The state capital of Tasmania, Hobart nevertheless falls a little bit off the tourist radar when it comes to visitors. Then again, that's part of its appeal. Visiting Hobart not only lets you explore the unique culture and environment of Tasmania, but it also lets you escape the tourist crowds in one of Australia's most fascinating cities. Some of the best destinations for tourism Australia has to offer can be found in and around the city, including Port Arthur Historic Site, Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, Bruny Island, Franklin Square, and Mount Wellington. And in this city located along the Derwent River, you'll often find that sightseeing comes at a more affordable price than you'll find in other Australian cities.
But none of this does you any good if you can't get around. Luckily, navigating Hobart's public transportation network doesn't need to be difficult. And it will be a lot easier to get around this former convict colony if you drop off the heavy bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Hobart. Traveling light will make it easier to take advantage of the buses, boats, and other public transportation options the city has to offer. Whether you're looking to explore the most unmissable nightlife in Hobart or just want to enjoy fresh produce from Salamanca Market, it's easy to get to most places in the city without tearing your hair out.
How to get around Hobart by train
If you're wondering how to get into Hobart by train, the answer is simple. You can't. As an island separated from the Australian mainland, it's not possible for trains to reach Tasmania from anywhere else. And while the island does have its own rail network, it's devoted to freight travel only. The last passenger train in Tasmania stopped back in the 1970s, and many of the island's former trains are now on display at the Tasmanian Transport Museum.
Additionally, don't expect to be getting commuter rail or subway services like you'd find in other major cities in Hobart itself. With a population of around 200,000 people, Hobart isn't really big enough to require a dedicated subway network.
So what are your options to explore Hobart using public transport? Well, admittedly, they're limited. For most places you want to go with Hobart public transport, you're going to be getting the bus.
How to get around Hobart by bus
In the absence of a passenger train network and with the Bass Straight separating it from the rest of Australia, Tasmania is very reliant on the Hobart Airport to bring visitors to the island. Hobart Airport is only 18 km or 11 miles from the center of the city, so at least it's not a long distance to travel. To reach Hobart CBD, you have a couple of options. You can take a taxi or a rental car and make the drive in around 15 minutes, depending on traffic. But if you want a cheaper way into the city, or you just don't like the sound of driving, you can take a bus.
The SkyBus is the main public transport link between the city and the airport. Buses run every 30 minutes seven days a week on every day of the year, including public holidays, so you should never have to wait more than half an hour for the bus or have to wonder about departure times. It's not necessary to book a seat on SkyBus ahead of time; you can buy tickets from the driver as you board. But if you're the type that likes to be prepared, you can also buy tickets in the airport Arrivals Hall or online from the SkyBus website. The trip over the Tasman Bridge into Hobart costs AU$19.50 one way for an adult, but you can save some money by booking a round trip ticket in advance which will only cost you AU$36. You can also buy a family ticket which will cover one adult and four kids for AU$39 return, or two adults and up to four kids for AU$78 return. The SkyBus stops at six different stops within the city, including one at Brooke Street Pier and others at Elizabeth Street and Macquarie Street, making it handy for most hotels in Hobart.
Once you're in Hobart, Tasmania itself, you can take advantage of the city's municipal bus network to get around. You can buy tickets as you board most buses, but it's a better idea to get your hands on a Greencard. This card costs AU$25, with five dollars acting as a deposit for the card itself and the other $20 covering your first $20 in bus fares. However, it offers discounted fares as well as the convenience of not having to buy a ticket every time you board. You can buy one at the Metro Shop on Elizabeth Street as well as at a handful of newsagents and grocery stores throughout the town.
If you prefer to pay for your bus usage as you go, you should know that Hobart is divided into five transit zones. The Central zone is where you'll find Hobart CBD, Hobart waterfront, and most of the city's top attractions, as well as the best shopping in Hobart. You'll only really need to worry about the other zones if you plan on hitting some of the hidden gems or lesser-known hiking trails around the city. A one-zone ticket costs $3.50 if you pay by cash but only $2.80 if you have a Greencard. It's also good to know that the Greencard caps your daily spend at $4.80 if you don't board a bus until after 9 AM. Once the limit is reached, all subsequent travel is free of charge. Board a bus before 9 AM, and that daily limit becomes $9.80.
