There’s certainly no shortage of things to see and do within the Melbourne city limits. This cosmopolitan city is renowned for its lush parks, world-class museums, and hip nightlife. But it also benefits from its natural surroundings, which can easily be explored on a day trip outside the city limits. You don’t have to stray too far to find stunning vistas, whether you fancy a jaunt in the mountains or a breezy ocean drive. The following are a few top-notch options to choose from.

Melbourne skyline

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Yarra Valley

One of the most popular day trips from Melbourne is the pastoral Yarra Valley, an easy drive just an hour away from the city center. Drive through the rolling hills and enjoy the sight of colorful vineyards, stopping off to enjoy tastings of local produce along the way. There are over 70 wineries in the area, and local cellar door restaurants are experts at pairing their wine with gourmet cuisine. Put together a basket of treats and enjoy a picnic before heading back to the city, or stay overnight so that you can properly indulge.

Sydney Melbourne Heritage Drive

Although it’s longer than a day trip, if you have more time on your hands it’s well worth making the drive from Melbourne to Sydney along the Heritage Drive. This covers a distance of nearly 700 miles, during which time you’ll pass through golf courses, gold rush towns, and the stately paddle steamers of the Murray River. Stop off at Canberra on the way if you want to break up the journey, before enjoying all the sights of Sydney.

Great Ocean Road

Another iconic journey from Melbourne is the Great Ocean Road, which hugs the coastline from surfing mecca Torquay to the quaint fishing village of Port Fairy. As you approach the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne, you’ll pass through thick rain forests and rugged cliffs, where you may just spot whales out in the water. A highlight of this journey is undoubtedly the majestic Twelve Apostles rock formations, which just out of the ocean.

Great_ocean_road

Image Source: Summi/Wikimedia Commons

Mount Dandenong

One of the best ways to gain a different view of Melbourne is from above. You can do this by driving up Mount Dandenong, only an hour’s drive away from the city. Ditch the car and take the old-fashioned Puffing Billy steam train, or while away the afternoon in the National Rhododendron Gardens before driving back into town.

Cape Schank

The Mornington Peninsula is another top outdoor destination for visitors to Melbourne, and one of its most worthwhile stopping points is Cape Schank. The Cape is an hour and a half from Melbourne, and the drive is a pleasant one skirting the coastline. Get out of the car once you’ve arrived and take advantage of the reconstructed boardwalk for a nature walk along the beach. Pay a visit to the Cape Schank Lighthouse for a serene view of the water and a taste of local history.

Whether you have a free afternoon or are looking for a longer road trip, these excursions allow you to appreciate the gorgeous scenery that Australia is famous for, from mountains to coast.