We all need a break from city life – even when that city’s as cool as somewhere like Melbourne. Here are some of our favourite easy Melbourne weekend getaways that will give you that sense of escape without you having to travel too far.
Victoria is Australia’s smallest mainland state. Because of this, things are packed in tight and a weekend escape from Melbourne doesn’t mean hours and hours spent in the car or an unending featureless landscape on your drive.
In fact, in spite of being a small state, Victoria has a dazzling range of climates, landscapes and destination options.
From surf beaches to wine country to ski fields to quaint country towns surrounded by forests.
It’s all here.
We thought we’d share a few ideas of where we’d go for a weekend away from the city.
10 easy Melbourne weekend getaways
Distances and travel time are based on driving out of central Melbourne.
1. City by the sea – St Kilda
16mins / 10km south of Melbourne
More of a staycation than a true getaway, St Kilda offers that holiday feeling without having to travel far from the city. In fact, you can even get here on the tram.
Though asking someone who lives, say, in Fitzroy if they fancy a trip to St Kilda is like suggesting a trip to the moon. We know; we’ve tried it!
But home to Melbourne’s closest beaches at the top of Port Philip Bay, St Kilda does feel a lot further away than it really is.
Here are a few food and to-do tips from our time in St Kilda, and if you’re looking for a place to stay, we quite liked the Cosmopolitan Hotel – here’s our review.
While you’re there, make sure you visit the botanic gardens and try to ignore Melbourne’s version of Old King Cole that is amazingly creepier than Sydney’s Luna Park face.
2. Wind down in the mountains – the Dandenongs
50 mins / 45km east of Melbourne
This low-alpine region is surprisingly close to Melbourne and the perfect place for a recharge retreat.
Not so far from the madding crowds of the city, mountain villages like Olinda and Sassafras offer incredible views along with warm welcomes, delicious local food and interesting, quaint shops.
As well as the scenery and beautiful gardens, the Dandenongs have some fun scenic drives through the mountains as well as Puffing Billy, the heritage steam train that’s now a national treasure.
3. Visit the vineyards – Buxton & Yarra Valley
1hr / 65km north-east of Melbourne
Melbourne’s closest wine region is not only convenient, its vineyards turn out some really great wine and welcoming cellar doors.
The landscape of the Yarra’s rolling hills also hides a number of towns and villages well worth visiting. Here’s an intro into a few of the main ones.
As well as the wine, the Yarra is home to some excellent restaurants and is an ideal spot for a romantic getaway. The Coldstream Trail highlights some of the best producers in the region; breweries, wineries, dairies and restaurants – all within an easy drive of each other.
And if you’re more interested in getting out and about, this region is full of hikes and top cycling routes too.
4. Life’s a beach – Torquay
80mins / 105km south of Melbourne
With that perfect combination of flat-water swimming beaches and the rolling waves of some of Australia’s most prestigious surf spots near at hand, Torquay is the perfect seaside retreat.
Its little town is full of interesting shops, cafes and bakeries, and there are plenty of comfortable waterfront holiday homes to get you into that chilled beachy vibe.
While you’re on the coast here, you’re also not far from Port Philip Bay. Queenscliff is well worth the quick drive east and if you have the time, you can even get the car ferry over to the Mornington Peninsula.
5. Get to the point – Mornington Peninsula
80mins / 100km south of Melbourne
A thin finger of land marking the eastern jaw of Port Philip Bay and the coast, the Mornington is a stunning part of the country that’s somehow regional and developed at the same time.
Here you’ll find a rare blend of country friendliness with world-class restaurants.
Mornington wineries make superb Chardonnay and Pinot, and their cellar doors are often decorated with impressive sculpture gardens.
Many also have magnificent views of the coast that gives the wine its particular flavour.
6. Onsen hot springs – Daylesford and Hepburn
90mins / 110km north-west of Melbourne
One of the real pearls of rural Victoria, Daylesford is a stunning country town surrounded by beautiful scenery, waterfalls and woodland.
Its neighbouring town, Hepburn, is famous for its hot springs.
More like a Japanese onsen town, Hepburn makes the most of its unique access to the majority (82%) of Australia’s natural hot springs offering visitors a relaxing spa opportunity.
And if you want to extend that Japanese onsen feel even further, stay at the Shizuka Ryokan.
For more information about Daylesford and why it’s so good, here’s our guide.
7. Mountains, forests and romance – Marysville
1h 40mins / 95km north-east of Melbourne
Once a honeymoon hotspot, Marysville suffered terribly as the epicentre of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. Now back on its feet, the town is even stronger than ever.
The drive into town is a spectacle in itself – the famous Black Spur with its towering trees and winding alpine roads make for a great drive. Something out of Jurassic Park.
Staying at the Marysville Vibe Hotel will keep you central as well as near one of the best restaurants in town. Not far from town is also the start of the Victorian ski fields, which are well worth the visit even in summer.
8. Foodie heaven – King Valley
3hrs / 280km north of Melbourne
For local food and incredible produce, you can’t really go wrong with the King Valley.
While you’re in the area, why not pop into Glenrowan and say hi to the giant Ned Kelly – the town of course being the site of the Kelly Gang’s infamous last stand.
You can find more details about King Valley and all its foodie goodies in our story here.
9. Quaint and historic – Beechworth
3hrs / 285km north of Melbourne
Thanks to its gold rush history and the concerted efforts of its citizens, Beechworth has a beautifully maintained 1850s aesthetic.
It’s pubs and cafes (make sure you check out Collective for Melbourne-quality coffee) will keep you fed and watered, while the shops on its quaint main street will entertain.
These days, Beechworth has swapped out one type of gold for another; its honey is a national favourite and the Beechworth Honey shop has a delicious range of honey from all different flowers.
10. Drive the Great Ocean Road – Apollo Bay to Port Fairy
2h 35m south-west to Apollo Bay from Melbourne then 3hrs west to Port Fairy
For a more extended roadtrip-style break, this old favourite is our kind of drive. From Melbourne, Apollo Bay is two hours and 35 minutes away direct from the city, and the beautiful Twelve Apostles are not far on from that. But you can pick up the Great Ocean Road anywhere from Torquay.
From the Twelve Apostles, the drive becomes more remote and dramatic, and stopping at Port Fairy – about three hours from Apollo Bay – makes for a relaxing five-hour drive.
You can either base yourself in this pretty little coastal town or in Warrnambool – the biggest town in the area – a few kilometres back.
Either way, the drive down this iconic road is the sort of thing memories are made of and a must for anyone who loves the Australian landscape.
Do you have a favourite place to visit in Victoria? Where do you go when you’re looking for a city escape?