Launceston, Tasmania travel guide and things to do: 20 reasons to visit

1. FEAST ALL DAY

You can't visit Launceston without enjoying a meal at the much-lauded Stillwater restaurant, picturesquely housed in a restored riverside flour mill. The difficult decision is, which meal will it be? While reservations are recommended for the popular dinner shift – expect exquisite dishes such as local abalone teamed with black vinegar noodles in roasted squid broth – it is worth booking in a breakfast as well. Looking out over the water on a sunny morning, with a rye waffle topped with smoked Huon salmon in front of you, it is hard to think of a better way to start the day. Stillwater.com.au

2. TEST DRIVE A NEW BREW

Look away from the wall of bottled beer. Yes, we know it's hard, especially when there are more than 170 different drops on display. But at Saint John Craft Beer Bar, there are plenty of other liquid treasures to try. These guys are serious about their beer and have a rotating selection of top Aussie drops on tap. Some of the names may be familiar, but you are bound to encounter something new, such as Boatrocker's sour raspberry Berliner Weisse. saintjohncraftbeer.com.au

3. TAKE TO THE TREETOPS

There are plenty of places in Tasmania where you can walk through verdant forests, but fewer where you can fly through the trees. At Hollybanks Treetop Adventure, explore the forest at canopy-level with a three-hour ziplining adventure. Whizzing from one platform to the next, at about 30 metres above the forest floor, is a very different bush experience. Not a speed demon? They also offer a two-hour ropes course that will have you balancing on tightropes and crawling through nets. treetopsadventure.com.au

4. DISCOVER TASMANIAN DESIGN

You have been warned: once you step into Design Tasmania's inviting shop, on the corner of Tamar and Brisbane streets, your chances of walking out without a purchase are close to zero. Showcasing the work of artisans from right around the island, Design Tasmania's display tables and shelves are filled with every sort of precious object from wooden bowls made of salvaged Huon pine to delicate sterling silver jewellery and hand-blown glass bowls. designtasmania.com.au

5. WAKE UP IN A STYLISH HAVEN

With just a handful of suites and pavilions, the Hatherley Birrell Collection nonetheless manages to offer the proverbial something for everyone. Fans of contemporary design will want to check into the sleek Magnolia Garden Pavilion, which also features an al fresco bath carved from volcanic stone. Prefer something more old school? Then opt for the dramatic Ballroom, colonial grandeur at its best, complete with high ceilings, a marble fireplace and an ornate gilt mirror. hatherley.com.au

6. BUY UP BIG AT HARVEST MARKET

Bring a hearty appetite with you when you head for this Saturday morning market; with so many providores on site, you will be buying up big. Don't miss the hot-smoked salmon from 41 Degrees South Salmon Farm; leatherwood, eucalyptus or manuka honey from Tasmania Honey; or the very simplest of pleasures: freshly baked sourdough from Apiece teamed with mouth-watering butter from Tasmania Butter Co. Fill up your picnic basket and you're good to go. harvestmarket.org.au

7. WALK ON WATER

Okay, it's not so much walking on water as by the water, but a guided tour with Walk Cataract Gorge is still a memorable experience. Strolling the bush-fringed slopes of Cataract Gorge, one of Launceston's favourite playgrounds, is always a delight; do it in the company of one of the company's informed guides and you will gain unexpected insights into the area's history as well as its flora and fauna. The company can also organise bespoke half-day and full-day hikes in the area. walkcataractgorge.com.au

8. JOIN TASMANIA'S BIGGEST PARTY

For a decade now, MONA's Mofo has been Tasmania's most famous festival, an ever-surprising collection of art, music and random events. This year, for the first time, the festival took place in Launceston, which MONA is looking to adopt as Mofo's permanent home. Locals are excited to see what next year will bring, following this year's arresting dance and musical performances and the sight of 1000 people hitting the streets in pink onesies. mona.net.au

9. HANG WITH THE HIPSTERS

You know those inviting hipster cafes, where meals are served on vintage crockery and where they offer a barter system to people who bring in the excess lemons or tomatoes from their gardens? Every town should have one, and in Launceston's case, that is Bryher Cafe. The menu changes constantly, but dishes to look out for are the Scotch egg made with black pudding, the chicken liver parfait and the homemade cakes. bryherfood.com/cafe

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10. BRING ON THE BUBBLY

If you love a glass of something sparkling, you have come to the right place. The wineries around Launceston, including Jansz and House of Arras, are known for producing some of Australia's best sparkling wines. Clover Hill has just unveiled a sleek new cellar door which is also one of the area's best places to grab a bite to eat. Grab a glass or two of your favourite sparkling, a bowl of mussels with chorizo or a Roaring 40s cheese soufflé, and settle in for a leisurely lunch. cloverhillwines.com.au

