The Best Day Trips from Melbourne
Living in Melbourne we are spoiled for choice when it comes to getting out of the city for the day, or for the weekend. There are so many places to visit which are only a short drive away; the hardest part is choosing where to go. We have it all beaches, mountains, wineries and spas. And most places are only a short road trip away. So if you are a Melbournian who needs a break from the city or if you’re here on vacation, here’s a list of the best day trips you can make.
The Mornington Peninsula
Distance from CBD: 1 hour
The Mornington Peninsula is one of the most popular day trips for Melbournians. With the newly opened Peninsula link freeway extension, it’s now only an hour away from the city, making it a great place to head for the day. On the peninsula, you will find stunning and wild beaches such as the Portsea back beach or Gunnamatta. If you are a surfer, you’ll find lots of challenging waves there! If you prefer swimming to surfing, don’t worry; the bay beaches are equally gorgeous. Make your way to the Sorrento Bay Beach, Rye or Dromana beaches.
There are many fantastic hikes to be found along the peninsula. If you like bushwalking you will be kept busy. Check out Coppins Track, a gorgeous coastal walk near Sorrento, or head to the Point Nepean National Park for some seriously breathtaking hikes.
Do you like eating local produce and drinking wine? No worries, the peninsula has all of that available too. The Red Hill and Main Ridge areas are packed with wineries, some with exceptional restaurants to grab lunch at. There is too much to do on the peninsula for just a day trip, but you can always go back the next weekend!
For more on the Mornington Peninsula, click here.
Distance from CBD: 45 minutes
With magnificent views, stunning rainforests, clean air and lush landscapes, the Dandenongs are a great place for a day out of Melbourne. From Belgrave, you can take the old steam train Puffing Billy to Gembrook. The train goes through the scenic Dandenong Ranges and it’s a great way to spend a few hours.
For a great view out over Melbourne and its surrounding suburbs, make a stop at Sky High on Mt Dandenong. At over six hundred meters above sea level, you will get one of the best views of Melbourne’s skyline, and on a clear day you might even see as far as Port Philip Bay. For lunch with a view, you can’t beat the Sky High Bistro and restaurant. It’s rather pricey but you certainly can’t beat the view.
Don’t forget to stroll around the cute villages of Olinda or Sassafras and browse their many gift and craft shops, check out one of their many cafes and restaurants, or take a picnic in the beautiful Rhododendron Gardens.
Distance from CBD: 1 hour and 45 minutes
Philip island is home to a colony of hundreds of little fairy penguins and they attract thousands of visitors each year. So you can’t go to Philip Island and not go and see the penguins. Every night at dusk many of them return home from fishing out at sea and make their way up the beach to their nests. Sometimes you’ll hear the chirping of babies calling their mother home. So cute! It’s a great experience to see them in their natural environment which is very well protected by the rangers.
But Philip Island has more than just the penguins. It has some truly breathtaking scenery. While on the island don’t forget to stop at Woolamai beach, the island’s nicest beach. While there, take the Cape Woolamai walk to the Pinnacles which follows the cliff tops along the cape. You’ll be rewarded with superb panoramas of the island.
The Nobbies is also a great place to spend a couple of hours. Walk along the boardwalk past the impressive blowhole and admire the wild coastal views. You will usually see many birds nesting around the Nobbies. From the Nobbies, you can see the Seal Rocks in the distance. These rocks are home to the largest fur seal colony in Australia. Don’t forget to bring some binoculars to check them out. If you’re lucky you might even spot a stray fairy penguin or two resting under the boardwalk!
Daylesford and Hepburn Springs
Distance from CBD: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Daylesford and Hepburn Springs are both in Victoria’s spa region. There are many day spas and natural springs around the area, the most famous (and also the most expensive) being the Lake House. It’s a great place to go for a day of relaxation if you can afford it.
Even if spas aren’t your thing, Daylesford is still well worth a day trip. It has so much more to offer, such as beautiful historic buildings, interesting shops, and stunning lakes to walk around. If wining and dining is more your thing, Daylesford is full of quaint little restaurants and cafes serving delicious local produce and serving amazing wines. Our favourite restaurants are Kazuki’s and Sault.
In season, check out Lavendula Swiss Italian Farm, a Lavender farm nestled in the rolling hills of Shepherds Flat. When the lavender is in bloom the European-style gardens are truly spectacular and a joy to walk around. Don’t forget to stop at the cafe for a Lavender cocktail!
Distance from CBD: 1 hour
For all the wine lovers out there the Yarra Valley is an all time favourite day trip from Melbourne. With 160 wineries in the Yarra Valley, there is no way you can visit them all, so decide on four or five wineries to visit and plan out your day.
Many of the wineries offer tastings, and some even have restaurants that overlook their vineyards where you can enjoy a tasty lunch of local produce and a glass or two of wine. To burn off the calories, wander around the vineyards and enjoy the scenery.
Our favourite spots in the Yarra Valley are Domaine Chandon, De Bortoli and Chateau Yering. All have stunning views, amazing wines and really nice restaurants. Just one thing, make sure you have a designated driver or take it easy with the wine tasting. Another option is to take a winery tour from the city so that someone can do all the driving for you!
If you’re an animal lover or just enjoy Australian wildlife, combine your day with a visit to the Healesville Sanctuary where you can see most Australian wildlife such as koalas, wombats, emus and many native Australian birds. You will also see plenty of kangaroos and wallabies.
Hanging Rock – Macedon Ranges
Distance from CBD: 1 hour
A lovely drive through the Macedon Ranges will take you to the famous and quite spectacular Hanging Rock. Hanging Rock is a rare volcanic formation which is about six million years old. It used to be a sacred place for indigenous people and became famous after it was used as a backdrop to the 1975 film “Picnic at Hanging Rock” by Peter Weir. Recently it has also been used as a venue for music concerts and markets.
If you feel up for it, you can climb forty minutes to reach the top of the rock. It isn’t a hard climb as long as you take your time, and there are stunning views from the top over the Macedon Ranges.
Just one thing, don’t forget to bring a picnic!
Distance from CBD: 2 hours and 20 minutes
Wilson Promontory or “the Prom” as we like to call it, is a bit further from the city than the rest of these places, but it’s such a beautiful national park that you should definitely make the effort to visit if you have the time.
The park has rainforests, granite mountains, amazing beaches, and if bush walking is your thing you will be in heaven! There are many tracks suitable for both beginners and experienced hikers. All tracks offer spectacular views. One beach you shouldn’t miss is the famous Squeaky beach. Once you step on it, you will quickly guess where its name comes from!
While exploring the park keep an eye out for all the wildlife. The Prom is home to many wombats, wallabies, kangaroos, echidnas and even emus! It’s such a great place for nature lovers. Make sure to wake up bright and early so you have the whole day to explore this beautiful part of Victoria.
Every time we head out of the city to visit any of these places, we immediately start to relax. Living in the city is great for many things but it’s so nice to be able to get out into the countryside every now and again. We really are lucky that all of these places are within easy reach of the city.
So if you are going to be in Melbourne for a few days, get out of town, you won’t regret it!