The Best Destinations in Victoria, Australia

Phillip Island, home to Red Rocks Beach, is one of many must-see destinations in Victoria
Phillip Island, home to Red Rocks Beach, is one of many must-see destinations in Victoria | © Christine Gates / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Tom Smith
22 June 2021

Victoria might be the smallest state on mainland Australia, but it manages to cram a lot of great destinations into its 238,000sqkm (91,892sqmi). From the peak of Mount Buller to the depths of Port Phillip Bay and the largest city in the state, Melbourne, these are the best places to visit in Victoria.

Melbourne

Architectural Landmark
Map View
City of Melbourne. Cityscape image of Melbourne, Australia during twilight blue hour.
© Rudi1976 / Alamy Stock Photo

The capital city of Victoria is also the Australian capital of food, culture, shopping and sport. Melbourne is the first port of call for many visitors to the state, and what an introduction it provides. Join the masses at a game of footy at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, sip on speciality coffee in one of the moody inner-city laneways, grab a table at one of the world-renowned eateries and shop until you drop in one of the quaint Victorian-era arcades.

Phillip Island

Natural Feature
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The Pinnacles, Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia
© Charlie Raven / Alamy Stock Photo

After spending a few days in Melbourne, many international travellers make a beeline two hours down the road to Phillip Island for one reason only: penguins. People fill the viewing platform at the Penguin Parade to catch a glimpse of the adorable little penguins scampering across the sand at Summerland Beach. However, there’s more to Phillip Island. Petrolheads will enjoy the Phillip Island Circuit, and surfers will love the breaks at Cape Woolamai and Berrys Beach.

The Grampians

Natural Feature
Map View
A guy standing on reeds lookout in the Grampians national park, Australia
© David Chrastek / Alamy Stock Photo
There’s no shortage of reasons to visit this rugged sandstone mountain range that’s a three-hour drive west of Melbourne. The Grampians offers the best bushwalking terrain in Victoria, an array of native Australian plants and animals, a rich Indigenous history that includes caves with ancient rock art, and a burgeoning gourmet food and drink scene in towns such as Halls Gap and Ararat.

Torquay

Historical Landmark
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View of a beach at Torquay, Australia
© Pavel Dudek / Alamy Stock Photo

This town marks the official start of the Great Ocean Road, but don’t be too quick to jump behind the wheel and cruise along the most scenic touring route in Australia. Torquay is one of the premier surfing destinations in the country. It’s the birthplace of Rip Curl and Quiksilver, the home of the Australian National Surfing Museum and the venue of the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach every Easter.

Port Fairy

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Boats moored on the Moyne River at Port Fairy on the Great Ocean Road  Victoria Australia
© Robyn Charnley / Alamy Stock Photo

At the other end of the Great Ocean Road is a charming village that’s almost as pretty as the 240km (149mi) of coastal scenery you’ve just cruised past. Port Fairy itself looks like a postcard, with little stone cottages and quiet wharves shaded by towering Norfolk pine trees. There’s also the birdlife on Griffiths Island, the whales cruising along the coast, the miles of untouched coastline and the famous links golf course.

Daylesford

Spa
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Lake Daylesford
© Andrew Bain / Alamy Stock Photo
This peaceful town at the foot of the Great Dividing Range sits on top of an extinct volcano, which explains the natural springs for which Daylesford is famous. This spa town is perfect for a blissed-out weekend escape from busy Melbourne, inviting you to put your feet up and pamper yourself at one of the dozens of serene day spas, luxury resorts and upscale eateries.

Mount Buller

Natural Feature
Map View
Mount Buller ski fields in Victoria after record snow falls, Australia
© Brett Price / VWPics / Alamy Stock Photo

Victoria is home to most of the ski fields in Australia, including Mount Hotham, Falls Creek, Mount Baw Baw and Dinner Plain, but Mount Buller is perhaps the pick of the bunch. It’s only a three-hour drive northeast of Melbourne and boasts the largest lift network in the state, with 20 lifts covering more than 300ha (741 acres) of skiing and snowboarding terrain criss-crossed by more than 80 runs.

Ballarat

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Sovereign Hill - a living museum showcasing early pioneer life on the Victorian goldfields Ballarat Victoria Australia
© Lincoln Fowler / Alamy Stock Photo

This town’s origins in the Gold Rush era are obvious, thanks to the mid-19th-century architecture and beautifully preserved streetscapes. A large inland city only 90 minutes from Melbourne, Ballarat boomed in the 1850s thanks to the discovery of gold. Step through that history at the immersive Sovereign Hill open-air museum and the Eureka Stockade Memorial Park, the site of a rebellion that’s considered the birthplace of Australian democracy.

Portsea

Architectural Landmark
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Aerial panorama of Sorrento Back Beach and coastline. Mornington Peninsula, Melbourne, Australia
© Piter Lenk / Alamy Stock Photo

The whole of the Mornington Peninsula – from the top of the Peninsula Hot Springs to the tip of Sorrento Pier – is one of the most beautiful corners of Victoria, and Portsea is a great base for exploring the area. Go snorkelling in Port Phillip Bay, catch a wave at Portsea Surf Beach or lace up your walking shoes for a bushwalk through the Mornington Peninsula National Park before kicking back with a pint at the famous Portsea Hotel overlooking the water.

Gippsland

Natural Feature
Map View
White sand beach, Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria, Australia
© Westend61 GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

This eastern chunk of the state is a vast expanse of outdoor experiences, be it camping in the remote Croajingolong National Park, wandering along Ninety Mile Beach or bushwalking through the picturesque dairy-farm country. Gippsland’s biggest drawcard is Wilsons Promontory, a craggy coastal national park representing the southernmost point on the Australian mainland.

These recommendations were updated on June 22, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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