The 8 Best Day Trips from Melbourne (2020 Edition)

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Planning to visit Victoria’s capital? Make sure to check out these 8 day trips from Melbourne during your stay!

From the incredible culinary delights of the Yarra Valley to the adorable penguins of Phillip Island and the spectacular views in The Grampians, there are some seriously awesome day trips to be done from Melbourne.

Yes, there are plenty of amazing things to do in Melbourne when it comes to culture, food, arts & so much more.

But don’t let that stop you from checking out some of the best day trips from Melbourne.

The Best Day Trips from Melbourne

Having spent a bunch of time in Melbourne, and explored a lot of the state of Victoria, it’s my pleasure to bring you this list of the best Melbourne day trips based on my personal experience.

1. The Great Ocean Road

This is perhaps one of the most iconic stretches of road in Australia and maybe even the southern hemisphere.

The Great Ocean Road is a national heritage listed length of road that runs along the southeastern coast of Australia.

Only 2.5 hours from downtown Melbourne and stretching nearly 250km, the Great Ocean Road is a national heritage listed length of road.

No matter if you opt for a tour or self-drive, you’ll be seeing one of the most amazing places in all of Australia.

What to do on the Great Ocean Road

What makes this such a great day trip from Melbourne is the variety of different activities along the way.

If you don’t have your own vehicle, there’s nothing to worry about.

With dozens of tour operators offering Melbourne day tours to the Great Ocean Road, you won’t miss out.

These guys are the best in my opinion, and you’ll get to experience everything there is to see (and more)!

The landscapes along the Great Ocean Road vary from one winding road to the next.

You’ll go along the coast, through beautiful forests and through charming seaside towns.

If you head out on an organized tour the stops will be chosen for you, but will likely include all the must-see locations.

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars, which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

Bell’s Beach is a must for any surfer in the group. Made famous for its incredible swells, Bells Beach is located near the town of Torquay and makes for a great stop for an avid surfer, or those wanting to learn.

Apollo Bay is another brilliant spot for a beach walk or catch a few waves.

When it comes to spectacular landscapes, the Great Ocean Road has a few from which to choose.

Lord Arch Gorge is part of the Port Campbell National Park and named after a ship that ran aground here in 1878.

While the arch has since collapsed leaving 2 stone pillars inside the gorge, the views from the lookout are still spectacular.

The Twelve Apostles are a collection of limestone stacks within the same park as Lord Arch Gorge and one of the most impressive locations in Australia.

For a more unique view, there are helicopter flights that take off from here and bring people over the apostles for one of the best views possible.

Great Otway National Park is massive and covers a huge portion of the Great Ocean Road.

You’ll find beautiful waterfalls, ancient and lush rainforests, gorgeous beaches and even a koala or two up in the trees if you’re lucky. 

Best Places to Stay on the Great Ocean Road

Driving the Great Ocean Road can definitely be done in a day, but if you have two days, even better!

Why not consider staying the night along the way, so you can take your time and check out all the little side trips?

The Apollo Bay Eco has a fantastic outdoor area with a bbq and has a gorgeous common area with a fireplace to relax after a day out exploring the beaches and National Parks nearby.

Right across the street from Fisherman’s beach in Torquay is the beautiful Beachfront Resort Torquay with a central location and fantastic amenities.

Great Ocean Road
Twelve Apostles on The Great Ocean Road

2. Yarra Valley

Only 25km from central Melbourne and you’ll be immersed in some of the country’s most beautiful scenery.

Accessible by car, train and public bus (the number 364) this is the perfect Melbourne day trip if you’re short on time.

Home to some of the country’s best wineries, world-class restaurants, spectacular views and some fantastic activities.

Whether you’re looking for a perfect spa day getaway from the city, to get out into nature or even take up to the skies in a hot air balloon the Yarra Valley has a multitude of activities for everyone.

READ MORE: Don’t miss out on this guide to spending the perfect 3 days in Melbourne!

