Nestled like a hidden gem in the heart of Australia’s southern shores, Tasmania beckons travellers with its breathtaking landscapes, rugged wilderness, and a captivating mix of vibrant culture and history.
A Tasmania self-drive holiday offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore this enchanting island at your own pace, immersing yourself in its rich tapestry of experiences. From windswept coastlines and ancient rainforests to charming colonial towns and lively arts scenes, Tasmania is a land of contrasts, where every twist and turn on the road unveils a new wonder.
In this comprehensive guide, we invite you to join us on an extraordinary Tasmania road trip to visit its best-kept secrets and must-visit destinations. Whether you’re an intrepid adventurer seeking adrenaline-fuelled escapades or a nature enthusiast longing to discover unique wildlife, Tassie is the place for you.
Unravel the mysteries of the island’s diverse geography as we lead you through winding coastal drives that hug the sea cliffs, venture into the heart of untamed national parks, and traverse the winding roads that thread through lush valleys and verdant countryside. Learn about the rich cultural heritage of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people and the European settlers who left an indelible mark on the land.
Driving in Tasmania also allows you to indulge your taste buds with delectable culinary experiences, relishing the freshness of locally sourced produce and world-class wines. The state’s culinary scene promises an unforgettable gastronomic adventure, from seafood feasts on the waterfront to farm-to-table delights in quaint villages.
During this detailed guide to Tasmania, we’ll provide valuable insights on planning the perfect Tasmania self-drive itinerary, ensuring you make the most of your time on the island state. If you’re a solo explorer, a couple seeking a romantic getaway, or a family looking to create lifelong memories, a self-drive holiday promises an experience like no other.
- Why Self-Drive Tasmania
- How Long Do I Need for a Tasmania Self-Drive Holiday?
- Best Time of Year for a Tasmania Self-Drive Holiday
- How To Get to Tasmania
- 8 Locations not to miss on a Tasmania Self-Drive Holiday
- More Tips for a Tasmania Self-Drive Holiday
Why Self-Drive Tasmania
A Tasmania self-drive holiday is not just another travel option; it’s an extraordinary and liberating experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the very essence of this enchanting island. From majestic mountains to pristine coastlines and ancient forests, Tasmania’s diverse landscapes beg to be explored on your terms.
Here’s why a self-drive Tasmania adventure should be at the top of your travel bucket list:
1. Unleash the Spirit of Adventure
Tasmania is a haven for adventurous souls, and a self-drive holiday lets you embrace the spirit of exploration like never before.
Venture into remote corners and off-the-beaten-path destinations that are inaccessible by public transportation.
Discover hidden waterfalls, secret beaches, and breathtaking lookouts as you navigate winding and scenic roads.
2. Flexibility and Freedom
Bid farewell to strict itineraries and rigid schedules. With a Tasmania driving holiday, you completely control your journey.
Extend your stay in places you love, skip those that don’t resonate, and make spontaneous detours whenever something catches your eye. The flexibility allows you to savour every moment without feeling rushed.
3. Intimate Encounters with Nature
Tasmania is renowned for its untouched natural beauty, and a self-drive holiday ensures you have up-close and personal encounters with its diverse flora and fauna.
Pull over to observe curious wildlife, hike through ancient rainforests, or breathe in the salty air from a clifftop viewpoint.
4. Curate Your Own Experience
Self-drive holidays in Tasmania allow you to curate your own travel experiences. As you steer your way through the island state’s stunning landscapes, you get to tailor your trip to your specific interests.
Why not explore the island’s rich history by venturing into heritage towns and artistic enclaves? Alternatively, embark on gourmet trails to indulge in the local culinary delights.
5. Embrace Serendipity
Some of the best travel memories are often born out of serendipitous encounters. While driving in Tasmania, you can stumble upon hidden gems, engage with locals, and discover authentic experiences that might not be part of conventional tourist itineraries.
6. Scenic Drives Like No Other
Tasmania boasts some of the world’s most scenic drives, including the iconic Great Eastern Drive, the winding roads of Cradle Mountain, and the coastal charm of the Great Ocean Drive.
Each drive offers unparalleled views and a sense of awe that stays with you long after the journey ends.
