15 Best Weekend Getaways From Melbourne
Fancy getting out of the city for the weekend? Luckily, Victoria has a range of different experiences on offer. Explore historic towns, immerse yourself in nature and eat your way around the state. Here are some Melbourne weekend getaways to inspire you to get out of the city and hit the road.
Melbourne is one of the most interesting cities in Australia. You could spend an entire week exploring the city and barely scratch the surface of what’s on offer.
However, the state of Victoria is somewhere worth exploring. As Australia’s second smallest state, many of its regional destinations are easily visited over a weekend.
Some feature smaller cities or towns – others are areas of natural beauty. A few are scattered across Victoria’s coastline and others are nestled inland.
As a Victorian (someone who lives in the state) myself, I take any and every opportunity to get out and explore my own backyard.
The result is this extensive list of places worth visiting as a weekend trip from Melbourne.
Further good news – many of these destinations are accessible via train from the city.
Others are a bit further afield. You’ll either have to jump in a car, or book onto a group tour to get there.
Some are fantastic road trips in themselves, so you’ll definitely need your own set of wheels for the journey.
So, if you’re after a weekend getaway from Melbourne, here’s a few ideas to consider.
Melbourne Weekend Getaways: 15 Fun Ideas
In need of a rental car? Compare prices here
1. The Great Ocean Road
Stretching from the towns of Torquay to Allansford, the Great Ocean Road is one of the most scenic drives in Australia – indeed the world!
Built by returned soldiers from the Great War, it’s dedicated to those killed in WW1, making it the longest War Memorial in the world.
Today you can travel along the southern tip of mainland Australia and take in the many sights along the way.
The road is doable as a day trip from Melbourne, but it’s worth taking a weekend to drive the road properly.
Distance from Melbourne: The official start of the Great Ocean Road (near Torquay) is 103 kilometres from the centre of Melbourne, or around 1 hour and 20 minutes. The entire road spans 243 kilometres. Take the M1, which bypasses Geelong for quicker access.
You can’t do the road itself by train, but you can access places along the road (like Apollo Bay and Torquay) by train or coach. If you don’t have a car, you can book onto a sunset tour to the Twelve Apostles here.
Things to do on the Great Ocean Road
- See the Twelve Apostles – limestone stacks along the dramatic cliff face.
- Visit the Cape Otway Rainforest – a beautiful rainforest along the road, with plenty of wildlife to see.
- Check out the lighthouse at Airys Inlet – the setting for Aussie TV show ‘Round the Twist’.
- Explore Warrnambool – not officially on the road but close to it, a town famous for its cheese.
Where to stay on the Great Ocean Road: If you want to break up the journey, consider staying at the YHA in Apollo Bay, which is clean, inexpensive and eco-friendly! Look for accommodation in Warrnambool and Lorne for accommodation at either end of the road. If you’re after a truly memorable experience, consider booking into The Pole House, the most photographed accommodation on the GOR.
|Insider Tip: The Great Ocean Road is a lot quieter in the cooler months, but no less beautiful. In fact, winter travel in Australia is very underrated.|
Read more: The Best Neighbourhoods to Stay in Melbourne
2. Geelong & the Bellarine
Although most visitors to the city head to the eastern coastal region of the Mornington Peninsula for kicks, the western side is just as delightful.
Head to the Bellarine for gorgeous beaches, wineries, history and great food.
Geelong is a waterfront city, around an hour’s drive from Melbourne, with a strong art culture and beach scene.
Distance from Melbourne: It’s an hour’s drive along the M1 from Melbourne to Geelong. Allow an extra half hour to circle up to the Bellarine.
Can you get there by train? Yes, there’s a train line running out to Geelong from Southern Cross Station. You can catch a bus out to Queenscliff from here.
Things to do in Geelong and the Bellarine
- Explore the Geelong Waterfront – full of cafes, restaurants and art, the waterfront is a highlight of Geelong.
- Visit the Geelong Gallery – art and culture fans should head to this gallery to see what’s on.
- Bellarine Railway – once a train line, now a 32.5km walkway accessible for walkers and cyclists.
