The best day trips from Melbourne

Halls Gap Grampians


Posted May 13, 2024

Planning a day trip? Hit the road and escape to one of these must-see day trip destinations in Victoria, all within three hour’s drive from Melbourne.

For those looking to travel for just the day, Victoria is a state where you can head out on a weekend and find forest, mountains, bush, beaches, villages, snow, lakes and quirky towns; all just under a few hours' drive from Melbourne.

So, pack the car, pump up the tyres and get ready for fun-filled day trips to Victoria’s best bucket-list destinations. And remember, when heading on your own adventure, stay road trip happy by updating your emergency roadside assistance before you leave.

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Best day trips from Melbourne

The Dandenongs

Head for the hills and spend a day in the stunning Dandenong Ranges. The lush rainforest, less than an hour’s drive from Melbourne, is the perfect place to relax, unwind and get back to nature.

With more than 200 walks and trails, there are hikes aplenty if you want to explore by foot or, if you prefer the scenic route, hop aboard the historic Puffing Billy steam train as it glides its way through glistening gullies and towering mountain ash forests.

For something a little more indulgent, drop into the Olinda Tea House for an Asian-influenced high tea in a fairy-tale setting. With ceiling-to-floor windows and 360-degree rainforest views, this charming architectural gem is as close to treehouse chic as it gets.


Puffing Billy Railway in the Dandenongs

Puffing Billy is a popular day trip attraction in the Dandenongs. Image: Visit Victoria


Bendigo is an award-winning regional city two hours north-west of Melbourne that is built upon a rich gold mining legacy.

Established during the 1850s gold rush, Bendigo's streets still echo with the tales of fortune seekers who flocked here in search of riches. Grand Victorian architecture like the Bendigo Post Office still lines its streets.

The Central Deborah Gold Mine provides a fascinating insight into the hardships and triumphs of Bendigo's gold mining days, allowing visitors to descend into the depths of the earth and experience life as a miner.

But Bendigo isn't just about its history; it's also a vibrant hub of contemporary culture and creativity. The Bendigo Art Gallery regularly hosts captivating exhibitions that draw visitors from far and wide. Meanwhile, the city's thriving food and wine scene showcases the best of regional produce, with bustling cafes, restaurants, and wineries offering delectable treats for every palate. The Bendigo Botanic Gardens, with its diverse collection of plants from around the world, provides the perfect setting for a leisurely stroll or a relaxing picnic. There are also plenty of other free things to do in Bendigo.

More: Everything to see, eat and do in Bendigo


central deborah gold mine

The Central Deborah Gold Mine is one of Bendigo's historical highlights to see on a day trip. Image: Anne Morely

The Yarra Valley and Healesville

There’s nothing like spending a day in wine country to help replenish the soul. And where better to get your fill of gourmet goodies and gastronomic pleasures than Victoria’s oldest wine region?

Just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley offers a world of sensory indulgence, with award-winning cellar doors, world-class distilleries to try, hatted restaurants and incredible encounters.

Love wine? Sip your way through some of the state’s best with a Yarra Valley wine tour, where you'll be treated to three premium tasting experiences at some of the Yarra Valley region's most impressive cellar doors - plus indulge in some behind-the-scenes chocolate tasting at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice-Creamery.

Nestled in the Yarra Valley, Healesville is a charming town that beckons visitors with its picturesque landscapes and bevy of food and drink options. Make your way to Healesville Sanctuary to get up close and personal with some of your favourite furry friends, including koalas, kangaroos, echidnas and - if you’re lucky - even a platypus.

More: The best free things to do in the Yarra Valley


people walking down an autumn street in Healesville

Healesville is a picturesque town with plenty of tasty food and drink options on a day trip. Image: Visit Victoria

The Grampians

Tick off a bucket-list Victorian adventure with a day trip to the Grampians National Park, part of the Greater Gariwerd Aboriginal cultural landscape three hours west of Melbourne.

This rugged hinterland is a haven for weekenders and serious escape artists alike, offering everything from incredible hikes and majestic mountain panoramas, to epicurean banquets, wildlife encounters, hot springs, and the largest number of significant and ancient Indigenous rock-art paintings and shelters in southern Australia.

Keep your camera handy on hike or scenic drive to the photogenic MacKenzie Falls, Halls Gap, Boroka Lookout and the Grand Canyon, where your and Grampians highlights reel will feature one picture-perfect location after the other.

Don’t forget a visit to the Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre to help you get the most out of your visit to this stunning and culturally important corner of the state. You might even find time for a round of mini golf.

Day trip tip: On the way, stop in at the country town of Warrak, which has become mysteriously overrun by a secret mastermind who keeps making Minions-themed statues pop up left, right, and centre.


McKenzie falls in the Grampians

The Grampians are full of amazing sights to do on a day trip. Image: Visit Victoria


Geelong is Victoria's second-largest city, and it has the sights to match, including a beautiful beach waterfront esplanade with a ferris wheel, a sea bath (at Eastern Beach), and an art deco boardwalk. Look out for the colourful Baywalk Bollards on the esplanade: these sculptures chronicle the city's history in a cute and quirky way.

The Geelong Botanic Gardens make for a beautiful (and free) day out, and there's a quaint teahouse onsite for morning tea. Geelong Gallery is a fantastic regional art gallery, if you want to follow up your nature walk with some art appreciation.

Finally, if you're a history fan, you can't miss the Geelong Gaol and the National Wool Museum. Both are old buildings full of rich history and interesting exhibitions.

There are plenty of free things to do in Geelong, too, for a budget-friendly day trip or weekend getaway.

