The great city of Melbourne is not just a destination to enjoy in itself, it is also surrounded by some pretty spectacular areas that can very easily be explored on a day trip (or more!).
From pretty beachside towns, a world class wine region and relaxing country escapes, this list of the best days trips from Melbourne will give you plenty to choose from during your visit.
Whether you choose to hire a car and go it alone, or join a tour, I have you covered with everything you need to know to get there and what to see while you are there. I’ve even thrown in a few tips on how to make a night (or two) of it in each place if you have bit more time.
The below list is ordered from closest to Melbourne to further away with the furthest day trip under two hours drive.
9 Best Day Trips from Melbourne
Distance from Melbourne: 45km – Less than a one hour drive.
What to See in the Yarra Valley (Self-Drive)
Wine! Yes, the Yarra is famous for some pretty amazing wineries famous the world over. From big destination wineries to small family run boutique cellar doors, you’ll find something to suit your palate whether it be red, white or something in between. My two favourites are Nullumbik Estate in Smiths Gully for the best smooth chardonnay and Yerring Station for not only great wine but delicious food and atmosphere.
Outside of the wineries there is still plenty to do in the Yarra Valley. Check out the many local produce stores scattered around the towns for chocolate, cheese and preserves. Go for a hike through the forests or just take a lazy day drive to take in the beauty of the area.
Take a Tour from Melbourne
Yarra Valley Food and Wine Experience with Lunch – The all encompassing tour which includes visits to four wineries, one where you will enjoy a lunch, plus local cheese and dairy tastings and a visit to a brewery and a chocolate factory.
Yarra Valley Wine, Chocolate & Local Produce Tour – While you still get to enjoy three wineeries on this tour, you also get to sample local produce with a visit to a produce farm where you can even pick your own berries. Also included is a visit to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie.
Yarra Valley Wine, Beer and Chocolates Day Tour – A great all rounder tour which shows you the best of local wine, beer, chocolate and produce. Throughout the day you’ll visit a farm gate, brewery, winery and chocolate shop plus enjoy a two course lunch overlooking the vines.
Got a night or two to stay in the area? Check out the Healesville Apartments the heart of the Yarra Valley for comfortable apartments each with its own balcony with lovely views across the Yarra Valley and less than 5 minutes walk to some of the best restaurants in the region.
Distance from Melbourne: 48km – Less than a one hour drive.
What to See in the Dandenong Ranges (Self-Drive)
Just a stones throw from the city is the peaceful rainforest of the Dandenong Ranges. Road trip your way through the mountain ranges stopping to check out the quaint towns, go for hikes and short walks and just simply take in the beauty of this rainforest.
Challenge yourself o the 1000 step Kokoda Track Memorial Walk, take a ride on the Puffing Billy Steam Train through the rainforest and enjoy a delicious lunch at a local cafe or pub, my pick is the charming village of Olinda which is brimming with great places to eat.
Take a Tour from Melbourne
Puffing Billy & Healesville Sanctuary Scenic Tour – Combine some of the best from both the Dandenong Ranges and the Yarra Valley in this tour that allows you to ride the Puffing Billy, visit the Healesville Sanctuary and sample Yarra Valley Chocolate.
Got a night or two to stay in the area? Check out Emerald Ridge in the town of Emerald, for spa baths lovely surrounding views. It is just a few minutes drive to most of the main attractions in the area.
Distance from Melbourne: 65km – Just under an hour drive.
What to See in the Macedon Ranges (Self-Drive)
Made famous by the book ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’, a true story of school girls who went missing after a picnic in 1900, Hanging Rock is a definite highlight of a visit to the Macedon Ranges. Take a walk to explore the rock formations before heading off to explore the rest of the region.
Wineries, weekend markets and gardens are all highlights as well as fantastic local food. Just about every town in the region has a weekend market at least once a month selling lots of local produce and handmade goods. Visit one of the more than 25 cellar doors for a spot of wine tasting. Or mender through some of the best show gardens in Victoria.
Got a night or two to stay in the area? Check out Hollyhock in the town of Macedon for deluxe rooms, included breakfast and an onsite spa centre and terrace..
Distance from Melbourne: 72km – Less than a one hour drive.
What to See in the Mornington Peninsula (Self-Drive)
This natural beauty seaside area just south of Melbourne in the perfect place for beach break away from the city. Check out the towns of Sorrento and Portsea in the far south for pristine beaches and hidden coves as well as the bustling seaside towns themselves for waterfront meal.
Head slightly inland to enjoy the serenity of the Mornington Peninsula National Park or drive through the undulating hills visiting cellar doors and quaint country towns, stopping to pick up local produce or have a meal at one of the many fine dining restaurants along the way. My pick for great wine and even better food with stunning vineyard and countryside views in Montalto in Red Hill.
Take a Tour from Melbourne
Mornington Peninsula Sightseeing Tour with Bay Sailing – See all the natural wonders of the region including the beautiful coastline. Take a stroll on the Millionaires walk, a cable car up to the Arthurs Seat Eagle and spend a few hours sailing on the bay.
Mornington Peninsula Full Day Tour – The most well rounded tour, enjoy the beaches, the Millionaires Walk, lunch with a local wine tasting and a cable car ride for incredible bay views.
Mornington Peninsula Scenic Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Tour – Spend the day sampling the best wine, cheese, chocolate and local produce the region has to offer. Also includes a cable car ride up to Arthurs Seat.
Got a night or two to stay in the area? Check out the Bay Motel at Safety Beach, just a stones throw from the beach and located perfectly in the middle of the peninsula making it easy to explore.
Distance from Melbourne: 100km – About one and a half hours drive.
