Easy Day Trips From Melbourne (Under 2 Hours Drive)

by | Last updated Dec 12, 2023 | Melbourne, Victoria | 16 comments

See the colourful beach boxes at Brighton or on the Mornington Peninsula on an easy day trip from Melbourne.

 

Are you after suggestions for some great days trips from Melbourne? Where you are a local or a visitor, Melbourne has many great easy days trips you can take out of the city. From beautiful beaches, wineries, spa towns, quirky wildlife and small towns with quaint shops and award winning bakeries awaiting you when you take a day trip from Melbourne. So whether you are based in Melbourne and looking for a getaway or visiting Melbourne, the day trips from Melbourne I have chosen will take you now more than 2 hours to reach.

I’ve really enjoyed writing this post as it has been getting me out and about from Melbourne. So this day trip from Melbourne guide has got you covered. Without further ado, here is my absolute awesome guide to easy Melbourne day trips under 2 hours from Melbourne’s CBD. 

If you haven’t explored Melbourne yet read my post What to See and Do in Melbourne.

 

How to Travel on a Melbourne Day Trip

 

The best way to visit the places mentioned in my best Melbourne day trip guide is by your own transport, preferably a car. If you don’t have one, get prices and availability to rent one here. Having a car provides you with more flexibility to get around to different places. However, most can be reached by public transport on the train and bus network.

 

Easy Day Trips from Melbourne

 

1. Yarra Valley

 

Yering Station Vines. Rows Of Grape Vines.

Vines in the Yarra Valley

 

The Yarra Valley is an easy drive from Melbourne. In fact, it is less than an hour’s drive from Melbourne’s CBD. So one minute you’re in the CBD or the suburbs and the next minute you are surrounded by rolling hills covered in vines. The Yarra Valley is world-renowned for producing cool-climate wines and you are spoilt for choice of the number of vineyards with cellar doors that you can visit. In fact, there are over 80 vineyards in the Yarra Valley. One of my favourites is Yering Station. It is one of the Yarra Valley’s oldest wineries and you can walk around the winery, see where the wine is produced and where the barrels of wine are kept. There is also a restaurant there with fabulous views over the valley. And don’t leave without enjoying a wine tasting – Chardonnay anyone!

But the Yarra Valley is more than vineyards. There is the Yarra Valley Dairy where you could purchase some handmade farmhouse cheeses and the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery where you can enjoy chocolate, chocolate, ice-cream and more chocolate. Watch the chocolatiers create their magic in the kitchens. And sit in the cafe with a hot chocolate and some chocolate fudge and enjoy views of the Yarra Valley. Or walk around the expansive grounds walking off the chocolate caleries.

From the Chocolaterie you could head out to one of my favourite towns in the Yarra Valley, Healesville. Stroll along the tree lined main street before heading out to the Healesville Sanctuary to see the animals in their natural habitat. Then enjoy some gin at the Four Pillars Gin House before making one last stop iat the Coldstream Brewery – yes, a brewery in amongst the wineries – and enjoy a beer tasting and a meal.

Distance and Time to the Yarra Valley: Melbourne to the Yarra Valley is about 25km taking anywhere from 30-45 minutes to reach by car. There are no trains that go into the Yarra Valley, you can catch one to Lilydale Train Station then catch a bus – but this is very time consuming. Plus buses only run every couple of hours. If you don’t have your own transport you can go on an organised tour.  These are great, particularly if you plan on sampling the wine, gin and beer. Check out these tours which you can book online.

 

The Dandenong Ranges

 

The Dandenong Ranges, often referred to as The Dandenongs or The Nongs have been a favourite day getaway for Melburnians for a long time. They are a low mountain range rising some 633 metres and are  full of nature and wildlife, cute villages, great food and a historic train known as Puffing Billy. They can burn with bushfires during the summer months and there can be snow in the winter months. 

Start you visit with a scenic drive through the Dandenong Ranges. You will wind your way up passing by towering Mountain ash trees and forest ferns and passing through quaint villages like Sassafras, Kalorama and Olinda. Maybe stop in Olinda and have a pie at ‘Pie In The Sky’ restaurant then walk along the Main Street and enjoy the boutique stores of trinkets and clothes. Or treat yourself with a meal at The Cuckoo, a German establishment, but be sure to book first. Head to the top of the mountain at SkyHigh Mount Dandenong for panoramic views over the Dandenong Ranges and back to greater Melbourne and the bays. There are extensive English gardens to enjoy, a maze and there are plenty of places for hikes and picnics.

