There’s no doubt about it: Melbourne is one of the best cities in the world. But sometimes — despite this city’s wealth of culture and coffee — you just get hit with a craving for something a little less busy.
A little more tranquil.
Fortunately, Melbourne makes for an excellent base from which to take a day trip. There’s so many great spots to explore around Victoria.
Let us be your guide as we delve into the coastal splendor of the Mornington Peninsula, wander through the rolling vineyards of the Yarra Valley, trace the path of the majestic Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road, and discover the pristine wilderness of Wilsons Promontory National Park. We’ll share why you should rush to hike your way over the You Yangs and experience the enchanting spectacle of penguins returning to shore on Phillip Island.
There’s so many options when it comes to day tripping.
Today, then, we’re going to be sharing the very best day trips from Melbourne. Here’s what we recommend.
Hiking in the You Yangs
- Distance from Melbourne: 55 km / 50 minute drive.
- Accessible via public transport: Not really. You can take a train from Southern Cross to Little River, but then you’ll need to walk from there, which is a 10 km or two hour walk.
- Day tour available? No.
If you love hiking and getting out in nature, you don’t need to travel far to do so. The You Yangs National Park is less than an hour’s drive west from Melbourne’s CBD, but will have you feeling as though you’ve travelled much further.
Dave and I are ambitious hikers, so with a full day in the You Yangs, we managed to tackled practically every hiking trail in the park, racking up 25 kilometres of steps in the process. But in reality, you don’t need to push yourself to do the same: many of the trails can feel a little repetitive, so we’re going to recommend the best way to get a taster of this beautiful park.
If you’re aiming to walk for around 10 kilometres, there’s three main walks you should consider hitting up.
First: is the Big Rock. Parking up at the Big Rock picnic area will get you within a hundred metres of this epic slab of granite, but we recommend parking at the Visitor Centre instead — the latter will take you on a 3 km return trail through the trees and up to the rock. This is one of the park’s most popular spots and for good reason: this is one big rock! Standing atop the stone makes for some particularly surreal photos when you look out at the surrounding bushland.
Next, drive to the Turntable car park and set off for the most well-known hike of the park: The Flinders Peak Walk (3.2 km return). Comprising 450 steps up a hill, this is a walk that can quickly get you out of breath, but the path is well-paved so it’s not particularly tricky. The views from the top make it more than worth it!
When you’ve descended from Flinders Peak, you’ll notice the signs for the East-West Walk, which takes you on a loop around the base of the mountain. Most people only opt to climb Flinders Peak, so this is an excellent option if you prefer your walks to be quiet and tranquil. We only saw a couple of other people across the entire five kilometre trail.
A Beachy Getaway in Sorrento
- Distance from Melbourne: 100 km / 90 minute drive.
- Accessible via public transport: Yep, but it’s not the easiest journey. You’ll want to take a train from Flinders Street Station to Frankston, and then take the bus to Ocean Beach Rd. The overall journey time comes to roughly two and a half hours each way.
- Day tour available? Not for Sorrento.
Located at the southern reaches of the Mornington Peninsula, Sorrento is a lovely coastal town that’s home to a rich history, beautiful beaches, and a laid back atmosphere. Most people come for the sand, but Sorrento has so much more to offer than just beautiful beaches.
One of our favourite things to do in Sorrento is stroll along Millionaire’s Walk. This walking trail runs for one kilometre along the clifftops between Portsea and Sorrento, with the name referring to both the million dollar views over Port Phillip Bay and the large, expensive houses that line the path.
A wander through Sorrento’s historic town center is like stepping back in time. The streets are lined with charming limestone buildings that house boutique shops, galleries, cafes, and restaurants. Plaques around town provide insights into the town’s rich maritime and pioneering history, and the Sorrento Museum helps to fill in any gaps.
When it comes to beaches, Sorrento has plenty. Front Beach is the most popular of the bunch, with its family-friendly calm waters and soft sands. If you prefer your beaches with a little less people, however, head to Diamond Bay. This is a local favourite with a sheltered cove and beautiful views.
