Planning a road trip or a getaway from Melbourne? Then spending a weekend on the Great Ocean Road will be ideal!
There are a lot of things to see on Great Ocean Road! From the 12 apostles to Port Fairy, you’ll find many beautiful spots here.
Unfortunately, you won’t get to see everything in 2 days however, it’s enough time to see the best Great Ocean Road attractions!
In this Great Ocean Road 2-day itinerary, we tell you exactly how to discover the GOR over a weekend.
If you have a car, it will be easy for you to hit the road and follow this Great Ocean Road self-drive itinerary. If not, you may want to consider renting a car or going on an organised tour.
Either way, we will tell you everything you need to know here!
So, are you ready to discover the highlights of the Great Ocean Road in 2 days? Let’s get started!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you!
2-day itinerary Great Ocean Road Map
The easiest way to picture what this trip is going to look like is with a map!
You can see below the 2-day Great Ocean Road drive map from Melbourne. It includes places to stop and driving distances.
How to plan your weekend on the Great Ocean Road
Before we dive deep into the itinerary, there are a few things you need to know to plan your Great Ocean Road weekend.
Firstly, we will look into the transportation options since you can opt for a Great Ocean Road self-drive itinerary or to hop on an organised tour.
After that, I’ll share with you some travel tips to help you make the best of your time.
Great Ocean Road 2-day tours vs self-driving
If you are wondering whether you should be self-driving or going on Great Ocean Road tour, here is what you need to know.
If you have a car, you should absolutely drive! It’s the best way to explore the GOR and it will give you more flexibility.
With your own vehicle, you’ll get to go wherever you want, whenever you want.
Also, the GOR is one of the best road trips in Australia so it would be a shame not to experience it with a car.
If you don’t have a car, you can rent one from Melbourne. It will be pretty cheap for 2 days and well worth it.
To find the best fares, you can use the Skyscanner comparison tool here.
For the Great Ocean Road, you don’t need a 4WD so you can opt for the cheapest car rental, it will be just fine!
If you are a solo traveller, a couple or don’t like the idea of having to plan your Great Ocean Road trip, you should opt for a tour.
The guides will take care of everything including activities, accommodation and transportation. It will make your life much easier.
If you are travelling solo, it will also be more pleasant since you will get to meet other travellers and it will work out cheaper.
For budget travellers and backpackers, check out this 2-day tour. Prices here.
If you’d rather being in a small group, this private Great Ocean Road tour will be ideal for you. Prices here.
Things To Know about this Great Ocean Road Road Trip
Firstly, it’s important to note that this itinerary for the Great Ocean Road is packed with things to see!
We’ve made sure to include as much as possible so you can truly make the best of your time on the GOR!
This means you will have to get up early. If you’d rather take more time, that’s fine too, you can just jump a couple of stops.
We will indicate below the Great Ocean Road sites to remove if you happen to be short in time.
The second thing to know is that it’s a reverse itinerary. You will be driving to the end of the Great Ocean Road and make your way back to Melbourne and not the other way round.
Most Great Ocean Road self-drive itineraries suggest to go from East to West and then drive back inland to Melbourne.
As much as this seems to be the obvious choice, taking the GOR the other way round is a smarter choice. It’s less busy and you will avoid tourist buses!
It will also allow you to see both sunset and sunrise at the 12 apostles!
Speaking of sunset, it’s important to note that this road trip on the Great Ocean Road is based on the fact that you will get to the 12 Apostles for sunset.
While there is no reason you wouldn’t be able to do that, it’s important that you take note of the sunset time and make sure to stay on schedule.
If you are visiting in summer, days are longer and therefore, you can spend more time at the other stops.
If you are doing this road trip in winter, you will need to get to the 12 apostles much earlier. That’s something you need to be aware of so you don’t miss the show!
That having been said, if you do miss the sunset, it doesn’t mean you will miss everything since you will get to go for sunrise the day after. But, sunset is better than sunrise at the 12 apostles so it would be great to make it on time.
