With three days in the Yarra Valley, you can afford to take your time and savor the region’s fine wines, gourmet cuisine, and photo-worthy scenery. Look for tours that combine wine tasting with fun outdoor activities, and venture further afield to discover the Dandenong Ranges. Here are some ideas.
Day 1: Vineyard Views and Wine Tasting
Kick off your Yarra Valley adventure with a hot-air balloon flight over the vineyards. Early morning flights allow you to watch sunrise over the hills and typically include breakfast accompanied by sparkling wine.
Devote the rest of the day to sampling the Yarra Valley’s diverse wines, which include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc. A tour is essential, not just for the designated driver; exploring with a guide saves you the stress of arranging tastings and transport yourself. Choose a tour that visits multiple wineries in one day or opt to travel in style in a convertible Chevrolet.
For lunch or dinner, book a table at one of the Yarra Valley’s most renowned wineries, such as De Bortoli winery or the Balgownie Estate. Both offer wine tasting packages that include gourmet cuisine and a guided winery tour; Balgownie even offers Segway tours around the vineyards.
Day 2: Art, Food, and Wildlife
The Healesville Sanctuary is a must-visit for animal lovers and families with kids; animal residents include koalas, kangaroos, wombats, and platypus, while zoo keeper talks and demonstrations create a fun and educational experience. Book your tickets in advance to skip the lines.
Spend the rest of the day on a food tasting tour, hopping between the villages of the Yarra Valley, where you’ll find art galleries, handicrafts boutiques, and artisan food producers. Stop at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery in Yarra Glen; browse local art at the TarraWarra Museum of Art; and taste regional cheeses at Yarra Valley Dairy.
In the evening, swap wine tasting for a beer and cider tour of the Valley to discover the region’s craft beer breweries, rum distilleries, and artisan cider mills.
Day 3: Discover the Dandenong Ranges
Located south of the Yarra Valley, the mountain village of Olinda is the gateway to Dandenong Ranges National Park. Spend the morning browsing art and handicrafts shops and then take a stroll in the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden, home to rhododendrons, azaleas, and other flowers. Nature lovers can also choose from a number of short hikes and wildlife trails in the Dandenong Ranges National Park.
In the afternoon, journey further into the mountains with a ride on the legendary Puffing Billy Steam Train. The hour-long train ride winds its way through the fern gullies and forests of the Dandenong Ranges, affording fantastic views over the Yarra Valley. For the best value, look for Super Saver deals that combine a ride on the Puffing Billy Train with the Healesville Sanctuary or wine tasting in the Yarra Valley.