16 Unique Day trips from Melbourne

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Planning a day trip down to Melbourne or want to find unique places to visit from Melbourne, Australia? Make sure to take down notes from our guide on the 16 Most Unique Day Trips From Melbourne.

Victoria basically has it all; from world class scenic drives on the Great Ocean Road, Mountain Ash forests of the Yarra Valley, world renowned wine tasting regions of the Mornington Peninsula all the way to the Grampians, Victoria may be small but it has a lot on offer.

We’ve travelled much of Melbourne and Victoria over the years hence we know a thing or two about getting around this beautiful city.

Whether you live in Melbourne, regional Victoria or visiting from elsewhere there are so many options to choose from no matter your preference, so read on to explore more of this beautifully diverse city. 

Public Transport in Melbourne

Melbourne uses a public transport fare system known as MyKI; a preloaded card that you user repeatedly to scan on and off of public transport types like buses, trams and trains. 

You can generally expect to pay anywhere from $3.30 to $10.00 for a days travel. Within the CBD there is also a free tram zone which wont cost you anything. 

Getting to Melbourne

A day trip into Melbourne, Australia from the surrounding suburbs generally involves taking the Metro train network into either Flinders street station (pictured above) or Southern cross station.

There are frequent trains that service the wider metropolitan Melbourne as regional Victoria.

If you’re looking for a rental car hire we personally recommend checking out Rentalcars.com to plan your day trips from Melbourne. 

We often rely on rental car companies for our own travels abroad and trust the team here, find your next rental car deal here or use the form below.

Best time to Visit Melbourne

If you haven’t heard, Melbourne is the city of four seasons in one day. This can make it tricky to plan activities or even what to wear so we will break it down for you.

We prefer Summer and Autumn as the weather is generally warmer with less rain during the day, and your providers, restaurants and hotels are in full swing. 

It is also the busiest time of year and the most expensive as it’s also Australia’s school holidays from late December through to late January.

Winter time is great in the High Country to enjoy the snow and cooler weather but it does get a little wet and grey in the city so pack an umbrella. 

Spring and Autumn bring about the change of seasons in the ranges like Daylesford and Hepburn Springs. Crowds aren’t as bad and prices stay relatively cheap so this is a great time to explore. 

Day trips from Melbourne

Read More >> Embark on an unforgettable journey through the Land Down Under with our comprehensive Australia Travel Guide

16 Unique Day Trips from Melbourne Australia less than 1 hour away

The Mornington Peninsula

Getting to the Mornington Peninsula from Melbourne:

By road: 47 minutes using freeways/toll roads 

By Bus: Bus 791, 1 hour 43 minutes travel time 

By Train: Frankston line to the city (view timetable here)

We like to think of ourselves as the experts on this particular topic because we have lived here for 32 years call the Mornington Peninsula home.

This is where most flock to enjoy warm summer days on the weekend, indulge in the boutique shopping precinct in Sorrento or to go for a walk down Rye pier.

Road trip the stunning coastline of Port Phillip Bay, head down to Gunnamatta’s epic surf breaks or Red Hills gorgeous wine country and art galleries, the Mornington Peninsula has some of the most unique attractions anywhere along the entire southern coastline of Victoria.

Head down to Cape Schanck to breathe in world class air (we’re not kidding) or start the 26km Two Bays walking track to Dromana. Enjoy a delicious lunch on Mornington main street or book the Mornington Peninsula’s Arthurs Seat Eagle (cable car) for panoramic views of the entire coastline.

When you’re done here you can head to Ashcombe maze and Lavender gardens and wind your way through the hedge maze for a fun family day trip in Melbourne.

Read Next >> Explore more of the Mornington Peninsula in our comprehensive guide

a wide angle shot of the back beaches of Sorrento

Point Nepean national park at the further most tip of the Peninsula in Portsea is a former Quarantine/military fortification home to an abundance of unique Australian wildlife that’s easily accessible by hiring an e-bike from the information centre and touring around the park exploring the coastline of both Port Phillip Bay and Ticonderoga Bay.

Relax and rejuvenate at the Peninsula hot springs in Fingal and bathe in the waters that rise some 600 metres below the surface.

Laura and I often visit the Peninsula Hot springs for a fun weekend getaway and with the recent additions to their pools like the ice room and sauna room you can stay for as little as an hour or make a whole day trip out of it.

Brighton Beach

One trip you wont have to travel too far for is a visit to this iconic postcard beach in Brighton. Lined with beach boxes that sell for more than $100,000 per box painted in bright colours, many people use these as beach equipment storage in the summer months.

The Brighton bathing boxes attract tons of tourists every year who come to photograph them on a bright summers day.

