10 Top-Rated Weekend Getaways from Melbourne
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Melbourne offers plenty of places for rewarding and relaxing weekend getaways. Picturesque peninsulas, dense forests, gold-sand beaches, and rippling peaks ring the city, providing easy escapes to nature.
Less than two hours' drive from the city center, you can experience one of the world's best road trips: the Great Ocean Road. This epic adventure reveals the raw, rugged beauty of the continent's cliff-fringed Southern coastline. In nearby national parks, waterfalls tumble into fern-fringed gullies, and golden beaches rim crystal-clear bays in some of Victoria's best seaside resorts.
Animal lovers will find plenty of opportunities for exhilarating critter encounters, and winter brings its own fun, with snow-cloaked peaks within easy reach of the city. History buffs can also soak up Australia's rich Gold Rush history at Ballarat.
Whether you're an active family looking for outdoor adventure; a beach lover seeking some sun, sand, and sea; or a couple looking for romantic escapes with gourmet dining, you'll find plenty of places to flee the city buzz. For ideas on short trips, see our list of the best weekend getaways from Melbourne, Victoria.
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1. Great Ocean Road
If awe-inspiring scenery high on your list of things to see, Great Ocean Road is the ideal weekend getaway. Less than a two-hour drive from Melbourne, this spectacular road trip is also one of the most popular day trips from Melbourne. Wind and water sculpted this dramatic seascape, and you can witness it all from the 300-kilometer scenic road, which skirts the southern edge of this ruggedly beautiful continent, from Torquay to Allansford.
The prime attraction is Port Campbell National Park. Here, the soaring rock spires, known as the Twelve Apostles, erupt from the sea, as well as other fantastical rock formations, such as London Arch and Loch Ard Gorge. Outdoor adventures abound here. Popular things to do on the Great Ocean Road include hiking the trails at Great Otway National Park, ziplining at Otway Fly Treetop Adventures, and surfing big waves at Bells Beach.
Wildlife is also a top draw. During winter, look for whales from the shore at Warrnambool and at any time of year, you can spot koalas at Kennett River and see Aussie wildlife, including kangaroos, koalas, and emus at Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve.
If you're short on time, the best way to appreciate the power of nature is to book a helicopter ride and view the coast from above. You can also walk part of the Great Ocean Walk, one of the top hikes in Australia.
For an intimate getaway, Drift House in Port Fairy marries eco-sensibility with sleek, minimalist design, and if you're traveling with the family, RACV Torquay Resort offers a family-friendly restaurant, children's playground, and stunning views through floor-to-ceiling windows.
2. The Mornington Peninsula
Wondering about the best short trips from Melbourne? The magnificent Mornington Peninsula vies for top place. In less than a 90-minute drive from the city, you can explore the charming seaside villages and bask on golden shores. With Port Phillip Bay on one side and the ocean on the other, it's no surprise that beaches are one of the region's top attractions.
Summer is the most popular time to visit, when you can make the most of these enticing slices of sand and sea, and take a dip in the crisp, clear waters. Bayside beaches are great for families, and the oceanside beaches are best for more active pursuits, like surfing. You can also book a cruise and swim with wild dolphins.
Adventures on land are equally rewarding. Hike along cliff-hugging trails with glorious ocean views in Mornington Peninsula National Park and Point Nepean National Park, or ogle the fancy holiday homes along the five-kilometer Millionaire's Walk, between Sorrento and Portsea. The Mornington Peninsula is a popular escape for Melbourne's well-to-do.
If pampering and culture are more your style, soak in soothing hot springs at Peninsula Hot Springs, browse inspiring art galleries, or feast on gourmet food at a local restaurant. Kids will love the Enchanted Adventure Garden, with hedge mazes, giant slides, and themed gardens.
Across from Rye Beach, Moonlight Bay Apartments is a perfect base for families, with one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as spa studios and a heated pool.
3. The Dandenong Ranges and the Yarra Valley
Wilderness, wildlife, and wonderful food are the top draws of weekend escapes at the delightful Dandenong Ranges and Yarra Valley. Posh Melburnians have been visiting this area for more than a century, and it still makes an invigorating two-day trip. Hike through mountain ash forests and fern-fringed trails; feed cockatoos and crimson rosellas at Grants Picnic Ground in Sherwood Forest; and enjoy a picnic near picturesque waterfalls in the Dandenong Ranges National Park, about 40 kilometers east of Melbourne.
