The comprehensive guide to all the best things to do on the Mornington Peninsula! From Millionaires, Artists and Sculpture Walks, to the best beaches and water sports, adventure, wildlife, and national parks and gardens, to wineries and local gourmet food producers, this article has it all. Only 90 minutes from the center of Melbourne, this spectacular, wild, diverse, and family-friendly destination provides non-stop activities for a day trip or vacation.
With miles of beaches, sand dunes, coastal paths, and national parks, the walking and hiking options are endless. Here are some of the best:
Locals love taking their dogs along this spectacular walk past the Portsea mansions overlooking the private jetties and boathouse on beautiful Port Phillip Bay.
A short, easy walk through gates and front gardens of the bayside residents lucky enough to live at this low cliffside location.
The walk can be taken from either the King Street or Lentell Avenue end of the walk.
For a comprehensive article on everything, you need to know to take the Millionaire’s Walk, see Millionaire’s Walk: Portsea Mansions on Port Phillip Bay.
Location: King Street and Lentell Avenue, Portsea
Sorrento-Portsea Artists’ Trail
Incorporating the Millionaire’s Walk, the Sorrento-Portsea Artists’ Trail cannot realistically be done by foot in one day.
The Trail is the best way to discover Sorrento and Portsea.
The hunt for the stands that display the artworks painted at that site takes you over sand dunes, besides bathing boxes, to landmarks such as London Arch, and along cliffs, foreshores and jetties.
Download the official brochure of the Trail here.
Location: 3236 Point Nepean Road, Sorrento, VIC
Point Nepean National Park Walks
See the section below on Point Nepean National Park. There is a beautiful coastline and numerous fascinating ruins, abandoned sites, memorials, tunnels, and military fortifications to explore.
Multiple trails run through the Park and can be walked or e-biked. There is also a shuttle bus out to Fort Nepean and the tunnels.
For a comprehensive article on the best places and ways to explore the National Park, see Point Nepean: Best Day Trips from Melbourne.
Coastal and Rail Walks
1. The Two Bays Walking Track
This is a 26 kilometer walk from Dromana to Cape Schanck. Look for markers showing a Blue Wren within a circle to be sure you’re on the Track. The Track is divided into four sections.
The final section is called the Bushrangers Bay section. There is a car park on Boneo Road if you wish to only take this section of the Two Bays Walking Track.
The final section follows the Main creek down to Bushrangers Bay. It can be walked in either direction and provides dramatic coastal scenery. All four sections of the walk take 8 hours to complete.
Location: 1350 Boneo Road, Cape Schanck, VIC
2. The Red Hill Rail Trail
This Trail can be walked or cycled and horse riding is also allowed.
It follows the old railway line between Merricks and Red Hill, right in the middle of winery country!
There is therefore great food and wine at either end of the Rail Trail.
The Trail has wonderful views out over Western Port. It is uphill from Merricks to Red Hill or the easier downhill walk from Red Hill to Merricks.
3. Balcome Estuary Boardwalk Circuit
The Boardwalk follows Balcome Creek and has been well designed with information posts along the way as well as the accompanying Yellow Robin Audio Trail.
The Walk continues to a playground with a Lazy Lizard Audio trail and then to Mount Martha beach and onto the shopping district.
At this point, there is another boardwalk on the opposite side of the Creek, or you can return along the Balcome Estuary Boardwalk. This is a very dog and kid-friendly walk.
Sculpture Park Walks
Within the Mornington Peninsula’s beautiful wineries are several wonderful walks through sculpture parks.
The most stunning of these is the Port Leo Sculpture Park but the most interesting (and child-friendly) walk is the Montalto Winery Sculpture Trail.
For a comprehensive article on the best Mornington Peninsula wineries and information on the Montalto and Point Leo Estate wineries’ sculpture walks and parks, see Best Mornington Peninsula Wineries.
Beaches and Water Sports
The Mornington Peninsula has the advantage of straddling the ocean and Port Phillip Bay. The “Back” beaches are ocean beaches, and the “Front” beaches are the Bay beaches.
Sorrento Back Beach
Sorrento Back Beach has the advantage of being close to Sorrento and Portsea and offering facilities such as free car parking, toilets, and a cafe. The rock pools are an added bonus.
