There are so many things to do in Victoria, Australia that many visitors down under argue it’s the best state in the country. It certainly has a huge amount to offer any intrepid backpacker, from legendary road trips to world-class wine, bustling cities to jaw-dropping natural landscapes. Victoria comfortably encompasses everything that makes Australia such an unforgettable country to visit.
Victoria is the most cosmopolitan of all the Australian states. Nowhere else in the country do more influences, cultures, and lifestyles meet than in Melbourne, a city regularly voted the world’s best to live in by its residents. Alongside its wide variety of bars, cafes, and restaurants, you’ll find street markets, unique boutiques, beautiful street art, a passionate love for sport, and much more. Melbourne is undoubtedly the coolest city in Australia.
The trend for backpackers visiting Australia used to be the great east coast road trip from Sydney to Cairns. These days, as Victoria has deservedly grown in popularity, it’s become essential to travel from Melbourne to Cairns, enjoying everything this state has to offer. It’s impossible to include all the things to do in Victoria in a single article, so here are just a few of the highlights.
1. Drive the Great Ocean Road
No trip to Victoria would be complete without driving the Great Ocean Road. In fact, at 244 kilometres it’s difficult to miss it if you’re travelling in Victoria!
If you’re heading east, the road kicks off in Warrnambool and ends in Anglesea, hugging some of the most beautiful coastline in the world along the way. There isn’t much civilisation along the way, the route instead offering wide open spaces, secluded beaches, and rugged countryside.
There are numerous famous stops along the way, including the Bay of Islands, Loch Ard Gorge, and Aireys Inlet. Most iconic is the Twelve Apostles, a collection of towering limestone stacks that are the scenic highlight of the picturesque Shipwreck Coast. The Great Ocean Road isn’t just one of the best things to do in Victoria; it’s one of the greatest road trips in the world.
2. Live it up in Melbourne
Melbourne is Australia’s second biggest city with a population of 4.8 million people, though you wouldn’t think it while you’re there. It’s small enough to walk around yet big enough for you to feel comfortably lost.
Melbourne is effortlessly cool. It manages to blend glittering glass skyscrapers with Victorian architecture, celebrates street art alongside more traditional cultural spots, and offers green spaces and easy access to Australia’s wilderness while featuring enough bars, cafes, pubs, and other hot spots to keep you in the city forever. This makes it a favourite spot for backpackers looking to settle down for a while and put their working holiday visa to good use.
Whatever you’re in to, you’ll find it in Melbourne: coffee, arts and crafts, live music, fashion, Aussie Rules football, and so much more. Get ready to never want to leave.
3. Make friends with penguins on Phillip Island
When you think of Australian wildlife, you probably don’t think of penguins. Well, it’s got ’em! Phillip Island is home to little penguins (that’s their actual species name), the smallest type of penguin in the world. People travel from all over the world to watch the Penguin Parade, when up to 6,000 of them come up onto the beach at sunset to bed down for the night.
Phillip Island has plenty more to offer wildlife lovers, including the Koala Conservation Centre, whale watching excursions, bird watching, and more.
4. Explore Wilsons Promontory National Park
Wilsons Promontory National Park, otherwise known as the Prom, is the southernmost part of Australia’s mainland, a peninsula that was once connected to the island of Tasmania. It’s the most popular park in Victoria thanks to its thick rainforest, pristine beaches, Indigenous history, and abundant wildlife.
There are numerous spots you can visit for just a day, Five Mile Beach and the eerie Skull Rocks being particular favourites, but many choose to camp in the park. This means you can hiking, swimming, bird spotting, or whatever else you fancy, before sleeping it off in the bush (or on the beach) and doing it all again the next day. The Prom has enough to keep you busy for weeks.
5. Get a taste for Yarra Valley
You can’t visit Victoria without sampling some of the world class wines it produces. Yarra Valley is one of Australia’s finest wine regions, and the ideal place to gain insight into how it’s made (while also getting to taste the results). From: £495 / 8 Days Heading to Australia? Is it your first time travelling? Want to experience the world's most liveable city and have unique Australian experiences? Then this tour is for you.
Yarra Valley is close enough to Melbourne that you can take a handy day trip from the city. There are dozens of wine estates dotted around the area, so anybody willing to visit for a little longer will be well-rewarded. If you haven’t spent all your money on wine, we recommend splashing out on a hot air balloon ride over the valley – the seemingly endless vineyards enveloped in early morning fog are a sight you won’t forget in a hurry.
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From: £495 / 8 Days
Heading to Australia? Is it your first time travelling? Want to experience the world's most liveable city and have unique Australian experiences? Then this tour is for you.View Experience
6. Find a spot on Ninety Mile Beach
It wouldn’t be a list of the best things to do in Victoria without singling out a beach, and there are few better than the vast length of Ninety Mile Beach (it’s actually 94 miles long, but that wouldn’t be quite as catchy).
Found on the southeast coast, the beach is the perfect spot for anybody wanting to relax on pristine golden sands, go for a paddle in the warm water, or simply lie around and top up their tan. It’s also a popular destination for numerous water activities (surfing, jet skiing, paragliding, and more), whale watching, camping, bird watching, and climbing the sand dunes behind the beach. Although certain sections of the beach can get crowded at certain times of year, its incredible length makes it easy to find a spot all to yourself.
7. The Dandenong Ranges
You don’t have to go far outside Melbourne to find yourself deep in Australian wilderness. The low mountain ranges of The Dandenongs are only 22 miles from the city, and offer thick rainforest, sweeping views across hills and valleys, and even a couple of waterfalls.
The area is easy to visit on a day trip from Melbourne, or you might stay for a long weekend in one of the numerous quaint bed and breakfasts. However long you’re there for, you shouldn’t miss the Puffing Billy Railway, a heritage steam railway that runs through the southern Dandenongs and offers a truly unique way to explore the area.