the 12 Apostles

The Quintessential Great Ocean Road Itinerary – 3 Days

The perfect amount of time for a Great Ocean Road itinerary? 3 days! Sure, you could spend weeks exploring the south coast of Victoria, but if you only have a long weekend then you’ll be delighted with all the attractions you can conquer in that time. 

The Quintessential Great Ocean Road Tour – 3 Days

Guided tours can be arranged, but if you prefer a little more freedom on your Great Ocean Road itinerary 3-days-self-drive tour is your best bet.

Great ocean road itinerary 3 days self drive

Buckle in for nearly 250 kilometers of Victoria’s most epic coastline. You’ll soar past ocean vistas, golden beaches, and green cliffs which will have your jaw-dropping at every turn.  

Guided Great Ocean Road 3 Days Tour

We do understand that not everyone has their own set of wheels. So if you are looking for a Great Ocean Road guided tour we would suggest this 3 day tour.

Great Ocean Road 3 Days Tour

It includes most of the highlights of the Great Ocean Road and combines it with a visit to the Grampians. This tour is pretty similar but includes a transfer to Melbourne or Adelaide which is helpful since most tours depart and return to Melbourne. 

Day one: Torquay to Apollo Bay

If you are departing from Melbourne then leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind as early as possible. The beginning of the Great Ocean Road starts in Torquay and is about an hour and a half from the CBD. Otherwise, spend a leisurely morning in Torquay if you’re waking up there. 

You won’t be on a very tight schedule today. Drive slowly through the seaside towns of Lorne, Kennett River, and, lastly, Apollo Bay where you will stop for the night.

Take the time to enjoy a barefoot walk on the golden beaches around Torquay and enjoy a leisurely lunch in Lorne. Then detour to a lookout point along the way. Torquay and Apollo are an easy 1 hour and 45 minutes apart, less than 100 kilometres. 

1st Stop: Torquay

Start your 3 day Great Ocean Road itinerary with a lazy morning in Torquay. Grab some coffee and stroll the foreshore. Head down to Main Beach for a swim, sunbathe or surf at Point Impossible or Rocky Point.

Great ocean road itinerary 3 days self drive
Surf Culture at Australian National Museum of Surfing. Photo courtesy of Australian National Museum of Surfing.

This little town is soaked in surf culture and you will sense that right away. Check out Surf City Plaza or the Australian National Museum of Surfing. Otherwise, head to the maze of boutique shops in the town center.

2nd Stop: Bells Beach

Located just outside of Torquay, is Bells Beach. It is one of the most famous surf beaches in the world and the home of the annual Rip Curl Surf Pro. The latter of which is held over the Easter weekend.

Great ocean road 3 days

Bells Beach is as beautiful as its waves are good. It’s dramatic cliffs, golden sands, and ocean vistas epitomize Great Ocean Road scenery.

3rd Stop: Lorne

Lorne is made for lunches. Stop at one of the fresh fish and chips shops along Main Street or its most famous burger joint – Bottle of Milk. Otherwise, check out our full list of places to eat and drink in Lorne.

Great ocean road itinerary 3 days self drive

If you are keen to work up an appetite then there are a couple of easy to reach surf breaks out front. Since Louttit Bay is fairly protected from the open ocean this is a great place to learn to surf.

Great Ocean Road Tour 3 days

Or head inland for 9 km to reach Erskine Falls. If it is not hot enough to shower at the foot of the Falls, you can admire this natural beauty from two lookout points. The upper lookout is a mere 5-minute walk from the car park and the lower viewpoint is accessed by descending 240 steps to the foot of the falls.

After lunch head to Lorne Pier and walk the length of it. Spot fishermen reeling in their catch and enjoy the ocean views. 

4rd Stop: Teddy’s Lookout

Head west outside of Lorne and follow the signs to Teddy’s Lookout. Park your car and walk 10 minutes to the three-tiered viewing platform.

3 days great ocean road

Here, you will be delighted with views of the Saint George River emptying into the Bass Strait. This is our favorite lookout along the Great Ocean Road! 

5th Stop: The Kennett River Koala Walk

Nobody on a 3 days Great Ocean Road tour wants to leave without spotting at a koala but the good news is you don’t have to! Head for the Kennett River Holiday Park, which is situated just off the Great Ocean Road. Then park in front of the convenience store. This marks the beginning of Grey River Road which is otherwise known as the Kennett River Koala Walk.

