Horrified by rising petrol prices but keen to get out of the city? Here are some fun day trips from Melbourne by train. Sit back, relax and watch the world slip by as you travel onward for a new adventure.
While nothing beats an Australian road trip, the price of petrol is definitely a hot contender.
Fortunately, here in Victoria, there are plenty of options for day trips from Melbourne by train.
To sweeten the deal, V/Line (our country link trains) tickets have been massively reduced.
This makes train travel in Victoria not only the most eco-friendly option for getting around – it’s currently the cheapest.
Read on to discover the best train journeys from Melbourne and start planning your own adventure.
Day trips from Melbourne by train
This guide to the best train journeys from Melbourne will cover:
What you need to know about catching trains in Victoria
To access train travel across Victoria you will need a myki travel card.
You can purchase these directly from:
- myki machines at selected stations and stops
- some shops, including 7-Elevens
- online (your myki may take up to two weeks to arrive).
See a full list of locations where you can buy and top up a mykI.
How much does a myki cost, you might ask? Annoyingly, the physical card does have a price:
- Full-fare: $6
- Concession/child/senior: $3.
These cards also expire, unless you keep them regularly topped up with ‘myki money’. This is simply money you add to your card via cash or debit/credit card payment.
Now, let’s explore some of the best day trips from Melbourne without a car.
Ballarat is an excellent choice for a day trip from Melbourne by train.
For starters, it’s a quick journey. You can hop on the V/Line train from Southern Cross or Footscray and be stepping off onto the platform of Ballarat station in around 1.5 hours later.
The station is located centrally, so you’re a stone’s throw from many of the regional city’s best sites, such as the Art Gallery and the gorgeous gold rush-era architecture along its main streets.
Sovereign Hill, another main attraction is a little bit of a walk, along with the Botanic Gardens. Buy a ticket for Sovereign Hill in advance.
If the gardens are indeed your destination, I recommend getting off one stop later at Wendouree.
Belly rumbling? I recommend heading to Armstrong Street. There are plenty of food options there. The Spanish tapas at Meigas are excellent. If you fancy a wee stroll, Clothesline Cafe put on a great spread too.
For the perfect day trip, check out this extensive list of things to do in Ballarat.
Bendigo is another great place in Victoria to visit by train.
It’s around a two hour trip, departing from Southern Cross or Footscray.
For food, you’re spoiled for choice. Bendigo was named a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy in 2019 and the eating options are certainly next level. Grab delicious croissants at Harvest. Settle in for lunch at Hoo-gah, or Old Green Bean. If you’re vego or vegan, you’ll love Adam & Eve, the city’s only vegan cafe.
Dandenong Ranges (via Belgrave)
The Dandenongs as they’re known, are an excellent spot for a day trip from the city, particularly by train.
To get to the Dandenong Ranges by train, catch a metro train from Flinders Street Station to Belgrave.
Popular attraction Puffing Billy departs from Belgrave Station, so if that’s what you want to do, you’re right where you need to be. Buy a ticket in advance for Puffing Billy.
From Belgrave, hop on bus 694 to travel further into the ranges, to townships like Olinda and Sassafras.
Just make sure you don’t catch a train to the suburb Dandenong, which confusingly has the same name as the mountain range while being a good half hour drive away from them.
Discover more things to do in the Dandenong Ranges.
Warburton (via Lilydale)
This is a day trip from Melbourne by train and bus which takes a bit of time, but can be very rewarding.
Warburton is a township, a village really on the edge of Melbourne. It’s close to some beautiful nature trails, a waterfall and home to an interesting range of boutique stores.
It’s also a great spot to visit for autumn leaf chasing in Victoria.
To get there, catch a train from Flinders to Lilydale. Hop on bus 683 to travel onward to Warburton.
Alternatively, bring your bike and ride from Lilydale to the village, via the Lilydale to Warburton rail trail.
Once you’re there, grab a cup of joe at Silva Coffee Roasters, poke around town, then hike to La La Falls.
Let’s get back to the basics now. Train journeys from Melbourne, where you travel from A to B and you’re there.
Geelong is a very easy train ride out from Southern Cross, taking around an hour on the V/Line.
There’s a ton of stuff to do in this beachside city. Indeed, if the weather is fine, go to Eastern Beach, admiring the quirky bollards along the way.
It’s a great destination for kids, with a dedicated pool, fun fair activities and a hop on, hop off train.
For a cheeky tipple, check out Geelong Cellar Door.
You can have a great day out in Werribee, especially with the kids.
To get to Werribee, simply jump on a metro train. Most are express to the area.
Werribee Zoo is a day trip in itself. Catch bus 439 straight there from the train station. Spend the day, or perhaps even stay overnight.
Buy a zoo ticket in advance.
Daylesford (via Woodend)
While I’d recommend Daylesford as a weekend getaway, it is possible to travel there by train and bus, for an ambitious day trip.
To get to Daylesford, travel along the V/Line to the town of Woodend.
From there, you can board a bus to Daylesford. The journey takes around two hours.
Daylesford’s town centre has plenty of interesting stores to poke around in, containing boutiques, books and antiques. Manteau Noir and Eclectic Notions are both delightful to have a rummage through for the latter.
If the weather is nice, head out to Lake Daylesford. For something very special, have a meal at renowned restaurant Lake House.
Discover more things to do in Daylesford and surrounds.
Day trips from Melbourne by train: Kyneton
Kyneton is another very easy day trip from Melbourne by train. Jump on the V/Line at Southern Cross or Footscray and you’ll be there in just over an hour.
Once there, there are plenty of things to get up to.
Castlemaine is a very underrated destination in Victoria, which is also accessible via train journey from Melbourne.
Hop on the V/Line at Southern Cross and travel straight to the town. It’s around 1.5 hours.
If independent cinemas are your jam, catch a flick at the Theatre Royal. It’s also a bar, and live music venue.
French Island is a largely forgotten destination in Victoria.
A national park, it’s a sanctuary for both koalas and birdlife. The island is also completely off-grid, has no local council and is home to less than 150 people.
Once there, you can go say hi to the koalas (many of them hang about in the trees up the road from the General Store), or go for a cycle or a hike.
I do thoroughly recommend taking a set of two wheels with you to the island. Alternatively, you can rent a bike for the day from the General Store.
To get to French Island, catch a train from Melbourne’s CBD to Frankston. Once there, swap onto the train to Stony Point. The train journey takes around 1 hour 45 minutes.
The island itself is only accessible by ferry, which leaves from Stony Point and travels across to Tankerton jetty, a journey of around 15 minutes.
It costs around $30 per person (plus if you’re a Senior Card holder, you can travel on the weekend or on public holidays for free). This can be booked in advance or on the day.
This same ferry heads on to Cowes on Phillip Island.
You can take your bike on both the train and then, the ferry (for a few dollars more).
Discover more things to do on French Island.
What should you pack for a day trip from Melbourne by train?
Here’s what I recommend packing for a train journey from Melbourne:
- reusable drink bottle filled with water
- snacks for the train (none are sold onboard)
- sunscreen and hat
- something to read
- a light jumper
- spare emergency cash (most places accept card but just in case, it’s always smart to have a spare $20 in cash on your person).
See a full list of Australian travel essentials.
In conclusion: is it easy to take a day trip from Melbourne by train?
With petrol prices being quite frankly, through the roof, taking a train for a day trip from Melbourne is a much more economical alternative for travel.
And with so much of the state being accessible by public transport, well – why wouldn’t you?
What are your favourite destinations by train in Victoria?