A historic town with easy charm, gateway to a premier wine region
Tasmania’s second-biggest city Launceston is the perfect base for exploring the island’s north and the celebrated Tamar Valley. Expect superb local produce, some of the country’s best-preserved architecture, and a thriving arts scene.
Get to the heart of the city at its Saturday morning farmers market and see its creative best at Design Tasmania and the Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery. Admire the city’s architectural history with a stroll along stunningly preserved Georgian and Victorian streetscapes. Keep an eye out for Art Deco treasures.
You’re only a hop away from Tasmania’s wilderness here. Get a taste at Cataract Gorge in the heart of the city, or go a little further afield to Narawntapu National Park, known for abundant wildlife, or Mount William National Park and its long sandy beaches.
Foodies, the rich farmland and cool-climate vineyards of the island’s north mean you’re never far away from an excellent tipple, superb dining and regional paddock-to-plate experiences.
Things to do
Local food and wine
Join the locals every Saturday at Harvest Farmers’ Market opens in new window as they stock their larders direct from local farmers and producers, with everything from fresh local seafood and summer berries to cider and artisanal dairy products. Paddock-to-plate is natural when you’re situated amidst such abundance, and Launceston’s thriving dining scene reflects the regional bounty. Book a special occasion meal at Stillwater opens in new window to sample contemporary Tasmanian cuisine, or take your tastebuds on a tour of the city’s top-notch restaurants, cafés and food trucks.
Image credit: Tourism Tasmania, Rob Burnett
One of the prettiest spots in Tasmania, renowned for its cool-climate wines, the Tamar Valley opens in new window is a perfect day trip from Launceston. The Tamar Valley Wine Route opens in new window visits over 30 wineries producing riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir and the best sparkling wines this side of Champagne. The cellar door experience, with gourmet food and stunning views, is something special – make sure to stop at Josef Chromy opens in new window, Clover Hill opens in new window and Tamar Ridge.
Image credit: Andrew Wilson
Launceston is a cultural hotspot with venues to pique the interest of any artistic type. Design Tasmania opens in new window is an edgy design hub that’s been promoting inventive Tasmanian designs to the world since 1976; view the wood collection, then browse the shop for an example to take home. Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery opens in new window boasts history and natural science collections and an extensive colonial art section. Gallery 81 opens in new window is a local artist’s showpiece, filled with landscape paintings and housing a boutique wine bar with sweeping views.
Image credit: Chris Crerar
Find wilderness just a 15-minute walk from Launceston’s city centre at Cataract Gorge Reserve opens in new window. A favourite local spot for picnics and barbeques, the park has walking trails, a suspension bridge, the world's longest single-span chairlift, a swimming pool, restaurant, café and panoramic lookouts with spectacular views. This popular urban playground includes both manicured Victorian gardens and wild bushland, so peacocks and wallabies can live side by side.
Image credit: Tourism Tasmania, Rob Burnett
Launceston’s colonial and early Victorian streetscapes are among the country’s most intact – pick up a map from the Visitor Information Centre opens in new window and take a self-guided tour. Outside the city, historic homesteads offer a vivid glimpse of rural colonial life. Woolmers Estate opens in new window, a pioneer farm of the early 1800s, is a time capsule of heritage treasures. At Clarendon Estate opens in new window, a grand Georgian Regency pile stunningly set on the South Esk River, you can explore a seven-hectare colonial complex where the heritage walled gardens, stone barn and other outbuildings were built by convicts.
Distance to city centre 15km
Taxi A taxi into Launceston will take around 15 minutes and cost about AUD $35-40.
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When to go
Launceston has a cool, mild climate with four very distinct seasons. Geographically situated in the Tamar Valley in northern Tasmania, it’s in hilly and mountainous terrain, so the weather can change markedly across a short period. Layered clothing is essential.
Choose your preferred climate: Launceston is chilly in winter, pleasant in summer. The warmest months are January and February with an average temperature ranging from 12–24°C. The coolest month is July, with an average temperature range of 2–13°C. Launceston rarely receives snowfall.
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