3 days great ocean road

Surrounded by eucalyptus trees, this stretch of dirt road is home to a thriving population of koalas. Look up and keep your eyes peeled for the cuddly critters. They can be difficult to spot but we can assure you they are there.

The masses of tourists tend to stay within a few hundred meters of the Holiday Park but, by following the Gray River Road further inland, you will be able to have a more intimate experience with the dosing koalas.

Final Stop: Apollo Bay

Apollo Bay is just a mere 30-minute drive from Kennett River. Check into your accommodation and then head up to Marriners Lookout for sunset. You will not be disappointed by the sunset views!

Great ocean road itinerary 3 days self drive
Beer at Great Ocean Road Brewhouse . Photo courtesy of Great Ocean Road Brewhouse.

Afterward head to Chris’ at Beacon Point for an upscale dining experience or pop into the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse and choose from one of over 100 craft beers. Otherwise, check out our guide for the best places to eat and drink in Apollo Bay.

Day Two: Apollo Bay to Port Campbell

It’s time for the second leg of your Great Ocean Road 3 days itinerary. Enjoy a coffee at Apollo Bay beach and then start heading toward Port Campbell. This stretch is 98 kilometers and can be completed in just 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Great Ocean Road itinerary 3 days

Here the Great Ocean Road takes a slight detour inland to reach two of the furthest points away from the coast. This will give you the perfect opportunity to ditch your car for a few hours, immerse yourself in nature, and go for a hike.

1st Stop: Pick a Walk in the Great Otway National Park or Experience the Otway Fly Treetop Adventures

Just by leaving Apollo Bay behind, you will find yourself in the heart of the Great Otway National Park. This natural reserve boasts a number of trekking trails which will excite even the most advanced trekkers.

The Redwoods

Drive inland for 28 kilometers to the Californian Redwoods grove. Here you’ll find a number of trails which criss-cross this area of monumental trees.

Hopetoun Falls

Head towards the Western edge of the Redwoods to find Hopetoun Falls. A viewing platform is located  20 minutes from the Hopetoun Falls car park. Then, if you like, you can descend to the foot of the falls via a 30-minute hike. 

Madsen’s Track Nature Trail

From Hopeturn Falls, a 40 minutes drive will take you to the entrance of Madsen’s Track Nature Trail. This trek can be completed in 30 to 45 minutes and will take you through verdant Myrtle Beech and Blackwood rainforest.  

Otway Treetop Adventures

One hour inland from Apollo Bay is the Otway Treetop Adventures. Here you can experience the Otway Zipline Tour or the Treetop Walk. The latter of which will take you 25 exhilarating meters into the air. The overall walk is nearly 2 kilometers and will take 1 hour to complete. It’s wholly impressive.

Great Ocean Road Tour 3 days
Treetop Walk at Otway Treetop Adventures. Photo courtesy of Otway Treetop Adventures.

Due to the proximity inland of the hikes and the Otway Treetop Adventures, you will need to wake up early or forgo the next attraction, The Cape Otway Lightstation, if you want to squeeze in the other attractions the day has in store. To drive from Apollo Bay to Otway Treetop Adventures to Otway Lightstation to Port Campbell is nearly 3 hours. So bear that in mind when you are planning your day.

3rd Stop: The Cape Otway Lightstation

The Cape Otway Lightstation is home to the oldest working lighthouse in Victoria and is a great vantage point for spotting migrating whales just offshore.

Great Ocean Road Tour 3 days

The Cape Otway Lighthouse offers a great number of talks and tours. There is the self-guided lighthouse tour which allows visitors to ascend to the top of the lighthouse. The trail to the Aboriginal Talking Hut is scattered with interpretive signs, and there are free Bush Tucker Talk and History Talk twice daily. 

Stop for lunch at Lighthouse Cafe. They serve snacks and light lunches from locally produced products. 

4th Stop: Gibson Steps

Get your first glimpse of the 12 Apostles by descending the 86 carved steps to the beach at Gibsons Steps. Stroll the impossibly pretty beach and feel small next to the monumental golden cliffs. Your Great Ocean Road itinerary, 3 days long, will not be complete without a visit to Gibson Steps.

Great Ocean Road itinerary 3 days

From the top of the cliff, the lookout has interpretive signs which give visitors an overview of the limestone stacks (Gog and Magog) and of the Shipwreck Coast.

There are over 240 discovered shipwrecks in this area. If you chose, walk the 1km trail that links Gibson Steps to the 12 Apostles viewing platform. 

