With two days in Melbourne, you can get to grips with the city’s vibrant foodie and cocktail scene, soar above the skyscrapers in a balloon, and watch adorable little penguins waddling home at dusk. You can even experience Australia’s most iconic road trip, riding through the spectacular landscapes of the Great Ocean Road. Here’s how.
Day 1: Balloons, Penguins, and Food
Morning: Start the day the scenic way by drifting over Melbourne’s towering skyscrapers on a sunrise balloon flight. Next, check off the star attractions from ground level, including the Royal Botanic Gardens and Federation Square, perhaps via a hop-on hop-off bus tour. Finish your city explorations with a leisurely cruise down the Yarra River.
Afternoon: Shun lunch and get a handle on Melbourne’s diverse culinary scene with the help of a food-themed tour that includes tastings. Wander Chinatown and Little Italy; visit gourmet stores, contemporary coffee shops, and farmers markets; and then treat yourself to a happy-hour cocktail in a rooftop bar.
Night: Wrap up the magical day with a surreal sunset experience: watching delightful little penguins waddle in from the ocean to their burrows on Phillip Island, a nightly ritual that locals call the Penguin Parade. Once back in the city, dine on Melbourne’s signature Greek or Vietnamese cuisine.
Day 2: Road Trips and Laneways
Morning: The rugged coastline of the Great Ocean Road, one of the world’s most beautiful seaside routes, winds beside the Southern Ocean for 249 miles (400 kilometers). Use day two to experience the road’s spectacular views and rock formations, such as the Twelve Apostles, on a day trip by car or helicopter from Melbourne.
Afternoon: Still on the Great Ocean Road, meet some of Australia’s unique wildlife. Look for koalas in the eucalyptus trees at Kennett River; walk with kangaroos and wallabies through ancient rain forest at Great Otway National Park; and hear tales of past shipwrecks as you explore the Shipwreck Coast.
Night: Back in Melbourne, discover the city’s signature experience: its vibrant laneways, home to a wealth of hidden bars, restaurants, and galleries. Soak up the street art on Hosier Lane or Duckboard Place; get down to rock ‘n’ roll on AC/DC Lane; or eat and drink on Meyers Place or Tattersall Lane.