Melbourne often tops the list for most liveable cities in the world. And while it’s a fantastic destination on its own, there are plenty of reasons to plan a weekend getaway to escape the city. Melbourne is surrounded by incredible places worth exploring that are rich in nature, culture and history. You don’t have to go too far to find them.
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From driving along the beautiful southern coastline of Australia to tasting chardonnay in one of the country’s best wine regions, there are many ways to spend the perfect weekend away in Victoria.
If you’re looking to escape the city, here’s our guide to the top weekend trips you can take from Melbourne.
Great Ocean Road
No guide to the best weekend getaway ideas would be complete without including this famous road trip. The Great Ocean Road is a spectacular 243km stretch of coastal road between the towns of Torquay and Allansford, west of Melbourne. The coastline is most famous for its awe-inspiring rock formations and rugged landscape. It has been sculpted over time by wind and water.
Although it’s possible to visit the Great Ocean Road on one long day trip from Melbourne, the best way to truly experience the entire stunning coastal area is on a weekend road trip.
Distance from Melbourne: The distance from Melbourne to the official start of the Great Ocean Road at Torquay is 105km or a 1.5-hour drive.
How to get there/How to get around: The best way to travel along the coastal road is by hiring a car. This gives you the absolute freedom to stop and enjoy the view whenever you feel like it. For an alternative experience, you can traverse part of the Great Ocean Road on foot along the Great Ocean Walk which stretches from Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles.
Things to do along the Great Ocean Road
- Torquay is considered the surf capital of Australia so join the big name surfers down at Bells Beach if you consider yourself a bit of a pro.
- Lorne is one of the all-time favourite stops on the coastal road with a relaxing social atmosphere and beautiful beach.
- Take time to explore the Otway National Park, for its beautiful inland forested hiking trails.
- Finish your trip at the Great Ocean Road highlight, the Twelve Apostle lookout, in Port Campbell National Park.
Where to Stay: Desa Retreat offers two modern eco-villas in Torquay just a short walk from the beach. It’s the perfect weekend getaway accommodation.
Where to Eat/Drink: Bottle of Milk in Lorne is very well-known for its burgers and brunch menu. Sow and Piglets micro-brewery in Port Campbell is a great stop for some craft beer.
Don’t Miss: If you’re visiting between June and October, you might get a chance to spot whales off the coast. The best places for whale watching are Cape Otway Lighthouse and the purpose-built platform at Logans Beach.
The rolling green hills and perfectly manicured vineyards make the Yarra Valley one of the most popular weekend getaways in Victoria. It’s most famous for being one of Australia’s premier wine regions but there’s plenty of other things to do in the valley to keep you busy for a whole weekend.
Most people base themselves in either Yarra Glen or Healesville, the two main towns at the heart of the region. At just an hour’s drive from the city, they make for perfect quick getaways from Melbourne. From those towns you can winery hop, go hiking in the Yarra Ranges National Park. Visit the Healesville Sanctuary and indulge in the fine dining and gourmet experiences on offer.
We particularly think that Yarra Valley is one of the best romantic Melbourne weekend escapes!
Distance from Melbourne: The distance from Melbourne to Healesville is 60km or a one hour drive.
How to get there/How to get around: The best way to get to the Yarra Valley and enjoy stops along the way is to hire a car. It’s possible to arrange a day trip from Melbourne. However, to experience the best of the whole region you should try to stay at least one night.
Things to do in Yarra Valley
- Visit the Healesville Sanctuary and get up close to many of Australia’s native animals.
- Taste the world-class wines at some of the countless wineries, such as Rochford Wines, Boat O’Craigo, Greenstone Winery or Soumah of Yarra Valley.
- Hit some of the trails in the nearby Yarra Ranges National Park or further afield in the Dandenong Ranges either on foot or bicycle.
Where to Stay: For a completely off-grid and unique experience, stay at The Canvas Barn B&B in Warburton. For a cozy but quality experience right in the middle of Healesville, try Tuck Inn Yarra Valley, which is housed in a restored building originally built over a century ago.
Where to eat/drink: For a cozy rustic cafe you can’t beat Mocha and Lime in Healesville who serve local produce and vegan options. For a fine-dining experience, Meletos has incredible meals in a beautiful setting amongst the vines.
Don’t miss: Four Pillars Gin has recently emerged as a must-see place in the Yarra Valley. It was awarded the world’s best gin in 2019 and their barn-style distillery in Healesville is always busy with people.
READ NEXT: 10 Best Things To Do In Yarra Valley, Australia
It’s hard to believe that you can be surrounded by pretty seaside towns and white sand beaches just an hour from Melbourne. It’s this seaside beauty that makes the Mornington Peninsula one of the best short getaways from Melbourne.
