Metro Tasmania operates local bus services that can easily get you around Launceston. Single and day-trip tickets can be purchased on-board with cash. Single tickets remain valid for 90 minutes. There's also a free tourist bus, with pickup points in the major tourist locations. The bus runs along two different 30-minute loops, the City Explorer and the River Explorer.
Being so compact, there's really no need to hire a car unless you plan to travel further afield. Whilst it's best to book car hire ahead, if you don't, it's easy to book at the airport or at a city rental office once you arrive. Get a map and you're ready to go. Even the CBD is easy to drive around.
Launceston is a wonderful city to walk around with so much beautiful architecture to admire and a river offering great up-close views. The CBD is also easy to navigate. As well as the brilliant walkway all the way to Cataract Gorge, there are three different Launceston Heritage Walks, all wheelchair and pram-accessible, starting from Civic Square.
There are plenty of taxis in Launceston to save you time and make travel easy. Hail a taxi on the street or book ahead by phone. Taxi ranks are located in major city locations. Taxi Combined Services is a commonly used taxi company. Alternatively, Regency VIP Hire Cars offer full and half-day car tours out of Launceston.
Launceston has a cool, temperate climate and unlike much of Australia it reflects the four distinct seasons. Located in a hilly and mountainous area, the weather can change quickly, so layers are ideal. Temperatures generally range from 12°C to 24°C in summer with very low humidity, and 3°C to 13°C in winter. Launceston is quite sunny, so remember to pack sunblock.
There are three different time zones in Australia. Launceston and all of Tasmania operate on Eastern Standard Time (EST), usually ten hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+10.00). During the summer months Daylight Saving Time is observed, when the time shifts one hour forward (GMT+11.00). The time zone in Tasmania is always the same as New South Wales and Victoria.
Like most of Australia, Launceston has a mainly informal sense of dress. If you head out at night though, keep in mind that some venues may not accept thongs. Choose nice, casual style over board shorts. Pack lightweight layering clothes for summer and sunblock if you plan to be outdoors. In the winter, pack sweaters, jeans and a heavy coat.
The Launceston Airport is a fairly small regional airfield located on the outskirts of the city. While not as busy as Hobart Airport, you can still take flights directly to the city when flying with Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin from selected cities. Once you arrive, it's about a 20-minute drive into the centre of Launceston.
Get there in 1 hour, 35 minutes direct with Virgin, or in 3 hours, 25 minutes via Melbourne with Qantas.
Get there in a minimum of 6 hours, 10 minutes via Melbourne, or in 8 hours, 40 minutes via Sydney with Virgin
Get there in 1 hour, 5 minutes direct with Jetstar, Virgin or Qantas.
The airport shuttle bus provides regular services between Launceston Airport and the CBD, as well as the surrounding regions. The shuttle meets all flights, seven days a week, with a one-way ticket costing $15 and a return ticket costing $25. Discounts for groups are available and bookings are recommended. The shuttle can also do pickups from most suburbs and hotels.
If you are looking to get around Launceston and its surrounding areas at your own pace, your best option may be to hire a car at the airport. You can choose from a wide selection of top car hire companies, pick the best vehicle and then drive straight to your accommodation without the hassle of waiting for a shuttle bus or the price of a taxi trip.
A taxi rank is located on the ground level outside the airport terminal building. A one-way ride into the city centre will generally cost $30 to $35. A $2 levy is added to all airport fares. If you need to get cash out before leaving the airport, there are a number of ATMs on the ground level inside the terminal.
The 15-minute walk from town is the best way to visit Cataract Gorge. The bushlands, cliffs and tumbling waters offer amazing sights, with a few different walking tracks allowing you to really explore the area. There's an outdoor swimming pool, picnic spots, a fine dining restaurant, cafe and kiosk. At First Basin you'll find the world's longest single-span chairlift and a footbridge.
Beer lovers rejoice. Launceston is the proud home of James Boag, ‘Tasmania's finest', as the slogan goes. Established by Scotsman James Boag in 1881, today Boag's Brewery opens its doors to tourists, offering a one-hour Discovery Tour and a slightly longer Beer Lovers Tour, both including tastings. The Centre for Beer Lovers museum is free, presenting the story behind it all.
Discover Tasmania's history and identity at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG), the cultural heart of Launceston. The guardian of a fantastic collection of Australian colonial art, post-1945 craft and design, Tasmanian natural history and a special convict collection, another fascinating must-see exhibit is the planetarium. The museum is located on two sites: Royal Park and Inveresk.
The oldest wine region in Tasmania, the Tamar Valley is full of cool climate vineyards, cellar doors, and character-filled cafes and restaurants serving fresh, local gourmet bites to match. The Tamar Valley Wine Route winds past 32 wineries within easy reach of Launceston. If you can't drive yourself, join a bus tour or hire a limousine or taxi so you don't miss out.
