Tasmania: My Spirit Animal of Places (Things to Do & Places to Stay)
GO. TO. TASMANIA!!! If my CAPS LOCK doesn't emphasize this enough, I'll try to prove my point with a more descriptive approach.
Let's start by saying this, if you believe in heaven, Tasmania is prettier than what you can imagine it might look like. If you believe in an after life, Tasmania is surely wayyy better than that. If a place could be a my spirit animal, it would be Tasmania.
Is that a bit more descriptive?
Tasmania broke off from mainland Australia because it doesn't seem to need the rest of the hullabaloo to make it a stunning holiday location. Tasmania is a pristine, eye-popping, jaw-dropping masterpiece of Mother Earth's best artwork.
The winding roads that overlook the most picturesque bays in the world, the turquoise blue waters that crash up against color-soaked rock faces, the landscape formations that no one could ever think up on his/her own (even with the wildest imagination one thinks s/he may have)...that's Tasmania. Photographs never seem to do it justice, but here are a few from my trip...just to tease you a bit.
I recommend spending a minimum of a week to ten days in Tasmania. You may think it looks like a small island, but the amount of beauty that unfolds itself before you will leave you wanting to stay longer and longer.
Trust me, you need more than just three days.
My best friend, Emily, and I rented a camper car to explore Tasmania, which I highly recommend. If sleeping in a camper car or camper van isn't your thing, no need to worry. I've compiled a list of the best Tasmania hotels and hostels to stay at across the island that will ensure you have the time of your life with any budget.
Before I dive into places to stay in Tasmania, I figured I'd tell you a bit about each region/town as well as what to do in Tasmania so you don't miss a beat while you're there.
Fun fact, if you're going to Tasmania, you're also heading to "The Island of Inspiration"; did you know that's its nickname?
This 68,401 square kilometer island (source) has a population of just over half a million people, so you'll have plenty of space to breath, explore, and be inspired.
The capital and most culturally vibrant city in Tasmania, Hobart, is not a place to skip on your itinerary. This quaint capital is situated on the River Derwent, making its port a main highlight. The historic district also draws charm to the city's character with narrow alleyways and colonial-style houses. Mount Wellington sits beautifully on the outskirts of the city providing an epic backdrop for photos and slow city walks.
While in Hobart, make sure you check out a few of my favorite Tasmania attractions:
1. Salamanca Market: Visit on Saturdays if you are in Hobart for the weekend! Snag a few gifts or grab a bite to eat at this bustling, colorful market.
2. Mona: The Museum of Old and New Art is actually built into the side of a cliff and encapsulates a labyrinth of art displays. It is located in the Moorilla Winery and is home to Moo Brew a classic Tasmanian craft beer. There's no better way to describe the Mona than their website: "Mona: a museum, or something. In Tasmania, or somewhere. Catch the ferry. Drink beer. Eat cheese. Talk crap about art. You'll love it."
3. Preachers: A school bus turned craft beer bar is one of the funnest places I've had a drink...ever. The mismatched furniture, live music, energetic vibes, tasty tapas, and delicious brews make this place a go-to for an afternoon session in the Tasmanian sun.
Now, for places to stay in Tasmania's capital...
In order to compile my list of the best hotels in Tasmania, I either included somewhere Emily and I stayed when we weren't sleeping in our camper car, Tasmania accommodation recommended by friends, or places on my list that I VERY badly want to stay. There are TONS of places to choose from for your Tassie holiday, so I thought I'd create this short list based on places that my tribe can back or ones I'm just dreaming about and hope you'll get to!
I've got you covered for ANY budget. Let's go!
1. Top notch: Islington Hotel - The cream of the crop for hotels in Hobart. Ranked #2 of all the places to stay in the area. I've never personally stayed there, but it's at the top of my return-to-Tasmania bucket list (as is to go to the Mona). Some of my favorite bloggers have stayed there and their experiences appeared out-of-this-world.
2. Midrange: Quest Savoy - A middle of the road hotel that provides excellent customer service, clean & comfortable rooms, as well as a wonderful spa and hot tub.
3. Budget: The Pickled Frog - One of the best hostels we stayed at in Tasmania. This funky, centrally located hostel has a bar/lounge with regular drink specials, clean bedding and comfortable bunks, laundry service available, and a really fun staff who genuinely want to make sure you have a great experience staying with them.