One way to explore the Dandenongs is on the Dandenong Railway. This railway is over a hundred years old and a must is to take a ride on the steam train, known as Puffing Billy. The ride is spectacular and very scenic. Having a ride on the train is a highlight for many. The full Puffing Billing train experience can take 3-5 hours from Belgrave to Gembrook and return. The train line is a dedicated line used by Puffing Billy trains only. If you don’t want to take the train you can always pass through the same towns that Puffing Billy does and wait to see it. A walk along the train station will see you step back in time.

Distance and Time: The Dandenong Ranges are 35km east of Melbourne. It will take about 30-45 minutes to reach the area by car. You can catch a train to Belgrave Train Station then a bus to the top of Mount Dandenong.

 

Mornington Peninsula

 

The Mornington Peninsula is a favourite seaside escape from the city of Melbourne. It is flanked by the ocean on one side and Port Phillip Bay on the other. If you don’t want to spend your time on one of the many beaches in the middle, between the coasts you have some world-renowned cool-climate wineries and olive groves to visit in the Red Hill area. However, spending the day at the beach then wondering through some of the cute villages will reveal some yummy eateries and boutique stores. Then you could be pampered at the Peninsula Hot Springs.

On the ocean side of the peninsula there are plenty of beaches to visit to enjoy the waves. You could walk down the Bushrangers Bay Trail at Cape Schanck. Or perhaps tour the Cape Schanck lighthouse located on the southernmost tip of the Mornington Peninsula for fabulous vistas over Bass Strait.

I suggest instead of taking the freeway all the way to the peninsula, turn off at Frankston and travel along the road that hugs the coast. Pass through seaside towns of Safety Beach, McCrae and Rosebud. You will be treated to fabulous views over the bay and unfortunately, a lot of traffic. Many like to head to Sorrento, known for its heritage buildings, high-end boutiques and cafe culture. You can also catch the Sorrento-Queenscliff Ferry from here. But further down is the Point Nepean National Park where you could enjoy hiking on the back beach trails. I do think a day is not enough on the peninsula as the lifestyle is so good, you will want to stay longer!

Another popular place to visit is Arthurs Seat. Climbing to the top of Arthurs Seat will provide great views over the peninsula and over to Melbourne on a clear day. If you wanted you to take the revamped chairlift up and down. From Arthurs Seat you can head inland to Red Hill and visit one of the many world-famous Red Hill wineries and other local produce such as the Red Hill Cheese Factory.

Distance and Time: The Mornington Peninsula is a large peninsula about 75km East of Melbourne. It will take around 90 minutes to reach the beginning of it.

 

Hanging Rock and Woodend

 

Hanging Rock. A Massive Rock Near Woodend

Stand in awe at Hanging Rock

 

About an hour up the Calder Freeway you will find yourself in the Macedon Ranges. With a number of quaint towns like Woodend, Trentham and Mount Macedon the area is known for one of its most famous landmarks. That of Hanging Rock. Hanging Rock, or Mount Diogenes is a rare volcanic formation which is a great example of a volcanic plug. Years of weathering and erosion has resulted in its current formation which stands 105 metres high. It was made famous as being the location for Peter Weir’s iconic film, Picnic at Hanging Rock, based on the book by Joan Lindsay. The rock is also important to local aborigines and was a refuge for bushrangers during the Victorian gold rush.

Start your journey at Hanging Rock in the Discovery Centre. Gain the history before ascending the rock yourself. There are two ways to climb the rock. The fastest is via the stairs or you can meander along the windy footpath. But the view from the top is spectacular. After your climb you may want to sit in the grounds and enjoy a picnic or head to one of the nearby local towns and enjoy the local produce in the cafes, bakeries, restaurants and pubs. There are also a number of wineries to visit.

Distance and Time: Hanging Rock is about 75km away from Melbourne. It will take about 1 hour to reach. You can catch a train to Macedon Train Station and a bus to Hanging Rock.

