The best way to explore the variety of landscapes in Victoria is on a road trip. Whether driving along the spectacular Great Ocean Road, or admiring the jaw-dropping views on the Great Alpine Road, there’s an endless amount of road trips in Victoria to get out into nature and discover the different region’s of the state.
Whether here or overseas, there’s something special about exploring the countryside on a road trip. And I’ve been lucky enough to take many road trips around Victoria, visiting various national parks and historic towns.
This guide will breakdown the 8 best road trips in Victoria, from famed roads to more secluded hidden gems. Whether you have a long weekend or a week to spare, these road trips will take you through the best parts of the state.
Best Time to Road Trip Victoria
Summer is undoubtedly the season where Victoria comes to life. It’s the warmest and nicest time of the year to enjoy the outdoors and go for a road trip. However, this is also the busiest time to explore the state, with most towns crowded with visitors and accommodation booked out in advance.
This is why I tend to opt for spring or autumn when it comes to road trips in Victoria. This is when the weather is more mild and the crowds have well and truly gone home. If I had to choose, I would say autumn presents the best weather, as you can still get some warm days on the coast.
Tips for Road Tripping in Victoria
- Don’t forget roadside assistance and/or travel insurance as you never know what might happen along the way
- Download Petrol Spy or similar app to find the cheapest fuel on the way, as some of the fuel stations charge a lot more on the coast
- If you do road trip during summer, be prepared for plenty of crowds with campgrounds and accommodation often booked out well in advance, so plan ahead
- Avoid driving at night as this is the most dangerous time to drive, especially with wildlife on the road. Ensure you reach camp or a town before sunset
- Use the Wikicamp app to find camping spots or booking.com to find accommodation in any of the towns
Road Trip Packing Essentials
- Reusable coffee cup
- Reef safe sunscreen
- First aid kit
- Refillable water bottle
- Walking shoes
- Day pack
- Healthy snacks
Best Road Trips in Victoria
If you’re looking to hit the road and explore Victoria this summer, then I highly recommend going on one of these road trips. From famous coastal routes like the Great Ocean Road to lesser known gems of regional Victoria like the Silo Art Trail, these roads trips explore a different part of the state.
A couple of important things to note. These recommendations below are assuming that you’ll begin your road trip in Melbourne, but you could easily alter them based on where you live. These trips are also ideal for those who have longer than a weekend to dedicate to a trip; most of them cover a few hundred kilometres which would be too rushed for a weekend.
1. Great Ocean Road
Distance: 380 km one way
Recommended time: 2-5 days
Kicking the list off with the most famous road trip of them all; the Great Ocean Road. Traditionally stretching 240km from Torquay to Allansford on the southwest coast of Victoria, the Great Ocean Road is regularly considered one of the most spectacular coastal roads in the world.
Winding its way along the surf breaks and dramatic cliffs of the coast west of Melbourne, the road is much more varied than most think. It takes in pretty coastal towns, golden beaches, limestone sea stacks, waterfalls, dense rainforest, and pine plantations.
The biggest question is how long does it take to drive the Great Ocean Road. While you can technically do it in a weekend, I highly recommend allowing 4-5 days to really appreciate it. Popular overnight stops along the road include Lorne, Apollo Bay and Port Campbell, which you could easily spend one night in each. Or, continue to Port Fairy past Warrnambool, if you have time for an extra night.
For more in-depth guides for the Great Ocean Road, check these out:
- Ultimate Road Trip on the Great Ocean Road
- A Weekend Guide to Torquay
- 10 Best Walks on the Great Ocean Road
- 8 Best Sunset Spots on the Great Ocean Road
- 9 Best Waterfalls on the Great Ocean Road
- 15 Best Campsites on the Great Ocean Road
- 12 Unique Places to Stay on the Great Ocean Road
- Complete Guide to the Great Ocean Walk
- A Weekend Guide to Port Fairy
Alternative return: Head up to the Grampians National Park and head back to Melbourne from there, see #7 below.
2. Gippsland Coast – Melbourne to Mallacoota
Distance: 650 km one way (without side trips to Phillip Island and Wilsons Prom)
Recommended time: 5-10 days
A little more rugged and wild than the Great Ocean Road, the Gippsland coast runs the full length of Victoria’s coast from Melbourne to Mallacoota/NSW border on the eastern side of the state.