The best time of year to visit Brighton is during the warmer summer months from December to February when the sun is consistently warm and day light savings mean longer day light hours.

Dandenong Ranges national park

Melbourne CBD to Dandenong Ranges: 

Bus: 1 hour 24

Car: 1 hour

An hour’s drive east of the city one of the best day tours from Melbourne is to find yourself in the Dandenong Ranges surrounded by Mountain Ash trees, lush green ferns and over 200 walking trails.

Climb the 1000 steps (Kokoda track memorial walk) for an early exercise before getting in a coffee at Cafe Brew’d. 

An iconic heritage listed attraction is Puffing Billy, a century old preserved steam train with open sided carriages to enjoy the view of the ranges. Purchase your Puffing Billy admission ticket for the best price here. 

Enjoy a high tea at Kallista Tea Rooms or Olinda Tea house in the rainforest for an evening jam scone and english breakfast tea with the family, or head to Sky High Mount Dandenong, a restaurant at the peak of the mountain with sweeping panoramic views over much of the state.

There’s a beautiful sculpture garden named William Ricketts Sanctuary displaying Indigenous Australian’s in clay form, and if you have time drive 11 minutes over to the Alfred Nicholas memorial garden to see Sherbrooke falls. 

If you need the perfect getaway car for your adventures check out RentalCars.com

Laura at the road side staring at Hot Air Baloons over the yarra valley

Visit the Yarra Valley

Melbourne CBD to Yarra Valley: 

Bus: 2 hours 21

Car: 50 minutes

Just an hour’s drive from the buzzing heart of Melbourne’s CBD, the Yarra Valley stands as the oldest wine region in Victoria, and it’s a perfect spot for a day trip into wide-open spaces, and animal encounters.

Love sweets? The Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery has you covered. You can treat yourself to handcrafted chocolates and delicious ice creams, all while enjoying stunning views of the surrounding vineyards. It’s a tasty stop amidst the valley’s vineyards.

If you’re an animal lover, Healesville Animal Sanctuary is a must-visit. It’s right here in the Yarra Valley, giving you a chance to get close to kangaroos, koalas, and other unique Aussie critters.

Many dont realise when they drive here but there is a stretch of road known as the Black Spur, winding through ancient forests of towering mountain ash trees. You’ll find stunning views and tons of photo ops at every twist and turn here. 

For a truly unforgettable experience, hop into a hot air balloon and soar above the vineyards and rolling hills. Watch the sunrise over Victoria’s oldest wine region, casting a warm glow on the fields below. hot air balloon

Explore the Yarra Valley’s rich wine and spirits scene with visits to top wineries and distilleries. Sip on fantastic cool-climate wines and get a taste of craft distillation and a gourmet lunch on this full day tour.

There are over 70 different wineries tinkered in this part of Melbourne but we recommend checking out places like Domaine Chandon, Yering Station, and Four Pillars Gin Distillery.

 

BEST place to stay in the Yarra Valley

Book your stay in this award winning vineyards's luxury accommodation

Forest Glade Gardens

Forest Glade Gardens on Mount Macedon offers a relaxing getaway just minutes from the city. This 14 acre property includes trails through maple forests, Japanese gardens, and hiking through fern gullies.

It’s become recognised for being one of Australia’s most beautiful private garden but is still off of the tourist map making it an ideal day trip for families wanting to enjoy a quiet outdoor picnic.

the coast of the Great Ocean Road

Road trips from Melbourne Australia Less than 2 hours away

Drive along the Great Ocean Road

Melbourne CBD to Torquay: 

Train: 2 hours 16

Car: 1 hour 29
 

Prepare for an exhilarating 243-kilometre road trip along the Great Ocean Road, starting just a short distance from Melbourne. This legendary day trip from Melbourne route winds along Victoria’s breathtaking coastline, unveiling unforgettable sights and pretty coastal towns like Apollo Bay and Torquay.

Venture into the Great Otway National Park, where nature takes the stage. Discover the enchanting Redwood Forest, home to towering Red Wood trees and the beautiful Aire River that runs through.

Take an exhilarating ride on the Otway Fly Zipline, soaring among the treetops for a unique perspective.

14 minutes outside of Lorne is Erskine Falls, a 30 metre high waterfall that cascades down into the fern gully below, viewable from a boardwalk before enjoying a wonderful forest walk. 

Less than an hour from the cute coastal town of Apollo Bay is both Hopetoun falls and Beauchamp falls, our favourite waterfalls anywhere in the state.

While you’re down this way too, make sure you visit Kennet River Koala walk and try and count as many wild Koalas as you can here.