What to do in the Yarra Valley

A perfect Melbourne day tour worth taking advantage of is the Yarra Valley Wine, Cider and Chocolate day tour. Get picked up at your hotel in Melbourne and be whisked away for a day of decadence.

Visit multiple wineries, a cider stop and a trip to Yarra Valley Chocolaterie all from the comfort of a vehicle you don’t have to drive.

If you’re travelling with your own vehicle you can still do a tour of the wineries, but only with a designated driver of course.

You can get a reliable, cheap rental car here.

With over 80 wineries in the region to choose from, here are a few must-visit stops that are worth checking out.

Zonzo Estate is a fine dining estate with spectacular views and a focus on Italian dining.

The Stables at Stones is a charming and rustic looking red brick building with a seasonal menu and fantastic wine pairings.

TarraWarra Estate boasts the best Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the region and also the best views from atop a lush green hill.

On top of the wine tastings, there are also several distilleries in the Yarra Valley including Four Pillars, Levantine Hill, and Domaine Chandon for all those champagne lovers. 

For an exceptionally unique experience in the Yarra Valley and one of the best things to do in Melbourne, take a hot air balloon flight. .

Visiting Melbourne in the winter? Never fear, one of the best Melbourne day trips includes a visit to Lake Mountain.

This is the most affordable alpine ski location close to Melbourne and offers something for everyone visiting.

If skiing/snowboarding aren’t for you there are several beautiful winter walking trails at Lake Mountain to get you out into the great outdoors.

If you’re looking for a place for a little rest and relaxation Natskin Day Spa is where it’s at.

Indulge in massages, facials and even hydrotherapy treatments all in a rustic and gorgeous setting in the Yarra Valley.

Best Places to Stay in the Yarra Valley

Make the most of the delicious wine and food, and don’t worry about heading back to the city by staying the night in the Yarra Valley!

Deville At Healesville offers lovely rooms, with views of the lush wine region with the added bonus of add on packages including incredible massages at the spa.

Yarra Valley Melbourne Day Trips
Winery in the Yarra Valley

3. Ballarat

Ballarat is one of the biggest cities outside of Melbourne, and also a city overflowing with history.

If you love history, then you’ll absolutely love what is arguably one of the top day trips from Melbourne!

It was made famous in the 1850s for its historic gold rush, and the news spread quickly around the country of the findings.

Immerse yourself in medieval history, learn more about Australia’s history, or take a trip back into history if you fancy.

While this day trip from Melbourne is one of the most historical, there is no shortage of outdoor activities either.

Visit Lake Wendouree, stroll through the botanical gardens or maybe stop in at Black Hill Reserve.

No matter what your reason for coming to this part of Australia you’ll leave having done some of the best Melbourne sightseeing without having gone too far from the city.

What to do in Ballarat

One of the most popular sites in terms of Ballarat sightseeing is definitely Sovereign Hill.

This open-air museum depicts the gold rush of the 1850s and costumed staff in character and 60 historically modelled buildings.

You can try your hand at panning for gold, go on an underground tour of Red Hill Mine, or take in the incredible light show recounting the Eureka Uprising of 1854.

You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time with the old trams, horse-drawn carriages and wild west vibe.

For those seeking a trip a little further back in history, Kyral Castle should be on your list.

This replica of a medieval castle is actually an adventure park with incredible exhibits, carnival games and even a jousting arena.

Test your strength as you try to remove the sword in the stone, cross the drawbridge over the moat and into a land full of dragons, princesses and knights, or check out the torture dungeon if you dare.

If you’re looking for something a bit more outdoorsy, make your way to Lake Wendouree.

What was once only a stream, turned swamp and now recreational lake in Ballarat is home to multiple boating activities and walking trails.

This is also where the Ballarat Botanical Gardens are found which are beautiful for a stroll.

If you’re searching for something a little more challenging with the best reward, head out to Black Hill Reserve. This urban park has a 500-meter hill to climb with panoramic views at the top well worth the climb.

A perfect mix of history and new age, the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E) is a great way to learn more about this part of Ballarat history.