Great Ocean Road Itinerary for Day 1
Now is time to discover this 2 day Great Ocean Road itinerary. We broke it down into simple steps to make it easier for you to use.
Please note that this a Great Ocean Road self-drive itinerary and while many tours will have a similar route, this is particularly adapted for people driving a vehicle.
1. Leave Melbourne
If you are staying in Melbourne, then it’s important to make sure you leave quite early in the morning.
It’s recommended to leave at 7 AM maximum to head to the first stop: Port Fairy.
If you want to beat the traffic, you can even choose to leave a bit before. As you may know, Melbourne traffic can be quite bad.
If you are leaving on a weekday, you will catch the commuters from 7:30AM onwards. If you are going on a Saturday, there won’t be as many commuters but a lot of locals will be heading to the GOR so again, the earlier the better!
Add the following address in your GPS: Ocean Dr, Port Fairy VIC 3284, Australia.
You will be driving down to Geelong and then cut through the hinterland.
2. Port Fairy
Driving distance and time: 3h30 – 290 km
You should arrive at Port Fairy around 10:30am. Head straight to Griffiths Island (if you put the address previously mentioned in your GPS, it will bring you straight there).
PRO TIP: There are no cafes on Griffiths Island so if you wanted to grab a cup of coffee or brekkie, you should stop in Port Fairy first. You will be walking quite a bit so make sure you’re not hungry when you start.
There is a car park right next to the access to the island. From there you can start walking on the path.
Keep to the left towards the lighthouse.
The path is quite pretty and unique at the beginning as you are surrounded by water.
You will discover stunning white sandy beaches.
You will then be walking on the beach up until you reach the lighthouse.
From the lighthouse, complete the loop through the bush.
Keep an eye on your surroundings as there are a lot of wallabies there! Don’t get too close as you will scare them away but you should be able to take wonderful photos.
Port Fairy is the best place to see wallabies in the wild on the Great Ocean Road.
It’s a very easy and pleasant walk. It takes about 1 hour to complete but I must say that you will probably spend a bit more time on the island. It’s very pretty and you will get a bit sidetracked by the beautiful creatures on it!
Alternative: If you want to discover more about the history of Port Fairy, you should go to the History Centre. It’s quite small but will give you plenty of information about the town.
Driving time and distance: 30 minutes – 30 km
Your next stop on your Great Ocean Road itinerary is the town of Warnambool.
Warnambool itself is a good place to stay on the Great Ocean Road however there aren’t many attractions (or at least not something you will want to spend time on as you only have 2 days).
That having been said, it’s a great place to grab lunch and that’s exactly what you should do.
Go to Brightbird Espresso for brekkie. They serve delicious food and coffee.
Alternatively, you can stop at the supermarket to buy something there. There are 2 Coles and a Woolworths.
PRO TIP: If you are looking for a good picnic spot, go to the Cannon Hill Lookout. The views from there are beautiful and it will be a great place to eat your lunch.
After that, start hitting the Great Ocean Road and drive to the Bay of Islands.
4. Bay of Islands
Driving time and distance: 40 minutes – 48 km
Located near Petersborough, the Bay of Islands offers some of the most spectacular views on the Great Ocean Road.
It’s pretty similar to the 12 Apostles but yet, is nowhere as popular. This is great news as you usually get to enjoy the place for yourself!
The Bay of Islands actually stretches out across 32 kilometres so you will get to enjoy the views from your car for quite a while.
At some point, you will reach the Bay of Islands carpark. From there, take the boardwalk to the viewing platforms. You can even walk down to the beach if you are up for it!
PRO TIP: Although it’s absolutely beautiful, this should be a fairly quick stop on your Great Ocean Road self-drive itinerary. We included a lot of places and you won’t get to see them all if you go on a hike here. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing it, but it’s something to be aware of since you might need to skip some stops otherwise.
