Day Trips from Melbourne: Exploring Victoria’s Beautiful Countryside

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10 min Jun 27th, 2024

Lucky for all of us Melbournians, the state of Victoria is a treasure trove of charming towns, lush landscapes, and delightful surprises waiting just beyond the urban sprawl. You can take a leisurely stroll through vineyards, an adventurous road trip, or a serene escape into the wilds of a national park with ease.

Day trips from Melbourne in one of Victoria’s stunning national parks are a ticket to recharge and rediscover the joy of exploration, all without straying too far from home. These are our favourite hidden gems and beloved spots to help you get started.

Melbourne Day Trips

There are plenty of great places to visit in Melbourne, and your adventure can all be done in one day. Here are some of our top recommendations for twenty-four hours of fun.

Daylesford

Daylesford

There’s a reason why Daylesford has earned its reputation as a relaxation refuge. Amidst rolling hills and lush landscapes, this charming town is home to an astounding 80% of Australia’s mineral springs. As we know, natural springs mean rejuvenating spa treatments! Weekenders from Melbourne flock here, and many end up making the “tree change” to call Daylesford home.

If you’re looking to indulge in some fine dining while in Daylesford, Lake House is a must-visit. Perched on the edge of the serene lake it’s named after; this renowned restaurant offers a multi-course menu that changes with the seasons. Everything here is fresh, often sourced from nearby Dairy Flat Farm, which is part of the Lake House mini-empire. The menu is vegetable-forward, showcasing the finest local produce in creative and delicious ways.

If you are just thirsty, a visit to Daylesford Cider is in order. Here, traditional and experimental ciders are crafted from heritage apples grown onsite. Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa is perhaps the most famous spa in the region where you can soak in the therapeutic mineral waters before a walk around Lake Daylesford. Hiking in Melbourne doesn’t get better than a trot around the lake which also provides loads of great places for a picnic. Perfection!

Phillip Island

Phillip Island

Phillip Island, renowned for its enchanting colony of Little Penguins, is a treasure trove of coastal wildlife experiences, cultural events, and a great food and wine scene. Just a couple of hours’ drive from Melbourne, this island offers an idyllic escape filled with natural wonders and delightful culinary treats.

The Wild Food Farm and Café in Rhyl is a charming venue for home-grown bush tucker before a stroll through the farm’s expansive native bushland. From there, head to the Westernport Hotel to sip on a locally brewed Furphy beer while taking in the picturesque views across to the island, then check out the famous Penguin Parade. Every evening at sunset, hundreds of Little Penguins waddle ashore at Summerland Beach, creating a truly magical spectacle. 

You can also try the 5km return Pyramid Rock to Berrys Beach walk. This clifftop trail offers breathtaking views and is mostly flat and easy to navigate, with a few steps and gentle undulations. The path takes you through grassland and along a paved road, with plenty of opportunities to spot wallabies and the ever-present Cape Barren geese. It’s a delightful way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Phillip Island.

Castlemaine

Castlemaine is an arty hub that has blossomed into a vibrant community of artists, musicians, writers, and creatives, making it the perfect destination for your next weekend away. It offers cultural festivals, eclectic activities, and mouth-watering dining experiences that make the journey north well worth it.

If you want to keep things relaxed on your getaway, head over to the Taproom. One of its three owners, Doug Falconer of Hunters and Collectors fame, ensures there’s always a lively music scene, especially on Sundays and most Fridays. Falconer also hosts various events like karaoke, comedy, and trivia nights. With no door charge, the Taproom offers a welcoming atmosphere where you can enjoy craft beers and live tunes without breaking the bank.

Castlemaine Mill

A visit to Castlemaine wouldn’t be complete without exploring the Mill. This 1875 woollen mill has been transformed into a bustling hub of food and artisan manufacturing. The Vintage Bazaar is the main attraction, open seven days a week and filled with unique clothes and homewares.

Hiking Spots from Melbourne

Who said there are no things to do in Melbourne for free? Within a two-hour drive, there are plenty of great hiking spots, and these are some of our must-sees.

You Yangs Regional Park

If you and your furry friend are looking for an adventure not too far from the city, You Yangs Regional Park is your go-to destination. Conveniently situated between Melbourne and Geelong, this dog-friendly park offers a range of hiking trails, with the Flinders Peak Walk standing out as a must-try.

The 3.2-kilometre Flinders Peak Walk is the park’s crowning jewel. Starting and ending at the Turntable Drive car park, this trail takes you to the highest point of the You Yangs. With an elevation rise of about 200 metres and approximately 450 steps, it’s a hike that will get your heart pumping and your legs working. The effort is well worth it, as the panoramic views from the peak are wicked, providing a perfect backdrop for a well-earned rest and some photos with your pup.

What you need to know:

  • Drive time from Melbourne CBD: About 1 hour
  • Duration (return): Approximately 1 hour for the 3.2-kilometre loop
  • Level of difficulty: Medium to hard

Dandenong Ranges National Park

Dandenong Ranges National Park

Hiking in Melbourne doesn’t get better than the Sherbrooke Forest walk in Dandenong Ranges National Park. This hike begins at Grants Picnic Ground, just past the bird feeding enclosure. Start by following the trail marked as the ‘Lyrebird Walk’. 

As you trek along this sometimes-steep path, be sure to keep right at any forks in the trail. This route will take you through lush vegetation, where you might spot a kookaburra or two amidst the verdant surroundings. The beauty of the forest and rich flora and fauna make this hike a refreshing escape from the city.

What you need to know:

  • Drive time from Melbourne CBD: About 1 hour
  • Duration (return): Approximately 2.5 hours for the 6.6-kilometre loop
  • Level of difficulty: Medium

Stay at Veriu VIC

All of these day trips from Melbourne are made easier if you have a well-positioned base camp. We recommend choosing from Punthill Flinders Lane, Veriu at Queen Victoria Markets, or other locations as Punthill Manhattan, Punthill Little Bourke Street and Punthill South Yarra. These spots often make many explorers’ lists of the top places to stay in Melbourne as they are smack-bang in the middle of the action, offering you a great starting point for whichever direction your adventures may take you. Settle in, set up, then get ready to explore.