Though not as well known as its sunnier sister Sydney, Melbourne is well worth visiting on your next trip to Australia. Full of world-class restaurants, colourful alleyways leading to quirky bars, amazing shopping, beautiful parks, museums…not to mention the sport, the shows, the art, the festivals, and yes, even the beaches.
Melbourne is located in the South-East corner of Australia, and is known as one of the world’s ‘most liveable cities’. Vibrant, modern and packed with an exciting blend of cultures, visitors can fly to Melbourne’s Tullamarine International Airport from hundreds of cities worldwide, or from any major city in Australia. Or, if you have time, road-trip it down the coast from Sydney or Brisbane!
One of Melbourne’s best features is actually not in the city itself, but rather the fact that within a few minutes outside the city limits, visitors can be surrounded by quiet bushland, rolling hills or stunning coastline. Driving around Melbourne and its surrounds is easy (just remember to drive on the left), but there are also plenty of tour companies that offer day trips from Melbourne, in every direction. So, sit back, relax and enjoy the view!
When it comes to Melbourne day trips, you will be spoilt with choice! In this article, you will discover the best day trips from Melbourne!
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The most famous day trip from Melbourne is the Great Ocean Road. If you are looking to go on a scenic drive in Melbourne, that should at the top of your list!
The Great Ocean Road is a stretch of coastline to the west of Melbourne, built by returned World War 1 soldiers and dedicated to those who never came home. This stunning drive begins in the surfer town of Torquay and continues over 240 kilometres through to Allansford, near Warrnambool.
Although not as busy as Bondi, this beautiful coastline, locally known as the ‘surf coast’, is full of breathtaking scenery and some of the best surf in the world; the famous Bells Beach hosts the Ripcurl Pro every year, welcoming the worlds best surfers to its shores. Check out the beach for yourself, or grab a bargain at one of the many surf wear outlets in Torquay, including Ripcurl, Quiksilver and Billabong.
The road hugs the coastline, offering visitors unparalleled views for the majority of the trip, and there are plenty of spots along the way to stop and get a picture or even have a quick dip. Stop in the town of Lorne for a coffee on the beach in an old boathouse at the Swing Bridge Cafe, check out the unique shops and say hi to the bright sculptures dotted throughout the town. Continue on towards Kennett River to spot some of the local Koalas, stop in Aireys Inlet and visit the iconic Split Point Lighthouse.
Or, if beaches aren’t your thing, spend your day exploring the beautiful Great Otway National Park, only a short drive inland; a stunning ancient rain forest complete with waterfalls, wildlife, caves and even glow worms! If you are in luck, you might also see koalas!
The drive culminates with a visit to the famous ‘Twelve Apostles’, limestone rock formations dotted along the coast (though sadly, several apostles have crumbled since the name was coined). Popular with locals and tourists alike, visitors can enjoy the gorgeous view from the boardwalk or beach below – visit just before sunset for amazing photos and enjoy the quickly-changing sky.
The Great Ocean Road is an iconic road trip, making it one of the best day trips from Melbourne by car. If you don’t have a vehicle, you can also opt for a Great Ocean Road day tour from Melbourne. Information and prices are available here.
If you want to truly make the best of your day on the Great Ocean Road, the best way to get there would be by car. If you don’t own a car, you can easily rent one for a day. The coastal road is beautiful and there no better way to enjoy it.
Another alternative is to go on a Great Ocean Road day tour. They will organise everything for you and take you to the best spots without you having to worry about anything. It’s a great way to make the best of your time in Melbourne if you are only there for a few days. Click here for more information and the latest prices.
If you’re not fussed about feeling the sand between your toes, head inland and you will discover rolling hills, quaint farms and – the best bit – tons of wineries in Victoria’s famous Yarra Valley. Known primarily as a wine region, the Yarra Valley is also home to delicious, locally sourced produce, scenic drives, friendly locals and fascinating history.
There are plenty of winery tours in Yarra Valley, as well as brewery and distillery tours (you’re really spoiled for choice). For more information and prices, click here.
