As of this writing, Americans are unable to visit Australia due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, so consider this story as a way to plan for future trips.

Just a two-hour flight from Sydney and Adelaide—or about 90 minutes if you’re coming from Melbourne—Tasmania, known for its laid-back pub towns, stunning natural scenery and unique convict history, has long been a favorite destination for Australian and international travelers alike. You’ll find a range of accommodations to suit every budget, from lively hostels and charming boutique hotels to familiar brands like the Crowne Plaza, Marriott, Ibis, Quest and Mantra.

Though Covid-19 has complicated things—as of this writing, only residents of Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and New Zealand are allowed to visit, though residents of New South Wales will be able to go as of November 6 and folks from Victoria as of December 1—it’s still worthy of a visit whenever it’s safe to travel again and Australia’s borders have fully reopened. Here are five of my favorite things to do there.

View Hobart From The Top Of Mount Wellington

Hop aboard the Kunanyi Mount Wellington Explorer Bus or let the Hobart Shuttle Bus Company take you on a 25-minute ride up to the lookout point at the top of Mount Wellington for fabulous 360-degree views of the city and surrounding areas. Both companies offer round-trip service from Hobart, with additional hop-on-hop-off options for those who want to catch a ride to the top and hike back down along the scenic trails.

Learn About Australia’s Unique Convict History

Australia’s history as a penal colony is no secret, and you can learn all about the men who started their lives in Tasmania as British convicts at the Port Arthur Historic Site, a UNESCO World Heritage site located about a 90-minute drive from Hobart. Take a guided tour, wander the ruins of at least 30 historic and restored buildings, stroll the heritage gardens, enjoy an included 25-minute cruise around the harbor, and contemplate what it would have been like to be transported here in the early 19th century. Closer to Hobart, the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site highlights the story of the female convict experience in the early days of colonial Australia, where women spent their days toiling over the laundry, sewing and cooking for the rest of the facility and a nearby orphanage, working their way through an established prisoner class system until their time had been served.

See Tasmanian Devils Up Close

Head to the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, located about 30-minutes north of Hobart, to get a good look at a Tasmanian Devil, a furry but ferocious little marsupial that’s native to the island. If you’re planning a day trip to Port Arthur, stop by UnZoo, about 10 minutes away in Taranna, to see these little guys in action and feed the friendly kangaroos who live in there.

Visit Salamanca Market On Saturday

Held every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Salamanca Market has been operating in Hobart since 1972, and has continued to thrive with 170 vendors participating each week and an online shopping option during the pandemic. There’s even a team of “Safety Angels” onsite to encourage social distancing and the use of provided hand sanitizers, while keeping count to make sure there are only 1,000 people in the marketplace at a time. Grab a bite from one of the food stands, then stroll through the shops while listening to live music played by local artists and musicians.

Take The Long Way There Or Back

If you’re a fan of traveling by boat, sail from Melbourne to Devonport, Tasmania, aboard the Spirit of Tasmania ferry. Once you arrive in Devonport, rent a car and explore the rest of the island or catch a Redline bus for the scenic five-hour ride to Hobart via Launceston. Doing the trip in reverse is also a good option, with onboard restaurants, cinemas, live music and reclining seats to make sure you get a good night’s sleep if you don’t want to spring for a private cabin.

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