Through a mix of digital technologies, historic artifacts and various art installations visitors will be able to learn more about the Eureka Rebellion of 1854.

Best Places to Stay in Ballarat

Situated opposite to the iconic and historic Sovereign Hill, the Mercure Ballarat Hotel is equal parts iconic and charm itself.

With a lake right behind the hotel and a beautiful array of guest rooms, this is the perfect place to stop in and extend your Melbourne Day tour to a few days.

READ MORE: Plan your trip to Australia with our comprehensive Australia Travel Guide.

4. The Grampians

The perfect Melbourne day trip for anyone looking to escape the city and head into the great outdoors.

The Grampian National Park is about 260 km west of Melbourne and can be done with your own vehicle or as part of a tour.

Proclaimed as a National Park in 1984 and listed as an Australian Heritage site in 2006 this National Park features a series of incredible sandstone mountains.

One of the richest indigenous rock art sites in South Eastern Australia, The Grampians are full of incredible natural beauty and historic Aboriginal cultural associations.

There’s more to do here than just hiking too. Take in the lookout points, visit the Cultural Center, take in the Hamilton Gallery and all its beautiful works of art, and check out the amazing waterfalls.

What to do in Grampian National Park

First and foremost- hike! The Grampians offer tons of trails for every level of hiker looking to explore.

There’s the Venus Baths Loop and The Balconies walk which are both relatively flat and under 2km.

If you’re up to it, the more challenging half-day Wonderland Loop Hike takes you through Venus Baths, Silent Street, The Pinnacle and The Grand Canyon.

No matter how much time you have or what your level of fitness is there really is a trail for everyone to enjoy the park and the views.

No wonder it is known to be one of the best day trips from Melbourne!

If you want to learn a little bit more about the history of the Grampians or find out more about the Aboriginal artwork here then headfirst for The Ngamadjidj Aboriginal Art Shelter.

Here you’ll find preserved works of art stretching the decades and get a real sense for the people who once inhabited this part of the country.

The J Ward Museum was once a prison transformed into a maximum-security psychiatric facility for the criminally insane.  

Take a ghost tour and dive deep into the ever so dark history of this place.

If you’re into art then check out the Hamilton Gallery which showcases over 8000 pieces of art from Europe, Australia and Asia.

While The Grampians are made of sandstone, quite dry and golden in colour that doesn’t mean there isn’t a waterfall to be found.

Sadly, swimming is no longer permitted here (for safety reasons) but the viewing platform is perfectly positioned for a great view of the falls.

The viewing platform is accessible from the car park making it perfect for even those with limited mobility.

But if you want an even better view there is a 2km return trail that will bring you to the base of the falls and give you an even better view.

A favourite hike for photographers at sunrise or sunset would be The Balconies, which take you through rocky outcroppings and forest until you reach the top to find views out over the Victoria Valley.

Best Places to Stay in the Grampians

Grampians Eco YHA is a hostel that makes the perfect base to explore the park. An eco-friendly and sustainable design, free parking and a veg garden for cooking make it the best budget option.

The Gariwerd Motel is the perfect hotel in the most beautiful of locations just 700 meters from the centre of Halls Gap. Communal kitchen areas, free to use bbq’s for guests, a beautiful location and even fire pits to enjoy in the evening.

5. Wilsons Promontory National Park

Also known as Wilsons Prom, this marine national park is one of Australia’s most rugged and beautiful to visit.

Officially opened as a national park in 1898 and stretching over 50 000 hectares this is one of Victoria’s largest coastal wilderness areas to be explored.

The massive park appeals to everyone no matter what their taste might be. From glamping to camping, spectacular viewpoints, multi-day hiking trails or just a lazy day out on the beach.

Rainforest walks in Lilly Pilly Gully. Sand dune adventures at Big Drift. Beach hopping, wildlife spotting bushwalking, hiking and so so much more.

One of the highlights of things to do in Melbourne is getting out to Wilsons Promontory National Park because of the serious amount of awesome things to do here.