RELATED ARTICLE >> See our Great Ocean Road guide for more information and itineraries.

The Twelve Apostles are sandstone cliffs jutting out from the stunning coastline making for an incredible sight at any time and one of our favourite day trips from Melbourne. 

The picturesque passage of Loch Ard Gorge on the famous Great Ocean Road was named so after the ship Loch Ard that ran into shallow waters and coral, sinking just off the coast; the two cliffs that face each other are named after the two survivors, Tom and Eva. 

Whilst you’re here don’t forget to make a quick pit-stop at London bridge and Gibson Steps, a well kept secret.

Torquay is a coastal gem renowned for its stunning scenery and is a haven for surfers. It’s where Australian surfing legends hail from and an ideal spot for beginners to catch some waves. Plus, you can savour breakfast at the various cafes and restaurants along the main strip.

Lorne is the second largest seaside town on the southwest coast offering a relaxed vibe and great beginner waves. Don’t miss the chance to sip the best coffee in town at Moons Espresso bar.

Every year, Bells Beach hosts the prestigious Rip Curl surfing competition and the lively Falls Festival on New Year’s Eve.

Nearby Angelsea is another fantastic surf-side town where you can take a two-hour surfing lesson with an expert guide to catch some baby waves.

hopetoun

The Bellarine Peninsula

Home to Victorias second largest city, Geelong is a beautiful thriving beach side town that makes for a perfect day trip from Melbourne.

You will find some of Geelong’s finest restaurants, cafes and local watering holes just outside of the Geelong waterfront near eastern beach road.

A lot of people use Geelong as a half way point between Melbourne city and the south west coast by either making the two hour drive through the city, or taking the whole family on the Searoad ferry to Queenscliff from the Mornington Peninsula and breathing.

Adult prices return for foot passengers are $34 and children $26, whereas a vehicle return will cost $149. Click here for a more detailed ferry timetable and fares sheet.

penguins

Phillip Island

Melbourne CBD to Phillip Island: 

Bus: 3 hours 15 minutes (multiple line changes + walking)

Car: 1 hour 58 minutes

One of the most fun day trips from Melbourne is Phillip Island and can take (depending on traffic) anywhere from two, up to three hours drive away from Melbourne city that boasts some of our best coastal scenery and unique wildlife encounters.

You will have to drive over the free Phillip Island road bridge from San Remo as the island is completely surrounded by water. 

Of note though, from the 18th -20th October every year the Phillip island MotoGP  is hosted here and tourists from all over the country and the world flock here so it gets very busy and the bridge lane markings change to a thin blue line so be mindful of this.  

Try surfing for the first time at the beginner surfer friendly Smiths beach or go for a. nature coastal walk along Cape Woolamai.

For families with kids head into Amaze N Things fun park, entry here $42 AUD for 16 years and over, children $19 AUD. 

If you’re looking for a free adventure that the whole family can enjoy, drive to the south west tip of the island and visit the Nobbies Centre’s Antarctic Journey display and understand the part it plays in wildlife conservation.

Here you will learn about the migratory birds that fly to Phillip Island annually from Antarctica, the Humpback Whales and Southern Right Whales that travel here with their young, and Australia’s largest colony of Australian fur seals.

However it’s the smallest of our Aussie wildlife that attracts 700,000 visitors every year. The Phillip Island Penguin Parade is a mesmerising natural spectacle that draws visitors from around the world as you step into the glass viewing room and get up close and personal from behind a window. 

Each evening at sunset, adorable Little Penguins, the world’s smallest species, emerge from the sea and waddle their way across the sandy shores to their burrows.

To get off mainland Phillip Island for half a day why not head into Churchill Island and explore the natural beauty in the land of the first nations people, the Bunurong people and learn about the most recent cultural heritage farming activities like blacksmithing, cow milking and sheep shearing.

BEST place to stay on Phillip island

Located only 700 metres from Cowes Beach, Twin beaches Retreat is close to everything on the island.

Castlemaine

Melbourne CBD to Castlemaine: 

Bus: 2 hours 16

Car: 1 hour 30 minutes

This quaint country town may seem like it’s in the middle of nowhere but Castlemaine is quickly becoming a major draw card to tourists visiting Melbourne and certainly one to add to the day trips list.

Castlemaine’s growing foodie scene is captivating crowds from around the region from Bendigo to Daylesford, people flock here for the fresh coffee scene at The Mill, a restored wooden mill house with upcycled goods, fresh produce and a tap room.

One of Australia’s longest running art festivals the Castlemaine state festival is held here biannually, and if this was impressive enough, Castlemaine also has Australia’s longest continuously running theatre hall, created originally for diggers during the gold rush era. 

