The Great Ocean Road is one of Melbourne’s most popular day tour destinations, and with good reason.
Officially, this epic coastal route west of the Victorian capital stretches for 243 kilometres from Torquay to Allansford in regional Victoria. The most popular attractions along the route are the limestone sea stacks known as the 12 Apostles, and their counterparts Loch Ard Gorge and London Bridge. Tours to the region generally take in these gob-smackingly beautiful natural phenomena, along with quintessential seaside towns of Lorne and Apollo Bay, portions of the Great Otway National Park, and much more. There are many opportunities along the route for wildlife spotting — including koalas and kangaroos.
Here are ten of the best Great Ocean Road tours and experiences from Melbourne. Each of them will show you a different side of this world-renowned natural landscape.
Looking for a great all-rounder at a reasonable price? You can’t go wrong with this classic Great Ocean Road tour. Travel in air-conditioned comfort with an average of 15 to 20 participants, taking in all the must-see sights — including the famous 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge. You’ll also have time to explore resort town of Apollo Bay.
It can get a little hectic at the 12 Apostles around mid-afternoon when the majority of tour buses reach the site at roughly the same time. This small group tour will help you avoid the bulk of the crowds. You’ll travel with a maximum of eleven guests and depart the city slightly earlier (meaning you’ll see fewer fellow tourists at key stops along the Great Ocean Road — including the Apostles). A rainforest walk in the Great Otway National Park is one of the tour’s many highlights.
The 12 Apostles are a photographer’s dream, especially when they’re bathed in the soft light of sunset. This tour will give you the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these stunning monoliths as the sun sets behind them. There are also stops at Loch Ard Gorge and Gibson Steps, where you’ll have the opportunity to walk on the beach and look up at the soaring coastal cliffs. You’ll need a fully charged camera, so come prepared!
This superb small group Great Ocean Road tour is one of the few all-inclusive experiences on offer in the region, and is excellent value for the price. Travel in a supremely comfortable Mercedes Benz Sprinter with a maximum of eleven guests and see all the key sights along the Great Ocean Road, including the 12 Apostles. Morning tea and lunch are both included in the tour price, along with lots of little extras. The comfort factor is reason-enough to consider this option.
This deluxe all-inclusive tour will enable you to visit the Great Ocean Road in total comfort. Settle into your deluxe full-size coach and prepare for a once-in-a-lifetime journey, as your driver navigates the twists and turns along the iconic drive. Learn the history of the road, stop at various vantage points for photo opportunities, and enjoy an included two-course bistro lunch in Apollo Bay. The day culminates with your visit to Port Campbell National Park and the 12 Apostles limestone sea stacks. Magic!
Go against the flow and beat the crowds on this Great Ocean Road trip that operates in reverse to most other tours. Your day will include all the highlights of the standard direction tours, but you’ll take the inland route in the morning and visit the 12 Apostles first (thereby avoiding the site at its busiest time in the afternoon). The far end of the Great Ocean Road is quite remote, so a lunch of fresh sandwiches is included in the cost of your tour.
Two amazing landscapes sit side by side on the Great Ocean Road — the sublime and rugged coastline itself, and the ancient rainforest of the Great Otway National Park. This tour will immerse you in both. Visit the 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge, then enjoy the exhilaration of the Otway Fly Treetop Adventures’ soaring Treetop Walk and the non-stop thrills of the Zipline Tour (additional cost applies). This experience offers a full day of fun and adventure!
There’s so much to see and do along the Great Ocean Road, and this small group overnight tour takes in all the key sights at a relaxed pace. You’ll spend the night in charming Apollo Bay — arriving in plenty of time to explore and have a swim, before checking in to your overnight accommodation at the YHA. Guests have a choice of dorm-style accommodation or a private room (an upgrade fee applies) Purchase dinner at one of the many eateries in town, and perhaps take an evening stroll along the beach. This tour is suitable for all ages.
For those travelling through southern Australia and looking for fun and adventure, this three-day Melbourne to Adelaide tour, via the Great Ocean Road and the Grampians, is a chance to travel with a friendly crew and explore the magnificent natural attractions of this part of the country. The tour includes accommodation, meals, activities and national park entry fees.
The Great Ocean Road is up there amongst the world’s most spectacular drives, but this extended walking tour along the same spectacular stretch of coastline will give you an entirely different perspective — well away from the regular tourist trail. Explore beautiful beaches and coves, and take in the spectacular cliff-top vistas. You’ll stay in comfortable accommodation and walk with experienced and knowledgable guides. Transport, twin-share accommodation, most meals, guided walks and national park entry fees are included.
Do you have any recommendations to add to this list of the best Great Ocean Road tours? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Cover image courtesy of Visit Victoria. Additional images: Bigstock
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.