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With picturesque landscapes, great food and unique wildlife, Tasmania is a dream to experience. Planning a Hobart to Launceston road trip can seem a little daunting, since there is so much to see and do and only so much time to do it in!
We share our Tasmania 8 day self-drive itinerary to guide you in planning the Tasmania winter itinerary you’ve been dreaming of! This itinerary works no matter the time of year though, so let’s get planning your road trip!
If you do your planning right, you will end up with an Australian road trip adventure you will absolutely love!
For us living in Australia, we are lucky enough to have some pretty amazing road trip options as we explore from one side of Australia to the other.
We recently shared some of our favourite local road trips from Brisbane, however, one of the most memorable Australian road trips we have done so far is Hobart to Launceston.
This article has been updated for 2021.
The Perfect Hobart To Launceston Road Trip Itinerary
A Hobart to Launceston self-drive holiday is a perfect way to experience this beautiful and scenic part of Australiathat happens to be separated from the mainland.
Our Tasmania road trip happened by accident! At the time we were planning a trip to China. Our tour was booked and a deposit was paid. We were also trying for a family.
After a bumpy start, we were over the moon to find out we were expecting the first of the Connors girls. I reassured Simon I would be fine for China… but by around late April, it wasn’t looking like a great option.
Sure, it might have eased up in time but we didn’t want to risk it so we regretfully forfeited our deposit for China and started planning a babymoon closer to home.
We decided it was time to do the Tasmania winter holiday we had been meaning to do for a while, and thankfully it turned out to be one of our favourite holidays together.
Best Time To Visit Tasmania
The best time to visit Tasmania is during the shoulder season, meaning the period between March to May and September to November.
During this time you will avoid the cold winter months that Tasmania experiences with snowfall possible in the highlands. In winter, you may find some attractions are closed or have shorter hours compared to the warmer months.
The best months are actually October to December. However, this is also peak tourist season and the crowds will be much larger than during the off-peak and shoulder seasons.
The best way to get around Tasmania is by car. Many people rent a car in Hobart and drive along the coast.
There are several places to rent cars, but Hertz Tasmania or Europcar are recommended as they provide drop-offs at other cities in Tasmania in case you want to travel one way rather than a return trip, as we did.
If you want to bring your own car from mainland Australia, you can do so via the Spirit of Tasmania ferry, between Melbourne and Davenport. The trip takes approximately 9 to 11 hours.
Within the larger cities, there are buses to take you to and from and it is possible to do a simplified version of this route using public transport if you aren’t keen on the self-drive option.
However there are loads of tours and day trips that take you to see different points of interest, and there are buses to take you to different towns and cities as well.
It isn’t impossible to see Tasmania without a car, but it isn’t as easy!
The distance from Hobart to Launceston is approximately 2 and a half hours.
The distance from Hobart to Strahan is approximately 5 hours.
The distance from Hobart to Cradle Mountain is approximately 4 and a half hours.
You can find more approximately travel times for Tasmania on the Discover Tasmania website.
Finding Accommodation In Tasmania
There are many other accommodation options, even backpackers if you are travelling on a budget. You will also find a large variety of private rentals throughout Tasmania, which can often be a cheaper alternative than hotels. Or a great option if you are travelling as a family or group.
We flew Brisbane to Hobart with Virgin Australia and arrived early in the day to Hobart, picked up our rental car at the airport and headed into town.
If you arrive early enough, head to the popular Salamanca Market for a wander around and some lunch. Depending on the time of day, you may be able to check-in straight away at your accommodation and head to the markets afterwards.
Salamanca Marketsare pretty much a foodie delight! Sample the local and international cuisine at the different stalls.
After we checked into our hotel, we went for a short drive up to the top of Mt. Wellington.
It was mid-afternoon by this time and being winter, the sun went down early. Not to mention how freezing it was amongst the clouds, but a must-do natural attraction when visiting Hobart, just for the views!
You would see more earlier in the day. For this reason, we would recommend if you are visiting Tasmania in winter that you head to Mt Wellington no later than mid-afternoon as the sun goes down quite early during the winter months.
At the top of Mt Wellington, there is a viewing platform and lots of opportunities for walks and photographs.
Tip: Make sure you bring warm clothing because even in the summer months it can have some serious chill factor up the mountain and you want to be prepared.
Being pregnant and winter, we did not get a chance to fully appreciate the many things you can do at Mt Wellington, however, if you have the time, you could easily spend a full day exploring the mountain and what it has on offer.
Accommodation: We stayed atHadley’s Orient Hotel, which suited us well and was close enough to everything. Although since we had a hire car, the location was not as important for this trip!
