Not sure what to do in Launceston? Book tours, attractions, activities & discover all the great things to do in Launceston!
Not sure what to do in Launceston? Book tours, attractions, activities & discover all the great things to do in Launceston!
Located a short two hour drive north of Hobart, the picturesque city of Launceston has a strong sense of identity and charm that helps separate it from many other cities and regions in Australia.
Featuring a prominent and colourful history, impressive colonial architecture and plenty of interesting natural surroundings, it makes for a great escape from the Aussie mainland.
Launceston is also a great location to immerse yourself in the wonders of nature, as Tasmania’s vivid greenery plays a large role in its sightseeing and travel offerings, while mountainous landscapes and wild coasts add a hint of adventure to the proceedings. Famously fresh air, delicious local produce and a bevy of fine wineries round out the greater Launceston and greater Tamar region’s offerings, making it a very well-rounded nature-based travel destination.
Being the third oldest and second largest city in Tasmania, you will find Launceston filled with locations of significance as well as with a variety of festivals and events that celebrate its rich heritage and culture dotted throughout the year. But what are the absolute must-do’s in the Launceston / Tamar region?
We take a detailed look at the Top 10 Things to do in Launceston and surrounds below.
Location: Cradle Mountain National Park, Tasmania
One of the greater Launceston region’s most obvious highlights also ranks amongst its best, and there are few spectacles that can compare with Cradle Mountain in Tasmania – both in terms of the view from afar and offered atop it. While not technically "in" Launceston, its essential nature and relatively close proximity thus make it tops on the list.
One of the state’s most treasured and famous natural icons due to its unique shape from which it derives its name, Cradle Mountain sits amongst the World Heritage listed Cradle Mountain / Lake St Clair National Park – a place rich with geological features that date back to the Jurassic period and features a variety of wondrous landscapes ranging from deep, lush valleys to glacial lakes, to intricate cave networks.
The National Park itself is a site to behold, to be sure, but it’s the distinctive mountain that is the proverbial cherry on top of the sightseeing sundae. Rising an impressive 1535m above sea level and named due to its resemblance to a gold mining cradle, Cradle Mountain provides a wonderful backdrop to many of the highly-popular walking tracks designed to provide great views of its four major peaks.
These walks range anywhere from short 20 minute strolls up to more endurance-testing feats such as the world-renowned Overland Track, a truly epic 6 day journey that takes you deep into this part of the Tasmanian wilderness. Other activities such as fishing, mountain biking, quad bike and horse riding and canoeing are also immensely popular here, so the adventurous will have their hands full with a wide variety of things to do.
One of the most recognisable vistas you’ll come across in the Cradle Mountain is Dove Lake and when combined with the mountain looming over it – is a photographer’s dream. Book a Cradle Mountain day tour from Launceston to see this extraordinary location.
The mirrored reflection of Cradle Mountain on Dove Lake’s waters at their flattest makes for an impressive photo subject, and it’s not uncommon to see photographers camped by the lakeside in an attempt to get that perfect shot. Strolling around the perimeter of the lake is an incredibly serene experience, and taking a seat and simply admiring the view can be both satisfying and strangely spiritual.
Tours of Cradle Mountain typically depart from Launceston – roughly a 1.5 hour drive – taking travellers to great viewing points of Cradle Mountain itself on the National Park’s northern end. These tours, which can be taken with operator Tours Tasmania take efficient routes to see particular standout highlights such as tumbling waterfalls, native wildlife (it’s the home of the Tasmanian Devil here, after all), and Dove Lake plateau, so if you’re not looking to face the large commitment that the multi-day Overland Track warrants, they can do very well as a shorter alternative.
Whether it’s simply to garner some lovely photos of its peak or head directly into the heart of the Tasmanian wilderness, if you’re spending any significant amount of time in Launceston, be sure to ensure that you allocate enough on your itinerary to be able to witness this spectacular peak and National Park combination during your trip.
Wake up to a stunning sunrise and spectacular scenery on Launceston's only hot air balloon flight. Float over farmland and see famous landmarks on the 60-minute hot air balloon flight.
Location: Coles Bay Rd, Coles Bay, Tasmania
Home to one of Tasmania’s most famous images – the horseshoe-shaped spectacle of stunning Wineglass Bay – the wondrous Freycinet National Park is not technically “in” Launceston yet can be reached via a fairly reasonably 2+ hour drive to the south-east of the city.
