Sydney to Melbourne Road trip itineraries: Inland and coastal drive

Piwee

22 June 2020

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Want to go from Sydney to Melbourne by car? This is a great idea! Going on a road trip between Sydney and Melbourne is an amazing adventure and definitely one of the best things to do in Australia!

 

If you want to travel from Sydney to Melbourne, you may consider taking a flight first. It is indeed the fastest way to do it but if you have a few days ahead of you, it’s worth considering a road trip.

 

There are so many places to see between Sydney and Melbourne! The landscapes you will discover when you go on a Sydney to Melbourne drive are incredibly beautiful!

 

wilsons promontory near melbourne

 

There are two main itineraries. You can either opt for the Sydney to Melbourne coastal drive or the inland drive.

 

They are both great options! I got the chance to go on both and can assure you that they are both worth it. It just depends on what you like and want to see.

 

The Sydney to Melbourne inland drive is quicker and includes fewer stops.

 

The Sydney to Melbourne coastal drive is a bit longer and there is way more to see.

 

It’s up to you to decide what you are more excited about and how much time you have ahead of you.

 

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!

 

How to plan a road trip from Sydney to Melbourne?

 

Firstly, you will need a car. If you own one then it’s perfect. If you don’t, you can rent a car. I personally used Europcar in Australia. I always had good experiences with them.

 

You will also need some road trip equipment. If you are planning on camping, make sure you have a tent, sleeping bag and cooking equipment. If you want to stay in hotels, then you will just need the basics: clothes, sunscreen, mosquito spray…

 

What is the most scenic route to drive between Melbourne and Sydney?

 

There are 2 options. The inland and coastal drive.

 

They are both great and I can’t tell which one is the best as they both offer very different things. The inland route is shorter and more focused on mountains. The coastal drive, as you can imagine, is more focused on beautiful beaches.

 

I’d recommend to check out the previously mentioned itineraries and decide what is the best fit for you!

 

Is it worth driving between Sydney and Melbourne?

 

Yes! 100%! It’s one of the most amazing road trips in Australia and if you can do it, you should not hesitate!

 

How much does it cost to drive from Melbourne to Sydney?

 

It depends on the type of car you will be driving but to give you an idea. It cost about $200 with a Ford Falcon Station Wagon on the coastal drive and about $150 on the inland drive. It can definitely work out cheaper than flying especially if there are more than 2 people in the car.

 

How long is the drive from Sydney to Melbourne?

 

If you were to drive all the way without stopping, it takes about 10 hours to drive from Sydney to Melbourne. But if you are here, that means you want to go on a bit of an adventure. I recommend at least 5 days for the inland route and at least 7 days for the coastal drive. You can easily spend up to 3 weeks doing the coastal road trip though.

 

Road Trip Itinerary 1: Sydney to Melbourne Coastal Drive

 

If you are looking for a scenic road trip, the coastal drive from Sydney to Melbourne will be perfect! It is longer than the inland drive but it has loads to offer!

 

Sydney to Melbourne Coastal Drive Map

 

 

Quick information about the Sydney to Melbourne coastal drive Road trip

 

Length: 1300 km

Time: 12 days would be ideal but you anything between 6 and 14 days will work.

 

StopDistanceDriving timeDaysWhere to stay
SydneyThe Ultimo - See Prices
Royal National Park35km38min1 dayHelensburgh Hotel - See Prices
Wollongong46km44min1 dayAstra Apartments - See Prices
Jervis Bay114km1h322 daysJervis Bay Motel - See Prices
Eden338km4h121 dayHeritage House Motel - See Prices
Lakes Entrance242km2h491 dayCunningham Shore Motel - See Prices
Wilsons Promontory286km3h302 daysProm Gate Getaway - See Prices
Phillip Island146km1h571 daysAmaroo Park - See Prices
French Island40km36min1 dayFrench Island Cottage - See Prices
Mornington Peninsula86km1h111 daysDromana Beach Getaway Motel - See Prices
Brighton Beach55km57min1 dayCaroline Serviced Apartments Brighton - See Prices
Melbourne13km24minBrady Hotels Jones Lane - See Prices

1 – Sydney

 

Sydney harbour opera bridge

 

Sydney is a very cool city. Very different from Melbourne. It’s very lively and a paradise for surfers. Here are a few things to check out while you are in Sydney:

  • Opera House
  • Sydney Harbour & Circular Quay
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Manly
  • Bondi Beach

 

I’d recommend staying at least 3 days in Sydney.

