I lived in Melbourne for five months and compiled a list of the best day trips from Melbourne after speaking to locals and other travellers alike! Since I was on a tight budget and am a solo traveller (you’re best off sharing costs on a rental car), I didn’t make it to ALL the places on this list… so I asked some travel bloggers and Australian locals to advise about their own day trips!
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On the below list are famous natural attractions, hidden gems you might not have heard of, and fascinating cities and historical towns that don’t always get the attention they deserve. And yes, there are many gorgeous coastal views to hunt for, too, not to mention the miles of Australian wilderness waiting to be discovered.
To help you plan which Melbourne day trip is best for you, I’ve split this list up into sections based on travel time:
- Day trips within 1 hour of Melbourne
- Day trips within 2 hours of Melbourne
- Day trips within 3 hours of Melbourne
- Day trips within 4 hours of Melbourne
- Stops along the Great Ocean Road
Of course, these drive times are all estimates, and the journey could take much longer (or potentially shorter) depending on whether you’re travelling by car, tour, or during weekends or off-peak times. Always allow extra time!
Similarly, while the longer driving distances are still doable (and often quite popular) as day trips, you may prefer to make some of the lengthier getaways into a weekend trip.
Day Trips within 1 hour of Melbourne:
by Audrey from See Geelong
There’s no doubt Melbourne is a great city to visit with many fantastic attractions to keep visitors busy. But if you’d like to get out of the city for a while, the waterfront in Geelong is the perfect destination for a relaxing day trip.
Just an hour from Melbourne by car, train or ferry, Geelong is Victoria’s second-largest city. But with its friendly locals and relaxed atmosphere, it retains its small-town vibe. The north-facing waterfront with its spectacular views is the star attraction here, drawing visitors from around the country.
The vibrant, modern area is filled with cafes, bars, restaurants, public artworks, fun activities for kids and adults (helicopter rides!), and markets and festivals if you come on the right day.
A highlight of any visit to the Geelong foreshore is Eastern Beach. Located at the eastern end of the waterfront, the precinct is home to the iconic promenade and shark-proof swimming enclosure.
The whole area is covered in a lush lawn with a playground, kiddies pool, barbecues, and an art deco pavilion with change rooms and a café. Some of the famous Geelong Baywalk Bollards are located here, and visitors can enjoy a ride on the Giant Skywheel for views across Geelong and Corio Bay all the way to the Melbourne City skyline.
Got a special occasion coming up? Balloon flights in Geelong are currently available for 2022 and 2023.
by Shandos from Travelnuity
One of the top day trips from Melbourne is a day trip to the Yarra Valley. This beautiful wine-growing region is just over an hour northeast of the Melbourne CBD and is well known for its premium cool climate wines.
To get to the Yarra Valley, it’s best to self-drive or else hop on one of the many wine tasting tours heading to the area, whether a private tour or as part of a larger group. (There are even dog-friendly tours on offer!) Some cellar doors may require advance booking (and perhaps charge a tasting fee), so plan your itinerary for the day in advance.
Don’t also miss out on enjoying lunch at one of the great restaurants located in the region. The Innocent Bystander in Healesville is always a good choice, or else book a charcuterie and cheese platter at a cellar door. Other top choices for your day trip include enjoying a gin tasting at Four Pillars Gin or sampling the cheese (and taking plenty home) from Yarra Valley Dairy.
Potentially a very short drive from the city, since the peninsula technically starts from Frankston suburb, this area is a hotbed of sights and attractions for adventurous Melburnians. If you want to travel to the tip of the peninsula, you can expect a drive closer to one hour, and forty minutes.
