Take a quick break from Melbourne and be captivated by landscapes, experiences, and attractions that feel a world away from life in the Victorian capital.
There’s glittering coastline, famous wine regions, treasure-stuffed national parks, and so much more.
We’ve highlighted several vibrant Victorian destinations with BIG4 parks that you can visit on a short break from Melbourne – or for longer.
The perfect weekend getaway is just down the road…
(All times approximate)
If you crave a holiday without having to venture too far, head to Aireys Inlet. This enticing coastal hamlet showcases the Great Ocean Road’s immense beauty near its eastern starting point.
Best outdoor attraction: Soak up sensational views at iconic Split Point Lighthouse.
Best rainy-day attraction: Explore Eagles Nest Fine Art Gallery, then settle in for a craft beer or two at Salt Brewing/Aireys Pub (even better on a sunny day).
Underrated attraction: Allen Noble Sanctuary for lakeside walks and picnics.
Budget tip: Hit the beach! Seriously inviting stretches of sand and coastal reserve abound in these parts.
Accommodation: BIG4 Aireys Inlet.
This idyllic seaside town marks the eastern start point of the Great Ocean Road – neighbouring Aireys Inlet – and oozes a relaxing, welcoming vibe that’s cherry ripe for a short break from Melbourne.
Best outdoor attraction: Anglesea Golf Club is as popular with kangaroos as golfers. Or admire the sea views from Loveridge Lookout.
Best rainy-day attraction: Stock up on ample local produce at Anglesea Fruitz to help brighten the mood.
Underrated attraction: The walking track to Point Addis is crammed with wild views, wildlife encounters, and wildflowers.
Budget tip: Picnic at Coogoorah Park and enjoy the wetlands. Great spot for a walk, too.
Accommodation: BIG4 Anglesea.
The lively city was built on the riches of the famous gold rush and is the perfect place for a weekend escape from Melbourne owing to its broad appeal. Choose from ample historical, cultural, natural, and family-friendly activities.
Best outdoor attraction: Sovereign Hill. This open-air museum ranks among Victoria's best attractions.
Best rainy-day attraction: The renowned Art Gallery of Ballarat or Ballarat Aviation Museum. Or trendy Hop Temple or Aunty Jacks brewery for sips and snacks.
Underrated attraction: The Ballarat Municipal Observatory and Museum will captivate. Rug up, though.
Budget tip: Explore the busts of Australian Prime Ministers within Ballarat Botanical Gardens, then wander around beautiful Lake Wendouree.
The Bellarine Peninsula is dotted with enticing historical villages and offers an indulgent weekend away from Melbourne. This is a renowned food and wine region, so expect delicious local produce and cool-climate wines while enjoying a succession of sparkling coastal vistas.
Best outdoor attraction: Book a table with views at iconic Jack Rabbit vineyard restaurant or play a round at first-rate Barwon Heads Golf Club or neighbouring 13th Beach Golf Links.
Best rainy-day attraction: Relive stories from the sea at Queenscliffe Maritime Museum.
Underrated attraction: Not completely off radar but Fort Queenscliff museum is so compelling it really should receive more attention.
Budget tip: A stroll along the peninsula's beaches relaxes, reenergises, and rewards. Or wander around Queenscliff Harbour.
While smaller than its Goldfields region neighbours, Bendigo and Ballarat, this heritage-rich city is equally magnetising. This is the perfect destination for a weekend escape from Melbourne, well-suited to romantic getaways for couples as well as family adventures.
Best outdoor attraction: Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park. A top picnic spot with mineral springs and much more.
Best rainy-day attraction: The striking art deco Castlemaine Art Museum. Or Theatre Royal, which features a cinema, cosy wine bar and a garden bar, and live music.
Underrated attraction: The Mill, a vibrant precinct featuring tasty food, coffee, and craft beer along with art and more.
Budget tip: Wander through Castlemaine Botanical Gardens.
Accommodation: BIG4 Castlemaine.
Spotted within the prized Yarra Valley wine region, Healesville is a vibrant, picturesque town bursting with charm. Its main street reveals a cluster of specialty shops and superb dining options, while prized wineries and first-rate attractions are only a hop, skip, and a jump away.