Most of Hobart's bus routes stop at either Elizabeth Street or Franklin Square. Useful routes to know include the 446 which takes you to the famous Cascade Brewery and the historic site of the Hobart Female Factory, and the X20 express bus to the Museum of Old and New Art (though there is a much more fun way to get there which we will cover shortly). Route maps are available from metrotas.com.
Another way to get around the city is by taking advantage of guided tours on hop-on hop-off bus routes. The Red Decker bus will take you to iconic Tasmania destinations like Battery Point, South Hobart, and the Tasmanian Museum. They also offer a Mt Wellington add-on ticket which will take you on a day tour right to the summit of the iconic mountain. From there, you can explore the many walking tracks or enjoy a guided tour of Mt Wellington, taking in the incredible views over the city and out toward Maria Island and Port Arthur and maybe even encountering some local wildlife. This day tour certainly makes it easy to see some of the most iconic locations in Hobart, and is worth considering if you'd rather spend your vacation enjoying what there is to do instead of figuring out how to get there.
How to get around Hobart by car
If you're visiting the Tasman peninsula and don't want to deal with the hassle of public transport, your obvious other option is to get a car. Rental cars are easily available at Hobart Airport and within the city itself. And if you plan on traveling a lot outside the city, for example taking a full-day tour to visit iconic locations in southern Tasmania and beyond, such as Wineglass Bay and Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, a car is really the best way to do it. Although it's possible to catch buses and coaches to locations closer to the city like Mt Wellington and Battery Point, it's a lot more difficult to see the wilder side of Tasmania without your own wheels.
Luckily, if you intend to drive your way around Tasmania, you'll be pleased to know that Hobart is not a difficult city to drive in. Because it's relatively small with a lower population than bigger Australian cities, traffic isn't the issue here that it is in places like Sydney or Melbourne. And while popular areas like Hobart Waterfront can get busy during the summer months, you usually won't have too much trouble getting around. Even parking is less of an issue in Hobart than it is in most other capital cities around the world.
Remember that as with the rest of Australia, Tasmanians drive on the left. Obey all local traffic laws and stick to the speed limits, which is generally 50 km/h within the city limits unless otherwise specified.
Getting around Hobart by boat
Located on the River Derwent before it flows into the ocean, Hobart is practically made to be explored by boat. You can embark on guided tours that will take you along the city's waterfront, or visit iconic locations like Port Arthur and Bruny Island on a day tour by boat that will show you the very best of Hobart, Tasmania. An especially fun trip is a boat ride to the Museum of Old and New Art, which leaves from Brooke Street Pier in the heart of the city. This camouflaged boat is decorated with animal statues that kids can ride on while you make the journey to the wacky museum just north of the city, and it's almost worth it just for the views of the city and Mt Wellington the boat ride provides. The MONA ferry is an iconic Hobart experience in Hobart, and one of the best tours you can take while in town.
Can I get around Hobart on foot?
Thanks to its relatively small size, Hobart is a great city to explore on foot. You'll find that many of the top attractions, such as Salamanca Market, Princes Park, the Tasmanian Museum, and the Hobart Convict Penitentiary are all located well within walking distance of the CBD. If your interest tends towards museums and historic sites, you might be able to dispense with a vehicle of any sort and explore Hobart completely on foot. And if you want to cover more ground, you could consider renting a bike and exploring Hobart's downtown core that way.
However, one of the best things about Hobart is the nearly limitless natural splendor that surrounds the city. And while public transport can help you reach some gorgeous parks in the region, more ambitious day trips will require you to get a car. If you want to make tracks in some of Tasmania's celebrated national parks, a rental car is hands down the best way to do it. Plus, it allows you to see more of the fascinating island of Tasmania.
As a relatively small city, Hobart is easy to explore whether on foot, on bike, by bus, or by car. How you choose to see the city will depend on what you most want to see. If it's the urban life of Hobart that draws you in, or you want to save money, public transportation and walking may be enough to get you everywhere you need. If you'd rather see more of what makes Tasmania so special, hiring a car may be a better way to go.
But however you choose to get around, you'll have an easier time of it if you drop off your unneeded bags at a Bounce luggage storage. Leave your bags behind and concentrate on enjoying your time on this remarkable island.