Please note that since you get to see quite far out, you might catch a glimpse of whales jumping if you’re visiting in winter.
If whale watching is something you are interested in, don’t forget to bring binoculars!
5. Bay of Martyrs
Driving time and distance: 3 minutes – 2 km
Keep driving and a couple of minutes later you will get to the Bay of Martyrs.
This Great Ocean Road stop is actually part of the bay of islands but since there is a specific place to stop, it’s important you keep it in mind so you remember to stop when you see the sign on the side of the road.
From the Bay of Martyrs carpark, you can walk on the path towards the cliffs.
From there you’ll get to enjoy stunning views over the main bay and the two smaller bays, Crofts Bay and Massacre Bay.
It is truly a stunning spot and you can snap some great photos here!
GOOD TO KNOW: Once again, we only recommend stopping at the lookout here but if you come back and have a bit more time on your hands, you should consider going on the Bay of Martyrs Trail. It’s 4km long and takes a couple of hours to complete.
6. The Grotto
Driving time and distance: 8 minutes – 8 km
The next Great Ocean Road recommended stop is called the Grotto. It’s a is sinkhole located a bit further down the road (8 minutes away from Bay of Martyrs).
You will get to see a lot of spectacular rock formations on this trip but the Grotto is by far one of the most impressive.
It can be quite hard to describe the grotto since it’s a lot of different things. It’s a bit of arch, a bit of a cave and a bit of blowhole at the same time.
No matter what, you can be sure of one thing: you’ll be amazed by it!
You will see a sign from the road indicating the car park.
Once you’ve parked your vehicle, head to the boardwalk that will lead you to the platform. From there you can admire the wonderful views over the grotto and see how unique it is.
This part of the boardwalk is wooden and doesn’t have steps which means it’s accessible for wheelchairs and prams.
Now, if you truly want to see the Grotto in all its beauty, make sure to walk down the stairs to the arches. You’ll get to the spot on the photo above.
It really is gorgeous and it’s a short walk. You should be spending 30 to 45 minutes here.
7. London Arch
Driving time and distance: 4 minutes – 2 km
Formerly known as London Bridge, the London arch is a rock formation in the shape of an arch.
It used to be connected to the mainland forming what looked like a bridge (hence the previous name of London Bridge) but unfortunately, this part collapsed in the 90s and only left the arch.
This is a great reminder that the coast (and everything else for that matter) always changes and evolves. What we see today is different from what others have seen 30 years ago and from what people will see in 30 years.
Anyway, back to the practical tips!
Once again, you’ll see a sign from the road but it’s recommended to add the stop in your GPS so you don’t forget to keep an eye on the signs.
From the carpark, there are two viewing platforms you can access. They are both great and boasts different views since they are not at the same elevation.
If you have time, it’s worth going to both otherwise, just pick one an enjoy!
It’s very easy and quick to access the lookouts and you can take beautiful pictures there.
Please note that you can not actually go on the arch since it collapsed. Though a bridge could have been built, it was decided it wasn’t safe enough to do so.
PRO TIP: While your main focus will be on the arch, don’t forget to look at the beach underneath. It’s quite pretty and is known for being home to penguins. They usually show up for sunset but it’s always worth looking just in case you see a couple.
8. The Arch
Driving time and distance: 2 minutes – 1 km
Take your car again from London Arch and keep driving for one kilometre. There you’ll find a road on your right-hand side leading to the carpark of the arch.
This spot is not always mentioned on itineraries for the Great Ocean Road. It’s not quite as well known as the others and for this reason, you’ll notice there isn’t a proper sign.
My best advice is to add it to your GPS so you are sure not to miss the road.
Once you get to the carpark, you can walk to the lookout and enjoy the beautiful views of this cliff arch. It’s very pretty and the sound of the waves hitting the rocks is amazing here.
There is also a path to go down to the beach if you wish to do so.