Take a day trip to Harcourt, Victorias apple capital and head to one of the many local cideries like Henry of Harcourt, Bress, or Harcourt Perry & Cider before heading back into town or a bite to eat at the Bridge Hotel. 

Ballarat

Melbourne CBD to Ballarat: 

Bus: 2 hours 30 minutes

Car: 51 hour35 minutes

Ballarat was once considered the epicentre of the Gold rush era during the 1850’s, and representing this is Sovereign Hill – a recreated Gold rush era town where you can interact with costumed staff, explore the historic buildings and take stagecoach rides through an underground gold mine looking for precious metals.

Outside of Sovereign Hill, there’s also an opportunity to explore the Ballarat Art Gallery, the Ballarat botanical gardens and if you have it in your time schedule, head down to Ballarat wildlife park.

There’s even an opportunity to go gold panning in the river that runs through Sovereign Hill in search of real gold, reminiscent of the old gold rush days. 

Daylesford & Macedon Ranges

Melbourne CBD to Yarra Valley: 

Bus: 2 hours 48

Car: 1 hour 32 minutes

In the central highlands north east of Melbourne, Daylesford is one of the prettiest places to visit during the autumn months of March to June where you can go to admire the natural beauty of the rolling hills and falling Autumn leaves.

This region was once originally inhabited by the Dja Dja Wurrung people thousands of years ago, then the Swiss-Italian migrants of the 1850s, to what it is today; an architecturally preserved rural city high on our Melbourne day trip guide list.  

Hepburn Springs is a popular tourist destination in Australia’s largest concentration of natural mineral springs, 48km north east of Ballarat. While you’re here check out the Hepburn Springs bath house. 

A highly rated region and one of the hottest day trips from Melbourne make sure you head to Lake Jubilee at sunrise, before grabbing a coffee at Pancho restaurant in town.

For fine dining options our number one recommendation is to lake a reservation at Sault restaurant in Daylesford.

Visit the highest single drop waterfall in all of Victoria in Trentham, a short 20 minute drive out of Daylesford.

BEST place to stay in the Macedon Ranges

Sades has scored a 9.7 on Booking.com, a great location close to Lake Daylesford and great restaurants.

Hanging Rock

Melbourne CBD to Hanging Rock, Woodend: 

Car: 1 hour

Nestled in the picturesque Victorian countryside and within easy reach of Melbourne, Woodend is a quaint country town that harmoniously blends natural beauty with a thriving music scene. 

The town’s notable volcanic rock formation Hanging Rock, stands as a unique geological wonder but also plays a pivotal role in Melbourne’s vibrant music scene.

The volcanic rock in this area offers a unique backdrop for outdoor concerts and events, making it a hotspot for music lovers seeking open-air performances. Its tranquil setting and musical vibes make Woodend a delightful destination for both nature enthusiasts and music aficionados.

Wilsons Prom road

Melbourne Day trips More than 2 hours away 

Wilsons Promontory national park

Melbourne CBD to Wilsons promontory: 

Bus: no public transport

Car: 2 hours 49 minutes

A fantastic spot to take on overnight hikes and camping, Wilsons Promontory national park is also the furthest southernmost tip of both Victoria and mainland Australia. 

Wilsons Promontory national park, or “The Prom” as we call it is one of the longer Melbourne day trip itineraries but also an incredibly beautiful place to stay.

Your accommodation options are limited hence you can choose from a mix of either airbnbs outside the park or overnight camping at both Tidal River campgrounds or deeper within the park. 

Unique to Wilsons Promontory national park is this 2.5 hour wilderness cruise that uses the worlds largest custom built amphibious boat that comes very highly rated. 

Wake up early and watch sunrise from the Mount Oberon Summit hike, a moderately challenging 7km hike beginning at the Telegraph Saddle carpark.

Other walking trails and activities include the Lilly Pilly Gully Circuit trek, Big Drift Sand Dunes & Squeaky Beach – all within the national park and highly rated attractions outside of Melbourne.

See the beautiful beaches of Norman Bay, Little Oberon bay as well as, Picnic Bay and Whisky Bay. 

Be mindful as your drive through the natural habitat of our beloved Aussie creatures like Kangaroos, Emus, Echidnas and Koalas as they use the roads as crossing points. Always call animal rescue if you hit wildlife. 

Logans beach whale nursery

Warrnambool

Melbourne CBD to Warrnambool: 

Bus + Train: 4 hours 51 minutes

Car: 3 hours 9 minutes

A whale watchers delight situated just after the end of the Great Ocean Road outside of Allanwood is one of the most fun day trips from Melbourne.