Location: Ocean Beach Rd, Sorrento VIC
Website: Parks Victoria
Sorrento Front Beach
Stretching along the Sorrento foreshore and promenade, this is a long stretch of white sand with the calm bay and jetties that are a favorite place for families.
Location: Point Nepean Rd, Sorrento VIC
Portsea Back Beach
Not for the faint-hearted, the waves crashing along the long span of the Portsea Back Beach can be treacherous in bad weather.
The many small rock pools are however a lovely spot for small children.
Mornington Peninsula National Park
There is a lot to explore within the National Park.
Gunamatta Beach, and the other coves and rock pools at Cape Schanck are popular swimming and surfing spots for international tourists and Melburnians.
Location: Cape Schanck Rd, Cape Schanck VIC
Facing the small towns of Rye, this is a long, beautiful, and clear bayside beach, perfect for walking, swimming, and great for families.
Location: Bay Trail, Rye VIC
Dolphin and Seal Swim
There are approximately 80 wild bottlenose dolphins in Port Phillip Bay. From October to April tours that include the boat tour, snorkeling, swimming, and looking for sea dragons can be booked.
There are also lots of fur seals to experience swimming with and there is no minimum age for participants.
Several companies (including Moonraker and Polperra) operate these eco-friendly tours that range from 90 minutes to three hours.
Sorrento to Queenscliff Ferry
The Sorrento to Queenscliff Ferry connects the two heads of Port Phillip Bay. In practical terms, that means it connects Melbourne’s two main ocean attractions – the Mornington Peninsula and the Great Ocean Road.
The Ferry port is located at the Sorrento Pier. Seaport Ferries operate every hour, on the hour, from 7 am to 6 pm.
It is a passenger and vehicle service and the crossing only takes 45 minutes, making it a great way to get out onto Port Phillip Bay as well as a great way to extend your holiday to the Bellarine Peninsula.
Portsea and Sorrento
Sorrento boasts a beautiful foreshore, some wonderful small bars and restaurants, and a shopping strip that includes upmarket clothes boutiques and art galleries.
It has more accommodation than neighboring Portsea.
It also has everyday necessities for an extended stay such as banks, postal services, and supermarkets.
Portsea is the premiere holiday house destination for wealthy Melburnians. The clifftop mansions are best seen on the aptly named Millionaire’s Walk.
The small town includes the Portsea Pier where you can look for weedy sea dragons, and is home to the Portsea Hotel which has great views over the pier and Bay.
Portsea ends in the Point Nepean National Park. As a result, there is limited accommodation but it draws crowds because of its beauty and affluence.
Point Nepean National Park
This is a fascinating National Park because of the diverse ways this piece of coastland has been used. See below for the eerie Point Nepean Quarantine Station.
There are many aboriginal artefacts here as well as a memorial to the Australian Prime Minister, Harold Holt, who drowned while swimming at the Portsea Back Beach.
Fort Nepean, the Gunnery, and a range of other military sites can be explored within the park. Fort Nepean, the Gunnery, and a range of other military sites can be explored within the park.
For more information about the many sites within the National Park, see Point Nepean: Best Day Trips from Melbourne.
Point Nepean Quarantine Station
Located within the Point Nepean National Park, this abandoned Quarantine station contains dozens of buildings free to walk through. It is an eerie, beautiful, and haunting location.
Initially set up to quarantine ship crew and passengers during the last global pandemic, Spanish Influenza, the station is a fascinating look at how large-scale infrastructure was created in Australia to deal with housing and feeding passengers, and disinfecting baggage.
It’s also fascinating to see how different “types” and “classes” of people were treated. Consumptive and lepers areas were created and there is a cemetery, morgue, and memorial to those who died.
For a comprehensive article on visiting the Quarantine Station, see Point Nepean Quarantine Station.
The Mornington Peninsula is home to large and small vineyards, many with organic and boutique restaurants, cellar doors, and accommodation.
There are some exceptional cool-climate varieties produced here and the vines have been in production since the 19th century.
Whites such as Chardonnay have traditionally been produced here, with Point Noir produced more recently.
For a comprehensive article on the best wineries of the Mornington Peninsula, including the best cellar door options and accommodation among the vineyards, see: Best Mornington Peninsula Wineries.
Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm
Strawberries can be picked her from November to June(called U-Pick). Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm produces more strawberries than anywhere else in Australia.
Location: 244 Shands Road, Main Ridge, VIC
Main Ridge Dairy
This is one of the best stops to try and stock up on the variety of local cheeses produced in eastern Victoria. It is the only farmhouse cheesery and dairy on the Mornington Peninsula.
Location: 295 Main Creek Road, Main Ridge, VIC
Red Hill Truffles
Organic Périgord truffles are grown at this truffière where owner, Jenny McAuley will help you hunt under the oak and hazelnut trees. Hunts and tasting are great fun here and you can purchase the truffle that you find on your truffle hunt.
Location: 235 Arthurs Seat Road, Red Hill, VIC
Cape Schanck Lighthouse
Cape Schanck Lighthouse has been guarding ships against coming aground from the treacherous Bass Strait 80 meters below, since 1859. Tours of the working lighthouse and maritime museum happen daily.
Whale watching, a boardwalk and stairs to the beach below, and a series of coastal bush walks are all reasons to venture out to Cape Schank.
The RACV Cape Schanck Resort is a great base to explore the lighthouse and its surroundings.
Location: 420 Cape Schanck Rd, Cape Schanck VIC
Arthurs Seat Eagle
This is a spectacular gondola ride up through the bushland with Port Phillip Bay far below. At summit station, you can walk to the lookouts or pause at the cafe before beginning your descent.
Location: 795 Arthurs Seat Road, Arthurs Seat, VIC
Enchanted Adventure Garden
Kids get to experience their bodies soaring through the sky on treetop zip lines, zooming along in tube slides, getting confused in hedge mazes, navigating aerial obstacles and tree surfing, and walking through the treetops on a canopy walk in the Enchanted Adventure Garden.
The Garden is minutes away from the Arthurs Seat Eagle and together it’s a pretty great day out for kids! Add in a beach and you might just be the most popular parent in Victoria that day!
Location: 21 Purves Road, Arthurs Seat, VIC
Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens
If you need more mazes in one day, then Ashcombe Maze is definitely worth a visit. It is an astonishing hedge maze and not at all simple to successfully navigate!
The rose maze here is believed to be the oldest circular rose maze in the world. Many people come here to visit the lavender gardens and there is also a “Great Gnome Hunt.”
Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park
Another great experience for kids and also visitors from other countries, the Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park is a 25-hectare site that is part of the Peacedale Conservation Park.
The Sanctuary provides animal experiences including getting up close and personal with dingoes and dingo puppies, wombats, koalas, wallabies, Barn Owls, Pythons, and Kangaroos.
Location: 550 Tyabb-Tooradin Road, Peacedale, VIC
Peninsula Hot Springs
One of the most popular tourist attractions on the Mornington Peninsula is the Peninsula Hot Springs. The property takes advantage of the natural geothermal mineral springs.
A cave pool, hilltop pool, Turkish steam bath, Day Spa, Bath House massage services, and a reflexology walk are all part of the relaxation experience offered at the Peninsula Hot Springs.
Location: 140 Springs Lane, Fingal, VIC
Here you have a choice of hotels, including a handful of resorts, which you need to book early, and camping along the beautiful foreshore of the main towns of the Peninsula.
For a comprehensive article on the best hotels, and camping in the Portsea area, see Coolest Hotels in Portsea and the Best Camping and Hotels.
- Now that you’ve seen the Mornington Peninsula, you must see the other side of Melbourne’s coastline: the Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles. Get my Great Ocean Road Holiday Complete Planning Guide here.
- Where to Stay on your Great Ocean Road Holiday? Check out these itineraries from one day to one week here: Great Ocean Road Itinerary.
- Get Your Guide 12 Apostles activities and tours are here
- More detailed information on how to book transport, airfares, accommodation, and travel insurance is available on my Travel Resources page
- For other great day trips to Melbourne, see my blog post on wonderful walks and hikes to the east of Melbourne in the Dandenong Mountains and Yarra Ranges here
- For 5 great reasons to visit the village of Gembrook in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, see my blog post here
- For other wonderful destination information when you are planning your Australian holiday, see my Australia destinations page here