BEYOND MELBOURNE

Things to do in Victoria

Melbourne is the capital of Victoria, the state that’s wedged into the south-east corner of Australia. If you’ve fallen in love with Melbourne but you’re itching to discover more, here are some of the best things to do in Victoria.

Why visit Victoria?

Australia’s second-smallest state packs quite a punch. Squeezed into a small parcel of land is plenty of rich Indigenous and European history, scenic road trips, tasty wine regions, charming small towns, mind-expanding art galleries, farmland producing delicious local produce, bushland and forests, surf beaches, skiing, watersports, the world’s third-longest navigable river… okay, I think you get the picture.

So, if you have the time to explore beyond Melbourne, take the opportunity to do so.

The regions of Victoria

Victoria is divided up into 12 tourist regions. I’ve got a guide to the best day trips from Melbourne, so you can plan to road trip to these regions or plan a longer weekend away (perhaps in one of these awesome Airbnbs in Victoria).

Melbourne and surrounds

Australia’s second-largest capital city is nicknamed the “Culture Capital” thanks to its art galleries, music scene and reputation as a dining hub.

Check out my guides to Melbourne for inspiration in planning your trip here:

Mornington Peninsula

Just 1.5 hours from Melbourne, this collection of seaside villages has something for everyone, from family-friendly beaches to high-end resort towns to surfing enclaves.

Things to do on the Mornington Peninsula include:

  • Exploring Mornington Peninsula National Park or Point Nepean National Park
  • Chilling out on one of the many beaches and snapping pics in front of colourful bathing boxes
  • Spending a day pampering and relaxing at Peninsula Hot Springs
  • Checking out the wineries around Red Hill
  • Taking in the view from Arthurs Seat

Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula

On the opposite side of the bay to the Mornington Peninsula is the Bellarine Peninsula. Geelong is this region’s gateway city, and the state’s second-largest city is coming into its own as an enclave of art galleries, history and dining.

Don’t miss:

  • Finding unique art pieces on a stroll along the Geelong Waterfront
  • Exploring the charming and historic small coastal towns around the Bellarine Peninsula
  • Relaxing on one or two of the many beaches that dot the coast
  • Visiting the Queenscliff Maritime Museum or Fort Queenscliff to learn more about the local history
  • Visiting the Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre to learn about the deep Aboriginal connection to land

Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges

On Melbourne’s doorstep are a world-renowned wine region and a lush national park.

The Yarra Valley is one of Australia’s premier wine regions, known for its Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc varietals.

In the Dandenong Ranges, great hikes, cute villages and gorgeous gardens offer an escape to nature.

Must-dos in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges include:

  • Wine tasting – of course!
  • Seeing kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, dingoes, platypuses and native birds at Healesville Sanctuary
  • Taking a hot air balloon ride over the Yarra Valley at sunrise
  • Riding the century-old Puffing Billy steam train
  • Exploring the sculptures carved into tree trunks and rocks at tranquil William Ricketts Sanctuary, or wandering through the picturesque Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens
  • Stopping for Devonshire tea in Olinda or Sassafras

Phillip Island

Home to little penguins and motorsports, Phillip Island is a short drive from Melbourne. With plenty to offer, it’s popular with kids and adults alike.

The best things to do in Phillip Island are:

  • Watching the nightly Penguin Parade
  • Spotting seals at Seal Rock
  • Taking a virtual journey to Antarctica
  • Wandering the tree-top boardwalks to see cuddly koalas at the Koala Conservation Reserve
  • Racing a BMW around the Phillip Island Circuit

Daylesford and Macedon Ranges

This region is known for the natural mineral waters that bubble up from the ground, rejuvenating visitors. It’s also got wine, great produce, and waterfalls and hikes.

Don’t miss:

  • Soaking in the historic bathhouse at Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve
  • Checking out funky Convent Gallery, a former convent turned art gallery and café
  • Tasting wines at the cellar doors in the Macedon Ranges region
  • Visiting mysterious Hanging Rock
  • Seeing Victoria’s longest single drop waterfall at Trentham Falls

Goldfields

In the 1800s, the Goldfields region of Victoria brought riches to the state. Today, you can still see the wealth produced in stunning architecture and historic attractions.

Make sure you add to your Victoria itinerary:

  • Visiting Sovereign Hill, a “living museum” that immerses visitors in life in a gold rush township
  • Checking out the Eureka Centre and learning about the Eureka Rebellion
  • Going way underground at the Central Deborah Gold Mine, a former operating mine
  • Seeing the almost 50-metre-high Great Stupa of Universal Compassion
  • Hunting for treasures at one of Castlemaine’s many antique shops

Great Ocean Road

One of the greatest Australian road trips, the Great Ocean Road winds its way along the Victorian coastline. In this region, there’s also a gorgeous a national park and, further inland, farmland producing some great local products.

Make sure you don’t miss:

  • Seeing the famous 12 Apostles – but don’t miss the other formations along the way including Loch Ard Gorge and the Bay of Martyrs
  • Koala spotting around Kennett River or on the road to the Cape Otway Lightstation
  • Watching surfers at Bells Beach
  • Relaxing in the seaside towns of Lorne, Torquay, Apollo Bay and Port Campbell
  • Exploring Great Otway National Park’s lush rainforests and waterfalls

Gippsland

The huge stretch of land that makes up Gippsland encompasses white-sand beaches, remote national parks, fishing villages and plenty of history.

Highlights of Gippsland include:

  • Exploring Wilsons Promontory, including Squeaky Beach and Skull Island
  • Wandering along Ninety Mile beach, one of the longest stretches of sand in the world
  • Hiking through Tarra Bulga National Park’s rainforests and fern gullies
  • Sampling local produce, including wine, cheeses, beers and more

High Country

Victoria’s High Country is a must-visit year-round. In summer there’s great hiking and biking, and in winter it’s time to bring out the skis and hit the slopes.

Don’t miss:

  • Driving the stunning Great Alpine Road
  • Learning about history – including the notorious bushranger Ned Kelly – in small towns like Beechworth
  • Cycling along old railway lines to discover wineries, cheesemakers and honey farmers
  • Skiing in Falls Creek, Mount Hotham, Mount Feathertop and Mount Buffalo

Grampians

To the west of Melbourne, abutting the border with South Australia, is a remote part of Victoria that’s been gifted with plenty of natural beauty.

The best things to do in the Grampians region include:

  • Hiking in Gariwerd (Grampians National Park) and hunting out the best views
  • Learning about First Nations culture and history at the Brambuk Cultural Centre
  • Taking in MacKenzie Falls, a 35-metre waterfall that flows all year round
  • Exploring Aboriginal rock art and shelters – some of which are estimated to be at least 20,000 years old
  • Eating at the historic Royal Mail Hotel 

Murray

Running along the New South Wales border is the great Murray River, the world’s third-longest navigable river. This is a big region with plenty to see and do.

Don’t miss:

  • Riding a paddlesteamer and exploring the historic wharf in Echuca
  • Kayaking, paddleboarding or waterskiing along the Murray River
  • Exploring lesser-known Barmah National Park and Gunbower National Park
  • Tasting local wines in the towns along the river