A Wineglass Bay hike had Anna’s name all over it, in her own words she ‘likes her bays like she likes her wine… in a wineglass’. With mist-shrouded mountainscapes and the most brilliant hues of water she’s ever seen, it’s safe to say she’s going back for seconds… 

We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Pydairrerme people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.


At just a hop, skip, and a jump from Sydney, I’m not sure how Tasmania eluded my adventure radar for so long. Underrated? Certainly not, people have been shouting about the little Aussie gem for years and for very good reason – bursting with wineries, distilleries, snow-laced mountainscapes, and alllll the trails you could wish for.


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I was lucky enough to be invited to explore the East Coast with the gang from AllTrails, who showed me and a bunch of other adventure lovers one of the best hiking regions – Freycinet National Park. Given that these guys explore the world’s best trails for a living they did not disappoint with their suggestion of the Wineglass Bay Walk.

Quick Overview

Freycinet National Park served up a tasty – yet conquerable – 9.3km hike. We tackled the stair-laden Wineglass Bay Walk, which encompassed a hike up to the Wineglass Bay Lookout and then a hike down to the squeaky white sand and crystal waters of the bay itself.


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The stairs that get you to the most photographed beach in Tassie


The trail is located a 2.5-hour drive from Hobart or 55 minutes from Swansea, a quaint seaside village with so much charm it makes for a great base point. As a grade 3 walk, it takes between 2-3 hours to complete, but with a campsite at the base and a raft of other trails at your fingertips, I could have stayed and explored for days.

Wineglass Bay Walk Facts

Distance: 9.3km return
Duration: 2.5-3 hours
Elevation gain: 411m elevation gain
Nearest town: Swansea

Wineglass Bay Walk Map

Peep more info on AllTrails

About Wineglass Bay

Ok, so Wineglass Bay is kind of a big deal, in fact, it’s been heralded as the ‘star of Freycinet National Park’. If you haven’t heard of it, you will have undoubtedly seen images of the iconic curved bay plastered across tourism boards all over the country – it’s not hard to see why.


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Of course we all love a bay titled ‘Wineglass’


The first part of the hike to the lookout was relatively busy, but the good news is, most people were going to the lookout and turning around, so once you’ve dodged a few too many selfie sticks and start your decline down to the bay, the crowds start to thin out. By the time we reached the bottom there were just a handful of people on the sprawling beach and just a single solitary tent pitched at the campsite – ahhh the serenity.

Wineglass Bay History

A full bay of wine? Consider my bag packed and my straw at the ready. While the name Wineglass Bay certainly sounds appealing, the history behind the name is sadly far more macabre.

Originally, the Freycinet Peninsula was the home of the Pydairrerme people, who for over 30,000 years lived off the rich bounties that nature provided.

In 1802, the land was renamed after the de Freycinet brothers, who had joined French explorer Nicholas Baudin on an expedition to map the coast of the south of Australia and Tasmania (then known as Van Diemen’s Land).

During the 1800s, the bay was turned into a whaling site, and after harpooning the animals they’d bring them back to shore to butcher them – their blood turning the clear waters red, like wine in a glass.

Luckily for us, and the whales, Freycinet was declared a national park in 1916 and now, 107 years later, nature has well and truly reclaimed the beautiful landscape.

How to Get to Wineglass Bay

Smack bang in the middle of the east coast, you’ll find Wineglass Bay around a 2.5-hour drive from both Launceston and Hobart, making it an easy stop if you’re tackling the scenic coastline route.

There are plenty of tour companies who offer buses and even cruises to Wineglass Bay, but if you’re planning on sticking around to explore more of the surrounding national park, or want to play on your own schedule, the best way to get to Wineglass Bay is by car.

Wineglass Bay Walk starts at Coles Bay, tracks its way up to the Wineglass Bay Lookout, then down between the towering peaks of Mt Atmos and Mt Mayson until you reach the beach. There’s a car park at Coles Bay for easy access to the start of the hike.


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Park the car and head to Coles Bay Lookout before drinking in views of Wineglass Bay

Where to Stay Near Wineglass Bay

While you can easily tackle the drive from Hobart or Launceston before your hike, it’ll eat into your exploration time, so Swansea (just a 55-minute drive) is a great base if you’re keen to get the most of the full Freycinet experience or be there in time for a sunrise you’ll never forget.

The town itself is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it seaside village on the banks of Great Oyster Bay, overlooking the Hazards Mountains of Freycinet National Park.

With spectacular beaches, a tiny population, and a host of wineries and eateries nearby – this little township has way more to offer than you first expect.

Grab a kayak, hire a boat, swim in the crystal clear waters at your choice of secluded beaches, or soak up some of the best views of Freycinet National Park from the shoreline – I seriously considered buying a beach shack and never returning to the mainland.

For a small place, it has a lot of accommodation options, from small motor inns and pub stays, right through to cottages and the incredible Piermont Retreat – a collection of water-fronting stone cottages that feel so European I thought I’d been transported to a seaside village in the UK or Italy.


