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.
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.
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.
Where to Spend the Night in Torquay:
RACV offers modern and well-equipped rooms. There is a wide range of things to do on-site and it is located within walking distance to the beaches and town centre. Making it the perfect place to rest up before embarking on your 3 day Great Ocean Road itinerary.
The Torquay Foreshore Caravan Park is an affordable option with a wide range of accommodations available. Choose glamping pods, cabins or camping sites. It has communal facilities to enjoy like a game room, BBQ area and more.
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.
This little town is soaked in surf culture and you will sense that right away. Check out Surf City Plaza for surf gear and shopping or the Australian National Museum of Surfing. Otherwise, head to the maze of trendy boutique shops and resturants 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.
Bells Beach is as beautiful as its waves are good. Its dramatic cliffs, golden sands, and ocean vistas epitomize Great Ocean Road scenery.
Read Next: The Ultimate Guide to Bells Beach, Australia
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.
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. However, if swimming is more your style you can do that here too.
Otherwise, 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.
Read Next: The Best Things to do in Lorne Australia
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.
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 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.
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 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 Apollo Bay accommodation and then head up to Marriners Lookout for sunset. You will not be disappointed by the sunset views!
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.
Where to Spend the Night in Apollo Bay:
The Apollo Bay Eco YHA is merely a street away from the Great Ocean Road. The accommodation offers you a rooftop terrace and self-catering communal kitchens that keep the prices low. Chose from dorms or private rooms.
The Waterfront Motor Inn has scenic views of the ocean and surrounding gardens. It is located right across from the beach and features modern, stylish units with comfortable beds and basic amenities. Guests rate it over 9 out of 10.
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.
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 that will excite even the most advanced trekkers.
Drive inland for 28 kilometres to the Californian Redwoods grove. Here you’ll find a number of trails that criss-cross this area of monumental trees.
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.
Due to the proximity of inland hikes and the Otway Treetop Adventures, you will need to wake up early or choose between hiking inland or visiting The Cape Otway Lightstation. It is 3 hours to drive from Apollo Bay to Otway Treetop Adventures and then from the Otway Lightstation to Port Campbell So bear that in mind when you are planning your day.
Our advice: Based on your taste, choose the 2nd or 3rd stop to partake in on your 3-day adventure, but not both.
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.
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.
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. Located in Port Campbell National Park, 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.
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. They are located only about 5 minutes from town.
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 Port Campbell accommodation then explore the beach if there is still light.
Where to Spend the Night in Apollo Bay:
Sea Foam Villas is a great option. Located directly across from Port Campbell Beach, these affordable villas are modern and come complete with kitchen facilities and balconies. You can’t go wrong.
Another good choice is Sow and Piglets Port Campbell hostel. It is attached to the brewery and has a wide range of accommodation options. Choose from dorms or private rooms. The facilities are extremely clean and the hostel is located in the heart of town.
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.
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
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 so it is well worth the trip. It is best in the morning when you can have the place to your self.
Loch and Gorge is a 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 offshore. 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.
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 on your 3 day trip is the Grotto. This geological formation is like a natural picture frame that captures the sea.
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
Head to the Logans Beach Whale Watching Platform in Warrnambool. Here 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.
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 National Park for an extended adventure.
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.