Hobart, Tasmania's capital city, is really coming into its own as a tourist destination. Once something of a backwater, this town is now firmly on the radar of both Australian and international travelers thanks to the historic town center and incredible natural surroundings, including the impressive Mount Wellington just a stone's throw away from the city and the historic Hobart waterfront. The city center and Battery Point are havens for history buffs, and those looking for outdoor adventures will have a great time exploring some of the best hiking trails in Hobart.
Plus, Hobart city is much smaller and more manageable than other Australian capitals. While you'll find plenty of cultural attractions in downtown Hobart, including some that have made it to the UNESCO World Heritage List, you'll find the city center much easier to get around than that of larger Australian cities. And because it's relatively small, central Hobart has a laid-back vibe that combines with its rich history to ensure you have a fantastic time.
Another benefit of being a little remote from the rest of Australia is the lower prices. When you visit Hobart, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find prices lower than you'd get in Sydney or Melbourne. Still, traveling can quickly get expensive, especially if you're traveling with the family. If you want to save a few dollars, you'll need to take advantage of some free tourist attractions. Luckily, the Hobart area has those in spades. In fact, many of the best tourist attractions in Hobart Tasmania are completely free. Read on to discover the best free things to do in Hobart.
And before you go exploring, don't forget to drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Hobart. Visiting the top Hobart attractions will be a lot easier if you're not carrying more than you need to.
Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
Located just to the north of Hobart city center, the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens are easily one of the top tourist attractions in the city. The second oldest botanical garden in Australia, the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens has a unique collection of plants from around the world, including Australia's only subantarctic plant house. This sprawling garden is a wonderful place to wander and enjoy the stunning floral arrangements and incredible views of the Derwent River from North Hobart. The lily pond, the Japanese garden, and the fuchsia house make for tranquil places to take a breather and recharge your batteries. Best of all, admission is completely free. If you want to explore further, you can book a guided tour or enjoy a coffee in the on-site coffee shop. But admission to the garden itself won't cost you a penny.
Ride an ArtBike
Hobart is a city that celebrates its artistic heritage. But it's also a town that embraces the outdoors. There are few better combinations of those two aspects of Hobart than the town's ArtBike program. You can pick up a bike for free and use it to pedal to some of the city's top artistic attractions, using a provided app to guide you to some of Hobart's most beautiful areas. As well as being an excellent way to see some artistic treasures, it's a great activity to burn some calories and see more of the city. In fact, Hobart's compact size makes it practically ideal for exploring on two wheels.
You can't really visit Hobart without seeing Mount Wellington. Located in South Hobart only half an hour from Hobart CBD, this 1271 m/4170 foot peak towers over the city and is Hobart's most recognized landmark. It's also the perfect outdoor adventure playground for both Hobart residents and visitors. Mount Wellington offers stunning views of the city, the ocean, and the Cathedral Rock mountains. There are a number of walking trails to explore both at the mountain's summit and at the base, so you can go for a gentle stroll or challenge yourself with a more demanding hike. Remember that the temperature at the top of the mountain is always several degrees colder than down at sea level, so dress accordingly. Plus, if you're not in the kind of shape required to hike to the top of Mount Wellington, it's good to know there is an Explorer Bus that can take you to the top of the mountain so you can enjoy incredible views. However, a ticket costs AU$25 one way, so if you want to enjoy the mountain for free, you'll need to bring your hiking boots.
Salamanca Market, located in Salamanca Place, is one of Australia's most famous outdoor markets, and for good reason. Visit Salamanca Market on a Saturday morning, and you'll be participating in an iconic Hobart tradition. The market and Salamanca Place itself are always lively locations to explore, and you'll be able to try incredible local produce and food direct from Tasmanian traders. There are often also street performers at the market, and the moment you visit you'll see why locals flock to this great location. Whether you're on the hunt for fresh seafood, local crafts, or unique souvenirs, chances are good you'll find it here. And if you can't get enough of the markets of Hobart, you could also head to Hobart CBD and check out the Farm Gate Markets too.
Visiting Salamanca Market is completely free, though it's difficult to avoid the temptation to buy something.
Australia began its life as a penal colony, and Hobart has several locations where you can explore that murky past. One of the best is undoubtedly Port Arthur Historic Site, once one of Australia's toughest convict jails and now recognized on the UNESCO World Heritage List for being the best-preserved penal colony in the country. Port Arthur is a 90-minute drive from Hobart city center, but with over 100 acres to explore here, you can easily make a day trip out of it.