9. Port Campbell
Driving time and distance: 7 minutes – 7 km
You will be driving through Port Campbell. At this point, I don’t necessarily recommend stopping as you want to make sure to make it for sunset at the 12 apostles.
However, by the time you are done with the sunset, it will be a bit late for dinner so you may want to grab a sandwich in Port Campbell and eat it on the road or at the 12 apostles later.
10. Lorch Ard Gorge
Driving time and distance: 8 minutes – 8 km
Lorch Ard is one of the Great Ocean Road must-see spots. Unlike the limestones cliffs you’ve been seeing so far, Lorch Ard gives you the chance to better chance to walk down to the beach.
From the carpark, you can choose to go on the boardwalk to the lookouts or on the path down to the beach.
They are both short walks that only take a few minutes.
As nice as the lookouts are, getting to walk on the beach, between the cliffs is a great experience, especially since it hasn’t always been this way.
The cliffs collapsed in 2009 but really didn’t use to look like that.
Now you can walk on that beach and enjoy the picturesque surroundings. You’ll feel very protected and cosy here!
Once you’re done with the beach, it’s worth going to one of the lookouts as well. I know I just said that we had enough of them and yes, you will have gone to a lot of them today but it’s still pretty amazing to see the panorama from the lookouts.
You’ll get to see the beach on which you just stepped! Quite cool, right?
11. Sunset at the 12 Apostles
Driving time and distance: 4 minutes – 4 km
The 12 Apostles are the ultimate must-see on the Great Ocean Road.
They are a collection of rocky stacks off the shore. Although they are named twelve apostles, you will quickly notice that there are only 7 of them.
They were formed by erosion and are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places to see in Australia.
Although you can visit them at any given time of the day, watching the sunset at the Twelve Apostles is one of the best things to do on the Great Ocean Road.
You can’t miss them as there are signs everywhere.
Follow the signs to the carpark. If you can, try to get there about 45 minutes or 1 hour before the sunset. It’s prettier to see the sun going down.
If you get there when the sun sets you won’t get to see as much.
Also, the carpark can get quite crowded so earlier is better.
There is an information centre on the carpark. Feel free to walk in and read more about the history of this beautiful Australian natural landmark.
From there, walk down the path until you reach the wooden boardwalk.
You will reach the 12 Apostles after 5 minutes walk. It’s very accessible.
Once you get there, feel free to stroll around so you can truly soak up the stunning views but make sure to look at the western side to see the sunset.
The best spot to watch the sunset is the first platform after the stairs but if it gets too crowded, walk all the way to the back.
There is another lookout a bit further into the sea. It’s usually less busy.
12. Drive back to Port Campbell
Driving time and distance: 9 minutes – 11 km
Although there are a couple of places to stay near the 12 apostles, it’s a pretty remote place which is why staying in Port Campbell for the night is way better.
In the evening, you can roam around town and grab a drink.
Accommodation in Port Campbell
In terms of accommodation, Port Campbell is ideal. You will have more choice and it’s better value than staying at the Twelve Apostles.
Here are some recommendations:
Backpackers: The Port Campbell Hostel is the best option. I’ve stayed there before and it was great. It’s pretty unique and well decorated. Everything is clean and people are very nice. See prices here.
Luxury accommodation: Craypot Cottage Port Campbell is an exceptional house beautifully decorated and well located. See prices here.
Great Ocean Road Itinerary for Day 2
The advantage of following this 2-day itinerary of the Great ocean road is that you will also get to see the sunrise at the Twelve Apostles. In order to do that though, you will need to wake up early.
As you’ve already seen the sunset the day before, you may want to skip this first step. This is up to you.
1. Sunrise at the 12 Apostles
Driving time and distance: 9 minutes – 11 km
Visiting the Twelve Apostles for sunset is the most popular thing to do on the Great Ocean, however, the sunrise is just as pretty if not more!
It’s less busy at sunrise which means you are not bothered by people and the colours are so pretty!