The best part is that most venues also offer incredible dining options too, so you know you’re in for a yummy day. Or you can choose to indulge in tea and scones at Coombe Cottage, the stunning estate of Dame Nellie Melba (a very famous opera singer, circa late 1800’s), visit the Yarra Valley Dairy for the freshest range of cheese around, all produced onsite (don’t forget to thank the cows on your way out!), or for those with a sweet tooth, check out the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and watch the chocolate being made, steal all the free samples (no judgement here) and enjoy the most decadent hot chocolate around.
If food and wine isn’t your thing though (unlikely), head off and explore one of the many beautiful parks, forests, bike paths or hiking trails (free waterfalls included!) in the area – the Redwood Forest is a highlight – or wander through one of the quaint local towns, such as Yarra Glen, Healesville or Warburton. There are also some great markets on the weekends, hot air balloon tours, horse riding and more.
And don’t miss a visit to the amazing Healesville Sanctuary, full of native Australian animals, and take the opportunity to get up-close and personal with a Kangaroo, Koala, Dingo or even a Wombat.
If you are a foodie, a day trip to the Yarra Valley is a must-do during your stay in Melbourne!
The quickest way is by car. It takes about 30 minutes to drive from Melbourne CBD to the Yarra Valley. Another option would be to take the bus or the train. It’s a bit longer (between 1h and 1h30) but is a good option if you don’t have a car.
Finally, you can opt for a Yarra Valley day tour from Melbourne. Information and prices are available here.
Just next door to the Yarra Valley are the beautiful Dandenongs, a group of mountains to the east of Melbourne. Known for its quaint villages, stunning gardens and parks, stately homes, tea houses and flower farms – not to mention the incredible views – a day trip to the Dandenong Ranges will not disappoint.
The entire area feels like a nature reserve, and just driving through the forest is a treat. Stop in at the famous ‘William Ricketts Sanctuary‘, a mystical outdoor gallery in the heart of the forest, showcasing the many sculptures and carvings created by the famous potter William Rickett. Pay a visit to the Alfred Nichols or the National Rhododendron gardens for those gorgeous Instagram shots, or take an easy stroll to Olinda Falls or Sherbrooke Falls and check out the (you guessed it) waterfalls.
Stop off in the quaint town of Sassafrass (no, that isn’t a typo) and take tea at the famous ‘Miss Marple’s Tea House’, before meandering the main street, full of stores selling locally made handicrafts and produce, including a wooden toy store and even a Bonsai garden.
No visit to the Dandenongs is complete without a ride on ‘Puffing Billy’, a working, open-carriage steam engine that takes off from the quirky town of Belgrave, which is worth a visit in itself (keep an eye out for the local Wizard – yes, really), and meanders through the Sherbrooke forest to the beautiful town of Gembrook.
If you want to get your heart rate up, visit the popular ‘1000 steps’ in nearby Ferntree Gully, a (not for the faint-hearted, literally) memorial hiking trail through the rainforest where you may spot the elusive Lyrebird, or check out one of the many other beautiful trails that wind throughout the hills. If you miss out on the Lyrebirds, a stop at the Grants Picnic Ground allows you to hand-feed a range of Australian native bird life, including Rosellas, Galahs and Cockatoos (but careful, those ones are heavier than they look!).
You can easily reach the Dandenongs by car. It takes about 1 hour from Melbourne CBD. There are a few buses and trains running as well but they are way slower (over 2 hours). For this day trip from Melbourne, driving is highly recommended.
Alternatively, you can also go on a day tour from Melbourne. For more information and prices, click here.
Finally, if you want to hit two birds with one stone, you may want to consider doing half-day in the Dandenongs and half-day in the Yarra Valley. You can find out more information here.
When it comes to day trips from Melbourne, Phillip Island sets the standard!
Phillip Island is a favourite of locals, and is bustling in the summertime! Visitors are able to enjoy the gorgeous beaches, national parks, hikes and bike trails and plenty of wildlife, as the island is a significant conservation area.
