Australia’s southern most city can often be ignored by foreign visitors who rush between the hot spots of Sydney, Queensland and Uluru. This is such a shame! Hobart is not just my home town but has to be one of Australia’s most underrated destinations with many interesting and unique attractions and many things to do to keep the kids happy and entertained.
We have had a great time in Hobart during our many trips to Tasmania. Below is our list of what to do in Hobart Tasmania as lots of other practical information to help you plan a great trip – like the best family accommodation in Hobart and where to eat.
Hobart is the largest city and the capital of the island state of Tasmania. It has a population of over 200,000 people. It is the second oldest city in Australia (after Sydney) and was founded in 1804 as a penal colony. It is a long, scenic city as it is situated between the Derwent River and the mountains. It has a mild, temperate climate.
People often ask me if it is too cold to visit in Winter. We have been there in the middle of winter and had mostly beautiful weather. We even hung out at the beach one afternoon – although there was definitely no swimming. You definitely need to take a coat in winter, but it is unlikely to be bitterly cold. Snow in Hobart itself is unlikely.
The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is absolutely amazing. If you only go to one attraction in Hobart, it has to be this. It’s our pick of the best places to visit in Hobart Tasmania.
It is the biggest privately owned museum in Australia and it is by far the most interesting art museum I have ever visited. It is confronting, controversial and riveting. I never knew what was going to come next. If I am being honest, it is probably the only art museum I have ever enjoyed. I would love to go back again.
It is a great museum for all ages with many exhibits involving light and sound. There is so much variation in the exhibits. From the guy who paid people $1 to tell their stories and then shared these stories via images and text to an exhibit involving lots of arm chairs with old television sets. Even the places to sit are works of art – we sat on one seat that started moving and making sounds underneath us like an animal. That was not something we were expecting!
There were so many cool exhibits that I could never explain them all. A favourite of mine was drops of water dropping from the ceiling in patterns so that they spelt out words on the way down. The kids loved a big alcove that was full of pink fluffy carpet forming mounds. They could have played in there all day. Even going to the toilet was an experience with video projected onto the floor of the stalls.
Instead of signs explaining the exhibits, an iPod is given to all visitors. The iPod detects where you are in the museum and shows a list of the art nearby which you can then select to read what you want about the piece. The iPod also has some interviews with the artists.
The kids (then 2 and 4) had no problems enjoying this museum. There are lots of exhibits that they could interact with as well as sounds and lights to keep them stimulated. Some of the images are quite confronting, and with slightly older kids you may want to think about getting the map with content that you may not find appropriate highlighted.
I would have loved to have spent a lot longer here than the kids would allow taking it all in. We went through the museum in an hour and half thanks to the speed they wanted to go which was a shame. There was just so many amazing pieces that required far more thought than I could give them in a fleeting glance as the kids ran off to the next piece. It was still very worth it with the children, but I am definitely going to have to come back alone.
On the site, there is also Moorilla winery, Moo Brewery and some eating/bar options. We hoped to eat lunch at the Wine Bar, but unfortunately they didn’t really serve anything appropriate for the children.
We wished we had brought a picnic with us. There is a great area for picnics with tables and stools as well as undercover beanbag areas. It would be very easy to spend a day or even a whole weekend at this site. In fact, there is accommodation here as well and J and I are hoping to pop down for a weekend sometime just to explore MONA some more as well as the winery and brewery. It would be a perfect weekend away!
Entry at MONA is currently $20 for adults and free for under 18’s and Tasmanians. It is possible to get a ferry here and back along the Derwent River from Hobart’s wharf area. Read more about MONA on their website.
Mt Wellington, or simply “the mountain” as it’s called by locals, looms over Hobart at 1271 metres tall. It is a great place to visit for outstanding views over Hobart and Southern Tasmania. In winter, it is often snow capped, so it is also a good chance to play in the snow with kids.
There is a road all the way to the summit, although this is sometimes shut in winter. It is also possible to hike or cycle to the top. On a cloudy day, the views are obviously nowhere near as good, but I have been up there in bad weather before and it was kind of fun to feel like we were in the clouds.
Hobart’s famous Salamanca Market takes place every Saturday morning at Hobart’s waterfront. It is Tasmania’s #1 most visited attraction with 25,000 – 40,000 people visiting every weekend. A very impressive number given the population of Hobart.
There are 300+ stalls which line historic Salamanca Place at Hobart’s waterfront. You can find some great souvenirs and sample lots of fabulous Tasmanian food and drink. There are many surrounding parks and open spaces with plenty of space for the kids to run around.
Even when the market is not taking place, Salamanca Place is worth a visit both during the day and at night. The old Georgian warehouses that line the street add to the atmosphere of the street which is packed full of shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. I spent a lot of time here hanging out with friends when I lived in Hobart.
While visiting Salamanca, you must cross the street and explore Hobart’s waterfront – packed full of some of the Tasmania’s best seafood.
The wharf area is full of boats, restaurants, bars, cafes and even some floating seafood shops. It is a nice area to stoll around and hang out while filling your belly.