- Explore Queenscliff – a historic town in the Bellarine. You can catch a ferry across Port Phillip Bay to the Mornington Peninsula from here.
The other side of the peninsula is no less pretty and probably more popular than its western twin.
Its close proximity to the city makes it an ideal weekend trip from Melbourne.
Head here for decent beaches, good food and relaxation.
Distance from Melbourne: So close! Around an hour’s drive from the CBD, a mere 75 kilometres.
Can you get there by train? You can get to Frankston Station by train, but it’s easiest to get around using a car. There are a few full day tours available, too.
Things to do in Mornington Peninsula
- Head to Arthurs Seat – this is the highest point of the peninsula, which you can access via cable car. Head a little further in to explore the gardens and keep a look out for William Rickett’s fantastic sculptures.
- Soak in the Peninsula Hot Springs – unwind with a good, long soak at the spectacular hot springs. If you don’t have a car, you can book a tour straight here.
- Go strawberry picking – in the warmer months, you can pick strawberries at Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm and eat the wares afterwards!
- Picnic in a sculpture park – pack a basket and head to the McClelland Gallery, where you can take in the strange and beautiful sculptures.
- Dine out at Doot Doot Doot – here’s one for the foodies. Located at Jackalope Hotel, this hatted restaurant has a five course tasting menu and overlooks Willow Creek Vineyard.
Where to stay in the Mornington Peninsula: If you’re after something fancy, consider renting out a room at Jackalope Hotel – you can roll yourself there after finishing your meal at Doot Doot Doot. Check out accommodation in the region for cheaper options.
Read more: Tips For Beach Safety in Australia
Ballarat is a regional city not far from Melbourne and an excellent place to head to if you want to learn a little bit more about Victoria’s gold rush history.
As far as activities go, there’ll be something of interest for couples, solo travellers and families.
Distance from Melbourne: 116 kilometres, so it’s around 1 hour 25 minute drive to Ballarat.
Can you get there by train? Yes. There are regular trains running between Ballarat and Melbourne, which leave from Southern Cross Station. It takes around an hour and half to get there by train.
Things to do in Ballarat
- Head out to Sovereign Hill – an open air museum depicting life during the gold rush. You can buy tickets in advance here.
- Visit the Botanic Gardens – Ballarat has gorgeous botanic gardens. A highlight is ‘Prime Minister Avenue’, a pathway lined with busts of every PM Australia has had.
- Grab a High Tea at Craig’s Royal Hotel – have a delectable high tea in this ornate hotel.
Read my suggestions for a weekend in Ballarat here.
Where to stay in Ballarat: I stayed at Ballarat Central B&B during my time in the city. It’s clean, cosy and inexpensive. For something a bit more upmarket, try Craigs Royal Hotel. Search for other accommodation in Ballarat here.
Bendigo is another of Victoria’s gold rush era cities and is equally as beautiful as Ballarat, featuring many historic old buildings.
It’s a cultural highlight of the state, with many events taking place and a stellar art gallery, which runs world class exhibitions.
Distance from Melbourne: 152kms, around an hour and 44 minute drive in the car.
Can you get there by train? Yes, through a dedicated train line leaving from Southern Cross Station. It takes just under two hours to reach Bendigo by train.
Things to do in Bendigo
- Take a tram tour – Bendigo has a strong tram history like Melbourne. Jump onto one of the colourful trams which intersect the city to learn more.
- Pop into the Art Gallery – this is one of Australia’s most venerated galleries and it receives many impressive exhibitions in its own right.
- Visit the Golden Dragon Museum – during Victoria’s Gold Rush era of the 1850’s, many Chinese immigrants moved Down Under to try their luck. This museum pays homage to them.
- Get a taste of gold rush history – in Bendigo and nearby small towns like Maldon, a town of this era that’s been almost perfectly preserved.
|Insider Tip: Try visiting this city during one of its festivals, like the Bendigo Writers Festival.|
Daylesford and Hepburn Springs
Enter Victoria’s Spa Country for a bit of rest and relaxation. Ideal for couples, a weekend away with a group of friends or even those flying solo.