Hit the Beaches of Torquay
- Distance from Melbourne: 100 km / 90 minute drive.
- Accessible via public transport: Yep! Take an hour-long train from Southern Cross Station to Marshall Railway Station, then change to the 51 bus to Jan Juc. Get off at Merrijig Drive and you’ll be a 10 minute walk away from Torquay.
- Day tour available? Not for Torquay.
It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of Torquay here at Everything Victoria.
This beachy town marks the start point of the Great Ocean Road, but quite often, we find ourselves skipping out on the iconic drive just to simply while away a day in Torquay. Here, you’ve got delicious food, surf beaches aplenty, and so many gorgeous beaches. Skip spending day on Melbourne’s beaches and instead head to Torquay: it makes for a beautiful change.
If you’re into your surfing, this is a wonderful place to spend a day catching waves. The big draw is going to be Bells Beach, which is one of the most famous surf spots in the world, but there’s plenty of lesser-known spots, too. Point Impossible is home to excellent surf conditions, as is Jan Juc Beach. If you’ve never tried surfing before but have always wanted to have a go, head to Go Ride a Wave Surf School to spend a couple of hours trying it out.
The shopping in Torquay is excellent, so it’s well-worth spending an hour or two at Surf City Plaza. Here, you’ll find outlet stores for all of the big surf stores, like Rip Curl, Billabong, Quicksilver, Boardriders, Oakley, and more.
If relaxing on a beach meets your idea of a perfect day trip, then head to Torquay’s Front Beach, where the waves are calm and the waters clean. There’s a vast grassy embankment running along the beach, lined with playgrounds and sculptures, and is perfect for a picnic overlooking the water. Head to Fishos for some excellent takeaway fish and chips to have beside the sea.
One must-stop destination is the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie: I never visit Torquay without visiting! Home to some of the best chocolate I’ve ever eaten, this is a great spot for picking up souvenirs or treats for yourself. I recommend the giant white freckles, of which I have eaten five so fa.
For a family-friendly activity, opt for strawberry-picking at the Surf Coast Strawberry Fields. You’ll be able to stroll through dozens of rows of fresh strawberries with your punnet in hand, making sure only the ripest and juiciest ones make it into your container.
And finally, if you love yourself a good walk, set out on the Surf Coast Walk, 44 km trail stretches along the coastline from Torquay to Aireys Inlet. A great section of the walk runs from Torquay Sundial all the way to Bells Beach: a six kilometre walk that will take you to some of the best beaches in town.
The Great Ocean Road
- Distance from Melbourne: 280 km / 4:30 drive time.
- Accessible via public transport: It is… but it’s not particularly easy and it does mean that if you decide to hop off the bus to check out a beach, you’d need to wait an hour or two for the next one to come along. Still, there are regular trains from Southern Cross train station in Melbourne to Geelong, and from there, you can take a bus that stops regularly along the route — including the Twelve Apostles.
- Day tour available? Yes! There’s plenty of day tours that take you from Melbourne to the 12 Apostles and back again. The best provider, however, is Go West Tours. The tour is priced at $145 per person, runs for 13 hours, and you can check availability here. This is a popular one, so book in advance, as it does sell out.
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most scenic road trips on the entire planet, so if you find yourself in Melbourne and you’re looking to get out of the city, this makes for a logical adventure. Dave and I have tackled the Great Ocean Road as a day trip several times now and always had a fantastic time.
Kick off your time on the Great Ocean Road with some beach time in the aforementioned Torquay. Torquay is our favourite town on the Great Ocean Road, due to its beautiful beaches and thriving food scene. Pond Cafe serves up the best brunches on the stretch of road if you’re keen for some food, while Mikro Coffee Roasters has the best coffee. Check out the beautiful sundial beside the water and wander beside Front Beach; if you’re in need of a new fit, head to Surf Plaza for its many outlet stores.
From Torquay, head to Bells Beach, a world-renowned surf spot, famous for its large swells and perfect right-handers, some of which reach as high as five metres when the conditions are right. It’s a beautiful spot, so do take the time to watch the surfers from the viewpoint overlooking the waves.
