There's plenty to do in the city of Melbourne, as anyone who's been there will tell you. But as is the case with most Australian cities, Melbourne is a place that embraces the outdoors. And why wouldn't it? With the ocean right on its doorstep and the fascinating backcountry of the Yarra Valley behind it, Melbourne has everything you need for a great vacation, and the best day trips from Melbourne can show you more of what makes this region so special.
Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Melbourne, and you'll be able to enjoy your day trip without being weighed down by bags. Once you've explored the city's cultural attractions, like the best restaurants, best art galleries, and best museums in Melbourne, consider one or more of these day trips from Melbourne to see something truly special on your Australian trip.
How to get out of Melbourne
The city of Melbourne has an excellent public transportation network, and you can learn more about it in our guide on how to get around Melbourne. However, when it comes to the best day trips from Melbourne, your options get a little more limited. There are commuter rail services from Melbourne to some of the closer locations to the city, but if you want to go further afield and really sink your teeth into what makes the region so intriguing, you may need a car. That's certainly true if you want to explore the many national parks and other scenic locations outside the city.
Australia is a vast and relatively underpopulated country, and so driving culture is ingrained in the national psyche. A road trip is about as Australian an experience as you could want to have. Just don't forget that they drive on the left here.
From Melbourne to Port Phillip Bay
If you're looking for some of the best beaches in Melbourne, look no further than Port Phillip Bay. The bay is home to dozens of great beaches, including the world-famous Brighton Beach with its iconic bathing boxes. There are plenty of other beaches to choose from as well, whether you're looking for a place to sunbathe, swim, surf, or just take a leisurely walk along the sand.
How to get to Port Phillip Bay
The bay lies right on the edge of the city, so this is one of the few day trips from Melbourne you can take public transit or even walk to, depending on where you're staying. Brighton Beach, for example, can be reached in only half an hour by bus from Melbourne CBD.
From Melbourne to Penguin Parade at Summerland Beach
One of the most popular day trips from Melbourne is a visit to Phillip Island to see the penguin parade. Every evening at sunset, hundreds of little penguins come ashore to nest for the night. You can watch them waddle up the beach from the comfort of the purpose-built viewing stands, and it's an experience you're unlikely to forget in a hurry.
How to get to Summerland Beach
Located on a peninsula to the south of the city, it's around a two-hour drive to Summerland Beach. Still, it's well worth it to see one of the most famous spectacles in Melbourne, and there are plenty of other things in the area to keep you occupied and make it worth a day trip.
From Melbourne to Phillip Island
In addition to the penguin parade, Phillip Island is home to a number of other nature parks, including the Koala Conservation Centre and the Churchill Island Heritage Farm. You can also take a tour of the island's WWII history at the Cowes History Museum.
Phillip Island also has plenty of natural beauty to offer. Check out the pink granite cliffs of Cape Woolamai, or explore the Grand Prix circuit, where you can even do laps with a professional driver. Plus, you'll find plenty of wildlife in this natural habitat, and you can learn more about the native species at Phillip Island Wildlife Park.
Though relatively close to the city, Phillip Island feels a very long way away, making it easily one of the best day trips from Melbourne for nature lovers who want to see the wilder side of Australia without going too far from the city.
How to get to Phillip Island
Drive two hours south of the city, and you'll find yourself on Phillip Island, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge.
From Melbourne to Yarra Valley
If you're looking for a day trip from Melbourne that combines culture and nature, the Yarra Valley is the perfect destination. This picturesque region is home to some of Australia's best wineries, as well as a number of charming country towns. You can taste your way around the valley on a wine tour or explore the area's natural beauty by hiking or cycling through the rolling hills.
The Yarra Valley is also home to Healesville Sanctuary, where you can get up close and personal with native Australian animals like koalas, kangaroos, and echidnas.
How to get to the Yarra Valley
Is just under an hour's drive from the center of Melbourne to Lilydale, the gateway to the Yarra Valley. If you prefer not to drive, it's also possible to visit this region on a bus tour or even on a limo tour if you like to travel in style. Alternatively, you can reach the Valley by taking a bus to Lilydale Station.
From Melbourne to Wilsons Promontory National Park
For breathtaking views and great hiking trails, head to Wilsons Promontory National Park. This beautiful park is located at the southernmost point of mainland Australia, and it's full of towering mountains, lush rainforests, and pristine beaches.
The best way to explore the park is on foot, and there are a number of different hiking trails to choose from depending on your fitness level and how much time you have. If you want to overnight in the park, there are plenty of camping options available too. The grandeur of this national park is hard to overstate, making it easily one of the best day trips from Melbourne you can possibly go on.
