Melbourne, often hailed as the cultural capital of Australia, is a city bursting with life, art, and creativity. But did you know that just beyond its boundaries lies a world of adventure waiting for you to explore?
In this article, we’ll guide you to some of the most captivating and diverse places to visit from Melbourne by car. From breathtaking coastal vistas and enchanting forests to charming towns and wildlife encounters, our list promises something for every kind of tourist.
So, whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or more extended road trips from Melbourne, plenty of adventures are just waiting for you.
- Hiring a Car in Melbourne
- Interesting Places to Visit from Melbourne
- Mornington Peninsula (M1 and Mornington Peninsula Fwy/Peninsula Link/M11)
- Philip Island (Via M1)
- Great Ocean Road (Via M1 and C155)
- Grampians National Park (National Highway M8)
- Bellarine Peninsula (Via M1)
- Macedon Ranges (via M2 and C325)
- Yarra Valley (via M3 and Maroondah Hwy)
- Ballarat (via National Highway M8)
- More Driving Inspiration in Southeast Australia
Hiring a Car in Melbourne
It is pretty hard to embark on any of the best road trips from Melbourne if you don’t have access to a car. Thankfully, plenty of car hire companies are available throughout the city.
Renting a car in Melbourne gives you the freedom and flexibility to go where you want when you want. The type of vehicle you require will depend on what kind of Melbourne road trips you want to partake in. Typically, SUVs are more suitable for off-roading adventures and visits to national parks, while a compact car might be more practical and affordable if you plan to head to country towns.
Melbourne’s car rental services have covered you, whichever vehicle you choose. So, you can hit the road with the promise of exciting destinations ahead, in comfort and at your own pace.
Interesting Places to Visit from Melbourne
Hiring a car for your Melbourne day trips is one thing. But knowing where to go is another thing entirely.
Within a few hours’ drive of the city are a host of exciting, interesting, and beautiful places you can visit. Here are 8 destinations you should consider visiting.
Mornington Peninsula (M1 and Mornington Peninsula Fwy/Peninsula Link/M11)
- Distance: 76 km
- Driving Time: 1 hour
Located just an hour down the road towards the coast, the Mornington Peninsula is one of the best places near Melbourne to visit on a day trip. Stretching into the azure waters of Port Phillip Bay, it offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, coastal charm, and cultural experiences, making it one of the best Victoria road trips you can do.
The peninsula is renowned for its pristine beaches, including the family-friendly Dromana Beach and the iconic Sorrento Beach, making it an ideal destination for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. But the shoreline is just the beginning; the Peninsula Hot Springs, a haven of relaxation and rejuvenation nestled amidst lush native bushland, provides a soothing escape for body and soul.
Wine enthusiasts will relish exploring the region’s vineyards and cellar doors. The Mornington Peninsula is famous for its cool-climate wines, and wineries like Montalto Vineyard & Olive Grove and Ten Minutes by Tractor offer exquisite tastings against breathtaking backdrops.
Nature lovers can embark on scenic coastal walks along Cape Schanck or explore the enchanting forests of Arthurs Seat State Park. The peninsula is also home to some of Victoria’s most iconic golf courses, like the National Golf Club, perfect for a round of golf with panoramic ocean views.
The charming coastal towns of Sorrento and Portsea boast boutique shopping, art galleries, and delectable dining options. Plus, the peninsula’s proximity to Port Phillip Bay allows for exciting water activities, including sailing, snorkelling, and fishing.
Philip Island (Via M1)
- Distance: 143 km
- Driving Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
One of the more unique day trips from Melbourne you can do is to Philip Island. It offers a terrific blend of natural beauty and wildlife encounters that are nothing short of magical.
The island’s top attraction is the Penguin Parade, where you can witness hundreds of Little Penguins returning to shore at sunset after a day at sea. Nearby, the Koala Conservation Centre provides a chance to observe these iconic marsupials up close in their native habitat.
For stunning coastal vistas, visit The Nobbies, a rugged headland with a boardwalk offering panoramic views and a glimpse into the marine life below. Outdoor lovers can explore Churchill Island Heritage Farm, where you can step back in time and experience farm life as it was in the 19th century. Additionally, the island is known for its beautiful beaches, making it an excellent place for swimming, surfing, and beachcombing.
If you are into motorsports, visit the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, which regularly hosts thrilling events and offers guided tours.
Great Ocean Road (Via M1 and C155)
- Distance: 233 km
- Driving Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
One of the most iconic Victoria road trips you can do from Melbourne is to drive along The Great Ocean Road. It stretches along Australia’s southern coast, and driving it will take you on a breathtaking expedition into the state’s natural beauty and coastal wonder.
At its heart stands the Twelve Apostles, a collection of colossal limestone stacks rising majestically from the Southern Ocean, offering a mesmerising spectacle. Nearby, Loch Ard Gorge and the London Arch showcase nature’s art through rugged cliffs and stunning seascapes.
The Great Otway National Park is another integral part of this journey, inviting you to explore its lush rainforests and striking coastal scenery. The Otway Fly Treetop Walkway lets you traverse the forest canopy for a bird’s-eye view, while the Maits Rest Rainforest Walk immerses you in an enchanting world of towering tree ferns and ancient myrtle beech trees. Nearby, the Triplet Falls cascade through fern-laden gullies in a spectacular display of nature’s power.
