Five Underrated Spots to Visit Around Melbourne

Ellie Swain

Senior Contributor

Melbourne is best known for its buzzy coffee shop culture, quirky graffiti lanes, and vibrant club and music scene. But did you know that there are a ton of off-the-grid places to visit in the city and beyond? Often voted as the world’s most liveable city, there’s certainly plenty to do in Melbourne’s city centre to keep you occupied. But if you’re seeking a weekend or day trip away from the bustling city, there are many underrated neighbourhoods and areas of natural beauty just a quick trip away from the centre. Tear yourself away from your usual brunch of avo’ on toast and a soothing flat white and get yourself down to one of these five underrated spots in Victoria.

Dandenong Ranges

In the south of Australia, Victoria is one of the cooler states of the country. But head to the Dandenong Ranges, and you’ll find yourself roaming in lush, verdant rainforests. A mere one-hour drive from the centre of Melbourne, wave goodbye to the city skyscrapers and embrace the quiet and greenery of the Dandenong Ranges.

Ramble through picture-perfect mountainside villages, discover frothing waterfalls, and gawk from stunning viewpoints.

Why not embrace your inner child and hop on the Puffing Billy Steam Train? You’ll feel like a kid again as you ‘choo choo’ through the leafy temperate rainforest and picturesque farmlands on the antique train which first operated in the early 1900s.

Or, rent out a paddle boat and chop across the gleaming waters of Emerald Lake Park.

Mount Macedon

Mount Macedon is an hours’ drive north of Melbourne, and the verdant region is filled with preened gardens, charming towns, and rolling hills. If you enjoy hiking, the forested trails up to the top of Mount Macedon are ideal for a Sunday morning stroll.

Keep your eyes peeled for friendly-faced wombats and the exotic bird species that thrive in the woodlands. From the top of Mount Macedon, soak up panoramic views of the stretching countryside.

The Macedon Ranges is known for its high-quality wines, so be sure to enjoy a glass or two in one of the quaint, local wineries between your hard work hiking.


While Williamstown is a suburb of Melbourne, head to the quiet residential streets and empty beaches, and you’ll feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

Only a 20-minute drive away from Melbourne’s centre, Williamstown is based at the mouth of the winding Yarra River. You can easily spend a day exploring the quiet sandy beaches and boardwalks, admiring the historic architecture and popping into the convict constructions and craft stores.

Be sure to head into the town centre for a spot of brunch or lunch. The district is home to plenty of funky cafes and chic bistros dishing up scrumptious eats. From the water, marvel at postcard-perfect views of Melbourne’s skyline from a peaceful distance. 

Yarra Valley

Located in the north-central area of greater Melbourne lies one of Australia’s most prestigious wine regions, the Yarra Valley. Embark on a wine tour of the place and taste fine Australian wines while absorbing the green countryside that seems to stretch on forever.

Not a fan of wine? Don’t worry, because Yarra Valley produces plenty of mouth-watering regional alcohol. The area is littered with a vast selection of breweries, cider houses, and distilleries, so pick your poison.

Foodies rejoice as you’ll also have the chance to sample local gourmet foods, including melt-in-the-mouth artisan cheeses, handmade chocolates, and fresh fruit bursting with flavour.

Don’t forget to have a few snaps taken as you sip on a delicate glass of red with the stretching vineyards as your backdrop. Or, for a bucket list moment, take to the skies in a colourful hot air balloon and gape at the serene views below from great heights.

There are many wine tours available that include transportation to a handful of wineries along with wine and food tastings. Or rent a car and explore the beautiful region of Yarra Valley yourself – as long as you have a designated driver, of course.

Hanging Rock

The mysterious disappearance of a group of schoolgirls at Hanging Rock in 1901 is just one of the stories and legends of the enigmatic area. Hanging Rock, an hours’ drive away from Melbourne’s city centre, is also a sacred spot for local indigenous people.

Embark on a short hike weaving between the gigantic boulders and passing pretty flora and fauna until you reach the summit of Hanging Rock. There, you can appreciate spectacular panoramic views of extending forests. As you scramble over the giant, looming rocks, you may feel like you’re walking in the land of giants.

Wide sealed paths make the hike reasonably easy for people of average fitness. Over 40 species of birds live around the reserve, so keep your eyes peeled for bright rosellas and cream-coloured cockatoos. You may even spot native animals, including the likes of cuddly-looking koalas, bouncing kangaroos and wallabies, and spiky echidnas.

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