 

Daylesford

 

If in need of some pampering then head to the town of Daylesford and nearby Hepburn Springs. Known as being the spa capital of Australia due to the many soothing mineral springs, wellness centres and day spas found here. Escape here for a day or more for a relaxing time. And after you have enjoyed the pampering enjoy a meal in one of the restaurants serving seasonal local produce. But don’t forget to browse the town’s quaint shops, antique markets, art galleries and historic buildings. 

Distance and Time: Daylesford is around 115km from Melbourne. It will take about 1.5 hours to drive.

 

Williamstown

 

Williamstown Pier. Timber Pier With Yachts

Williamstown Pier

 

A favourite day trip for many Melburnians is to take the ferry across Port Phillip Bay to the town of Williamstown on 15km or so drive south-west of Melbourne. This is a historic town, being the first site of European settlers in the state to build a harbour. There is a rich maritime history here and this is evident as you stroll the foreshore buildings and colonial landmarks like Timeball Tower and Fort Gellibrand. Many yachts dock alongside Gem Pier highlighting this seaside town. Ensure to visit the convict-built Nelson Place that now houses many craft shops and restaurants. Or maybe sit on the southern shore in the park or dip your toes in the waters of Williamstown Beach.

Distance and Time: Williamstown is only 15km from Melbourne, taking about 20 minutes to reach. You can catch a train or bus from Melbourne’s CBD to Williamstown.

 

Geelong

 

Geelong is on the western side of Port Phillip Bay. It is one of the oldest cities in Victoria and is in fact, the second largest city in Victoria. Geelong has a scenic harbour front with many highly-rated restaurants. This is where most visitors head first, and I don’t blame them, as you can easily spend your time dipping your toes in the waters, walking along the promenade and enjoying good food. But if you leave the water side the city also has a cultural precinct at the west end of Little Malop Street. Here you will find the Geelong Gallery, the Geelong Library, City Hall and the Old Post Office that add an air of history and grandeur to discover. Like Melbourne, Geelong has a number of street-art murals and laneways to explore. And if you are visiting during winter you may want to catch an AFL game of the local Geelong team. Geelong is also the gateway to Bellarine Peninsula and near the start of the Great Ocean Road, so why not combine a visit to Geelong while visiting others areas. 

Distance and Time: Geelong is around a 75km drive from Melbourne. It will take just over an hour to reach. You can catch a train to Geelong from Melbourne’s CBD.

 

Ballarat

 

Step Back In Time to the 1800s At Sovereign Hill

Step Back In Time At Sovereign Hill

 

Ballarat is the third largest city in Victoria and was built from the gold rush in the 1800s. Even though there are many things to see and do in Ballarat the major thing is to spend your day at Sovereign Hill. Here you can pan for gold and watch and participate in the hustle and bustle of an 1850s gold mining settlement. A highlight is the AURA sound and light show which tells the story of the Eureka Rebellion. A big part of Australia’s history. When reforms were sought by gold prospectors who then clashed with government forces. They constructed a fortification in the Eureka goldfield, known as the Eureka Stockade. And it became a victory for the miners.

Distance and Time: Ballarat is 115km away from Melbourne, about 1.5 hour drive. You can catch public transport to Ballarat. There are a number of regular train and bus services that leave from Melbourne’s CBD.

 

Bendigo

 

Bendigo is a large city north of Melbourne and a great day trip from Melbourne. It was originally a gold rush boom town and there are grand buildings still standing from this time. You can ride a vintage talking tram through the city listening to an audio commentary on its rich gold mining history. During the gold rush many Chinese went there to make their fortunes. You can learn all about this at The Golden Dragon Museum. Still on gold, visit the Central Deborah Gold Mine and take a mining tour underground. But for something not about gold, visit Bendigo Pottery, Australia’s oldest working pottery to discover traditional pottery skills from its beginning in 1858 to today. Or simply walk around the Botanic Gardens or along the streets in town and appreciate the boutique stores within heritage frontages. I’d definitely pop into a cafe or restaurant to get a bite to eat or visit one of the many local Bendigo wineries.

Distance and Time: Bendigo is about 150km north of Melbourne. It will take about 1.75 hours to get there. Bendigo has regular train and bus services from Melbourne and once there, is an easy city to walk around as many of the main things to see and do in Bendigo are close to each other. And you can catch the tourist tram.

