Melbourne is an amazing city full of fun things to do both day and night, from beautiful city beaches and busy shopping streets to a fantastic restaurant scene and numerous rooftop bars for enjoying a cocktail or two.
But what about if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a day?
There are plenty of fantastic day trips from Melbourne to the surrounding region of Victoria, with everything from national parks to wineries and even natural hot springs.
Here are six of the best day trips from Melbourne:
The Great Ocean Road
Great for: epic road trip views, beautiful scenery, beaches.
Drive time from Melbourne to the Great Ocean Road: 1hr30.
Certainly the most famous day trip from Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s most iconic road trips and can be done in as little as one day from Melbourne (although if you have the time you can see more in 2 or 3 days).
Starting in Torquay just south of Melbourne, the beautiful stretch of scenic coastal road carries on west for roughly 250km, however if you’re exploring the Great Ocean Road on a day trip from Melbourne it’s best to only drive as far as the 12 Apostles before heading back towards the city – you’ll still get to see the best bits of the route.
The Great Ocean Road is full of stunning natural phenomena, from calm white sand beaches to powerful waterfalls and plenty of quaint coastal towns to stop in to grab a coffee and a bite to eat.
Don’t miss: Bells Beach, Memorial Arch, Lorne, Erskine Falls, Teddy’s Lookingout, Apollo Bay, Cape Otway Lighthouse, 12 Apostles.
Great for: wildlife, families.
Drive time from Melbourne to Phillip Island: 2 hours.
Phillip Island is located just off of the south coast of Victoria and is one of the best day trips from Melbourne for wildlife lovers.
The Island, which is connected to the mainland by road, is home to several colonies of Australia’s little penguins (the smallest penguin species in the world) which waddle onto the beach every evening at sunset after a long day out hunting for fish.
As well as the penguins, Phillip Island also has several wildlife reserves where you can get up close and personal with a number of local animals including kangaroos, koalas and emus.
Don’t miss: The Penguin Parade, Phillip Island Wildlife Park, Phillip Island Chocolate Factory.
Check out my post: Visiting Phillip Island from Melbourne in a Day
Great for: nature lovers, relaxation.
Drive time from Melbourne to Mornington Peninsula: 1.5hrs.
Mornington Peninsula is located to the south of Melbourne and lines the east bank of Port Phillip Bay. On a clear day you can even see across the bay and catch a faint view back over the Melbourne skyline.
For nature lovers, Mornington Peninsula makes a great day trip from Melbourne, with attractions including the numerous trails and gardens of Arthurs Seat State Park, scenic swimming at Mornington Peninsula State Park, the sandy beaches of Bushrangers Bay and rock pools at Cape Schanck.
But Mornington Peninsula has to one of my favourite day trips from Melbourne for one primary reason; Peninsula Hot Springs. Peninsula Hot Springs is an award-winning day spa with natural hot springs where you can spend hours lazing around feeling pampered in the thermal mineral waters while taking in the hilltop views back across the peninsula. Pure bliss!
Don’t miss: Arthurs Seat, Bushrangers Bay, Cape Schnack, Peninsula Hot Springs.
Great for: wine lovers, foodies.
Drive time from Melbourne to the Yarra Valley: 1 hour +.
The Yarra Valley is the region surrounding the Yarra River in Victoria, northeast of central Melbourne.
Yarra Valley is probably best known for its thriving wine-growing industry and is home to many vineyards and wineries producing high-quality chardonnay, pinot noir and sparkling wine. It is also Victoria’s oldest wine region, dating back to the 1830s. You can take a day trip from Melbourne to go wine tasting in the Yarra Valley, with a number of the wineries offering tours and tastings. Just remember to have a designated driver or book onto a pre-organised wine tour.
As well as wine production, Yarra Valley is also known for its gourmet food production, so you can pair your wine tastings with the likes of cheeses, chocolate and plenty of fresh farm produce.
Great for: nature lovers, walkers, families.
Drive time from Melbourne to the Dandenong Ranges: 1 hour.
The Dandenong Ranges are a set of low mountain ranges to the east of Melbourne CBD, also known as the ‘green lungs of Melbourne’. The Ranges are known for their natural beauty, with vast parks and gardens including the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden and Dandenong Ranges National Park.
Drive the scenic Mount Dandenong Tourist Road stopping at some of the areas pretty fairytale villages filled with quaint tea rooms and local shops, or take the historic Puffing Billy steam train through the thick fern forests (a particular hit with kids).
And don’t forget to stop by SkyHigh Mount Dandenong, an international bistro located on top of Mount Dandenong with spectacular views back down over the ranges and out across to the Melbourne city skyline. SkyHigh also has some beautifully landscaped gardens, a maze and forest walk to burn off the food after a tasty lunch.
Don’t miss: SkyHigh Mount Dandenong, Puffing Billy Railway, Kokoda Track Memorial Walk (1000 Steps), Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden, Dandenong Ranges National Park, Sherbrooke Forest, Trees Adventure – Glen Harrow Park.
Great for: nature, walking, beaches.
Drive time from Melbourne to Wilsons Promontory: 3 hours.
The furthest destination on this guide but still doable in an (albeit long) day trip from Melbourne is Wilsons Promontory, a large National Park east of Melbourne and the southernmost tip of mainland Australia.
As Victoria’s largest coastal wilderness area, the 50,000 hectare nature reserve is filled with native wildlife including kangaroos, emus, wombats, echidnas and many bird species, as well as a number of species of beautiful wildflowers.
Park up at one of the several car parks and head out on a scenic hiking trail which will take you through the area’s thick bushland and out to one of Wilsons Promontory’s spectacular beaches.