Melbourne is absolutely awesome in and of itself, but the extensive amount of day trips from Melbourne make it that much more incredible. While the culture, coffee, bars, history, laneways, and food make the city great, the amazing amount of natural beauty surrounding the city render it a fantastic base to travel or to live.
I spent the second year of my working holiday visa living in Melbourne and leading walking tours around the city each day. As it was literally my job to know the city and its surrounds, I have helped thousands of travelers plan their Melbourne trips. I would like to think this makes me pretty darn qualified to recommend the best Melbourne day trips (and general Melbourne tips!) to you as well.
If you are looking for other tips on Melbourne, I’ve got you covered as well – just click the links below! But for day trips from Melbourne, read on. I’ll give my best tips from my experience on these days trips, recommend to stay more days when applicable, let you know where would be best to rent a car and drive, and always link to the most trusted day tour provider I have tried and tested myself.
Great Ocean Road
What it is: Gorgeous Rugged Coastline road trip
How far from Melbourne: The Great Ocean Road starts at least 1.5-2 hours from the city, and is will include at LEAST 3 hours of driving.
How to Get There: Follow signs to Geelong and join the Great Ocean Road just past Anglesea
Recommended Day Tour: Great Ocean Road Day Tour with Go West Tours
The most popular and important day trips from Melbourne are to the Great Ocean Road. If you haven’t heard of this Melbourne day trip by now, you’re missing out! The Great Ocean Road is perhaps the number one option for a day trip, as it allows you to experience the rugged and beautiful Victorian coastline.
The Great Ocean Road gives you an entirely different perspective on the region than you can get in the city. You’ll drive through quaint little beach towns like Lorne and Apollo Bay, get to search for wild koalas climbing gumtrees out in the country, experience the sheer power of mother nature through powerful waves crashing on distant rocks, and view famous natural landmarks you may have seen in guidebooks and on Pinterest.
There are important Great Ocean Road trip stops throughout the entire journey, which your driver will be very familiar with. Perhaps the most famous stop on Great Ocean Road day trips from Melbourne is the Twelve Apostles. This landmark used to have twelve standalone cliffs out amid the waves on the shore, but today there are only seven remaining. Either way, it’s a gorgeous must-see sight in Victoria.
My other personal favorite stops are London Bridge (a beautiful sandstone rock out in the ocean that used to be connected to the land) and the Loch Ard Gorge. You’ll see all these stops on a tour from Melbourne, and can see even more if you rent a car.
Must See: Memorrial Arch, Teddy’s Lookout, Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge
Dandenong Ranges – Puffing Billy, Belgrave
What it is: Beautiful mountain ranges (with a steam train) just outside the city
How far from Melbourne: about 45 minutes
How to Get There: Rent a car and drive east, or take the train to the base of the mountains
Recommended Day Tour: Dandenong + Puffing Billy Half Day with Autopia Tours (Dandenong Ranges Only) or Puffing Billy + Healesville Sanctuary with Bunyip Tours (Dandenong Ranges and Aussie Wildlife Experience)
The Dandenong Ranges are a bit of an undiscovered gem in my opinion. It’s not one of the most popular day trips from Melbourne, but really should be due to the remote beauty of the mountain ranges.
Within the Dandenong Ranges you can find all sorts of undiscovered gems. The beautiful town of Belgrave is home toe some amazing eateries and the famous Puffing Billy train, which is a decked-out steam train that serves meals and provides amazing views to patrons riding it through the mountainous region.
You can explore some gorgeous small mountain towns and explore lots of different forest hikes and mountain trails. There’s a gorgeous botanic garden area called the Alfred Nicholas Gardens as well, for any plant lovers out there.
Perhaps the most famous viewpoint of the Dandenong Ranges is from Sky High, a restaurant at the top of Mt Dandenong. Here you can try different types of food and telescopes looking out over the land, towards the city and other mountain regions of Victoria. Spot wild kookaburra as you hike to Burke’s lookout, which has a pristine view of Melbourne’s city skyline on a clear day.
Must See: Puffing Billy, Sky High, Burke’s Lookout
Phillip Island – Penguins
What it is: An island inhabited by hundreds (thousands?) of indigenous (tiny!) penguins
How far from Melbourne: About 2 hours
How to Get There: Take a day tour or rent a car driving southeast
Recommended Day Tour: Moonlit Sanctuary + Penguin Parade with Bunyip Tours (allows you to see other Aussie wildlife with lunch in one day)
Phillip Island is one of the most popular day trips from Melbourne, and rightfully so! Although kangaroos and koalas are definitely very exciting, one of the most local wildlife species to view in Victoria is the ‘little penguin.’ They used to be called the ‘fairy penguin,’ but they have been aptly renamed because they are, well…. little!
