This post was originally published on A Globe Well Travelled in 2014. The content has been revised and updated with fresh information.
The Tasmanian capital can easily be explored on a budget.
Not only can you get flight specials from most major Australian cities at various times throughout the year, accommodation prices are reasonably cheap in comparison to other destinations and there are plenty of activities for frugal travellers to choose from.
I love sharing all of my hometown’s best attractions with friends and family who are visiting the city, so I’ve put together this list of 10 activities that won’t empty your wallet. Here are my suggestions for cheap or free things to do in Hobart! For other paid attractions and day trip ideas, check out my local’s guide to Hobart.
1. Explore the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
In my opinion, one of the best Hobart attractions is the Royal Botanical Gardens. If you can, pick the sunniest day of your trip to visit the gardens and see the plants in their best light.
Be sure to check out the beautiful Lily Pond, the styled Japanese garden (my fave spot), the Conservatory, the Subantarctic Plant House, and sit down with a coffee on the balcony of the visitor centre. If you’d like to learn more about the plants and history of the gardens, you can also book a Botanical Gardens walking tour which only costs $15 AUD.
2. Visit the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG)
This museum and art gallery is entirely free to enter. Easily accessible by foot from most city accommodations, this historic city building has been freshened up through development over the years and is open daily from 10AM to 5PM. The museum and art gallery hosts a number of permanent and temporary exhibits–check out the TMAG website to find out what’s on.
3. Wander through Salamanca Market
Every Saturday, Salamanca Market stretches along the length of Salamanca Place with stalls sellingTasmanian gifts, homewares, produce, souvenirs, and handmade goods. You don’t even have to buy anything, just admire the beautiful sandstone buildings and Mount Wellington backdrop.
4. Walk along Franklin Wharf
After you’ve finished with Salamanca, follow the waterfront towards Franklin Wharf and Hunter Street. Along the way you’ll find Mures Seafood Restaurant, Mawson’s Huts Replica Museum (this costs $12 AUD to enter), and you’ll get some pretty darn lovely views of downtown Hobart and the Derwent River.
If you’re visiting from interstate and want tolearn a bit about Hobart’s history, you can also combine this area with both Salamanca and Hunter Street by booking a 2-hour Hobart walking tour for $38 AUD.
5. Walk over the Tasman Bridge
The Bridge, as known by locals, is most famous for its partial collapse in 1975 when a rather large ship ran into one of its pylons. The walk across is not a short one, but definitely worthwhile for the views it provides.
Once you’ve made it to the other Eastern Shore end, walk down to the base to look back at the city from the Tasman Bridge Lookout point. If you can’t be bothered walking all the way back, head to the Tasman Highway to grab a bus back over–there’s a bus stop next to the Clarence Sports Centre where you can hail a bus on its way downtown.
6. Relax at Bellerive Beach
Hobart, like many other Aussie state capitals, has beaches within an arms reach of the city centre. For a relaxing day out, I’d suggest heading over to Bellerive on the Eastern Shore.
Do as the locals do by getting takeaway fish and chips or Tasmanian Valhalla ice cream from The Fish Bar (which has been a Bellerive staple for as long as I can remember), then eat it on the sand while you sit back and admire the city. If it’s a particularly warm day and you’re feeling game, you can also take a dip in the cool Tasmanian water!
7. Go up to Mount Nelson Signal Station
Drive to the signal station lookout at Mount Nelson and take your camera–you’ll need it to capture the stunning views of the Derwent River and city. The 458 bus from Franklin Square will take you directly to the lookout if you won’t have a car to use in Hobart.
If you feel like stopping for lunch or a coffee, The Signal Station cafe is a great spot. Take your own lunch if you’d prefer to chill with a picnic on the grass surrounded by trees.
8. Head up to the summit of Mount Wellington
On a clear day, you can drive to the summit of Mount Wellington for spectacular views of Hobart and the Derwent River. If you won’t have a car while in Hobart, a cheap option to access Mount Wellington is to get the Explorer Bus one way to the summit for around $25 AUD, then walk or cycle back downhill to the city.
Aside from the observation points at the summit, Mount Wellington also has a number of bush walks for all fitness levels. My favourite is the Organ Pipes track which starts at The Chalet (1000 metres) and goes up to the base of the Organ Pipes cliff face.The temperature is about significantly colder up on the mountain than in the city, so remember to take a warm jacket!
9. Climb up the Taroona Shot Tower
The Taroona Shot Tower is an underrated Hobart gem, in my opinion. At 58 metres tall (still one of Tasmania’s tallest buildings), the tower was built in 1870 to create lead shots by dropping the molten metal from the top into a pool of cold water at the bottom.
By climbing up the winding staircase with 259 steps, you’ll get some sweet views of the Derwent River. Accessing the Shot Tower is easy on the 429 bus from the city, which drops passengers right outside on the Channel Highway. The entrance fee is just $8 AUD, or if you’re feeling particularly cheap then you can walk around the grounds for free.
10. Explore historic Battery Point
At the far end of Salamanca Place, head right to see some of Australia’s oldest houses and buildings in the historic suburb of Battery Point. Walk by the Lenna of Hobart hotel that is covered in vines, then find Arthur’s Circus for some quaint 1800’s houses that are still occupied today. Finish by wandering along Hampden Road past more old buildings and shops.
Need somewhere to stay? Check out one of these 15 Popular Hobart Hotels with Picturesque Views by HotelsCombined.