Melbourne has won most liveable city again for the fifth year in a row, and there’s a reason for it. The city is a combination of art, culture, coffee and food. Oh, yes, and hipsters.
While it’s a great holiday destination, Melbourne is still only just a city, and a city can sometimes tire you out with all its hustle and bustle. Sure, you can take a trip down the Great Ocean Road to visit Victoria’s most famous attraction, the Twelve Apostles. But if you’re on a tighter schedule, there are city getaways closer to Melbourne that you should try to squeeze into your trip.
Go ahead and rent a car; these city getaways are just an hour to one and a half hours’ drive out of Melbourne:
If You Love Food and Wine: Yarra Valley
Ask any Melbournian where the best vineyards are in Victoria and they’ll tell you, without a moment’s hesitation, that it’s Yarra Valley. Just an hour’s drive from Melbourne are some of the most well-known wineries in the country, hot air balloon rides across the valley and amazing restaurants that only use the freshest produce.
If you know absolutely nothing about wine, don’t fret. Most wineries offer wine tasting, with places like Yering Station and Innocent Bystander giving introductions on wine appreciation. Even if you come out of the session none the wiser, you’ll still be able to mimic a connoisseur’s gestures.
For our non-drinker friends, you shouldn’t give Yarra Valley a miss. Yarra Valley Chocolaterie is well and truly a chocolate lover’s dream, with every kind of combination with fruit, chilli and nut imaginable.
Want to meet a koala or feed a kangaroo? The Healesville Sanctuary boasts to have one of the largest wildlife in Australia, and is part of the Melbourne Zoo family.
The best way to get around is by car, or you can sign up for a tour so you can have more than a couple of glasses of wine.
If You’re in the Mood for the Beach: Mornington Peninsula
Popular with Melbournians when weather permits, Mornington Peninsula is home to some of Victoria’s best beaches. You’ll find colourful bathing houses lined along the beachfront, the perfect setting for Instagram photos.
Oh, and once you tire of the beach—as if that would happen!—visit Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm to try your hand at picking a punnet of strawberries or get lost in one of three mazes at Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens. During the colder months, you can soak up in Peninsula Hot Springs to warm up.
Drive to the Arthurs Seat Lookout to get a panoramic view of the peninsula. On the drive up, don’t be surprised to see cyclists pushing hard to ride up the hill—they’re practising for the annual Jayco Herald Sun race.
Mornington Peninsula is another wine region known for its pinot noir. You can go on a wine tasting tour or lunch at a restaurant that uses produce from neighbouring farms, which you can also visit. Check out cheese factory Main Ridge Dairy, vegetable farm Peninsula Fresh Organics or bee farm Pure Peninsula Honey.
Again, the best way around is to drive, but you can also find vineyard or food tours that will take you around the region.
If You Need a Spa Break: Daylesford and Hepburn Springs
Daylesford and Hepburn Springs make up Victoria’s spa town, known for its natural mineral springs and over 30 spas and wellness retreats. It’s only an hour and a half from Melbourne, but you’ll feel like you’re in a whole different country with its serene atmosphere that would remind you a little of Europe.
Visit the Hepburn Springs Bathhouse, a spa right on top of a few mineral springs, for a solo retreat or one with your significant other. You can also try the renowned Lake House or award-winning Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat for mineral baths and treatments.
When you’re all relaxed, go on down to the Lavandula Lavender Farm to have a picnic amongst the lavender or have a lavender-inspired lunch in the cafe. You’re free to wander around the picturesque garden, another picturesque spot for some Instagram time!
Daylesford is also known for its art galleries, with more popular ones like Convent Gallery which was once a convent. Art appreciation can make you hungry, and thankfully, you can’t exactly find bad food here. Cliffy’s Emporium uses only local organic produce while Daylesford Farmers Arms Hotel has a pub food menu that rivals a high-end restaurant.
Of course, there are wineries a short drive up in the Macedon Ranges. This region, unlike Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula, is known more for its sparkling wines.
The only way to get up to Daylesford and Hepburn Springs is by car, so if you can’t drive, find someone who can to go on this trip together.
If You Have More Time…
There are other places further out of Melbourne to visit, like gold-mining town Bendigo and beach town Lorne, but if you have a little more time, we recommend that you book a night or two nights’ accommodation at the places we’ve mentioned above.
Not only will you come back to the city refreshed, you’ll also get to really explore and visit their attractions and dine at some of the best restaurants Victoria has to offer.