Are you wondering when is the best time to visit Tasmania? Holiday time is precious, so it makes sense to choose your dates wisely. This guide provides an overview of Tasmania’s seasons, and tells you the best times to visit Tasmania’s iconic attractions!
Tasmanian weather in 5 words or less?
Four seasons in one day!
Tasmania is Australia’s most southerly State, and when there’s nothing between you and Antarctica you know you’re going to be in for the occasional wild ride.
But you know what? Despite the glee on a Tasmanian’s face when they tell you about “That time it snowed on Christmas day“, in the next breath they’ll be saying how amazing autumn days can be – fresh and crisp like a Tassie apple – the delightful smells of spring, and the long, temperate days of summer.
The best time to visit Tasmania?
It depends! And that’s why we’ve created this guide. Keep reading to find out the best time for you to visit Tasmania 🙂
Best season to visit Tasmania
Autumn in Tasmania
A lot of visitors to Tasmania think they need to visit in summer, or risk freezing to death.
Nothing could be further from the truth, and we think autumn – March to May – is actually the best season to visit Tasmania!
Cool, dry days and crisp nights. Eggshell-blue skies and the slow creep of red, gold and orange as the leaves start to turn. Seeing the uniquely Tasmanian ‘turning of the fagus’ is a must!
Winter in Tasmania
Winter in Tasmania is a very special time of year. As the daylight hours shorten and the temperatures fall, a hint of wood-smoke tickles the nostrils and people come to together across the state to celebrate in festivals of light, food and artistic splendour.
Mt Wellington, Ben Lomond and the Tasmanian highlands often receive dustings of snow – road trip disruptions are very unlikely – and you’ll find you have much of the State completely to yourself.
Rainfall is highest during winter – especially on the West Coast – but there’s something quite wonderful in experiencing the mossy glades and dancing waterfalls of Tasmania’s ancient rainforests with the sound of rain tapping on the leaves around you.
Spring in Tasmania
Spring is the time for change. From September through to November the land begins to wake from its winter slumber. Flowers and orchards bloom and the valleys of Tasmania are awash in more shades of green than you have ever seen in your life!
As temperatures rise you may also notice periods of strong winds – they don’t call them the ‘Roaring 40s’ for nothing! But they don’t normally hang around long – a day or two at the most – before being replaced by still days and sun showers.
If you can’t get there in autumn, we think spring is the second best season to visit Tasmania!
Summer in Tasmania
December through to February are the warmest months in Tasmania with daily average temperatures ranging from the low teens to the low/mid 20s (celsius) across the state. It’s also the driest time of year and experiences the longest daylight hours anywhere in Australia – up to 15 hours!
As you can probably guess, it is also the most popular time of year for visitors to Tasmania – including many cruise ships that temporarily inject thousands of visitors onto Hobart’s historic waterfront.
The seasonal overview above holds true for most of island, most of the time.
But when planning your Tasmanian road trip there are some regional quirks you need to know about.
The West Coast is a wild part of Tasmania, full of rushing streams, calm harbours and dense rainforest. The geography of the region is unique, and where the cold, Antarctic air meets the sharply rising West Coast Range the result is rain.
Lots of rain!
2,400mm per year is the average – most falling between April and September – with Strahan experiencing up to 20 rain days per month in the middle of winter (compared to 7 in Hobart).
Tasmania’s north-west doesn’t get anywhere near the volume of rain as the West Coast, but it cn experience very strong winds.
These are the ‘Roaring 40s’, named because they occur between 40 and 50 degrees latitude and circle the globe virtually unimpeded due to the lack of land so far south.
It’s a beautiful part of the state, so don’t let a ‘stiff breeze’ stop you from experiencing its rolling fields and wild coastline!
Best time to visit Tasmania's icons
Tasmania is renowned for its natural beauty and unusual wildlife.
Of course, you can experience these icons whenever you like, but some are at their best at particular times of the year.
If you want to plan your road trip around these Instagrammable icons then click on the sections below to find out the best times to visit Tasmania…
Cradle Mountain is spectacular whenever you visit, and it’s one location where you don’t need to be too fussy about timing.
In summer you can kayak Dove Lake at the foot of Cradle Mountain, while winter is particularly beautiful after snow has fallen on its lofty peaks.
The West Coast gets a lot of rainfall and if you’d prefer to experience Macquarie Harbour, the West Coast Wilderness Railway, or the many rainforest walking trails while (relatively) dry, you should time your visit for summer.
But…visit in autumn and you’ll see the dozens of varieties of colourful mushrooms emerging from the rainforest floor – it’s quite a sight!
The weather is so good on the East Coast that it’s a great option in all seasons.
However, Freycinet and Bay of Fires are two of Tasmania’s most popular destinations and in summer – particularly the Christmas/New Years break – they experience very high visitor numbers.
To escape the crowds consider timing your visit for outside the Christmas break.
You’ll be pleased to hear that Tasmanian Devils can be viewed year round at places like:
- Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary (Hobart/Richmond)
- Zoodoo Zoo (Hobart/Richmond)
- Trowunna Wildlife Park (Cradle Coast)
- Devils at Cradle (Cradle Coast)
- Wings Wildlife Park (Cradle Coast)
- Tasmania Zoo (Launceston)
- East Coast Nature World UnZoo (East Coast)
- Tasmanian Devil Unzoo (Tasman Peninsula)
Summer is the best time of year to visit Bridestowe Lavender Farm, or any of the other lavender farms in Tasmania.
From December through to February the long, curved rows of lavender are awash with purple – your friends and family will love the photos!
Spring is the best time to visit Table Cape Tulip Farm.
Tulips only flower for around a month, and at Table Cape this happens between late September and late October every year.
The farm is small, and they only open to the public during the flowering season, so check their opening times as spring approaches.