Dinner recommendation: Head back to Salamanca Place for a meal at one of the many restaurants that line the street. You will have loads of choices and the atmosphere is great. Our first night involved dinner at an Italian restaurant at Salamanca Place.
This is not an overly exciting attraction outside of showtimes, however, it does have some interesting history and at certain times of the day, they do historic reenactments.
For this reason, you may want to check the website or call in advance to find out when their next reenactments are so you can experience the performance.
Dinner recommendation: For your second night in Hobart, head on down to the harbour and enjoy a night at the Drunken Admiral Seafood Restaurant. This is a very popular iconic restaurant near the dock.
Day 3 – Hobart
In the morning:
On day 3, head to Port Arthur for an action-packed day of history and nature! This was by far my favourite day during our Hobart to Launceston holiday. We got up early to for the long drive to Port Arthur to start our outdoor adventure portion.
Afterwards, we headed back to Hobart around sunset, stopping off for dinner at a pub along the way to break up the 90-minute drive back. Such an amazing day!
Do take care on the roads after the sun goes down though as there is a lot of wildlife around and the roads are quite windy so keep your eye out and keep to a cautious speed if you are doing a self drive Tasmania trip. I really want to reinforce that.
We set off for the small town of Strahan around check out time from our Hobart accommodation and drove to our next destination. If you are doing a Hobart to Strahan self-drive, give yourself extra time.
Unfortunately, this was one part of our road trip that did not go so great. Firstly, the expectation of how long it takes to get from A to B in Tasmania can be way off.
We expected this drive to only take about 2 and a half hours, based on our post-trip research. It was much longer!
The distance from Hobart to Strahan is misleading when it comes to manoeuvring the winding roads.
This photo is along the way passing through Queenstown to show you how windy and hilly the roads were. It was one of those ‘I need to stop before I’m sick’ breaks. Oh boy, this part of our trip was rough!
While the scenery along the drive is beautiful, be very mindful if you or someone else in the family suffers motion sickness. Tasmanian roads are bad for it and bring medication just in case!
We arrived in Strahan in the mid-afternoon and checked into our accommodation – Strahan Village.
Our accommodation location was great, with some wonderful, scenic views due to it being situated upon a hill.
The room itself was basic and a little noisy, almost resembling student accommodation. But it was adequate for a one night stay.
We had heard amazing things about Strahan, hence the reason we added it as part of our Hobart to Launceston Tasmania road trip.
However, it was the offseason when we visited and the town was in hibernation.
A lot of restaurants and shops were closed for the winter season, so we really only had the choice of the pub for dinner. Thankfully the food was fine and relatively quick.
We didn’t see much in Strahan and did not have the chance to do either the steam train or the Gordon River cruise… an experience we deeply regret not incorporating into our Tasmania road trip itinerary.
Tip: We would highly recommend extending your stay to two nights in Strahan or skipping it entirely if you visiting in winter, simply due to there not being a lot to do during this time if you are only in town for one night.
It is definitely a stop worth including if you have the extra time though if you can push your time to a 9 or 10 day Tasmania itinerary.
Accommodation: Strahan Village is a great option if you want something budget-friendly and just a short walk to restaurants and attractions.
Day 5 – Strahan to Cradle Mountain
The next morning we were up and ready for yet another big drive…bigger than expected… to Cradle Mountain.
Again, we really cut ourselves short with the time we needed to explore the area, with the road trip from Strahan to Cradle Mountain also taking much longer than anticipated (with the added delay of extra stops to ease my morning sickness).
It was raining lightly that afternoon also, which meant that our the window of opportunity to go for a bushwalk did not happen which is unfortunate as the rainforest would have been wonderful to explore.
It was incredibly tranquil to enjoy our fireplace and wood cabin though and make friends with the crow who was hanging out on our veranda.
Cradle Mountain is a great spot for outdoor enthusiasts and very romantic too. It is a perfect place to visit in winter in Tasmania.
Dinner recommendation: You must have dinner at Lemonthyme Lodge if you stay here. We enjoyed a fabulous dinner in the Lodge restaurant that night. This was one of the best meals of the trip and the atmosphere in the large main cabin was really cool. We had a great chat with the owner as he brought out our different courses, as part of a 3-course banquet we opted for. Very memorable!
Day 6 – Cradle Mountain to Launceston
The next morning, our final leg of the Hobart to Launceston road trip, as we headed from Lemonthyme Lodge to our very own Swiss-inspired village accommodation – Aspect Tamar Valley Resort.