Tickets to Port Arthur aren't free; in fact, they cost a pretty hefty AU$45. However, the ticket is good for two days, giving you plenty of time to explore. You also get a free guided tour and a free harbor cruise with your ticket, making it a great value for those looking to save some money in Hobart. Port Arthur is a fantastic place to explore, and the beautiful scenery of the Tasman Peninsula means you can easily make a longer trip and see more of Hobart's top free attractions.
Hobart Yacht Race
Hobart isn't a particularly large town, but it has been put on the map by the world-renowned annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race. This event takes place on Boxing Day, when around 100 yachts set out from Sydney to make the 630 nautical mile crossing to Hobart. It's generally regarded as one of the toughest sailing races in the world, and is undoubtedly one of the most exciting events on Hobart's annual calendar. If you're lucky enough to be in town when the race ends, you'll find that Hobart really comes alive as local residents cheer on the tired sailors.
Battery Point Historic Walk
While you're on the waterfront, check out Battery Point Historic Walk. In many senses, Battery Point is where the city first began, and the narrow streets and historic buildings retain that 19th-century charm to this day. The Battery Point Historic Walk will take you past some of the most important locations in this neighborhood, including Arthur Circus, Princes Park, and Narryna Heritage Museum. Along the way, you'll get to feel like you've stepped back in time to Hobart's earliest days as a British colony, and it won't cost you a thing.
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
The leading museum in Tasmania just so happens to be absolutely free, which is a blessing for budget travelers. The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, located in central Hobart, is the pride of the city and the state and is one of Hobart's top tourist attractions. The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery holds exhibitions on natural history, ecology, geology, and the history of Tasmania, both as an aboriginal settlement and as a British penal colony. Without a doubt, it's the best place to get a deeper understanding of the forces that have shaped Tasmania's history and made it the unique place it is today. And incredibly, it's completely free for any member of the public to visit. Therefore, there's really no excuse not to go and see one of Australia's top art galleries during your visit to Hobart.
Located along the River Derwent, Hobart's waterfront has shaped the history of the city as a penal colony and whaling station from its earliest days. The waterfront is home to some of the city's top sights, such as Franklin Wharf and Battery Point. These days, it's also the perfect place to take a stroll and enjoy the fun and lively atmosphere of a charming part of the city. You'll find a wealth of great restaurants offering fresh seafood and cozy pubs where you can while away an afternoon soaking up the vibe. Treat yourself to an ice cream and enjoy live music provided by the many street performers, and you'll see why so many people fall in love with Hobart when they visit Tasmania.
Museum of Old and New Art
Once described as a subversive adult Disneyland, this privately owned museum is one of the top attractions in Hobart. This art gallery contains avant-garde installations including the notorious Poo Machine, and the adventure starts even before you reach the gallery itself. Catch a funky ferry from the city center, and you'll be transported to a world of unusual art and unexpected discoveries. With its colorful paint scheme and animal statues, the ferry is enough by itself to make MONA one of the best things to do in Hobart with kids.
Technically, the Museum of Old and New Art isn't free for everyone. Tasmanian residents and visitors under 18 get in for free, but adults from out of town will have to pay AU$30. Still, it's a great bargain for families, and if you are from Tasmania, it's one of the best free attractions in the city.
Henry Jones Art Hotel
One of Hobart's top hotels, the Henry Jones Art Hotel also functions as a kind of unofficial art gallery. The hotel owners have collected hundreds of works by local Hobart and Tasmanian artists and proudly display them on the walls of the hotel. The best part is, you don't even need to be a guest of the hotel to enjoy the art. It's free to visit the hotel and admire its collection, you may find you want to stay and have a drink or a meal in the well-appointed on-site restaurant.
Have a Beach Day
With so much water surrounding the city, you'd expect Hobart to have some great beaches, and you'd be right. There are dozens of beaches to explore in and around the city, but one of the best is Seven Mile Beach. The sweeping stretch of sand offers great swimming and surfing, and is big enough to accommodate everyone even in the height of the Australian summer. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy that classic Australian pastime with a beach day that will cost you nothing more than the bus fare it takes to get there.
You don't have to look far to find things to do in Hobart, Tasmania. This underrated city is slowly becoming more and more popular with tourists thanks to its incredible scenery and historic interest. And although it's often a cheaper city to visit than some of the bigger Australian metropolises, it never hurts to have a few ideas for free things to do in Hobart to help keep costs down.
Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage, and you'll be in the perfect position to enjoy the wealth of free attractions the city has to offer. Exploring Hobart on a budget doesn't mean cutting corners, and traveling light will make it much easier to enjoy your time in the city.