Distance from Melbourne: 112kms from the CBD, around 1hr and 20 mins by car.
Can you get there by train? Yes. You can catch a bus onto Daylesford from Ballan Station, which is on the Ballarat line.
Things to do in Daylesford and Hepburn Springs
- Soak all your worries away at the Hepburn Bathhouse – try the full spa experience at the Bathhouse.
- Go boutique shopping in Daylesford – Daylesford is full of interesting little shops, worth checking out.
- Stuff yourself full of delicious food – eat your way through the wares in both Daylesford and Hepburn.
- Explore nearby Clunes – located half an hour away from Daylesford, this historic town front often pops up in movies (like Mad Max and Ned Kelly). It’s also Australia’s only Book Town and holds a yearly literature festival.
Here are some more suggestions for things to do in Daylesford.
Where to stay in Daylesford: I’ve spent the night at Central Springs Inn, in Daylesford. Alternatively, you can search for other accommodation options in Daylesford or
places to stay in Hepburn Springs. If you’re up for something particularly fancy, consider Peppers Mineral Springs Hotel, where you’ll be utterly pampered.
Read more: 50+ Unique Things to Do in Melbourne
Kyneton and Hanging Rock Reserve
Get a mix of nature and history in this part of the state. Kyneton is another spring town which offers a range of experiences.
Nearby Hanging Rock may sound familiar, as its the setting of a famous Australian novel, 1975 movie and recent television show (Picnic at Hanging Rock). Head to the top of the rock to take in the views of the surrounding region.
Distance from Melbourne: It’s a 90 kilometre journey to Kyneton, around an hour in the car.
Can you get there by train? It takes just over an hour to get to Kyneton along the Bendigo line. Hanging Rock is accessible via car. Compare rental car prices here.
Things to do in Kyneton and Hanging Rock Reserve
- Eat your way along Piper Street – after a great souvenir or some good eats? Head to vibrant Piper Street and have a good poke around the vintage and boutique goods on offer.
- Climb Hanging Rock – Hanging Rock is a semi-challenging hike (straight up), that will reward you with some magnificent views. Entry is $10 for a car, $4 if you’re on foot. Try not to slip into the space-time continuum on your way down (a joke only those who have read the unpublished last chapter of Picnic at Hanging Rock will understand. Don’t read it. Really. It’ll ruin the entire book).
- Check out Kyneton Museum – located on Piper Street, this cute little museum is a National Trust building with changing exhibitions.
- Explore nearby Woodend and the Macedon Ranges – Woodend is a small and charming town nearby and the Ranges offer some magnificent bushwalks. Plenty to keep you busy during a Melbourne weekend getaway!
Phillip Island is a popular day trip from Melbourne, but those wanting more can easily take two days to explore what the region has to offer.
The main drawcard is the cute Little Penguins that toddle up the Penguin Parade after a long, hard day’s fishing.
Distance from Melbourne: 142 kilometres. It takes just under two hours to get to Phillip Island from Melbourne.
Can you get there by train? Not by train. Getting to Phillip Island via car is the easiest way. However, there are plenty of day tour options available.
Things to do on Phillip Island
- Penguin Parade – the most popular attraction on the island by far is seeing the Little Penguins waddle their way ashore for the night. If you don’t have a car and are short on time, book onto an express tour to see them for yourself.
- The Nobbies – check out The Nobbies for dramatic views south into the ocean.
- Churchill Island – visit this nearby island to check out its historic farm and local wildlife.
- Panny’s Chocolate Factory – those with a sweet tooth will enjoy visiting this chocolate factory, where you can take a tour or stop for a delicious treat.
Where to stay on Phillip Island: Search for accommodation options on Phillip Island here.
The Dandenongs as they’re know, are a short drive east of Melbourne’s city centre.
They make the perfect weekend trip from Melbourne for those wanting to get out and explore nature, without straying too far from the city.
Distance from Melbourne: Around an hour’s drive east of the city – 45 kilometres.