 

Phillip Island

 

Bridge Linking Mainland Victoria To Phillip Island.

The bridge to Phillip Island

 

Phillip Island is one of my favourite family day trips from Melbourne. Even though Phillip Island is under 2 hours away from Melbourne and can be visited for a day trip, it is best to spend a little longer if you have the time. I say this because you can’t go to Phillip Island without seeing the nightly parade of the penguins as they come home from a day fishing to their nests. Once this is over and you have returned home it will be late at night, so why not spend another day. There is plenty to see and do on Phillip Island including a visit to the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory to visit, walk along the Main Street of Cowes and dine in one of the cafes or restaurants. Possibly spend your time seeing much of the beautiful windswept coastline or just enjoying a swim or surf. Bike racing enthusiasts might want to head to the Phillip Island Bike Track. 

Distance and Time: Phillip Island is 142km away from Melbourne, about 1.5 hour drive. There is a bus from Melbourne’s CBD taking you to the island.

 

The Great Ocean Road

 

Distance and Time: The Great Ocean Road starts some 209km from Melbourne. It will take 2 – 2.5 hours to get to the start of it.

Just like Phillip Island, I don’t think the Great Ocean Road should be rushed. If you are just visiting one spot on the Great Ocean Road then maybe a day will be OK but to truly appreciate all the Great Ocean Road has to offer I would suggest a minimum of 2 days or more. As well, the Great Ocean Road is around 650km long and can take around 9-10 hours to drive. And that is a lot of driving to do in the one day. To truly see everything, the entrance to the Great Ocean Road, the 12 Apostles, Shipwreck Coast, walk through the Otway Ranges and spent some time in the quaint sea side towns you will be cramming a lot into your time. Therefore, the longer you can spent along the Great Ocean Road, the better.

 

READ MORE: 3 Day Driving itinerary to the Great Ocean Road

 

There are plenty of more small and large towns worthy of a day trip from Melbourne to do. However, the ones in this post are the most popular and some of my favourites. Where ever you drive for the day, Victoria offers a variety of towns and cities to explore.

 

Melbourne Day Trips can take you to Luna Park in St Kilda, to see the Penguins on Phillip Island and the colourful beach boxes at Brighton.

16 Comments

  1. Sinjana

    Wow! Australia is a dream location indeed. Hope to travel sooner or later.

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Let’s hope we can all travel sooner rather than later.

      Reply
  2. Albi

    I always wanted to visit Melbourne but never imagine that there would be so many possibilities for day trips. All of them looks stunning

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Yes, Melbourne and Victoria can be a surprise with the extent of things to see and do. We are spoilt for choice here.

      Reply
  3. Chirasree Banerjee

    Lovely read and beautiful pics. Saving this post for my Melbourne bucket list.

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Thank you. Melbourne has so much more than what I have included. Definitely add it to your Melbourne bucket list.

      Reply
  4. Karen Warren

    I had notions of a family trip to Australia before all the borders closed. I’ll get there sometime. This wonderful list will be a great resource.

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Yes. Melbourne and surrounds is a must on any trip to Australia.

      Reply
  5. Elena Pappalardo

    These ideas are all super tempting! I’ve just saved this for a future trip!

    Reply
  6. Rosh Patel

    Only ever been to hanging rock, would love to see more of these places though

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Yes. If you have the chance to see other things, I’m sure you will enjoy yourself.

      Reply
  7. Joanna

    With a daughter living in Melbourne, you have provided some great ideas for trips we can do together whenever I visit her. I have explored little if Victoria and can’t wait to try out your day trips. I’m sure Daylesford will require a weekend. Thank you for your suggestions.

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      I’m sure you daughter will love to show you around Melbourne. Enjoy.

      Reply
  8. Shalzmojo

    Wow I had no idea Melbourne was so gorgeous. Super ideas for trips around Melbourne- very handy for peeps looking for such ideas.

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Melbourne is a gorgeous town. Lots to do in it and outside of it.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Me

Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Sign shaped like a big white wave with Sharyn McCullum On the Great Ocean Road.

G’Day! Sharyn here, an Aussie loving discovering Australia. Let me show you around so you can discover Australia too.  Read my story here.

Follow along on Facebook



Booking.com

Don't miss out!
Subscribe to the Newsletter
We promise not to spam you. Unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

Adsense