From award-winning cellar doors and freshly plucked blue mussels to kayaking and surfing on pristine waterways, this part of Victoria shines in the summer months.
The Geelong and Bellarine Peninsula region has been a popular summer holiday destination for over a century – and it’s easy to see why. Originally home to the Wadawurrung people and just a short drive from Melbourne, the area is picture-framed by Port Phillip, Corio Bay and Bass Strait, and is famous for its stunning beaches, local produce and award-winning wineries. It’s just made for long summer days, late lunches and afternoons relaxing in the sun.
Shake it up with a summer tipple at Pavilion Geelong.
Geelong and The Bellarine accommodation
When you’re surrounded by some of the most beautiful waterways in Victoria, it’s only natural you’ll want to stay in a room with a view. The new SAGRES Queenscliff is an undeniably luxurious option; inspired by the Mediterranean coastline and housing up to 10 people, this beautiful guesthouse also offers a private track to Nuns Beach.
Stay in Mediterranean-inspired Sagres. (Image: Adam Gibson)
For bay views, you can’t go past the heritage Portarlington Grand Hotel or the centrally located Novotel Geelong, or perhaps you’ll want to check into one of the seven luxury suites at the Lon Retreat and Spa.
Book a room at heritage Portarlington Grand Hotel.
For families, the budget-friendly and amenities-packed BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Queenscliff Beacon and Bellarine Bayside right on the beach in Portarlington are great options. Or be one of the first guests at the newly opened Holiday Inn & Suites Geelong, where kids eat for free.
Check into Lon Retreat.
Best beaches in Geelong and The Bellarine
To get the most out of the sun, sea and surf, sign up with Go Ride a Wave at the family-friendly Ocean Grove Main Beach and learn to surf; more experienced surfers can head to 13th Beach in Barwon Heads or Point Lonsdale Back Beach. If swimming with wild dolphins and seals is more your style, hop on a half-day tour with award-winning Sea All Dolphin Swims, leaving from Queenscliff daily.
Spot wild dolphins on a Sea All Dolphin Swims tour.
Other swimming options include Eastern Beach in Geelong, with its enclosed sea bath and historical Art Deco-style boardwalk, as well as Indented Head, St Leonards, Queenscliff, Point Lonsdale and Barwon Heads beaches.
Prefer to be on the water, rather than in it? Hire a stand-up paddleboard or kayak and spend the day on the tranquil Barwon River with Paddle Life Barwon Heads. The wide, sheltered estuary is perfect for paddleboarding, rockpool rambling and sandcastle building.
Relax along the Queenscliff waterfront.
Indoor things to do in Geelong and The Bellarine
When the day warms up, head to the shopping strips of Hitchcock Avenue in Barwon Heads, The Terrace Ocean Grove, and Hesse Street in Queenscliff. The latter is home to the popular Salt Contemporary Gallery; art lovers will also appreciate the impressive collection at Geelong Gallery, as well as the new Geelong Arts Centre across the road. The contemporary Boom Gallery, with its design store and on-site cafe, is another a must-see.
Wander through contemporary Boom Gallery.
Geelong and The Bellarine bike and hike trails
One of the best ways to explore the area is to jump on a bike and ride along the coastal and inland tracks. For a nature-filled adventure, travel along the famous Bellarine Rail Trail, which stretches from Queenscliff to South Geelong, or enjoy the seaside views of the Portarlington foreshore.
To explore The Bellarine wineries, join a self-guided or guided bike tour with Cycling Vine Tours, where you can visit local wineries while enjoying the stunning landscapes. If you’re better on two feet, leave the bikes behind and enjoy the Barwon Bluff Circuit Walk, an easy coastal trail with views across Port Phillip. The start of the hike isn’t far from the main shopping strip, so you can load up on picnic supplies first.
Join a Cycling Vine Tour.
Geelong and The Bellarine restaurants and cafes
When you’re not soaking up the beach views, sample some of the region’s award-winning produce. First stop? Tasting fresh blue mussels on the two-hour Classic Mussel Tour on a restored Huon pine boat with Portarlington Mussel Tours.
Follow that up with a road trip meeting the makers and growers along the Bellarine Taste Trail: you can pick your own blueberries and strawberries at Tuckerberry Hill Farm, eat fresh sourdough from KET BAKER and drink local gin at The Whiskery or Thirty Acres Distillery cellar doors.
Drink local gin with pizza at The Whiskery.
On your way back, enjoy a wine tasting at Bennetts on Bellarine, which has a lovely outdoor deck, Terindah Estate, where you can dine inside a refurbished tram bar, and Jack Rabbit Vineyard, which frames its views in floor-to-ceiling windows. For a moving dining experience featuring local produce and drinks, jump aboard The Q Train, a three-hour trip which starts in Drysdale and has views overlooking Swan Bay.
Jump aboard the Q Train for a three-hour dining experience on the move.
For dinner with a view, visit At The Heads, a seafood restaurant that juts out onto the Barwon River, or pull up a chair at The Dunes Ocean Grove, which is beachfront dining at its best. For views across Eastern Beach, Pavilion Geelong offers light-filled dining spaces, and Sailors’ Rest lets diners look out over the water from three levels. You can also try your luck at scoring a table at TARRA, a soon-to-be-open restaurant at the state-of-the-art Queenscliff ferry terminal, helmed by executive chef Michael Demagistris.
Enjoy delicious food with ocean views at Pavilion Geelong.