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The Mornington Peninsula is my favourite weekend road trip from Melbourne because it has everything to offer and is only an hours drive from the city. The Mornington Peninsula is home to incredible walks, coastal views, beautiful national parks, famous wineries, award-winning hot springs and some of the best beaches in the state of Victoria.
With beautiful beach accommodation and secluded cabins, Mornington Peninsula is also a great option for those looking for an Australia staycation getaway. This Melbourne to Mornington Peninsula road trip itinerary is for 2 days, or a weekend trip, to escape the city and make the most of this beautiful destination in Australia.
Where is Mornington Peninsula
The Mornington Peninsula is south-east from Melbourne city and can be reached in just one hour from Victoria’s state capital. The Peninsula forms the eastern side of the Port Phillip Bay, meaning the beach waters on the peninsula are usually always very calm to swim in.
To the south of the peninsula is the Bass Strait which lies between mainland Australia and Tasmania.
How to get from Melbourne to Mornington Peninsula
Getting from Melbourne to Mornington Peninsula is very easy, you can take the M3 Eastlink Toll Road and get there in 1 hour, or to avoid the toll road, take the M1 and M780 to reach the peninsula in 1.5 hours.
Driving to the Peninsula is recommended so you have the flexibility to see and do what you want on your road trip itinerary. Although you can take the train to Frankston and Mornington, it will take you up to 2 hours and doesn’t give you much flexibility to access the rest of the peninsula.
Where to stay on the Mornington Peninsula
Although staying along the coast is highly tempting, especially when you see the grand beach houses along the coastal road. However, these properties are extremely expensive and for those on a bit more of a budget like me, but still looking for a beach stay, I highly recommend staying at St Andrews Beach accommodation.
Being slightly inland and further in the south of the peninsula, St Andrews Beach is a great option after the first day of the itinerary exploring the south coast. It’s also just a 10 minute drive from the famous Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs if you are planning a late evening or early morning bathing session.
This is my favourite Airbnb in St Andrews. It’s a cute beach house, so peaceful, the beach is just accessible a short walk from the property. The house itself has 4 bedrooms and sleeps 7 people with a full living room, kitchen and dining area. The outdoor seating area is lovely for warm evenings and there is enough parking for several cars if you and a few friends want to spend a weekend there.
It costs just $145 AUD per night / £74 GBP which is such a great value for an entire property on the peninsula in such a great location.
I’ve found that Airbnb’s are a lot more reasonably priced that hotels in the area, which can be limited or get booked up every easily.
Day 1: top things to do on a Mornington Peninsula road trip itinerary
Point Nepean National Park
Start your Mornington Peninsula road trip itinerary at the very tip of the peninsula and in the beautiful Fort Nepean National Park. There are several great walks here to enjoy, the walk to Fort Nepean at the tip of the peninsula is around 3km each way on a flat, tarmac track. There is also the Monash track and the beautiful Bay Beaching Walk.
I highly recommend doing the Fort Nepean walk and exploring the remains of the fort which was used during the world wars. The Walter Pisterman Track down to the beach is also a nice short walk from the Gunner’s Cottage car park and the beach is always much quieter than the other Mornington Peninsula beaches further up the coast.
Parking at Gunner’s Cottage is free, making Point Nepean National Park a great option if you’re road tripping on a budget. Check out this post for free outdoor things to do on Mornington Peninsula.
After visiting the National Park, drive back out just a few minutes up the road to Sorrento. Sorrento is a beautiful town with plenty to do, lots of shops and cafes and also a great Front Beach and Back Beach.
Head to the front beach for calmer waters and a nice walk along the beachfront. The Baths Restaurant is in a beautiful location on the front beach looking out over the Sorrento Long Pier.
The Sorrento Back Beach is known for much bigger waves thanks to its location on the Bass Strait. Here you’ll find the surf club, plenty of surfers, rock pools to explore at low tide and toilet facilities, plus a cafe. The car park here is also free so you can spend a couple of hours on the beach with a picnic.
Cape Schanck to Bushrangers Bay walk
Continue your road trip along the south coast of the peninsula towards Cape Schanck. Here you’ll find plenty of options depending on how active you’re feeling.
Spend some time exploring the Cape Schanck Lighthouse and the coastal viewpoints around it. Also visit the Lighthouse museum to learn about the history of the building, built in 1859. For a bit more of a walk, follow the track between the toilets and the lighthouse to walk down to the cape and the most southerly tip of the Peninsula. This is a relatively short walk, you’ll follow a dirt track then onto a wooden boardwalk with steps down to the rocky cape and pebble beach below.
For a more challenging walk, take the Two Bays Walking Track on the far east side of the car park. This coastal walk will take you to the breathtaking Bushrangers Bay which is a much quieter walking track. It’s easy-moderate difficulty and is around 6km, 45 minutes in each direction. If you’d prefer to do this walk, you might want to carry on past the Cape Schanck turning and park at the Bushrangers Bay car park and do the walk in reverse by walking to Cape Schanck and back.
After all your walking and outdoor adventures, it’s time for some refreshment! The great news is that St Andrews Beach Brewery is just a 13 minute drive from Cape Schanck and is one of my favourite breweries in Victoria.
St Andrews Beach Brewery is a large Mornington Peninsula brewery, drinking and dining venue. There is a variety of beers, all locally brewed and a great food menu too. It is family friendly and also has other drink options for people who don’t enjoy beer or don’t drink. This brewery is a great place with a chilled out vibe, so much so that we go back every time we visit the Peninsula.