Don’t forget, the annual Wynyard Tulip Festival is held mid-October.
Port Arthur Historic Site is a must for your Lap of Tasmania.
You’ll be pleased to hear that there isn’t a ‘best’ time to visit, as it is fantastic year round!
Of course, if you’d prefer to maximise the chance of a dry day then try to get there in summer – but keep in mind summer is also when Port Arthur is at its busiest.
Whales are such graceful mammals, and Tasmania is incredibly privileged to lie alongside their annual migration route to and from the warm waters of Queensland.
From May through to July, and September through to November you have a chance of seeing Humpback Whales along Tasmania’s East Coast.
Southern right whales make the same journey but between June and October.
For more information on the best places for whale watching in Tasmania, see our East Coast road trip guide.
The best time of year to see the turning of the fagus is in autumn, with colours normally emerging from mid-late April through to May.
Nothofagus gunnii is its Latin name, but many call this wonderful Tasmanian tree ‘tanglefoot’, which you’ll quickly understand if you ever need to hike through a forest of these trees!
The ‘fagus’ is very special as it is Australia’s only cold climate winter-deciduous tree.
It’s tiny leaves are beautiful, and the change in colour from green, to bright red, to burnished gold is a truly unique Tasmanian experience.
Places where it is easy to see the fagus include:
- Lake Fenton (Mt Field – requires driving on an unsealed road)
- Weindorfers Forest Walk (Cradle Mountain)
- Dove Lake (Cradle Mountain)
The turning of the fagus is highly climate dependent, so it’s best to check closer to your arrival.
Best time to visit Tasmania by activity
Some activities are fine in all kinds of weather, but others need more planning.
Here we highlight the best time to visit Tasmania so you can experience Tasmania’s most popular activities.
Tasmania is the most southerly Australian state, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a swim at one of its pristine beaches.
Water temperatures on the East Coast (Bay of Fires, Bicheno and Wineglss Bay) are at their warmest in February and March, at around 18°C, while winter sees the temperature drop to around 13°C.
Other waters in the south, north and north west are typically a degree or two cooler than those on the East Coast.
Think of it as ‘refreshing’
Some of us want to see snow. Others want to avoid it.
If you do want to see snow then you’ll be happy to know that it can happen at any time!
It doesn’t happen often, but all it takes is for one big Antarctic blast to sweep up from the south in the middle of summer and you can guarantee a dusting of snow on Mt Wellington, and heavier falls up at Mt Field, Cradle Mountain, and in the highlands.
Tasmanian snow falls are notoriously unreliable and they don’t often settle on the ground, meaning they shouldn’t disrupt your road trip.
For the best chance of snow we recommend visiting in winter, from June/July through to August/September.
The best places to see the snow by car are:
- Mt Wellington summit
- Cradle Mountain
- Ben Lomond ski fields (this isn’t on the Lap of Tasmania route, but isn’t far from Launceston)
Delicious food is available year round in Tasmania, but if you want to experience the very best Tasmanian produce then we recommend planning your Lap of Tasmania road trip around the Taste of Tasmania in Hobart (January), or Festivale in Launceston (February).
Both festivals are fantastic for couples and families alike, and the range of food and drinks on offer is simply astonishing.
The Taste of Tasmania is free – and you can also watch the Sydney-to-Hobart yachts finishing their race – while Festivale requires tickets.
If you love your wines then plan to visit Tasmania in either the first week of March, to coincide with the Southern Open Vineyards Weekend (Hobart), or in November for the Effervescence Tasmania sparkling wine festival (northern and southern Tasmania).
Beer lovers will have a blast at Fresh Hop festival in April (Launceston), or the Tasmanian Microbrew Festival in September (Hobart).
Love a tipple? Whisky week is celebrated every August statewide.
Bushwalking options are plentiful around Tasmania, and the jaw-dropping scenery is one of the biggest reasons for visiting.
The best time of year for bushwalking in Tasmania is… the day you arrive!
Of course, visiting in summer means less chance of rain but so long as you pack smart and dress in layers – including a waterproof – you’ll have a blast no matter when you visit.
Summer time in Tasmania does see the East Coast swell in numbers, so if you prefer your solitude you may want to time your visit outside December/January.
The festival scene has really taken off in Tasmania.
Summer is the most popular time of year for festivals, with the Taste of Tasmania (Hobart), Festivale (Launceston), MOFO (Hobart and Launceston) and the Wooden Boat Festival (Hobart) being some of the most popular.
It has been very exciting to see the Tasmanian festival season grow and push into the traditionally quiet winter time.
Dark MOFO, the Huon Valley Mid Winter Fest and the Bay of Fires Winter Arts Festival have all proven to be very popular, and no doubt there are more new winter festivals on the horizon.
We are currently putting together a calendar of festivals and events in Tasmania – so watch this space!
School holidays in Tasmania
- Autumn: 13 April – 28 April (Easter is from 19-23 April)
- Winter: 6 July – 21 July
- Spring: 28 September – 13 October
- Summer: 20 December – 2 February 2020
And the school holidays in Tasmania in 2020 are:
- Autumn: 10 April – 26 April (Easter is from 10-14 April)
- Winter: 4 July – 19 July
- Spring: 26 September – 11 October
- Summer: 18 December through to early February 2021
The East Coast is a popular destination for locals during school holidays. Other than the East Coast you’ll find that most other regions of Tasmania don’t experience much of an increase in local visitor numbers during school holidays.
Plan your Lap of Tasmania road trip
Now that you know the best time to visit Tasmania, why not start planning your Lap of Tasmania road trip?
Maybe you’re looking for tips and advice on how to book a hire car in Tasmania?
Or if you’d like to know more about the Lap of Tasmania and how it works, we’ve got all the answers in our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
Happy road tripping!