Historic Richmond is a great place to visit just a thirty minute drive from Hobart’s centre. Here you can find many historic sites, including Australia’s oldest bridge, as well as an old convict gaol, a model village, a yummy lolly shop and a very very fun maze.
Richmond Maze and Tearooms is great fun for the whole family which is why it made my list of top things to do in Hobart with kids. It consists of two different mazes. One is relatively easy and the other is challenging. There are different things to see at the centre of both which makes the race to the middle all the more exciting.
Unfortunately, this attraction is currently under renovation. Ring ahead to check it is open before you visit. On the upside, expect a new improved attraction soon!
Port Arthur Historic Site is where all the worst convict offenders were sent from all over Australia in the 1800s. Today it is an interesting and well presented site of over 30 buildings and ruins about 90 minutes from Hobart. You can read all about it in my dedicated post about Port Arthur.
Port Arthur Historic Site is best visited as an overnight trip from Hobart, but it is possible to do this as a day trip from Hobart.
The Salmon Ponds is a historic trout hatchery located about 45 minutes from Hobart in the beautiful Derwent Valley. Opened in 1861, it is the oldest trout hatchery in the Southern Hemisphere.
Today, trout are still farmed here and you can visit the beautiful grounds, see and feed the fish and visit the Museum of Trout Fishing and the Tasmanian Angling Hall of Fame.
It’s a low key attraction, but it is in a beautiful setting and it’s fun to walk around with kids, checking out the different fish and feeding them. There is also information about the various stages of the life cycle of the trout. There is a good chance of seeing platypuses in the wild too.
There are picnic and BBQ facilities so this is a great place to have a picnic. There is also a great little restaurant. We particularly enjoyed the pancakes and were extra impressed when they split up the meals and served them on separate plates for us.
A family ticket is currently $22. Under 3’s are free. Fish food is $2 for a container. Read more details on their website.
A trip to Hobart is not complete without exploring some of the state’s extensive wilderness. A great way to do this? Walking over the forest at Tahune AirWalk.
Tahune AirWalk is a steel structure which is 620 metres long reaching up to 45 metre above the forest floor. The highlight is an extension over the Huon River (pictured above). It is a bit scary walking this last bit as it moves! This attraction is better suited to kids a bit older than mine – I know Z would not enjoy this.
For more information, check out the Tahune AirWalk site. It is located about 90 minutes from Hobart.
The Hastings Caves State Reserve is a complex of caves and hot springs located about 90 minutes south of Hobart. There are 45 minute tours through the caves, although the highlight for kids can be the pool fed by the thermal streams. It is a steamy 28 degrees.
There are also some great trails through the forest and this is another easy way to check out some of Tasmania’s wilderness. For more information, check out the Parks and wildlife service website.
A great thing to do in Hobart with kids is to visit a Tasmanian devil! Although they are nothing like the famous Taz, in Looney Tunes, they are a unique creature which, unfortunately, are an endangered species.
There are many places where you can check out Tasmanian devils. My favourite in Hobart’s surrounds is Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. You can meet Tasmanian devils as well as other Australian animals both during the day or on a personal tour at night. There are opportunities to feed some of the animals as well.
The entry fees fund the park as well as a 24 hour wildlife rescue service and a Tasmanian devil breeding program.
This list also contained visiting Cadbury’s Visitor Centre. This has now shut down and is no longer an option, so remove this from your Hobart plans.
If you need to get rid of some excess energy, here’s some suggestions!
Located a short drive from the CBD over the Derwent River, my kids always love a visit here! There’s a great little area for toddlers as well as a bigger kid play area that has a bouncy castle, trampolines, some cool slides and climbing structures. There’s also a dancing room which my daughter especially loves.
The last time I visited in March 2016, it was $20 for both my kids (4 and 5 years old). You can find more information here.
I love this botanical gardens just outside the CBD. It’s large with plenty of low key attractions to visit and run around. I particularly like the Japanese Gardens.
Entry free. More information here.
Booking.com is a great website to check out to find the most cost effective accommodation option for your family in Hobart. It’s a great site to use as it allows you to cancel most booking right up to what would have been the first night, allowing you maximum flexibility. Here are our picks for the best family accommodations in Hobart Tasmania:
These are some of my favourite places to eat in my home town:
You will probably notice there are a lot of seafood places listed. Seafood is brilliant in Hobart and you should try to eat it as much as possible 🙂
We always have a fabulous time in Hobart and constantly underestimate how much time we should spend here. There is a massive array of attractions. I have not even mentioned some of my favourite attractions, such as Cascade brewery tours, whiskey tasting and wineries.
Being such a (relatively) old city, there are also many historic sites not mentioned here as I know they would not work for my young kids. There are also some great beaches. Hobart really is a destination worth adding to your bucket list, and it is a fabulous destination for families.
Need more inspiration? Check out my guide to the top 25 things to see in Tasmania – the ultimate bucket list! Many of the attractions in this article made it to the list!
Any questions? What attraction would you add to this list?
Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link. This means that if you book the same hotel as where we stayed, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.