Jess Campbell

by Jess Campbell

posted on January 6, 2024

With unbeatable dining options, a thriving art scene, and breathtaking scenery, there’s plenty to discover with a day trip from Melbourne. You don’t need to travel far to experience secluded nature reserves and stunning coastal scenery. From wine country brimming with renowned vineyards and gastronomic delights, to beachside towns and lush national parks, you’ll find a Melbourne day trip to suit everyone’s travel preferences.

Whether you’re short on time and can only travel for the day or want a quick getaway to escape the hustle and bustle of city life as you head for rolling hills, rugged mountains, and coastal views, you don’t need to drive far from Victoria’s capital to find these hidden gems. With so many scenic delights, a day trip from Melbourne will surely see you tick off the city’s best stops. 

We’ve got you covered with the best destinations and itineraries, from those that promise an energising nature retreat to those offering great food and coastal scenery.

In this complete guide to the best day trips from Melbourne, we’ll take you through:

Timothe’s Land Rover FREELANDER 2 on Turo – the perfect car for any Melbourne day trip


Best day trips from Melbourne

Whether you’re after a hiking experience that takes you through ancient rainforests or want to visit world-renowned wineries while savouring fresh local produce, you’re spoiled for one-day road trips from Melbourne. And with its gold rush history, there’s plenty to learn about Melbourne’s past, too. 

Great Ocean Road

  • Distance from Melbourne: 254 kilometres 
  • Driving time: 3 hours 3 minutes

To make the most of your Great Ocean Road drive, depart Melbourne early to avoid the traffic and leave time for plenty of stops along the way. I highly recommend a stop in Torquay, where you’ll have plenty of cafes and bakeries to choose from for breakfast, before continuing to Bells Beach. You’ll be able to explore Aireys Inlet and Split Point Lighthouse before making your way to the seaside town of Lorne. 

From here, drive to the stunning Erskine Falls in the Otway Ranges before heading to Great Otway National Park. Visit Apollo Bay and the Twelve Apostles, along with Port Campbell, before making your journey back to Melbourne.  

Top stop: Want to experience nature close up? Be sure to stop by Wildlife Wonders. Located just 5km outside of Apollo Bay, this beautiful sanctuary offers the chance to experience unique Australian wildlife with guided Walk with Wildlife tours (led by their passionate conservationist Nature Guides), as well as more intimate Dawn or Dusk discovery tours at certain times of the year. Not to mention, 100% of their profits go directly into supporting conservation work in the Great Ocean Road region.

The Yarra Valley

  • Distance from Melbourne: 52 kilometres
  • Driving time: 59 minutes

Known for its gourmet food, stunning landscapes, and world-renowned vineyards, romantic day trips don’t come much better than a journey to the Yarra Valley. You can do a cellar-door wine tasting at a number of wineries, including Domaine Chandon, De Bortoli, and Yering Station. 

For a truly memorable experience and breathtaking views, consider a hot air balloon ride over the Yarra Valley. Yarra Glen is also a favourite stop for dinner, while many also choose to visit the local art galleries and the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery. 

Cathedral Range State Park

  • Distance from Melbourne: 114 kilometres
  • Driving time: 1 hour 51 minutes

If you’re after an adventure from the city, head to Cathedral Range State Park, where you can take on a number of hiking trails in just a two-hour drive. Hike the Sugarloaf Peak Circuit and stand in awe at viewing points that look out over the region. With an abundance of wildlife here, you’ll likely be able to spot a variety of birds and animals. 

Dandenong Ranges National Park

  • Distance from Melbourne: 38 kilometres 
  • Driving time: 46 minutes 

Trade Melbourne’s vibrant city for a spot of nature at Dandenong Ranges. In under an hour’s drive from the city, you’ll find yourself immersed in this lush rainforest that offers more than 200 walks and trails. A great place to relax with rewarding views of the scenery, and for those less keen on hiking, there’s also the historic Puffing Billy steam train that journeys through the mountain ash forests. 

For the ultimate relaxing day trip, consider visiting the Olinda Tea House which offers floor-to-ceiling views of the rainforest with its incredible architecture. The nearby Sherbrooke Forest, just a 10 minute drive from Olinda Tea House, is also worth a visit for its lush fern gullies and walking trails. 

Grampians National Park

  • Distance from Melbourne: 265 kilometres
  • Driving time: 3 hours 13 minutes

The drive to the Grampians National Park is considerably longer than other day trips from Melbourne, but it certainly delivers. Halls Gap is the main town in the Grampians, with plenty of local cafes and bakeries. Just a short drive away you’ll find Boroka Lookout and MacKenzie Falls, which offer amazing views of the surrounding landscapes. 

For those wanting to do some hiking, The Pinnacle and Wonderland Loop will see you immersed in nature, while Lake Bellfield is a great place for a stroll in a picturesque setting. 

