Things to Do in Launceston

Are you looking for things to do in Launceston, Tasmania? Read on, I’ve got you covered!

Launceston (Lon-ses-ten) is located on Tasmania’s northern coast, so it’s just a short hop from Melbourne and a perfect place for a few days away or for starting your Tasmanian adventure.

I’ve done both over the last three years, spending two nights here as part of a larger Tasmanian road trip, and flying in for a four-night getaway just here in Lonnie (as it is often referred to!).

Launceston sits on the Tamar River and is the gateway to the Tamar Valley wine region and beyond. It’s an easy day trip to follow the nearby Tasting Trail and there is plenty to do in the town itself.

Take a look.

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Launceston Attractions

I’ve split this list into two parts to give you things to do in Launceston itself, and the things to do outside Launceston

Ride the Chairlift at Cataract Gorge

A scenic view of a park with lush green trees, a pond, a bridge, and surrounding hills under a partly cloudy sky.

Launceston’s best-known and most-loved attraction is Cataract Gorge. It can be found right in the middle of town and is a great place to just relax for a while, or you can join in one of the activities.

You can enjoy walking trails through the gorge and get stunning views of the rock formations and the river. Ride the world’s longest single-span chairlift across the gorge for a unique perspective.

Relax by the First Basin’s swimming pool (which is the place to swim in summer – but not so inviting in the winter when I have visited) or have a picnic on the lawns, where peacocks wander.

We have also spotted dozens of wallabies and plenty of kookaburras too when we have visited.

For a bit of excitement, take a walk across the suspension bridge. With its mix of nature and leisure activities, Cataract Gorge is perfect for both relaxation and adventure.

Explore City Park

Outdoor chessboard with large black and white chess pieces on a paved area, surrounded by a low stone wall, trees, a lawn, and a yellow building in the background.

A visit to City Park is a great way to get a little green fix in the centre of the city.

I was surprised to discover a family of Japanese macaques living in the park, and enjoyed spending a little time watching their antics.

You can also visit the John Hart Conservatory, feed the duck in the pond, play some giant chess or take a ride on the train that does loops of the park.

Take a Brewery Tour at James Boag

Three beer taps are shown with labels for Boag’s XXX Ale, James Boag’s Draught, and Boag’s St George. The taps are metallic with condensation.

Since 1881, James Boag’s have been making beer right here in the same place in the centre of Launceston.

You can, of course, find their popular beers all over the country (and the world), but when in Launceston, why not take a tour to learn all about how it started – and taste some of those beers.

I am not a beer drinking, but my husband is, so I chose to go along on the tour anyway, and I found it really interesting.

I loved the tales of how it all started and enjoyed seeing how a modern brewery runs today.

The “Taste Tester” job description was eye-opening, and let’s just say, you would have to be a very special person to do the job!

At the end of the tour, we each had a small glass of three of their beers – so after a small sip on my behalf, my hubby even up with plenty of beer 🙂

Visit a Museum (or Two)

A museum exhibit featuring large dinosaur skeletons and models on display, surrounded by informative panels and visitors.

If museums are your thing – or if the weather is bad – there are a few great museums in Launceston worth visiting.

We visited the Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery Inveresk location and were pleasantly surprised with the modern displays covering a number of different aspects.

We really enjoyed the temporary exhibit on war photographers, and, as appropriate in Tasmania, the unique display on the Tasmanian Tiger.

There are a lot of interactive elements for kids, as well as a planetarium with movies under a domed screen.

Here are some of the other museums you may like to visit

Get Your Steps at the Tamar Islands Wetlands

A circular wooden building with a large awning sits by a calm lake surrounded by tall grasses under a clear blue sky.

The Tamar Island Wetlands is a nature reserve, perfect for birdwatching and exploring. It has boardwalks and trails that take you through wetlands, reed beds, and waterways.

You’ll see a variety of birds, frogs, and other wildlife. The Wetlands Centre offers information about the area’s ecology and history.

It’s a great spot for a quiet, nature-filled outing with opportunities for photography and relaxation. And of course, clocking up those 10,000 steps.

Cruise the Tamar River

A tranquil lake scene with two boats docked near a pier, surrounded by trees and buildings in the background under a clear sky.

Get a different view of Launceston, Cataract Gorge and the surrounding areas by jumping on a cruise up and down the rivers.

This 2.5-hour cruise runs either in the morning or in the afternoon and includes morning/afternoon tea, with some beer tasting for those who want to try the local drop.

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Shop at Harvest Market

A food truck serving pastries is set up at a market. The truck is blue and white with a small table and chairs in front. Signs and decorations are displayed around it. People and other stalls are visible nearby.