There’s so much to do down the peninsula this could be a weekend trip or done on multiple-day trips! Take your pick from wineries, stately homes, gorgeous lighthouses and blue, blue coastline. Other highlights include pampering yourself at the Peninsula Hot Springs or taking in the marvellous viewpoints at Point Nepean National Park
I based my day trip around the gorgeous Cape Schanck and the beautiful blues of Sorrento which I highly recommend, but for more ideas read my full list of things to do in the Mornington Peninsula.
by Abbie from One World Wonderer
It’s a location like no other. Dandenong is equally as multicultural, artsy, and food-obsessed as other locations around Melbourne, yet Mount Dandenong replaces the throngs of bustling streets and overindulgence with a gentle, inviting misty-covered calm.
The scenic mountain is located a mere 35km from Melbourne’s CBD but is a world away from life as a Melbournite. It’s fringed with forests and nature and wildlife that offer some of the most stunning picnic spots and parklands in all of Victoria. Mount Dandenong is also home to cosy, historic cafes like Miss Marple’s Tearooms and the popular Paperbark Cafe, speciality shops located along the tree-lined streets of Olinda, and panoramic views over greater Melbourne and Dandenong Ranges, like those offered at the famous SkyHigh.
A perfect day in Mount Dandenong starts with an early reservation at either the Olinda Tea House or Brunch, followed by a walk through the George Tindale Gardens or Alfred Nichols Gardens (why not both?). With time to spare before lunch, you can catch a ride on Australia’s favourite steam train: Puffing Billy, while snapping awesome photos of the views over Melbourne. If culture is what you’re into, the Aboriginal-inspired sculptures hidden in the ferny glades of William Ricketts Sanctuary are a sure way to blow your mind and learn all about the history of Australia.
Lunch is served with a delicious pie at Pie in the Sky, followed by an artsy shop in Olinda or at one of the many weekend markets. If hiking is your thing, you can end the day with a trip up the popular 1,000 steps Kokoda Track Memorial Walk, or appreciate more of nature around one of the many walking trails near Grants Picnic Ground.
Whether you’re visiting on holiday or you’re a local day-tripper, you love to travel solo or with family or friends, the Dandenong Ranges is sure to fascinate you every time. And with an abundance of activities and food stops, why wouldn’t you go?
Pro tip: Mount Dandenong is often much colder and wetter than Melbourne. Bring a coat, umbrella, or even a snow jacket in winter (yet, it really snows!) so you’re prepared for everything.
Day Trips within 2 hours of Melbourne:
by Paula from Australia Your Way
Ballarat is the perfect day trip from Melbourne for history lovers. The land here was laced with gold and once it was discovered in the 1850s, people rushed from around the world to find their fortune.
The history of this wealth is evident in the buildings that line the main street with grand hotels and shopfronts that have been lovingly restored. Be sure to spend some time wandering around Lydiard Street, where you will find the Ballarat Gallery and the beautiful George Hotel. If you visit in spring, I highly recommend a short visit to Ballarat Botanic Garden.
The best way to learn more about Ballarat’s history is to spend some time at Sovereign Hill. One of the most popular attractions in Victoria, Sovereign Hill, is a living history museum, a reconstruction of Ballarat in the height of the gold rush. You can try your hand at gold panning, chat to the local shopkeepers and watch the blacksmith at work. You can purchase Sovereign Hill entry tickets here.
When hunger strikes, I suggest visiting one of the local pubs; there are plenty to choose from. We loved the PWTN – also known as The Pub With Two Names, for delicious local food at affordable prices.
Ballarat is 90 minutes from Melbourne. A comfortable 117km driver or train ride from Southern Cross station, where a shuttle bus will transport you to Sovereign Hill.
By Helena from HelenaBradbury.com
Just a two-hour drive from Melbourne, Phillip Island is an excellent opportunity to escape the city and see the best of what the Gippsland region offers.
Phillip Island is most famous for its penguin colony, which can be seen all year round from Penguin Parade. But if you’re not looking to spend the money on a ticket, then head to the Nobbies instead. The Nobbies is an area of the headland on the west of the island, and there’s a boardwalk from which you can often see penguins and fur seals!
