Known as the land of sport, Melbourne, Australia is a hub of coffee, cricket, and culture in the land down under. Known to tennis fans for the Australian Open, racing fans for the Formula One Gran Prix, cricket fans for the boxing day test matches at the MCG, and fans of coffee for fantastic tastes and talented baristas, this cosmopolitan city welcomes all who visit. The central business district (CBD) and surrounding area provide entertainment of all sorts and there’s even more to see outside of the urban area.
From the cake shops of St. Kilda’s Ackland Street to the seaside vibe of the Docklands and everything in between, Melbourne is a city of character and color. Wander the laneways of DeGraves Street and the Block Arcade, grab some free wifi in a fantastic people watching spot at Federation Square, take in an afternoon stroll along the Yarra River or pick up a pie and a large long black (coffee) and grab a tram right out into the suburbs – no matter where you roam, Melbourne is filled with life.
Like many cities, you can spend two days, two months, or two years and never experience it all. Perhaps you have an afternoon to check out the beach in Port Melbourne, shop till you drop on Chapel Street, or take in the sights, sounds and smells of the Queen Victoria Market. Maybe you have a Sunday to spare to shop the Sunday Arts Market or take in the market along the banks of the sea in St. Kilda. If you’re lucky, you’ll have an evening to spare in the summer and can grab a concert at the Sidney Meyer Music Bowl in the Botanical Gardens or let your taste buds travel the world at the weekly Queen Victoria Night Market. If you’re visiting over Australia Day in January, or Anzac Day in April, and can take in all of the festivities and ceremonies designed to unite a shared community.
Even better, make the time in your visit to get outside the city. Ask a local for their suggestions, grab a car or a train ticket, and get on your way! Hike, sail, relax, learn, play and more in the many adventures that lie beyond Melbourne’s CBD. You can do a quick trip, an overnight stay, or throw caution to the wind and stay until you’ve had your fill. Go in search of what’s beyond – the magic you find may surprise you.
Pack a Daypack & Go
The great thing about using a city as your base for wider exploration is that you can leave all of your cumbersome luggage at your hotel or Airbnb and travel light with just a daypack.
Here’s your daypack packing list for day trips from Melbourne:
- Swimsuit for the beaches
- Water bottle
- Snacks to munch
If you’re making it an overnight in Apollo Bay or elsewhere, add:
- One change of clothes
- A light jacket for cool evenings
- Toiletry bag
Commune with Nature
Melbourne and it’s natrual surroundings beg to be explored. Known for wild weather and four seasons in a day, Melbourne provides a wide variety of beautiful natural settings perfect introspection, mindfulness, and exercise. Take in a national park, hike a mountain, hop 1,000 stairs for fun, or be amazed at natural sculptures carved into trees. Grab your shoes, get outside, and get your nature on.
Wilsons Promontory National Park
Set at the southernmost tip of mainland Australia, Wilson’s Promontory is a mecca for hikers, nature seekers, and lovers of the outdoors. Whether you’re into bushwalking, overnight hikes, breathing the clean sea air, or camping out for days – you can find it here. A big day trip from Melbourne, you’ll be met with scenic vistas for miles, mountains to climb, magnificent colorful water and wildlife and vegetation as far as the eyes can see.
Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges
Looking for a relaxing weekend at a spa? Want to check out the famed wine and art scene? Interested in taking on a hike filled day followed by a picnic afternoon? Searching for an educational experience amidst a natural wonderland? Whether you’re driving or ‘training,’ this region of inspiring beauty is only one hour away from downtown Melbourne.
Whether you’re seeking a spot for meditative solitude, a walk in the forest, a sweet picnic spot, or a workout with a heartfelt historical tale, you’ll find it in the Dandenongs. Pack your camelback and trusty shoes and hike your way up the 1,000 steps of the Kokoda Memorial Walk . Channel your inner artist as you wander the treelined scape of the William Rickets Society complete motivational quotes and artistic knowhow in every carving. Spend the day foresting amidst nature – your inner spirit will thank you.
Breathe in the Sea Air
If you’re a beach kid like me, no matter where you roam, you gravitate towards water. Hit the shores and find crashing waves, gorgeous skies, sandy beaches, and colorful beach boxes all at your fingertips. Try to arrive for a sunrise and stay for the sunset to get those most magic out of your journey.
Daytrippers, weekenders, and holiday revelers all seek out the delights of the seaside beauty of the Mornington Peninsula. Take in the waves at Portsea and Sorrento, enjoy the sunset in Queenscliffe, or wind your way up to the top of the peninsula to take in the view from Arthur’s Seat.
