Netflix hangover? Kill Your Rut With Our List of the 20 Best Day Trips From Melbourne.
Over Netflix and chill? Sick of Stan and stay? If you’re looking for something to do outside of your living room this weekend, we have you covered with our countdown of the 20 best day trips from Melbourne. Whether you’re a beach bum, an architecture geek, or an adrenaline junkie, we’ll help you find something fun to do, all within driving distance of your aircon and Smart TV.
25 minutes south west of Melbourne CBD
Perfect for history lovers
Williamstown plays an important role in Melbourne’s history. It was the city’s first port settlement during the European colonisation and grew rapidly thanks to the influx of population and investment during the Victorian gold rush era. A 25 minute drive or a ferry ride across Port Phillip Bay will drop you into the heart of this quaint, but bustling old township.
19. Lake Mountain
2 hours north east of Melbourne CBD
Perfect for skiers, hikers, cyclists
Trivia question: Which ski resort is the most visited in Australia? Thredbo: No! Perisher: No! Mount Buller: No! Surprisingly, the answer is Lake Mountain, thanks to its closeness to the city of Melbourne. For cross country skiers in winter, enjoy a 37 kilometre track through the Yarra Ranges National Park and, during the warm months, revel in the hikes and murderous cycling climbs that make the mountain famous amongst local Melbournians.
Lake Mountain comes in at number 19 on our list of the best day trips from Melbourne. Ready to visit? Get travel directions here.
18. Pentridge Prison
25 minutes north of Melbourne CBD
Perfect for true crime addicts
Some of Victoria’s most infamous criminals at one time or another called Pentridge Prison home, including Ned Kelly and Mark ‘Chopper’ Read. It’s been officially closed as a working penitentiary since 1997, but you can still tour its grounds and soak up its dark history.
Pentridge Prison comes in at number 18 on our list of the best day trips from Melbourne. Ready to visit? Get travel directions here.
17. Little Desert National Park
4 hours north west of Melbourne CBD
Perfect for 4WD-fanatics, hikers, campers
The Little Desert National Park is a good distance from Melbourne (so you might want to extend your visit to it with an overnight camping stay), but it’s the perfect hunting ground for four-wheel-drive fanatics, hikers, and campers.
Little Desert National Park comes in at number 17 on our list of the best day trips from Melbourne. Ready to visit? Get travel directions here.
3 hours north east of Melbourne CBD
Perfect for bushranger buffs, wine lovers
Beechworth is another quaint Victorian town worth visiting outside of Melbourne, for its history and undying architectural legacy. The town was another to feel the boom of the Gold Rush era and its streets are inscribed with traces of outlaw and bushranger life.
Beechworth comes in at number 16 on our list of the best day trips from Melbourne. Ready to visit? Get travel directions here.
1 hour south west of Melbourne CBD
Perfect for cats lovers, coastal dwellers
Geelong is home to the mighty Cats (all bias intended from the writer) and is a mini-coastal-metropolis just an hour’s drive from Melbourne’s CBD. It’s a perfect day trip if you’re in the mood for a cool beer or steaming coffee at one of the many waterfront establishments.
1 hour, 30 minutes south west of Melbourne CBD
Perfect for foodies, arts & crafts devotees
If you’re in the mood for a lazy afternoon saunter through a charming array of restaurants, cafes, pubs, and arts & crafts stores, you’ll love Queenscliff. You’ll love it even more for its seaside views and landscape of Victorian-era architecture.
Queenscliff comes in at number 14 on our list of the best day trips from Melbourne. Ready to visit? Get travel directions here.
13. Hanging Rock Reserve, The Macedon Ranges
1 hour north west Melbourne CBD
Perfect for movie buffs, hikers, mountain climbers, nature lovers
Cinephiles with a vivid memory of Edith’s hysterical reaction to Miranda’s disappearance into the haunted rock can live out Peter Weir’s 1975 classic adaptation of Joan Lindsay’s novel, Picnic at Hanging Rock, at the real Hanging Rock. Nestled into the Macedon Ranges, about an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the rock itself is an extinct volcano and is steeped in indigenous and bushranger history. Just remember to cover your ears if you hear it enticing you inside. With lots of walking trails and things to see, we recommend you make a weekend of this place.