Talk a walk along the dramatic Woolamai Surf Beach to the Pinnacles Lookout. This walk is an easy 2 hours return with amazing cliff-top views over the beach and rock formations.
As well as coastal walks, Phillip Island has an astounding number of activities for such a small island. If you fancy a treat, there are great wineries to visit at Phillip Island Winery or Purple Hen Winery. For something more family-friendly, check out the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory or the Phillip Island Wildlife Park, which has free-roaming kangaroos.
For a fantastic day trip from Melbourne that covers all the Phillip Island highlights, check out this eco-tour that takes you to Brighton Beach, Moonlit Sanctuary Conversation Park for koalas and other Aussie wildlife, and finish your day watching hundreds of penguins waddle towards the ocean.
CATHEDRAL RANGE STATE PARK
by Neil Fahey
Cathedral Range State Park, just over an hour and a half northeast of Melbourne, is a favourite spot for hikers, rock climbers and campers. Hiking is the most popular activity in the park, with trails ranging from 2 kilometres to around 30 kilometres. For the less fit and agile, Friends Nature Trail (2km/1hr) gives a good snapshot of the flora and fauna of the park. My favourite trail is the challenging Southern Circuit (9km/5hrs), which features a spectacular almost rock climb up Sugarloaf Peak for views across the surrounding valleys.
While you’re in Buxton, you could stop at the Igloo Roadhouse and try the famous Buxton Burger. If a burger isn’t what you’re after, there are some quality pubs, restaurants and cafes in Healesville for a stop on the way there or back.
REDWOOD FOREST EAST WARBURTON
The Redwood Forest East Warburton is around a 90-minute drive from Melbourne. My friend and I took a picnic and relaxed among the tall trees. It’s also worth enjoying one of the forest trails or
You could combine it with a visit to the Dandenong Ranges (just 45 minutes from Melbourne and directly on the way), see it on the way to the Yarra Valley or simply swim in a river on the way back instead.
I opted for the third option: on the way to the forest, we stopped for coffee when someone told us we could swim in the river there in Warburton. This is Yarra River. It winds itself through the city of Melbourne, but winos might prefer to follow it in the other direction – the river stretches 242km through the Yarra Vallery, which is famous for wineries!
This fairytale-like redwood forest is a lovely and unique day trip, and while a little further afield from the city, it’s also one of the most instagrammable places in Melbourne.
Day Trips within 3 hours of Melbourne:
WILSON’S PROMONTORY NATIONAL PARK
by Tam from Travelling Tam
Wilsons Promontory National Park is one of the most spectacular day trips from Melbourne, ideal for when you want a complete break from the city. Wilsons Prom has great hiking, magnificent coastal views and some of the whitest sand and clearest water in Victoria. A refuge to many wild animals, you may also see kangaroos, wombats, echidnas and emus!
If the weather permits, a hike to the top of Mount Oberon via the steep 3.4km summit track is absolutely recommended for 360-degree views of the National Park. Be prepared to bring plenty of water (and also your own lunch and snacks) for your trip. And, if it’s warm – swimwear so you can cool down in the appealing coves.
It will take about three hours to drive from Melbourne to reach the Prom. Therefore it is wise to get up at the crack of dawn and head there early to ensure you manage to get a full day of activities in.
For a breath of fresh air and an active day trip, mainland Australia’s southernmost point is hard to beat.
By Natalie & Steve from Curious Campers
It might only be a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Melbourne to Echuca, but as you walk along the historic wharf precinct, it feels like you have gone back to the late 1800s.
Echuca is on the banks of the River Murray. The town has done an impressive job preserving its river heritage making it a great place to spend a day. Your first stop should be the Echuca Wharf Precinct. The Discovery Centre has a fun range of displays – something for young and old.
Make sure you book a ride on a Paddle Steamer; there are lots of options to choose from. The sound and smell of the old boats churning along the river is a fun and relaxing way to see the area.