Brighton’s Beach Boxes
Only a short train ride away from Melbourne’s CBD, you’ll find the colorful creations of Brighton’s beach boxes. Picture your very own sand-side cabana complete with your favorite outer decor and you’ve got yourself an afternoon wandering and enjoying the designs while listening to the crashing waves.
A a two-hour drive from Melbourne, Phillip Island is complete with all things beach-related. Grab your fish and chips, find your favorite waterfront spot, and wile away the hours in the sun. If you’re making a full day of this adventure, be sure to stay for the evening’s natural entertainment at the famed Little Penguin Parade. Keep your hands and arms inside and let the spectacular animals delight you with their nightly waddle home from the sea.
Talk to the Animals
Have you ever had a kangaroo whisper in your ear or wanted to feed a wallaby? Learn about all of the animals on Australia’s national crest at this sanctuary filled with Australia’s native animals. Find out the secrets of the echidna and the wonders of the platypus as you spend the day in the land of the wild.
A short trip from the center of the city, this hands-on, interactive nature sanctuary is home to native Australian wildlife. Here you can have a chat with a keeper, learn all about the mechanics of winged birds, find out what kangaroos like to eat and even get to experience the wonder of having a wallaby eat right out of the palm of your hand.
Bring Out Your Inner Archeologist
Grab a V-line train straight from Southern Cross Station or rent a car for the short drive to Ballarat. A bustling city born of the gold rush and a culture all its own, Ballarat invites visitors to come for the day and stay as long as they like. Grab your sturdy walking shoes and get ready to pan for gold, search for gems and see how you would fare in the early days of an Australian mining town.
Home to over 100,000 people, the city of Ballarat is less than two hours north and west of Melbourne. Spend a day in the interactive outdoor museum celebrating the Gold Rush period in Australia. Head underground into the mines, check out the gem museum, listen to stories retold and get your hands dirty as you pan for gold and relive the city’s Gold Rush era.
Sweets, Treats, Cheese, & Chocolate
Quaint vistas, relaxation, enjoyment and sinful delights can be found in and around Melbourne. Seaside sailing and delicious ice cream in Williamstown, luscious sweet lollies in the Dandenong tea shops, and cheese and chocolate year ‘round in the Yarra Valley are all a short journey away from the steps of Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station.
Only a short ferry ride away from Melbourne lies the sleepy seaside town of Williamstown. Filled with ice cream shopps, cafes, boutiques, and a relaxed attitude, visitors can wander the streets, stop for a snack and even try their hands at learning to sail.
Under an hour’s drive from the city, you’ll find the wonders of the Dandenong Range. Amidst the natural beauty and scenic overlooks lie quaint mountain towns filled with tea shoppes, lolly shoppes and cafes serving all you can imagine. If you’re looking for delicious desserts, pop into Miss Marple’s Tea Room.
The picturesque towns of the Yarra Valley showcase farmers markets, organic produce, quaint cafes, heaps of wineries, chocolate shoppes, creameries, and cheese shops galore. In winter the town plays host to the Yarra Valley Hot Chocolate Festival.
Whether you’ve got just one day, or many, don’t miss Australia’s Great Ocean Road. Connecting Melbourne through to Adelaide, the coast road winds through picturesque cliffs, hairpin turns and incredible views of the sea. Grab your photos of the Twelve Apostles, drop it on the swell at the renowned surfing spot of Bells Beach, stay overnight at Apollo Bay or stop in Torquay for a fish and chip snack before heading out for more scenic enjoyment.
Great Ocean Road
One of the world’s most famed road trips, a journey down the Great Ocean Road provides a perfect day’s or weekend’s adventure. There are windy roads, heaps of photo stops, fish and chip shops, incredible views, gorgeous beaches, not to mention adventures to be hand and laid-back towns in which to spend the night. If you have the time, continue your journey to see the famed limestone cliffs of the Twelve Apostles.
Melbourne is more than her urban center. Spend time in the city but be sure to take advantage of the numerous adventures to be had within a day trip of the city. Grab your gear, pack some snacks and get ready for more fun on the road.
- There’s more to see beyond the city center
- Find nature, animals, and scenic vistas in pretty much any direction
- Check the time of year for weather and special events in the regions
- Head to Ballarat for history and geology
- The Yarra Valley is where it’s at for gourmet and local foods
- The Great Ocean Road is not to be missed