One of the most snappable spots along the road is the Memorial Arch. This is the place to have your photo taken on the Great Ocean Road. The wooden arch & statue commemorate the soldiers who built the road by hand, and makes for a scenic spot to stand beneath. Just be sure to watch out for traffic!
Up next: Have you ever… ever felt like this? When strange things happen, are you going ’round the twist? If you’re a 90s kid like me, you’ll have likely spent your childhood singing the theme tune to Round the Twist, the Australian children’s comedy show about a supernatural family. And the opening credits to the show? They featured the lighthouse at Aireys Inlet! Whether you were a fan of the show or not, the structure is a real beauty; well-worth a stop to have a look around.
The Great Ocean Road is known for its wildlife so I recommend stopping off at Kennett River, a teeny-tiny settlement, with little more than a general store and a thousand koalas. Yes, this is the place to be if you’re keen to spot those native marsupials in the wild. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to spot a couple of them at the start of the trail, saving you time.
And then, the main attraction! Of course, if you do just one thing on the Great Ocean Road, it has to be seeing the Twelve Apostles! These towering limestone stacks are forever impressive, rising up out of the ocean and just demanding to be photographed. You could spend an hour here, just walking around and taking photos, as every angle provides an impressive viewpoint.
- Distance from Melbourne: 150 km / 2 hours drive
- Accessible via public transport: Yes! It’s actually pretty simple. From Southern Cross, take a V/Line bus headed for Yarram, and get off at Koo Wee Rup interchange a few kilometres south of Pakenham. There, you’ll swap to another V/Line bus bound for Cowes. In total, it will take about 2.5 hours to get there.
- Day tour available? Yes! You can take a 12-hour day trip from Melbourne with the eco-friendly Bunyip Tours. The tour is priced at $149 per person and you can check availability here.
Phillip Island is one of our favourite day trip destinations here at Everything Victoria. While it’s most famous for its evening Penguin Parade — where Little Penguins return to shore after a day of fishing — it also has so much natural beauty to uncover.
When you first get to the island, set your GPS for the Koala Conservation Centre. There, you can stroll along elevated boardwalks and up-close to these marsupials as they snooze in their treetops. Often, you’ll find yourself within a metre or two of a koala, which makes for such a magical experience!
Next up, head to the wonderful Churchill Island, which is home to the first European garden in Victoria. This little spit of land is connect to Phillip Island via a short bridge and is full of activities for kids and adults alike. If you’re looking to stretch your legs, opt for the hour-long North Point Loop around the top of the island, then head over to the working farm to check out the demonstrations. You’ll find sheep-shearing, cow-milking, and whip-cracking taking place throughout the day.
Phillip Island is home to some lovely little beaches, so take the time to check out a couple of them. Cape Woolamai is one of the best spots on the island for surfers and animal-lovers, with dozens of wallabies calling this part of the island home. Another beautiful spot is the Forrest Caves: a collection of sea caves on a stretch of untouched golden sand.
One particularly cool experience is the walk out from Kitty Millers Bay to the shipwreck of the SS Speke. Getting there requires walking just under a kilometre along a rocky beach, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Not many people head here, so it’s a good place for escaping the crowds and taking a moment to embrace your surroundings.
Round off your time on Phillip Island with the Penguin Parade! This takes place every evening at sunset on Summerland Beach. At the sun sets, thousands of Little Penguins return to the island after a day at sea, and you can sit there and see it all take place. Often, you can get within a single metre of these adorable animals and it makes for such a wonderful experience to see them all up close and personal.
- Distance from Melbourne: 250 km, or a driving time of exactly three hours.
- Accessible via public transport: Technically, yes, but enjoyably, no. If you’re going to be travelling on a Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, or Friday, you can take a combination of trains and coaches from Southern Cross Station to Halls Gap (Melbourne to Ballarat/Ararat to Stawell to Halls Gap) with a total journey time of three and a half to four hours. Once you arrive in Halls Gap, you’ll be moderately limited without a car.