Can you get there by train? You can take a train to most points in the Dandenongs, but a car is the best option. There are day tours available that take in some highlights, for those travelling without a car.
Things to do in the Dandenong Ranges
- Take a ride on Puffing Billy – one of the most popular highlights of the area is the old steam train that runs from Belgrave to Gembrook. Book tickets here.
- Visit William Ricketts Sanctuary – a beautiful, quiet place full of the sculptures of William Ricketts. They’re quite amazing – take a look here.
- Climb the 1000 Steps Memorial Walk – a 3 kilometre trail meant to depict the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea, where soldiers fought and died during WWII.
- Take in the view from SkyHigh – Head to SkyHigh to take in the view from the top of Mt Dandenong.
Where to stay in the Dandenongs: If you’re going to stay anywhere in the Dandenongs, it should be a wooden cabin, fulfilling your wildest hipster mountaineer dreams. Search for accommodation options for the Dandenongs here.
The Yarra Valley
The Yarra Valley is one of Australia’s best known wine regions, making this an ideal destination for vino enthusiasts.
However, there is plenty else to see and do in this area of Victoria, more than enough to make it an excellent Melbourne weekend getaway.
Distance from Melbourne: 65 kilometres, around an hour on wheels, so it also makes for an easy day trip from Melbourne.
Can you get there by train? You can catch a train to Lilydale Station and take a bus to Healesville. If you’re heading to this region for the booze, you can jump on a tour which will take you there to wine and dine, before heading back to Melbourne.
Things to do in the Yarra Valley
- Pop into vineyards – there are some great wineries in this region, particularly those producing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
- Visit Healesville Sanctuary – Here’s a chance to see Australia fauna up close. Grab a ticket here.
- Take a balloon ride over the valley – if you truly want to have a memorable time, spend a morning drifting lazily in a hot air balloon over the valley, followed by a champagne brekky.
- Pig out on chocolate – at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie. Yum.
See more things to do in Healesville and surrounds here.
Where to stay in the Yarra Valley: Search for accommodation options in the Yarra Valley here.
The Alpine Region
Cooler weather isn’t an excuse to stay cooped up at home, or limit your trip to the city.
Rug up and get out to Victoria’s beautiful Alpine region. There’s a heap to do in this part of the state, no matter what the weather.
Distance from Melbourne: It’s around 325 kilometres to Bright, one of the biggest towns in the region. It’ll take around three and a half hours to get to the edge of the Alpine Region and another hour or so to drive into the heart of it.
Can you get there by train? There are bus services which will take you to Mount Hotham and Mount Buller during the snow season. However, a car is your best option when navigating this part of Victoria.
Things to do in the Alpine Region
- Get into snow-based activities – head to Mount Hotham, Mount Buffalo, Falls Creek or Mount Buller to snowboard, ski, or nestle up beside a roaring fire with a good book and warm beverage.
- Explore the town of Bright – a cute town within the region, known for its flurry of autumn and spring colours.
- Have a soak in the Onsen Spa in Dinner Plain – soak amongst the snow in this Japanese-inspired outdoor Onsen.
- Drive the Great Alpine Road – another fantastic scenic drive in Victoria, although it can get quite snowy on the road! Compare rental car prices here.
The King Valley
This region of Victoria is one of my favourite Melbourne weekend getaways.
Sweeping views, gourmet food and delicious Italian wine is what you expect from this part of the state, with a side of bushranger history.
Distance from Melbourne: It’s 260 kilometres to Milawa, which is around where the Prosecco Road starts. Expect a three hour drive to get there.
Can you get there by train? No, driving is the best and easiest option.
Things to do in the King Valley
- Drive down Prosecco Road to sample the wares on offer – an influx of Italian wineries led to the development of the sparkling wine Prosecco in this region. Check out Brown Brothers, Dal Zotto and Pizzini’s, to quench your thirst.
- Explore the Ned Kelly Trail – learn about Australia’s most notorious bushranger and others who made their mark on this part of the state.
- Pedal to Produce – take an easy cycling tour, to sample the region’s best gourmet food.