The main street of Echuca is also a lot of fun. The multi-storied Beechworth Bakery is a must for lunch or afternoon tea or both. There are old-style sweet, chocolate and ice cream shops. Mixed in with them are contemporary cafes and restaurants.
The Great Aussie Beer Shed and National Holden Museum are also popular spots. The Beer Shed is full of not only beer memorabilia but a range of other iconic Aussie brands and old farm Equipment.
If you are after a wildlife fix, Kyabram Fauna Park is 10 minutes from Echuca. It is a great little park where you can get up close to a range of native birds and animals.
by Mark from Wyld Family Travel
Walhalla is located in the hills behind the Latrobe Valley in Gippsland east of Melbourne. Walhalla is an old colonial gold mining town from the late 1800’s. Walhalla was one of the top gold-producing towns in Australia at the time. In the proceeding years towards the early 1980′, Walhalla was nearly reclaimed by the forest and bush fires.
Today Walhalla is one of the top attractions in the area featuring the Walhalla Goldfields Railway, The Long Tunnel Mine, the Historic Cemetery and the original Colonial-era building. There is a picturesque stream and bbq area available for your visit to Walhalla.
The Star hotel is a popular place for visitors to stay while free camping is also available.
Day Trips within 4 hours of Melbourne:
VICTORIA SILO ART TRAIL
by Chelsea from BRB Busy Living Life
The Victorian Silo Art Trail has quickly become an extremely popular tourist attraction in regional Victoria. Since 2015, people from all over Victoria and Australia have been travelling to see these unique painted silos in the flesh.
Located approximately 3.5 hours from Melbourne, the Silo Artwork in Rupanyup begins the trail.
After visiting the Rupanyup Silo, you will pass by another 7 beautifully painted silos; each with its own unique artwork and story. To complete the entire trail, it takes about 10-12 hours round trip back to Melbourne.
Each Silo was painted by both Australian and international artists and aims to tell the story of the local community and farming region. What is so great about the Victorian Silo Art Trail is that it is totally free to visit and always open!
While on your road trip, it is always an option to support the local towns in which you visit by popping in for lunch or a coffee after checking out the silos. Who knows, you might even bump into one of the painted community members while you’re grabbing your cuppa!
METUNG, LAKES ENTRANCE
by Sally from Our 3 Kids v The World
Lakes Entrance is a small coastal town located 4 hours from Melbourne in East Gippsland and is home to Ninety Mile Beach, a pristine stretch of coastline facing the Tasman Sea. Lakes Entrance is best known for its inland waterways, Gippsland Lakes has a variety of wildlife including dolphins, seals, and pelicans and is a popular area for fishing enthusiasts. Lakes Entrance is not all about the coast though, it’s surrounded by amazing fresh and local produce, fabulous wineries and bespoke cheese makers. The top attraction is Lakes Entrance Segway, the only segway experience in the world that takes you along the beach, in this case, the picturesque Ninety Mile Beach.
Just a short 20min drive from Lakes Entrance is the gorgeous village hamlet of Metung. You’ll fall in love with the village as you drive in through Chinaman’s Creek with the bush surrounds and little piers with various yachts and boats for hire. Traditionally a fishing village, inland on the Gippsland Lakes this gorgeous little village is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Currently under construction is the Metung Hot Springs with stage 1 opening in December 2020. You’ll never see sunrises more glorious, make sure you visit the waterfront Metung Hotel at dusk for dinner and a sunset show like no other.
by Bec from Wyld Family Travel
Many visitors to Australia and to be honest even Aussie’s themselves love Koalas. Seeing them brings a joy that so many want to experience and at Raymond Island, you will find so much joy looking for these amazing little creatures.
Located approximately 3 hours and 50 minutes from Melbourne this is one of the best places to see Koalas in the wild and it’s totally free. Getting to Raymond Island is a journey in itself. Driving you to arrive at a town called Paynesville, located on the Gippsland Lakes it is picturesque and a great place for a stop, some fresh fish and chips before catching the ferry to Raymond Island.