Best outdoor attraction: Healesville Sanctuary. Don’t miss the Spirits of the Sky bird show (twice daily).
Best rainy-day attraction: Head to TarraWarra Museum of Art, follow that by grabbing an inside table at leading restaurant Innocent Bystander, then sip on tasty spirits at legendary Four Pillars Gin Distillery.
Underrated attraction: Maroondah Reservoir Park. Picnic spot sorted.
Budget tip: Travel the nearby Black Spur Drive for a jaw-dropping journey past towering trees and glorious ferns.
Accommodation: BIG4 Yarra Valley.
The glorious region has been a holiday hotspot for years. First-rate beaches, wineries, golf courses, and art galleries combine with alluring nature-based experiences and plenty of family fun. Perfect for a weekend escape from Melbourne.
Best outdoor attraction: A ride on the Arthurs Seat Eagle gondola provides breathtaking views. Or enjoy photo ops galore at McClelland Sculpture Park + Gallery. And we can't leave out the action-packed Enchanted Adventure Garden.
Best rainy-day attraction: Go gallery hopping. Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery is a fine starting point.
Underrated attraction: The history-rich Fort Nepean walk within Mornington Peninsula National Park warrants more footprints.
Budget tip: A stroll within Cape Schanck Lighthouse Reserve will drain only your phone or camera battery and not your funds.
Accommodation: BIG4 Mornington Peninsula.
Set among classic Australian countryside at the base of the Tallarook Ranges, Seymour quickly evokes a feeling of ‘escaping it all’ despite Melbourne being within easy grasp. Additionally, this historical town is within comfortable reach of many variable landscapes, making it the perfect short-break destination.
Best outdoor attraction: The emotive Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk is both poignant and tasteful. Or day trip to pretty Gooram Falls.
Best rainy-day attraction: Settle in for tasty tucker and refreshments at the historical Prince of Wales Hotel.
Underrated attraction: Avenel Maze. Hours of family entertainment on weekends and school holidays, and just a 15min drive away.
Budget tip: Picnic at a cluster of Seymour parks, such as riverside Goulburn Park. Or for sweeping views, try Australian Light Horse Memorial Park.
Accommodation: BIG4 Seymour.
Upon entering Bendigo you can feel the heartbeat of the past still pounding away. Like Ballarat, the thriving city was founded on the glint of gold, and its many historical buildings and leading attractions pay homage to this bustling period. Throw in beautiful surrounds and easy access to wineries, and Bendigo has plenty to offer on a short escape from Melbourne.
Best outdoor attraction: Lake Weeroona. The place to be when the sun is shining.
Best rainy-day attraction: You could easily chew up hours gazing at Bendigo Art Gallery’s first-class collection.
Underrated attraction: It's more underground than underrated but a tour of Central Deborah Gold Mine is absolutely fascinating. Or visit the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, a hugely impressive structure.
Budget tip: Picnic in beautiful Rosalind Park. While you’re at it, climb the lookout tower for superb city views.
Soak up the relaxing vibe and unwind with ease at Inverloch. The seaside spot occupies prime real estate in the Gippsland region, found at the mouth of Anderson Inlet. With the simplest of access to water-based leisure, it is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway from Melbourne.
Best outdoor attraction: Head to Anderson Inlet for tons of water-based fun.
Best rainy-day attraction: Try the Inverloch Shell Museum, which has an almighty collection. Or visit the Fiona Kennedy Art Gallery and Studio.
Underrated attraction: It's eye candy galore along the Screw Creek Townsend Bluff Estuary Walk.
Budget tip: The 14km-long Bunurong Coastal Drive is dominated by astounding scenery.
So much is jammed into Phillip Island’s surrounds that it’s easy to forget its diminutive size. This popular playground for weekends away from Melbourne offers a feast of activity: dramatic coastline, prized surf beaches, thrilling wildlife encounters, fast-paced action, and plenty to keep the palate pleased.
Best outdoor attraction: While it’s hyped, the Penguin Parade is worth it.
Best rainy-day attraction: Who cares about rain when you’re at the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory? Much more than just the chance to sample tasty treats.
Underrated attraction: Churchill Island Heritage Farm. A true hidden delight.
Budget tip: Head to San Remo for pelican feeding, held daily at 12pm. Or picnic at Cowes Beach Foreshore.
