6 Best Day Trips From Melbourne

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Want to take a short drive and get out of Melbourne for a change of scenery? Let me give you some suggestions, from a long-time resident here. These are 6 of the best day trips from Melbourne, all much-loved and iconic sites that locals and tourists enjoy. They are all an easy drive from the city, where you can appreciate nature and some awesome activities for the whole family.

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Explore Rural Victoria

Get out of Melbourne and explore a little of rural Victoria. Get in touch with nature with one of these 6 best day trips from Melbourne, which are all under 2 hours drive from the city. Whether you are looking for beaches, mountains, wildlife, hiking, relaxation, or fun with the kids, I’ve got you covered.

Of course, if you prefer a short stay for a couple of days, all of these locations offer various types of accommodation, so you can enjoy these magnificent locations at your leisure for a little longer.

1. Sovereign Hill, Ballarat

One of the most popular places to visit for families is Sovereign Hill, an open-air museum / theme park, in Ballarat. It’s a replica of the old gold mining town that was located nearby in the 1800’s, historically accurate in every detail. 

Here you can pan for gold, learn about the history of gold mining in Victoria and immerse yourself in the lifestyle of a bygone era. You can easily spend a whole day here, with many different activities and attractions to enjoy such as mine tours, exhibits, workshops, animal stables and more. Hotels, restaurants and shops line the streets, and people dressed in clothing from the era mingle and have photos taken with you. At night there is a sound and light show too.

I came here as a child, and also brought my own children when they were young. Kids love gold panning and are allowed to keep any specks of gold they find.

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Panning for gold at Sovereign Hill, Ballarat – photo credit

best day trips from Melbourne
Coach rides at Sovereign Hill, Ballarat

2. Mornington Peninsula

The Mornington Peninsula is one of the most popular beach destinations from Melbourne, as it’s only about an hour from the city and easily accessible by car via freeway. The ideal day trip, short or long stay if you’re after sand, surf and sun in the Summer months.

However, people are drawn to the Peninsula all throughout the year for the fabulous wineries, mineral spa resorts, golf courses, light houses, maze, fort, cable car rides, glamping, ferry rides, boating activities, picnics, and a myriad of shops, cafes and restaurants to explore. There is loads to see and do for people of all ages, and a huge tourist attraction for visitors to Melbourne.

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Bathing boxes at Mornington Peninsula
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Pier at Dromana
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Point Leo Estate Winery
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Peninsula Hot Springs at Fingal
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3. Daylesford

Another popular day trip is the town of Daylesford, approximately 90 minutes drive from Melbourne, for natural springs, spa and wellness therapies, art galleries and cafes. Furthermore, the Botanical Gardens here and the man-made lake offer plenty of walking trails and scenery to enjoy. People love to swim and enjoy boating at the lake too. Read my article A Quick Guide To Daylesford for more.

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Daylesford Lake
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Daylesford town centre

4. Dandenong Ranges

If you love mountains, you must visit the nearby Dandenong Ranges just an hour from the city, known affectionately as The Dandenongs. An awesome low mountain area of national parks and lush rain forests. The ferns are particularly striking. Driving up the scenic, winding route of  Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, you will find many awesome places at which you will want to stop.

The Dandenongs offers so much to see and do for everyone. Explore the hiking trails, waterfalls, dams, lakes, gardens, picnic grounds, cafes, and quaint little shops and plant nurseries. At the summit you will find the Sky High restaurant, Observatory and maze.

A huge attraction in the Southern foothills of the Ranges and one of the main reasons families come to the Dandenongs is the famous Puffing Billy Steam train ride. Dating from the 1900s, the heritage train ride begins in the town of Belgrave. You’ll enjoy views of the lush landscape and fresh air, whilst hanging out the side of the carriages. A fond childhood memory of everyone who grew up in Melbourne. Tickets are required to be purchase prior and I strongly recommend glasses to protect your eyes from the soot of the coal.

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Mt Dandenong parklands
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Sky High restaurant and observatory
best day trips from Melbourne
Lake in the Dandenong Ranges
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Waterfalls in the Dandenong Ranges
best day trips from Melbourne

Puffing Billy – photo credit

5. Phillip Island

Phillip Island is super popular for the  fairy penguins parade. These adorable little guys waddle out of the ocean up the sand to their burrows here at dusk. Children and people of all ages love to visit and watch the penguin parade, as the arrive home from a day of fishing for their families. Of course, it’s a huge attraction here, with locals and tourist, so you must buy tickets. There are various viewing platforms to watch the penguin parade.

The scenery along the coastline here is stunning. There are plenty of boardwalks and walking trails with lookouts to enjoy the views.

Also, seals can often be seen on the rocks, where a huge colony of them live. In particular, the Australian Fur Seals breed and frolic here all year round.

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Phillip Island board walk – photo credit

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The Nobbies, Phillip Island – photo credit

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Fairy penguin parade – photo credit

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Australian Fur Seals – photo credit

6. Torquay 

Located at the beginning of the famous Great Ocean Road, about 1.5 hours drive from Melbourne, Torquay is famous for its surf beaches. Many would call it the surfing capital of Australia. Bells Beach and Jan Juc attract surfers here in droves, especially for the yearly Bells Beach Pro competition. If you want to learn how to surf, this is the place.

Torquay even has a Surfing Museum full of Australian surfing memorabilia. The Australian National Surfing Museum is A$12 per adult to enter.

For walking enthusiasts, the Surf Coast Walk, a 44km trail route, begins in Torquay and continues along the Great Ocean Road.  Various lookouts give you opportunity to appreciate the coastal views.

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Torquay coastline
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Torquay beach

I hope you get to enjoy some of the best day trips from Melbourne, because a little road trip away from the city helps us unwind, breathe in fresh air and get back to nature.

Let me know your thoughts below.

Bye for now.

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8 thoughts on “6 Best Day Trips From Melbourne

  1. Kay says:

    I literally had no idea there was so much nearby Melbourne! I guess it makes sense, but in my head, Australia seems so spread out and far away!

  2. ariellekurtze says:

    Great post! My husband spent a college year abroad in Melbourne and is dying to go back. Australia is definitely on my bucket list! Loved your photos and details, thanks for sharing!

  3. Patri says:

    When I visited Melbourne I only stayed in the city for a couple of days, I wish I had ventured to one of these places, they are really cool, especially the penguins, sooo cute. 🙂

  4. Rhonda Albom says:

    I love Melbourne! We have lots of friends there, and go to shop, drink coffee, and eat when we can get away. We have been 4 or 5 times, but have never with a car, and we somehow still haven’t done any of these, but Torque and Phillip Island have been on the bucket list for a while.

  5. Chelsea says:

    I have just returned to Australia after living abroad for 3 years!! I actually live in Bendigo and think it should make the list!!!! I love Daylesford – it is such a unique town! Torquay is also a favourite; you just cant beat the beachy vibes!!

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