Just over a three hour drive from Melbourne during the winter months of June through to September, Logans Beach Whale Nursery hosts a migratory pod of Humpback whales and Southern right whales on their journey from Antarctica to breed and raise their young. 

It can get a little chilly on the boardwalks here particularly early morning so bring a warm jacket and a fresh brew of coffee. 

A long wooden boardwalk gives viewers plenty of room and space to sit for hours watching the whales pass by.

Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve & Port Fairy

Victoria’s only non-active volcanic crater now turned lake is home to an assortment of furry wildlife including Kangaroos, Wallabies, Koalas and Echidnas. Hike around the the base of the volcano which is now covered in grass and hiking trails, but you can still more or less see the crater from the top view point. 

The picturesque fishing village of Port Fairy west of Warrnambool is one of the best day trips outside of Warrnambool and one of the best day trips from Melbourne.

Hosting the 4 day annual Port Fairy Folk Festival, Port Fairy has so much to offer tourists; like the Port Fairy lighthouse on Griffits island at sunrise, exploring the landscape and whale sightings off the coast.

 

grampians18

Grampians national park

Melbourne CBD to Grampains (halls gap) 

Bus/Train: 5 hours 21

Car: 3 hours, 3 minutes

Drawing hikers and adventurers from all over the world the Grampians National park is known for world class hiking trails, stunning natural rock formation, and the most densely populated region of ancient aboriginal art anywhere in southern Australia. 

A weekend spent in the Grampians is one of our personal favourite day trips from Melbourne because of the vast difference in geography between the Peninsula and the Grampians region of Victoria.

We’ve spent many weekends camping here, as well as working in the Grampians region for a number of reasons, it’s quite a large area so planning a weekend needs careful consideration.

As well as having a number of highly regarded hikes, Parks Victoria have opened another 13 day long hike called ‘The Peaks trail’ – one of the longest in Australia. 

Divided into the northern, southern and central Grampians national park, this significant cultural landscape is known to the Aboriginal people as Gariwerd, of whom the Indigenous Australians have inhabited for thousands of years.

Halls Gap is the main town of the Grampians, yet bear in mind it is very small with limited services and basic ammenities so if you’re looking for a larger more equipped town head to Horsham instead.

Try one of the many hiking trails to Mackenzie falls, hike to the summit of Mount William, the highest peak in the Grampians, Boroka Lookout or The Pinnacles. 

There’s also an abundance of native Australian animals here like Rock Wallabies and native snakes. 

If you prefer to stay away from the crowds and see the best sights in the Grampians national park then you need to head towards the southern Grampians into Dunkeld; the gateway to Mount Abrupt, Mount Sturgeon and the Piccaninny. 

Mount Hotham at sunset
Image credit- shutterstock

High Country of Victoria

Being one of the most diverse and varied landscapes in all of the state with snow capped mountains of Mount Hotham and Mount Buller, a cross country skiers dream lies in the fields of Lake Mountain.

During the winter months these alpine mountains become a have for skiiers and snowboarders looking to make the most of Victoria’s generally small window of snow opportunity, whereas the summer and spring months are perfect for backcountry hikers and bush enthusiasts. 

If you’re looking to day trip from Melbourne during the winter without the 6 hour drive to the snow, Lake mountain is the perfect middle man.

Interestingly enough like most mountain ranges, there is a mere 50km that separates Mount Hotham and Mount Buller as the ‘crow flies’, however the drive will take you 272 km of road and 3 hours and 39 minutes to drive.

Lake Mountain is also a part of the same mountainous range (Great dividing range) that spans from Cape York all the way through to the western Wimmera region of the Grampians.

Lake Mountain is more relaxed and family friendly where you can get your kids to learn how to snowboard for the day, or try cross-country skiing for the first time with a little over 35 km of tracks.

Chris and Laura acknowledges Aboriginal people as the First Peoples and Nations of the lands and waters we live and work upon and we pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge and respect the deep spiritual connection and the relationship that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have to Country.

DISCLAIMER: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you book accommodation, tours or buy a product, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Christopher Aiello
Christopher is the head writer and co-founder of Chris and Laura Travels. Having travelled to over 27 countries and counting, he has a passion for adventure travel in a responsible way. Christopher and Laura currently live in Melbourne but share their time between down under and the Canadian Rockies of Alberta. We aim to inspire others to get outside and explore through our storytelling imagery and video. Keep up to date on where we are by visiting us on our Instagram page or find out more of our story on our About us page.

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Chris & Laura

Australian and Canadian freelance photographers & storytellers addicted to travel,  inspiring you to travel the world.

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