 

If you wish to book a hotel in Sydney, try to stay in the city centre. There are trains but if you manage to stay near Circular Quay you will get access to everything very easily. It will save you quite some time.

 

Sydney harbour bridge Australia

 

ACTIVITIES IN SYDNEY:

 

The rocks walking tour: Perfect to discover the history of the city and this awesome neighbourhood.

 

Climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge: A must-do for any thrillseekers! You will get stunning views over the harbour and are signing up for an experience of a lifetime!

 

Sydney Opera House Tour: No trip to Sydney would be complete without seeing the Opera House. If you want to learn even more about it, this walking tour will be perfect for you.

 

Harbour Cruise: One of the best things to do in Sydney is to go on a boat ride in the harbour. You will get to admire beautiful views with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge in the background.

 

Click here to see all tours and activities in Sydney.

 

ACCOMMODATION IN SYDNEY:

 

– Budget accommodation: Sydney Central YHA

 

– Mid-range accommodation: The Ultimo

 

– Luxury accommodation: Four Seasons Hotel Sydney.

 

Click here to see the latest prices for accommodation in Sydney.

 

2 – Royal National Park

 

Located in the south of Sydney, the Royal National Park is the best place to start this road trip. You will find a bit of everything there. Hikers are going to love it! There are lagoons, dunes, cliffs, the wedding cake rock and the famous figure 8 rock pools.

 

It’s such a beautiful place! Make sure you wear comfortable shoes as you will probably be walking a lot.

 

royal national park near sydney

 

ACCOMMODATION IN THE ROYAL NATIONAL PARK: Helensburgh Hotel would be the best place to stay. You can easily get there from the figure 8 pools and it’s on the way to your next stop! Click here for more information and to see the latest prices.

 

Click here to see the complete list of accommodation in the Royal National Park.

 

3 – Wollongong

 

wollongong NSW australia

 

Wollongong is located 80 km south of Sydney. This coastal city is perfect to relax for a couple of days and for surfers. You will find loads of long and quiet beaches to relax, read a book, play frisbee and surf! If you want to go for a hike, Mount Keira is a good option.

 

Wollongong near sydney NSW

 

ACTIVITIES IN WOLLONGONG: If you like surfing, Wollongong is a very good place to do so. The waves are amazing!

 

Another popular activity is skydiving. Wollongong is one of the best places to skydive in Australia. You will get to enjoy beautiful views over Sydney and the NSW coast! For more information and prices, click here.

 

ACCOMMODATION IN WOLLONGONG: There aren’t many hotels in Wollongong as it’s known to be a family-friendly destination. However, you will find loads of holidays homes and apartments. Here are a couple of good options:

 

– Astra Apartments Wollongong CBD. Click here to see the latest prices.

– The Beach House North Wollongong. Click here to see the latest prices.

 

4 – Jervis Bay

 

chinamans beach in jervis bay NSW

Jervis Bay is the perfect stop if you love beautiful beaches. There are so many of them including Hyams Beach, the whitest beach in the world. The water is clear turquoise. Basically a little piece of heaven!

 

Located about 3h drive from Sydney, this popular summer holiday destination is ideal if you want to relax on the beach or go scuba diving!

 

It’s also a great place to go whale watching or walking.

 

Jervis Bay is home to not only one but 2 beautiful national parks! You can easily spend one day in Jervis Bay and then another one in Booderee National Park.

 

If you are travelling with a dog, you will particularly enjoy it as there are many dog-friendly beaches and pet-friendly accommodation in Jervis Bay.

 

hyams beach whitest beach australia

 

ACTIVITIES IN JERVIS BAY: The best things to do in Jervis Bay is going to the beach and go walking. The white sands walk is a great option if you want to discover Chinamans and Greenfield Beach.

 

If you are going in winter, you must jump on a whale-watching cruise! Hundreds of humpbacks are migrating up the coast and it’s an awesome thing to see. You can also opt for a dolphin cruise.

