle Mountain has to be on your list of 5 things you must do!

Things to do in Tasmania Cradle Mountain only1invillage
Unmissable thing to do in Tasmania is to walk around Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain. We think we have captured the twin peaks reflection so well!

The walking paths are a mixture of boardwalks and off road trails.

5 things you must do in Tasmania Cradle Mountain walk
Around Dove Lake and the Cradle Mountain area. Elevated and ground board walks allow for a pleasant walk. You don’t need hiking boots.

Along some of the boardwalks you will see the cutest of marsupials, the wombat!

Things to do in Tasmania wildlife native wombat only1invillage
Wombats are surprisingly fast! These cute looking marsupials excrete cubed shape poo. We shit you not! Every single poo a wombat does has six faces. So, if you see cube poo, you know you’re in wombat territory.

There are other walks to do in the Cradle Mountain area such as climbing the peak! But if you only do one, we recommend the Dove Lake Circuit.


2 Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay

5 things you must do in Tasmania
White sandy beach at Wineglass Bay in the Freycinet National Park.

Coming in at number 2, is trekking Freycinet National Park. You can cheat and go on a cruise from Coles Bay especially if you have come from Cradle Mountain! Or, you will have to do the hike to get that view. It’s a mere 5kms from Coles Bay!

5 things you must do in Tasmania
A walking map to Wineglass Bay is essential.

For more information in general about the Freycinet area and a clearer map, click here.


3 Learn about life as a convict

Modern  ‘white’ Australians are the descendants of convicts, soldiers  and their families sent to Australia from England. There aren’t actually many people who can trace their ancestry back to the ‘First Fleet’ of convicts. It might be seen as a badge of honour nowadays if you could!

5 things you must do in Tasmania
Learn all about gaol life on this remote island. Sarah Island – there was no escape!

We went to two penal areas to see first hand the consequences of stealing food 200 years ago. Due to prison overpopulation in England it landed you on the other side of the world. The first ‘penal colony’ we went to is Sarah Island.

5 things you must do in Tasmania
Get a fascinating insight on life two hundred years ago in a penal colony. Sarah Island was a working island where Huon pine was the main industry. Conditions were cruel and harsh.

Sarah Island is all overgrown now with only ruins remaining.

5 things you must do in Tasmania
There are no intact buildings left at Sarah Island penal colony, Tasmania. The contrast between the surrounding beauty of the wilderness and the harsh life of the convicts is chilling.

We used Gordon River Cruises.

5 things you must do in Tasmania
We arrive on a very different ship to the convict settlement on Sarah Island, Tasmania.

Their package includes a rainforest walk and a boat cruise with lunch. Can’t say no to a bit of history, scenic views, a nature walk and food!

5 things you must do in Tasmania
The view from one of the harshest penal colonies in Tasmania. For prisoners, there was no escape. If you survived this freezing cold swim, there was impenetrable forest to get through next. The view from Sarah Island.

Another great place to soak up the atmosphere of life as a prisoner or soldier is Port Arthur. Port Arthur has a somewhat sobering more modern tragedy too. In 1996 a lone gun man went on a rampage and killed 35 people. An additional 23 people were wounded. After this terrible incident, gun laws were changed and now thankfully, it is extremely difficult for civilians to get any sort of fire arm. The National firearms Agreement has made Australia a safer place.

5 things you must do in Tasmania
Port Arthur penal settlement, Tasmania. From a distance it looks like a majestic historic house.

Port Arthur is now an open air museum. It has many fascinating and well preserved buildings. You can get a real taste of how harsh convict life was here.

5 things you must do in Tasmania
Port Arthur is now an open air museum. The best preserved convict site in Australia!

People often forget that prisoners and guards lived side by side. In addition to this, food had to be grown and animals farmed for food. Today the grounds where apple orchards grow, the produce is used in the 1830 Restaurant and Bar.

Inside the buildings, you can see recreated cells, the governor’s house and many artefacts which have been preserved. Many people love trying on the chains and manacles (the keys are provided!). Port Arthur is a top tourist destination and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.

5 things you must do in Tasmania
Catch a glimpse of the prisoners’ cells in the Port Arthur museum. Bet it wasn’t that clean in real life!
5 things you must do in Tasmania
The kitchen in the governor’s house, Port Arthur, Tasmania.
5 things you must do in Tasmania
Keep that man chained up! Feel the weight of the leg irons used on the prisoners in the Port Arthur penal settlement.



Tasmania 5 things you must do 1
The Mona is a privately owned museum. It is only 9 years old. Mona is very unique and ‘out there’.

Mona stands for the Museum of Old and New Art. Even if you don’t like art galleries you’ll like this one! It is so unique. We’ve never been anywhere like it.  There are some confronting exhibitions, so, best to check beforehand, especially if you have children! Most people who have been to Mona have positive reviews. The exhibitions constantly change and are fascinating. It’s a really weird mix of aesthetic art. You’ll be using immersive technologies in some of the exhibitions and there’s never a dull moment. Often in the warmer months, there is free music on the extensive grounds.

5 things you must do in Tasmania Mona
The Mona (Museum of New and Old Art) has an enviable water setting. It even has a mini vineyard!
5 things you must do in Tasmania
Some things are just plain weird at the Mona museum! We have no idea what the significance of these ‘hands’ are. If you do, please let us know! Everything at Mona is open to interpretation.

Mona is definitely a conversation starter. You’ll either love it or hate it. Be warned that a lot of the museum is underground. Also many of the exhibitions are in confined spaces, with low lighting or strobe lighting! There’s no middle ground. The owner, David Walsh, wants his museum to stand out and it will certainly stay in your mind.

Don’t listen to us, go and see for yourself!


5 Salamanca Markets Hobart

You must time your visit to include a trip to the famous Salamanca Market in Hobart. The market opens on a Saturday at 8.30 am and closes at 3pm. Don’t miss it. It is a foodies’ and craft paradise. Many stalls sell leather goods and you can even buy shoes. The market starts outside Parliament Square and ends outside the art gallery.

5 things you must do in Tasmania Cradle Mountain walk
The Salamanca markets, Hobart are a Saturday sensation. You can find unique food and handicrafts. The perfect place to find that sought after Huon pine chopping board.

A whole street is cordoned off and it’s pedestrians only. You can slowly wander from stall to stall, tasting and touching various goods. If you’re after new clothes or shoes that don’t come from a chain, head on down. There’s also jewellery and souvenirs to browse through. Hand made natural health and beauty products which are vegan friendly can also be bought at the Salamanca market.

Getting to Tasmania

Good news, there’s only 2 options! You will be flying or coming by sea. There’s no bridge you can drive from the Australian mainland from! For us, even though our Melbourne base is only a 2 minute drive to the ferry port, it is sometimes cheaper to fly and then hire a car.

Tasmania 5 things you must do 2
Inside the ‘Spirit of Tasmania’ ferry which leaves from Port Melbourne to Devonport daily. The journey time is about 10 hours. You can bring your car along.

Getting around Tasmania

Your best option is to hire a car, or bring your car on the ‘Spirit of Tasmania’ ferry from Melbourne. Public transport is not great outside the cities of Hobart, Launceston and Devonport. There are some limitations on narrow paths for camper vans and larger vehicles, such as mobile homes.

How long do I need?

You’ll probably want at least 10 days to cover the Only1invillage essential top 5 list. If you’re a hiker, you can easily spend 3-5 days in Cradle Mountain alone.

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