When visiting Phillip Island, you can experience what they call the ‘penguin parade’ as dozens if not hundreds of these lil’ guys pop out of the water at dusk to make their homes on land for the night. You’ll sit in a stadium-like area to make sure their habitat is respected while still having a great vantage point – or you can pay a bit more to stand inside a building with a glass window to be even closer to them!
This happens at sunset, so it depends on the time of year that the penguin parade will happen. Some Phillip island day tours are half-day, but some are longer and include a visit to a wildlife sanctuary to view other types of classic Aussie wildlife. Many tours stop at the Moonlit Sanctuary about half way between the city and Phillip Island.
Must See: Penguin Parade
Grampians National Park
What it is: Bushy + Rocky Mountains with waterfalls and rich aboriginal culture
How far from Melbourne: About 3 hours
How to Get There: Take a day tour or rent a car driving northwest up the M8
Recommended Day Tour: Grampians Day Tour with Autopia Tours takes you to all important POI’s and the cultural center!
The Grampians National Park is an area of outstanding natural beauty in a more regional part of Victoria. Due to its distance, it’s recommendable as a weekend trip but still doable to see its main sights in a day trip from Melbourne. Day tours from Melbourne to the Grampians will leave the city very early, but they will be worthwhile to experience main viewpoints, hikes, and waterfalls.
The Grampians are known for their extensive wildlife and mountain regions. You can walks to high vantage points over the valley with many hikes of varying difficulties throughout the park. There are also some famous waterfalls that are popular to visit, namely MacKenzie Falls.
It’s highly advisable to visit the cultural center when visiting the Grampians, as well. The local aboriginal tribes have an extremely rich culture full of fascinating legends on how the area came about. You’ll learn all the different theories on colorful animals and regions while educating yourself on the historic culture of indigenous Australians.
Must See: MacKenzie Falls, Hall’s Gap, Boroka Lookout, Cultural center
What it is: Wine Region with scenic rolling hills
How far from Melbourne: About an hour
How to Get There: Take a day tour or rent a car driving directly east
Recommended Day Tour: Yarra Valley Gourmet Tour with Go West Tours – wine, fruit, cheese, AND chocolate!
The Yarra Valley is an absolute must for those who love wine, alcohol in general, and/or rolling wine regions. Generally less than an hour outside the city, the Yarra Valley is a stunning departure from the city bustle and easily done in a simple day trip.
The Yarra Valley is pretty special because there are over 150 wineries dotted through the countryside. While exploring these wineries, you can also visit a fresh dairy (helloooo, fresh cheese), a famous Gin Distillery called Four Pillars, a cider brewery, and the famous Yarra Valley chocolaterie. In other words, there’s plenty of wine, and also variety as well!
Many day trips from Melbourne to Yarra Valley will visit at least 3-4 wineries as well as a selection of other venues to change it up a little. Check on the itinerary of your tour of choice to make sure it visits all the stops you’d like to see! My personal fave is the Go West tour linked above, which visits plenty of wineries AND places to taste fresh fruit/juice, cheese, AND chocolate!
Must See: a few wineries, at least! Also a few of a dairy, chocolaterie, gin distillery, and cider brewery.
What it is: A scenic peninsula south of the city with beach towns, farmland viewpoints, and more wine.
How far from Melbourne: Between 30 mins and 1.5 hours
How to Get There: Take a day tour or rent a car driving directly south. Public Transport can only take you to the northern end of the peninsula.
Recommended Day Tour: Peninsula + Hot Springs Tour with Hide and Seek (for adventurers – includes viewpoint, 5 mile hike, and then hot springs!) OR Mornington Peninsula Day Tour with Bunyip Tours for those who prefer strolling along beaches (Sorrento/Portsea included) and tasting wine! Both tours are fab.
The Mornington Peninsula may not grace the top of the lists on places to go from Melbourne, but it’s yet another lesser-known gem in Melbourne tourism. The peninsula faces the Port Phillip Bay on one side (calm waters and pristine beaches) and the open ocean on the other (heavy surf and rocky areas).
