I loved our time visiting Melbourne. Not only is it a fantastic city to explore filled with many world-class restaurants, stadiums, galleries and theatres, but it’s also a fantastic base to explore other parts of Victoria and Southeastern Australia.
As it turns out, there are many incredible places to visit near Melbourne that are less than three hour’s drive away. Perfect for weekend getaways.
As much as it pains me to say it is a New South Welshman, Victoria was the biggest surprise from our 18-month road trip around Australia.
The state packs a punch, even though it’s a small state there’s still plenty to do, from seeing world-famous scenery to mysterious wildlife and historical landmarks. It’s no surprise our one-month trip quickly turned into three!
Even our kids loved Melbourne and its surrounding tourist attractions, and Kalyra still talks fondly of the place nearly two years later.
If you’re looking for places to visit outside Melbourne that are either a day trip or weekend getaway from Melbourne, then keep reading, as we’ll be listing our favourite spots below.
- Places to Visit Near Melbourne for a Weekend Getaway
- Getting Around Melbourne and Victoria
- Before You Go
- Other Melbourne Tips
Places to Visit Near Melbourne for a Weekend Getaway
Once you’re done exploring the city, it’s time to consider one (or more) of the below getaways from Melbourne. These nearby places to visit in Melbourne will have you singing Victoria’s praises in no time too!
1. Wilsons Promontory National Park
Surprisingly we knew almost nothing about Wilsons Promontory National Park before our road trip around Australia and had never heard of Squeaky Beach, which we now put up there with the best beaches in Australia.
It wasn’t until we arrived in Victoria and started talking with the locals, and a well-travelled friend from Melbourne who raved about the Prom being his favourite place in the country, that we paid it much attention.
Having been, we can confirm that Wilsons Prom is Victoria’s best-kept-secret and at just a 3-hour drive from Melbourne, a great getaway!
Be warned though this coastal wilderness area has limited accommodation and is so popular with Victorians that they have a ballot system to stay during peak season! We spent three nights in a little cabin at Tidal River Campground when we visited.
While we recommend spending a few days in Wilson’s Prom, if you don’t have time or your own vehicle, you can join this full day tour from Melbourne.
The charming town of Bright is our favourite town in Victoria and one of our top three towns in Australia, period. We tell everyone we meet who is visiting Victoria, you MUST visit Bright!
lt‘s one of those places that gets under your skin and we’ll return there over and over again.
With the Owens River running through town and the alpine scenery, it reminds us of Colorado and the cafe scene is top notch too – we’re partial to the Blackbird Cafe, Food Wine Friends, and the Rail Trail Cafe.
We LOVE the Bright Brewery by the river which produces excellent craft beer, the best cider I have ever tasted, and delicious pizzas. And your kids will love the big playground just across from the beer garden, win-win!
Besides the food and drink, if you love exploring the great outdoors by foot or bicycle, Bright is your town too. Just a three-hour drive from Melbourne makes it one of the best places to visit near Melbourne.
Oh, and whilst you’re in Bright, take a detour to Beechworth and have lunch at Bridge Road Brewers, one of our faves in Oz!
There’s something about Marysville!
This town was devastated by bushfires on what became known as Black Saturday back in 2009. Almost the entire town burned to the ground with many locals losing their lives.
But the way the town has recovered is remarkable. The spirit of the people is truly something to be admired!
It’s only an hour northeast of Melbourne and the drive into Marysville is beautiful in itself. It makes for a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Once there enjoy the serenity and the natural setting.
Go hiking at Lake Mountain, take in Steavenson Falls, marvel at Bruno’s Sculpture Garden, go trout fishing at Buxton Trout Farm, taste wines at Buxton Ridge Winery and so much more.
For foodies, you’ll love all the homemade cooking you can get here. You can have breakfast at Fraggas Cafe, dinner at the Black Spur Inn, and let your kids burn off some energy playing at Gallipoli Park.
We stayed at the charming Amelina Cottage which were an easy stroll into town.
4. The Great Ocean Road
You can’t visit Melbourne and Victoria without jumping behind the wheel of your car, or hiring a car and driving one of the best road trips in the world.
This has to be the number one place to visit near Melbourne for a weekend getaway, period.