It’s a lengthy drive and the roads don’t hug the coastline like they do on the Great Ocean Road. However, there’s plenty of opportunities to explore long beaches, surf breaks, coastal forest, and pretty towns.
If you take the South Gippsland Highway east of Melbourne, which then joins with the Princes Highway A1 in Sale, it’s roughly 650km to reach Mallacoota. This could probably be done in a 3-4 day road trip with stops at Foster, Paynesville or Lakes Entrance, and Orbost. However, I’d highly recommend adding a few extra days and allowing for detours to Phillip Island and Wilsons Prom.
Day 1-2: Head to Cowes on Phillip Island
Day 3-5: Explore Wilsons Prom
Day 6: Continue to Yarram and take a few hours to explore Tarra-Bulga National Park
Day 7-8: Spend a night or two in Paynesville or Lakes Entrance near the Gippsland Lakes National Park
Day 9: Stop in Orbost, Marlo and Cape Conran to explore the mouth of the Snowy River
Day 10: Mallacoota
Potential extension: Continue over the border into NSW and explore the South Coast or on your way back to Melbourne head up to the High Country on the Great Alpine Road from Bairnsdale see #5 below
Read more: Ultimate Melbourne to Sydney Road Trip Itinerary (coastal route)
3. Silo Art Trail in Northwest Victoria
Distance: 870 km loop
Recommended time: 4 days
For something a little unique, head up to northwest regional Victoria to explore the Silo Art Trail. This road trip in the Wimmera Mallee region is considered the largest outdoor gallery in Australia, with impressive murals painted on eight different grain silo sites across a number of rural towns.
The trail now extends from Rupanyup up to Patchewollock and across to Nullawil in North West Victoria (towns I’m sure you’ve never heard of!). It’s been credited with breathing new life into these small rural towns which had otherwise very little appeal to visitors. While it might not have stunning views like other road trips on this list, it does offer an insight into the important grain growing region of the state with hundreds of kilometres of wheat, barley, rye and legumes.
To complete a loop road trip from the city, I recommend heading from Melbourne to Brim, then the next day from Brim to Sea Lake. From Sea Lake, down to Bendigo and then return to Melbourne the following day. It’s the perfect long weekend road trip, if you don’t mind stopping at multiple silo art sites along the way. To find out where to stop on the Silo Art Trail, make sure you read my complete guide below.
Additional side trips: You could easily add a few days in the Grampians National Park to the beginning of this road trip see #7 below, and then add a few days exploring the Goldfields and Macedon Ranges on the way back see #4 below
4. Historic Goldfields Drive – Ballarat and Bendigo
Distance: 400 km loop
Recommended time: 3-5 days
An iconic road trip into regional Victoria wouldn’t be complete without including the powerhouse towns of Bendigo and Ballarat. This road trip trip will take you back in time to the 19th century, through the history of the Gold Rush in Victoria.
First stop has to be Ballarat, just 1.5 hours’ drive from Melbourne. Ballarat quickly became a thriving boomtown that had huge wealth and influence in the 1850s. Today, you can still see plenty of remnants of the gold rush, especially at Sovereign Hill. While the streets in the town centre are now home to trendy cafes, restaurants, and shops.
Heading north from Ballarat, you’ll definitely want to stop in Daylesford for a night. The iconic weekend getaway in the Macedon Ranges, Daylesford is known for its quaint streets filled with boutique stores and natural hot springs and spas that has earned it a reputation as the wellness centre of Victoria.
Then, drive through Castlemaine and head to Bendigo, another historic gold town from the 1850s. What was once a thriving city has become a regional hub, with a rich arts and culture focus. The centre still boasts old gold rush era architecture, plus art galleries and gastropubs making it a nice place to spend the night before heading back to Melbourne.
5. Great Alpine Road Trip
Distance: 590 km one way (Melbourne to Wangaratta via Bairnsdale and Bright)
Recommended time: 3-4 days
The ultimate mountain road trip in Victoria is the Great Alpine Road, running from Bairnsdale on the Gippsland coast all the way up through the Alpine National Park to Wangaratta in northern Victoria. This windy, steep road is an unforgettable journey through the Victorian Alps and is a great way to approach the towns of Bright and Myrtleford.
