Two people walking along Sorrento Pier on a sunny day.
Photograph: Jesse Hisco

The coolest seaside towns in Victoria

Looking for a sea change? Escape the city and head to one of Victoria’s hidden gem coastal towns for some sun, sand and surf

Carolyn Huane

Australia is renowned the world over for its spectacular beaches, but there’s no need to trek interstate to access the best coastal towns. Victoria is home to almost 2,000 kilometres of killer coastline – there are dozens of seaside towns, villages and hamlets dotted along the Great Ocean Road in the west and the Gippsland coast to the east. You can also get acquainted with picturesque hubs on the Mornington Peninsula or seek out more rugged, untamed beach havens past the limits of metropolitan Melbourne – if you’re up for an adventure, that is. 

Whether you’ve got a weekend free or a little extra annual leave saved up, spend it at one of Victoria’s coolest seaside towns. We’ve ordered our list from closest to furthest from Melbourne’s CBD so you can find an option based on your appetite for a road trip.

Want more coastal content? We've ranked and rated the best beaches in Melbourne. Feeling hungry? These are the best places for fish and chips in Melbourne.

Best seaside towns in Victoria

Distance from Melbourne CBD: One hour and 30 minutes.

If you’re looking for pristine shores a stone’s throw from the CBD, Aireys Inlet has the goods. You might be familiar with this spot thanks to the iconic and often photographed Split Point Lighthouse which sits above the seaside haven, inspiring local folklore and whispered maritime legends. Aireys Inlet is off the beaten track, unpretentious and serene, with clifftop lookouts, rock pools and whale watching to keep you occupied. Head to the Lighthouse Tea Rooms in the afternoon for some homemade refreshments, and don’t skip a visit to Aireys Pub for a pint of one of its own Salt Brewing Co. beers.

Plus, Aireys Inlet was named the 2023 Silver Winner of Australia's Tiny Tourism Town Award – which recognises Aussie towns with a population under 1,500 people that offer amazing visitor experiences. 

Distance from Melbourne CBD: One hour and 30 minutes.

You’ll find Sorrento nestled towards the pointy end of Mornington Peninsula, between Port Phillip Bay to the north and the Bass Strait to the south. On the bay side, the charming, sheltered shores of Sorrento Front Beach are ideal for a relaxed swimming sesh or sea kayaking. Meanwhile, the choppier ocean side offers lively surf, dolphin swims and cruises. Stroll the town’s limestone streets to explore an array of galleries, antiques and boutiques. When you're famished after all this activity, the recently refurbished Continental Hotel is a classic, can’t-go-wrong choice for lunch or dinner, while local favourite Stringers is a great pick if you're craving Italian.


Distance from Melbourne CBD: Two hours.

This Bass Coast surf town is a happy medium for those looking for a real excursion without a tiring road trip. Situated just two hours from the CBD, Inverloch is a buzzy, scenic spot in its own right while offering easy access to nearby natural landmarks. Don’t miss the breathtaking Bunurong Coastal Drive which weaves past sights like Eagles Nest, Twin Reefs, Shack Bay, the Caves and Flat Rocks. Photo ops abound! The town itself promises all the trappings of a top-notch beach getaway – think immaculate surf beaches, a nostalgic jetty, art studios and galleries, and eateries like Vaughan’s Café Deli boasting fresh local produce.

Distance from Melbourne CBD: Two hours.

Lorne draws a crowd come summertime for a reason. Located at an accessible point of the Great Ocean Road, the town is firmly established as an iconic Victorian coastal community. It’s home to archetypal Australian surf beaches alongside a varied range of eating, drinking, accommodation and activity options that make it an easy win when tossing up where to spend your beachside escape. With its lively arts scene and blossoming foodie culture (Totti’s first Victorian outpost is based here!), Lorne is a singular gem on the coast that's well worth a visit.


Distance from Melbourne CBD: Two hours and 20 minutes.

For a stunning vantage point to enjoy the Great Ocean Road from, make Wye River the ultimate destination of your coastal road trip. Catch some bliss at Lorne’s quieter, more laid-back neighbour while still taking in the rugged beauty of the Otway Coast and even catching a glimpse of a koala or two. The main beaches – Wye River and Separation Creek – offer consistent surf and a border of rock pools waiting to be paddled in and explored. Perched above the waves, Wye Beach Hotel provides a fabulous view of the beach below and a tasty selection of pub nibbles.

Distance from Melbourne CBD: Three hours and 30 minutes.

Historic Port Fairy sits pretty in Victoria’s west, cocooned on the Shipwreck Coast. The home of the beloved Port Fairy Folk Festival, you can roam down any of the town’s main thoroughfares to find yourself in the midst of whimsical 19th-century cottages, stone churches and towering, heritage-listed Norfolk pines. Take yourself to the hustle and bustle of the wharf for a guided cruise or fishing trip, and hit the beach for surfing, stand-up paddle boarding or a good old-fashioned swim. When you get peckish, opt for a classic at East Beach Fish ‘N’ Chips.


Distance from Melbourne CBD: Three hours and 45 minutes.

Located just on the periphery of Lakes Entrance, Metung is a bit of a hike from Melbourne but well worth it on account of the unbeatable 360-degree ocean vistas and picture-book ambience. The town is set on a narrow peninsula, fringed by sandy shores and jetties on three sides which lends the feeling you’ve arrived on a remote island – it’s an ideal destination to really unwind and disconnect from the pace of everyday life. Find your zen at one of the town’s geothermal springs, enjoy sailing and other maritime activities, then grab a table oceanside to drink in the view from Metung Hotel.

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