More: The best things to see and do in Torquay, just 30 minutes by car from Geelong.


Geelong Sea Baths waterfront

Geelong's waterfront features a calm sea bath area that's perfect for a family-friendly day trip. Image: Visit Victoria

The Great Ocean Road

When it comes to world-class day-trip destinations, Victoria’s Great Ocean Road is often top of the list. As well as being a culinary cornucopia, this famously craggy coastline boasts a bounty of brilliant activities and playful pit-stops to tick off the local tourism bucket list.

Must-see wonders of the Great Ocean Road include a stop in the surfside town of Torquay, the quaint town of Lorne, Twelve Apostles National Park, Loch Ard Gorge, Port Campbell and the Otway Ranges, where thrill seekers can even strap themselves in for a high-flying scenic adventure through the lush rainforest on an Otway Fly Zipline Tour. You’ll literally see the forest from the trees as you swing your way through the towering canopy 30 metres above ground level.

Tip: It's around a two hour drive from Melbourne to Lorne, but you can explore the Great Ocean Road over many days, or even use the journey as part of a longer road trip to Adelaide.


the Otway Fly walkway

The Otway Fly canopy bridge allows you to experience the true wonder of the Otways. Image: Visit Victoria


Heathcote is a hidden gem around 90 minutes from Melbourne that offers a unique blend of history, nature, culture and vineyards aplenty. Also accessible by public transport, it makes for a popular road trip in the autumn when the famed Valley of Liquid Ambers turn for the brilliant hues of the foliage season.

The beloved wine region, which produces some of the best shiraz in the world, is home to more than 40 vineyards and wineries, offering visitors a chance to indulge in a wine tasting or two, as well as myriad culinary experiences from gourmet restaurants to artisan breweries.

The town, which has a rich history dating back to the gold rush era, has preserved many of its historic buildings and sites, including the courthouse, railway station, and Chinese Joss House Museum. Visitors can also take guided tours to learn more about the town's fascinating past.

If nature is more your thing, get out and explore the local walking and hiking tracks, including the striking Pink Cliffs Geological Reserve.


Two women sitting in front of large window at winery

Soak up the serenity with a day trip to the Peregrine Ridge Winery in Heathcote. Image: Visit Victoria


Just 90 minutes from Melbourne's CBD lies Ballarat, Victoria’s largest inland city that beckons with a bounty of things to do on a day trip. As part of the Goldfields region, it is a veritable adventure playground for families, friends and foodies alike.

Take a step back in time at Ballarat’s celebrated Sovereign Hill, where panning for gold and gorging on raspberry drops are a rite of passage for Victorian children looking to step back in time. You can also take a visit to medieval times at Kryal Castle or get up close with Australian animals at Ballarat Wildlife Park.

There are plenty of free activities in Ballarat, too, like a lovely stroll by the lakes and historical monuments around the Creswick area or seeing the arts destination ArtHouse.


Horse and cart in Ballarat

All ages can enjoy the historic charms of Sovereign Hill in Ballarat on a day out. Image: Visit Victoria

Mornington Peninsula

If you’re in need of some sea breeze, a day trip to the Mornington Peninsula is just what the doctor prescribed.

For the ultimate in relaxation, head to the Peninsula Hot Springs and bathe your way to the top, soaking up the spectacular panoramic views of the peninsula, or enjoy art with a vino on the Mornington Art Trail. There's plenty of local restaurants and wineries to try out.

If you're looking for a more whimsical adventure with kids, lose yourself among 10 acres of gorgeous gardens, including a year-round lavender labyrinth at Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens, or cuddle a koala at the Moonlit Sanctuary.

And if you're after free activities on the Mornington Peninsula, there are plenty of those too. The area is filled with a plethora of local beaches, walks and galleries to enjoy at your own leisure.

couple on hill overlooking ocean views

Mornington Peninsula is one of the prettiest places in Victoria for a day trip. Image: Visit Victoria

Phillip Island

Get ready for adventure with a day trip to Phillip Island. Enjoy an action-packed day of discovery at the famous Phillip Island Nature Parks, from an Antarctic journey at the Nobbies Centre to farm-style experiences on Churchill Island to seeing koalas in their natural habitat, or on a majestic whale watching cruise.

Come sunset, get a good spot at the Phillip Island Penguin Parade to witness the world’s largest colony of Little Penguins waddle their way across the sand from the sea to their burrows in and up close and personal experience like no other.


people watching the Little Penguins at Phillip Island

The Phillip Island Penguin Parade is a must-do on a day trip to the island. Image: Visit Victoria


The charming Goulburn Valley town situated on the banks of Lake Nagambie, is known for its scenic beauty, water sports and wineries. At around two hours' drive from Melbourne, Nagambie is an idyllic spot to escape to for a day, or even the weekend.

Lake Nagambie is a popular destination for water sports enthusiasts, offering opportunities for fishing, boating, and swimming. The area is also famous for its breweries and wineries, with several acclaimed vineyards and cellar doors, including Tahbilk and Mitchelton that call the region home.


pier on lake bordered by trees

Lake Daylesford is a great place to enjoy a picnic and a relaxing day out. Image: Getty


A favourite amongst day trippers, wellness lovers and weekenders looking to explore, the spa town of Daylesford is a great way to relax on a day trip from Melbourne and only 25 minutes from the RACV Goldfields Resort.

Bathe in the mineral waters of Hepburn Springs, enjoy a picnic by Lake Daylesford, indulge in a spa treatment at Daylesford Day Spa, shop for unique antiques at the famed Amazing Mill Markets and satisfy your sweet tooth at The Chocolate Mill before a relaxing drive home.