Beginning 90 minutes outside of Melbourne in Torquay, the Great Ocean Road stretches over 250 kilometres to Warrnambool and attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year.
Explore seaside towns, walk through rainforests to waterfalls, spot koalas, swim at scenic beaches, and stand in awe as you take in the famous Twelve Apostles.
Whatever you do, don’t do this drive in one day, slow down and appreciate all it has to offer. There are many towns along the Great Ocean Road to stop at, we recommend staying the night in Lorne, which makes for a great central base.
We stayed at the Mantra Hotel right on the beach.
5. The Mornington Peninsula
We camped for a week on the Mornington Peninsula and whilst it’s only an hour’s drive from Melbourne, we felt like we were a million miles away from the city.
I vividly remember the sunset on Dromana Beach being as impressive as anywhere in Victoria, and our pub lunch at the Portsea Hotel had as good a view as anywhere for a beer garden.
Other things we recommend include the coastal headland walk around Sorrento (Millionaire’s row), enjoy takeaway fish & chips on the waterfront of Sorrento, and take the kids to the community playground on the Rye Foreshore.
6. Phillip Island
We thought Phillip Island was all about penguins and motorcycle racing, but after spending a relaxing eight days on the island we can assure you it offers so much more.
Phillip Island is one of the most beautiful places to visit near Melbourne for one thing; the penguin parade. Though it sounds like some sort of carnival, it’s really just a name given to the time of day when the little penguins come up to the shore at sunset in their numbers – waddling in a sort of parade fashion.
When you take in the penguin parade experience get there early and explore The Nobbies which has spectacular views over the Bass Strait – it will be windy though!
The parade is a ticketed event, but it’s still amazing to see them in their natural environment.
The main town of Cowes Beach is a good place to base yourself and has a decent cafe and restaurant scene. The beach here is family-friendly as is scenic Smiths Beach.
Other things I recommend to do on Phillips Island are a visit to The Koala Conservation Centre, the Chocolate Factory, Amaz’N Things, and the Grand Prix circuit.
7. The Bellarine Peninsula
Another place to visit near Melbourne we’d never heard of is the Bellarine Peninsula. Again surprising, considering it’s only one hour south of Melbourne and close to the starting line for the Great Ocean Road.
Thanks to a recommendation from another Melbourne friend we jumped on the car ferry from Sorrento and headed for Queenscliff.
The town of Queenscliff is a historic seaside village with a good cafe scene – I had the best-ever chai latte at Raw Ingredients. We also loved the slow pace of life in Barwon Heads and exploring the cafe and restaurant scene there, check out At the Heads and the Star Fish Bakery.
Other nice towns on the Bellarine include Point Lonsdale and Ocean Grove – the largest town on the Bellarine and the closest surfing beach to Melbourne!
If you find yourself heading south from Melbourne towards Geelong and Great Ocean Road, consider exploring the Bellarine Peninsula.
We stayed at the Big 4 Beacon Resort Campground for three weeks, and it had become one of our favourite caravan parks and base for exploring the Bellarine.
It’s a great addition to our best places near Melbourne list.
8. The Grampians
One of the best walking and hiking destinations in Victoria is merely three hours from Melbourne.
The Grampians National Park is a rugged mountain range and is renowned for its breathtaking rocky views, rich culture and stunning wildflower displays.
The first we’d heard of the Grampians was from a Swedish backpacker in Thailand who said it was his favourite place in the world to rock climb. Just another beautiful place in Victoria that rarely gets talked about.
We conquered the summit of the 4km Pinnacle’s Walk with our girls, aged 6 and 2 at the time, and it was one of my favourite days of our Australia trip.
Halls Gap is a great town to base yourself in the heart of the Grampians, we stayed at the Grampians Eco YHA which was family-friendly and an eco-retreat.
Canberra is the capital of Australia and chances are, you’ve probably never heard of it! Though it’s the capital city, it doesn’t get the same marketing that big cities like Sydney or Melbourne do.
I mean, how can Canberra compete with top attractions in Melbourne like the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) or Melbourne Zoo?
But Canberra has some attractions of its own that are well worth taking a day trip to see. For one thing, it has some remarkable, world-class museums. The National Gallery of Australia is one of the best art galleries in the country to see aboriginal and Australian art in its permanent collection.
