It used to be hit and miss even trying to get a good coffee in Hobart, but these days there’s a lively, interesting cafe culture. Bury Me Standing does the most delicious bagels. Machine Laundry at Salamanca is also a favourite: it’s a laundromat-cafe combo so you can enjoy one of their excellent muffins while you get your washing done.
Kinoko Deli is perfect for a quick, affordable lunch: they do Japanese bento boxes with lots of fresh salad options. (It’s a couple of doors down from Cracked and Spineless, so leave time for a post-lunch browse in Hobart’s best bookshop.)
It’s hard to go past the huge selection of ice cream flavours at Mures on the waterfront, but if you’re looking for something a bit fancier, head to the Glass House for tasty small plates and river views.
On Sundays, Farm Gate Market is the place to be. I love the seasonal, organic vegetables from the Hmong community, and the buskers. One week you might see a contortionist (Samora Squid puts on a great show) and the next a five-piece jazz funk ensemble on the steps of the historic Playhouse Theatre.
There are lots of exciting pockets of grassroots energy in Hobart’s cultural scene: some of the most engaging work takes place outside of the better-known institutions.
For visual arts, take a look at the events and exhibitions held by artist-run initiatives such as Constance ARI and GoodGrief. Contemporary Art Tasmania is also a great place to see a cross-section of local artists.
There are a few interesting events film-wise too. Rewind Cinema at Kickstart Arts in New Town is a celebration of 80s and 90s movies, and while they might not have the most high-end projection gear it’s a genuine, passionate and welcoming cinephile space. The Simple Complex in North Hobart is a newer venue, with events including a monthly work-in-progress night for filmmakers. Wide Angle Tasmania is also great for local screenings and filmmaker talks.
One of my favourite areas stretches from the western edge of the CBD into West and South Hobart, where there’s a concentration of interesting places to explore. If there are kids in your life, Lyrebird is a lovely Steiner-inspired toy shop. Eumarrah is a wholefoods shop that does some amazing raw foods: the carrot cake is a particular favourite.
Hamlet is also a cool cafe that works on a social enterprise model. From there, you can walk along the rivulet into South Hobart. Even if you’re not lucky enough to spot the resident platypus, there are some great public artworks to engage with, and the track leads you to the historic Female Factory site. I would especially recommend a tour called The Proud and the Punished, a one-woman performance by Karissa Lane-Irons, which provides a powerful glimpse into the tragic lives of women convicts in the colony.
Once you reach South Hobart, there’s a cluster of decent op shops where you can fossick around for a bargain, before grabbing a coffee at Ginger Brown or Bear With Me.
Hobart is surrounded by green spaces.
Mount Nelson and Knocklofty Reserve are both worth exploring. Even on The Domain you feel further out of the city than you actually are, but honestly, it’s impossible to beat a little trip up kunanyi/Mount Wellington.
If you’re not a hardcore walker – which I’m not – you can drive up to The Springs. If you look around you might spot the foundations of the Springs Hotel, which burned down in the bushfires of 1967. Pick up a coffee from the shipping container pop-up Lost Freight Cafe, and then take one of the shorter trails up from there. Fern Tree Park near Fern Tree Tavern (another local favourite, where you’re likely to find live music and discussion events) is another major access point to Wellington Park and a handy spot to begin your walk.
For more experienced hikers, there are longer and more challenging trails: up to the summit, under the Organ Pipes, and to the Disappearing Tarn. It’s incredible to have such a spectacular mountain so close to the city with great walking, forests, views and wildlife – but don’t underestimate it, especially in winter. You can definitely get lost, and the weather can change quickly.
Tasmanians are notorious for not booking ahead for events, which is very stressful if you’re a venue owner but great if you’re a visitor and you want to show up and see what’s on.
If I was having a spontaneous night out, I’d check the online listings for the Grand Poobah, the Hanging Garden and maybe the Peacock Theatre. Pablo’s Cocktails is also an atmospheric little bar that often hosts live music.
Otherwise, there are plenty of places for a quiet drink. I’d recommend the gin tasting float at Society Salamanca if you want to try some unique Tasmanian gins, made using native ingredients. Nearby is Preachers, which is a classic hangout – they have an old bus in the beer garden that’s an ideal spot for chilling out and chatting with strangers.
The art-filled Alabama Hotel (rooms from $100) is an absolute gem. Centrally located, with a quirky but relaxed vibe. They offer boutique, budget bedrooms with shared but spotlessly clean bathrooms. There’s a cosy guest lounge indoors for cooler days – not unusual in Hobart – and a plant-filled terrace bar that’s perfect for happy hour drinks.
• Briony Kidd is a film and theatre maker, events producer and creativity coach