Grampians National Park (National Highway M8)
- Distance: 257 km
- Driving Time: 3 hours
If you want weekend getaways from Melbourne, consider visiting Grampians National Park.
Nestled in the heart of the state, this unspoiled wilderness beckons adventurers with its rugged beauty and rich Aboriginal heritage. At the core of this natural wonderland is the stunning MacKenzie Falls, a cascading waterfall surrounded by lush vegetation and walking trails. For panoramic views that will leave you breathless, heading up to The Balconies and Boroka Lookout, where you can gaze upon the park’s iconic sandstone formations, is a must.
Additionally, the Aboriginal rock art at sites like Bunjil’s Shelter offers a glimpse into the area’s ancient history and cultural significance. While for hikers, there’s an array of trails ranging from easy strolls to challenging treks, including the renowned Grampians Peaks Trail.
Kids will revel in the opportunity to spot kangaroos, wallabies, and diverse birdlife throughout the park. The quaint town of Halls Gap provides a cosy base with dining and accommodation options for those wanting to explore Grampians National Park over two or more days.
Bellarine Peninsula (Via M1)
- Distance: 90 km
- Driving Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Road trips from Melbourne don’t get much better than heading to the Bellarine Peninsula.
Nestled on the southern coast of Victoria, the Bellarine Peninsula is an excellent destination for families to visit. For beach lovers, the serene shores of Ocean Grove Beach and Point Lonsdale Beach offer sun-soaked relaxation and aquatic adventures that will entertain you for hours.
Elsewhere, your kids should enjoy riding on the Bellarine Railway’s steam train, while those with a more adventurous spirit can explore the rugged coastline of Point Nepean National Park or kayak through the tranquil waters of Swan Bay.
Wine lovers will find themselves in paradise with a visit to some of the acclaimed wineries of the Bellarine Peninsula, including Jack Rabbit Vineyard and Oakdene Vineyards. Additionally, Queenscliff’s Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre offers an educational experience for all ages.
Macedon Ranges (via M2 and C325)
- Distance: 69 km
- Driving Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
The Macedon Ranges is a serene and picturesque region that beautifully marries natural beauty with historic charm, making it one of the best places near Melbourne to visit on a road trip.
The area is best known for Hanging Rock. This ancient volcanic formation offers stunning views and an enigmatic sense of wonder, popularised by Joan Lindsay’s novel ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’. The lush Macedon Regional Park provides ample hiking and bushwalking opportunities, including the popular Camel’s Hump summit.
Macedon Ranges also boasts a thriving wine scene, with boutique wineries like Mount Macedon Winery and Paramoor Winery serving premium cool-climate wines. The Kyneton Botanic Gardens and the intriguing Malmsbury Viaduct are other places you can check out.
If you are a foodie or love shopping, head over to the towns of Woodend or Kyneton, which both offer a delightful blend of art galleries, antique shops, and gourmet eateries.
Yarra Valley (via M3 and Maroondah Hwy)
- Distance: 60 km
- Driving Time: 1 hour
Nestled within the rolling hills of Victoria, a trip to the Yarra Valley Wine Region makes for perfect Melbourne road trips.
Beyond wine, the Yarra Valley is a paradise for food lovers, with farm-to-table experiences, artisanal cheeses, and gourmet dining destinations like Oakridge Wines and Levantine Hill Estate. The Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery is a sweet indulgence not to be missed.
Dendrophiles can explore the towering trees of the Healesville Sanctuary, a wildlife haven home to native Australian animals, or embark on the serene Yarra Valley Ballooning experience, witnessing the valley’s beauty from above.
Not far away, the Dandenong Ranges offers lush rainforests, the iconic Puffing Billy steam train ride, and the quaint village of Sassafras.
Ballarat (via National Highway M8)
- Distance: 115 km
- Driving Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
For those wanting to understand Victoria’s gold rush history, Ballarat is one of the places to visit from Melbourne by car.
Whilst there, visit Sovereign Hill, a living museum that recreates the bustling goldfields of the 1850s. You can try gold panning, explore period-authentic streets, and even witness a spectacular light and sound show retelling the Eureka Rebellion.
The historical architecture of Lydiard Street and the grandeur of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens add to the city’s allure. At the same time, the Ballarat Wildlife Park offers a chance to get up close with native Australian wildlife, from kangaroos to koalas, in a natural and interactive setting.
Art lovers should also enjoy checking out the impressive collection of Australian art – including works from the colonial period to the present – at the Art Gallery of Ballarat.
More Driving Inspiration in Southeast Australia
Whilst all of these destinations make great day trips and weekenders from Melbourne, if you’d like to explore southeastern Australia further, we suggest making it a multi-day (or week!) car hire and check out these fascinating places:
- Drive from Melbourne to Adelaide – either via the Great Ocean Road and the Fleurieu Peninsula or head across outback Victoria.
- Take in more of central Victoria and head to the ACT on this Melbourne to Canberra Drive
- Head to the mountains with this incredible drive along the Great Alpine Road in Victoria
- Why not jump on the ferry from Melbourne and explore Tasmania by car following our self-drive itinerary?
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