What to do in Wilsons Promontory National Park

Everyone needs at least one beach day during a holiday so why not make your trip to Wilsons Prom a beach hopping trip.

If you want a beach with an epic view, of the impressive Mt Oberon, stop in at Norman Beach.

Follow a less than picturesque trail until you hit golden sand and you’ll be there. One of the largest beaches in the national park is perfect for anyone looking to have a beach (almost) all to themselves.

Whisky Bay & Picnic Bay are perfect for catching some views as well as some waves.

Be sure to listen carefully when you set foot on Squeaky Beach. The squishy sand here sounds a lot like rain boots in the mud as you make your way across the sand, and also has a slightly marbled effect too.

Squeaky Beach is a great place to set up camp for the day, catch a wave or climb atop some of the massive rocks here for a better view. 

Get stuck into the sand dunes at Big Drift, just a short walk from the Stockyard campsite this is a little bit of a hidden gem too.

Grab a boogie board and sandboard down or try your luck at running up, it’s harder than it looks. These beautiful golden sand dunes are something to be marvelled at.

For those looking for something straight forward and not too strenuous set foot onto the Darby Saddle to Sparkes Lookout. Offering both coastal views and stunning rainforest sections this a great trail with a beautiful view as a reward.

The Mt.Oberon summit walk is a leg burner but trust the pain because the panoramic views at the top are more than worth the ache.

If you have the time and the equipment The South Eastern Circuit can be done in 2 days and 1 night and is the most popular for longer hikes.

When it comes to opportunities to spot wildlife in Wilsons Promontory National Park there are quite a few places to choose from.

As the world’s southernmost mangroves, Millers Point is one of the lesser-visited spots in the park but one that is home to iconic and rare black swans.

At Refuge Cove you can grab a boat tour or watch from the shoreline for dolphins, sharks, whales and even little penguins and albatross.

A short and easy walk in the park is the Wilsons Prom Wildlife walk, which is great for spotting kangaroos, wallabies, and even emus.

Looking to grab a photo or two of an adorable wombat? Head for the Loo-Errn near Tidal River for your best chance. 

For a chance to experience a real rainforest, look to head to Lilly Pilly Gully.

This location is perfect if you arrive at Wilsons Promontory on a day when visibility is poor and viewpoints may not be worth the climbs.

Best Places to Stay in Wilsons Promontory National Park

In the town of Yanakie, you’ll find The Olivi Hotel the perfect rest spot after your Melbourne day trip to Wilsons Promontory National Park.

With free bike rentals, you’ll be able to explore the town, a terrace, an onsite lounge and a restaurant plus beautiful rooms.

Important Note! Before you book any international trip, we honestly recommend getting travel insurance. You never know when things will go wrong, and medical bills can add up quickly if you get sick or injure yourself overseas.

Our personal recommendation based on our own experience is World Nomads.

6. Melbourne Day Trips – Mornington Peninsula

Pack your bags, load up the car, or grab the train from Flinders Street to Frankton and hop on the 781 bus to head to the coast.

The Mornington Peninsula can also be reached as part of a Melbourne day tour so there is no reason for you to miss out on the beautiful colours of the Australian seaside.

This spot is high on the list of locals and often residents of Melbourne have holiday homes here.

From the incredible coastline of golden beaches against the turquoise sea, beautiful wineries and the chance to experience fantastic watersports, Mornington is really a top choice for anyone in need of a break from city life.

Hop on the gondola for spectacular views, grab a wetsuit and some fins to explore below the surf, relax at the hot springs or check out the beautiful beach boxes.

No matter your reason for visiting this is one of the top Melbourne attractions that should not be missed.

What to do on the Mornington Peninsula

If you want to make the most of your time in the Mornington Peninsula, book yourself into a day tour from Melbourne.

One of the most visited spots along the Mornington Peninsula is definitely the charming town of Portsea.

While the town itself is quite small, it’s known for its beautiful bay and the vibrant coloured beach boxes that look out on the ocean.