While you’re there: Hanging Rock (directions), Mount Macedon (directions), Hanging Rock Winery (directions), Paramoor Winery (directions), Monsieur Pierre (directions).
Hanging Rock Reserve, The Macedon Ranges comes in at number 13 on our list of the best day trips from Melbourne. Ready to visit? Get travel directions here.
12. Mount Buller
3 hours, 15 minutes north east from Melbourne CBD
Perfect for skiers, snowboarders
It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner skier or an advanced snowboarder, a downhill hoon or a cross-country caresser, if you’re mad for the snow, Mount Buller has everything you need for one of the best winter’s day trips from Melbourne you’ll ever have. That said, after a three hour drive, you might want to find shelter for the night in a cosy lodge and extend your stay to experience the full measure of what the mountain has to offer: more than 20 lifts servicing hundreds of hectares of terrain and park.
2 hours south west from Melbourne CBD
Perfect fo surfers, beach bums, music lovers
Famous amongst music lovers for its New Year’s Eve Fall Festival, Lorne is a magical coastal destination and undoubtedly one of the most picturesque day trips from Melbourne. About a two-hour drive from the CBD, the last hour of the drive takes you down the Great Ocean Road, which starts at Torquay. Once you arrive at the peaceful town on Loutit Bay, there’s a myriad of natural beauty to admire and waterside activities to keep you busy.
While you’re there: Teddy's Lookout (directions), Erskine Falls (directions), Falls Music Festival, Pier to Pub, Lorne Pier Seafood Restaurant (directions).
Lorne comes in at number 11 on our list of the best day trips from Melbourne. Ready to visit? Get travel directions here.
10. Wilsons Promontory National Park
3 hours south east of Melbourne CBD
Perfect for nature lovers, photographers
Nature lovers and budding wildlife photographers, rejoice! A day trip to Wilsons Promontory National Park — the most southern point of Australia’s mainland — will place you in Victoria’s largest coastal wilderness territory. Give yourself a minute to recover from the long drive before you immerse yourself in the fairytale setting of beaches, rainforests, and the granite terrain that surrounds it all. Take a bushwalk down one of the many tracks or hike up Mt. Oberon to spot a sample of the native wildlife that inhabit the area.
While you’re there: Squeaky Beach (directions), Lilly Pilly Gully (directions), Whisky Bay (directions), Mt. Oberon (directions).
Wilsons Promontory National Park comes in at number 10 on our list of the best day trips from Melbourne. Ready to visit? Get travel directions here.
1 hour, 50 minutes north of Melbourne CBD
Perfect for history buffs, architecture geeks
Another town that saw its prosperity boom during the Australian gold rush era of the 1850s. These days, you’ll find Bendigo to be a charming time capsule of a bygone, Victorian era of architecture, art, and culture. You’ll get there in under two hours by car, but if you go by train (the V/Line service) you’ll have more time to soak in the countryside the journey has to offer. Once you arrive, visit the Central Deborah Gold Mine for a trip down gold rush memory lane, stroll through the Bendigo Art Gallery, or people watch at one of the many bars, restaurants and cafes dotted throughout the city centre.
While you’re there: Bendigo Art Gallery (directions), Central Deborah Gold Mine (directions), Golden Dragon Museum (directions), The Capital Theatre (directions), Ulumbarra Theatre (directions).
Bendigo comes in at number 9 on our list of the best day trips from Melbourne. Ready to visit? Get travel directions here.
8. Grampians National Park
3 hours north west of Melbourne CBD
Perfect for hikers, photographers, nature lovers
The Grampians takes you a fair drive out of Melbourne’s CBD but it’s supremely worth it if you’re a hiking enthusiast or deep admirer of nature, and all it can deliver within the one ecosystem. That ecosystem, in this case, is an abundance of wild rock formations, waterfalls, and native wildlife that can all be captured from any one of the sweeping outlooks that sit above it. If hiking isn’t your go, you can abseil or rock climb Mt. Arapiles, fish and canoe till your heart’s content, or go horseback riding across the untamed terrain.