 

Click here to see all tours in Jervis Bay!

 

ACCOMMODATION IN JERVIS BAY: If you want to know more about this, you can check out my Jervis Bay accommodation Guide.

 

At a glance, you won’t find much cheap accommodation in Jervis Bay. It’s a popular destination for families so holidays homes are more common. That having been said, the Jervis Bay motel is a great option for all budgets! You can check the latest prices here.

 

Click here to see the full list of hotels and holiday houses in Jervis Bay.

 

5 – Eden

 

Eden will be your last stop in New South Wales. This little fishing village is perfect for whale watching. Of course, whales only come twice a year so you’ve got to check it’s the right season but there is a big concentration of whales coming there each year. Also, it’s a cute place and will be a good stop on that long trip.

 

To make sure you’re making the best of your day, head to the visitor centre and ask them what would be the best thing to do.

 

There is a beautiful beach in Eden. You can go on a walk through the bush and then up the beach. It’s quite a nice thing to do. Make sure you are wearing closed shoes though, there are a lot of reptiles there.

 

ACCOMMODATION IN EDEN: A great place to stay is Heritage House Motel & Units. It’s well located, right by the Killer Whale Museum and is great value for money. Prices are available here.

 

6 – Lakes Entrance

 

Lakes Entrance is the opening to Australia’s largest inland network of waterways. You can go on a walk or surfing on the Ninety Mile Beach but also explore the lakes with a kayak or paddleboard.

 

lakes entrance road trip from melbourne

 

Stop at the tourist information centre and they will be able to advise you on the best things to do depending on the time you want to spend there.

 

things to do in lakes entrance australia

 

ACCOMMODATION IN LAKES ENTRANCE: If you are on a budget, the Cunningham Shore Motel will be perfect for you. Another option would be to book a waterfront apartment such as The Wheelhouse.

 

You can see the full list of accommodation in Lakes Entrance here.

 

7 – Wilsons Promontory National Park

 

wilsons promontory victoria

 

Wilsons Promontory is one of the best national parks in Australia. If you love hiking, you will literally fall in love with the place. The beautiful thing about it is that it’s a mix of mountains and beaches.

 

wilsons promontory victoria australia

 

The main mountain is named Mount Oberon. The hike to get to the top can be a bit hard but is definitely worth it.

 

Here are another few hikes worth doing: Lilly Pully Gully, Squeaky Beach, Tidal River and Darby Beach.

 

things to do wilsons promontory victoria

 

You will get to see beautiful landscapes, discover Australian wildlife and walk on white-sanded beaches.

 

ACTIVITIES IN WILSONS PROMONTORY: The best thing to do in Wilsons Prom is going hiking! You can also opt to go on a 2.5-hour Wilderness cruise.

 

ACCOMMODATION IN WILSONS PROM: As it is a National Park, you won’t find any conventional accommodation there. That having been said, tt’s a great place to camp. There are several national park campsites and you will find free hot showers at the visitor centre.

 

If you’d rather staying in a hotel, you can do so at the entrance of the park. Prom Gate Getaway would be the best option. Click here for more information and prices.

 

8 – Phillip Island

 

Phillip Island is particularly known for being home to many penguins. You can see them all day long but the best moment to see them is at sunset as they gather for the penguin parade. It’s a truly unique experience.

 

walks on phillip island australia

 

The island itself is very pretty as well and is a great place to go for walks. You can walk along the coast and will get beautiful views on the cliffs. You can also see seals in some places.

 

phillip island pinnacles walk

 

There is a bridge between Australia mainland and Phillip Island. It’s very was to access it.

 

ACTIVITIES ON PHILLIP ISLAND: The most popular activity is going to the Penguin Parade. It only starts late afternoon which means you will get plenty of time during the day to go walking on the coastal walk, jumping on a cruise or taking a short helicopter flight.

 

ACCOMMODATION ON PHILLIP ISLAND: If you wish to stay on the island itself, you can book a room at Amaroo Park. This motel is great value for money and there is a pool!

 

Another option is to stay in San Remo so you ready to leave in the morning. Arcadia Phillip Island would be one of the best places to stay. It offers beautiful ocean views and is very comfortable.

