I am not a city person. Don’t get me wrong – I love the commotion and bustling energy, the excitement and activities, the easy access to everything you need. These are all great.
But when I am in a city for too long I start to crave peace and quiet. The kind without wifi and maybe even no cell service. The kind you can only find in nature.
I have been in Melbourne for almost 4 months and exploring this city has been eye-opening because it is very different from other cities I’ve lived in. As opposed to New York where neighborhoods mesh together, here the different areas are separate. I often bike or tram to get between areas like CBD, Carleton, Parkville, or Fitzroy.
There is so much cultural diversity in Melbourne. You can find some of the best pizza and pasta in Carleton, while the city center is home to the best delicious ramen, sushi, and other South Asian cuisines. The city has been a dream to explore and I have only scratched the surface of all the diversity and culture.
That being said, when easter break rolled around I knew it was time to explore beyond this concrete jungle.
In true last minute style, my friend and I booked a flight to Tasmania a week before we were set to fly out. We aren’t great at planning ahead, what can I say?
This trip was 5 days of what I’d call ‘super on a budget.’
There’s something fun and challenging about spending very little money. In many cases it makes for a richer and more integrated experience with locals and the land itself.
We went food shopping in the beginning of the week, ate in restaurants maybe twice, and slept at free campsites. Our final night in Hobart we stayed at a hostel because we had to catch an 8am flight (and we wanted to treat ourselves to a hot shower). Since we’re both coffee addicts [ check out the best coffee shops in Melbourne ] we did splurge daily on capuccinos….
There are so many things to do in Tasmania it can be hard to choose. Here’s how we spent our short 5 days on this beautiful island.
DAY 1: Arrive & Up The East Coast
We arrived in Hobart on a chilly Monday morning eager to rent a car and get on our way. Hobart was as we expected – a bit sleepy, not many people around, but it has a certain authenticity and charm. We expected more people to be out and about in this capital city but nevertheless enjoyed our short time here. We stopped at the Tourist Information Center to grab a road map and list of free campsites in Tassie. This little piece of paper would turn out to be our savior!
After grabbing a quick chicken kebab at Bill’s Asian & Kebab House (tasty but nothing to write home about!) We started driving along A3 towards the Great Eastern Drive.
Driving into the countryside was like a breath of fresh air. The terrain was very rugged and dry. Although the landscape brought back fond memories of New Zealand. After driving about 25 minutes we stopped in Sorell to grab a quick coffee at Sorell Cafe, then kept driving up the east coast..
After 2 hours driving through the rolling hills and grassy (but beautiful) countryside we veered onto route C302 towards Coles Bay. It surprised us when it started to get dark around 5pm, and we decided to set up camp at Friendly Beaches camping area. It being off-season, the area was pretty quiet and we found a campsite easily. This campsite had some facilities (toilets were a plus) and great views of the ocean.
DAY 2: Hike in Freycinet & Sunset at Binalong Bay
Freycinet National Park & Wineglass Bay
Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay are about a half hour drive from friendly beaches camping area. The entrance fee was 24$ per vehicle or 12$ per person (check here for most updated pricing). We were short on time so we opted for the most popular hike to Wineglass Bay. It was a very crowded 30 minute hike along a very accessible trail to a beautiful lookout. In hindsight I would have liked to do a hike that was less crowded and a bit longer. But the view was stunning; this is one of my top things to do in Tasmania.
Drive Through Bicheno
After the walk we headed out of Coles Bay and back up the east coast. After 40 minutes we reached the little town of Bicheno. Such a cute spot! Take a look at the Bicheno blowholes, grab some fish and chips by the beach, or stroll down the quaint main street.
Grab a Coffee in St Helens
After Bicheno we hopped back in the car. The drive really was breathtaking – white sandy beaches, rolling hills, open grassy landscapes. We stopped for some caffeine at the most adorable old time-y book and coffee shop I’ve ever seen. The owner had a long, gray beard and the friendliest smile. We got cappuccinos and watched groups of older adults reading newspapers together, laughing, and sipping coffees. The dusty and comforting smell of old books added to the warm atmosphere. It felt like a different, slower time.
See the Sunset at Binalong Bay
After our drinks we headed up to Binalong Bay to watch the sunset. We ate hummus and cucumber sandwiches on the beach while the sun went down behind the sand dunes. The colors were absolutely breathtaking. Truly a top priority of things to do in Tasmania that cannot be missed.