The scenic coastline is dotted with bustling towns and plenty of high-end restaurants and boutique shops. It’s known as being one of the most romantic weekend escapes from Melbourne. Surrounded with plenty of beautiful, secluded accommodation options along the breezy coast.
Distance from Melbourne: Mornington is 70km southeast from Melbourne or a 1 hour drive.
How to get there/How to get around: As with most Victoria weekend getaways, it’s best to have your own car which gives you the freedom to explore various towns and beaches on the coast at your leisure.
Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula
- Visit Arthurs Seat, the highest peak in the region and reachable by either a short steep hike or the gondola.
- The Peninsula Hot Springs is a truly relaxing experience and are popular for a girl’s weekend or a couples retreat.
- Visit some of the pretty seaside towns further along the coast, try Rosebud for white-sand beaches popular with families or Sorrento for something more sophisticated and popular with couples.
Where to stay in Mornington Peninsula: Big Blue Backyard is a super-romantic getaway for couples, with 3 private rustic suites and a comprehensive sustainability policy that ensures the accommodation’s footprint is minimal.
Where to Eat/Drink: For a cozy setting try the brunch cooked with organic produce at Village Cafe and Wine Bar in Flinders. For something more sophisticated, try Polperro Winery in Red Hill for a fine dining experience.
Don’t Miss: Cape Schanck is the southernmost tip of the peninsula and has a beautiful historic lighthouse with scenic trails to explore the landscape. It’s the perfect place for a picnic on a nice day.
For a real nature and beach fix, Phillip Island is one of the local Victorian’s favourite short breaks from Melbourne. This large island south of the city is connected to the mainland by a motorable bridge. Also, this is extremely popular with people from all over the state for a long weekend or summer holiday.
It’s a great place for either a relaxing seaside getaway from Melbourne or an active holiday with plenty of beaches, trails and chances for close encounters with native wildlife.
Distance from Melbourne: The distance from Melbourne to Cowes, the main town on the island, is 140km or a two-hour drive.
How to get there/How to get around: Hiring a car is the best way of reaching Phillip Island and gives you the freedom to explore the island at your own pace. However, the island is perfectly set up to explore either by bicycle or on foot with endless trails once you reach your accommodation.
Things to do in Phillip Island
- Woolamai Beach is a popular surf break on the southern coast of the island.
- The ‘Penguin Parade’ makes the island one of the best weekend getaways from Melbourne for families where you can watch hundreds of penguins crawling up the beach at sunset to their homes on the foreshore.
- Take an eco-boat tour to get close to Seal Rock, home to Australia’s largest fur seal colony.
Where to stay on Phillip Island: Eco-friendly Resort Private Villas offer four self-contained villas on their property that also boasts a wellness retreat.
Where to Eat/Drink: Island Whole Foods is a great organic cafe tucked behind the main street in Cowes and is perfect for brunch or a smoothie on the go.
Don’t Miss! Cape Woolamai Circuit is an 8.5km trail around the highest and most rugged part of the island. The 2.5-hour walk takes in all the natural beauty that the island has to offer. It’s perfect for active people.
Read More: Things to do in Phillip Island, Victoria
Daylesford is the spa capital of Victoria and is popular for being one of the best weekend trips from Melbourne for a group of friends or a couple. The peaceful town is situated in beautiful natural surroundings with added wellness retreats, hot springs and day spas.
It’s one of the best Victorian weekend getaways for romance. The quaint town is the perfect place to stroll the streets home to quirky vintage stores and cute cafes. The regional food is also a highlight in Daylesford with farm-fresh organic produce and local creations a must-try.
Distance from Melbourne: It is 115km from Melbourne to Daylesford which is about a 1.5-hour drive.
How to get there/How to get around: The best way to reach Daylesford is with a private car. This way you can explore the town and its surroundings at a leisurely pace.
Things to do in Daylesford
- Wander around Wombat Hill Botanic Garden with century-old trees.
- Browse the local art galleries in the main streets of Daylesford town.
- Shop for antiques and local produce at The Amazing Mill Market, the Daylesford Farmers Market and Brick Lane Bazaar.
- Enjoy a pampering day at one of the numerous day spas or wellness centres in the area.
Where to Stay in Daylesford: For a truly secluded and romantic stay, try Cottage @4A, a beautiful modern cottage in the middle of Daylesford.
Where to Eat/Drink: Larder Daylesford prides itself on serving local produce and it’s one of the best places to stop for breakfast. For a unique experience, step into Cliffy’s Emporium, which was an antique shop turned cafe for home-cooked meals.
Don’t Miss! A trip to the Daylesford area is not without a visit to Hepburn Springs, which has Australia’s largest natural mineral springs. For the best experience, visit the iconic Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa for a day of self-love and pampering.
Grampians National Park
The Grampians National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in the state. It is one of the best Victorian getaways for those looking for an escape into the mountains. Rising above the flat farmland of western Victoria, the stunning sandstone cliffs and rolling ridgelines of the Grampians mark the endpoint of the Great Dividing Range.
