The coffee (and cultural) capital of Australia, Melbourne is a mecca of all things tasty and hip. The city’s hidden laneways covered in colourful street art are home to speakeasy bars, cafes and galleries. This is a city where you should expect the unexpected, from funky food pop ups to contemporary art. Days here begin with the best flat whites around and end at a slick rooftop bar, watching the sun go down over Melbourne’s skyline.
Melbourne is famous for its markets, which sell everything from local produce to arts and crafts and vintage goods. A must-visit is the Queen Victoria Markets, which is the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere. Sports lovers are looked after too, with iconic sports events taking place year-round.
Not only is Melbourne cool with a capital “K”, in just under one hour, you can be a million miles away from the city – knee deep in nature. You’re just a short drive away from world-class wineries, mineral springs, mountains, rainforests and ocean views. Bliss.
Renting a car in Melbourne is a superb way to see Australia’s beaches, wine regions and of course, the city itself. Take note of these useful driving tips:
Within a few hours of Melbourne, this is no doubt one of the world’s most scenic drives. The star attraction on the Great Ocean Road are the 12 Apostles. The 230km drive will take you about 3 hours, but we suggest stopping off at points along the way and making an overnight out of the trip with a beach house stay in Torquay or Lorne.
For a return day trip from Melbourne, spin out to the Yarra Valley; it’s just a 3 hours return drive to Melbourne. There’s over 70 world-renowned wineries in the region, as well as organic farm stalls selling local produce. Finish your day trip at Healesville Sanctuary, which is home to more than 200 species of native animals, including kangaroos, wallabies, platypus, and even the Tasmanian devil.
Daylesford – or Victoria’s ‘Spa Country’, is just under 2-hours’ drive north from Melbourne CBD. Famous for its hot springs, you can spend the day relaxing at mineral springs and spas wineries, art galleries, country pubs and cafes. The best thing about this day trip is that you can spend an entire day indulging and still be back in the city in time for dinner.
Highly regarded as one of Australia’s greatest drives, the Back Spur Drive is a magical route via rainforest, towering trees and ferns, with amazing valley views. The route cuts through the forest landscape of the Yarra Ranges, connecting the Yarra Valley with mountainous Marysville. Lower the windows to breathe in that rich forest air and gaze up at the tree canopy above.
Break free of city traffic on this 229 km round trip from Melbourne. You’ll tour through wine country and coastline, stopping off for a picnic at Brisbane Ranges National Park or a bite to eat at one of the many waterfront eateries in Geelong. From here, continue on to the Victorian seaside town of Queenscliff, passing wine estates en route. Your journey will end at the beach at Barwon Heads.
Who could pass up an opportunity to see penguins up close? Phillip Island is home to the legendary Penguin Parade, which is when the island’s 32,000 little penguins come back ashore after a busy day fishing. You can enjoy cliffside walks and whale watching before settling down at the tiered seating Summerland Beach for a 180-degree of the penguins.
Hit the slopes at Mount Buller, which is just 3 hours drive from Melbourne. Mount Buller has the best lift system of all the Victorian ski resorts, with 22 lifts bringing visitors to more than 300 hectares of skiable terrain. If you’re all skied out, the village has a cute spa and shops, as well as a fun toboggan park for kids.