The Ultimate Guide to the Mornington Peninsula
Just an hour beyond the city borders of Melbourne, lies the perfect weekend escape. Surrounded by the waters of Western Port, Port Phillip and the open sea of Bass strait, Mornington Peninsula doesn’t stop at an ocean-lovers dream. Venture a little further inwards and you’ll find epic hot springs, an array of delectable local cuisine and 50+ wineries, breweries and distilleries to tempt your taste buds. Mornington scenery is a treasure trove of rugged coastlines, lush hinterlands and quaint farms and really does have something for everyone.
How to Get to Mornington Peninsula From Melbourne
Hop on a metropolitan train service departing from Southern Cross Station to Frankston station. Local buses will then transfer you the rest of the way to Mornington, but note that during weekends these run between every one to two hours.
Accessing the Mornington Peninsula is an easy one hour drive drive from Melbourne City Centre. The most direct route follows the M1 to the Eastlink tollway before reaching the Mornington Peninsula Freeway. For a more scenic drive, you can travel via Frankston and pass through some of Port Phillip’s most beautiful towns such as Rosebud, Sorrento and Portsea.
The ferry departing from Queenscliff to the Great Ocean Road and Sorrento departs every hour and comes with the possibility of exceptional sea views and dolphins!
If you’re looking for a convenient, stress-free way to check out the Mornington Peninsula, joining a tour might be your best option. Not only will this eliminate the need to organise transport and a designated driver, but a tour can save you time by recommending the best venues, restaurants and local sites to suit what you are wanting to get out of the day. Hops and Barrels offer both Hop on Hop off service and Private Wine tours.
Where to go in the Mornington Peninsula
Named after a famous shipwreck, Rosebud is nestled between Rye and Dromana on the Nepean Highway. The idyllic seaside town offers a lovely bay beach, panoramic views at Arthurs Seat and great shopping at the local markets.
- Red Hill
Located on the hinterland of the Mornington Peninsula, Red Hill is a vibrant, rural community with a backdrop of scenic hills and native forests. Showcasing some of the best vineyards, restaurants and artisan producers in Victoria, this small area packs a punch in terms of quality things to see and do in Mornington!
Sorrento is a historic township offering a stylish-modern twist on a beachside town. Renowned for its limestone buildings which now house over 60 boutique shops, galleries, restaurants and bars, Sorrento is the perfect place to wander and enjoy a fresh gelato.
- Fingal Beach
Fingal Picnic Area is the perfect place to share some fresh fish and chips whilst enjoying spectacular views of basalt cliffs and Fingal beach. Access to Fingal beach is only possible via a steep path made up of 400 steps, but the views and natural trails make the trek absolutely worth it.
Rub shoulders with the rich and famous in the elite small village of Portsea. Known for having some of the most expensive real estate in Australia, you can also find great surf swells and the Portsea golf course with expansive views toward Port Phillip.
The buzzing, bayside centre of Dromana is alive with people shopping, eating and drinking. Loved by locals and tourists alike, the southern end of Mornington Peninsula is home to expansive sandbars and soft, white-sand beaches. Checkout our top 4 must visit Cafes in Dromana.
Things to Do in the Mornington Peninsula
Mornington Peninsula is a playground for adults. With seemingly endless options of dining, drinking and fantastic sightseeing spots to check out. From the high end wineries that have been popular for decades to the smaller, family-run boutique venues which you would only find with local knowledge, Mornington has something for all budgets. Once you couldn’t possibly eat or drink any more, the natural beauty of the area and its many hiking trails and beaches will keep you happily entertained.
- Peninsula Hot Springs
Victoria’s first natural hot springs is an award-winning day spa destination. Natural thermal mineral water flows throughout a variety of different rock pools with gorgeous forest backdrops. The hot springs are calming, serene and the ultimate way to relax before a busy day of exploring the rest of the Peninsula awaits.
- Arthurs Seat
For a birds eye view of the golden bays, lush greenery and panoramic views across Port Phillip Bay, you can’t miss Arthurs Seat. You can either hike the 304-metre granite hill or catch the state of the art gondola for a less physical way to experience the views.
With over 100 walking and hiking trails throughout the Mornington Peninsula, hiking lovers will be spoiled for choice! Choose from coastal, forest, wetlands or hilltop walks depending on what scenery you’re in the mood for.
- Mornington Peninsula Beaches
The Mornington Peninsula spans over 190km, two bays plus ocean beaches. Dromana, Rye, Sorrento and Rosebud are all great spots for swimming. Portsea, Gunnamatta and Point Leo ocean beaches offer a more wild experience and are the place to go for lovers of surf and big waves. Of all the beaches, Mt Martha’s South Beach might be the most picturesque. It’s super wide and long sands are the ideal place to bring the dogs and kids.
- Mornington Peninsula Wineries
With its gentle rolling hills, colourful orchards and jaw-dropping seaviews, exploring the vineyards of the Mornington Peninsula is a world-class experience. Celebrated for its excellent pinot noirs and chardonnays, the 50+ boutique wineries and cellar doors throughout the Peninsula will satisfy even the pickiest wine connoisseur.