Look no further than Hallam's Waterfront for spectacular views along the Tamar River's edge and a seafood specialty that'll make your mouth water. Offering both wild and farmed Tasmanian-sourced seafood, the tasty lobster and crayfish are standouts. Situated in a renovated early 20th century tea-room style building, a gourmet fish and chip takeaway section is also attached to the restaurant.
For great pub fare that far surpasses your traditional pub offerings, head to Royal on George, one of Launceston's oldest pubs. Established in 1852 as the Royal Hotel, the historic building was recently renovated, artfully merging old with new. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the menu includes wood-fired pizzas, pastas, salads, substantial meat dishes, light starters and an all-day breakfast. There's dessert too.
226 Charles Street With a deserved reputation for outstanding pastries, Tant Pour Tant is a French patisserie that challenges you to choose between its delicious croissants, tarts, baguettes, cakes, sweets and artisan and organic breads. Serving coffee, light breakfast and lunch, the space is very cosy with just a few tables inside and on the footpath. Everything is made fresh on the premises.
Set in the heritage-listed Colonial on Elizabeth complex, Three Steps on George is a lovely restaurant and wine bar with a contemporary twist. Choose between the intimate upstairs dining area, the alfresco garden area or the relaxed downstairs lounge area complete with log fire, perfect for the winter. Offering mainly modern Australian cuisine, the bistro fare comes with a friendly smile.
One of the oldest pubs in Tasmania, The Royal Oak Hotel was first licensed in 1851. Historic and full of character, despite the alleged ghost sightings, the friendly atmosphere makes this a great pub to drop by at any time of the day. At least three nights a week there's live music playing.
Offering two separate bars to suit your mood, Hotel New York's front bar is the low-key option, with plush leather lounges to kick back on while enjoying local and interstate acts. For a more upbeat dance and club scene, head out back with the DJs and pumping lights to party the night away.
One of four bars at Country Club Tasmania, Tonic Bar is a modern and stylish spot to spend the night. Located in parkland on the fringe of Launceston, the drinks menu is worth the distance. With delicious cocktails, a premium wine list and Launceston's largest selection of tap beer, there's also a great selection of tapas.
New on the Launceston nightlife scene, Manhattan Wine Bar is already an award winner. With an impressive beer, wine and cocktail menu, as well as a great selection of food, from tapas to pizza, salads and desserts, the word is out. A funky outdoor laneway and large leather booths inside create a unique, chic setting in the heart of the city.
Leisurely make your way to Charles Street, at the south of the CBD. Here's you'll find the ‘cafe precinct' and many great options for breakfast and coffee. Once you're fuelled up for the day, amble north along Charles Street towards the city centre, which is set out in a grid system around Brisbane Street Mall. Take the time to explore the many laneways and arcades around the city and then find your way to Civic Square. This is the starting point for the lovely 15-minute walk to Cataract Gorge, a Launceston Heritage Walk that's been aptly titled Government to Gorge. When you arrive at Cataract Gorge, go for a dip in the outdoor swimming pool to cool down and then refuel with a bite to eat at the restaurant, cafe or kiosk. Now it's time to explore the walking trails, take the chair lift for a different point of view and don't miss the suspended bridge. Head back into town to relax before a nice dinner out in the CBD.
Start the day at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery for an interesting encounter with Tasmania's history and character. Spread across two different locations, make sure you take the time to visit both and don't miss the planetarium. If you have a love for cars, on your way back to the city stop at the National Automobile Museum of Tasmania, just opposite the City Park. Grab a bite to eat nearby then embark on one of the other two Launceston Heritage Walks – the Rags to Riches Walk or the Merchants and Machinery Walk. Fill the rest of your afternoon with some local shopping in one of the city malls or arcades. Once it's dark, head to the Princess Theatre for a drama, dance or comedy act and take in the night.
Head to Seaport in the morning and choose from one of the river cruises along the Tamar River. Australia's longest navigable estuarine river, there are many natural coves and protected inlets that provide a home to many native water birds, which you'll only get the chance to see from the water. Cruise past vineyards and farms and into the Cataract Gorge for unique view from the bottom of the soaring cliffs. At the end of the cruise, stroll around Seaport and grab a late lunch from one of the many great restaurants in the precinct. Explore the marina and the boardwalk before heading to Boag's Brewery. Then dress up for some cocktails and a fun night out.
If you don't have a hire car, hire a taxi or limousine for the day or join one of the bus tours that'll take you for a ride along the Tamar Valley Wine Route. Stop at the many wineries and cellar doors, taste the gourmet local produce and admire the beauty of the Northern Tasmanian countryside – including pretty lavender fields. Keep an eye out for local art galleries, historic settlements, strawberry farms and walking trails to waterfalls and gorges. You can even fish in the Tamar River if you have a line to throw in.
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