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Launceston is one of the most popular cities in Tasmania to visit. It’s known for the beautiful Cataract Gorge where you will find hiking trails and views for days, as well as world-class museums, art galleries and vineyards.
Needless to say, there are a lot of things to do in Launceston that will keep any visitor busy for days.
On our trip to Launceston, we relied on the kindness of locals to share their favourite attractions in Launceston. I also find that the best way to discover a new area is via tips from the locals.
We visited Tasmania as part of the behind the scenery campaign with Tourism Tasmania which was all about finding the hidden gems the locals love.
There is only so much a guidebook can tell you, and usually, they are handy pieces of information on the must-see attractions – but, we love to dig a little deeper to get to the heart of a place.
In this guide, we’ve shared some tips on what to do in Launceston as recommended by the locals.
- Why ask the locals?
- Things To Do In Launceston, Tasmania
- 1. Visit The Cataract Gorge Reserve First Basin
- 2. Check Out The Tamar Island Wetlands Walk
- 3. Visit the Josef Chromy Vineyard
- 4. Take a Day Trip to Evandale
- 5. Have Cream Teas at Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe
- 6. Stay in the Tamar Valley
- 7. Visit the Ninth Island Winery
- 8. Eat at Ilk Cafe and Gallery
- 9. Go Wine Tasting at Moores Hill
- 10. Visit the Saturday Harvest Market, Launceston
- 10. Visit the John Temple Gallery
- 11. Take a River Cruise on the River Tamar
- 12. Admire The Artwork at The Queen Victoria Museum
- 13. Check Out The National Automobile Museum of Tasmania
- 14. Visit the Low Head Penguin Colony
- 15. Go Rock-Climbing at Penny Royal Adventures
- 16. Check Out Beaconsfield Mine & Heritage Centre
- 17. Ziplining at Holly Banks Treetops
- 18. Take a Day Trip to Cradle Mountain
- Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Launceston
Planning your trip to Launceston last-minute?
Don’t forget to plan ahead when visiting Launceston! Here are some of our favourite tours and hotels to help you plan your trip!
Top Experiences and Tours in Launceston
- River Cruise into Cataract Gorge (an unmissable thing to do in Launceston)
- Joseph Chromy Winery Tour (one of the best wineries in the region)
- Day trip to Cradle Mountain (perfect for nature lovers)
Top Accommodation and Hotels in Launceston
Why ask the locals?
We had a fabulous 4-day trip to Launceston and the surrounding region on our month-long road trip around Tasmania.
We had a couple of well-known places planned to visit already, but the rest we were leaving to suggestions by the locals – which we know to be the best way to discover Tasmania.
Besides getting great tips, this is also a fantastic way to learn more about the local culture. We learned about who lives in the city and what key events had happened here.
We also heard tales of history, politics and traditions. Not to mention we got some great suggestions for places to eat and stay.
Getting tips from the locals also means you get to support small businesses and independent shop owners, and see a side to the city that most tourists don’t see.
It’s a great delay to speak to the locals, and one of the reasons we fell in love with Tasmania – the people are so bloody nice! And they excel at local tips.
Fair warning, using this strategy can be fraught with time danger, especially when the local people are as friendly as they are in Tassie. There were several places on our itinerary we didn’t quite get to because we chatted with the local people for so long.
Things To Do In Launceston, Tasmania
Without further ado, here are the places and attractions to visit in Launceston as suggested by the locals…
1. Visit The Cataract Gorge Reserve First Basin
We arrived in Launceston and went straight to the Cataract Gorge – a must see destination.
Nestled in West Launceston, Cataract Gorge is a city park and natural wonder that boasts breathtaking views, tranquil walking trails, and the world’s longest a single-span chairlift that offers incredible views of the gorge.
Be sure to walk along the Alexandra Suspension Bridge for amazing views of the lagoon below.
Its unique geological formations and rich biodiversity make it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike.
This gorgeous gorge is easy to get to from the city. It’s a short walk along the South Esk River and an outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant, and several peacocks and pademelons roaming the grounds.
You can see more in our video of Cataract Gorge.
2. Check Out The Tamar Island Wetlands Walk
We were finishing up a delicious breakfast at the Basin Cafe and ready to do a gorge walk when we started chatting to this friendly couple, Michael and his wife, Sarah.