Between the two bodies of water are rolling hills of farmland, sheep/cows, small beachy towns, and beautiful viewpoints overlooking the coastline. Arthur’s seat is a famously touristy part of the peninsula, with a cable car going up a scenic beachside hill. There are dozens of wineries to visit as you make your way around, one of the most incredible of which is a winery/restaurant/sculpture garden called Pt Leo Estate.
Sorrento and Portsea are well-known beach towns on either side of the thin tip of the peninsula. Mornington is a trendy beach town on the bay side of the peninsula, and Arthur’s Seat overlooks most of it all! There are lots of gorgeous walks to do along the cliffy coastlines, and once you’re finished, you can dip in the warm waters of the amazing Peninsula Hot Springs.
Must See: Arthur’s Seat, wine tasting, bush walking, hot springs
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Daylesford/Hepburn Springs and the Macedon Ranges
What it is: A relaxing mountainside getaway
How far from Melbourne: About 1.5 hours
How to Get There: Rent a car and drive northwest – there are a few day tours but mostly private/wine tours
Recommended Day Tour: Private Daylesford Tour with highly acclaimed Melbourne Private Tours, or a weekend trip.
Daylesford and Hepburn Springs are known to be a relaxing getaway from Melbourne. Daylesford’s most popular feature is why it’s called a ‘spa town:’ pools of mineral hot springs at Daylesford Day Spa. You can visit hot springs, explore galleries in the quaint town, and dine lakeside at some highly acclaimed restaurants.
Although possible as a day trip, I would highly recommend Daylesford area as a weekend getaway from Melbourne because there’s so much to see (and luxurious accommodation as well)! The area is also a popular wine region, with dozens of wineries possible to visit in the area. There are tours that run through the wine region from Daylesford if you decide to stay longer.
Nearby, you will find the beautiful Macedon Ranges. If relaxing isn’t your thing (or before you unwind in the hot springs) there are plenty of trails to hike in the area. Check out Mount Macedon for the most incredible view, or many more trails and tiny country towns as well.
Must See: Hot Springs, Lake Daylesford
What it is: Sanctuary to experience Australian Wildlife
How far from Melbourne: About an Hour
How to Get There: Rent a Car, Take a Tour, or take a train and one bus.
Recommended Day Tour: Healesville Sanctuary + Puffing Billy Combined Tour by AAT Kings
Healesville Sanctuary is one of the most popular places for visitors to experience Aussie wildlife. It’s not a complete trip down under unless you get to experience some kangaroos and koalas, is it?! Healesville is a perfect destination to combine with a trip to the Dandenong Ranges or with Yarra Valley, and many day tours do so.
You can feel content that the animals are kept in a natural bushland setting and allowed to roam freely. Spend a few hours exploring many different species of marsupial, mammal, reptile, and bird, and see if you can find on you’ve never seen before!
If you’d prefer just to see the sanctuary, you can rent a car to drive there and schedule a sanctuary tour with a ranger which allows you even closer access to the animals you want to get up close and personal with.
Must See: Aussie Wildlife!
Ballarat + Sovereign Hill Day Trips from Melbourne
What it is: An inland Gold Mining Town
How far from Melbourne: about 1.5 hours
How to Get There: Rent a car, take a day tour, or take a direct train
Recommended Day Tour: Sovereign Hill + Ballarat Tour from Melbourne with Gray Line
Visiting Ballarat is like stepping back in time. See, Ballarat was the epicenter of Victoria’s massive gold rush in the mid-1800’s, and there are still many remnants of this rich history there today.
Sovereign Hill is an actual replica of what the gold rush town may have looked like all those years ago – complete with gift shops, craft stores, restaurants, and even gold panning opportunities! You can also visit an old mine and experience what it may have been like.
The Gold Museum is a fascinating look back into the gold rush period, and you can also visit the Eureka Center to learn about a rebellion in 1854 that shaped the future of Australia. There are lots of trendy eateries in the Ballarat CBD, and you must also take a walk by Lake Wendouree for a bit of peace and quiet. See my Ballarat Travel Guide for an in-depth look at visiting the area!
Must See: Sovereign Hill, Gold Museum, Lake Wendouree
Wilson’s Promontory National Park Day Tour from Melbourne
What it is: A seaside national park with wildlife, coast, and forest
How far from Melbourne: Under 3 hours
How to Get There: Take a day tour or rent a car driving southeast.