What to See in the Bellarine Peninsula (Self-Drive)
On the opposite side of Port Phillip Bay to the Mornington Peninsula, you’ll find just a many amazing beaches perfect for a swim, walk or just to relax. Head to Queenscliff to swim with curious seals and dolphins in the bay or just view them from the shore.
Take a walk along the headlands to check out Point Lonsdale lighthouse and incredible views. Visit a winery, cidery, brewery or scotchery (yes that is a real thing!). Or visit a local farm to self-pick some berries to enjoy on the drive back.
Take a Tour from Melbourne
Bellarine Peninsula Food & Wine Taste Trail – Travel through the Bellarine Peninsula to discover some of the best food, wine beer and local produce. Visit wineries, enjoy lunch with an ocean view and follow the local taste trail.
Got a night or two to stay in the area? Check out the Beacon Resort in Queenscliff for waterfront bungalow accommodation with balcony to enjoy sea air.
Distance from Melbourne: 112km – About one and a half hours drive to the town of Daylesford.
What to See in the Spa Country (Self-Drive)
Basing yourself in the picture perfect towns of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, Spa Country offers multiple spas rich with mineral thermal waters which have been protected since 1865. From balmy indoor pools to the more natural outdoor pool with beautiful leafy surrounds, you can soak in those minerals for total relaxation and heeling.
The area is also home to some lovely nature areas with an abundance of walks including the Goldfields Track which you can walk parts of if you are short on time. After walk you’ll need to refuel and there are plenty of delicious choices around the area such as the Chocolate Mill where you see the chocolatiers at work, enjoy a cake in the cafe and take some treats home to enjoy later.
Got a night or two to stay in the area? Check out the Daylesford Central Inn for the perfect town centre location with easy walk to the fabulous restaurants in town.
Great Ocean Road
Distance from Melbourne: 115km – About one and a half hours drive to the start.
What to See in the Great Ocean Road (Self-Drive)
While I highly recommend this famous stretch of read be explored in more than a day, sometimes time just doesn’t allow for it. So, you can actually see some of the best bits of the GOR in a day, including the Twelve Apostles, London Bridge and the Gibson Steps. Each natural attraction along the way is just more jaw dropping than the next.
The winding road long the coast is nothing short of spectacular and you will find yourself wanting to pull over to take in the view every few kilometres. Be sure to also make a stop in Torquay, famous for its epic surf and the surfers who attempt to ride said waves throughout the year, no matter how freezing it is!
Take a Tour from Melbourne
Small Group Great Ocean Road Day Trip – This full day guided tour takes in the best of the GOR including a visit to the 12 Apostles, a walk through the rainforest and discovery of Australian wildlife.
Great Ocean Road Day Tour – Travel along the GOR in a comfy coach seeing highlights like the 12 Apostle, Loch Ard Gorge and the Great Otway National Park. Add an option 15 minute helicopter tour over the 12 Apostles.
Great Ocean Road Full Day Sunset Tour – Hang around on the GOR a bit longer and enjoy sunset over the 12 Apostles. See all the main attractions along the shipwreck coast with a later start to avoid the crowds.
Great Ocean Road Full Day Small Group Tour – Have a more intimate experience with this spectacular stretch of road in a small group with a maximum of 11 people. See all the highlights of the tours above with less time waiting in queues.
Distance from Melbourne: 124km – About one and a half hours drive to the start.
What to See in Ballarat (Self-Drive)
The mid 19th century saw the town of Ballarat completely overtaken with gold rush fever, with miners from all over the world coming to settle there and try their luck at finding gold. Remnants of this time are still evident all over town in the historic buildings and monuments.
The best way to really get a feel for what it was like during this time is to head to Sovereign Hill, a living history museum of the gold rush era. Here you can try your luck panning for gold in the river, dress up in traditional dress of that era and wander around the recreated historic village where all the staff are always in perfect 19th century character.
Got a night or two to stay in the area? Check out the Lake Inn located a short stroll to Lake Wendouree and an easy drive to all the attractions of Ballarat.
Distance from Melbourne: 142km – Just under two hours drive.
What to See on Phillip Island (Self-Drive)
Saving one of the best for last, a visit to Phillip Island will wow you are every turn. Start the day with visits to the Koala Conservation Centre to spot Koalas in the wild and Churchill Island the learn about the history of the area. Enjoy a drive around the island to take in its rugged and wild beauty, keeping your eye out for local wildlife at every turn.
Finish the day with the main event, the Penguin Parade. Phillip Island is home to the largest Little Penguin colony in the world and right on sunset each night we can watch them come ashore and waddle home to their burrows. Wander the viewing platforms and boardwalks as the penguins move about around you, settling in for the night. It is a truly magical experience.
Take a Tour from Melbourne
Phillip Island Penguins and Wildlife Full Day Tour – The best all rounder tour, enjoy nature walks, visit the grand prix circuit, see the seals at Seal Rocks and end the day watching the Little Penguins come ashore and nestle in for the night.
Phillip Island Penguins and Wildlife Sanctuary – This small group (max. 11 people) tour takes in the rugged natural scenery along with viewing the penguin parade and a visit to the local wildlife sanctuary.
Phillip Island Penguin Parade Ultimate Eco Tour & Lunch – On this tour you will visit a wildlife conservation park, tour Churchill Island, enjoy the view from Cape Woolamai and see the Little Penguin parade Summerland Beach.
Phillip island Penguin Parade Afternoon Wildlife Tour – Have less time? This afternoon tour allows you to see the best of Phillip Island including the Penguin parade, Seal Rocks and the Nobbies including a boardwalk along the rugged coastline.
Got a night or two to stay in the area? Check out the Seahorse Motel for simple yet comfortable accommodation in the town of Cowes, a short drive to all the attractions of Phillip Island.
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Over to you!
Which of these day trips from Melbourne are top of your list?
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Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.