How to get to Wilsons Promontory National Park
It can take up to three hours to drive from Melbourne to Wilsons Promontory, so you'll need to plan accordingly if you want to embark on this trip. However, it is one of the best day trips from Melbourne, so it might be worth considering spending a night here to make the most of the journey.
From Melbourne to Great Otway National Park
Another great option for nature lovers is Great Otway National Park. This park is located along the stunning Great Ocean Road, and it's full of waterfalls, rainforests, and mountain ranges. There are plenty of walking trails to explore, and you can even take a scenic drive through the park if you don't fancy doing too much walking.
One of the highlights of Great Otway National Park is definitely the Triplet Falls, which are three waterfalls that cascade down a rocky cliff face into a jade-green pool below. It's an absolutely incredible sight and well worth the hike to get there.
How to get to Great Otway National Park
There isn't much public transit in this region, so the best way to reach this National Park is to drive. It takes around three hours to reach Great Otway from Melbourne by car.
From Melbourne to Peninsula Hot Springs
If you're looking for a day trip from Melbourne that's a little more relaxed, the Peninsula Hot Springs are definitely worth checking out. These natural hot springs are located just outside of the city, and they make for a great way to spend a few hours soaking up some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
There are a number of different pools to choose from, all with different temperatures to suit your needs. There's also a spa center on site if you like indulging in a massage or facial. And if you get hungry, there's even a café serving healthy food and drinks.
How to get to Peninsula Hot Springs
The hot springs lie just the other side of Port Phillip Bay from the city, making this one of the easier day trips from Melbourne you can take. It's just over an hour's drive around the bay to reach them.
From Melbourne to Grampians National Park
The Grampians National Park is a great option for those who want to get away from the city and explore some of Australia's incredible wilderness. This national park is located in Victoria's west, and it's home to a huge range of different landscapes, from mountains and forests to waterfalls and cliffs.
There are plenty of hiking trails to explore, and you can even go rock climbing or abseiling if you're feeling adventurous. The Grampians are also home to a number of different native animals, so keep your eyes peeled for kangaroos, wallabies, and echidnas.
How to get to Grampians National Park
This is definitely one you want to drive to. It's about three hours by car from the city to Grampians National Park, so while this is one of the best day trips from Melbourne, you might want to consider an overnight stay to make it worthwhile.
From Melbourne to Great Ocean Road and the Twelve Apostles
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia's most iconic road trips, and it makes for an excellent day trip from Melbourne. The drive takes you along the stunning coastline, past towering cliffs, lush rainforests, and pristine beaches.
One of the highlights of the Great Ocean Road is definitely the Twelve Apostles, a series of limestone stacks that have been gradually eroded by the sea over time. It's an absolutely incredible sight and well worth the drive.
How to get to Great Ocean Road
You can reach Great Ocean Road via the M1 that runs right through the center of Melbourne. You'll need to drive for almost three hours to reach the 12 apostles.
From Melbourne to Puffing Billy Steam Train
For a day trip with a difference, jump aboard the Puffing Billy Steam Train. This vintage train runs through the picturesque Dandenong Ranges, and it's a great way to see some of Victoria's stunning countryside.
The train runs for around 25 kilometers, and there are a number of different stops along the way where you can get off and explore the local area. There's also a restaurant car on board if you want to grab something to eat.
How to get to Puffing Billy Steam Train
You can reach the steam train within a 45-minute drive from Melbourne CBD. It's also possible to get there by bus, which will take a little over one hour.
From Melbourne to Hanging Rock Reserve
Hanging Rock Reserve is a great option for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some peace and quiet. This reserve is located in Victoria's Macedon Ranges, and it's full of tranquil walking trails, native bushland, and incredible rock formations.
One of the highlights of Hanging Rock Reserve is definitely the Hanging Rock itself, a huge rock formation that's suspended precariously over the valley below. It's an absolutely incredible sight, so you won't begrudge the scenic hike to get here.
How to get to Hanging Rock Reserve
Located north of the city, it only takes around an hour by car to reach Hanging Rock. However, there is little to no public transit out here, so driving is the best way to go.
From Melbourne to Sovereign Hill
Sovereign Hill is a great day trip for those who want to learn about Australia's history. This open-air museum is located in the gold-mining town of Ballarat, and it recreates what life was like during the Victorian gold rush.
There are a number of different attractions at Sovereign Hill, including a working mine, a schoolhouse, and a blacksmith's forge. You can also try your hand at panning for gold, and there's even a horse-drawn tram that takes you around the site.
How to get to Sovereign Hill
A drive of about 90 minutes will bring you to Sovereign Hill. You can also get there by bus, which will take around two hours.
There are so many great day trips you can take from Melbourne that a list like this can only really scratch the surface. The natural surroundings of the city are truly breathtaking, and there is no excuse not to explore them. So drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage and immerse yourself in the best day trips from Melbourne.