To watch the sunrise, you need to walk to the end of the boardwalk and stand on the Eastern side.
The sun rises pretty early so you need to check the time (it varies depending on the season) and get there at least 30 minutes before to see everything. This means, you need to be on site between 5:30 and 6 am.
Once the sun has risen, you can enjoy the stunning daylight views over the 12 apostles. It’s the best time of the day for photos!
2. Cape Otway Lighthouse and koalas
Driving time and distance: 1h10 – 77 km
After the sunrise, keep driving down to Cape Otway Lighthouse. It takes about 30 minutes but chances are that it will take you a bit more time.
Cape Otway is known for being home to a lot of koalas. Ask your passengers to keep an eye on the trees so if someone spots a koala you can quickly stop.
I also recommend paying attention to what other people do. If you see a lot of cars parked on the side of the road, it’s safe to assume that these people are looking at the koalas! Park somewhere safe and walk a bit in the forest to find them. Don’t forget your camera (preferably with a good zoom)!
If you don’t see anyone parked and your passengers don’t manage to spot them (it can be quite hard to do so from the car), try to stop a bit before the lighthouse where there are a lot of trees and go look for the koalas.
After that, keep going until you reach the car park. Cape Otway lighthouse is one of the most beautiful historical attractions on the great ocean road and it’s a great place to enjoy the views of the coast and hills!
In the car park, you will find a map with the walking paths in the area. If you like hiking, make sure to go on the Great Ocean walk.
In reality, this trail stretches over 100 km but you can catch it at the Cape Otway lighthouse and walk for a few kilometres towards Blanket Bay or Castle Cove. It’s a coastal path so the views are pretty incredible.
If you don’t fancy walking, just check out the lighthouse and get back to your car.
You will have to drive 35 minutes until our next Great Ocean Road stop: Apollo Bay.
3. Apollo Bay
Driving time and distance: 35 minutes – 33 km
Apollo Bay is one of the main towns on the Great Ocean Road. It’s a great place to stop for a coffee.
There are a lot of cafes along the road. I particularly recommend grabbing a coffee to go and head to the beach.
The Apollo Bay beach is 3 km long so there is plenty of space to sit down! If you want to go swimming, you can but make sure to stay between the flags.
It’s also a good place to go surfing in winter.
It’s also a good place to stay. If you don’t want to stay in Port Campbell, staying in Apollo Bay would be a good option as well.
4. Carisbrook Waterfall
Driving time and distance: 18 minutes – 16 km
When it comes to waterfalls on the Great Ocean Road, most people go to Eskrine Falls near Lorne however, Carisbrook waterfall is well worth a visit.
Firstly, you don’t need to do a detour. The car park is on the side of the road.
Secondly, it’s a bit of a hidden gem on the Great Ocean Road and after visiting all the famous attractions, it never hurts to go a bit off-the-beaten-path.
From the carpark, you will find a walking path that will lead you to the lookout. It’s a 20-minute walk uphill.
The waterfall is very tall and you can take great photos from the viewing platform.
Driving time and distance: 40 minutes – 30 km
From Apollo Bay, it will take you 1 hour to reach Lorne. This beautiful coastal town is popular for weekend getaways. There are loads of beachfront rentals and unique places to stay in Lorne.
You will also find a lot of restaurants and cafes where you can go for lunch.
Pit Stop Lorne is a great food truck. They serve delicious burgers.
If you’d rather a bit more of a sit-down meal, opt for Lorne Central. The staff is very friendly and the food amazing.
6. Great Ocean Road sign
Driving time and distance: 15 minutes – 13 km
Yay! You’ve made it to one of the most iconic great ocean road sites to see!
If you want to take a great photo that will be become the symbol of your Great Ocean Road trip, this is the perfect place to do so!
The sign is located 15-minute drive from Lorne.
I’ve always thought that it was easier to stop by when coming from Lorne. You will see the arch pretty soon and the car park is located on the right-hand side, just after the sign. It gives you a bit more time to stop.