Recommended Day Tour: Wilson’s Promontory National Park Day Tour with Bunyip Tours
Wilson’s Promontory is another gorgeous area of nature in Victoria, and one of the most rugged day trips from Melbourne. It’s a National Park with gorgeous viewpoints looking down pristine coastlines, complete with hiking trails that could take you for miles and miles.
There are dozens of beaches in what is actually the southernmost point of mainland Australia. The famous ‘squeaky beach’ actually has sand so white and fine that it squeaks when you walk on it!
It’s a huge area, but the day tour will take you to all the best bits within one big day. You’ll see some of the best viewpoints such as Mt Bishop and empty beaches, but perhaps one of the biggest pulls of this day trip is the wildlife. ‘Wilson’s Prom,’ as they call it for short, is inundated with local kangaroos and other marsupials, so make sure to keep your eyes out!
Must See: Squeaky Beach, Mt Bishop
What it is: One of the closest skiing mountains to Melbourne
How far from Melbourne: About 3.5 Hours
How to Get There: Take a day tour, rent a car, or take a coach
Recommended Day Tour: Mt Buller Day Tour with Gray Line
Many people are unfamiliar with the beautiful ‘Victorian Alps’ region. Mt Buller would also be much better as a longer trip, but the area is so worth checking out as a day trip if you don’t have much time.
Mt Buller is an alpine terrain park where you can adventure to your heart’s content: skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, snowshoeing, and more. You’ll have about 5 hours free time on Mt Buller day trips from Melbourne, which surely is plenty to try out a few runs and more. You can also reserve snow gear as well, if you are so inclined. Day tours will also stop in quite a few other small towns and scenic viewpoints to round out the journey.
There’s also a great alpine village in Mt Buller if you are not quite the skiing type but want to enjoy the area. Visitors can enjoy many different food options alongside walks and viewpoints. There are also sled dog tours!
Must See: Mt Buller Village Square, Mountain Vistas/Snow
Silo Art Trail
What it is: Massive murals painted on country silos
How far from Melbourne: Between 3 and 5.5 hours from beginning to end
How to Get There: Rent a Car and Drive!
Recommended Day Tour: You’ll have to rent a car and do this one yourself! 🙂
There are various parts of rural Victoria whose silos have been graced by the mural art of some incredible artists. These silos can be visited in order on what is known as the Silo Art Trail. Visit the silo art trail website to view a map and learn about all the official locations of these murals.
This silo art is actually known as Australia’s largest outdoor art gallery. It’s a brilliant way to get more people to visit the smaller country communities, and an incredible style of art not very attainable in other parts of the world.
To create these artworks, well-known artists met with the local indigenous communities of the areas and created artworks that represented unique stories about that town and its people. If you’d like to get out a bit more into real country Australia, and see how the farmers live in more remote corners of the state, this maybe the the Melbourne day trip for you!
Must See: Each silo that is part of the trail!
Geelong + You Yangs Regional Park
What it is: Beachside city and bush walks
How far from Melbourne: 1-1.5 hours
How to Get There: Rent a car or take the train
Recommended Day Tour: You’ll have to rent a car and do this one yourself! 🙂
Geelong is the second largest city in Victoria. It’s located in the southwestern part of the Port Phillip Bay (Melbourne is at the northernmost part). Geelong is much more laid back than Melbourne, and is defined by its beautiful botanic gardens, seaside paths, restaurants, museums, and galleries.
A great day trip from Melbourne would be to mix in a visit to Geelong with a stop at the nearby beach, Torquay, and a beautiful mountainous regional park called the You Yangs. Torquay area is roughly considered the starting point of the Great Ocean Road, and usually has lots windsurfers and people on the beach.
The You Yangs regional park is the perfect place to have a classic Aussie bush walk. The park has a few large hills with trails throughout. The trails are only mildly challenging. But, they present incredible views of the surrounding farmland and also of the Melbourne city skyline.
There are still more places that are possible as day trips from Melbourne, but by this point we have stretched to the point of Melbourne weekend getaways. All of the destinations above are fine as day trips, but many would be preferable as weekend trips so that you can spend more time and make the most of your time there.
So if you’d like to keep reading about other places to visit from Melbourne, but this time for places you should visit for LONGER than jsut a day trip, stay tuned for my upcoming article on Melbourne weekend getaways…. coming soon!
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