We didn't get to spend as much time in Launceston as we would've liked, but the day we had there was so much fun. We had been on the road quite a bit, so we were ready to have a beer and put our feet up at the end of it.
Fortunately, we stumbled right into the perfect place: XXX brewery and had some samples of their craft beer. Not only did we get to chat to the down-to-earth & knowledgeable staff, but they actually gave us a private tour of the brewing room before it opened to the public! It was a damn cool experience.
After that, Emily and I took our buzz on a little wander around the city through the City Park and past the Queen Victoria Museum. Unfortunately, our tipsy tiptoeing left us without photographs, but that just means you'll have to go check it out for yourself.
I've spoken to some local Tasmanian friends of mine to put together this short, but quality list of hotels in Launceston, which come highly recommended:
1. Top notch: Peppers Seaport Hotel - Located on the North Esk River, this 4.5 star hotel won't let you down with sailboats floating right outside your window and a short walk to the center of town. This beautiful accomodation is ranked as the #1 luxury hotel in Launceston.
2. Midrange: Kurrajong House Bed and Breakfast - If you prefer a cute, cozy B&B over a big, fancy hotel, this place is for you. The rooms and suites have a particular character about them that could land them in a magazine.
3. Budget: The Mowbray Hotel - This cheaper choice saves you cash, but gives you a perfectly valuable night's stay. The rooms are better than any hostel in the area, so I recommend grabbing a room here. With your stay, you'll also receive free parking, access to the bar/lounge as well as the hotel restaurant.
Boy, did we have an incredible experience in Port Arthur. I'd say it's probably one of the top recommendations overall I'd give to you for visiting Tasmania. It has some seriously rich history and, more recently, an intriguing last two decades.
For a quick history lesson about Port Arthur, I'll start with the classic "Australians are criminals" thing. Port Arthur was actually one of the first ports that served as a destination for the convicts brought to Australia. Although the prison at Port Arthur closed in 1877, many of the landmarks, graves, and prison cells remain making it one of the most popular tourist spots in Tasmania.
In 1996, the latest mark on Port Arthur's tragic history occurred, a sole gunman opened fire, killing 35 people and wounding 23. To this date, it is the deadliest mass shooting in Australia's history. This event was the catalyst for massive change in Australian gun laws.
My apologies for getting so dark, but I find that it is incredibly important to get to know a place's history when you visit it, especially to pay tribute to those who lost their lives there.
If you make your way to Port Arthur, please do a guided tour. The informational hosts are charismatic, knowledgeable, welcoming, and highly entertaining as they take you around the beautiful and well-maintained property (it doesn't even look that much like a prison anymore!). We were were fortunate to speak delicately with our tour guide about the massacre and she shared some very personal experiences of the day. Port Arthur holds a lot of pain inside its property walls, but it glows like its past is behind it.
There aren't as many options for places to stay in the area, but here is our personal favorite:
Best option: Fox & Hounds Inn - Emily and I stopped here after our tour around Port Arthur's historic site. The atmosphere in the Inn's restaurant is a cross between your favorite English pub and a ski lodge tucked somewhere in the Swiss Alps. The food was hearty, the staff was welcoming, the fireplace was ever-burning and the rooms were well-kept and most had a great view.
When we arrived in Cradle Mountain, we knew we were in for a treat. The long mountainous walks gave our driving legs a chance to stretch and we giggled as courageous wallabies hopped around on their own determined paths.
1. Top Notch: Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge - This place is unreal. Whether you come by winter or summer, you can enjoy the amenities included in your stay, such as the buffet breakfast, mountain and lake views, and access to the bar & lounge.
2. Midrange: Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village - A bit higher than midrange, actually, this place delivers when you pay a bit more. This chalet village in the middle of the Tasmanian forest has a perfect view of Cradle Mountain, spacious cabins (with heated towel racks!), tame wildlife, and a wonderful staff.
3. Budget: Discovery Parks - Cradle Mountain - While this is a caravan park, it also has cabins available for those who aren't staying in self-contained vehicles. The communal cooking area was perfect for us because we could build our own fire, play cards, and sip on wine as we watched the snow fall outside. Simple and well-kept, you'll be happy with this budget choice when traveling on a shoestring.