Here’s Tasmania’s top natural attractions. Yes, there are more, but if you plan to visit historic, artistic and culinary attractions as well, and all the other wonderful short stops along the way, you’ll need a lot of time. Each attraction has links to local accommodation.
1. Mt Wellington
Hobart’s Mt Wellington is so good even longtime locals visit the summit regularly, such is the spectacular view.
And it’s just a 20-minute drive from the capital’s CBD.
A clear day opens up the incredible vista of Hobart, Bruny Island and beyond, and on a clear winter’s day, after snow, the summit is a simply brilliant place to be.
The drive to the top winds through temperate rainforest, which changes to sub-alpine flora and glacial rock outcrops near the top.
With the panorama extending as far as Tasman Peninsula, this is easily the best city view in Australia.
There is a visitor centre, along with barbecues and bushwalking trails for various fitness levels.
Mountain activities include trail biking and abseiling.
There are no park entrance fees or closing hours.
The Pinnacle shelter at the summit is open in summer from 8am to 8pm, and in winter from 8am to 4.30pm.
2. Cataract Gorge
Cataract Gorge Reserve is just a two-minute drive from Launceston.
Visitors can walk from Launceston CBD along the Tamar River into the gorge in 15 minutes or so. A pathway built along the cliff face in the 1890s looks down to the South Esk River.
On the southern side is a cafe and swimming pool, surrounded by bush. The northern side is an exotic garden.
Spectacular Kings Bridge was built in the gorge in 1867.
With a kiosk, restaurant, swimming pool, lawns and rotunda, footbridge, chairlift and peacocks and wallabies at dusk, this is one of Australia’s best urban reserves.
Entry is free.
3. Cradle Mountain
Cradle Mountain is one of the most visited places in Tasmania and is part of Tasmania’s World Heritage Area.
The mountain is at the northern end of Lake St Clair National Park, surrounded by glacial lakes, rainforest and alpine vegetation.
There are several short walks that allow visitors to appreciate the great beauty of the area.
Walk by fast-running rivers and dense rainforest on the Enchanted Walk. A longer two-hour circuit of Dove Lake is one of Australia’s great short walks.
Visitors can spend a day tackling Cradle Mountain itself.
Cradle Mountain is the start of the famous Overland Track, a six-day walk through some of the world’s finest mountain terrain.
Tours are available from Cradle Valley, just outside the park boundary, with horse rides and helicopter flights over the mountains a special treat.
Accommodation is available, but it often sells out in peak season, so book ahead.
4. Royal Tasmanian Botanic Garden
Tasmania’s Botanic Garden is small, but among the best.
Established in 1818, the garden is just a short walk from the Hobart CBD. The historic plant collection includes trees dating back to the 19th century.
The world’s only sub-antarctic plant house has plants grown in a climate-controlled environment with fogs and mists that match the wet, cold conditions from which they came.
The gardens contain heritage buildings, including the Superintendent’s cottage, now the Administration Office, and the Arthur Wall. The wall’s British design is hollow, allowing heating to boost growth in fruit trees planted beside it.
The visitor centre has a restaurant, souvenir shop and gallery featuring exhibitions by local artists.
The garden is free and is open seven days a week, all year.
5. Tasman National Park
Tasman National Park is famous for its rugged coastline.
A one-hour walk reveals sheer drops overlooking chasms and ocean, with islands, white sandy beaches and a waterfall flowing to sea.
At the south end of the park are some of the most spectacular sea cliffs in the world.
Tasman Arch, the Blow Hole, Devils Kitchen, the Tessellated Pavement, Remarkable Cave and Waterfall Bay can be reached by car, but the best views of the coast are from the walks.
The park also has the famous Port Arthur Historic Site, making this area a must-visit.
Tasman National Park is just a 1.5 hour drive from Hobart.
6. Wineglass Bay
This beautiful bay is justifiably world famous.
It is the major feature of Freycinet National Park, a place that has dramatic pink granite peaks, secluded white sandy beaches and birdlife.
The park is on Tasmania’s east coast on a large peninsula, looking out to the Tasman Sea from the east side and back to the Tasmanian coast from the west.
There are short walks suitable for varied abilities.
Other attractions are Hazards Range and views of Great Oyster Bay and the coastline surrounding Swansea.
Moulting Lagoon is a RAMSAR wetland sanctuary for waterfowl and migratory birds.
There’s a visitor centre, shop and outdoor theatre at the park entrance with electric barbecues, picnic tables, water and toilets located in the park.
Accommodation in and around Freycinet National Park ranges from basic camping to luxury eco-retreats.
7. Lake Pedder
The original Lake Pedder was a glacial outwash lake, but became a vast man-made impoundment after a controversial hydro-electric dam was installed.
The lake is located in the southwest of Tasmania. In addition to its natural catchment from the Frankland Range, the lake was formed by the 1972 damming of the Serpentine and Huon Rivers by the Hydro Electric Commission.
The lake is spectacular. It is in a very wet part of the state, expect rain and cold!
The flooded Lake Pedder has a surface area of 242sqkm, making it Tasmania’s second largest lake.
8. Stanley Nut
Stanley village is at the base of the Nut, a giant bluff formed by a volcanic plug.
It is in far north-west Tasmania.
There is walk to the summit of the Nut, or take the chairlift, with spectacular views across Bass Strait.
There is accommodation and camping in Stanley, which is a good base to explore the north-west forests and coastline. Seals, penguins, sea birds and other wildlife can be seen with Stanley tour operators.
The town was the Van Diemen’s Land Company head office location, formed in 1824.
9. Tahune Airwalk
This is a spectacular raised walking platform through the forest canopy.
It is located in southern Tasmania near Geeveston.
The airwalk area was partly damaged in the 2019 bushfires, but it will be reopened soon.