Every Saturday morning, from 8:30 am until 12:30 pm, you can find the Harvest Market right in the centre of Launceston.

There are a range of stalls selling fresh produce and other local products, as well as food trucks and coffee stalls with a range of delicious options.

Call in and taste your way through the market. Pick up some local products for a picnic, or grab breakfast or lunch.

We ended up with the best vegan cheese I’ve ever tasted – even my non-vegan husband thought they were delicious.

Eat at Seaport

A marina with several sailboats docked in calm water under a clear blue sky, with mountains and buildings in the background.

Seaport is a rejuvenated area of Launceston overlooking the area where the North Esk and Tamar Rivers meet. It was historically the dry dock area, but today it overlooks a marina and is home to a hotel and a handful of restaurants.

The most renowned is the fine dining “Mudbar”, which calls itself “Launceston’s premium seafood restaurant”.

We were hoping to eat at “Rupert & Hound” but discovered we were visiting during their one-week winter break.

So we ate at “Levee Food Co”, a good casual dining restaurant with nice-sized meals at reasonable prices.

You can also find fish’n’chips, Indian, a cocktail bar and more.

Entertain the Kids at Penny Royal Adventures

We sadly didn’t get to Penny Royal Adventures, but it will certainly be on our list next time when I am able to do more of the activities – it certainly seems to be one of the best fun things to do in Launceston.

There are some great ropes courses and ziplining along Cataract Gorge, with rock climbing and a terrifying cliff jump, to challenge those looking for an adrenalin rush.

Add an extra degree of difficulty by doing some of these activities at night.

There is also a range of less active adventures, with a boat ride, panning for gold, a barefoot convict walk and a dark (ghost) tour.

Tickets for each activity can be bought separately, or you can buy combination passes including some of all of them.

Do a Tasting at Launceston Distillery

Interior of Launceston Distillery showing barrels, a cart with sampled products, and various distilling equipment in an industrial setting.

Located in Hangar 17 right next to the airport, Launceston Distillery uses the history of this building to enhance their own story.

Amongst all of the Ansett memorabilia are the workings of a popular whisky distillery, and visitors can call in for a tasting, or a tour and a tasting.

We did the tour to learn a little about the whisky-making process (the first time I had done a whisky tour) before tasting four varieties.

Since there were two of us, this meant we were able to taste all eight options available.

I’m no whisky connoisseur, but this was a fun way to learn a little about the history of the aviation industry in Australia, a little about making whiskey, and taste the final product.

Relax at Trevallyn Dam and Recreation Area

A large concrete dam with water cascading over it, surrounded by trees and hilly terrain under a clear blue sky.

Just minutes out of the centre of Launceston is the Trevallyn Dam, the perfect spot for a picnic, a short walk or something even more strenuous.

First, stop into the lookout area above the dam to admire the structure and learn about the process of making electricity with water, the history of the dam construction and how the local eels navigate the dam.

Here you will find picnic tables and BBQs, so this is a good place for lunch.

There are some walking tracks that leave from this area, but if you’re not up for a long walk, you can drive instead to the Deadman’s Hollow Lookout and only walk a short distance to see the view.

This area also has some mountain biking paths or longer hiking trails you can enjoy.

Things to do Around Launceston

For most of these activities, you will need to have access to a car to get around. There is almost no public transport in Launceston and even less in the surrounding areas.

Go Wine Tasting in the Tamar Valley

The Tamar Valley Wine Region is a must-visit for wine lovers, located just a short drive from Launceston.

This area is renowned for its cool-climate wines, particularly its exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Look out too for the sparkling wines, like at the well-known Jansz cellar door.

Two standout wineries to visit are Josef Chromy Wines, known for its beautiful estate and delicious tastings, and Pipers Brook Vineyard, which offers great views and another fantastic cellar door experience.

If you don’t have a designated driver, consider taking a tour instead.

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Spot Platypus at Warrawee Forest Reserve

A calm river reflects surrounding trees and shrubs in its water, framed by dense greenery on both riverbanks.

Warrawee Forest Reserve is near the town of Latrobe, around an hour from Launceston. We went here just to see platypus in the wild, and I had come across it being described as having “guaranteed sightings”.

Now we know there is nothing guaranteed about wildlife spotting. After all, I have spent hours looking for these elusive creatures in Tasmania before.

But this time we had success. Within ten minutes of walking along the banks of the Mersey River we spotted our first platypus.

We wandered the area for about two hours and probably saw ten different platypus, so our mission was certainly accomplished.

If you come here, park at the head of the mountain biking trails at the end of Shale Road then continue on by foot. We walked as far as the suspension bridge, walked across it, then turned around and came back the same way.