The Yarra Valley is a haven for foodies. Farm-fresh produce and creamy cheeses are abundant here, and you can top off your day of sightseeing with a delicious Devonshire Tea or farm-to-table dining at one of the region's cute villages – Olinda is a favorite.
Kids will love getting up close to local wildlife like dingoes, wombats, platypuses, and echidnas at Healesville Sanctuary, and looking for hidden outdoor sculptures in the delightful William Ricketts Sanctuary. Don't miss a ride on the 100-year-old Puffing Billy Steam Railway, too. Art studios and lush parks and gardens are other top tourist attractions.
Wondering where to stay? You'll find plenty of bed-and-breakfast accommodations in this scenic region. Check before you go for weekend getaway deals for couples. The lovely Linden Gardens Rainforest Retreat makes a romantic getaway, with gas fireplaces, rainforest views, and tubs for two.
Lovely, laid-back Lorne, on the iconic Great Ocean Road, is a favorite seaside getaway – especially during summer. Overlooking Loutit Bay, this picturesque town lies less than a two-hour drive from the city. The beautiful golden beach is the focal point here, and top things to do include swimming, surfing, and fishing. Head to the local pier to buy fresh-caught fish for dinner.
Away from the beach, you can wander through the outdoor sculpture garden at Qdos Gallery, sip a latte at a sidewalk café, dine out at one of the fabulous restaurants, and learn about the history of the Great Ocean Road at the Lorne Visitor Centre. Teddy's Lookout affords inspiring views over the dramatic coastline.
Lorne is also a gateway to Otway National Park. Here, you can explore scenic hiking trails and see beautiful waterfalls cascading into fern-fringed creeks. Erskine Falls is a favorite. For zipline fun, sign up for Otway Fly Treetop Adventures.
Mantra Lorne makes a great weekend base for families and couples, with a delightful day spa, a heated indoor mineral pool, family-friendly eateries, and even a mini putt-putt course for the kids.
5. Wilsons Promontory
If you're a nature lover, photographer, or a beach babe, you can't go past "The Prom" for a rewarding short break from Melbourne. About a three-hour drive from the city, this sliver of land at the southernmost tip of Australia's mainland is the state's largest coastal wilderness area. Come here to see squeaky white-sand beaches, soaring granite peaks, cool-climate rainforests, and breathtaking vistas.
Top things to do in Wilsons Promontory include diving in the crystal-clear waters, which are part of a marine national park, and hiking the many scenic trails. Don't miss the hike to the summit of Mt. Oberon for the best views over the Tidal River and the coast. Squeaky Beach is also a highlight, with its blindingly white quartz sands, and Whiskey Bay's weather-beaten boulders make beautiful photo subjects. Fishing, swimming, camping, and canoeing are other popular activities.
Wildlife is abundant. Kangaroos, wombats, and emus make their home here, and the park is home to an impressive diversity of birds.
If you have time up your sleeve, you can explore the park on the Great Prom Walk. This scenic track passes through fern-filled forests, threads along the coast, and also takes in Wilsons Promontory Lightstation.
On a budget? Campsites are available here, making this one of the best cheap short getaways in Victoria.
6. Grampians National Park
Craggy cliffs, wildflowers, waterfalls, and wildlife – you'll find all this and more at Grampians National Park (Gariwerd). Stupendous vistas of rocky sandstone peaks and bush-cloaked valleys are other highlights of this much-loved wilderness area, about a three-hour drive from Melbourne. Nature lovers can immerse themselves in the rugged grandeur here, and active visitors can hike the scenic trails, climb the cliffs, and rappel into the valley.
Start your visit at Brambuk the National Park & Cultural Centre for an overview of the park's top features and cultural heritage. You can also book an Aboriginal bush tucker walk or rock art tour here. Then venture out onto the vast network of scenic hiking trails. Venus Baths Walk is a favorite.
MacKenzie Falls are the highest waterfalls in the state, and other picturesque cascades are Fish Falls and Beehive Falls. For breathtaking vistas, head to Boroka and Reeds lookouts, as well as the Pinnacle and the Balconies.
Wildlife spotting is another top thing to do here. Kangaroos, emus, echidnas, red-necked wallabies, koalas, and possums are some of the species you can see.
"The Grampians," as it's commonly called is beautiful year-round, but a particularly lovely time to visit is in the spring – especially October, when the colorful wildflowers are in full bloom. Stay in Halls Gap at Gariwerd Motel minutes from popular trailheads, and mingle with mobs of wild kangaroos on the grounds.
