Reflections at Home Point on the Tamar River, Tasmania

Things to do in  Launceston

The foodie capital of Tasmania

The second city of Tasmania, Launceston is the quiet gateway to the many attractions throughout the island’s north. But the city is also an endearing destination in its own right, with plenty of things to do—Cataract Gorge, city parks, and the local heritage architecture, to name a few. Launceston’s reputation as a foodie destination has grown in leaps and bounds, thanks partly to its proximity to Tamar Valley wineries, earning the city the label of UNESCO City of Gastronomy.

Top 15 attractions in Launceston

Tamar Valley

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The Tamar Valley, situated on Launceston’s doorstep, stretches north to the sea at George Town. This lush, fertile area of emerald hills, orchards, and, perhaps most importantly, vineyards, serves as Tasmania’s prime wine-producing region, known for its pinot noir, riesling, and chardonnay. Spectacular views abound.More

Cradle Mountain

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With its jagged dolerite peaks standing watch over a trio of glacial lakes, Cradle Mountain is the grand centerpiece of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. Part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Tasmania Wilderness, the natural landmark also marks the north end of the famous Overland Track.More

Cataract Gorge Reserve

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The magnificent Cataract Gorge, a river gorge on the South Esk River right at the edge of Launceston, offers a wealth of outdoor recreation that feels a world away from the city. The reserve is home to the First Basin outdoor swimming pool, the world’s longest single-span chairlift, and a Victorian-era landscaped garden.More

Gunns Plains Caves

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You can thank a possum for introducing humans to Gunns Plains Caves, which were discovered by a local Tasmanian hunter when he chased the possum into a hole and instead emerged in a cave. While we’ll never know if he actually found the shrewd, cave-dwelling possum, what we do know is that in only 12 years it went from being an unknown cave to a popular Tasmania State Reserve, established in 1918. When you first descend down into the cave, the subterranean , water-carved beauty is instantly seen in the calcite shawls and large, shimmering flowstones. The sound of water trickling across limestone can still be heard in the cave, and crayfish, eels, and even platypus still splash in the underground river. During daily tours of Gunns Plains Caves, guides will point out the different formations that have slowly formed over time—from the Wedding Cake and Golden Fleece to others with comical, spot-on names that closely fit their appearance. Learn this history of how these caves were gradually formed over time, and marvel at how this wonderland is so magically different—almost surreal—when compared to life above ground.More

Leven Canyon

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Northwestern Tasmania has some of Australia’s most stunning wilderness scenery, although much of it is only accessible by hiking for multiple days at a time. At spectacular Leven Canyon, however, just minutes from the town of Nietta, experiencing this miraculous, mountainous majesty is as easy as taking a 20 minute stroll through pristine Australian bush. Located in Leven Canyon Reserve, Leven Canyon is a forested cleft that drops nearly 1,000 vertical feet to the Leven River below. At Cruickshanks Lookout, walk from the parking lot out to a platform that hangs out over the canyon, and offers a sweeping, panoramic view of the Leven Canyon Basin. Straight ahead is Black Bluff, a tree-covered mountain that at 4,400 ft. is often snowcapped in winter, and while visitors with even the slightest fear of heights might get nervous out on the platform, the epic view and fresh mountain air make the entire experience worth it. To complete the loop trail back to the car, continue on the aptly named Forest Stairs, where nearly 700 stairs link up with a trail that loops its way back to the parking lot. For a completely different vantage point, hike the Canyon Floor walk to the rushing Leven River, where you can continue on for 30 more minutes to the scenic Devil’s Elbow. Here you’re immersed in a wilderness setting that’s virtually remained untouched, and only a moderate 1 hour stroll away from where you parked. You’ll also find tracks to cascading falls and all-day trails to the summits, so whether you’re an avid, outdoorsy hiker or simply in search of a stroll, Leven Canyon is a wilderness site that travelers of all ages can enjoy.More

Bay of Fires

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Stretching across the northeastern coast of Tasmania from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point, the Bay of Fires is known for its orange-hued granite and white-sand beaches. Here, you can go hiking, camping, boating, birdwatching, fishing, swimming, and surfing.More

Launceston City Park

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Launceston City Park, a historic patch of green in the town’s heart, was developed by the local horticultural society in the 1820s. Today, the gardens are a tranquil oasis of European and native trees, with a duck pond, Victorian fountain, conservatory, playground, bandstand, and a Japanese macaque enclosure gifted from Japan.More
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Josef Chromy Wines

Josef Chromy Wines

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Maybe it’s the landscape, or simply the Pinot Noir, but there’s something intrinsically magical and charming about Josef Chromy Wines. Set 10 minutes outside of Launceston on Tasmania’s northern coast, the winery itself is housed inside an estate from 1880, and views stretch out towards the rolling hills and slopes that are covered in vines. Cozy up to the log fire that’s always burning inside, and sample the Pinot and Chardonnay that the winery is famously known for. The vineyard’s founder, Josef Chromy, is legendary in the food and wine industry throughout Australia and beyond, and for those who know him, it’s little surprise that the Josef Chromy restaurant and winery have attracted the attention of Australia’s top critics who all offer rave reviews. As the Tamar Valley’s most notable vineyard, Josef Chromy Wines offers visitors a range of exceptional culinary experiences, from basic tastings at the cellar door to tours pairing wine and chocolate. For a full experience at the winery and restaurant, join a tour that goes “behind the label” for a glimpse of the winemaking process, which is then followed up by an exquisite meal that’s perfectly paired with the wine.More