While you’re there: Brambuk National Park & Cultural Centre (directions), MacKenzie Falls (directions), Fish Falls, The Pinnacle (directions), Boroka Lookout (directions), Halls Gap (directions).
Grampians National Park comes in at number 8 on our list of the best day trips from Melbourne. Ready to visit? Get travel directions here.
1 hour, 30 minutes north west of Melbourne CBD
Perfect for: History buffs
Ballarat is the ultimate gold-rush-era town and the wild west days of the 1850s and ‘60s are immortalized at Sovereign Hill, an outdoor museum five minutes’ drive from the contemporary town centre. As soon as you step inside the recreated world of Sovereign Hill your imagination runs wild and takes you back to an era of blacksmiths and artisans. But if old-timely storefronts and panning for fake gold aren’t your go, Ballarat is more than a one trick pony, and you should immerse yourself in the finer things — food, wine, and art — that make Ballarat so special.
While you’re there: Sovereign Hill (directions), Ballarat Winter Festival, Winter Wonderlights, L’espresso (directions), Hop Temple (directions), Art Gallery of Ballarat (directions), The Provincial Hotel (directions), The Gold Museum (directions), Ballarat Botanical Gardens (directions), Ballarat Wildlife Park (directions).
Ballarat comes in at number 7 on our list of the best day trips from Melbourne. Ready to visit? Get travel directions here.
6. Yarra Valley
1 hour north east of Melbourne CBD
Perfect for wine lovers, romantics
Known for its Chardonnay and Pinot noir (thanks to the cool climate), the Yarra Valley is, in my view, one of the jewels in Victoria’s tourism crown. A short, hour drive from the bustling CBD has you standing in the middle of endless green, with hills all around, gazing out at hectares of perfectly-aligned vineyard vines. Make sure you bring a loose belt and a looser wallet so you can over-indulge in everything the valley has to offer, from wine to ice cream to the lamb shoulder that will fall on cue, and unprompted, off the bone. Don’t want to miss a thing? Experience the Yarra Valley with a wine tour so you can wine and dine all day long.
While you’re there: Giant Steps (directions), Yering Station (directions), Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery (directions), Balgownie Estate (directions), Yarra Valley Dairy (directions), Gateway Yarra Valley (directions), Domaine Chandon (directions), TarraWarra Estate (directions), Three Stories Artspace (directions), TarraWarra Museum of Art (directions), Coombe (directions), Healesville Sanctuary (directions), Innocent Bystander (directions).
Yarra Valley comes in at number 6 on our list of the best day trips from Melbourne. Ready to visit? Get travel directions here.
5. Great Ocean Road
1 hour and 20 minutes up 3 hours, south west of Melbourne CBD
Perfect for beach bums, photographers, nature lovers
Outside of the Australian Rules grand final and the Melbourne Cup, there are few Victorian sporting events as coveted as the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, one of the prime attractions along the Great Ocean Road. The expansive stretch of road, which meanders down the coastline from Torquay to Allansford, offers a breathtaking self-guided tour of some of the country’s best known landmarks, including the Twelve Apostles, and the aforementioned Bells Beach. And for those who want to really immerse themselves in the natural landscape of the area, take a stroll through the bordering Great Otway National Park.
While you’re there: Salty Dog Fish and Chippery (directions), Aireys Pub (directions), Conservation Ecology Centre (directions), Otway Fly Treetop Adventures (directions), Surf World Museum (directions), Qdos Arts (directions).
Great Ocean Road comes in at number 5 on our list of the best day trips from Melbourne. Ready to visit? Get travel directions here.
4. The Dandenong Ranges
1 hour east of Melbourne CBD
Perfect for nature lovers, hikers, photographers, wine lovers
The Dandenong Ranges offer nature lovers and hikers a playground of opportunities, through rainforests and the mystical Sherbrooke Forest. Make sure you find your way to Belgrave Station and board Puffing Billy, a century-old, heritage railway that is among the most popular in the world. It will escort you through the breathtaking views of the southern foothills of the Ranges.
