12 of the best day trips from Australian Cities

The best way to craft your Australia Itinerary is to start from an Australian City. Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart. It’s a great idea to pick one or more destination areas and start building your itinerary around each city with easy day trips.

There is no need to plan long-distance trips to see Australia’s natural beauty, and you will be surprised at how much you can do in the surroundings of the main Australian cities.

There are plenty of opportunities for any travel, from outdoor, wildlife and adventure tours to sports activities, to food & wine tasting trips, either on self-guided road trips or guided trips.

Why Prefer day trips from any Australian cities

For the solo traveller, Australia is a safe and easy country to get around.

Bus travel, as well as train travel, are good ways to explore Australian cities’ surroundings. But of course buses and trains will not take you to all destinations, especially in rural areas. I have done all that and loved it. Public transport is great, but it requires a flexible schedule to move around though.

Hiring a car or a campervan in Australia is easy, and if you like more freedom and a relaxed pace, that’s the ideal way to go. If driving is not for you, and prefer a local to show you around, there are hundreds of day tours in Australia to choose from.

That’s why I have put together this list with the best day-trips suggestions that you can make from all Australian cities.

Here are 12 of the best day trips from 5 Australian cities.

Top 3 Melbourne Day Trips

Melbourne is one of my favourite cities in Australia for many reasons. It’s a city that makes you feel at home straight away. Travellers are welcome, and you soon notice that. In my opinion, Melbourne ranks no. 1 as traveller-friendly city among the cities I have visited around the world.

It’s a great place to start your Australian holiday, because of the variety of things you can do – many are free – and the abundance of day trips that allow you to explore its beautiful surroundings. I have written a lot about Melbourne itinerary ideas in these years.

Here are my favourite 3 day-trips from Melbourne.

  1. A day tour to the Dandenong Ranges

    Only one hour drive from the city you can visit the Dandenong Ranges on a day tour. From walking trails to lush gardens, to the popular 1000 steps walk in the dense fern-tree gully, to farmers markets and unique places this is no. 1 place for a fabulous day trip from Melbourne. You need a car to tour the region or join a guided tour. You can read more about what you can do in the Dandenong Ranges.

  2. A day tour to Yarra Valley

    Another great way to taste the local food and wines is to explore the Yarra Valley, 65 km in Melbourne East. You can taste some of the best wines and foods and see more of Yarra Valley on hot-air-balloon. I can also highly recommend visiting the Healesville Sanctuary, one of Australia’s best places to see all native Australian animals in their natural habitat.

  3. A day tour to Mornington Peninsula

    Mornington Peninsula is another great region with hills, a beautiful coastal landscape, walking trails, rocks and picturesque villages. This could be an alternative to the Great Ocean Road if you only have one day. While you will need to hire a car to tour this area, you can also use public transport to get to Sorrento and more coastal towns.

Read more about all my picks for great Melbourne day trips by car

Top 3 Sydney Day Trips

Many Sydney fun activities revolve around the magnificent Sydney Harbour. You can spend days there and will not see it all. From the best day trips from Sydney, these are my picks.

  1. Walking in the Royal National Park

    Take a 30 min train from the city down to Cronulla and first visit this pretty town with a stroll along its relaxed beaches to hop on a ferry and cross over to Bundeena. While dozens of walking trails await you to explore one of the oldest national parks in the world, the highlight is a walking tour across its beautiful limestone cliffs to the popular wedding-cake-shaped-rocks. It’s a full-day trip from Sydney, really worth it.

  2. Visit Cockatoo Island

    If you like to learn a bit about Sydney’s rich history, a trip to Cockatoo Island is really worth your time. This world heritage site makes it for a great half-day trip by ferry from the city. You can also stay overnight for a luxury camping experience – a.k.a. glamping –  right in the middle of Sydney Harbour.

  3. Road Trip along the Sydney Northern Beaches

    Hop on the bus from the main train station and head north to stop at all of Sydney’s northern beaches. There are at least 5 to 8 stops including Mona Vale, Avalon, Whale Beach and Palm Beach. You can go on a boat trip to explore more of the inlets and tour the national park with an Aboriginal guided tour from the last stop.

Check out this post for more day trips from Sydney using public transport

Top 3 Perth Day Trips

Perth is a place for swimming, surfing, relaxing and eating great local food. While Perth city looks small, it has over 2 million people within the greater Perth area. It’s very much different from the Eastern coast. So be prepared for isolation and huge distances. If you want to explore the rugged natural beauty, Western Australia is the place that will fascinate you. Perth is the hub where to start all your day trips.