The ferry takes a whopping 5 minutes to cross the small stretch of water and it’s free if you are on foot or have a bike. Cars are $13 if you need to take one which is a great idea to see more of the island.
Once you are on the island you can park your car and go on foot around the Raymond Island Koala walk. There is an information board in the park on where to walk and how to see them. You are also able to purchase a little information booklet for $2.
Raymond Island is a beautiful place to spend the day walking to see the koalas, maybe even an echidna. If you have a car you can drive around the island and have a swim at one of the most beautiful secluded beaches.
This is a mighty day trip but can be done despite the 3.5-hour drive. Try and time your drive back for sunset to heighten your chance of seeing kangaroos. For me, the highlights of this day trip were the wild animals I encountered: wild emus, wild kangaroos and… a brown snake! Gotta say, it’s pretty weird when one of the world’s most dangerous snakes casually slithers out in front of you – it’s said to be the second most venomous land snake in the world!
I was advised Mackenzie Falls was the must-see of The Grampians and they certainly didn’t disappoint. There are also plenty of drive-able lookout points that give you an amazing idea of how beautiful the Aussie hinterlands are, though camping or hiking is assuredly the best way to make the most of Victoria’s breathtaking scenery.
Stops along the GREAT OCEAN ROAD…
Possibly illegal to not include this on a list of day trips from Melbourne and with good reason, since the pristine coastline and towering rainforests alike are absolutely gorgeous before you even consider the more famous attractions, the most popular of which is surely the 12 Apostles. Although I sadly was not able to do the Great Ocean Road while living in Melbourne, I did visit one spot below – Lorne – which I was able to reach by train and bus.
by Natasha from the Great Ocean Road Collective
Known as the gateway to the Great Ocean Road, the hip town of Torquay is just a quick 1.5-hour drive from Melbourne and the perfect day trip from the CBD. This quintessential Australian surf town is known for its epic beaches, such as Bells Beach and Jan Juc Beach. Here, you can explore the seaside along the Surf Coast Walk, which is 44 kilometres of multi-use trails. The walk has multiple access points, so you can control how long or short you’re trip will be.
If walking is less your thing, try out a surf lesson with the Torquay Surf Academy, enjoy a swim in the ocean or simply watch from the beach. If you need a break from the sun, head to the Surf World Museum, where you’ll get to look at old boards and learn cool facts about Australian surf culture.
Regarding food and drinks, Torquay restaurants are one of a kind. For electric surf-shack vibes, check-out Cafe Moby for brunch. Located on Esplanade, they serve fresh food sourced as locally as possible. When it comes to drinks, Blackmans Brewery and Bells Beach Brewing have a great selection of local brews. If you’re more of a wine lover, Bellbrae Estates is worth the visit as the Great Ocean Road’s only winery.
Either way, whether you spend your day at the beach, walking the trails, or sipping a drink, you’re sure to love Torquay.
by Joshua from Australian Dad
If you want to escape Melbourne for beach time and stunning scenery, Anglesea is a great option, only an easy 1.5-hour drive from the city. Located towards the start of the Great Ocean Road, there are many attractions to visit nearby and in the town itself. It has a relaxed vibe, perfect for chilling and beach getaways but also lovely for winter bush break.
Your first stops should be at the Bellbrae Estate for some wine tasting and the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie And Ice Creamery on your way into town. Here, you can watch their chocolates being made, taste some for yourself and stock up on some for your stay.
Once in town, you can splash at the beach, go surfing or hike along the Surf Coast Walk that can take you all the way to Aireys Inlet. Another great spot to chill and enjoy nature is the Coogoorah Park Nature Reserve. You could even canoe here with rental available by the Anglesea River. Wherever you go, make sure you keep an eye out for kangaroos. They can appear randomly just about anywhere!
