It’s just after 8 am and hundreds of tents line the street of Salamanca. Each vendor hurriedly prepares for the curious crowd of customers that visit on Saturday mornings. It’s particularly brisk as the cool Antarctic breeze gently reminds everyone that August is not summer in this part of the world; in fact, August is in the dead of winter in Tasmania…yet even with clouds looming overhead and bone-chilling wind—the city is alive as ever and Salamanca Market is booming.
The multitude of sights, smells, sounds, textures, and tastes are stimulating and bordering on sensory overload: golden and happy daffodils, the refreshing zest of citrus, the saccharine sweetness of breakfast pastries filling the air, the sizzle of pan-fried mushrooms and sausages. It should be a discordance, a cacophony from the crowd, but all the sights and sounds are complemented by the live folk music, creating a unique and soothing atmosphere.
It’s got that particular zing and warmth—something that welcomes and beckons you in: Salamanca Market is a community.
The vintage salesmen overlook their treasures from another time. The farmers proudly announce their blushing apples are on sale. “Say, have you tried the truffle oil?” One vendor asks with glee. We’re greeted with smiling faces and invitations—”Please sample our local gin!” and, “Get your coffee—hot coffee—over here! Freeeesshly roasted in Tasmania.” Never have we been to a place that excites all of our senses in such a way. The few hours that we spend wandering the market are, in our opinion, the best way to start a Saturday.
Whether you’re one of the lucky ones to be living in Tasmania or you’re just coming for a quick trip, a stop at Hobart’s Salamanca Market on Saturday mornings is a must. Here’s all you need to know!
Named after Salamanca in Spain, the buildings that line the street (the first one dating back to 1831 and most of the rest built in the 1840s) were originally used as whaling industry warehouses, as well as home to grain, penguin fat, timber, and a collection of imported goods. Today, you can see giant pots on the Salamanca Lawns—an artifact left over from when whale blubber was boiled out in the open.
When the whaling industry collapsed, the Salamanca area took on a seedy reputation; the warehouses became home to smoky taverns, shipping agents, and even a brothel. However, in 1973 the State Government purchased several of the warehouses to turn into a sort of artist colony. Over the years it’s transformed to be a hip place to hang out with galleries, some of the best restaurants in Hobart, and bars.
The market was first held in 1972 and at that time only had a handful of traders. It’s only grown since then and Salamanca is now one of the best and biggest markets in Australia.
Anything and everything! Salamanca Market offers a compendium of goodies as you zigzag through the crowds. You’ll find tons of unique items from local artisans and Tassie-produced goods—which make for excellent gifts to bring back home or sweet mementos from your time in Hobart (whether you live in Tasmania or somewhere else in the world).
As one of the biggest markets in Australia, it comes as no surprise to us at just how many different booths there are—with over 300 stalls, you’ll find things from gorgeous Tasmanian timbers to Aboriginal artwork to wool sweaters and socks (perfect for Tassie’s infamous cold fronts) and even handcrafted candles and lotions.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the stunning ceramics and leather goods, the bespoke jewels, knick-knacks highlighting local flora and fauna, fun trinkets and odd knobs, and tons of Tassie memorabilia (featuring thylacines, wombats, echidnas, and devils, of course!).
And don’t even get us started on the vast selection of food stalls… There’s a dizzying amount of alcoholic beverages—from wine to gin (tons of gin!!), whiskey and vodka, ciders a plenty, and several craft beer stalls. Your taste buds will dance in delight as you sample everything from custard-filled donuts to wallaby burritos and even Tassie scallop pies! Top it all off with a shot of espresso or a block of local cheese, and you are set for the afternoon!
Tassie is a HUGE destination for whiskey and gin, and it’s totally acceptable to sample a few even at 10 am…so come thirsty!
But wait, there’s more!
Honestly, the list goes on and on!
If you’re staying in the area around Hobart, you can Uber in—which might be easier than finding parking. However, if you get there early enough, there is all-day parking available for $12. Or there is a free Salamanca Shuttle Bus which takes you from the Hobart city center—the bus runs every 10 minutes from 9 am until 2 pm.
Since living in Tasmania, we’ve frequented this market quite a few times and have found a few personal favorites. While we highly suggest taking a stroll through the market and discovering which stalls you love for yourself, here are a few we fancy.
The market goes on rain or shine (it’s open every Saturday except for Anzac Day on April 25, and Christmas Day). Both weather conditions have their perks—on rainy days it’s usually not very crowded, however, if the weather is especially dreary, not all the booths will be open. Since it can get pretty chilly, we think this is a good opportunity to warm up with some gin or a hot beverage! Though on especially sunny days and when cruise ships come into port, the market will be packed (usually November to February). And don’t forget to apply sunscreen!
We’d suggest getting there as early as possible to avoid the crowds (about 8:30 or 9 am), as things start to pick up around 10-10:30 or so. For the latecomers, the market begins to wind down around 2 pm and closes at 3 pm, so make sure not to sleep in *too* late. 😉
While there, we highly suggest talking to the vendors and artisans—learn about their trade, things going on within Tasmania (we learned all about how the climate has impacted bees over the past few years), and listen to their story! Connect with the locals, they are more than happy to share.
If possible, bring cash! While most places will accept cards, sometimes cash is just easier. Plus, if you’re not from Australia you can get to see how pretty the money is. There are a few ATMs around the area—check the map to find the one closest to you.
Bring your own bag or basket or get a reusable market tote bag at the information booth. The team at Salamanca Market is actively trying to make the market as sustainable as possible, so most places don’t offer plastic bags.
Restrooms can be found in Salamanca Square and the Salamanca Arts Centre has baby-changing facilities. Refer to the map for directions on this page!
What should you do after the market? Our go-to is wandering around the wharf and then indulging in the “Tassie Flight” of whiskey at Lark Distillery (it’s just down the road).
Won’t be in Hobart on a Saturday? Don’t worry, Tassie is chock-full of markets! Check out Farm Gate Market every Sunday (fresh food and local produce) and during the summer months there’s the Friday evening Street Eats Franko and Hobart Twilight Market (mainly food stalls and food trucks).
And hey, if you don’t make it to Salamanca Market this time, it’s always a reason to go back! 😉
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