7. Comfort and Control
During your Tasmania driving holiday, your vehicle becomes your sanctuary, providing the comfort and familiarity of home while embarking on an adventure.
You can control your environment, music, and pace, ensuring a relaxing and enjoyable trip.
8. Perfect for Solo Explorers, Couples, and Families
Whether you’re travelling solo, with your partner, or as a family, a Tasmania self-drive holiday caters to all.
It’s an ideal way to bond with loved ones, create unforgettable memories, and embark on a journey of discovery together.
Ultimately, a Tasmania road trip is an invitation to embrace the unknown, relish the freedom of the open road, and unravel hidden wonders that lie off the tourist maps.
How Long Do I Need for a Tasmania Self-Drive Holiday?
The ideal duration for a Tasmania self-drive holiday largely depends on your interests, the places you want to explore, and the pace you prefer to travel. Tasmania may be a relatively small island state, but it offers various attractions and experiences that can quickly fill up your itinerary.
If you have limited time but want a taste of Tasmania’s major highlights, a minimum of five to seven days is required. This time will allow you to cover key attractions like Hobart, Port Arthur, Freycinet National Park, Launceston, and Cradle Mountain. While it might feel rushed, it at least provides a glimpse into Tasmania’s natural beauty and cultural heritage.
For a more well-rounded experience, consider dedicating 10 to 14 days to your Tasmania self-drive itinerary. This duration allows you to explore the places mentioned above in greater depth and venture into more remote regions. You can add destinations like the Tamar Valley wine region, Bruny Island, Bay of Fires, and Mount Field National Park to your itinerary, ensuring a more immersive experience.
Should you truly want to savour Tasmania’s wonders, consider a month or even more extended trip. With this timeframe, you can venture to less-visited parts of the island, indulge in multi-day hikes, and take time to soak in the beauty of each destination. Additionally, you can explore the west coast, visit the Southwest National Park, go further north to Stanley, and even include a visit to King Island or Flinders Island for a true off-the-beaten-path adventure.
Ultimately, the more time you can dedicate to your Holidays in Tasmania, the better, as it allows you to truly immerse yourself in the island’s unique charm and absorb all it has to offer. Plan your itinerary wisely, allowing for a mix of iconic attractions and off-the-beaten-path discoveries, and you’re sure to have a memorable and fulfilling journey.
Best Time of Year for a Tasmania Self-Drive Holiday
The best time of year for a Tasmania self-drive holiday depends on your preferences and what you want to experience during your trip. The island state’s climate and natural attractions vary throughout the year, so consider that when planning your Tasmania self-drive itinerary.
Summer (December to February) is the peak tourist season, and during this time, the weather is generally pleasant, with average daytime temperatures ranging from 17°C to 23°C. This season is perfect for exploring Tasmania’s stunning coastlines, enjoying water activities, and taking scenic drives with clear blue skies. Popular destinations such as Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay are best experienced during summer, offering ideal hiking and beach outings conditions.
The autumn months of March to May are a fantastic time to visit Tasmania as the crowds thin out and the landscapes transform into a picturesque tapestry of red, gold and orange hues. Congruently, temperatures remain comfortable, ranging from 10°C to 20°C. During this season, the Tamar Valley wine region is particularly charming, with the vineyards adorned in autumn colours. It’s also an excellent time to indulge in wine tasting and local produce.
Winter in Tasmania is a quieter time for tourism, and while it can get cold, it offers unique experiences for travellers who enjoy a more peaceful atmosphere. Average temperatures range from 3°C to 11°C, and in higher elevations and mountainous areas, it can get even colder, with the possibility of snowfall. So, you will need to wrap up warm! However, winter is the best time to visit Cradle Mountain, enjoy snow activities, and witness the captivating Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) if you’re lucky.
Arguably the most delightful time to visit Tasmania is the spring months of September to November, as the island comes alive with blooming flowers and rejuvenated landscapes. Temperatures hover between 8°C to 17°C, and the days get longer. The season is also ideal for nature enthusiasts who want to witness wildflowers, including the famous Tasmanian blue gum, and explore the island’s national parks in fresh, green glory.
