If you’re planning an upcoming visit to Tasmania, get excited. Although it's Australia's smallest state, it's a unique part of the country and has loads to offer whether you're a history buff, food and wine connoisseur, hiker or road tripper. Craig Makepeace gives us the lowdown.


Coles Bay

Coles Bay is set in a spectacular location. With uninterrupted views of the red and pink granite peaks known as The Hazards, this small town is the gateway to famous Wineglass Bay and Freycinet National Park, my favourite place in Tasmania. Nearby Honeymoon Bay is beautiful and consider going kayaking in this picturesque setting. You could easily spend a week here exploring Freycinet and all it’s walks and beaches. And don’t miss Tombolo Restaurant and coffee bar for great coffee + wood fired pizzas with stunning views.


Penguin

On the shores of Bass Strait, Penguin is the best town to base yourself to explore the north west region of Tasmania and the towns of Burnie, Stanley, and Ulverstone. Activities nearby include Turners Beach Berry Patch (great for the kids), Hellyers Road Distillery, the coastal drive to Ulverstone, and the Nut in Stanley. Penguin has a great small town vibe and the local markets are worth a look too!


Strahan

Strahan is on the west coast of Tasmania and involves a decent half to full-day of driving (depending on where you’re coming from), but if you have the time it's worth the effort.It’s a small port town and one of the highlights is a cruise down World Heritage Gordon River. Also nice is a walk to Hogarth Falls and I saw one of the best sunsets I have ever seen anywhere in this town.


Hobart

Hobart is a lovely, walkable city on the harbour with a gentle pace of life. It's the biggest city in Tasmania with lots to do in and around the area – I spent 6 days there! Walk historic Battery Point, wander Salamanca Place and the famous Salamanca Markets, admire the sandstone buildings, drive up Mount Wellington, taste test a beer at the Cascade Brewery and don’t miss the fascinating MONA museum.


Port Arthur

Port Arthur is historic, interesting, sad and beautiful all wrapped into one. The town is home to the Port Arthur Historic Site which has a violent and troubled history as a penal colony for some of Australia’s hardened convicts.It’s accessible from Hobart as a day trip, or stay a few nights. For a great bite to eat, don’t miss the Doo-Lishus food truck at nearby Eaglehawk Neck for the best fish and chips in Tasmania, plus homemade scallop, rabbit, and venison pies.


Richmond

Just 25km north east of Hobart, historic Richmond is a small town and makes for a great half-day side trip. Explore the historic sites and take a stroll along the river before grabbing lunch at the Richmond Arms Hotel followed by coffee and cake at the Richmond Bakery. Richmond is home to Australia’s oldest bridge (built in 1825) and Australia’s oldest Roman Catholic church, St John’s. Also of interest is the Richmond Gaol and just wandering around town looking at the numerous heritage-listed buildings.


Launceston

Whilst Launceston itself doesn't offer a lot, it’s a great base to explore some excellent places nearby, and it’s also the cheapest city to fly into from the Australian mainland. Once you’ve seen City Park, the James Boags Brewery and done the Saturday Harvest Market, the best nearby attraction is beautiful Cataract Gorge. From Launceston, make sure you explore the Tamar Valley wine route, the Tamar wetlands walk, World Heritage Brickendon Estate and Josef Chromy Winery.


Evandale

Evandale is a National Trust classified Georgian village and when you arrive you feel as if the clock has been wound back 100 years. Easily accessible from Launceston, the heritage buildings make Evandale a popular place for tourists and Clarendon House, just outside of the village, is said to be one of Australia’s greatest Georgian houses. Make sure you drop in for a cuppa and cake at the Ingleside Bakery Cafe inside the old Council chambers built in 1867. There is a pretty courtyard bursting with flowers or, in the winter, a cozy roaring fire.