Nothing indicates that you’re on an Australian holiday better than being in a tranquil bush setting, which is exactly what you’ll experience at Taggerty. Immerse yourself in the perfect environment for escaping the stresses of daily life.
Best outdoor attraction: Exploring Cathedral Range State Park on one of many walking trails.
Best rainy-day attraction: Head for a bite to eat at the nearby Alexandra Hotel, which is full of charm.
Underrated attraction: The location – Taggerty is within easy reach of many prime visitor spots.
Budget tip: Mountain biking in these parts is spectacular. And free!
Accommodation: BIG4 Taggerty.
This lively destination is spotted at the heart of the Latrobe Valley in the Gippsland region, ensuring it’s a versatile destination for a weekend getaway. Use Traralgon as a base for regional adventures further afield or stay close to experience all that the Latrobe Valley’s largest city has to offer.
Best outdoor attraction: Take the 45min drive north to reach the delightful old gold town of Walhalla.
Best rainy-day attraction: Visit the sprinkling of cellar doors around the city. Narkoojee is a solid pick and includes an excellent restaurant.
Underrated attraction: At risk of sounding biased, the Parky's Adventure Ropes Course at BIG4 Traralgon is compelling.
Budget tip: Traversing nearby Tarra Bulga National Park is essential. Uncover towering trees, fantastic ferns, wonderful waterfalls, and much more.
Accommodation: BIG4 Traralgon.
A crowd-pulling fixture along the Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay is another leading seaside town that proves instantly gripping for holidaymakers. It's no surprise as to why it’s so popular for weekend escapes from Melbourne.
Best outdoor attraction: Bring the camera and admire incredible scenery from Marriners Lookout.
Best rainy-day attraction: Fascinating shipwreck stories abound at Apollo Bay Museum (limited opening hours).
Underrated attraction: Cape Otway Lighthouse, the oldest-surviving lighthouse on mainland Australia. The views alone are worth the 30min drive from Apollo Bay.
Budget tip: The foreshore-based Apollo Bay Community Market each Saturday delivers more stalls than your average learner driver.
Accommodation: BIG4 Apollo Bay.
With its positioning on the Goulburn River and in the heart of a rich produce-growing and agricultural area, Shepparton presents a feeling far removed from big-city life. Unwind in pleasant surrounds and take advantage of easy exploration of outstanding visitor attractions.
Best outdoor attraction: KidsTown adventure playground for families or the Australian Botanic Gardens Shepparton for everyone else.
Best rainy-day attraction: It's a toss of the coin between the revamped Shepparton Art Museum and the intriguing Museum of Vehicle Evolution (MOVE).
Underrated attraction: The arts scene. Along with the museum's goodies, you can spot colourful cows as part of the Moooving Art exhibition and vibrant murals that make up the Aboriginal Street Art Project.
Budget tip: Pack the picnic basket and chill at Victoria Park Lake.
Plant yourself in a city surrounded by a profusion of contrasting landscapes, which provides broad interest. Although exploration of the wider High Country region is encouraged, Wangaratta makes a great base for a weekend escape from Melbourne owing to its many historical and natural attractions.
Best outdoor attraction: Walking trails abound in magnificent Warby-Ovens National Park.
Best rainy-day attraction: Step inside the grand Wangaratta Art Gallery.
Underrated attraction: The ease of access to wine regions like Rutherglen and King Valley. Day trips sorted.
Budget tip: Follow the interest-laden Wangaratta Heritage Walk.
Accommodation: BIG4 Wangaratta.
The tiny coastal town might not be the most recognisable destination along the famous Great Ocean Road, but it provides a ton of appeal. Wye River blends a fantastic beach and a great pub with the easiest of access to the gem-packed surrounds of Great Otway National Park.
Best outdoor attraction: Have the camera handy to capture glittering views at Point Sturt. Or look tree-wards with a wander along the nearby Kennett River Koala Walk.
Best rainy-day attraction: Enjoy top tucker at the Wye Beach Hotel or the Wye General café.
Underrated attraction: The Wye River Heritage Walk is crammed with points of interest.
Budget tip: Explore magnificent scenery within Great Otway National Park, including nearby Sheoak Falls.
Accommodation: BIG4 Wye River.