You can stop in the car park and go to the side of the road to take photos.
There are always a lot of people there so don’t hesitate to ask someone to take the photo for you!
That having been said, you should never go on the road. There are cars coming from both directions and the risk is not worth the reward!
7. Bells Beach
Driving time and distance: 30 minutes – 28 km
It would be impossible to do the great ocean road in 2 days without stopping by Bells Beach!
Bells Beach is one of the most famous beach surfing in the world! Each year, it hosts the Rip Curl Pro. It used to be known as Bells Beach Surf Classic and is the longest surfing competition in the entire world.
If when you think of Australia you think of surfers, then Bells Beach will be your ultimate must-see on the Great Ocean Road.
There is a large car park where you can leave your car. From there, you will find a boardwalk that goes down to the beach.
It’s worth spending a bit of time on the platform before the steps as the views are stunning!
You can then go down to the beach. Although it’s not recommended to go swimming, there is a lot you can there.
The beach is very wide and protected by the cliffs. If you have a frisbee or volleyball it will be good fun!
And of course, you can go surfing! Most surfers on Bells Beach are pretty experienced so I wouldn’t recommend learning how to surf here but don’t worry about it, you can do so on our next Great Ocean Road stop: Torquay.
Driving time and distance: 8 minutes – 7 km
Torquay is the last stop on our Great Ocean Road 2-day itinerary. This coastal town is particularly popular for its beaches.
It’s a great place to go surfing. If you already know how to, then you just need to take your board and go for it (although it’s always recommended checking the weather conditions).
If you don’t know how to surf, it’s the best place to learn it!
You can opt for a 2-hour lesson in Torquay. Click here to see the latest prices.
From there, you can either drive back to Melbourne which will take you 1h20 or go for dinner in Torquay. There are a few amazing seafood restaurants. Fisho’s Torquay is an all-time favourite.
9. Going back to Melbourne
Driving time and distance: 1h30 – 105 km
Here we are, your Great Ocean Road weekend has come to an end. We hope you had an amazing time!
Once you are done in Torquay, you can make your way back to Melbourne. It will take about 1 hour and a half but again, if you’re coming back on a Sunday evening it might be a bit longer.
If you’re still up for another activity, you could stop in Geelong and have dinner there.
Great Ocean Road Trip Packing List
Here are a few things you will need during your road trip.
Make sure you have a spare wheel, oil and cooling liquid.
If you are going camping, a cooker, tent, air bed, cooking equipment and gas are essential.
There aren’t many supermarkets on the Great Ocean Road and the few that are there are located in the towns.
For this reason, the best thing to do is to go to the supermarket in Melbourne or top-up in Port Campbell, Apollo Bay or Anglesea.
Make sure to get some essentials such as pasta, rice, bread and fruit. Don’t take too many fresh items unless you can keep them cool in the car.
You will also find cafes in the small towns along the GOR so don’t worry, it’s not the outback here.
There are plenty of places where you can grab a meal but if you are on a budget and want to cook yourself, it’s better to get everything before you leave.
When it comes to clothing, it all depends on the season.
Good walking shoes are great to have as well as trousers and jumpers.
In summer, your swimming costume will be your best friend! You can opt for shorts and t-shirts but having a jacket for the evening is also a good thing to have.
We hope you will enjoy your 2 days on the Great Ocean Road and have heaps of fun! It’s one of the most beautiful places in Australia and you won’t get enough of it!
You may also be interested in:
- How many days in Melbourne is enough?
- How to spend one day in Melbourne
- Day trip from Melbourne to Brighton Bathing Boxes
- Sydney to Melbourne Road Trip Itineraries
- Day Trips from Melbourne
- The Coolest and Best Airbnbs in Victoria, Australia
- Best Airbnb in Lorne: the best holiday rentals in Lorne, Victoria
- Best Romantic Weekend Getaways in Victoria, Australia