DAY 3: All the Cities: Launceston, Davenport, and Burnie
Grab A Coffee at Swims East Coast Coffee
The next morning we headed out of St. Helens and back down the coast in order to catch a road that headed west. We passed by the most unique and innovative café I’ve ever seen – it was built from a recycled 40-foot shipping container! This coffee roaster is the perfect stop on a road trip – coastal views, yummy warm drinks, and a modern and cozy aesthetic.
After quickly passing through Scamander we headed west A4 towards Launceston. As the ‘second city’ of Tasmania after Hobart, Launcestonians argue that their architecture is more elegant, their parks more beautiful, and their scenery and food scene superior. It is indeed a city full of art and culture, delicious coffees and people that appreciate the outdoors. Cataract Gorge is a must-see – it is so rare to find a natural wonder like this inside a city. Don’t forget to check out the Queen Victoria Museum, the City Park, and Boag’s Brewery for a pint!
This town is like a breath of fresh air – and the perfect stop for a bite or a coffee. The fall colors along the rolling hills are visible from main street which is bustling with shops and bakeries. We took a short stop here to stretch our legs and do some window shopping. There were tons of colorful op shops, used bookstores and coffee shops to explore.
Davenport // Burnie
There are so many things to do in Tasmania and depending on how much time you have I would definitely check out these two port cities. Burnie is a post-industrial city widely known for it’s whisky and cheese businesses. Davenport is located on the waterfront and prides itself on showcasing exhibits from early explorers and local Tasmanian artists. We didn’t have the chance to stop but many people mentioned that these cities were very enjoyable destinations.
Camp in Gowrie Park
After Launceston we drove though many little towns before reaching our campsite for the night. Located about 10 kilometers outside Sheffield (town famous for murals, check it out) we arrived at Gowrie Park. This campsite is on the edge of the Mount Roland Conservation Area and has beautiful rocky views of Mt. Roland. The birds were chirping constantly which I loved (especially the laughing kookaburra!). I took so many photos first thing in the morning of the clouds looming above the cliffs. Gorgeous!
DAY 4: Cradle Mountain National Park
We woke up early on Thursday and headed out towards Cradle Mountain National Park. We left all our belongings at the campsite since we planned to spend another night there. The national park was about a 50 minute drive and it is actually one of the most popular spots in Tasmania. The wild landscape, ancient rainforest and alpine hills as well as many animal and plant species makes this an incredible environment to explore.
We did a 2-hour hike around Dove Lake, Marions Lookout, and Cradle Lake (map **here**). The park is very well marked and easy to navigate. There is no car access past the Visitors Center so we took the shuttle bus to the trailhead.
We were quite chilled after the hike because it was rainy and about 10 degrees. We had a coffee (of course) in the Visitors Center to warm up before heading back to our campsite.
After eating cheese sandwiches and granola we fell asleep to the sounds of rain pattering on the tent.
DAY 5: Relax and Return to Hobart
On our final day in Tasmania we woke up early and headed back to Hobart. The drive should have taken 2.5 hours but we took our time and arrived in Hobart mid-afternoon.
Hike Or Drive Up Mt Wellington
We didn’t do this but many people mentioned Mt. Wellington as a must-see stop for tourists. I mean, the views look absolutely gorgeous. You can see all of Hobart and the surrounding countryside from the top.
Stroll around Hobart
On our last afternoon in Hobart we strolled along the waterfront and the streets of downtown. At night we had delicious Indian food at Tandoor and Curry House before heading back to our hostel. We stayed at the Pickled Frog Backpackers – an affordable and home-y hostel with easy access to the airport, a well-stocked library, and lots of free food! We made brownie mug cakes with flour and cocoa powder left by other backpackers (thanks guys).
The next day we woke up bright and early and headed to Hobart International Airport to catch our 8am flight. Watching the sunrise from the airport was a relaxing and beautiful last experience on this island.
I hope you get the chance to see this island and top things to do in Tasmania. It is an under appreciated and splendid state with mountain ranges, 19 national parks, islands scattered around the coastline, rainforests, and the nicest and most helpful locals. There are few places in the world where such wilderness wonders and kindness are so accessible.
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