The park offers a bevy of natural attractions over its expansive territory, and is one of the most popular places in the region for the likes of hiking, camping, swimming and bird watching, to name just a few.
There are few more picture-perfect places in the state of Tassie than here, with Wineglass Bay being its obvious poster-boy; if you’ve seen any kind of promotional material showcasing the state, you’ve no doubt come across a pic of the picturesque stretch of sand and water along the way.
In a sense, it’s quite odd to have such an iconic beach in Tasmania – it’s a part of Australia that’s much more often compared to the likes of England in terms of landscape and weather – yet Wineglass Bay manages to buck the trend by being one of the best beaches in all of Australia.
Wineglass Bay itself can best be viewed from its dedicated lookout – roughly a 1 hour return hike up a well constructed and maintained (yet steep and rather challenging) path that offers one of the most rewarding-for-your-effort views in the country.The beach itself can also be accessed by a downhill portion, and if you’ve got the time to spare it comes highly recommended.
If you’ve seen any kind of promotional material showcasing Tasmania, you’ve likely come across the picturesque stretch of sand and water that is Freycinet’s Wineglass Bay. You can enjoy a great vantage point of the crescent-shaped bay below on a 60-minute hike. It's one of the most rewarding walks in the country.
The rest of the Freycinet National Park, which sits on the jutting spur of the aptly-named Freycinet Peninusla, is no slouch in terms of sights to see, either. Its combination of pinkish mountainous peaks named the Hazards, abundance of wildlife – particularly birds such as eagles and cockatoos – and periodic white sandy beaches interposed throughout stretches of dramatic coastline make the park a feast for the eyes that can be enjoyed as a sampler for a single day, or undertaken on an epic, 3-day walking journey dubbed the Freycinet Peninsula Circuit.
Stretching a robust 30km in total, this walk encompasses all the best of the peninsula at its most untouched. This lack of human development also comes with a lack of conventional huts that many “great walks” of the world have along their course.
if you’re wanting to make the trip, you’ll have to bring your own tent and likely want to travel within the warmer months (December – April) to avoid the cold weather while also getting the benefit of extended daylight hours.
If you’ve got days to spare, you’ll be able to take things slowly and take in the array of great beaches along the way, keep an eye out for local wildlife, and get some spectacular views from regular lookout points along the way.
Day tours to the Freycinet National Park depart daily from Launceston (and Hobart) and provide an easy and convenient way to see its best – ideal for those who are pressed for time – without having to plan your own itinerary.
One of Tasmania’s most widely-recognised natural attractions, Freycinet National Park (and Wineglass Bay in particular) should be a focal point of any trip to Australia’s southern state.
Location: 66 Hollybank Rd, Underwood, Tasmania
Tasmania’s lush forests aren’t just an impressive display of untouched nature at work – they also offer great opportunities for exploration and sightseeing. The Hollybank Treetops Adventure aims to take advantage of the towering trees by providing visitors with the chance to soar and zipline through the forest.
The Launceston region’s Hollybank Treetops Adventure aims to take advantage of these towering trees by providing visitors with the chance to ascend high above the ground and take in some airborne-adventurous fun.
Featuring a series of integrated zip lines / flying foxes, the experience manages to be both thrilling and safe, and provides an aspect and viewpoint that is quite incredible once you’ve gotten over any initial nerves from being so high up.
It’s an extensive course that will see you flying from tree to tree and station to station, and throughout the journey you’ll be presented with interpretive commentary detailing the forest’s environment and the types of local wildlife that can be found within.
The journey includes sections of cableway that span between 15 and 400 metres, bridging one station to the next, and while that might seem precarious to some, safety is always the highest priority with all harnesses and other protective gear some of the best on offer.
Zip lines on the tour can also be conducted in tandem for skittish customers or younger children, and there’s simply something fun about soaring through the air with a friend or family member that’s hard to match. Each part of the tour has its own special charm, whether it’s a unique viewpoint of a certain part of the forest or one of the longer runs that allow you to kick up the zip to maximum speed (should you so choose) or take it as gentle and safely as you like.