 

9 – French Island

 

French Island National Park is very underrated and way less famous than Phillip Island. Yet, it’s a great place to go to. You will need to catch a ferry to go on the island but it is worth it.

 

It’s a great place to discover Australian wildlife. You can spot koalas, walibis and much more. It’s very well preserved and perfect for walks and hikes.

 

ACCOMMODATION ON FRENCH ISLAND: There aren’t a lot of options when it comes to hotels on French Island however, luckily, French Island Cottage is awesome! You can see the latest prices here.

 

10 – Mornington Peninsula

 

Located in the southeast of Melbourne, Mornington Peninsula is a great holiday destination. There are many scenic drives, beaches and walks. It’s a good place to stop by. Very relaxed.

 

It’s one of the Melbournians’ favourite day trip destination!

 

ACTIVITIES IN MORNINGTON PENINSULA: There is so much to do there! Firstly, it’s a great place to go on a spa day. You can also opt for a wine tour (remember, we are on the edge of the Yarra Valley). Finally, you can visit Arthur Seat!

 

Click here to see the full list of tours in Mornington Peninsula.

 

ACCOMMODATION IN MORNINGTON PENINSULA: If you are on a budget, Dromana Beach Getaway Motel will be perfect for you. This aparthotel is great value for money and quite well located.

 

If you can afford something a bit fancier, the By The Beach Apartment is an awesome place to stay at.

 

Click here to see the full list of accommodation in Mornington Peninsula.

 

11 – Brighton Beach

 

Brighton beach near Melbourne

 

Once you reach Brighton Beach, you are already arriving in Melbourne but are still quite far from the CBD. The beach itself isn’t particularly beautiful but the is very famous for having all these Australian beach houses. They are very colourful and it’s a great opportunity to take photos. From the beach, you will get a wonderful view of Melbourne city. It’s very pretty.

 

You only need to stop by for a couple of hours.

 

ACCOMMODATION IN BRIGHTON BEACH: At this point in your road trip from Sydney to Melbourne, you might want to head to Melbourne and stay there. However, if you want to enjoy one last night away from the city, staying in Brighton can be a good option.

 

Caroline Serviced Apartments Brighton is very well located, only a few minutes from the beach!

 

12 – Melbourne

 

free walking tour Melbourne

 

Yaaaay! You made it! Welcome to Melbourne! Melbourne is the capital of the state of Victoria and is an amazing city!

 

There are so many things to do in Melbourne! The CBD is always a good start with Flinders Station, down to Remembrance Monument (where you can get a very nice view of the city). Carlton, the Italian quarter, is great for food and coffee. If you want to go to the beach, you need to go to Saint-Kilda. The only beach in the city, this is a very nice suburb. Very lively!

 

If you like street art, you need to check out Fitzroy.

 

ACTIVITIES IN MELBOURNE: There are so many things to do in Melbourne. You will be spoiled for choice! I particularly recommend going on a walking tour as it is a great way to learn more about Melbourne, its culture and history. You can check prices and availability here.

 

Another great thing to do if you want to discover some hidden gems and the Melbourne food scene is going on a hidden bar tour or food tour.

 

Finally, if you want to explore more, you can also go on a day trip from Melbourne.

 

Click here to see all tours and activities in Melbourne.

 

ACCOMMODATION IN MELBOURNE: Personally, I’d recommend booking a hotel or hostel in St Kilda or Carlton as they are very nice neighbourhoods. It’s easy to access the CBD from there.

 

Here are a few options:

 

– Budget accommodation: Summer House Melbourne Backpackers in Saint Kilda.

– Mid-range accommodation: Brady Hotels Jones Lane in Carlton.

– Luxury accommodation: The Westin Melbourne in the CBD.

 

Click here to see the full list of hotels in Melbourne.

 

Road trip Itinerary 2: Sydney to Melbourne Inland Drive

 

If you have less time or would rather seeing mountains instead of the coast, you may want to consider this Sydney to Melbourne inland drive itinerary.

 

There are fewer stops but it doesn’t make it any less good. Some of these places are pretty incredible!

 

So, are you ready? Let’s get driving!