How To Get to Tasmania
For those planning holidays in Tasmania, getting to the Apple Isle is relatively easy, and several transportation options are available, depending on your location.
Tasmania is an island located off the southern coast of Australia. So, for most people, the quickest and most convenient way to get to Tasmania is by flying to one of its major airports: Hobart International Airport (HBA) or Launceston Airport (LST).
Both airports have regular domestic flights connecting them to major Australian cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Adelaide. Several airlines operate frequent daily flights, including Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar.
Some tour operators offer fly-drive packages, including hiring a vehicle when you get to Hobart or Launceston. Additionally, if you have flown independently, you will find most of the major car rental companies have offices at those airports, including Budget, Hertz and Avis.
If you need to hire a car, consider getting an SUV or similar vehicle if you plan to venture off-road, this will give you extra luggage space too if you plan to bring your own camping gear.
If you prefer a more scenic and adventurous route, you can take a ferry from the mainland to Tasmania. The Spirit of Tasmania operates two ferries, Spirit of Tasmania I and Spirit of Tasmania II, between Melbourne (Victoria) and Devonport (Tasmania).
The ferry journey takes around 9 to 11 hours, and there are options for day and night sailings. It’s a great way to bring your own vehicle (or one you rented on the mainland) on a Tasmania driving holiday. Depending on weather conditions, you might find the ferry service disrupted. So before setting off on your trip to Tasmania, it is worth checking the current schedule.
Additionally, if you plan to bring a vehicle, ensure you book ferry tickets for both the outbound and return journeys in advance, as spaces can fill up quickly, especially during peak travel seasons.
8 Locations not to miss on a Tasmania Self-Drive Holiday
A Tasmania self-drive holiday is a journey through a land of natural wonders, vibrant culture, and captivating history.
To ensure you make the most of your trip, here are eight locations that you should not miss:
Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay
One of the most beautiful places you’ll see whilst driving in Tasmania, the stunning park offers excellent hiking opportunities along the Wineglass Bay Lookout Track and the Cape Tourville Lighthouse Walk. You’ll also have plenty of opportunity to stroll, sunbathe or splash around in the gentle waters of pristine beaches like Honeymoon Bay.
The area is renowned as a terrific spot for wildlife watching. It excites the journey further for children as they can see wallabies and colourful birdlife in their natural habitat. Families can also enjoy picnics in picturesque spots like Coles Bay, creating cherished memories while enjoying delicious local produce and surrounded by stunning vistas.
You’ll want to have your camera ready, as the flora and overall landscape will inspire you to take lots of photos.
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is an enchanting, untouched wilderness that will take your breath away.
You will be captivated by the awe-inspiring beauty of Cradle Mountain, its mirror-like alpine lakes, and the possibility of spotting adorable wombats and wallabies along the trails.
The short and easy walks around the park, such as the Enchanted Walk and the Pencil Pine Falls, are perfect for those with younger children, while older kids can enjoy slightly more challenging hikes like the Dove Lake Circuit.
Families can bond over nature-inspired activities and make memories amidst the tranquil setting.
Bay of Fires
Visiting the Bay of Fires is a must on any Tasmania road trip. It’s a captivating coastal wonderland where unique orange-hued granite rocks line pristine white beaches, showcasing some of nature’s best artistry.
Children will be entranced by the opportunity to collect brilliantly coloured seashells along the shores. The calm and clear waters also provide a safe environment for little ones to paddle and swim.
Families can embark on leisurely beach walks, where kids can spot native wildlife like seabirds and perhaps even playful dolphins in the distance. Picnics on the sandy shores offer a chance to savour local treats and soak in breathtaking views.
Overall, the Bay of Fires is ideal for families seeking a balance between relaxation and exploration against a beautiful playground of spectacular natural beauty.
Port Arthur Historic Site
Visiting the Port Arthur Historic Site in Tasmania is a captivating journey back in time, offering a glimpse into Australia’s colonial past.
Located on the Tasman Peninsula, this UNESCO World Heritage-listed site is a well-preserved former penal settlement, rich with history and stories of the convict era. As one of Australia’s most significant heritage sites, Port Arthur provides an immersive experience through its well-maintained ruins, period buildings, and landscaped grounds. Visitors can join guided tours that vividly bring to life the tales of the convicts who once lived and toiled within its stone walls.