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The quaint escape of Piermont Retreat


If you’re keen to make it an overnighter and sleep at the foothills of Freycinet National Park, there are three small free campsites within the park on offer – at Wineglass Bay, Hazards, and Cooks Beaches. There are composting toilets at each site, but water is limited, so ensure you pack plenty.

While there are no fires allowed in the national park, gas and fuel stoves are allowed provided there’s no fire ban in place – the area is highly vulnerable to fire, so don’t chance it.

Read more: Explore Safely in Bushfire Season

Be sure to get a booking (they’re popular!), register yourself as an overnight hiker, and get a park pass from Parks Tasmania before your trip.

Skill Level

Beginner – Intermediate 

While the 9.3km return Wineglass Bay Hike isn’t a hugely challenging walk, there are a lot of stairs and the elevation means a fair level of fitness is advisable.

Essential Gear for the Wineglass Bay Walk

  • Hiking shoes
  • Rain jacket
  • Swimmers
  • Water bottle
  • Backpack (for snacks)
  • Camera
  • Camping gear (if you’re staying the night)

Read more: Packing List for a Day Hike

What it’s Like to Hike the Wineglass Bay Walk

Waking up early, I started the day with a morning kayak of Oyster Bay. With the towering peaks of the Hazards mountains on the horizon and a soft, misty fog still clinging to the surface, I was blown away by just how clear the water was, and how much we’d lucked out with another glorious day dawning, ready for our Wineglass Bay adventure.

Read more: Paddle the Freycinet Peninsula

After a boujee overnight stay at Swansea’s incredible Piermont Retreat we were loaded into a bus driven by the most legendary tour bus driver I’ve ever met, and hit the road for the 55-minute drive to Freycinet National Park.

Arriving at the well-maintained Coles Bay car park, my heart sank a little at the sight of other tour buses and hikers getting ready to embark upward. It wasn’t super busy, but it was winter – I can only imagine what it would be like during peak season.

Read more: Climb Mt Amos in Freycinet National Park

As one of the top ten beaches in the world and the most photographed beach in all of Tasmania, had I really expected to get this little gem all to myself?

Sure, that would have been great, but after all here I am encouraging you guys to get out and explore because that’s what we do – we want to share these places, so everyone has a chance to witness the spectacular landscapes.

So, while trying to maintain distance between hiking groups we started the incline to the lookout, the paths here were incredibly well-maintained, cloaked by scrubby bushland and towering rock formations.


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The start meanders past rugged bush, refusing to give away the paradise that hides behind it


The first section of the walk to the lookout was picturesque, but it was the second section that was the real pinch-me moment. Overlooking the wild coastline and the iconic wineglass-shaped bay, I was in awe of the magnitude of my surroundings.

I felt small and unimportant in the shadows of mother nature’s creation – pink granite mountains shrouded in mist, red-tinged rocks being splashed by the most brilliant blue ocean I’d ever seen, and white sand that was so pure it squeaked as we trekked our way along the shoreline.


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Seaweed and fungi collabed to paint orange lichen on these rocks


Despite the crowds above us, only a few ventured down to the bay itself, and the landscape remained pristine and secluded – with just a single tent pitched at the Wineglass Bay Overnight Walker Campsite I was kicking myself I hadn’t packed my gear. The boujee hotel was amazing, but sleeping at the foothills of Freycinet National Park would have been a life-long highlight.

Next time, I’ll be packing the tent and making a full trip of it – making my way along the rugged peaks of the Hazards Mountains, and looking back toward Oyster Bay from the other side… until then!

Read more: 3 Day Freycinet Peninsula Circuit

Tips For Hiking Wineglass Bay

  • Weather conditions in Tasmania are unpredictable at best – while we totally lucked out, it can be cool and windy on the beach side of the walk. Make sure you bring layers and a lightweight rain jacket in case
  • Take your camera, this is one you’ll want to capture
  • For the best experience, visit in winter to avoid huge crowds
  • In hot weather, be mindful of snakes, particularly at the base of Wineglass Beach where the bushland is a little more overgrown – can confirm we saw a bigun.

Read more: Keep Yourself Safe Around Snakes 


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Wineglass Bay Walk FAQs

How long does the Wineglass Bay Walk take?

The Wineglass Bay Walk takes 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on how often you spend gazing at the view.

How far is the Wineglass Bay Walk?

The walk is 9.3 km return.

When’s the best time of year to do the Wineglass Bay Walk?

October through to April, which is also the best time to visit Tasmania in general as it’s warmer.

Is the Wineglass Bay Walk steep or hilly?

There are a fair amount of steps on the Wineglass Bay walk as you pass through the mountain saddle. With 411m of elevation gain you will need a decent level of fitness to complete the walk, some people just walk to the Wineglass Bay lookout.

Can you camp on the Wineglass Bay Walk?

You can book a campsite at the overnight walkers camp or even plan to do the full three-day walk.

Is the Wineglass Bay Walk free?

While the walk itself is free, entry fees to Freycinet National Park apply. These are around $40 per day for each vehicle, or $90 for the year.


Lead photo by Luke Tscharke

The author was a guest for this article so that they could try all of the experiences for themself. Check out our Editorial Standards for more info on how we approach these partnerships.