The Yarra Valley is a wine-growing region situated an hour’s drive east from Melbourne’s CBD. It is renowned for its world-class wines along with its gorgeous scenery, consisting of vineyards mixed with rolling green hills.
Because it’s an easy day trip from the Victorian capital, the Yarra Valley is a popular getaway for locals and overseas visitors alike. But if you really want to make the most of this stunning region, it’s best to spend at least a weekend there.
You may think that the Yarra Valley is just about the wine, but there are so many other reasons to visit and it’s a perfect place to head to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Here are some of the many reasons why the Yarra Valley is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway:
It’s a wine lover’s paradise!
There is so much more to the Yarra Valley than its wines but you just can’t go there without checking out a few wineries and doing a bit of wine tasting. Being a cool climate region, the Yarra Valley is best known for producing excellent Chardonnay, sparkling wine and Pinot noir. However, we’ve found many other interesting types of wines in the various vineyards that we’ve visited.
The Yarra Valley is the oldest wine region in Victoria and is home to 160 wineries. So, if like us you’re a wine enthusiast, that’s good enough reason to spend more than a day there. Because believe me that’s a lot of wineries to try! It also makes for a hard decision when it comes to choosing which one to visit. Some wineries, such as Domain Chandon, De Bortoli or Yering Station are very famous, but other smaller wineries are equally worth the detour. Click here to read about a few of our personal favourites.
The countryside is marvellous!
Driving around the gorgeous countryside of the Yarra Valley is a fantastic experience itself. There are beautiful rolling green hills all around, field after field of vineyards and acres of farmland. Watching the cows and sheep happily grazing is incredibly relaxing and will quickly distance you from the madness of the city. In autumn, the change of colours throughout the valley is breathtaking.
You can meet some iconic Australian wildlife at the Healesville Sanctuary
If you want to see the most iconic Australian animals all in one place, head to the Healesville Sanctuary. It’s the best wildlife park in Victoria and you will find kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, platypus, wombats and all sorts of other native Australian animals there. It’s a popular attraction in the Yarra Valley, especially for international visitors who want to meet our wildlife, and also for parents with young children.
Address: Badger Creek Road, Healesville
Admission: Adults $37, Kids $19 (Kids under 16 are free weekends, public holiday and every day of Victorian School Holidays).
The food is awesome!
The Yarra Valley is home to some outstanding restaurants and cafes, so why not pair your glass of wine with some mouthwatering food. Many wineries have an on-site restaurant, using local produce. They offer everything from wood-fired pizzas to eight-course degustation meals.
If you are looking for a more upmarket meal to share with your special someone, try Ezard, the Oakridge dining room, or the TarraWarra Estate Restaurant. For more of a low-key meal, head to Innocent Bystander, Giant Steps, Meletos or Mocha and Lime.
It’s not all about wine, there’s beer, cider and gin!
If wine is not your thing, don’t worry; the Yarra Valley still has you covered with plenty of non-wine options. The Yarra Valley is also home to some awesome breweries and distilleries.
For the beer and cider lovers, check out the Napoleone Brewery and Cider House. They offer great tasting paddles at $15 for 4 samples.
If you are more of a gin drinker, check out the Four Pillars Distillery, for a $10 tasting of their range refundable with any purchase of a 700ml gin bottle. Why not try their G&T paddle!
You can satisfy your chocolate and ice cream cravings
For anyone with a sweet tooth, The Yarra Valley Chocolaterie Ice Creamery is the place to go. The Chocolaterie is free to enter, and once inside you can taste a selection of chocolates and watch the talented European chocolatiers in action behind large viewing windows.
It’s a great place to visit for adults and kids alike and it’s suitable for all seasons too. In summer you can treat yourself to a delicious ice cream, while in winter you can sit in the cafe and warm up with a yummy hot chocolate.
If it wasn’t for the crowds, you’d feel a bit like you were on the set of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Yes, this place is extremely busy! Try and visit early, just after they open, or be prepared to share the experience with hundreds of others.
Address: 35 Old Healesville Rd, Yarra Glen
You can indulge on local cheeses
I don’t know about you but I’m a huge fan of cheese! Nothing makes me happier than a cheese platter paired with a nice glass of red wine. The Yarra Valley Dairy offers free tasting of their delicious locally made, award-winning cheeses. They produce fresh and soft cheeses made in Italian and French styles.
Up until 4 pm, you can order a cheese platter and enjoy it inside the original hundred-year-old milking shed that they now use as a tasting room. Don’t forget to grab a glass of local wine to go with it. They have a selection of over sixty locals wines to choose from.
Another great option is the less popular Coldstream Dairy. They also offer free tasting and sell very generous takeaway cheese platters for as little as $20. In summer you can grab one for a picnic at one of the nearby wineries. In winter, just grab one for dinner!
You can check out some art
The TarraWarra Museum of Art is an art gallery set in a beautiful location, with amazing views out of the gallery windows across the stunning Yarra Valley and the adjacent TarraWarra vineyards. Another good reason to visit the museum is that afterwards you can walk across to the cellar door and enjoy some wine tasting!
Address: TarraWarra Estate, 311 Healesville – Yarra Glen Road, Tarrawarra
Admission: $10 per adults, free under 12
You can go hot air ballooning
If you’re looking for the ultimate experience in the Yarra Valley, sign up for a sunrise hot air balloon ride. It’s not a cheap experience (>$350 ahead) but it’s definitely one to remember. As you ascend into the sky and float over the Yarra Valley’s vineyards, it’s nothing short of magical. It’s the perfect thing to do on that romantic weekend away!
Where to stay in the Yarra Valley?
The Yarra Valley is full of accommodation options and you can find anything from five-star luxury hotels to small bed & breakfasts and even camping and glamping options. If you want to be in close proximity to all the wineries and the afore-mentioned activities, pick a place in Yarra Glen, Healesville or Coldstream.
For the ultimate luxury weekend away, you can’t do better than a night at Chateau Yering. The historic and iconic Chateau Yering Hotel is a five-star property offering luxury accommodation. Book a package including a three-course dinner at the award-winning Eleonore’s Restaurant, and cooked breakfast at the Sweetwater Cafe. It’s the perfect romantic getaway!
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How to get to the Yarra Valley?
The Yarra Valley is located only one hour away from Melbourne. The best way to get there is by car. You can take the Eastern Freeway and on to the Maroondah Hwy.
If you don’t have a car and don’t fancy renting one, a few companies offer tours to the Yarra Valley, including visits to a handful of wineries, gourmet lunch, and transportation from the city and back. This is a good alternative if none of your party fancies being the designated driver.