Surrounded by three bodies of water and a landscape formed from volcanic activity 60 million years ago, the maritime climate is cooler than most other parts of wine regions in Australia. The mixture of top-quality wine along with an incredibly hospitable vibe of the small community creates an instant welcoming feel to every winery you visit. What started in the 1970’s with a few vineyards dotted along the Peninsula has now evolved to include world-class restaurants, art galleries, sculpture gardens and unforgettable cellar door experiences.
- Mornington Peninsula Breweries
Whilst many people associate the Mornington Peninsula with exceptional wines and stunning vineyards, it’s often overlooked the number of high quality breweries who have also put themselves on the map. Whether you’re in the mood for an ale, lager or stout, there’s a hip, welcoming venue for you. Beer fanatic but not such a fan of the gluten? We have coeliacs covered as well! Two Bays Brewing Co handcraft their coeliac-friendly beer on site and we can vouch for it being just as good as the real deal! For a slightly sweeter treat, grab a tasting paddle at Mr Little Cider, a family-run cider local producer of excellent cider. Infused with natural flavours such as ginger, strawberry-lime and blackcurrant, there’s a perfect cider for every palette.
- Mornington Peninsula Distilleries
For a bit of diversity in your drink, switch it up to try some of the fantastic spirits that Mornington has to offer. Whether your favourite poison is gin, rum or whiskey, some of the best distilleries in Victoria await you on the peninsula. Try your hand at a tasting with local experts to gain an insight into the process of creating each spirit to perfection. Many of the distilleries also offer signature cocktails and funky outdoor areas to enjoy your chosen concoction.
Mornington Peninsula Restaurants
PWhether you’re looking for a fine dining experience or a cute cafe to grab a cake and coffee, Mornington Peninsula has something for every taste and budget. With an abundance of fresh, local produce you can always rest assured that you’ll be indulging in the highest quality food whilst often supporting a family-run business. The food scene has caught up with the wine scene in a big way, with Melbournians flocking the city in search of a fresh sea breeze accompanied with an excellent choice of restaurants.
It’s no secret that Melbourne is world-renowned for its cafe and coffee culture. The maze of options in the CBD is overflowing with brunching options, but venture outside of the city and mid-morning treasures await. From stylish waterfront spots to cozy vegan haunts, the array of cafes popping up in Mornington is certainly giving Melbourne a run for its money! Here are the 4 best Vegan Cafes to visit on the Mornington Peninsula.
- Winery Lunches
As well as enjoying spectacular views, a winery lunch also promises unforgettable meals paired perfectly with the best drop of vino. The key to spending a day amongst the vines is that it should be enjoyed and not rushed. By opting to sit in at one of Morningtons many winery restaurants means that you can slow down, sample some of the best local wines and have it expertly matched to your dish.
- Brewery Lunches
If you’re loving the brewery so much that the thought of leaving to fuel up is too much to bear, fear not. Many of the breweries serve up a fantastic pub grub which is sure to satisfy the hungriest of brew-lovers! Everything from roasting woodfired pizzas to tapas and cheese boards are available, with lots being on a walk-in basis.
Mornington Peninsula Accommodation
For those who can’t squeeze all of the goodness out of Mornington in just one day (it’s okay, it’s actually impossible!) then staying overnight might be the best option. Luckily, there’s a tonne of accommodation options to suit every budget. Whether you’re looking for a cozy AirBnb or a swanky winery retreat, the ideal place to rest your weary heads and full bellies is just a click away.
For those extra special occasions (okay, or just ‘cos!) treat yourself to one of Morningtons most prestigious resorts and spa retreats. Private swimming pools, jacuzzis, tennis courts, golf courses are just the beginning. Don’t let the smaller size of Mornington fool you, there’s many 5* resort-style accommodation options to tempt you!
After a sweet day of wining and dining, all that’s left to do is to unwind. Hotel prices start at around $120 for a standard room. If you’re happy to splurge a little more, many hotels will offer on-site bars, restaurants and swimming pools.
- Air BNB
To really enjoy the ambiance of small-town Peninsula living, why not stay in one of the many AirBnb’s available? If you’re looking for convenience and something centrally located, there’s a tonne of options available. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find some unique, hidden gems that offer a stay which is an experience in itself. Cottages, tiny houses, garden retreats; there’s a hideaway for everyone!
For those with an adventurous spirit at heart, the option of camping is one of the most affordable accommodations available. Camerons Bight and Stringer Campground offer beach-front camping facilities, so that you can enjoy your newly purchased wine whilst dipping your toes in the sand. Kangerong Holiday Park is a great option if you have kids, with a safe swimming beach and multiple swimming pools. To escape the crowds head to Mornington Gardens Holiday Village. Whilst its a drive away from shops and restaurants, its secluded location promises a peaceful nights sleep.