It’s a professional and enjoyable treetop tour that does its best to focus on conservation and preserving the environment, as well as passing along these principles to visitors who join in.
In all, it’s a professional and enjoyable treetop tour that does its best to focus on conservation and preserving the environment, as well as passing along these principles to visitors who join in.
The Hollybank Treetops Adventure zip line tour takes roughly 3 hours to complete, and there’s also an optional ground-based Segway experience (2 hours in length) that can provide a pleasant forest adventure for those who aren’t too keen to explore the treetops.
These quirky contraptions will take you gliding above the ground along a track that allows you to explore the innards of the forest without tiring out the legs, and are remarkably stable despite their initial appearance.
Located approximately 20 minutes drive from launceston just off Lilydale Road, Hollybank Treetops Adventure makes for a unique and entertaining ecological experience that manages to be both fun and educational at the same time.
It’s Australia’s longest zip line adventure and thus well worth trying even if you’re afraid of heights.
Location: Home Point Parade, Launceston, Tasmania
The Tamar River is the lifeblood that keeps the Launceston region pumping, and there are few better ways to explore its impressive scenery than with a cruise directly on top of its waters.
Local operator Tamar River Cruises provides a range of scenic trips up and down the Tamar of varying lengths ranging from purely scenic morning and afternoon cruises to fully-fledged 4 hour lunch offerings and even a special mini-cruise that lasts for roughly 50 minutes and heads directly into the region’s iconic Cataract Gorge.
Cruises here reflect the greater attitude of Launceston and surrounds themselves, with a relaxed, meandering route that offers plenty of time to kick back, take it easy and soak in all the local landscape and architecture such as rolling fields, churches, bridges and more.
Regardless of what cruise itinerary you choose to take, you’ll get a solid dose of informative commentary about the history of Launceston and its local natural and man-made landmarks, all delivered with wit and character by the vessel’s experienced skipper.
The course up and down the river comes with some stunning scenery, particularly as you approach the Cataract Gorge section, with rocky outcroppings and walls along with some glass-perfect water that reflects the surrounding nature like a mirror.
Cruises here reflect the greater attitude of Launceston and its surrounds, with a relaxed, meandering route that offers plenty of time to kick back, take it easy and soak in all the local landscape and architecture.
In addition, during your cruise be sure to keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife; eagles can often be found swooping in and out of the air looking for a catch, while seals and even dolphins can be spotted in the waters if you’re particularly lucky! In all, it’s a great way to get a different perspective on the region’s many visual delights than from the road.
In terms of extras during your cruise, the morning and afternoon cruise offers a mixture of muffins, biscuits, fruit cake and fresh baskets of fruit for your enjoyment.
The extended lunch cruise offers both of the above on its longer route, as well as a tasty light lunch and the chance to taste some local beers.
Each of these options comes at a different price point as well, which allows for a greater deal of flexibility as far as budgets go; if you’re just after a “taster” of the scenery, then the introductory Cataract Gorge-only option can be had for a standard price of $33 for adults and $15 for kids, which is more than reasonable.
In all, this is one of the ideal ways to first “get your feet wet” when you arrive to Launceston, providing a great introduction to the area all aboard a comfortable, clean and well-equipped vessel that’s both friendly and fun.
Location: 370 Relbia Road, Relbia, Tasmania
The Launceston and greater Tamar Valley region has a renowned reputation for stellar wine and raw food production, and there are few better examples of this in action than Josef Chromy Wines in the suburb of Relbia, around 15 minute drive from Launceston city.
A modern and sophisticated winery nestled in the Launceston region’s countryside, Josef Chromy sets itself apart from other similar offerings with its classy atmosphere, great service and immaculately-kept grounds all being contributing factors.
However what truly sets the cellar door apart is its world-class wines – you seldom find wineries of this quality elsewhere in Australia, let along in a relatively isolated part of Tasmania, yet their wide range and array of delectable tastes make Josef Chromy a true standout in this regard.
The winery sits in a beautiful location (and boasts a sizeable vineyard, with an overall area of over 150 acres), and with magnificent, sweeping views across this part of the Tamar complete with lake, mountain and vineyard alike forming a vibrant panorama that makes the mere act of sitting back, relaxing and enjoying a drop to drink an experience in itself.
The wines on offer, of course, play a large role in this – Pinot Noir, Rieslings and Pinot Gris all feature prominently here.