Still, if you just want to get a taster of the Grampians, you could look to head out on the Venus Baths Loop hike or have a go at summiting Chatauqua Peak; both walks start from Halls Gap. You could also spend some time at the lovely cafes in Halls Gap or go kangaroo-spotting in the parks in town. Really, though, with such limited time, you’d be better off taking a tour.
- Day tour available? Yes! You can take a 13-hour day trip from Melbourne with the well-loved Go West Tours. The tour is priced at $145 per person and you can check availability here. This is a popular one, so look to book in advance, as it does regularly sell out.
If you’re big on hiking, there’s one day trip destination that’s best: Grampians National Park! Known for its rugged mountain ranges, ancient rock formations, cascading waterfalls, and abundant wildlife, this part of the state is a dream for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts.
With one day to spare, you can get a pretty good taste of what the park has to offer.
Once you arrive at Halls Gap (the main town in the Grampians), you’re going to want to kick things off with a hike to one of the park’s best viewpoints. The Pinnacles is one of the most popular lookouts in the Grampians, so make it your first port of call. Because time is limited, I recommend heading to the Wanderland Carpark and then tackling the trail from there to the Pinnacles. It’s 2 km return and should take around 90 minutes.
I recommend bringing a picnic with you for your day in the Grampians so that you don’t have to waste time waiting for food in Halls Gap. If you’ve done so, you can drive onwards to Reeds Picnic Area to replenish your energy. From there, it’s a few minutes to Reed Lookout; another breathtaking viewpoint overlooking the park.
From Reed Lookout, take the easy 1 km walk to the Balconies. This is another really popular spot in the park, thanks to its incredible views over the bushland.
Next up: MacKenzie Falls, which is one of the largest waterfalls in all of Victoria! It’s well worth heading here to take a look. You’ll want to take the MacKenzie Falls Walk (rather than the MacKenzie Falls Lookout Walk), which takes you to the base of the impressive falls. You can expect this walk to take 90 minutes return.
It’ll be around 4 p.m. by this point, so most likely, you’ll want to start thinking about heading back to Melbourne. If you still have a little more time, though, head to Halls Gap to spend an hour wandering through the town and spotting all the wildlife. Kangaroos and wallabies tend to hang out in the local parks and are surprisingly easy to see.
- Distance from Melbourne: 210 km / 3 hours drive
- Accessible via public transport: Not really. You can take a V/Line bus from Southern Cross Station to Fish Creek, but that still puts you at 55 km from Wilsons Prom. From Fish Creek, you could hire a taxi, but given the high cost of doing so, you might as well pay for a tour instead.
- Day tour available? Yes! You can take a 12-hour day trip with the excellent Hike and Seek Tours. The tour is priced at $200 per person. Check availability here.
Located exactly three hours from Melbourne, Wilsons Promontory (known as “The Prom” by locals) is a haven for hikers, animal lovers, and nature enthusiasts. Yes, this is one of the most beautiful parts of Victoria and home to some of the state’s best beaches.
With a full day on the peninsula — even with the long drive — you can see a surprising amount.
Start your day trip with a hike up the other-wordly Big Drift: a gigantic sand dune in the middle of a forest. It makes for some particularly epic photos and will have you feeling like you’re the only person around for miles.
Our favourite hike in the park is the Mount Oberon summit, so we’d suggest going there next. It takes two hours to climb and descend, but the views from the top, overlooking the coastline and mountains, make it more than worth it.
Grab lunch at the Tidal River General Store & Take Away (their hot chips are deliciously crispy), then aim to spend your afternoon checking out some of the Prom’s best beaches.
Squeaky Beach is a tourist-favourite, famed for its dazzling white sand that squeaks when you walk across it. Whisky Bay is particularly photogenic with its brightly-coloured granite rocks. And Norman Bay is fantastic for swimming, with calm waters and enough space to escape the crowds.
Round off your time at Wilsons Prom with a stroll along the Prom Wildlife Walk. It takes less than an hour to walk the loop, but will bring you up close to kangaroos, emus, wallabies, and wombats.
And That Was the Day Trips!
As you can see, there’s no end of places to day trip to from Melbourne.