They have been living in Tasmania for a few years and had recommended we visit the Tamar Island Wetlands. Our friend Christina also recommended this quiet reserve only 10 minutes drive north of Launceston. So we knew we had to check it out.
We knew 7:30 am would be the perfect way to start the morning with a 3km return walk through the wetlands to Tamar Island.
It’s best to arrive at dawn or dusk when barely another soul can be seen.
A boardwalk extends over swamps and crosses the river to two islets and then Tamar Island.
There is an abundance of bird life swooping amongst the reeds towering above your head; perched on the wooden bridges, flying off one by one as you approach; and playing in the rivers.
3. Visit the Josef Chromy Vineyard
“Without a doubt the best winery in Launceston” Michael cried. “The views are spectacular and the food and wine world-class.”
He was not wrong.
Josef Chromy Wines began in 2007 and in that short time it has amassed over 14 trophies and 170 medals which makes it one of the most successful launches in the history of the Tasmanian wine industry.
It also has gorgeous views over the lake and vineyards appreciated from either the outside deck of the restaurant, or from behind the full-length glass windows.
I also really loved the wrap around verandah next to the gardens where you can have bar snacks or a glass of their finest.
The restaurant menu is intended to showcase the local Tasmanian produce. Our risotto with squid ink and salmon fish cakes washed down with a smooth pinot noir did just that.
The restaurant is smart and contemporary. It is a little on the pricey side, but if you are looking for an experience that is a little classier Chromy’s would be the place to go. They frequently have jazz on the lawn days as well.
The cellar door is located in the estates original 1880s homestead, surrounded by an expanse of established landscaped gardens making it an idyllic place to while away the hours.
Josef Chromy Wines is located at 370 Relbia Road, Relbia, 10 minutes south of Launceston, not far from the airport.
4. Take a Day Trip to Evandale
We could not make the Sunday morning markets in Evandale – the home run event – but Michael and his wife’s enthusiasm for this “Best town in Launceston” convinced us to at least pass through for coffee and cake.
You arrive in Evandale and feel as if the clock has been wound back 100 years.
Evandale is a National Trust classified Georgian village. It’s unspoiled heritage buildings make it a popular place for tourists. Clarendon House, just outside of the village, is said to be one of Australia’s greatest Georgian houses.
We devoured a gluten-free rhubarb crumble at the Ingleside licensed bakery cafe located inside the old Council chambers built in 1867. There is a pretty courtyard bursting with flowers or, in the winter, a cozy roaring fire.
I wish we had more time to enjoy a cold beverage in the beer garden of the historic Clarendon Hotel. Next time!
5. Have Cream Teas at Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe
So we did and gorged ourselves on chocolate and raspberry mud cake, lemon tarts, and scones.
Craig dared to try a raspberry latte and I had a refreshing raspberry and mint iced tea.
The stone and timber café overlooks lush green lawns running down to a lake filled with water lilies. The garden features native trees and a herb garden overlooking the raspberry canes in the distance.
Don’t forget to grab a choc dipped raspberry on your way out – they melt in your mouth, finished with a silky hit of raspberry.
6. Stay in the Tamar Valley
We were staying our first night in the Tamar Valley at Rosevears Retreat.
The Tamar Valley is a wine region only 10 minutes drive north of Launceston and is known (secretly) to be one of the best wine regions in Australia. The cool climate is perfect for producing high quality elegant wines.
Exploring the Tamar Valley was definitely the highlight of our Tasmanian trip.
Our guide book told us The Ninth Island Winery had extraordinary views, and as it was the first winery we came to on the drive out from Launceston we decided to pull in.
7. Visit the Ninth Island Winery
The guidebook was not wrong about the achingly beautiful views. The vineyard caught a cool breeze from the river; exactly what we needed on this rare hot day.
The breeze also cools down the grapes helping to percol their sweetness.
It was perfect for wine tasting and for a lively conversation with Jeremy, our wine connoisseur.
He loves to make up words like percol, and give strange palate cleansing tips such as put a grape in your tea or coffee and then eat it once the drink has finished for a taste explosion.
As you can tell Jeremy was great fun.
He brought us a range of wines to taste from Ninth Island and Pipers Brook, a winery further north owned by the same people. Jeremy helped us to distinguish the taste differences and why they were like that.
After much discussion, we decided to purchase a bottle of the pinot gris to bring home.