It has two buildings, the NGV Australia and NGV International – one displays international artwork and the other, local. Both buildings are a marvel of modern architecture.
Canberra is easily accessible by high-speed train, which departs from Melbourne’s central business district at Flinders Street Station. Or, you can drive and it will take around 7 hours.
Since Canberra is in the New South Wales state, you’ll need to plan ahead to include this in your weekend getaway from Melbourne.
10. Yarra Valley
The Yarra Valley is a region just outside the city of Melbourne that surrounds the Yarra River. It’s known for its wine cultivation and hiking trails.
If you’re looking for relaxing places to visit near Melbourne, you can’t go wrong with a visit to wine country in Yarra Valley. There are 90 vineyards and 35 wineries here, so you could easily spend a day or weekend hopping between them.
Another unique thing to do in Yarra Valley is take a sunrise hot air balloon ride. There is something so magical about watching the sunrise from the air and seeing its rays glisten over the vineyards below.
Of course, you can also find river cruises that take you into the Yarra Valley region if you’re not looking to spend much time here.
Located just outside Melbourne is the town of Healesville. The town is surrounded by beautiful nature, parks and hiking trails. The number one reason to visit Healesville though is for the Healesville Sanctuary.
This is a zoo dedicated to Australian wildlife. It’s a small zoo and will only take 2-3 hours to see it all, but it’s the best place to see native species to Aus such as Koalas, Kangaroos, Wombats, Wallabees, Dingos and Platypuses.
The zoo is dedicated to animal conservation and helping animals who face extinction.
12. St Kilda Beach
Okay, so St Kilda isn’t exactly outside Melbourne, but we understand that some people don’t like to spend all their time travelling, so if you want to be within a reasonable distance of Melbourne CBD, then we recommend spending some time at St Kilda Beach.
This is Melbourne’s seaside resort area and is famous for its cafes and restaurants along St Kilda road and the stunning St Kilda Pier.
It’s also where you’ll find Luna Park, the number one theme park in Melbourne with rollercoasters and fairground rides.
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city without escaping the city, this is a great place to visit near Melbourne CBD.
Getting Around Melbourne and Victoria
If you’re not sure how to get to all these amazing places to visit near Melbourne then the best way is by car. Since a lot of these attractions are national parks or located in the wilderness, you’ll need to drive to them either way.
If you’re arriving internationally and don’t have a car, then you can find great deals using RentalCars.com. It’s the world’s biggest car rental booking service and it compares all the major brands like Hertz, Avis, Alamo, and Europcar.
Another way to get to some of these locations is to fly. Places like Canberra can be driven to but it takes a day or so to drive. Use Skyscanner to compare flights and find yourself a deal.
Within Melbourne itself, it’s really easy to get around. Melbourne has a tram service that connects most of the top tourist attractions.
It even has the City Circle Tram, which is a free tram service that connects the top attractions. Here are all the attractions you can access by taking this line:
- Melbourne Museum and the Royal Exhibition Building
- Melbourne Aquarium
- Parliament House
- St Paul’s Cathedrale
- Flinders Street Station
You can either change to a paid tram service to get to other attractions (or walk). It’s not far from the City Circle Tram to attractions like the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the National Gallery of Victoria, Queen Victoria Market or any of the parks such as Carlton Gardens, Fitzroy Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Melbourne is very walkable and you don’t really need to pay for public transport.
Before You Go
So there you have it, those are the top places to visit near Melbourne for a weekend getaway. As you can see, there’s a lot of variety to choose from.
From seeing penguins in their natural habitat to exploring small, quaint towns, to basking in the wine country – you’ll find something for everyone on this list.
Before you go, make sure to check out our other guides on Melbourne below. The city is one of our favourites in Australia and shouldn’t be skipped, so do make sure you plan some time exploring the inner city, too.
Other Melbourne Tips
Do you need more inspiration to help you plan your next trip to Melbourne? Take a look at these other resources:
- 6 Beaches in Melbourne to Visit Once You’re Done with the City
- Best Melbourne accommodation from budget to luxury
- 17 Places to eat in Melbourne
- What to do in Melbourne – tips from a local
- 11 things to do in Melbourne with kids
- Don’t miss Hosier Lane in Melbourne
- Loving Federation Square in Melbourne
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Can you suggest any getaways from Melbourne? Let us know in the comments.