Tamar Valley is a little way from the Launceston city centre, in Grindelwald, but it was worth the extra distance. It transported us back to good memories of our 2010 Switzerland visit.
There are quite a few things you can do at the ‘resort’, which makes it a perfect accommodation when visiting Tasmania with kids.
There is everything from mini-golf to paddle boats and a great playground. It even had a jumping pillow.
We arrived a little after midday at Tamar Valley Resort, so our first stop was to their onsite restaurant for lunch – Alphenhouse Bistro. Their soup of the day was amazing and just what I needed to settle my stomach.
Afterwards, we headed into Launceston for a look around, with no particular goal in mind.
The weather was miserable so we ended up catching a movie at the cinemas. Not a very exciting travel experience, but sometimes you just need some downtime and a funny movie.
We had the chance to get up close with platypus through the glass displays plus even closer with some echidnas who wandered around the enclosure we were standing in and had a meal at our feet during the tour. Very cool.
If you are looking for ideas on what to do in Launceston with kids, this is a must!
Dinner: Try a local pub in Launceston to enjoy a simple hearty meal, perfect for warming you on a winter night or enjoying your favourite pub meal.
Day 8 – Fly Home
Back to the airport to drop off our hire car and fly home to Brisbane around the middle of the day.
We had a great time on our Hobart to Launceston self-drive holiday, despite the morning sickness interfering with a few of our plans.
However, in hindsight, we would have preferred an extra day or two in most of the destinations. It simply wasn’t long enough to really appreciate the sights and local offerings.
Our next Tasmanian holiday will definitely include the Gordon River cruise when visiting Strahan and a chance to experience a lot more of Launceston. Especially Cataract Gorge.
Tasmania is a picturesque family holiday destination, with beautiful scenic locations, a friendly atmosphere and plenty on offer for foodies or adventure travellers alike.
We hired a car from Europcar for our Tasmania self drive Hobart to Launceston 8 day itinerary, picking it up at our starting point at Hobart airport and dropping it off at Launceston airport just before we headed home.
ALTERNATIVE TASMANIA SELF DRIVE ITINERARIES
We hope this 8 day Hobart to Launceston drive helps you to plan your own Tasmania holiday adventure. It was a great time frame to see a lot of what Tasmania has on offer, when short on time.
However, there’s a good chance you may not have 8 days, so whether you are travelling for a longer or shorter time frame, here are some different options for you to consider for your own Tasmania self-drive holidays.
3 Day Tasmania Itineraries
If you have only 3 days in Tasmania, we recommend you focus just on one major city.
Due to the location of the airports, either Hobart or Launceston would be ideal for a long weekend stay, however, if you want an express trip, you could drive from one to the other in just a few hours.
If you did this, you would not have a lot of time to see much in between when taking such a direct route, but it’s definitely possible.
If visiting Launceston over 3 days, we recommend incorporating a visit to Cataract Gorge Reserve and a ride on the Cataract Gorge Scenic Chairlift, plus some time in Tamar Valley.
Include Beaconsfield Mine and the Platypus house, and if you are beer lovers, a meal and possibly a tour at the James Boags Brewery is a must!
7 Day Tasmania Itinerary
For a Tasmania self drive 7 day itinerary, skip Strahan and Cradle Mountain if you want to do the Launceston to Hobart drive or reverse.
Alternatively, do either in the north or south, focusing on Hobart to Strahan and back or Launceston to Cradle Mountain and back.
10 Day Tasmania Itinerary
Follow our Tasmania self-drive 8-day itinerary, and add in an extra night in Strahan and either Cradle Mountain or Launceston to allow you time to enjoy more of the attractions, such as the Gordon River Cruise and Cataract Gorge.
14 Day Tasmania Itinerary
If you have 2 weeks in Tasmania, you can fit a fair bit more in and we would definitely recommend incorporating Wineglass Bay area and Freycinet National Park into your Launceston itinerary.
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU NEED FOR A TASMANIA ROAD TRIP?
We recommend more than 8 days definitely. This was a very express trip and meant that we did not have enough time to see and experience everything we wanted to.
I would say 10-14 days would be an ideal amount of time if you have it available, as that means you will not have to rush as much and you will get more chances to see and do the best things in Tasmania.
There is so much of this beautiful state to see, and a lot of history and scenery to enjoy. We especially would have liked to visit Wine Glass Bay and do the train or cruise from Strahan.
If you are travelling with kids, you will want to allow a little extra time anyway as things do not always go as planned when travelling anywhere with kids.
Especially road trips with kids, so making sure you have a little extra downtime or time to stop if little stomachs get sensitive on those winding roads.
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