Just walking through the streets of Melbourne, there’s a tangible and almost infectious sense of excitement that most visitors experience instantly, drawn into the energy and vibrant culture of this dynamic Australian city. But there is still so much more to Victoria than its hip capital, and unfortunately many of the state’s most beautiful and intriguing spots do not make it onto travel itineraries. Prepare to be blown away as you discovering towering forests, colourful beaches, local food & wine, scenic hikes, adorable wildlife, sparkling waterfalls, and so much more on these 9 amazing day trips from Melbourne (that might easily turn into weekend adventures).
What's in this travel guide
1 | The Redwood Forest
Only a short trip from the CBD lies one of Victoria’s best kept secrets, a collection of nearly 2,000 California Redwoods towering 50 metres over the cool forest floor. The trees were apparently planted as part of a research project exploring canopy formation in Sequoia, and while I wasn’t able to learn much about the results of the study on my recent visit, I was still blown away by the beauty and sheer size of these incredible trees. When you’re done wandering through rows and rows of trunks (or when your neck starts to hurt from constantly looking up), grab lunch at the bakery in nearby Warburton, a sleepy little town chock-full of antique shops and weekend markets.
Getting there: The Redwood Forest is just 90 minutes east of Melbourne CBD Best for: Grey Melbourne days when you still feel like getting outside for a wander Make it a weekend: There are some crazy cute B&B options in and around Warburton
Yarra River cutting through Warburton
Rows and rows of Redwoods
Surrounded by trees in the Redwood Forest
Walking among giants
2 | Lorne
You’ve probably cruised through Lorne while driving the well-loved Great Ocean Road from Torquay to the Twelve Apostles, but it’s a place that deserves an entire trip of its own. Travelling from the city, it’s an easy drive to reach this charming seaside town, leaving plenty of time to explore the beautiful beaches, take photos from the coastal lookouts, and wander through the trendy shops. From Lorne, it’s a further 20 minutes to reach the fascinatingCarisbrook Creek Rock Stacks, a beach dominated by thousands of rock cairns, and nearby Kennet River, an area famous for its large population of wild koalas— drive slowly and you may be able to spot a few furry friends asleep in the trees!
Located several hours out of the city, “The Prom” is one of the more ambitious day trips on this list, but inarguably also one of the most scenic. This expansive stretch of coastal wilderness is home to some of the state’s best trails, amazing snorkelling, and, let’s not forget, a whole heap perfect white sand beaches. For the perfect afternoon combo, scamper up to the top of Mt Oberon and enjoy panoramic views of the scalloped coastline before descending to Squeaky Beach for a well-deserved relax in the sun.
Getting there: Wilson’s Prom is a 3.5 hour drive SE of Melbourne, but it’s totally worth the effort Best for: Sunny summer hikes or relaxing days at the beach Make it a weekend: Camp at the beautiful Tidal River campground and explore more of the trails and secluded beaches Read more: A QUICK HIKE UP MT. OBERON
A chilly day at Squeaky Beach
The view from Mt Oberon
Overlooking the Prom
4 | Macedon Ranges
This stunning area of Victoria is not only full of natural beautiful, but has earned a national reputation as an up-and-coming foodie hotspot. Spend your day checking out the basalt-framed Trentham Falls, Victoria’s tallest singe drop waterfall; hiking around Hanging Rock, a brutally but brilliantly eroded volcanic rock formation made famous by the Aussie classic Picnic at Hanging Rock; and wandering through art galleries in Kyneton before booking in for a gourmet dinner at any of a dozen enticing eateries. Try The Plough in Trentham or Source Dining in Kyneton for dinner, and definitely pop into the Red Beard Historic Bakery for an incredible lunch if time allows.
Getting there: The Macedon Ranges region is just an hour’s drive from Melbourne CBD Best for: Gourmet dinners and quick, undemanding jaunts into nature Make it a weekend: Stay in cosy little Kyneton or Trentham, both in close proximity to the area’s main attractions
Enjoying the view from the summit of Hanging Rock
Volcanic formations at Hanging Rock
Trentham’s best bakery, Red Beard
Trentham Falls and its impressive basalt columns
A beautiful day in the Macedon Ranges
5 | Mornington Peninsula
Home to some of Victoria’s best snorkelling and most vibrant beachfront scenery, a trip down the Peninsula is a quick way to escape from the city heat and find yourself surrounded by natural beauty. Unwind at the upscale Peninsula Hotsprings, keep your eyes open for all varieties of marine life under Rye Pier, admire Mount Martha’s colourful bathing boxes, or soar above the tree-line on the Arthur’s Seat gondola. When you’re done, be sure to check out the genius creme brûlée donuts at Johnny Ripe in Red Hill.