While you’re there: Puffing Billy (directions), Grants Picnic Ground (directions), Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens (directions), William Ricketts Sanctuary (directions), National Rhododendron Gardens (directions), Cloudehill Nursery and Gardens (directions), Cream At Sassafras (Directions) Miss Marple's Tea Rooms (directions), Burnham Bakery (directions), Only Mine Chocolates (directions) SkyHigh Mt Dandenong (directions).
The Dandenong Ranges comes in at number 4 on our list of the best day trips from Melbourne. Ready to visit? Get travel directions here.
3. Mornington Peninsula
1 hour, 10 minutes south of Melbourne CBD
Perfect for coastal dwellers, romantics
The Mornington Peninsula is just over an hour’s drive south of the Melbourne CBD, but feels like a lifetime away from those bustling streets. Overlooking Port Phillip Bay, the Peninsula’s eastern tips of Portsea and Sorrento are a stone’s throw across the water from Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale. If you’re hankering for a relaxing day, spend some time at the Peninsula Hot Springs, or enjoy a beautiful picnic spread at Arthurs Seat, soaking in the views overlooking the whole peninsula.
While you’re there: Mornington Peninsula Food and Wine Festival, Paringa Estate (directions), Merricks General Wine Store (directions), Red Hill Estate (directions), Crittenden Estate Wines (directions), Peninsula Hot Springs (directions), Enchanted Adventure Garden (directions), Flinders Hotel (directions), McClelland Gallery (directions), Montalto (directions), Ten Minutes by Tractor (directions), Red Hill Markets (directions), Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm (directions).
Mornington Peninsula comes in at number 3 on our list of the best day trips from Melbourne. Ready to visit? Get travel directions here.
1 hour, 30 minutes north west of Melbourne CBD
Perfect for romantics, day spa devotees
Daylesford is one of the most popular day trip destinations for Melbournians, such are the therapeutic qualities of the area. Known affectionately as the spa capital of Australia, if you’re in need of a soothing escape from the hustle and bustle of the inner-city, no place on this list will rejuvenate you more than here. While Daylesford is the first destination to key into your GPS, it’s Hepburn Springs, 6 kilometres north, where you want to end up: It’s the centrepoint to the largest grouping of natural mineral springs in the entire country, so you won’t struggle finding a quiet place to unwind.
While you’re there: Hepburn Springs (directions), The Boathouse (directions), The Farmers Arms Hotel (directions), Mill Markets (directions), The Convent Gallery (directions), Lake House (directions), Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat (directions), Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa (directions), Lavandula Swiss-Italian Farm (directions), Paradise Bookshop (directions), Bromley and Co. (directions), Mercato (directions), Frank and Connie's Kitchen (directions).
Daylesford comes in at number 2 on our list of the best day trips from Melbourne. Ready to visit? Get travel directions here.
1. Phillip Island
2 hours south of Melbourne CBD
Perfect for wildlife lovers, petrol-heads, activity-junkies
There’s more going for Phillip Island than its famed colony of penguins, but it’s those adorable, flightless birds that draw in a huge portion of the millions of annual visitors to the island. The Penguin Parade — where rafts of penguins emerge from the ocean and waddle up Summerland Beach — is a must-see every evening. Beyond the penguins, for animal tragics there’s also Seal Rocks, the country’s largest colony of fur seals, the Koala Conservation Centre, and the Phillip Island Wildlife Park.
For activity-junkies, you can go exploring along the Nobbies boardwalk, which hugs the headland and gives you incredible views of the rugged coastline, or get your fill of engine fumes on a hot lap with an experienced race car driver (don’t forget the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix takes up residence on the island every year in October). There’s also a scattering of other action activities, like mountain biking, lasertag, paintball, rafting, and kayaking to keep your adrenaline levels up between heart-melting penguin sightings.
While you’re there: G’Day Tiger (directions), Westernport Hotel (directions), Phillip Island Nature Park (directions), Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, Harry’s Restaurant (directions), Penguin Parade (directions).
Phillip Island comes in at number 1 on our list of the best day trips from Melbourne. Ready to visit? Get travel directions here.