Other seaside destinations on the Peninsula include Rosebud, Dromana, and Mount Eliza.

No visit to the seaside is complete without a day in or on the water right?

If you’re after a fun-filled adventure in a kayak or on a paddleboard check out any number of watersport outfitters in the area to rent a board or a boat and get a whole new view of the peninsula.

Or grab some fins and dive down to see what lays under the sea.

If you’re a little more partial to being on the water instead of in the water head to the town of Sorrento and grab yourself a ticket on any number of different boat trips offered.

The Peninsula Hot Springs are a top choice if you’re in need of a little relaxation.

Natural thermal mineral runs into the pools and private baths here in the most beautiful of locations.

Choose from one of the 50 different public baths or book in for a private pool in a group.

For photographers and those looking to stretch their legs, be sure to stop in at the Cape Schanck Lighthouse. Dating back to 1859 this beautiful white lighthouse that visitors can walk up to get incredible views over the Bass Strait.

There is a walking trail out to the lighthouse and towards the beach where you may even get the chance to see whales if you visit during the right time of year.

Then there is the Mornington Peninsula National Park to go off and explore.

For a bit of a challenge, take on the 2-day coast walk from Cape Schanck Lighthouse to London Bridge which will take you along the entire coastline.

Shorter tracks include The FranFarnsworth Track and The Coppins Track both with beautiful views of the coastline and trails near the surrounding bushland.

Ryeback Beach is perfect for a lazy day laying in the sand and surf enthusiasts should be sure not to miss out on the swells at Gunnamatta Beach.

Anyone in your group a keener for a good view? If the answer is yes, head up to Arthur’s Seat Eagle.

After a 15-minute gondola ride you’ll be up at the summit and looking down from over 300 meters above the National Park.

Best Places to Stay on the Mornington Peninsula

Located in the beautiful area of Mount Eliza, Norwood House is not only a fabulous accommodation choice but also one with a view.

While relatively small with 15 rooms, nothing has been spared to keep guests comfortable and relaxed after a day out exploring the Peninsula.

Mornington Peninsula Melbourne Day Trips
Cape Schanck Lighthouse on Mornington Peninsula

7. Mount Buller

Just because you’re visiting Australia doesn’t mean you have to throw your love of snow out the window.

Mount Buller is a resort village in Eastern Victoria just under 3 hours drive from Melbourne.

If your trip takes you to Melbourne and beyond in the winter months it’s best to make a Melbourne day trip up to the mountain.

Never fear if you are skipping winter all together because there is still a ton to do here in summer as well.

Halfway between temperate and subarctic climates, this means the summers are mild and perfect for hiking and mountain biking.

While the mild but snowy winters make for great skiing/snowboarding adventures up on the slopes.

With your own vehicle, it’s a fairly straight forward drive from Melbourne up into the mountains.

If you’re without a car, there are a few transportation options to get you up to the slopes including V Line buses which leave from the city centre daily.

What to do in Mount Buller

A trip up to Mount Bueller in the winter (June – August) would not be complete without some time on the slopes.

With runs on both the North and South sides of the mountain, there are tons to choose from for everyone.

For the experts check out Slalom Gully or The FastOne.

And for those just starting out the Baldy and Bourke Street runs are the perfect starters. 

If the downhill scene isn’t for you there are some great cross country trails to explore too.

With 4 different terrain parks, this is where all adrenaline junkies should stop off first at Mount Buller.

Summit Park boasts the biggest and highest jumps in the park.

Koflers Park is perfect for those testing things out and seeing what freestyle is all about.

Skyline Park is that happy medium between the two.

Summer is a whole different experience at Mount Buller.

One of the biggest events hosted up on the mountain when the snow starts to melt is the Bike Buller Festival.

Over a 3 day weekend in March hundreds of bikes take to the trails in some amazing courses.

Several other bike events and festivals take place here over the summer months and it’s worth checking out their site for more details.