11. GO KAYAKING

Tasmania's crystal-clear rivers are made for kayaking, and Launceston's Tamar River is no exception. Tasmanian Safaris offers guided kayaking tours using Hobie canoes, which are powered by your legs rather than by your arms. That not only makes it easier for beginners, who sometimes struggle to find their paddling rhythm, it also leaves your hands free to take plenty of photos along the way. tasmaniansafaris.com

12. BROWSE THE BOOKSHELVES

It is a way out of town, but book lovers will be glad to make the journey to one of Tasmania's most famous bookstores. The Book Cellar in Campbell Town is best known for its lovely setting, in the cellars of an 1830s coaching inn, once the home of convicts who were labouring to build a nearby bridge. However, what is on the shelves is just as impressive, with the owners carefully curating a fascinating mix of new and second-hand volumes, with an emphasis on books about Tasmania. bookcellar.com.au

13. EAT ON YOUR FEET

It is the guilt-free way to explore Launceston's foodie scene: a tour that lets you walk off the kilojoules as you travel from one gourmet hotspot to another. Taste Walk Talk offers two- and four-hour walking tours, which give you the opportunity to meet local producers, chefs and café owners, as well as tasting some delicious treats. Alternatively, there is also a pre-dinner option which lets you sample a range of local beers, wines and ciders in some of the city's best watering holes. tastewalktalk.com

14. FEEL SPOOKED OUT

Are you one of those people who loves a good scare? Then have we got the tour for you. Like much of Australia, Launceston has some dark episodes in its past, and Launceston Ghost Tours relives some of the most bloodcurdling tales. As you walk these deceptively elegant streets, you will hear stories of all kinds of villains, from murderers to thieves, and their unfortunate victims. The tour comes in two versions: one that is family-friendly, and another that is adults-only. launcestonghosttours.com.au/

15. SAMPLE SOME CIDER

When it comes to boutique beverages, Tasmania is booming, with its acclaimed whisky makers and proliferating craft brewers. The quintessential drink of the Apple Isle, however, remains cider, and the Red Brick Road Ciderhouse is the place to try out the latest drops. Ask what's on tap this month: the bar often features one-off drinks, such as a Toffee Apple Cider made with Granny Smith apples fermented in oak barrels. redbrickroadcider.com.au

16. HIT THE TRACK

Mountain-biking fans flock to Launceston, drawn by its many trails. Top picks include the Blue Derby area, set amid magnificent old-growth forest, where riders of every level can find a trail that challenges them. Other popular options include Kate Reed Reserve and Trevallyn Reserve, the latter recommended only for those with experience. mountainbiketasmania.com.au

17. SHARE SOME SMALL PLATES

Geronimo is a stylish diner in Charles Street. Order up some share plates – a big charcuterie platter or a selection of small bites – and the evening will be off to a good start. Just be aware that there may come a time when someone tries to keep a meal all to themselves. If it happens to be the gnocchi with apple and walnuts, we won't be at all surprised. geronimorestaurant.com.au

18. MEET A WINEMAKER

One of the great delights of visiting the small, family-run wineries around Launceston is that you will often find the winemaker manning the cellar door. One of our favourites is Sinapius, dedicated to doing things the old-fashioned way. Owners Vaughn and Linda make some superb wines, from aromatic whites (try Clem, named after one of their daughters) to three different single-block pinot noirs, each with a distinct flavour that reflects the soil on which it was grown. sinapius.com.au

19. SAVOUR SOME CHOCOLATE

You don't need us to convince you to try some of Cocobean Chocolate's handmade delicacies; just peep through the window at the handmade pralines and truffles and you will be sold. If you do need a little extra convincing, know that these little morsels use only the best local ingredients, from Ashgrove milk and cream to Lark Distillery whisky and coffee from Ritual Coffee. Cocobeanchocolate.com.au

20. INDULGE AT FESTIVALE

Great food, great music and a great setting in the lovely City Park: no wonder that Festivale, held every February, is everyone's favourite summer festival. Get in early to sign up for one of the cooking classes or special dinners, or just graze your way through a stellar selection of stalls, manned by Tassie's best growers and producers. Food, wine, whisky, beer and more – and did we mention concerts by some of Australia's top performers? festivale.com.au

Ute Junker travelled courtesy of Tourism Tasmania.

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