Mornington Peninsula

  • Distance from Melbourne: 81 kilometres
  • Driving time: 1 hour 4 minutes

Up for a coastal walk? Mornington Peninsula offers stunning views of the coastline and is just an hour’s drive from Melbourne. The laid back charm of towns like Sorrento and Mornington will leave you feeling instantly relaxed. Consider stopping at Point Nepean National Park where you can leave your car in the car park and walk to the historic Cheviot Beach and be treated to views of Port Phillip Bay. 

You can also hike to Arthur’s Seat, which will treat you to incredible views of the area, or relax at the Peninsula Hot Springs for the ultimate spa treatment at its thermal pools.

Top stop: For an amazing dining experience on the Mornington Peninsula, visit award-winning winery and two hatted fine dining restaurant Ten Minutes by Tractor. Here, you’ll experience a relaxed and intimate tasting experience where you’ll discover wines with elegance, complexity, and beautiful balance and length, paired with beautifully matched food and warm and thoughtful service.

Daylesford and Macedon Ranges

  • Distance from Melbourne: 162 kilometres
  • Driving time: 2 hours 14 minutes

Before visiting the stunning Macedon Ranges, drive to Daylesford, where you can enjoy natural beauty and tasty treats. From cafes and bakeries celebrating local produce to the Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens and Lake Daylesford, this charming location is a must-visit destination. 

Mineral-rich hot springs can be found at Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa on your way to Macedon Ranges for the ultimate relaxation package. Otherwise, discover Hanging Rock Reserve with its walking trails before driving to the summit of Mount Macedon to take in the glorious sunset. 

Hidden gems to visit in Melbourne by car

Just as there are a number of epic destinations everyone will likely have on their list when planning a day trip from Melbourne, there are also some stunning hidden gems. Offering coastal views, relaxing retreats, and wildlife encounters, these lesser-known spots are not to be missed. 

Why not book Carma Carhire’s Nissan Navara on Turo for a Melbourne day trip?

Heathcote

  • Distance from Melbourne: 117 kilometres
  • Driving time: 1 hour 46 minutes

Theis beautiful wine region of Heathcote will take you through incredible vineyards where you can sample wines from Heathcote Winery, Jasper Hill, and Flynn’s Wines. For the romantics, consider packing a picnic lunch to enjoy at Pink Cliffs Reserve, which is just a 20 minute drive from Heathcote, or enjoy lunch at a winery restaurant. 

Phillip Island and the Penguin Parade

  • Distance from Melbourne: 135 kilometres
  • Driving time: 2 hours 6 minutes

For coastal views, it doesn’t get much better than a day trip to Phillip Island. Visit the Phillip Island Wildlife Park to get up close to iconic species like kangaroos and wallabies. There’s also a feeding centre which offers fun for the whole family. Check out the world-famous Penguin Parade on the island, where wild penguins come ashore after sunset, or relax at Summerland Beach as you soak up the island’s natural beauty. 

Nagambie

  • Distance from Melbourne: 138 kilometres
  • Driving time: 1 hour 52 minutes

With its lakeside setting, Nagambie is a hidden gem that makes for the perfect escape. Lake Nagambie offers a picturesque setting to relax and enjoy delicious food from the local cafes and eateries in town. 

Take a leisurely stroll around the area before heading to Nagambie Lakes wine region for a taste of the region’s best wines. Mitchelton Winery also offers a Heritage Walk that traces its way along the Goulburn River. 

Low-cost nature day trips in Melbourne

Want to soak up the natural beauty of Victoria without breaking the bank? If you’re looking for day trip ideas that are also super affordable, we’ve got you covered. These beautiful locations are just a short drive away from the city and offer breathtaking views on a budget.

Organ Pipes National Park

  • Distance from Melbourne: 29 kilometres
  • Driving time: 50 minutes

Named for its basalt columns that resemble organ pipes, this national park boasts mesmerising rock formations. The “organ pipes” are said to have been created by the cooling and cracking of molten lava over two million years ago. In the national park, you’ll find walking trails of various difficulties that all offer views of the stunning landscapes. 

Yarra to Dights Falls

  • Distance from Melbourne: 5.6 kilometres
  • Driving time: 22 minutes

The Dights Falls Loop Walk takes you through the rich history of Yarra Bend Park. Just under five kilometres in length with easy terrain, this walk allows you to leisurely explore the Yarra region and its botanical gardens.

Lysterfield Park

  • Distance from Melbourne: 37 kilometres
  • Driving time: 53 minutes

In the southern part of the Dandenong Ranges, you’ll find Lysterfield Park, the perfect location for a range of outdoor activities. Choose from the six-kilometre lake circuit trail and forest walk or the 24-kilometre mountain bike track. For those interested in water-based activities, the lake provides an ideal spot to canoe, kayak or sail in serenity. 