Look for movement in the water of the river, it will likely be a platypus.

If you are very lucky (we were on our return) you might see platypus in the river right here by the car park.

Latrobe is also home to the Australian Axeman’s Hall of Fame, which might be fun to visit (if you don’t miss the opening times as we did).

Walk to a Waterfall

A serene forest stream flows over rocks, surrounded by lush ferns and greenery. A fallen tree trunk bridges the stream, adding to the natural scene.

If you’re looking for a short walk to see one of the nearby waterfalls, Lilydale Falls is not too far out of town and only a short walk.

If you want to travel a little further to see one of Tasmania’s well-known waterfalls, make your way to Liffey Falls, around an hour from Launceston.

The walk here is around 45 minutes and it’s one of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks.

You will pass by four different waterfalls (collectively the Liffey Falls), the last of which is the one commonly known as Liffey Falls (although it’s official name is Victoria Falls).

Visit Deloraine

A bronze platypus sculpture on a rock overlooks a calm pond with a grassy shoreline, trees with autumn foliage, and a small footbridge in a park setting.

There are so many great little towns to visit within an hour or so of Launceston. I love to just potter around between them for a day and take a look around.

Deloraine was one we stopped in for lunch and a wander on our first trip to Tasmania. We searched for platypus along the Meander River, sadly finding only bronze statues.

They have a lovely main street to wander along, and if you happen to be here in October, you may just find yourself amongst the largest craft market in Australia.

Some of the other nearby towns you may like to explore:

  • Westbury
  • Railton

See the Sheffield Murals

A blue building with red-framed windows hosts a gallery and cafe, featuring murals of blacksmiths at work. A person sits outside near potted plants, and the sky above is cloudy.

I could add this to the list of towns above, but I thought it deserved it’s own mention, especially if you street art and murals. Sheffield is famous for its murals and the annual Mural Fest.

The town is adorned with over 160 murals, each telling unique stories about the local history, culture, and community.

Mural Fest, held in November, brings together artists who create more large-scale artworks in a public competition.

Visitors can watch the artists in action, explore the town’s colourful streets, and vote for their favourite mural.

This festival transforms Sheffield into an open-air gallery and visitors all year round can explore.

We spent a couple of hours strolling around the town looking for the murals – although it’s not too hard, they are everywhere!

Go Purple at Bridestowe Lavender Estate

This is another attraction I’ve not yet personally been to, but I have seen Bridestowe Lavender Estate all over Instagram.

The best time to visit is when the lavender is in bloom, so roughly from December to February, so that you can see that distinctive purple colour blanketing the landscape.

You can still visit at other times though. They offer a farm tour and a make-your-own products workshop.

They have a shop where you can buy their products, and you can still wander the farm, including the areas of native vegetation where you may spot some native wildlife.

Hollybank Forest Ziplining

This is another cool adventure activity just outside of Launceston. Great for active teens of those that just like a bit of excitement to add to their trip.

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Remember Beaconsfield

A display of vintage industrial machinery with large gears, rods, and a pump rod sign, set in a brick building with large windows.

Anyone who spent two weeks watching with bated breath as two miners were rescued here in 2006 is surely curious about this place.

Gold was first discovered here at Beaconsfield in 1847 and continued to be mined up until 2012, making it one of the most productive goldmines of its time.

Today the Beaconsfield Mine Site, 40 minutes from Launceston, is no longer an active mine, but a heritage centre and museum dedicated to the mine and the people who worked here.

Platypus House or Seahorse World?

A platypus swimming underwater next to a log and small pebbles in an aquarium.

Or both?

At Beauty Point, about 45 minutes from Launceston, you can visit Platypus House and/or Seahorse World.

I chose Platypus House in line with my search for all things platypus on my trips to Tasmania but will take a look at Seahorse World next time I am in the area.

The one-hour tour was a great overview of both the platypus and the echidna, including feeding them at the end.

Fun fact – did you know the male platypus has a spur near his back legs that can inject a venom strong enough to make a human very sick?

As our guide says “It won’t kill you, but you will wish you were dead!” So there you go, an Aussie animal that won’t kill you

Admire the Low Head Lighthouse & Penguins

A white lighthouse with a red stripe near a small white building on grassy land, overlooking the sea under a clear blue sky.

Drive all the way to the Bass Strait coast (only about 45 minutes) to admire the Low Head Lighthouse.

If you come out here late in the afternoon, you may be able to join in on a Low Head Penguin Tour which takes place each day at sunset.

You will have a chance to see the Little Penguins come in from the sea for the day and return to their burrows as the sun goes down.

The best time of year to come is November to February, as there are likely to be more penguins then.