Getting there: 60-90 minutes from Melbourne CBD, depending on your final destination on the Peninsula Best for: A rejuvenating day at the spa or a relaxing day at the beach Make it a weekend: Check out some of these upscale options on the Peninsula
Taking a ride on the Arthur’s Seat gondola
Johnny Ripe’s amazing creme brûlée donut
Colourful bathing boxes at Mount Martha beach
Peninsula Hotsprings (photo via their website)
Views over Mornington Pensinsula
6 | Bright & Mt Buffalo
Bright definitely makes for a rather long day trip from the city , but one whose charm and natural beauty is sure to justify the distance. Originally settled during Gold fever, Bright has since evolved to be one of the primary centres of High Country tourism, offering a great base from which to explore nearby Mt Buffalo and Alpine National Parks. The town itself comes to life during autumn when the leaves are a rainbow of colours, but the parks offer a diversity of stunning scenery year-round— visit in winter to enjoy some Aussie snow!
Just shy of the NSW border near Albury-Wodonga, Rutherglen is admittedly a bit of a trek from Melbourne, but one that is well worth it for the delicious wines and decadent ports that await. What’s more, this small Victorian town is probably one of the best places to go wine tasting, as several dozen fantastic cellar doors are all clustered in the town within easy walking distance of one another, making for a quick transition from winery to winery. Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend sees the town transformed into even more of a wine lover’s paradise as Victoria’s oldest wine festival welcomes thousands of visitors with food, live music, and heaps of tastings taking place at 17 different wineries.
Getting there: Rutherglen is 3.5 hours NE of Melbourne CBD Best for: Wine tasting and market festivities Make it a weekend:Rutherglen Caravan & Tourist Park is located in the centre of town and offers a fair few options
Live music at Rutherglen Estates
Taking a big whiff of the delicious Autumn White at Chambers
Winery Walkabout festivities at Pfeiffer
Rutherglen’s enormous Country Fair
Pink Moscato slashes at Pfeiffer
8 | Phillip Island
Phillip Island boasts plenty of pumping surf beaches and fun weekend activities, but is best known for its adorable Penguin Parade. Every night around dusk, as tourists sit in bleachers positioned right on the sand, thousands of Little Penguins swim to shore, waddle up the beach, and curl into their burrows for the night. It’s one of Melbourne’s more touristy activities, but it is totally deserving of all the popularity—I recommend it to friends again and again as one of the best places to see Victorian wildlife in a natural setting. Tickets can be pre-booked online for $26, which includes the beach viewing and a self-guided wander along the boardwalks to see the penguins entering their homes for the night. You aren’t actually allowed to take photos of the penguins during their night-time run up the beach (the flash can be quite disorienting for these small, wild birds), so the photos shown here are courtesy of Phillip Island Nature Parks. This is just something you’ll have to experience through your own eyes rather than a lens!
Getting there: Phillip Island is about 2 hours SE of Melbourne CBD Best for: Amazing nature encounters and great surf breaks Make it a weekend: Find the perfect B&B on Phillip Island
Penguins headed to their burrows
Little Penguin waddling up the beach
Penguins begin their walk at dusk
9 | Grampians National Park
Grampians National Park is my absolute favourite place to get outdoors in Victoria. This Park gets hardly any of the attention it’s due, but is truly overflowing with epic walking tracks, glittering waterfalls, incredible viewpoints, and local wildlife. The staggeringly diverse landscape is a bit unlike anything you’re likely to have seen on this side of Australia, and it’s these dramatic rock formations and impossibly blue lakes that will convince you, too, of the Grampians’ overwhelming beauty. Check out Boroka Lookout, Reed Lookout, The Balconies, and The Pinnacles, enjoy a walk to MacKenzie Falls, and then grab ice cream in Halls Gap for the ultimate visit.
Getting there: Grampians National Park is a three hour drive NW of Melbourne CBD Best for: Day hikes, incredible viewpoints, and unique scenery Make it a weekend: Find a campsite in Halls Gap (I’d recommend awesome and free Plantation Campground) Read more: WEEKEND GETAWAY TO THE GRAMPIANS
The Balconies Lookout
Exploring the Grampians with good friends
Geology on show in the Grampians
Most of these day trips involve a car, so I’d recommend hiring one at the airport or in the city if you’re from out of town.
Just because Melbourne winters are notoriously chilly and grey doesn’t mean you can’t do some great exploring during these months— tourist crowds are almost non-existent on the Great Ocean Road in winter, Bright is beautiful in the snow, and Rutherglen presents the perfect opportunity to warm yourself up from the inside out.
Be sure to allow several days to explore Melbourne city, too!