Convict Trail

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Extending between Richmond and Port Arthur, the Convict Trail traces the history of Australia— which was initially founded as a convict settlement—back to its origin. Learn about how convicts developed the country’s infrastructure as you pass some of the tallest and most-scenic sea cliffs on the planet.More
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James Boag Brewery

James Boag Brewery

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The historic Tamar Hotel, built in 1826, today houses the beer fans' haven known as Boag’s Centre for Beer Lovers (Boag’s Brewery). The experience takes visitors through the history of the brewing company, founded by James Boag and his son in 1883, while offering a behind-the-scenes look at the brewing process.More
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Grindelwald Swiss Village

Grindelwald Swiss Village

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Offering a taste of Switzerland on the opposite side of the world, Northern Tasmania’s Grindelwald Swiss Village is an actual residential village as well as a tourist destination with eateries, attractions for kids, and shopping at the Tamar Valley Resort. Built in the 1980s by a Dutch businessman, Grindelwald is modeled on a Swiss town of the same name.More
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Clarendon House

Clarendon House

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Set on the banks of Tasmania’s South Esk River, Clarendon House is a stately 3-story Georgian house considered one of Australia’s finest heritage estates. It lies on over 17 acres (7 hectares) of parkland and has a walled garden, servants’ quarters, farm buildings, and the Australian Fly Fishing Museum.More
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Home Hill Devonport

Home Hill Devonport

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Behind the pretty white façade and flower-filled gardens of Home Hill, Devonport, lies one of Tasmania’s most important heritage properties. Built in 1916, this was the home of former Australian Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, where he lived with his wife Dame Enid Lyons, herself Australia’s first elected female parliament member, and their 12 children.Today, Home Hill has been preserved in period style and displays an impressive collection of personal items belonging to the Lyons family, along with original wallpapers and furnishings, and historic artifacts relating to their political careers. Open to visitors by guided tour only, the house offers a glimpse into life in early 20th-century Tasmania, as well as a fascinating insight into the life of a Prime Minster.More
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Platypus House

Platypus House

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At Platypus House, get a close-up look at Tasmanian platypuses and echidnas, two uniquely Australian “monotreme” mammals. Learn about their biology at the center, and watch the animals play in a natural environment set on the Tamar River.More
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Launceston Planetarium

Launceston Planetarium

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The Launceston Planetarium is part of the Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery (QVMAG) within Launceston’s Inveresk neighborhood. Various films and projections related to astronomy, space exploration, navigation, and natural history are projected onto the domed screens of the planetarium. Although it’s located within the broader QVMAG, visitors can see the planetarium independently if they prefer.More

All about Launceston

When to visit

Take advantage of Tasmania’s mild summers with a visit to Launceston between December and February. Not only is it the perfect time for outdoor sightseeing around the city and beyond, but summer also brings some of the city’s best festivals, including Mona Foma in February. Summertime is the busiest time for Launceston; however, try early-to-mid autumn around April to beat the crowds and catch the Tamar Valley’s grape harvest.

Traveler tips

Unlike in many riverside cities, the risk of flooding means options for dining along Launceston’s riverfront are limited; the fine dining at local institution Stillwater Restaurant is the most popular pick for this, but bookings are highly encouraged. Another Launceston culinary experience not to miss is the Harvest Market held on Saturday mornings.

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People Also Ask

Getting around

Metro buses can take you around many parts of the small city of Launceston, but check first to see if you can take advantage of the free Tiger Bus services that operate to major city landmarks, including Cataract Gorge. Visitors will generally find that most parts of the city center are easy enough to reach on foot. Shuttle buses are the only alternative to taxis and ride shares for traveling to/from Launceston Airport.

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What can you do in Launceston for a day?

With one day in Launceston, start with a stroll through leafy City Park before popping into Design Tasmania to admire the contemporary woodwork on display inside. After a coffee and a bite to eat at one of the local cafes, continue along the Tamar River to see the natural scenery of Cataract Gorge.

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Is Launceston worth going to?

Yes, Launceston is worth visiting if you want to see what northern Tasmania offers. Launceston is home to a rich food, brewing, and wine scene. The city also serves as the region’s cultural capital thanks to several standout museums, such as the Queen Victoria Museum at Inveresk.

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What is Launceston best known for?

Launceston is best known for being the second largest city in Tasmania and one of Australia’s most liveable regional cities. The city is commonly associated with the popular Australian beer James Boag, brewed there, and its most famous attraction is Cataract Gorge on the South Esk River.

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How many days is enough in Launceston?

Two days in Launceston are recommended. Spend the first day walking around Cataract Gorge and sampling the local food scene. Follow that up with city museums and the James Boag Brewery. Allow more time to visit the Tamar Valley and Brickendon Estate.

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How long is the walk at Cataract Gorge?

The First Basin Loop walk at Cataract Gorge is 0.6 miles (900 meters) and is graded as easy with only a gentle incline. But there are many walks at Cataract Gorge, including ones from Royal Park in the city center to the First Basin.

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Can you do a day trip from Launceston to Cradle Mountain?

Yes, it is possible and quite common to do a day trip from Launceston to Cradle Mountain. Travelers can make the day trip independently or with a tour. It takes roughly 2 hours to drive from Launceston to the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre.

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