Hobart has built an impressive reputation for itself, punching well above its weight when it comes to food, drink and culture. It is also a small enough city that a weekend in Hobart is enough to get a feel for this magical, cool climate region of Australia.
Hobart is also packed full of history, surprisingly being Australia’s second-oldest capital city. Settled by convicts back in 1804, Hobart still features historic sandstone buildings and famous convict sites such as Port Arthur are located not too far from the city.
A weekend in Hobart is a great idea for anyone wanting to see a very different part of Australia. Food lovers will absolutely drool over the abundance of great restaurants with a casual, easy feel located here and whiskey fans will salivate at the number of distilleries with tasting flights on offer. Australia’s city breaks are all well-known for their fantastic local produce, but I daresay Hobart takes the cake for the finest and most varied ingredients.
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How to get to Hobart
Hobart is serviced by all the major domestic Australian airlines and many of the key airports on the East Coast. Flights run several times a day from Melbourne and Sydney and services also fly from southern Queensland regularly. As Hobart is located on the island state of Tasmania, flying or sailing are the only two options for a weekend in Hobart.
Sailing is a great choice if you wish to take your car over with you as the Spirit of Tasmania ferry allows for passenger’s own vehicles to be driven onto the boat and driven off at the other end when the ship arrives in Devonport (approximately 3 hours from Hobart).
A trip on the Spirit of Tasmania takes between 9-11 hours and costs vary based on departure date and whether you’re taking a car or not. The Spirit of Tasmania departs from Melbourne, so if you’re Sydney based you’d need to drive your car to Melbourne in order to take it on the ferry.
Otherwise, flying is a quick and easy alternative. Flights from Melbourne take around an hour and flights from Sydney are usually just under two hours.
Where to stay in Hobart
Finding accommodation is easy for a weekend in Hobart, as the small harbour city has plenty of great accommodation options available. Most recently I’ve stayed at the brand new Crowne Plaza Hobart in the CBD which is a beautifully fitted out hotel with stunning mountain or water views. This hotel only opened in July 2020, so it is brilliantly clean and well fitted out and is located near many great restaurants and bars.
I’ve also stayed at the Old Woolstore Apartments before, which are well located by the waterfront. They’re not quite as fancy as the ultra-new Crowne Plaza, but they are cosy and comfortable with plenty of space to stretch out.
Finally, the Henry James Art Hotel always comes up really well recommended, so whilst I haven’t stayed there yet, it definitely has pleased a few of my friends who have booked accommodation there.
What to do on a weekend in Hobart
Hobart’s most famous drawcard of recent times is the eclectic and incredible Museum of Old and New Art located a short boat trip from the city’s harbour. This awe-inspiring museum contains selections of art that range all the way from quirky to macabre and downright bizarre. I’ve written a whole post on MONA because there is honestly just so much to see in the museum complex as well as stroll through the onsite vineyard and eat at one of the many restaurants.
There are a few different ways to get to MONA, but if you’re able to, then take the MONA Roma ferry there and back for a relaxing and picturesque ride to one of the most astounding museums in the world. At the moment, post-COVID, bookings are essential so make sure that you hop online to secure your museum passes and your ferry tickets in advance.
Location: MONA is located at 665 Main Rd, Berriedale in Tasmania.
Opening hours: Friday – Monday, 10am to 5pm
Shop At The Salamanca Market
Before MONA, Hobart was on the map thanks to the presence of one of Australia’s best markets. Every Saturday from 8.30am to 3pm, the waterfront section of Salamanca is transformed into a heaving mass of stalls selling artisinal produce and handing out free samples of their wares.
The market is absolutely free to wander through and most stall holders have plenty of taste testing opportunities available. The Salamanca Market is a great place to get that ultimate Tasmanian souvenir – whether that be handcrafted wooden earrings, a bottle of locally distilled whiskey or gin or a bottle of Tasmanian truffle oil.
There’s also plenty of food to purchase and eat at the market, so be sure to visit on an empty stomach. There is a small pie stall that serves up award winning (and very unique) Tasmanian scallop pies, there’s usually at least one exceptional patisserie stall where bite sized lemon tarts and brownies can be obtained and of course there is plenty of Tassie cheese to be purchased.
Do a whiskey or gin tasting at Lark Distillery
Lark Distillery are one of the many fantastic local liquor producers in Tasmania. Their bar is comforting and cosy and their staff are incredibly knowledgable. Here, you’re able to partake in a whiskey tasting or gin tasting (or one of each if you’re feeling tipply!) where you’ll be able to sample 3 or 4 different varieties of your chosen spirit.
The gin tasting is a cheaper option at only $20 and allows you to choose between a tonic water mixed flight or soda mixed flight. For my money, choose the gin tasting paddle that includes the Citrus and Pepperberry gin by Four Spotted – it is exceptional.
The whisky tasting has a few different choices too and the recommended Symphony Flight is priced at around $45 for a taste of 4 whiskeys.
Walk around the historic Battery Point
Battery Point is a gorgeous historic village area of Hobart, just 5 minutes stroll from the Salamanca Market. Reminiscent of The Rocks neighbourhood in Sydney, Battery Point offers lovely water views as well as quaint old sandstone houses and homely little cafes.
Visitors can take an historic walking tour with a knowledgable guide who can shed light on stories from the neighbourhood, or simply be content to wander around and window shop at their leisure. Arthur’s Circus is a must visit, as is the St George Anglican Church which is visible throughout Hobart.
Try a world famous Lobster Roll from The Whaler
The historic Whaler pub is located in the Salamanca area of Hobart, so it is a great option for lunch if you’re strolling the area.
The Whaler has a great all-round menu, however the biggest drawcard here are the divine lobster rolls featuring Tasmanian rock lobster, lettuce and citrus and chive mayo on a milk bun with a side of fries. These rolls are to die for.
The Whaler also has a great selection of Tasmanian craft beers to sample and in winter, they usually have a cosy roaring fireplace to snuggle up next to.
Drool over the food at Frank Restaurant and Bar
The best meal we had in here has to be the amazing dinner we shared on the last night of our weekend in Hobart. Frank Restaurant and Bar is busy for a reason (do make sure you book!). This incredible Argentinian inspired restaurant merges local produce with South American flavours to incredible effect.
Literally everything on the menu sounds amazing, but if you only order one thing let it be a cut of steak from the grill that is served up with the best chimmichurri I have ever tasted. For an entree the croquettes are also delicious and the pork belly main comes out tender and crunchy. I will definitely be booking a table here again when I return to Hobart.
Pretend you’re in Tokyo at Bar Wa Izakaya
Hobart is one of the last places I’d expect to find an izakaya, but just around the corner from my hotel was the incredible Bar Wa. This heaving bar and restaurant is always busy, so be sure to book. They do have a little lounge upstairs too where you can get a drink while you wait for a table.
Bar Wa serves up all the goodness you’d expect from a Japanese izakaya – gyoza, karaage chicken and yakitori are all on the menu here as well as some great authentic Japanese beers and sakes.
Tips for exploring Tasmania beyond Hobart
Tasmania is one of Australia’s most beautiful states. The island is full of rugged and varied landscapes and wilderness just waiting for you to explore.
From Hobart, Port Arthur is a great next stop at just over an hour’s drive from the city, but venturing further afield as well is very recommended. Cradle Mountain, Bruny Island and Wineglass Bay are just a few of the other Instagram-worthy destinations in the state that are deserving of a visit.
Tassie isn’t the best for public transport, so if you’re planning on venturing out further than Hobart, then you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a car hire locked down. It really is the ultimate Australian road trip state!
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