Port Arthur is considered a must do when visiting Tasmania and can easily be done in a day trip from Hobart, or on your route around the island if you hire a car. Regardless of which option you choose, here is a suggested itinerary you can adapt to your needs.
- 7am – Depart Hobart
- Top up with fuel on the way (as much more expensive on the peninsula)
- Head to a bakery on your way out of town (I liked Banjo’s Bakery) or there are some after Sorell on the way to Port Arthur
- 9am – Arrive at Port Arthur & find a carpark (takes 1.5 hrs from Hobart with no stopping)
- 9:30am – Guided tour
- 11am – Harbour Cruise (25 min)
- 12:30pm – Lunch, toilets and leave Port Arthur
- Drive to Eagleneck Hawk
- Tessellated Pavement
- Tasman Arch
- Devil’s Kitchen
- Drive to your accommodation in the Port Arthur area or back to Hobart
Tips for visiting Port Arthur
- You don’t have to but I always recommend pre-booking your tickets online. There’s 2 queues once you arrive – the buy on the spot and pre-purchased queue (which always moves faster!)
- There’s a discount for seniors – they did ask to see the seniors card when we collected the passes
- You don’t need to pre-buy tickets far in advance, I did it only a few days before
- I recommend choosing the first visitor timeslot as the carpark is very spread out and you’ll have to walk quite a distance to get to the entry
- You can enter and leave throughout the day so if you need to ditch a jacket or grab a snack from the car you can
- I recommend doing the introductory tour that’s included in the ticket price, but I wouldn’t bother with the optional paid extra tours
- By default a 25 minute cruise around the harbour is included. I opted to walk around the buildings first (before lots of people show up and photobomb) and then do the cruise last before you leave
- You’ll get 2 tickets upon entry – separate ticket for the boat which you’ll need to show so don’t lose it!
- I recommend 3 hours max. for your visit
If you choose the first tour, you can get that iconic photo without people in it. All of the introductory tours start by standing in front of the main building (refer photo below). So if you arrive after the first tour there’ll probably be people in all of your photos.
There are various cottages that workers lived in (the Accountant, medical, etc.), the Asylum, as well as the shell of a church and ruins of what was once the medical centre.
I visited on Easter Sunday. Customer service advised me this is one of the busiest days of the year (they said they expected 2,000 people to visit). While there is about 100 people per introductory tour so I believe there would’ve been around 1,500 people that day, things are quite spread out so it didn’t feel that crowded.
The harbour cruise provides a good photo opportunity.
Isle of the dead where they buried the convicts
If you want to see the memorial garden from the 1996 shooting, it’s tucked away behind hedges along the same path you use to get to the boat for the harbour cruise (to your left after you leave the information centre).
What to wear
I visited in April (over Easter) and expected it to be freezing cold. Surprisingly it wasn’t. Jeans, a jacket and a long sleeve top was enough. However the weather in Tasmania can be unpredictable so I’d pack a second jumper just in case. I wore boots which I would not recommend. It’s deceiving the amount of walking you’ll do going into the various buildings – definitely recommend sketchers or running shoes.
Is it worth visiting?
In my opinion it was ok. I expected it to be much bigger. Whoever does the marketing photos does a good job of making the site seem quite big! Unless you choose to do some of the optional extra tours you definitely don’t need more than half a day.
After your visit, spend the afternoon stopping at the various sights in the Eagleneck Hawk area on the way back to Hobart. Or if you’re road tripping around the island (see my 10 day itinerary here), I stayed at Mason’s Cottages in Taranna which I recommend.
It really depends on the tides and time of day you visit. I wasn’t that impressed with the blowhole.
However I was impressed with the coastline:
Where to eat
There are limited food places and they close early, so I recommend bringing an Esky and buying food at the supermarket on your way through Sorell. Otherwise there are 2 convenience stores near the Port Arthur entry where you can buy an overpriced frozen meal (but obviously still cheaper than eating out).
- Best of Tasmania Road Trip (10 Day Self Drive Itinerary)
- Driving Tasmania’s Heritage Highway in Autumn (in 1 day)
- A Day at Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park & Coles Bay, Tasmania
This was day 3 of my 10 day Tasmania road trip