One of the main draws of Phillip Island for locals and visitors alike is the Phillip Island ‘Penguin Parade’; where gorgeous ‘Little Penguins’, the smallest species of penguin in the world, make their nightly hike up the beach to their cosy little homes to the delight of onlookers. Trust us – they are ADORABLE.
If that doesn’t satisfy your critter craving, take a wildlife cruise to see the sea birds, seals, dolphins and (in Winter) whales, check out the Koala conservation centre or visit the heritage farm. You can also get up close to the pelicans of San Remo when they come by for their daily feeding.
Take a walk along the coastal cliffs to see the gorgeous Pinnacles rock formations, explore rock pools or have a dip, or watch the surfers at stunning Cape Woolamai.
Most people rush to the Penguin Parade but there are plenty of amazing walks on Phillip Island and that is something you shouldn’t miss on!
If you want to get around the island by yourself, the best way to go to Phillip Island from Melbourne is by car. There is a bridge and it’s very easy to get there. It takes under 2 hours.
Another great option is to go on a Phillip Island tour from Melbourne. The company will pick you up in Melbourne CBD or St Kilda and bring you to the island. You will get to experience the Penguin Parade, walk on the beach and go to the wildlife park. Information and prices are available here.
Daylesford, founded during the 1860’s Gold Rush (and, hilariously, originally named’ Wombat’), is a popular spa town to the north-west of Melbourne, where visitors can take a load off and enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
It is probably one of the most underrated day trips from Melbourne. International visitors often overlook it but Australians love going to Daylesford.
One of Australia’s only spa towns, Daylesford is set atop an extinct volcano, and the natural mineral springs actually make up around 80% of mineral water in the country. Unsurprisingly, the town is full of spas and retreats, offering everything from hot stone massages to mineral soaks and ‘private steam rituals’ (curious? Us too).
Once you’ve feeling rejuvenated, wander through the quaint town, full of heritage buildings, and enjoy a variety of art galleries, antique stores and vintage emporiums. Don’t miss a visit to the beautiful Convent Gallery, once the home of the Gold Commissioner before becoming a convent and girls boarding school. Now an art gallery slash cafe, the property boasts stunning gardens, delicious coffee and intriguing local artwork.
If you’re into history, take a walk along the river, where you can try water straight from the springs and learn about the history of the town, including the Gold Rush, the early Swiss and Italian settlers (the Macaroni factory is a dead giveaway), the indigenous history of the area, the discovery of the ‘healing’ waters and more. Another gorgeous walk is through the flower-filled Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens, a great place for a picnic or to enjoy views of the town below or visit the nearby Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm to wander among the sweet-smelling lavender bushes and explore the heritage property.
On top of all that, the area is also home to plenty of wineries, delicious local produce and fine dining, as well as markets, festivals, golf courses, fishing, national parks and more! So there really is something for everyone.
It will take you about 1h30 to get to Daylesford from Melbourne by car. It is the easiest way to get there. However, you can also consider taking public transport. Trains and buses run from the CBD to Daylesford. They are slower, you can count on a good 2 to 3 hours to get there. That having been said, you can walk around the town easily once you are there.
If you are looking for a relaxing day trip from Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula will be perfect for you!
The Mornington Peninsula is a spit of coast just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Melbourne CBD, and is very easy to get to either by car, public transport or on a tour. Again, it has plenty of wineries (we’re sensing a theme here) and delicious local produce, as well as the gorgeous coastline that is great for swimming. A much more relaxed vibe than the city, many Melbournians escape here on the weekends or for holidays.
Staying with the spa theme, if you can’t make it to Daylesford, the Peninsula Hot Springs are incredibly popular with locals and tourists alike. Relax in the natural hot springs or indulge in a massage or spa treatment amongst the peaceful surrounds. You can easily spend the day here, or just visit in the late afternoon after a day of exploring.
The peninsula is known for its gorgeous beaches, both bay-side and ocean-side. Check out Rosebud, whose bright blue, shallow beach allows visitors to wander all the way out to the sandbars, without getting more than their ankles wet. Keep an eye out for the colourful kite surfers and parasailers!
Great for kids, the beach at Mornington is sheltered, and also has a great playground. And don’t miss a visit to Mt Martha and the beautiful beach boxes that line the sand.