If you want to complete the full road trip, then you have to drive out east of Melbourne to Bairnsdale in Gippsland. From there, you can jump onto the Great Alpine Road as it heads north snaking it’s way along the Tambo River to Omeo.
From the historic town of Omeo, you can continue on the Great Alpine Road up to the ski fields of Dinner Plain and Hotham. In summer, this road is spectacular, with some of the best mountain views you’ll get in the state and is fairly quiet most of the time. However, in winter, you’ll have to carry snow chains and pay entry into the resort areas.
From Hotham, the road steeply winds down to the beautiful towns of Harrietville and Bright, before eventually reaching Wangaratta. You could easily do this drive in 2-3 days if you wanted, although I recommend around 4.
From Wangaratta, you’ve got plenty of options to explore the pretty town of Beechworth or the foodie destination of Milawa, before heading back to Melbourne.
To form a loop back to Melbourne: From Wangaratta, head down through Whitfield and the King Valley to Mansfield and back to Melbourne via Black Spur Drive see #6 below
6. Black Spur Drive to Lake Eildon and Mount Buller
Distance: 250 km one way (from Melbourne to Mount Buller)
Recommended time: 3-4 days
If you want to combine the mountains with good food and wine, then this road trip is unbeatable. Taking you through the Yarra Valley to the top of the Victorian Alps in a short time, it packs a lot of punch in a short 3-4 days.
From Melbourne, drive up to Healesville on Maroondah Highway and then continue on the famous Black Spur Road up to Marysville. The following day, head to Eildon to admire the beautiful view of one of the largest artificial lakes in the state.
Then continue to the regional town of Mansfield, from where you can drive up to Mount Buller. This beautiful, zig zagging drive is stunning in summer, as it takes you through the lush forest on the slopes of Mount Buller, culminating in panoramic views from the top (which requires a shot walk to reach h the actual summit).
Despite the short length of this road trip, there are plenty of things to explore along the way if you have the time. Healesville, Marysville and Mansfield are all worthy places to spend a night to explore a bit more around these pretty towns.
Some guides that might help:
- 10 Best Walks in the Yarra Ranges National Park
- Best Lake Mountain Walks to Do This Summer
- Discovering the Waterfalls on Lady Talbot Drive in Marysville
- A Guide to Hiking in the Cathedral Ranges State Park
- Summer Guide to Mount Buller Hikes
- Local’s Guide to Marysville
This road trip offers a taste of the Victorian High Country, which you could easily extend into the King Valley or further to Wangaratta and Bright.
7. Melbourne to Grampians National Park
Distance: 335 km one way (Melbourne to Dunkeld and then Halls Gap)
Recommended time: 3 days
One of my favourite places in Victoria, a road trip to the Grampians National Park is a must. This road trip is more about the destination than the journey, as I recommend you head straight from Melbourne to Dunkeld in the southern Grampians on the first day.
This gives you enough time to explore the southern Grampians, before driving up to Halls Gap and spending a couple of days there. If you have time, I recommend also driving up to the northern Grampians from Halls Gap and then driving back to the city via Stawell and Ararat.
Exploring the Grampians is all about the walks and waterfalls within the park. Depending on your fitness level and enthusiasm, there’s hikes to do for all different people. Check out my guide to the best walks in the Grampians National Park to find something to suit you.
You can also find some incredible places to stay in Dunkeld and Halls Gap, from caravan parks to secluded eco lodges within nature. Check out my top 10 uniques places to stay in the Grampians.
8. Port Phillip Bay Loop
Distance: 230 km loop
Recommended time: 3 days
This is somewhat of a unique road trip idea on this list, but it’s something that is super easy to do to escape the city without actually going too far. The Port Phillip Bay Loop can be done in either direction, but follows the coast down to Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula, before crossing over on the ferry to Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula and heading up to Geelong and back to the city.
Along the way, there’s plenty of opportunities to go for a surf, walk or swim in the many beautiful beaches. This could easily be done in a day, but I would recommend taking at least a weekend or long weekend so you can stop on the way. Sorrento or Ocean Grove are nice options to spend the night.
Want to Explore More of Victoria?
- 15 Best Campgrounds in Victoria (Paid Campgrounds)
- 20 Best Free Camping Spots in Victoria
- Ultimate 1 Week Melbourne to Adelaide Road Trip Itinerary
- 10 Best Day Hikes in the Victorian High Country