The winery sits in a beautiful location with magnificent, sweeping views across this part of the Tamar complete with lake, mountain and vineyard alike forming a vibrant panorama.
In conjunction with the old-style country exterior of the building and the attentive and helpful attitudes of the staff, and you’ve got a combined food and wine experience that is immensely satisfying at Josef Chromy Wines.
In terms of food, fine dining is the name of the game here, with all meals prepared with great care and creativity done with a difference; you’ll likely come across something you’ve never tried before, or at least a variation on more common dishes with an extra added personality thrown in.
The winery’s restaurant is a quality venue with efficient and well-trained staff with standout service a point of pride – everything from the canapes to the larger gourmet options are highly enjoyable, with the Pork Belly and pasture-fed Black Angus eye fillet being particular standouts on the menu.
While a combined dining and wine experience can be a bit on the pricey side, the old adage of “getting what you pay for” rings especially true here, and the sheer quality of Josef Chromy Wines’ offerings shines through in every aspect, making it well worth an indulgent visit.
Visit Seahorse World for a behind the scenes look at the Seahorse Farm. Get hands-on in the touch pool and learn about the fascinating creatures during a 45 minute guided tour.
If you've never tried canyoning before then you can try it on the Lost World Canyon in the Cradle Mountains. It's perfect for beginners and will have you slipping, sliding and abseiling throughout the half-day tour.
Kids will be in heaven here at Penny Royal Adventures where they'll have a zipline and cliff walk, a spooky dark ride, a Brig Tamar cruise or a gold and gem fossicking experience to choose from.
Location: 74-90 Basin Rd, Launceston, Tasmania
Second only to #1 on this list below in terms of natural features most often associated with Launceston, Cataract Gorge and its surrounding reserve are a ruggedly beautiful section of Tasmania that’s remarkably close to Launceston city.
All it takes is a short, 15 minute walk from the CBD and you’ll find yourself in a delightful location that features a vibrant body of water, impressive rocky riverbanks, a lovely suspension bridge, and the Southern Hemisphere’s longest chairlift all in one spot!
Where total tourist numbers are concerned, Cataract Gorge is Tasmania’s most-visited tourist attraction, and upon arriving after the short trip it’s not hard to see why.
Launceston citizens are spoiled in having such a peaceful and scenic location virtually on their doorstep, and it’s a popular spot for fit locals to use as their morning jog – with the rushing river and sheer walls of the Gorge serving as an idyllic backdrop.
Getting to the Gorge is easy as there is a main pathway leading into its heart that is both well-paved and nicely lit (on the northern side – more difficult and steeper walks await on the southern section, so be wary of this) and makes accessing main, grassed area a breeze.
Launceston citizens are spoiled in having such a peaceful and ruggedly scenic location virtually on their doorstep. Join a walking tour to Cataract Gorge to see some of the top Launceston attractions including the gorge plus a 2 course lunch.
As long as you’re prepared with decent walking shoes, there’ll be nothing you can’t enjoy while at Cataract Gorge.
The Gorge’s main grassy section that overlooks the river is one of the most scenic spots in Australia you’re likely to have a picnic in, and there are plenty of facilities here including restaurants, barbecues and undercover areas for cases when the weather turns sour.
Wildlife such as peacocks (remarkably tame – watch your food!) and plenty of ducks add an additional touch of colour and nature to the proceedings, while possums can sometimes be spotted along the walking tracks which wind their way through the tranquil surroundings.
Cataract Gorge also comes equipped with a large, public swimming pool that is ideal for cooling off during the warmer months (it’s a definite no-go during winter), and a friendly, communal atmosphere abounds for swimmers and picnicers alike.
Inarguably however, the core attraction of the Gorge is the view itself, and this can be best taken in either by riding the 457m-long chairlift (requires a fee, incredible views throughout as you are taken directly over the rushing water below), or by walking the causeway and Alexandra Bridge (free, great views but only from a single angle).
Regardless of how you choose to take in the view, the spectacle offers photo opportunities that are nearly unmatched in the region, and are sure to serve as one of your favourite mementos of your time spent in Tassie. Simply put, given the minimal amount of effort required to get there, Cataract Gorge is one Launceston’s absolute can’t-miss attractions.