If you prefer your ocean a bit more lively, visit Sorrento Back Beach, a great surf beach and also home to some great rock pools and walking trails.
The main street of Mornington is full of great local shops, quirky cafes and amazing restaurants, and there is also a weekly market. Go back in time with a visit to the drive-in movie theatre in Dromana, or dream big with a walk along ‘Millionaires Row’, a private stretch of coast with the most gorgeous houses, along the cliffs near Sorrento. Continue the fancy dream with a visit to the Portsea Polo Club, and get a coffee (or glass of champers) amongst the elite, with views to match.
If views are your thing, head inland and get a birds eye view from ‘Arthur’s Seat’, where you can take a gondola down the hill, whilst enjoying incredible views across the peninsula, Port Philip Bay and even the Melbourne city skyline. And if you’re feeling brave, head to the nearby ‘Enchanted Adventure Gardens‘ and be your own gondola on one of their zip lines, and soar freely through the forest. There are also high ropes courses, a maze, gorgeous gardens and more.
If that isn’t enough, you can jump on (another) wine tour, swim with dolphins, learn to scuba-dive or surf, play golf, go horse riding and more. Yes, you may very well need to extend your day trip to a full week!
As previously mentioned, the best way to get there is by car. This will give you more flexibility. If you are driving you can hop from one place to another with ease and get to go on your favourite activities.
You can also easily get there by train from Melbourne CBD.
Finally, you can book a day tour to the Mornington Peninsula from Melbourne. You will get to do most of the activities mentioned above. Click here for more information and prices.
If you want to discover another historic town during your day trip from Melbourne, Ballarat will be a wonderful option.
Ballarat is a beautiful, historic Gold Rush town, located just over an hour north-west of Melbourne. After gold was discovered in the 1850’s, the town quickly grew in population and riches, and is now the third-largest inland city in Australia. The wealth of the Gold Rush is reflected throughout the town in the many exquisite heritage buildings and lush parks.
That being said, truly the best way to absorb the history of this city is to live it! No visit to Ballarat is complete without a trip to Sovereign Hill, a fantastic open-air museum where visitors can truly experience life during the Gold Rush. Staff are dressed in period costume, there is a fantastic Main Street with a working Blacksmith shop, traditional candle-making, horse-drawn carriage rides, and (our favourite) a traditional lolly shop. Characters appear throughout the day, with spontaneous shows and interactions on the street, mimicking the daily grind of those living through the mid-1800’s. Kids can even visit the old school, get dressed up and take photos or get involved in one of the many workshops throughout the day.
There are also traditional goldfields, complete with miner’s tents, and visitors can even pan for real gold – as long as you hold a mining license (conveniently available on-site) – in the river. There is also a gold museum and several options for fascinating tours through the actual gold mines on site. The ‘Blood on the Cross’ light and sound show, depicting the struggles of the Eureka Stockade, is also well worth a visit, to round out your day of history lessons!
Keen for more history? Step right back into Medieval times with a visit to Kryal Castle, which features knights on horseback, dragons, princesses, wizards (ok, we didn’t say REAL history, but it’s fun), jousting tournaments, fairy gardens and more. Great for the kids, but also fun for grown-ups, and perfect for hilarious selfies.
Did enough history in high school? Check out the beautiful Lake Wendouree, which hosted some of the activities during the 1956 Olympics, or visit the stunning Ballarat Botanical Gardens. For animal lovers, head over to the Ballarat Wildlife Park and enjoy some one-on-one time with Australia’s cutest native critters.
You can easily get to Ballarat by car or train. The train from Southern Cross station takes 1h20. Driving would be about the same.
Another option would be to book a day tour to Ballarat from Melbourne. The tour company will pick you up in Melbourne (Federation Square) and take care of everything. This includes Sovereign Hill and Ballarat Wildlife park. Information and prices are available here.
Melbournians are definitely spoiled for choice when it comes to a day trip or weekend escape! Don’t let them have all the fun, come visit for yourself and experience one (or all) of these gorgeous little getaways for yourself.
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