Melbourne is the state of Victoria’s capital city and the most popular with tourists. Although the city itself offers a multitude of activities, its surroundings are equally as interesting so you should not limit yourself to just Melbourne. Instead, make time to escape the city centre, as outwith Melbourne you’ll have a choice of very different landscapes to explore – from green forests to vineyards to spectacular seashores and cliffs – there’s so much to see and do! Here’s our selection of places to visit in the Melbourne area so that you can make the most of your trip.
One hour from Melbourne, the area of Yarra Valley is one of Victoria’s main wine regions and is even considered one of the largest wine regions in the world with nearly 80 estates!
Here you can taste the best Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and sparkling wines from Australia.
Things to do in Yarra Valley
- Visit Healesville and Warburton, the main localities of the region
- Go Hiking in Warrandyte State Park, Yarra Ranges National Park and Kinglake National Park
- See the Moët et Chandon house, famous for its sparkling wine
- Fly in hot air balloon (although expensive at $300 for a champagne breakfast it is perfect for a special occasion)
- Take a tour of the numerous surrounding vineyards
- Participate in the Grape Grazing in February which celebrates the beginning of the harvest
The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is a coastal road stretching more than 400 km. It begins around 90 minutes from the centre of Melbourne and promises many exciting views, stops and photo opportunities. In addition to the famous surf beach of Bells Beach and the striking cliffs at the 12 apostles, you can discover many other spots along the Great Ocean Road.
Things to do along Great Ocean Road
- The 12 Apostles are rock formations more than 45 meters high and are one of the most famous sites in Australia. Although there are now only 8, it is postcard-perfect stop not to be missed. As a tip, for the best picture, try to visit them early in the morning.
- Take a hike in Great Otway National Park. In addition to its magnificent waterfalls, it is home to Cape Otway Lighthouse, which was built in 1848 making it the oldest lighthouse in Australia still standing. This Southernmost point is also popular with koalas.
- Stop to admire the views of Bay of Islands, The Grotto, London Bridge and The Arch
- Enjoy the city of Apollo Bay with its numerous cafes and seafood restaurants
- Observe the whales at Warrnambool between May and September
- Visit the wild animals that live in the extinct volcano Tower Hill Game Preserve
One of the most popular destinations in the area, located 140km from Melbourne, Phillip Island is famous among Australians and tourists alike. If you are looking for a calm sea for a refreshing swim, the Northern part is ideal for swimming as well as kayaking and paddling. For surf, lovers head to the south side!
Things to do on Phillip Island
- Attend the famous parade of penguins at dusk to witness the cute pygmy penguins return to the shore after their day at sea.
- Take a surf lesson
- Hike to the summit of Cape Woolamai for a panoramic view of the island
- Watch the sea lions land on Seal Rocks
- Go to the 100 Miles Road Race or Moto GP circuits for cars and motorbikes
- Spot the koalas in the trees of the Koala Conservation Center
Just a 1-hour drive from Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula is a beautiful area with Mediterranean vibes due to its picturesque beaches and seaside restaurants.
Things to do in Mornington Peninsula
- Bathe on the beaches of Sorrento and Portsea
- Play golf as Mornington Peninsula is considered Australia’s number one golf destination
- Hike through Mornington Peninsula National Park and enjoy views of the bay from Arthur Seat’s summit
- Visit the Port Phillip Heads Marine Reserve to watch dolphins and sea lions
- Go to Flinders, a former fishing village of the 19th century
- Wine tasting at the Montalto estate
Located 3 hours north-west of Melbourne, this park and its mountain ranges offer incredible panoramic views, waterfalls and hikes.
Things to do at the Grampians
- Stop along the way in the cities of Beaufort, Ararat and Moyston for an ice cream
- Start at the tourist village of Halls Gap at the foot of the mountains
- Take a postcard-perfect photo at the Balconies
- Enjoy the lake view at the Boroka lookout and the sunset from the Reed Lookout
- Enjoy Wine tasting in one of the cellars of the surrounding towns.
French Island National Park
Located in Western Port Bay, the island is only 60km south of Melbourne. It is much smaller and less touristy than Phillip Island, so in less than 30 minutes by ferry, you will arrive at this haven of relaxation and tranquillity.
Things to do in French Island National Park
- Surround yourself in nature by Camping under the stars
- Explore the island by bike or on foot
- Go koala spotting! The island is the largest natural reserve of koalas in the area.
Located 2 and a half hours drive from Melbourne, Wilson Promontory National Park – nicknamed “The Prom” – offers more than 80 km of hiking trails as well as beautiful scenery, picnic spots and wildlife to be discovered.
Things to do at Wilsons Prom
- Take a one-hour hike following the trail of Loo-Errn Track
- Observe the many birds on the Promontoire circuit (2 to 3 hours walk)
- Stroll through the eucalyptus forests on the Lilly Pilly Gully Nature Walk in the middle of koalas, kangaroos, wallabies and wombats.
- Go Kayaking, surfing or snorkelling in the Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park