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Bicheno, Tasmania

The best itineraries for a spectacular Tasmania road trip

This post was originally published on A Globe Well Travelled in 2014. The content has been revised and updated with fresh information.

I spent 22 years living in this naturally beautiful Australian state.

My childhood was filled with day trips up the coast, hiking in national parks, visiting waterfalls and viewpoints and rock formations. This seemingly tiny state has a surprisingly large number of things to see and do.

Through various conversations about my home state, I realised that many people want to experience the best of Tassie but have no idea how to go about it, so I’m going to share some amazing Tasmania road trip itineraries with you!

Bruny Island, Tasmania
Spectacular scenery on Bruny Island

How to get to Tasmania:

The easiest way to get to Tasmania from mainland Australia is to fly into Hobart or Launceston(every time I step off the plane in Tasmania I take an alarmingly large breath of the fresh air. There really is nothing else like it!).Once you’ve arrived, rent a car from the airport for driving around the state. A regular small car will do the job – there’s no need for a 4WD or anything.

You can also take your own car across the Bass Strait from Melbourne to Devonport on the Spirit of Tasmania. This is an especially useful option if you own a caravan or campervan and want to use it for your Tassie travels.

When to go to Tasmania:

Tasmania is great at any time of year, but generally speaking, the best travel time is October to March as the temperatures are more tolerable for you mainland folk. Expect large crowds around Christmas and New Year during the Taste of Tasmania festival and the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Winter in Tasmania can be cold and wet but you can expect this weather any time of year, so be prepared for all weather conditions no matter when you travel. Every time I head down to Hobart to visit my family, I take clothing that I would wear on the coldest winter days in Sydney (no matter what time of year I head down), and I always pack waterproof boots and a rain jacket.

Tarn Shelf track at Mt. Field National Park in Tasmania
Hiking the Tarn Shelf track at Mount Field National Park

How long does it take to drive around Tasmania:

The number one biggest mistake people make when they visit Tasmania is thinking they can zoom around the state in a few days, but this is impossible unless you only plan to visit one or two destinations. There is so much to see and a million places to explore – you will seriously regret it if you don’t give yourself enough time to see the state properly.

I’ve compiled three recommended itineraries in this post which are 7, 10, and 14 nights. The shortest itinerary involves about 11 hours of driving time, and the longest itinerary is about 23 hours total. I’ve limited the driving time to a max of 4 hours per day to slow the pace of theseTasmania road trips and make the itinerary manageable for everyone.

Entering Tasmania’s national parks:

All of the following itineraries include entering two or more national parks. If you’re driving around Tasmania, you’ll needs a parks pass each time you enter a park. Get a National Parks Holiday Pass for your vehicle, which costs $80 AUD and allows you to enter all parks over a two month period. This will save you a lot of hassle buying a day pass at each park, and will be much cheaper, too.

Tahune Airwalk in the Huon Valley, Tasmania
Sightseeing at Tahune Airwalk in the Huon Valley

Destinations to visit in Tasmania:

  • Hobart: Hobart is Tasmania’s capital and the largest city in the state. From here, you can do day trips to locations such as Richmond, Bruny Island, or the Huon Valley.
  • Tasman Peninsula: On the Tasman Peninsula you’ll find the historic Port Arthur convict settlement which is one of Tasmania’s most visited destinations.
  • East Coast: The small towns of Coles Bay and Bicheno are popular spots for accessing Freycinet National Park and the world-famous Wineglass Bay.
  • North East Coast: The township of St Helens is located near the Bay of Fires, which is known for having vibrant turquoise waters and red-tinted rocks.
  • Launceston: Launceston is Tasmania’s second largest city. Close by is the popular Tamar Valley wine region and rolling fields of lavender that bloom mid-summer.
  • North West: Stanley is a tiny coastal town with unique geological features. The town of Penguin is also an interesting stop with sculptures themed on its name.
  • Cradle Mountain: Cradle Mountain National Park attracts eco-conscious visitors with dramatic scenery and wildlife, located in a remote area far from civilisation.
  • Strahan: On Tasmania’s West Coast is the historic township of Strahan, which is next to stunning natural landscapes in Franklin–Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.
  • Midlands: Mount Field National Park in Tasmania’s midlands is frequented by locals with a range of hikes that visit waterfalls, rainforest, and alpine lakes.
Bicheno, Tasmania
Climbing rocks at Bicheno on Tasmania’s east coast

Tasmania guided tour options:

If you just don’t have the time to drive around but still want to see Tasmania, there are a few multi-day tours that will allow you to see the best of the state in a short amount of time. Here are a few options:

Tasmania road trip itineraries:

7 night Hobart to Launceston Tasmania road trip

7 nights – Hobart to Launceston

  • 2 nights in Hobart
  • 1 night on the Tasman Peninsula
  • 2 nights in Coles Bay or Bicheno
  • 1 night in Launceston
  • 1 night in Cradle Mountain

Total driving time: 11 hours

This itinerary is for those who can only wrangle a week off work and therefore have to travel weekend to weekend. If you can, try to fly into Hobart on a Friday night so that you can make it to Salamanca Market on the Saturday morning.

This Tassie road trip is truly a ‘best of’ itinerary that hits up the flashiest destinations in a short timeframe. You will be happily exhausted by the end of it and will feel like you got to see what Tasmania is all about.

10 night Tasmania road trip itinerary from Hobart

10 nights – Hobart to Hobart

  • 2 nights in Hobart
  • 1 night on the Tasman Peninsula
  • 2 nights in Coles Bay or Bicheno
  • 1 night in Launceston
  • 1 night in Cradle Mountain
  • 2 nights in Strahan
  • 1 night near Mount Field

Total driving time: 17 hours

With 10 nights in Tasmania, you’ll be able to visit a decent amount of the state including the major cities, the small towns, and the national parks. You can choose to start this loop in either Hobart or Launceston. It’s a fairly comprehensive itinerary but at a reasonably fast pace.

14 night Tasmania road trip itinerary from Hobart, Launceston, or Devonport

14 nights – Hobart to Hobart

  • 3 nights in Hobart
  • 1 night on the Tasman Peninsula
  • 2 nights in Coles Bay or Bicheno
  • 1 night in St Helens
  • 1 night in Launceston
  • 1 night in Stanley
  • 2 nights in Cradle Mountain
  • 2 nights in Strahan
  • 1 night near Mount Field

Total driving time: 23 hours

If you can manage to get two weeks in Tasmania for your holiday, this is the best way to fill it. On this itinerary, you’ll get to see Tasmania’s best destinations with a little extra time to do it all at a more relaxed pace.

This option is also the best one for those of you coming over on the Spirit of Tasmania, because that boat is fairly expensive and you will want to make the most of the trip over. It’s easy to start and end the loop in Devonport if this is your deal.

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