Geelong Travel Guide (A Local Perspective)

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They say you have to travel the world to truly appreciate home. For us, there couldn’t be truer words said. We’ve lived in Geelong Australia our entire lives but it wasn’t until we started travelling the world that we realised what a fantastic city Geelong is. Popular with domestic travellers but not yet well known outside of Australia, Geelong is slowly changing and with so many more things to do in Geelong today, it’s a city most people enjoy visiting. 

The city is increasing its focus on tourism and we love nothing better than helping others discover our delightful city too so here’s how to visit Geelong from a local perspective, with recommendations on things to do in Geelong, our favourite Geelong restaurants, what’s on in Geelong and some Geelong accommodation suggestions too. 

Geelong Travel Guide

geelong activities
Geelong is a beautiful historic city with outdoor spaces, museums, cafes and a stunning waterfront.

Situated on the shores of Corio Bay, Geelong started life as an industrial port.

Most of the industry is gone now and its waterfront has been transformed into a popular tourist destination.

The area is jam-packed with restaurants and cafes, public artworks, landscaped gardens and the iconic Eastern Beach.

Gtown, as us locals call it, is a beautiful historic city with friendly locals and a chilled-out vibe.

It’s pretty cool too.

Visitors can wander down laneways filled with graffiti art, industrial spaces and hidden cafes and bars.

Geelong’s location is ideal for day trips to the Bellarine Peninsula and Great Ocean Road but there are so many things to do in Geelong you should spend a few days exploring the city itself.

Top things to do in Geelong

Visit the Geelong Waterfront 

geelong waterfront
The beautiful Geelong waterfront is one of the top Geelong attractions.

The Geelong Waterfront is where all the action takes place and it’s easily the most popular Geelong tourist attraction.

The first place to visit is the magnificent Geelong foreshore.

The Geelong Waterfront encompasses Eastern Beach and the promenade, Steam Packet Gardens, Cunningham Pier and Rippleside Park in the west.

This cosmopolitan and vibrant area is a hive of activity filled with people enjoying the many restaurants, parks and activities on offer.

Visitors can enjoy Harley Davidson motorcycle rides, check out the view from the air in a helicopter or take a boat cruise on the sparkling Corio Bay.

The Geelong Waterfront also hosts several major events throughout the year including the famous festival of Sails.

A highlight of the Geelong Waterfront is the area known as Eastern Beach.

The Geelong Waterfront is the city’s favourite playground; it was built in the 1930s and it’s been popular with locals ever since.

Its Art Deco design features a pavilion, Spanish Staircase and the legendary promenade that encloses the pool.

The whole area is covered with an immaculate lawn that’s perfect for picnics, barbecues, sun baking and ball games.

The area explodes with people in the summer months.

On Christmas and Boxing Day holidays, tens of thousands of families flock to the grassy slopes to celebrate in the Australian sun.

Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre

things to do geelong - feed a kangaroo at Narana Aboriginal cultural centre
Visiting the Narana Aboriginal cultural centre is one of the things to do in Geelong to learn more about the region’s past.

Experience the World’s Oldest Living Culture first hand at Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre.

The centre’s mission is to foster an understanding of Aboriginal history and traditions in a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.

Expert staff share amazing facts and information about indigenous uses of land, traditional medicine and food, laws and spirituality.

Narana has a fabulous art gallery that exhibits some of the best indigenous art from across the country.

Many of the artworks are for sale and if you’re in the market for a souvenir, I highly recommend checking out the gift shop.

It offers the chance to purchase boomerangs, didgeridoos, bush herbs and spices and other handmade items.

The whole complex sits amongst native trees, walkways and gardens that are home to emus, wallabies and kangaroos.

It’s almost worth a visit to stroll the grounds, see wildlife and learn how to throw a boomerang. 

There’s an onsite cafe that serves dishes inspired by indigenous ingredients.

National Wool Museum

things to do in geelong - visit the national wool museum
The National Wool Museum is one of the most popular Geelong attractions.

I know, I know, wool doesn’t sound exciting but you’ll be surprised to learn this Geelong attraction is one of the most popular with visitors.

Visiting the National Wool Museum is a wonderful way to learn the history of Geelong and the impact the wool industry had on the Australian culture.

Step back into a time portal decked out with a recreated shearer’s hut, a delightful 1930’s cottage and sheep shearing displays.

It’s interesting to learn how sheep are shorn and what it’s like to work as a shearer or farm hand.

It’s also worth visiting at the right time to see a live sheep shearing demonstration.

Along with the permanent displays, the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions.

Our favourite is the Wildlife Photographer of the Year that comes from the London Natural History Museum.

The museum is in a beautiful old bluestone wool store and is home to a good value Italian restaurant.