At mealtime, you can grab a bit to eat at the famous Jums Chicken or have a more leisurely (and delicious) meal at The Coast Restaurant. The best way to get here is in your own car so you can explore the surroundings, but it’s also possible to take a bus from Geelong train station.
by Katy from Untold Travel
A popular stop on the Great Ocean Road, Airey’s Inlet is a small town that is also perfect for a day trip from Melbourne. Most visitors head straight to the Split Point lighthouse, where you can explore clifftop and beach trails with sweeping views of the Surf coast. Take part in a tour of the lighthouse to learn about the dramatic history of this stretch of coastline before heading to the Airey’s pub for a hearty lunch washed down with local craft beers.
In the afternoon, you can head back to the beach, explore local art galleries or play a round of mini golf featuring iconic scenes of the Great Ocean Road. Airey’s Inlet is only 120 kilometres or an hour and a half drive from Melbourne, so you can easily make it home for dinner after a great day out on the coast.
Lorne is a beautiful coastal town, best known for sandy beaches, surf spots, and forest walks adorned with overgrown ferns with gorgeous lookouts along the path. I even spotted two wild koalas when walking along the St Georges River walk.
Perhaps one of the best-known attractions in the area is Erskine Falls, a beautiful waterfall which can be reached directly by car or via a 10km hike. Personally, I just did a shorter walk to Shoeak Falls along the babbling stream. If visiting in the right season, you could also drive to Phantom Falls, though be warned it can dry up during the summer months.
If you can barely be tempted away from the gorgeous blue ocean, which can be enjoyed from the beach or by taking a stroll down Lorne pier, be sure to tear yourself out and make a stop at Teddy’s Lookout. The panoramic views over this spot, which looks over winding coastal roads and green wilderness, are extraordinary. Read about more things to do in Lorne here
by Chris from Aquarius Traveller
Although a long day trip from Melbourne, there are plenty of people that do make it as far as the 12 Apostles. One of the featured natural attractions along the Great Ocean Road with 2 million tourist visits each year, you’re in awe coming up to see them for the very first time. These limestone-formed Pillars are an amazing site to see with the waves crashing upon them from the great southern sea.
There are 2 main ways to get there from Melbourne city: the inland way along the Princes Highway through Geelong and Colac, which will take roughly 3 hours one way. The second will be the scenic coastal route along the Great Ocean Road, although at 4 hours one way, it’s recommended when you have more time to appreciate the other sites along the way. You could always take the pressure off yourself driving and organise a bus trip instead.
There is easy parking at the visitor centre, which has a small café, shop and Bathroom facilities. From here, it’s only a short 10-minute walk under the highway and out to the Apostle viewpoint.
If you’re a Photographer, then it’s great to visit for sunrise or sunset; this is also the best time for fewer crowds. Otherwise, due to lack of cover, it’s best just to see these marvels when it’s not raining.
LOCH ARD GORGE
by Greta from Greta’s Travels
Loch Ard Gorge is undoubtedly one of the most popular stops for anyone making a road trip on the Great Ocean Road, and also one of the best places to visit on a day trip from Melbourne.
Loch Ard Gorge is 230km away from Melbourne, around a 3-hour drive. It’s part of Port Campbell National Park and is famous for the steep cliffs surrounding the beach.
Starting at the parking area of Loch Ard Gorge, you will find numerous wooden walkways, which will take you all around the gorge so that you can admire the view from different angles. There are viewing decks that overlook straight into the gorge and others that give you a great view of the sea and coastline.
You can also walk down to the beach and admire the beauty of the imposing cliffs towering above you. Swimming in Loch Ard Gorge isn’t recommended due to the strong waves and currents and the presence of many rocks.
The best thing you can do at Loch Ard Gorge is to walk around and admire the beautiful scenery. For an epic day trip from Melbourne, make sure to pair your visit to Loch Ard Gorge with a visit to Gibson Steps and the Twelve Apostles.
Are there any stops on this list of Melbourne day trips you think we missed out on? Which would you like to visit the most?
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