- Stock up on cheese – at the Milawa Cheese Company. They offer free tastings!
Read up on some other things to do in Milawa and surrounds here.
Another highlight of Victoria’s High Country, this enigmatic town is a mecca for art lovers.
Not only is it home to over 60 murals by renowned street artists, it holds its own yearly street art festival, where visitors can watch painters and muralists at work.
Distance from Melbourne: It’s around a 210 kilometre trip, taking just over two hours to get there. Easy!
Can you get there by train? Yes! Hop on the train to Albury via Seymour from Southern Cross Station.
Things to do in Benalla
- Attend the Wall to Wall Festival – Benalla’s yearly Street Art Festival covers a weekend in April, where artists from all over the world descend upon the town to cover its walls with bright, colourful murals.
- Stroll through the Benalla Art Gallery – this beautiful gallery is housed in a modernist building, within the town’s botanic gardens.
- Check out a silo art trail – one of Victoria’s two silo art trails is located in this region – Benalla is the gateway to this particular public gallery, which takes under two hours to complete.
- Visit the Winton Wetlands – one of the works of art on the trail is located in these wetlands, so why not make a day of it?
Read more: The Best Places to Visit in Australia
Grampians National Park (Gariwerd) and the Silo Art Trail
One of the state’s premiere national parks, Gariwerd (its Aboriginal name) is home to some dramatic landscape – great craggy rocks offering spectacular views, bush walks and stacks of waterfalls.
Further afield is the state’s first Silo Art Trail, a must-see for lovers of public art.
Distance from Melbourne Around three hours drive (the Silo Art Trail is a bit further out) – around 260 kilometres.
Things to do in the Grampians
- Go for a bushwalk/hike – the Grampians are made for walking, with all sorts of trails and hikes available, for many different levels of fitness. One of the most popular walks is The Pinnacle hike.
- Check out the original Silo Art Trail – this region of Melbourne is home to the original Silo Art Trail, starting with artist Guido van Helten painting a now famous mural onto a silo in the small town of Brim.
- Learn about Aboriginal culture at Brambuk – the Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Gariwerd is pretty amazing and well worth a visit.
- Visit MacKenzie Falls – the Grampians is full of spectacular waterfalls and MacKenzie Falls is iconic. The walk there is fairly unchallenging at around 40 mins and there’s a cool lookout as well.
Where to stay in the Grampians: Your best bet for accommodation in the Grampians is Halls Gap. Free camping is pretty popular here too.
Wilsons Promontory National Park
‘The Prom’ as it is colloquially known is home to dense bushland, amazing walks, an array of wildlife and gorgeous beaches that will utterly put Melbourne’s metro beaches to shame.
It makes for an ideal weekend getaway from Melbourne for those aching for a little peace and quiet – you’ll find just that in this part of the state.
Distance from Melbourne: 230 kilometres, so it takes around three hours to drive there by car.
Can you get there by train? No, car or tour group.
Things to do in the Prom
- Stroll along Squeaky Beach – The Prom’s most famous beach is named so, because rounded grains of quartz make a squeaking sound when you wander across the sand.
- Go for a bushwalk – if you’re a hiker, The Prom will keep you busy, with hikes such as Tongue Point Walk. Serious walkers will want to do the Great Prom Walk, a 35.5 or 52.8 kilometre route that can take up to four days.
- See Australian wildlife in the… well, wild – if you want to see Australian fauna in their natural habitat, here’s your chance to do so.
- Take a dip in the water – this Marine National Park has 17 kilometres of protected mainland coastline and is home to all kinds of marine life.
Where to stay in the Prom: The most popular choice for accommodation is camping – you’re in pristine nature, so why not go the whole ten yards! Book a place at a campsite in advance on the Parks Victoria website. If you don’t feel like roughing it, you can look for more tangible accommodation options here.
There you have it – some Melbourne weekend getaways that will certainly make you want to leave the city. I hope you’re feeling inspired to get out and explore the state of Victoria! Want to read more content like this? Follow along on Facebook or sign up to the monthly newsletter!
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