Jeremy convinced us – despite being full – that the Ilk Cafe down the road had to be our next stop for a bite to eat.
“One of the best cafes in the region,” he declared. “The chef, Sam has moved with the times and creates amazing dishes.”
8. Eat at Ilk Cafe and Gallery
OMG. The best bruschetta ever!
We would never have stopped at the Ilk Cafe if it wasn’t for Jeremy.
The waitress, Stephanie, was friendly and accommodating and when we told her Jeremy had sent us, she grinned broadly and said, “He’s my husband!”
The bruschetta, topped with roasted capsicum, pine nuts, grilled halloumi and smoked ocean trout was an explosion of flavours – very modern, healthy and made from fresh local produce.
The small cafe sits opposite the river on Rosevears Drive. You can sit outside and soak up the views or enjoy the homely interior.
It was time for more wine so of course we asked Stephanie for more tips. She sent us to her favourite winery just down the road, Moores Hill.
9. Go Wine Tasting at Moores Hill
We arrived to Moores Hill before closing time with minutes to spare for tasting. I’m so glad we could fit it in with the lovely owner, Fiona.
Originally from Adelaide, Fiona and Lance, her wine-making husband, decided to relocate to Tassie to produce excellent slow-growing wines.
The winemakers believe in small-batch winemaking as a way of maximising complexity in the wines, allowing the vineyard to fully express itself.
You can see the expression in their signature label, commissioned by an artist.
I also tasted it in their lightly oaked Chardonnay. It’s brought me back to my long lost love. It’s creamy, lemony taste gave it a fresh uniqueness that rolled and soothed the taste buds.
We took a bottle of that one home to enjoy from the verandah of our eco-retreat cabin, along with Tasmanian cheese, olives, dips and eggplant balls.
Oh, and the cows singing in the fields just behind the vines added to the Tamar Valley serenity.
Fiona gave us the remainder of the bottle to their dessert Riesling to take home. Just enough for two glasses to wash the chocolate down with.
She also gave us a couple of hot tips for the following day as we were leaving. We of course had to follow them.
Press play to hear why Fiona thinks you should visit Tasmania:
10. Visit the Saturday Harvest Market, Launceston
We find it difficult to resist a good farmer’s market.
It’s a great way to eat well, help the local economy, and save money. The Saturday morning Harvest Market was a small one in the car park on Cimitiere St in Launceston CBD.
The produce was fresh, local and cheap. Blueberries were the market superstars, with buckets overflowing from every second stall.
We devoured some raw energy chocolate balls from the Vegan stall and tried wallaby for the first time. It is delicate, and delicious.
And guess who we saw wandering around the markets – Fiona! We were quickly becoming locals.
10. Visit the John Temple Gallery
We were driving through the historic towns of the Great Western Tier on the way to Sheffield when our Tourism Tasmania guide sent us a text.
“In Westbury is the John Temple Gallery. Feel free to stop there, he is one of the best photographers in Tasmania.”
We decided to stop in the gallery situated in this historical English village.
The John Temple Gallery is a brochure for Tasmania. Come here and your list of must see places will have a growth explosion.
John’s panoramic photos showcase the stunning natural landscape of the state with a couple of other global landscape stunners like Monument Valley thrown in.
I was embarrassed to be wearing our camera around my neck. I just hoped he didn’t want to look at my portfolio of overexposed shots.
John shoots on slide film, without filters, and doesn’t even take many photos.
“I just wait until the lighting is right.”
He told us digital has about another 20 years before it can ever compete with slide film. Wow!
Again our planned itinerary was cut short as we chose to continue our interesting chat with John. He told us more about his life as a photographer and the local area.
As we stood chatting an unassuming lady got out of her ordinary-looking 4WD and walked into the local butchers across the road.
“See that lady there. She was the person who developed the Frequent Flyer concept.”
“Oh yes. There are some fascinating people around here.”
I was not surprised.
In less than 24 hours we had already met a diverse bunch of locals. They certainly made our first Tassie experience so enriching.
11. Take a River Cruise on the River Tamar
A great way to see the city is to take a river cruise. On a river cruise of the Tamar River, you get to sail into the Cataract Gorge, along the riverfront precinct, and past Tamar Island.
You’ll get to see the historical buildings, famous pubs, and significant homes from the river whilst listening to a commentary from a knowledgable guide.
