Where to go in Victoria

Trying to decide where to go in Victoria? Well, you have plenty of choice with two UNESCO sites, snowfields and goldfields, 692 beaches and some of the best food in the country. We have shared five things to do in each of the state’s regions so you can narrow things down for your next trip.

The must-see spots in Victoria

Victoria is divided into 12 tourism regions, and unlike some of the larger states, you can cover quite a few on day trips using the capital Melbourne as a base.

  • Melbourne – Art, culture, sport and events are the order of the day in Victoria’s capital city
  • Daylesford and Macedon Ranges – Hepburn Springs and spa country
  • Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges – Healesville Sanctuary and wine
  • Mornington Peninsula – Melbourne’s best beaches and its own wine industry
  • Phillip Island – Penguin Parade and Phillip Island Circuit
  • Geelong and Bellarine region – The state’s second largest city and home of beer, wine and beaches
  • Great Ocean Road – 12 Apostles and the Shipwreck Coast
  • The Goldfields – Bendigo and Ballarat and their historic beauty
  • The Grampians – Waterfalls, wildlife and hiking
  • The High Country – Ski fields and cycling
  • Gippsland – 90 Mile Beach and Wilson’s Promontory
  • The Murray – Australia’s longest river

Melbourne

Australia’s second-biggest city and the unofficial sporting and cultural capital of the country, Melbourne has been named the most liveable city in the world six times! With hundreds of small bars and just as many world-class restaurants added to lots of natural beauty, there is much to love here.

Deborah Halpern sculpture named Angel on the Yarra River Melbourne
“Angel” by Deborah Halpern on the Yarra riverfront

Top 5 things to do on your first visit to Melbourne:

  • Stroll the laneways discovering small bars and cafes
  • Check out some of the city’s best street art
  • Tour the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Australian Museum of Sport
  • Ride the tram to St Kilda Beach and eat cake
  • Do some shopping – it’s the best in the country

Local Tip: Take a Small Bar Tour on the first day you arrive for a week’s worth of places to visit!

With 244 km of track and over 450 trams, Melbourne is home to the most extensive tram system outside of Europe and the 4th largest in the world.

We have written about our favourite areas to stay in Melbourne that you might find helpful for your planning.

Daylesford and Macedon Ranges

Spa country, only 108km from North West Melbourne, Daylesford is perfect for a romantic getaway or a fun girl’s weekend of indulgence. The area is a paradise in autumn.

Autumn landscape with long staircase and footpath. Alfred Nicholas Gardens, Australia
Autumn leaves at Alfred Nicholas Gardens.

Top places to visit in Daylesford:

  • Hepburn Springs
  • Lake Daylesford – Do the ‘Peace Mile’ Walk
  • Wombat Hill Botanic Garden
  • Visit Trentham Falls – one of the biggest in Victoria
  • Alfred Nichols Gardens – stunning any time of year but especially in autumn.

Local tip: If you visit on a Sunday, set aside some time to visit the weekly Daylesford Market from 8.30am-3pm.

Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges

Only one hour from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley has over 90 cellar doors to visit and a cool climate perfect for a foodie escape. Once you have eaten your fill, there are some great walking tracks to burn off some of the calories.

Puffing Billy Day Trip Melbourne
Puffing Billy vintage steam train

Top things to do in the Yarra and Dandenongs:

  • Bushwalking – the 1000 Steps Track is popular and not as challenging as it sounds.
  • Visit the town of Emerald and famous the Puffing Billy steam train
  • Take in the view from Skyhigh Mt Dandenong
  • Explore William Ricketts Sanctuary – a stunning Sculpture Park

Local tip: Pop into Habituel for great coffee and delicious pastries.

Related: Check out our guide on the walking trails near Melbourne

Mornington Peninsula

The Mornington Peninsula is a popular holiday spot for Melbournians, with both bay and ocean-facing beaches and a growing wine scene in the hinterland.

An aerial photo of Sorrento back beach (view from Coppins lookout).
Sorrento back beach from Coppins lookout

The top 3 sites along the peninsula are:

  • Sorrento and Portsea beaches
  • Point Nepean National Park
  • Cape Schanck – a perfect sunset location
  • Millionaires Walk – See how the lucky locals live in Sorrento
  • Arthurs Seat – for the best views over the area

Local tip: If you missed the beach boxes in Brighton, don’t worry, you will find them scattered right along this coast.

Phillip Island

Most people head to Phillip Island to see the fairy penguins who walk up the beach every night, but the island offers more. The island hosts the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix each October.

Viewing platform at Phillip Island Victoria
Credit: Phillip Island Nature Parks

The major attractions on Phillip Island include:

  • Penguin Parade – witness the nightly march up the beach
  • Koala Conservation Centre – Meet the Koalas on treetop boardwalks
  • Churchill Island – Hike or cycle this gorgeous island
  • Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit Visitor Centre – Rent a go kart or tour the circuit and explore the collection of memorabilia
  • Wander the Whale Discovery Trail.

Local tip: If you don’t have a car, consider booking a tour because it’s a colossal pain to get here by public transport!