7. Phillip Island
Wildlife lovers and families will find a host of exciting animal adventures at Phillip Island, less than a two-hour drive from the city. The highlight is the famous Penguin Parade, when these lovable creatures waddle up the beach at dusk. You can also take a self-guided tour of the coast at the Nobbies. Here, a wooden boardwalk weaves along the coastline, providing breathtaking sea views and possible sightings of silver gull chicks – and more penguins.
But penguins are not the only attraction at Phillip Island. Spot koalas at the Koala Conservation Centre; get up-close to wallabies and kangaroos at Phillip Island Wildlife Park; and hop aboard a wildlife cruise to Seal Rock, home to Australia's largest fur seal colony (bring your binoculars).
You can also catch a car race at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, and step back in time at Churchill Island. This heritage working farm has plenty of farmyard animals and lovely gardens. After all the sightseeing and animal action, top off your day with a sweet treat from The Chocolate Factory.
On the beachfront, Comfort Resort Kaloha makes a great base for a last-minute family weekend getaway from Melbourne. Choose from a range of guest rooms, cabins, and townhomes close to all the top attractions. Kids will love the palm-lined saltwater swimming pool, and Jacuzzi. Couples can hide away in one of the romantic spa suites.
8. Daylesford: Day Spas and Mineral Springs
Known as the spa capital of Australia, this pretty little village is the perfect place to visit for a girls' quick getaway or romantic weekend escape. Healing hot springs, day spas, and wellness centers lure stressed-out city folk here, who come to unwind and relax in the peaceful surroundings. And it's only about a 90-minute drive northwest from Melbourne.
Stroll around Lake Daylesford; admire the views and centuries-old trees at Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens; browse works of art in the local galleries; visit organic farms; and shop for vintage clothes, art, and antiques at the Mill Markets or Daylesford Sunday Market.
Food is also a highpoint here. Feasting on the region's farm-fresh organic produce is the perfect accompaniment to one of the most relaxing getaways in Victoria.
Daylesford is particularly lovely in the autumn, when the late golden light reflects off the lake. For the ultimate luxury weekend escape from Melbourne, stay at the elegant Lake House on the shores of Lake Daylesford, where you can dine on a degustation menu for two at the highly-acclaimed restaurant, and succumb to pampering at the Salus Day Spa.
9. Falls Creek, The High Country
Dreaming of a ski trip on a wintry weekend? Snow-cloaked peaks lie within a short drive of Melbourne. Skiers and snowboarders with a long weekend up their sleeves, can leave the city and be carving up the slopes at Falls Creek, one of Australia's top ski resorts, within five hours. Mt. Buller is only a three-hour drive, but it gets super busy on weekends. Located in the Victorian High Country, Falls Creek also has better snow coverage and a lovely pedestrian-only alpine village.
With more than 1,000 skiable acres, you can ski and snowboard the slopes during the day, and snuggle up with your sweetheart by a cozy fire at night. Cross-country skiers can also stay fit on more than 65 kilometers of trails, and kids will love the terrain park. During prime conditions, many of the resorts here are ski-in ski-out, maximizing your time on the slopes.
Spring and summer in the High Country bring a riot of colorful wildflowers, as well as sports like horseback riding, mountain biking, and fly fishing. Drive the scenic 230-kilometer Bogong Alpine Way through the towns of Bright, Mount Beauty, and Mount Hotham to soak up the alpine scenery.
Looking for family weekend getaways from Melbourne with a historical slant? Ballarat is an excellent option. With one of the richest goldfields on earth, Ballarat was the stage for key events in Australian history, and you can soak up these fascinating stories at the region's excellent museums.
Start at Sovereign Hill, one of the top places to visit in Ballarat. This living museum, set on an original mine site, will whisk you right back to the Gold Rush days, with daily demonstrations, mine adventures, multimedia displays, and more. Take a self-guided Historic Streetscapes Walking Tour on Lydiard Street to see some of the architectural and historical highlights of the city, and learn about the historic 1854 Eureka Stockade rebellion at the Eureka Centre Ballarat.
Need a break from all the history? You can stop and smell the flowers at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, get up close with Aussie animals at Ballarat Wildlife Park, and wander around Lake Wendouree. Also try to squeeze in a scenic drive to some of the surrounding country towns, like Bendigo, Mount Macedon, Maldon, Kyneton, or Castlemaine.
Whatever you choose to do, you can top it off with some mouthwatering food – Ballarat is another favorite place for foodies.