The Summit Nature Walk is a 4 km return where you’ll be able to see so many beautiful plants and flowers, as well as a spectacular view from the top of the trail too.

Little Mt Buller track might be little in name but is big on views. At 16km return, you’ll go up and over some gorgeous ridges giving you glimpses of the view below and once you make it to the top the views are even better.

Stop in at the National Alpine Museum of Australia to learn more about Australia’s alpine regions. The museum boasts over 15000 artifacts depicting winter sports in Australia, the history of how they came to be in the country plus lots of cool stories of achievement in sport.

If the spa is more your speed then The Breathtaker on High spa is ideal for a day of relaxation. Indulge in a massage, facial, body scrub or various water therapy treatments at this eco-friendly spa.

And if you still want to catch the views with minimal effort why not grab a seat on the chairlift that continues to run in the Summer to take advantage of those beautiful blue sky views.

Best Places to Stay in Mount Bueller

Not too far from Mount Buller village means everything is practically on your doorstep at The Enzian Hotel. This chalet-style hotel is the perfect place for solo travellers and even small groups with their various room categories.

The restaurant here has been rated #1 several years in a row and is the perfect place to fuel up after a day on the slopes.

READ MORE: Plan a trip to Tasmania with this 2-week Tasmania itinerary!

8. Phillip Island

A popular Melbourne day trip option is Philip Island, with beautiful golden beaches and adorable little penguins to be seen.

The island was named after Governor Arthur Phillip who sailed on the first open whaleboat from Sydney in the 1700s.

Phillip Island is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and a highlight for anyone looking to experience some incredible Australian wildlife, beautiful scenery and a stunning coastline.

Wicked good surf spots, the penguin parade and the Grand Prix circuit and so much more are all reasons to visit the island.

What to do on Phillip Island

Something that has made Phillip Island famous, are adorable little penguins. Their actual name has everything to do with their size, and visitors can witness an amazing sight each night after sunset.

The Phillip Island Nature Park has an adorably named penguin parade each night where you can see these beautiful creatures return to land from a day in the water.

There are interactive and educational displays and talks at the Nature Park as well as VIP and guided tours to book in on if you want a more unique experience.

This conservation park prides itself on creating a safe and sustainable environment where people can come and learn about these local penguins and it truly is a magical sight to be seen.

If you opt to head out to Phillip Island on an organized day trip from Melbourne there is a good chance you’ll be taken to Nobbies Center.

At the tip of the Island, you’ll find Point Grant and Nobbies which is an eco-tourism location.

The centre is operated by the Phillip Island Nature Park and is home to some spectacular walking tracks along the coast.

Australia’s largest fur seal colony calls the rocks at Nobbies home, and during the Spring and Summer months, you can even see silver gull chicks and their nesting mothers.

Walk out to the edge of the coastline to see the impressive blowhole and just take in the sea air as you look out over the vast scene in front of you.

If you have the need for speed head over to the Phillip Island Circuit. Host to most major motorsport events including the World Superbike and Moto GP.

You can take go-karts out on the track or even go for a private race session with a driver or just tour the track.

Best Places to Stay on Phillip Island

The Island Accommodation is a brand new backpacker designed with an eco-friendly design to reduce energy and water consumption all while keeping guests happy and cozy.  Just a stone’s throw from the beaches and shops, plus the hostel has an awesome patio to soak in all the views of the island.

After finishing up an epic Day trip from Melbourne, check into the Silverwater Resort on Phillip Island.

With resort apartments with up to 3 bedrooms, multiple sports courts, a solar-heated outdoor pool and several restaurants it’s the perfect spot after a day of exploring.

Phillip Island
Nobbies on Phillip Island

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About the author

Laura Oxley

Laura Oxley of She Who Wanders is a Canadian content creator whose travel experiences have taken her to the volcanoes of Central America, the waterfalls of Hawaii, the castles of England, the beaches of Australia and Middle Earth to name a few. In addition to writing for She Who Wanders, her work can be found published on Contiki, Women Who Explore, Penguin & Pia and Buzzfeed.

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