I loved our time visiting Melbourne. Not only is it a fantastic city to explore, it’s a fantastic base as there are many incredible places to visit near Melbourne that are less than three hours drive away.
As much as it pains me to say it being a New South Welshman, Victoria was the biggest surprise from our 18 month road trip around Australia.
Victoria packs a punch, there’s plenty to do in a small state and our one month trip quickly turned into three!
Even our kids loved Melbourne and Kalyra still talks fondly of the place nearly two years later – she’s a born and bred city girl.
Once you’re done with the city, below are our top 8 getaways from Melbourne that will have you singing Victoria’s praises in no time too!
1. Wilsons Promontory National Park
Surprisingly we knew almost nothing about Wilsons Promontory National Park before our road trip around Australia, and had never heard of Squeaky Beach, which we now put up there with the best beaches in Australia.
It wasn’t until we arrived in Victoria and started talking with the locals, and a well-travelled friend from Melbourne who raved about the Prom being his favourite place in the country, that we paid it much attention.
After spending three nights in our little cabin at Tidal River Campground we can confirm that Wilsons Prom is Victoria’s best-kept-secret and at just a 3-hour drive from Melbourne, a great getaway!
Be warned though this coastal wilderness area has limited accommodation and is so popular with Victorians that they have a ballot system to stay during peak season!
While we recommend spending a few days in Wilson’s Prom, if you don’t have time or your own vehicle, you can join this full day tour from Melbourne.
The charming town of Bright is our favourite town in Victoria and one of our top 3 towns in Australia, period. We tell everyone we meet who are visiting Victoria, you MUST visit Bright!
lt‘s one of those places that gets under your skin and we’ll return to over and over again.
With the Owens River running through town and the alpine scenery, it reminds us of Colorado and the cafe scene is top notch too – we’re partial to the Blackbird Cafe, Food Wine Friends, and the Rail Trail Cafe.
We LOVE the Bright Brewery by the river which produces excellent craft beer, the best cider I have ever tasted, and delicious pizzas. And your kids will love the big playground just across from the beer garden, win-win!
Besides the food and drink, if you love exploring the great outdoors by foot or bicycle, Bright is your town too. Just a three-hour drive from Melbourne makes it one of the best places to visit near Melbourne.
Oh, and whilst you’re in Bright, take a detour to Beechworth and have lunch at Bridge Road Brewers, one of our faves in Oz!
Read more – Things to do in Bright
There’s something about Marysville!
This town was devastated by bushfires on what became known as Black Saturday back in 2009. Almost the entire town burned to the ground with many locals losing their lives.
But the way the town has recovered is remarkable. The spirit of the people is truly something to be admired!
It’s only an hour north east of Melbourne and the drive into Marysville is beautiful and makes for a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Once there enjoy the serenity and the natural setting.
Go hiking at Lake Mountain, take in Steavenson Falls, marvel at Bruno’s Sculpture Garden, go trout fishing at Buxton Trout Farm, taste wines at Buxton Ridge Winery, have breakfast at Fraggas Cafe, dinner at the Black Spur Inn, and let your kids burn off some energy playing at Gallipoli Park.
Read more – There’s something about Marysville
4. The Great Ocean Road
You can’t visit Melbourne and Victoria without jumping behind the wheel of your car, or hiring a car and drive one of the best road trips in the world.
Beginning 90 minutes outside of Melbourne in Torquay, the Great Ocean Road stretches over 250 kilometres to Warrnambool and attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year.
Explore seaside towns, walk through rainforests to waterfalls, spot koalas, swim at scenic beaches, and stand in awe as you take in the famous 12 Apostles.
Read more – 16 highlights of the Great Ocean Road
5. The Mornington Peninsula
We camped for a week on the Mornington Peninsula and whilst it’s only an hours drive from Melbourne, we felt like we were a million miles away from the city.
I vividly remember the sunset on Dromana Beach being as impressive as anywhere in Victoria, and our pub lunch at the Portsea Hotel had as good a view as anywhere for a beer garden.
Other things we recommend include the coastal headland walk around Sorento (Millionaires row), takeaway fish & chips on the waterfront of Sorrento, the community playground on the Rye Foreshore, and the Peninsula Hot Springs quickly replaced the High Tea at the Langham Hotel in Melbourne as being the best mummy/daughter date ever.
6. Phillip Island
We thought Phillip Island was all about the penguins and motorcycle racing. After spending a relaxing eight days on the island we can assure you it offers so much more.
The main town of Cowes Beach is a good place to base yourself and has decent cafe and restaurant scene. The beach here is family friendly as is scenic Smiths Beach.
When you take in the penguin parade experience get there early and explore The Nobbies which has spectacular views over Bass Strait – it will be windy though!
Other things I recommend is a visit to The Koala Conservation Centre, the Chocolate Factory, Amaz’N Things, and the Grand Prix circuit.
7. The Bellarine Peninsula
Another place we’d never heard of in Victoria is the Bellarine Peninsula. Again surprising, considering it’s only one hour south of Melbourne and close to the starting line for the Great Ocean Road.
It’s a great addition to our best places near Melbourne list.
Thanks to a recommendation from another Melbourne friend we jumped on the car ferry from Sorrento and headed for Queenscliff.
Three weeks later we finally left the Big 4 Beacon Resort Campground in what had become one of our favourite caravan parks and a great base for exploring the Bellarine.
The town of Queenscliff is a historic seaside village with a good cafe scene – I had the best ever chai latte at Raw Ingredients. We also loved the slow pace of life in Barwon Heads and exploring the cafe and restaurant scene there, check out At the Heads and the Star Fish Bakery.
Other nice towns on the Bellarine include Point Lonsdale and Ocean Grove – the largest town on the Bellarine and the closest surfing beach to Melbourne!
If you find yourself heading south from Melbourne towards Geelong and Great Ocean Road, consider exploring the Bellarine Peninsula.
8. The Grampians
One of the best walking and hiking destinations in Victoria is merely three hours from Melbourne.
The Grampians National Park is a rugged mountain range and is renowned for its breathtaking rocky views, rich culture and stunning wildflower displays.
The first we’d heard of the Grampians was from a Swedish backpacker in Thailand who said it was his favourite place in the world to rock climb. Just another beautiful place in Victoria that rarely gets talked about.
We conquered the summit of the 4km Pinnacle’s Walk with our girls, aged 6 and 2 at the time, and it was one of my favourite days of our Australia road trip.
Halls Gap is a great town to base yourself in the heart of the Grampians, we stayed at the Grampians Eco YHA which was family friendly and an eco-retreat.
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