Geelong and Bellarine region

Just one hour from Melbourne and home to the state’s second airport, Geelong has emerged as a popular area in its own right. With lots of family attractions and the Bellarine Food Trail will keep your tastebuds satisfied.

Geelong Waterfront Bollard Art
Geelong Waterfront Bollard Art – there are 48 artworks to discover

Popular things to do near Geelong include:

  • Take a walk in You Yangs National Park
  • Visit the Eastern Beach
  • Check out the Geelong Bollards – reclaimed timber pier pylons turned into art
  • Learn about the local First Nations people at the Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre
  • Meet the animals at Werribee Zoo

Local tip: If you are in town overnight, check out Alma for dinner and order the croquettes and the fennel salad!

Great Ocean Road

This is one spot in Victoria that likely needs no introduction, the best-known road trip in Australia and one we highly recommend. Listed on the National Heritage register but surprisingly not yet a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Bay of Martyrs Great Ocean Road
Bay of Martyrs along the Great Ocean Road

Things you must see on the Great Ocean Road:

  • Lorne
  • Kennett River Park – meet the local koalas
  • Apollo Bay
  • Cape Otway Lighthouse
  • Port Campbell National Park – home of the Twelve Apostles

Check out our two-day itinerary for visiting the Great Ocean Road. You can also drive from Melbourne to Perth via the Great Ocean Road.

The Goldfields

It was the activity in the goldfields in the 1850s that gave Melbourne its grand buildings and bought the state many new residents from around the world.

Ballarat HIstory Tour
Outside the Ballarat Times office at Sovereign Hill

Don’t miss these towns:

  • Bendigo – ride on the talking tram.
  • Ballarat – home of the living history site Sovereign Hill
  • Castlemaine – a small town with plenty of art and architecture.
  • Maldon – awarded the ‘most intact heritage streetscape’ by the National Trust.
  • Dunolly – the home of the 69 kilogram ‘Welcome Stranger’ gold nugget

Local tip: Head to Hydrant Food Hall in Ballarat and order Hydrant 3.0 for breakfast – you won’t be disappointed!

The Grampians

Perhaps best known as a bushwalking and rock climbing paradise, the Grampians, known as Gariwerd by local First Nations people, also offer strong links with indigenous culture and art.

The Wonderland Hike in the Grampians National Park.
The Wonderland Hike in the Grampians National Park.

Key towns in the Grampians region:

  • Ararat – a former gold mining town turned food and wine region
  • Halls Gap – the central town on the Grampians region and a great base
  • Stawell – historic gold mining town and gateway to the Grampians
  • Pomonal –  slopes of the Mount William, with a stunning wildflower season

Local tip: Gariwerd (Grampians) region has a rich First Nation history. Be sure to visit Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre to learn more.

The High Country

Mountains, rivers, lakes and small country towns, the high country is an adventure-lovers’ paradise. Skiing, horse riding, cycling and hiking are all high on the agenda here. However, you can just as easily spend your days in here wandering cute villages and strolling pretty country streets.

Mt Hotham village after fresh snow on a clear winter's day.
Mt Hotham village after fresh snow

Popular spots in the High Country include:

  • Bright – a gateway town to the snowfields and popular for summer and winter adventure sports
  • Beechworth – a well preserved historic centre and links to both Ned Kelly and Bourke of Bourke and Wills fame.
  • Rutherglen – another of Victoria’s wine districts
  • Lake Eildon – for water sports, fishing and hiking
  • Mount Hotham and Falls Creek – National Alpine Museum of Australia

Local tip: Be sure to drop into the Beechworth Bakery for a pie!

Gippsland

From the outskirts of Melbourne to the NSW border, Gippsland is a diverse region with vast areas of wilderness and plenty of small towns to explore. Outside of summer holidays, the region can be perfect for quiet escapes with lots of places to find your own patch of paradise without the crowds.

A beach on Wilsons Promontory, Victoria, Australia.
You are spoilt for choice with beaches at Wilsons Promontory

Things to see in and around Gippsland:

  • Street art in Yarram – The town Heesco painted
  • Wilsons Promontory – The southernmost tip of mainland Australia
  • 90 Mile Beach – or 151km beach if you prefer
  • Lakes Entrance – Buy some fresh fish and throw it on the barbie
  • Cape Conran – meet the local bandicoots, wombats and potoroos

Local tip: Be sure to make a trip to the lookout at Mount Oberon for the best views over Squeaky Beach

The Murray

In the 1800s, the Mighty Murray River, the longest in Australia, was a bustling place with boats taking goods and guests to its far reaches. If you have ever dreamt of spending the night on a houseboat or a paddle steamer, this is the perfect spot for you!

Emmylou Murray River Victoria
Ride the Emmylou along the Murray River

Key stops you should try to visit along the Murray River include:

  • Echuca – view or ride on the largest fleet of paddle steamers in the world.
  • Swan Hill – history lovers will enjoy the Pioneer Settlement town.
  • Mildura – the biggest city in the region and one gateway to Mungo National Park in NSW
  • Cactus Country – home to 10,000 cacti and succulents
  • Wodonga/Albury – these border towns are home to a thriving arts scene and some great indigenous attractions

Local tip: If you find yourself near Corowa, drop into Corowa Whisky & Chocolate. You won’t regret it!