 

Sydney to Melbourne Inland Drive Map

 

 

Quick information about the Sydney to Melbourne inland drive Road trip

 

Length: 1200 km

Time: 6 days (excluding Melbourne and Sydney)

 

StopDistanceDriving timeDaysWhere to stay
SydneyThe Ultimo - See Prices
Blue Mountains62km55min2 daysKurrara Historic Guest House
Canberra290km3h1 dayLittle National Hotel Canberra
Alpine National Park432km5h2 daysPure Chalet Thredbo
Melbourne363km4hBrady Hotels Jones Lane - See Prices

 

1 – Sydney

 

Sydney harbour bridge Australia

 

This part doesn’t change compared to the other drive. Feel free to scroll back up to see what to do in Sydney.

 

2 – Blue Mountains National Park

 

Sydney blue mountains national park

 

The Blue Mountains are a beautiful National Park located a few kilometres west of Sydney. The main town is Katoomba, from there you can start many hikes and some viewpoints. Check out the panoramic views of the Jamison Valley and the Three Sisters. The Scenic Skyway is a wonderful glass cablecar ride, famous to be the steepest in the world. The hikes will take you through the bush to aboriginal sites and will be an incredible opportunity to discover the wildlife and wonderful landscapes.

 

The incredible thing about it is that the mountains are actually blue. The eucalyptus trees give this colour to the landscape. Absolutely unique and magical!

 

ACTIVITIES IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS: The first thing you should do is going to the 3 sisters lookout in Katoomba. From there, you will find a few hiking trails.

 

If you’d rather going on a tour, you can go on the hop on hop off bus. It leaves from Katoomba train station and will bring you everywhere you need to go.

 

If you want to do something a bit more unusual, you can go visit the caves. It’s a pretty cool thing to do.

 

Finally, one for the foodies out there! You can opt for a wine and food tasting at Echo Point.

 

ACCOMMODATION IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS: If you are looking for budget accommodation, No14 Lovel St hostel will be an excellent option. It’s very well located, in Katoomba.

 

If you want to get something a bit fancier, you should definitely opt for Kurrara Historic Guest House.

 

3 – Canberra

 

Canberra is the capital of Australia. It’s been built on purpose to be the capital, therefore is quite a recent city.

 

There are many parks and museums. The museums in Canberra are the best you will find in Australia! I particularly recommend the National Museum of Australia.

 

canberra road trip australia

 

Canberra is also home to all the parliament and all political institutions.

 

The city centre is ideal if you want to go shopping.

 

parliament house canberra australia

 

Finally, if you want to enjoy a beautiful view of the city, drive up the Black Mountain and you will get a 360 degrees view of Canberra.

 

ACTIVITIES IN CANBERRA: The best thing to do in Canberra is visiting the museums. I highly recommend the National Museum of Australia. It’s very interesting, especially if you want to learn more about Australian culture.

 

Another popular activity is to go on a brewery tour. Information and prices are available here.

 

ACCOMMODATION IN CANBERRA: The Little National Hotel Canberra is a great place to stay in Canberra. The location is great, in the CBD. The staff is friendly and the furniture comfortable. What else can we ask for? Click here for more information and see the latest prices.

 

Click here to see the full list of hotels, flats and hostels in Canberra.

 

4 – Alpine National Park

 

Although it’s a bit of a detour, the Alpine National Park is worth it! Located in the central region of the state of Victoria, the Alpine National Park has wonderful mountains, ideal for hiking and skiing! Yes, you can ski in Australia! Check out the following places for the best hikes and skiing experiences: Mount Hotham, Mount Bogong, Mount Feathertop and Falls Creek.

 

alpine national park australia

 

ACCOMMODATION IN ALPINE NATIONAL PARK: If you’d love to stay in a chalet, there is no better place in Australia than the Alpine National Park for that! The Pure Chalet Thredbo is a little gem! Perfect to enjoy your stay! Information and prices are available here.

 

Click here to see the full list of accommodation in the Alpine National Park!

 

5 – Melbourne

 

Melbourne skyline

These two Sydney to Melbourne road trip itineraries are great options and will give you the chance to discover some of the best things to see in Australia. You can also combine them and do a round trip if you wish!

 

You may also be interested in:

Australia Travel Guide

Places to see in Australia

Day Trips from Melbourne

Things to do in Jervis Bay

Planning a Working Holiday Visa in Australia

 

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road trip sydney to melbourne australia

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