Here are my picks for the 3 best day trips from Perth.

  1. Rottnest Island

    Probably no. 1 top Perth attraction a day trip to Rottnest Island is a must for all travellers. I have been twice and can go there over and over again. A repeated visit to Rottnest with its 64 secluded beaches never tires you. In summer is a beloved paradise by the locals and gets busy. Ideally, visit from October-November or March-May. Check weather and wind conditions. On a windy day, you will not be able to cycle around the island, which is one of the highlights of this lovely car-free island. You can also use a hop-on-hop-off bus and visit with a shuttle bus, but it will not be the same.

  2. The Pinnacles

    This is a 200 km drive north of Perth that you can easily do on a day-trip. The Pinnacles is on the bucket list of all first-time travellers. It is a nice place to see, a very scenic landscape with the unique limestone pinnacles scattered around the national park’s sandy terrain. It’s a great day tour if you love photography and sunsets. Make sure you get there early because the national park closes at 4.30 pm.

  3. The Swan Valley

    If you like food, Perth with Margaret River is one of the best food regions in Australia. And the Swan Valley is a great way to start with the explorations. Just 45 minutes drive to the northeastern hills, you can tour wineries, dairy farms, chocolaterie, lavender, and purchase some of the best honey.

Check out this post for more things to do in Perth

Top 3 Day Trips near Brisbane

Brisbane is a stopover when road tripping the Eastern Coast of Australia.

  1. The Gold Coast

    Coolangatta was my first stop in 2013 on a day-trip from Brisbane and quite liked it. I then spent 6 weeks last year in Mermaid Waters in the Gold Coast City and didn’t expect to love it so much. It takes 45 minutes on the train, and it’s an easy day-trip with so much to see. Once you are there, you will need to hire a car to use public transport to see all attractions which stretch along the coast for over 35 km. It’s a great spot not only for surfers but also for bikers, walkers and nature lovers.

  2. Byron Bay

    This is a 200 km drive south-east of Brisbane that you can easily do on a day-trip. You don’t need a car, but it would be ideal for getting around. You can get there by train and bus connection. One day is probably enough to do the coastal walk and visit the town. A funky place with great surf beaches, and a paradise for hiking enthusiasts. Definitely a place worth checking out. Read more about Byron Bay.

  3. Lamington National Park

    While it’s probably not on the list of all travellers, if you love hiking in National Parks close to the ocean, then the Gold Coast has got some absolutely amazing spots. The forest and the sub-tropical vegetation makes of this area a top-notch destination for hiking throughout the year. You can learn about some of the best spots to go hiking in the Gold Coast Hinterland on this post.

Check out this post for more things do in Brisbane

Road Trip from Hobart

Hobart is probably the less popular city in Australia, as it is the capital of Tasmania, and most visitors plan a short stopover. The city itself doesn’t have many attractions, but there are a few road trips that you can plan in to see some of its gorgeous surroundings. Here are my picks:

  1. Drive from Hobart to the Springs

    It was only 15 minutes away from the city and walked up to the Mount Wellington Summit for a fabulous view of the city. If you are more adventurous and a keen hiker, you can park your car at the Fern Tree and walk to the Springs to taste the area. Enjoy the view from the lookouts there and then continue up to the summit by car or on foot (3 hours return).

  2. Explore Bruny Island on a day-trip

    For this exploration, you need to plan the whole day. You need to drive to Kettering and cross over to Bruny Island (about 15 minutes) from Hobart. The island is very pristine, offering good walking trails and vantage points of the rugged coastline and the ocean and definitive an excellent place for going on a jet cruise around the island.

  3. Explore the East Coast Tasmania

    It’s probably one of the most scenic coastal road trips of Australia. It takes roughly 4 hours to drive from Hobart along the East coast to the very northeastern point. The coastline is superb, and the inland landscape varies from bushland, shrublands, to dense forest, to soft hills and vineyards. Definitely, a must when road tripping Tasmania. Here you can read more about my adventure on a solo road trip of the East Coast Tasmania.

 

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The best Day Trips from Australian Cities
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First published in 2017, last updated in Jan 2021

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12 of the best Day Trips from Australian cities
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