It’s one of the most relaxing things to do in Launceston.
12. Admire The Artwork at The Queen Victoria Museum
The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG) is one of the biggest attractions in Launceston and is a leader in art, history, and natural science exhibitions.
Since 1842, the museum has been showcasing works of natural history, sciences, and visual arts, in its carefully curated exhibits.
There are two locals in the museum, the art gallery is located at Royal Park and the museum is at Inveresk. The Launceston Planetarium is also part of QVMAG and can be found at the Inveresk location.
The museum is open every day and is fun for all the family. Don’t miss this off your Tassie adventure!
13. Check Out The National Automobile Museum of Tasmania
The National Automobile Museum of Tasmania is a museum containing an extensive collection of vintage, classic and modern vehicles.
It’s a great place to learn about the history of automotive engineering and design.
Among the exhibits are rare vehicles, such as a 1970 Valiant VG Pacer, and a 1928 Ford Model A – Frederick Smithies. There is an exhibit dedicated to muscle cars and another dedicated to sports vehicles in Tasmania.
The museum is a family-owned business and is the work of two motoring enthusiasts who wanted to share their rare collection with the world.
This is a must-visit museum for anyone with even a passing interest in cars.
14. Visit the Low Head Penguin Colony
If you’re looking for things to do in Launceston with kids, then take them to see the penguins on Low Head. Located on the banks of the Tamar River, a 45-minute drive outside the center of Launceston, is the Low Head Coastal Reserve.
The area is known for its penguin colony which come ashore every night to sleep.
The best time to see the penguins is between November and February, where there are estimated to be 100-200 penguins each night. They do visit every day of the year, but between March to October you may only see between 10 to 100 penguins.
15. Go Rock-Climbing at Penny Royal Adventures
Penny Royal is an adventure park known for its thrilling rock climbing facilities and cliff walk experience. If you love to climb and you’re not afraid of heights, walk across a dozen rope bridges suspended above the ground in the Penny Royal park.
If you need more adventure, launch yourself off the cliff jump which sits at 20 metres tall.
You can also go ziplining along a 100 metre wire, or climb the rock climbing walls on both their indoor and outdoor climbing walls.
This is the place to go for adventure lovers and andrenaline junkies.
16. Check Out Beaconsfield Mine & Heritage Centre
If you want to learn more about the history and heritage of Tasmania, then consider a visit to the Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre.
With interactive displays and carefully curated exhibits designed to entertain children, you can walk through the story of Tasmania’s mining industry.
It’s the perfect place for children to learn and interact with history, as exhibits require you to push buttons, pull levers and even crawl through tunnels.
17. Ziplining at Holly Banks Treetops
Another attraction in Launceston for the adrenaline junkies is the Hollybank Wilderness Adventures experience, where you can climb up into the forest canopy and zipline your way back down again.
Hollybanks is only a 20 minute drive from Launceston and offers four thrilling outdoor adventures.
Most people go for the ziplining, but you can also take segway tours through the forest, tackle the Tree Ropes course or go mountain biking.
It’s the perfect combination of adventure and nature.
18. Take a Day Trip to Cradle Mountain
Cradle Mountain is a breathtaking natural wonder and the sixth highest mountain in Tasmania. It offers some of the most spectacular hiking trails and scenic vistas in the country.
Visiting Cradle Mountain is a must-do for any nature lover. It’s the perfect opportunity to connect with the natural beauty of Tasmania.
Located in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Parks, hiking the mountain takes around 7 hours, so if you’re short on time or fancy a gentler walk, then we recommend the Dove Lake walk, which is a gentle walk around a glacial lake at the base of the mountain.
Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Launceston
So there you go, those are the best things to do in Lonnie. As you can see, there are plenty of great attractions to add to your itinerary and keep you busy for a while.
Launceston is such as special place and our trip was made all the more special by the lovely locals who took the time to share their suggestions to us.
If you’re visiting Launceston any time soon, I highly recommend you spark up a conversation with a local and see if you too can discover some hidden gems.
Disclaimer: We travelled to Tasmania as part of Tourism Tasmania’s Behind the Scenery Campaign, but all thoughts, ideas and opinions in this guide are our own.
Which one of these places in Launceston would you love to visit? Do you love to travel via tips from locals–what’s been your best experience? Let us know in the comments.