If you are travelling to Australia, Melbourne is very likely to be on your list. With so many places to visit and fun things to do in Melbourne there are plenty of places worth exploring in its surroundings that you can add as day trips from Melbourne to your travel itinerary.
Here are 5 of my favourite day trips that cover much of the best attractions and outdoor activities in Melbourne's surroundings. You can start your trips by renting a car in Melbourne.
- Mornington Peninsula is a true revelation and indeed a special place, only one hour drive southeast of Melbourne, with a stunningly varied landscape, that will probably make you think you are travelling on the Great Ocean Road. This region has the great benefit of the short distances, in fact you can easily tour all Mornington Peninsula attractions on a day tour. I recently discovered it on a day trip from Melbourne to Point Leo, Flinders, Cape Schanck and I fell in love with the places.
I would suggest starting with the scenic coastal drive from Mornington to Sorrento to witness some of the best views of Port Phillip Bay, then taking an inland detour to Arthurs Seat Summit through the beautiful hills and wineries, to then descending on the other side of the peninsula, to Flinders, a pretty historic seaside town. From Flinders keep driving along the rugged scenic coastline to view some picturesque rock formations and don't miss out on visiting the Cape Schanck Lighthouse.
Take a walk through the amazing coastal landscape and wooden staircases to Rock Pulpit, a great spot for taking photos and admiring the views on the ocean. This spectacular area reminded me of Sugarloaf Rock at Cape Naturaliste in South Western Australia. If you love to get active in the nature there is the 100km Mornington Peninsula Walk that combines 4 shorter and hinterland hilltops walks. Or you can choose individual walks like the 30km from Cape Schanck to Portsea Surf Beach.
- Healesville Sanctuary I love this place, it's a large unique wildlife sanctuary in Australia. If you wan to get up close to native Australian animals this is a first choice place that should be on your bucket list. It's located 70 km in east Melbourne, within the Yarra Valley. Plan 4-5 hours to be able to take part in some of the educational shows. I attended the platypus show and the birds of prey. I can highly recommend to combine a day trip from Melbourne to the wildlife sanctuary with a Yarra Valley tour to make the most of your day.
- Yarra Valley is Melbourne's beautiful wine and food region. If you like food and nature this is another great day trip and an easy drive from the city. There are over 70 wine cellar doors, microbreweries, award-winning restaurants and some of the best farmers markets in Victoria. You will have to make choices if you are touring the region in one day, because there is a lot to see. Next to top wineries like Chandon, De Bortoli and Yering, Yarra Valley offers the perfect scenery for hot-air balloon rides. Don't miss out on the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery Factory, I'd dare say the best ice cream I had in Australia!
- William Ricketts Sanctuary is a unique attraction nestled in the ferny region of the Dandenong Ranges, one hour drive from Melbourne. At first it reminded me of a spiritual Asian temple, by walking through its verdant alleys you can admire over 90 clay sculptures of the famous explorer William Ricketts whose art represents his vision of Aboriginal culture and heritage. A must-do stop is the Mount Dandenong Lookout (5 dollars entrance to the car park) to witness a majestic view of the Dandenong ranges and on a clear day, a superb vista of Melbourne Skyline. On your way to William Ricketts Sanctuary there are more attractions, like the legendary Miss Marple's Tea Room in Sassafras, which is a must-do thing if you love tea and taste some of best cakes in the region. If you have more time check out this pos for more Dandenong Ranges attractions.
- Phillip Island is probably the most known attraction in Melbourne's surroundings. The famous little penguins parade is the highlight that attracts thousands of visitors 365 days a year. I have been to Phillip Island and toured the island on a two-day road trip. While I liked the penguin parade, seeing penguins is not really something you can take for granted. So see more of what the island has to offer like Nobbies Point and the Koala wildlife Sanctuary to name a few. While you can visit Phillip Island on a day, a multi-day trip from Melbourne in combination with a visit to Wilson Promontory or Cape Paterson is advisable.
More Melbourne multi-day trips
While all above Melbourne trips are doable on one day, if you want to go to Wilson Promontory then you need to plan a couple of days, at least. This because the drive alone is 3 hours one way. I loved the Prom and love to think of this region like the compact version of Tasmania on the mainland 🙂 The Prom with Tidal River Nation Park offers some of the best scenic walking trails, if you like hiking you must add the Prom to your itinerary. Here you can read about my solo road trip to the Prom.
Another great destination in Victoria worth adding to your itinerary is Walhalla. I'd dare say the most fascinating heritage township I have ever been to in Australia. I recently visited last year for the first time and hope to go back again. Being located 200 km in the Eastern Gippsland I would recommend a visit to Walhalla in combination with a road trip along the South East Coast of Australia.
How to organize your day trips from Melbourne
The best way to organize your day trips from Melbourne is to hire a car. I do prefer self-driving than guided day trips. But if you are alone, on a tight schedule, or just want to sit back and relax then maybe a guided-tour is the best option for your. Here below some of the tools I use:
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Now over to you: Do you have any favourite day-trips from Melbourne to add to this list?
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