The area is most popular with active travelers looking for an exciting adventure. From rock climbing to hiking up to stunning viewpoints, the area has plenty to offer for the fit and adventurous. However, you can easily spend the weekend amongst the beautiful nature, indulging in the local produce instead.
Distance from Melbourne: Halls Gap is the main town in the Grampians and 255km from Melbourne or a 3-hour drive.
How to get there/How to get around: Exploring the Grampians National Park is best done with your own vehicle. Most of the highlights of the area are spread around the main town and requires a bit of driving.
Things to do in the Grampians
- Hiking is the main activity in the Grampians, with countless trails from easy walks to waterfalls to steep climbs to beautiful lookouts. Try Mt Abrupt for a stunning view or The Pinnacle lookout for one of the most popular viewpoints in the park.
- Visit MacKenzie Falls after a heavy rain, they’re the highest waterfalls in the state.
- Explore the Grampians wine region, with 150 years of winemaking experience you can sample some of the country’s best shiraz and sparkling wines.
Where to stay in the Grampians: Offering four architecturally unique lodges, Aquila Eco Lodges is a luxury accommodation option accredited by Ecotourism Australia. It sits at the base of Mount Abrupt tucked in a secluded forest.
Where to Eat/Drink: Harvest Halls Gap Cafe uses local produce to create a menu with vegan options in a rustic setting. Seppelt Wines Great Western is one of the region’s original winemaking pioneers – try their sparkling shiraz.
Don’t Miss! Watch the sunset from Reeds Lookout and The Balconies, one of the most beautiful views in Victoria. You can drive there from Halls Gap making it easily accessible and the perfect place for an evening picnic.
For a real nature lover, you can’t beat a getaway from Melbourne to Wilsons Prom. This sliver of land at the southernmost end of Victoria is the largest coastal wilderness area in the state. The rugged landscape with pristine beaches and soaring granite peaks offer countless opportunities to get active whether it be hiking, canoeing, fishing or swimming.
It’s a bit of a long drive but if you plan your time accordingly, it’s worth the travel time to experience this insanely beautiful landscape on a weekend away.
Distance from Melbourne: From Melbourne to Tidal River, the main town of the promontory, is 225km or a 3-hour drive.
How to get there/How to get around: The best way to get around Wilsons Prom is by hiring a car. Even better is to hire a campervan because that way you can utilize all the campgrounds in the park.
Things to do in Wilsons Promontory
- Squeaky Beach is a popular place with its white quartz sand that literally squeaks as you walk.
- If you have a bit of time try to tackle one of the overnight hikes on the Prom such as the Southern Prom Circuit.
- Take in the sprawling sand dunes called The Big Drift on the edge of the park.
Where to Stay in Wilsons Promontory: Camping in the Prom is popular and makes it one of the few cheap weekend getaways in Melbourne. Still, if you’re after more comfort then try Tidal River Units, self-catering accommodation in Tidal River.
Where to Eat/Drink: There’s very limited facilities on Wilsons Prom, but you can pick up essential supplies and enough food for a picnic at Tidal River General Store and Take-Away.
Don’t Miss!: A hike to the top of Mt Oberon offers the best views in the park and is especially beautiful in the golden hour before sunset.
Mt Buller is undoubtedly one of the best winter getaways from Melbourne if you’re keen for some snow. It’s the most accessible ski area from the city but is still a decent 3.5-hour drive away.
The snow season in the high country runs from June to September/October each year. It’s best to plan your visit in advance to scoop up the best prices. Mt Buller is one of the most popular Melbourne weekend trips and it doesn’t come all that cheap.
Distance from Melbourne: Mount Buller is at a 235km distance from Melbourne CBD or a 3.5-hour drive.
How to get there/How to get around: If you’re driving yourself to Mt Buller you need to carry wheel chains with you and it’s best to pre-purchase parking online for a cheaper price. There are also a number of coach services that operate weekend and overnight trips from Melbourne. Once you’re there, you can easily move around the area on foot.
Things to do in Mt Buller
- Skiing and snowboarding are the main activities and you can book a lesson if you’re a newbie.
- There’s also a day spa, cinema and indoor rock climbing wall if you get tired of the cold outdoors.
Where to Stay in Mt Buller: Kabuki Mt Buller offers two guesthouses in a contemporary design and are walking distance to all the main amenities and ski lifts.
Where to Eat/Drink: The Mt Buller village has plenty of bars and restaurants with popular options including Arlberg Bistro and Bar with the best location on the mountain and Koflers Restaurant with a great menu and a ski-in/ski-out location.
Don’t Miss! For something a little different, duck into the National Alpine Museum of Australia. It has a fascinating range of displays showcasing the history of snow sports in Australia. Also, the general High Country region.