Call in to Grindelwald Swiss Village

A quaint village plaza with European-style buildings, including a clock tower, shops, and outdoor seating under umbrellas on a sunny day.

No, I’m not lost, there is a replica of the famous Swiss town right here outside of Launceston.

Okay, so not really a replica, but a cute little town square in the German/Swiss style with some activities such as mini golf, go-karts and a pirate ship for the kids to enjoy.

We stopped in and grabbed a coffee while browsing some of the stores. There are a number of eateries here too.

Day trip to Cradle Mountain

A small wooden boathouse sits at the edge of a tranquil lake surrounded by dense shrubs and mist-covered hills in the background.

In all honesty, I would tell you to at least stay overnight at Cradle Mountain, but if you only have one day, then it is a perfectly doable day trip from Launceston, around 2 hours each way.

Cradle Mountain is almost a whole post in itself because there are quite a few things to do (we spent three nights there) but I recommend at least hiking around Dove Lake, and visiting Devils@Cradle to see the Tassie Devils.

If you don’t have your own transport, then you can do a day tour from Launceston, which will show you the beauty of Cradle Mountain as well as a few fun stops along the way.

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Tips for Visiting Launceston

A serene riverside scene at dawn with outdoor tables, a pathway, and light frost on the grass. The calm river reflects the clear morning sky, while hills and buildings are visible in the distance.

Launceston is a decent-sized town with a population of a bit under 90,000 people. It is the second-largest city in Tasmania after Hobart and is the main hub in the north of the state.

You will find almost everything here that you would expect to find in other major Australian towns and cities.

The best time to visit Launceston (and Tasmania) is summer, so from November to April would be great months.

Having said that, I visited in April and July, and while cold, it was still possible to do all we wanted to.

Launceston has an airport with easy flights from Melbourne, Sydney and beyond. It’s only a few few minutes out of town and is small, so on arrival you will be out of there quickly.

Taxis from the airport into town have a recommended price and there is a big sign outside the terminal telling you what those prices are.

At the time of my last visit (July 2024) they were $39 from 6 am to 8 pm, Monday to Friday, and $47 at other times. If you want to download a taxi app, search for “Taxis Launceston” in the app store.

Taxi fare board showing $39 Airport to City from Mon-Fri 6am-8pm and $47 from 8pm-6am, weekends, and public holidays. Also includes a website, app info, and a note mentioning no surge pricing.

I recommend hiring a car (from the airport) rather than taking taxis, to make exploring easier and allow you to travel further afield.

We hired our can through RentalCars.com

We found Launceston more expensive than the mainland for most things, particularly fuel and food, so include a little extra on the budget when visiting.

Phone coverage in Launceston was good, but note that as soon as you get up into the surrounding hills (like at Trevellyn Dam for example) it becomes patchy simply because of the geography.

Much of the city centre has free wifi. Look out for the signs on the ground in public areas like the City Park, Seaport or the Brisbane Street Mall (and likely many more places).

It can get cold in Launceston. During my stay in July, daytime temperatures were 8-10 degrees, and overnight it got as low as -4 degrees.

So, is Launceston worth visiting? I think so. It made a great location for a long weekend getaway, easy to fly into, and plenty of things to do in the area while still being very relaxing.

Visiting more of Tasmania? Read these posts next
3 Week Tasmania Self-Drive Itinerary
A Port Arthur Day Trip from Hobart, Tasmania
Visiting MONA, Tasmania

TRAVEL PLANNING ESSENTIALS

Find flights – I always use Skyscanner as my starting point when searching for flights. One search will give many options including airlines I may not have thought of. This means I can find the best possible flights to suit my needs

Book accommodation – my go to is always Booking.com for the best places to stay. It’s not just hotels anymore, but hostels, apartments, B&Bs and more. I love that the bookings are usually cancellable, and that I can book now and pay later.

Hire a rental carRentalCars.com is my go to here. It allows me to do just one search and it finds cars from many of the different supplies, so no checking multiple websites to compare.

Get travel insurance – you would have heard by now that saying “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel”. If we’ve learnt anything from the last couple of years it should be how essential travel insurance is. I use CoverMore for my insurance.

Pick up an eSIM – I tried an eSIM on my last trip and it was fantastic. I set it up before I went so it was ready as soon as I landed, and I still had access to my home number for emergencies. Get your own eSIM at Airalo.

Book activities, tours & attractions – I use a few different websites for this. Viator and Get Your Guide tend to be the first places I look. In Asia, Klook often has more options, and in Australia it’s Experience Oz.

Manage your money – the best way to manage your different currencies is with an account from Wise. You can hold money in many different currencies, and use them with the ATM card or from your phone.