Explore the impressive Penitentiary, the hauntingly beautiful Convict Church, and the eerie remnants of the Separate Prison. The site also offers interactive exhibits, allowing visitors to engage with the history firsthand. With its picturesque setting along the waterfront, Port Arthur exudes an eerie yet mesmerising ambience. The open grounds also provide plenty of space for kids to run and play.
Accessible by a short ferry ride from the mainland, Bruny Island offers a perfect blend of breathtaking landscapes, gourmet delights, and abundant wildlife.
The island boasts stunning white-sand beaches, towering sea cliffs, and lush rainforests, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Families can indulge in beachcombing, swimming, and hiking along the island’s scenic trails, including the famous Cape Bruny Lighthouse Walk and the Neck Lookout, which offers panoramic views of the island’s narrow isthmus.
Foodies will revel in Bruny Island’s gourmet experiences, with opportunities to taste locally sourced oysters, cheeses, and artisanal treats at various farmgate outlets and markets. The island’s thriving wildlife adds to the charm, as visitors can spot fur seals, dolphins, and native birdlife, including the rare white wallabies that call South Bruny National Park home.
Nestled between the towering Mount Wellington and the picturesque waterfront, Hobart exudes a unique charm that captivates travellers from all walks of life. With its blend of well-preserved colonial architecture, contemporary art galleries, and bustling markets, the city offers a rich tapestry of experiences.
A visit to the historic Salamanca Market is a must, where visitors can immerse themselves in a vibrant array of stalls showcasing local arts, crafts, and mouthwatering delights. The city’s deep-rooted maritime heritage comes to life at the Maritime Museum of Tasmania, offering insights into the region’s seafaring past.
Nature lovers will also relish in the proximity to the wilderness, with opportunities to explore the stunning landscapes of Mount Wellington, take a scenic cruise along the Derwent River, or venture into nearby national parks.
Additionally, families can delight in exploring the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens or enjoy a stroll along Hobart’s waterfront.
Launceston and Cataract Gorge
Visiting Launceston, the charming riverside city in northern Tasmania, and its iconic Cataract Gorge is an experience that delights all who venture there.
Launceston offers a perfect blend of old-world charm and contemporary attractions. Stroll through the city’s elegant parks, explore historic buildings, and sample delicious food at local eateries. While the Cataract Gorge, just a short walk from the city centre, is a natural wonder that leaves visitors in awe. The majestic cliffs, lush vegetation, and the South Esk River winding through the gorge create a picturesque setting for outdoor activities.
Families can take the world’s longest single-span chairlift ride, providing spectacular views of the gorge and the city. Kids can have a ball at the Gorge Scenic Reserve playground, while parents can relax in the serene surroundings.
The gorge also offers walking trails for all levels, from easy strolls to more challenging hikes. If your nerves are up to it, don’t pass up the opportunity to cross the Alexandra Suspension Bridge, which provides a thrilling experience high above the river.
Tamar Valley Wine Region
If you love wine, the Tamar Valley Wine Region in Tasmania is somewhere you should visit. The region is renowned for its world-class wineries, cellar doors and vineyards, which are sure to impress.
However, there’s more to explore beyond the wine. Families can take scenic drives through the picturesque countryside, passing by rolling hills and meandering rivers. Many wineries in the Tamar Valley also offer family-friendly facilities, such as playgrounds and open spaces, where kids can run and play while parents indulge in wine tasting. Some vineyards also have farm animals, which young ones can interact with, making the visit even more enjoyable.
Whilst there, be sure to try the delicious local produce the area is renowned for, including fresh fruits, cheeses, and many other gourmet delights.
More Tips for a Tasmania Self-Drive Holiday
- Tasmania’s weather can be unpredictable, and you may experience four seasons in a single day, especially during spring and autumn. Therefore, you should pack accordingly, whatever time of the year you visit.
- Book accommodations and attractions in advance to secure your preferred options if you plan to visit popular tourist spots during the peak summer season. They fill up very fast!
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