5th Stop: The 12 Apostles

One of the most famous natural attractions along your Great Ocean Road 3 days tour is The Twelve Apostles. This will be one of the main highlights of your Great Ocean Road 3 days itinerary. The limestone pillars that rise from the rough ocean define one of the most recognizable landscapes in the world.

Great Ocean Road Tour 3 days

The pillars are absolutely stunning at sunset as the sun dips behind them and into the sea. However, crowds of tourists tend to congregate at this time. If you want to avoid the crowds head to Loch and Gorge for sunset and then head back to the 12 Apostles for sunrise. 

Final Stop: Port Campbell

The tiny town of Port Campbell is where you will be tucked in for the 2nd night of your Great Ocean Road 3 days itinerary. So, check into your accommodation then explore the beach if there is still light.

Great Ocean Road itinerary 3 days

Otherwise, head to the Pigs and Sows brewery for a craft beer. Then head over to one of these great places to eat in Port Campbell. 

Day Three: Port Campbell to Warrnambool

Wake up early in Port Campbell, grab your coffee at Grassroots Cafe and then head to your next attraction. The last leg of your Great Ocean Road 3 days road trip will require you to drive about 60km to Warrnambool.

Great Ocean Road Tour 3 days

The famous Shipwreck Coast and the Bay of Islands Coastal Reserve with its rock formations emerging from the sea offer some of the best views of the Great Ocean Road 3 days self-drive tour so-far.

1st Stop: Port Campbell Scenic Lookout

Get your heart pumping first thing in the morning by heading to the Port Campbell scenic lookout point. There is a steep trail that starts from Port Campbell Main Beach. Otherwise, on the western edge of town, there is a car park to view the scenic lookout from. 

2nd Stop: Loch and Gorge

Depending on whether or not you drive to the Port Campbell scenic lookout point or walk will determine which stop you make first. You’ll have to head back towards the 12 Apostles to reach Loch Gorge. However, it is just a mere 8 minutes from the town center of Port Campbell.

Great ocean road itinerary 3 days self drive

Loch and Gorge is famous gorge with stunning blue waters and sheer golden cliffs. It is the home of a famous shipwreck story you can read all on informative plaques once you’re there.

3rd Stop: London Bridge

Head towards Warrnambool and stop at London Bridge – a quirky land formation which stands just off shore. It was once connected to the mainland and visitors were permitted to drive atop it.

However, one day it crumbled leaving tourists stranded. Thankfully no one was hurt, but the stranded tourists had to be rescued by helicopter.

Great ocean road itinerary 3 days self drive

You can spot penguins here, which make regular trips to the ocean for their meals at dusk at dawn. The penguin colony averages in the hundreds.

4th Stop: The Grotto

Located at the bottom of a steep set of stairs is the Grotto. This geological formation is like a natural picture frame that captures the sea.

Great ocean road 3 days

When compared to the other geological formations along the Great Ocean Road this is a really unique attraction. Although it doesn’t require a very long stop. 30 minutes should be enough to descend the steps, capture a picture, and scramble back up.  

5th Stop: Bay of Islands Coastal Park

The Bay of Islands is a nearly 35 kilometre long coastal reserve which offers views of rock formations rising out of the sea. There are lookout areas with parking lots at the Bay of Martyrs, the Bay of Islands, Three Mile Beach and Childers Cove. Some of which have beach access. 

Final Stop: Warrnambool & Logans Beach for Whale Watching

You should be able to make it to Warrnambool for a late lunch. Afterward, head to the Logans Beach Whale Watching Platform. 

You can walk to the viewing platforms or sand dunes of the Whale Nursery located on Logans Beach. Get your binoculars (and some patience) ready. Between June and September, you should be able to spot Southern Right Whales and their offspring playing in the water and beginning their migration towards warmer waters.

Great Ocean Road itinerary 3 days

Stay the night in Warrnambool or head back towards Melbourne. Follow the inland route if you are headed back to Melbourne for a shorter drive. It should take you just under 3 hours to drive from Warrnambool back to the Melbourne CBD. Otherwise, head to the Grampians for an extended adventure.

The Grampians

A Great Ocean Road 3 days itinerary can seem short. However, with attractions fairly close together you will be surprised how much you will be able to experience on Victoria’s stellar coastline.

Have you been to the Great Ocean Road? How long did your tour take? Let us know!