Sherbrooke Forest

  • Distance from Melbourne: 46 kilometres
  • Driving time: 1 hour 7 minutes

The largest section of the Dandenong Ranges National Park, Sherbrooke Forest will have you feeling a million miles away from civilisation and totally immersed in nature. Enjoy a hike through the area as you choose from one of the many walking trails. You’ll venture through a rainforest of lush ferns and mountain ash, and be sure to see the Sherbrooke Falls while you’re there!

Final tips for the day trip of a lifetime

With day trips from Melbourne taking you along well-maintained and sealed roads, it’s sure to make for a stress-free and comfortable driving experience. Still, it’s important to be prepared for anything the trip throws at you with these helpful tips. 

  • Leave early: To ensure you make the most of your day trip adventure, leave with the sunrise so you have plenty of time to make stops along the way. This also ensures you beat the morning traffic, making for a seamless and stress-free travel experience. 
  • Share the drive: It’s important to stay alert behind the wheel, and while a day trip may not involve too much driving, with all the adventures thrown in the middle, it’s helpful to have a second driver to split the trip with. Particularly if you plan on visiting the Yarra Valley wine region or other wine-tasting destinations, be sure to plan ahead and have a designated driver. 
  • Pack the essentials: You may not be staying overnight, but it’s still important to be prepared. Always have the essentials on hand, such as a first aid kit, sunscreen, and plenty of water. And with a number of beautiful beaches at your disposal, why not add a beach umbrella as an extra to your booking with Turo? 

Frequently asked questions about day trips from Melbourne

When is the best time to visit Melbourne?

Ultimately, the best time to visit Melbourne will depend on your travel preferences and the activities you’d like to experience. That said, the summer months of December to February prove to be most popular among tourists, with warm temperatures that are well-suited to outdoor activities, coastal walks, and beach-going adventures.

Spring is a great time to visit, with milder temperatures from September to November. If you’re hoping to visit the gorgeous gardens the region is known for, these will also be in full bloom. Though it’s cooler in autumn, March to May makes for a great time to take in the natural beauty as the foliage changes colour.

It rarely snows in Melbourne during the winter months of June to August, and if you want to avoid large crowds, it’s a good time to visit. Plus, you can always enjoy the vibrant city and its art scene with galleries open year-round and a Melbourne skyline that stuns no matter the season.

Are there petrol stations and EV chargers in Melbourne?

You’ll find petrol stations throughout Melbourne and its surrounds, making for easy refuelling. If you’re driving an electric vehicle, fast-charging EV stations are also easily available, even in coastal towns like Torquay, Apollo Bay, and Aireys Inlet.

What are the driving conditions in Melbourne?

With sealed and well-maintained roads, the driving conditions in Melbourne are suitable for everyone no matter what your vehicle. Depending on the day trip though, you may experience curves and hills, particularly along the Great Ocean Road, known for its narrow and winding roads.

You can also expect wildlife in some areas, particularly in the evenings when they are most active. Be sure to drive at a safe speed to allow adequate time for braking in case of animals crossing the road.

Weather conditions can also impact driving conditions. Along the coast, you may experience heavy rain, fog, and high winds. In these adverse conditions, adjust your speed accordingly and check the weather forecast ahead of departure.

Is public transport available in Melbourne city?

Well connected to various parts of the city and wider Victoria, you’ll find trains operating consistently in Melbourne along with the iconic tram network, which is the largest in the world. Trams operate in the CBD and extend to many of the surrounding suburbs.

Bus services are available for suburban and regional routes. Regional train and coach services also connect Melbourne with these areas through the V/Line.

Expert tip: For public transport in Melbourne, you will need to use the Myki smart card for fare payment. These can be purchased at train stations, tram stops and other retail outlets (like 7-Eleven convenience stores), and topped up online.

Do you need your own car for day trips from Melbourne?

To make the most of your day trip from Melbourne and ensure you get to see all the sights along the way, it’s best to have your own car or hire a car.

While public transport is available with services running to and from the city centre, certain areas are harder to reach. Driving also offers the convenience of travelling at your own pace, making for a seamless day trip experience.

Excited to get your adventure on the road with a day trip from Melbourne? With Turo, you can find the perfect ride for your journey. If you’re starting your trip from Melbourne, let Turo connect you with the perfect vehicle for your trip.

Want to continue your road trip beyond a day trip from Melbourne? Discover 12 of the best road trips across Victoria.



Jess Campbell

Jess Campbell

Jess is Sydney-based and loves the outdoors. While she likes to think she has what it takes to compete on ‘ALONE’, her survival skills need some work. Born in Singapore and raised in South Africa, she’s hiked across Ireland, surfed in Hawaii, spent six months in Kenya and covered much of Africa. Having spent a year in the north of Spain, she’s resolved to come back to tackle the Camino de Santiago. Until then, you can find her providing the best snacks and playlists on Aussie road trips.

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