Peninsula Hot Springs
For those looking for even more relaxation and a good soaking after a busy day, I highly recommend visiting Peninsula Hot Springs. Tickets start from as little as $45 on weekdays and $55 on weekends for the bathing house experience. Spa packages are an additional charge.
The entire hot spring complex is incredible, there is so much to do and so many different areas to relax. Head to the Hilltop pool for hot springs with an incredible view, and try the Turkish Hammam. If you’re visiting on a weekend, I highly recommend going first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening to avoid the large crowds.
The great thing about Peninsula Hot Springs is that it’s just a 10 minute drive from St Andrews Beach and only 7 minutes from St Andrews Beach Brewery, which is why I recommend staying at St Andrews Beach. This means you can easily enjoy your hot springs bathing early in the morning or the evening just a short drive from your accommodation. It also means you can walk to your accommodation if you have a few drinks at the brewery.
This Airbnb is my favourite St Andrews Beach accommodation and I highly recommend staying here after your first day exploring the south of the peninsula.
Day 2: top things to do on a Mornington Peninsula road trip itinerary
Start your day with incredible panoramic views over the peninsula. Arthurs Seat is famous for its views over the peninsula and Port Phillip Bay and a lot of people choose to take the Arthurs Seat Eagle up to the viewpoint. The Eagle is a cable car/gondola which starts from the Base Station and climbs up Arthurs Seat with incredible views on the way.
However the tickets are $24 return or $17.50 one way. So if you’re like me and think that’s a bit pricey, I suggest driving up Arthurs Seat Road and stopping at the various viewpoints on the way up. The road has several hairpin bends and there are laybys where you can park and walk just a couple of minutes from the road to see the views. Murray’s Lookout and Arthurs Seat at Matthew Flinders Cairn are the top lookouts and you can enjoy them for as long as you like!
Safety Beach and Dromana Beach
Head back down the hill and straight the coastal towns along the seafront. If you’re looking for lunch, there are countless cafes from Rye to Safety Beach and you’ll also find the most beautiful beaches along this stretch of coast road.
The beaches are white sand, clear blue water, shallow and calm for paddling or a morning dip and there’s plenty of parking spaces in the laybys along the road which you don’t need to pay for.
Look out for the colourful beach huts to sit at or photograph. Or head to Rye Pier for some swimming and snorkeling underneath to see the incredible marine life in the clear water.
I highly recommend parking up along the beach near Dromana, I find the beach here quieter and you’re more likely to find a parking space. Walk through the sandy walkway onto the beautiful beach and enjoy a picnic lunch with a view.
Moonlit Wildlife Sanctuary
This wildlife sanctuary is an underrated gem of things to do on the Mornington Peninsula. For $26 per adult and $13 per child, you can experience the Australian wildlife roaming free around the park such as birds, kangaroos and wallabies.
See talks led by the animal keepers which are all part of your ticket price, learn about koalas, dingoes, Tasmanian devils and more. You can pick up some animal food with your ticket and feed the kangaroos in the free roaming area.
It was such an amazing Aussie experience for a great price and just 50km from Melbourne, so if you’re heading home early, this is a great stop on your way to spend the afternoon.
Mornington Peninsula winery
If you’re looking to extend your day a little longer, Mornington Peninsula wine is some of the best in the state and the wineries are a must-visit if you enjoy sampling the local grapes.
Head somewhere more casual for a cellar door experience like Foxeys Hangout. For something a bit more formal like a tasting or sit down meal, head to the Main Ridge Estate. Others to try are Red Hill Estate or Tucks.
Sitting out in the warm afternoon or evening at one of these beautiful wineries is a great way to end your weekend and treat yourself to a bottle to take home if you’re driving. Most of these estates are family run and are so helpful and willing to answer any questions you might have about the wines or food pairings.
I hope this two day Melbourne to Mornington Peninsula road trip itinerary is useful to help you plan what to do on the Mornington Peninsula and gives you lots of options and variety of activities to do there, both outdoors and experiences. Let me know if you use this guide and I hope you enjoy your escape from Melbourne to Mornington Peninsula!
Flights: I use Expedia to find great flights and the best deals all over the world, they have regular sales and offers so I always check their website. I also check CheapOair to find cheap deals on round trip flights.
Car Rental: I love the customer service I've always gotten and the variety of options with Rental Cars. But for short notice rentals, I've been using Expedia for the last year, they always seem to have great one-day rates or last-minute rates from the main rental companies.
Accommodation: I prefer the flexibility of booking accommodation with Booking.com so I can cancel or change my reservation without a fee or only pay on arrival for most properties. For longer or more unique stays I prefer AirBnB because you can get the long stay discount, you can also find more unique properties and book experiences with talented locals and businesses. For my budget trips, I always stay in hostels and book through Hostelworld because they have great guarantees if anything does go wrong. If you arrive and your booking is not at the property, they refund the full deposit AND give you $50 extra credit.
Tours and organised trips Although I don’t use tours that often, I do like to book local experiences or day trips once I reach my destination. For that I use GetYourGuide because it has the biggest selection and variety of tour and experience options.
Travel Insurance: For all my longer trips and for the entire year I’ve spent in Australia, my partner and I have always used World Nomads. They cover everything I need and I can buy coverage for a year at a time, they also allow you to purchase cover when you’re already outside your home country. Plus my camera gear and equipment is covered and they also have special cover for when I’m scuba diving too.
My camera gear and equipment: I use a Canon 77D with an 18-135mm lens or a 50mm lens. And a DJI Mavic Mini Drone. For all my gear including laptops, tripods and more camera accessories read my travel photography gear guide.