Geelong Bollards

Geelong bollards - one of the top geelong attractions
Taking a selfie with a Geelong Bollard is one of the top things to do in Geelong for any visitor.

The Geelong Bollards were created by artist Jan Mitchell, who was commissioned by the City of Greater Geelong to transform reclaimed timber pylons into these characterful works of art.

The bollards are a fun depiction of the city’s past featuring unique characters who played a part in its history.

Favourites include explorer Matthew Flinders, the sailor and floozy near Cunningham Pier and the surf lifesavers.

There are more than 100 of these much-loved pieces of art stretching from Limeburner’s Point to Rippleside Park and taking a selfie with a bollard is one of the fun things to do in Geelong for any visitor. 

Geelong Festivals And Events

whats on in geelong
Plan your visit around what’s on in Geelong. There are many colourful and vibrant festivals in the region, including the Queenscliff Festival of Music.

The Geelong region is home to a multitude of high-profile festivals and events.

From world-class sporting events and music festivals to food, wine and beer fairs and even aerial acrobatics, there’s a Geelong festival for everyone.

If you have a flexible schedule, a fun time to visit Geelong is during one of these events.

The spectacular Geelong Waterfront holds some of the largest and most impressive celebrations, from Australia Day activities to triathlon and cycling events and auto shows.

Other Geelong festivals not to be missed are the Festival of Sails, Cadel Evans Road Race and the Geelong Revival.

There’s also the prestigious Australian International Air Show, the multi-cultural PakoFesta and Portarlington Celtic Festival.

Food, wine and music lovers are taken care of too, with Australia’s Biggest Beer Festival, Toast to the Coast, Lara Food and Wine Festival, A Day on the Green and the Meredith Music Festival.

Day Trips From Geelong

With its fabulous location that’s close to city, sea and bush, Geelong has plenty of day trip options to choose from.

Visitors (and locals) are spoilt for choice.

From wineries to water sports, to hiking and spa treatments, you’ll never be left wondering what to do. Here are some Geelong day trips worth putting on your itinerary. 

You Yangs National Park

geelong day trip
One of the things to do near Geelong is to take a trip to the You Yangs National Park.

It’s hard to miss the granite peaks of the You Yangs that rise from the flat plains just 22 kilometres north of Geelong.

Popular with visitors for their magnificent views, the You Yangs 43eoffer plenty of outdoor activities.

There are areas for horse riding and mountain biking as well as a host of walking tracks as well as rock climbing and abseiling sites throughout the park.

You Yangs National Park offers plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities close to Geelong. It’s not uncommon to see koalas, kangaroos and wallabies.

Throughout the national park, there are picnic areas and barbecue facilities too. 

Hepburn Springs

geelong day trip spa
Relaxing in a spa in Hepburn Springs is one of the attractions near Geelong.

Just an hour’s drive from Geelong is Australia’s largest concentration of mineral springs.

Their health-giving properties, along with the chance for some pampering, have been attracting visitors from Geelong for decades.

Take a drive and indulge in hydrotherapy, massage and beauty therapy at the Hepburn Bathhouse& Spa. It’s the perfect spot for some rejuvenating ‘me time’.

Afterwards, enjoy a coffee in a cafe or treat yourself to gastronomic delights at the sophisticatedArgus Dining Room.

Lorne and the Great Ocean Road

geelong day trips
Going for a drive along the Great Ocean Road is another fantastic Geelong day trip.

Located on the stunning Great Ocean Road, Lorne has a classic Australian beach town vibe.

It’s an idyllic setting with sandy beaches that frame a horseshoe-shaped bay and its proximity to the Otway National Park means its close to natural wilderness, wildlife and waterfalls.

We love Lorne’s grassy foreshore that’s perfect for playing games and eating fish and chips.

The town’s main shopping strip is filled with boutique gift shops, cellars, eateries and galleries.

Be sure to stop by the ice cream shop for a cone of gooey deliciousness.

The Bellarine Peninsula

geelong day trip to queenscliff
Going on a drive to the Bellarine Peninsula is one of the things to do from Geelong.

With its rolling plains and delightful seaside towns and fishing villages, the Bellarine Peninsula is a lovely place to visit all year round.

Visitors will discover quirky wineries, galleries and museums, and chic cafes serving barista made coffee and local treats.

A pleasant way to spend a day is to go shopping and taste testing at boutique wineries, breweries and dairy farms.

There are plenty of water activities from fishing, surfing and diving to swimming with dolphins and seals.

Tip: Queenscliff has the best fish and chip shop on the Peninsula. (And in Geelong too!)

Geelong Information

gelong map
Map of Geelong.

Where is Geelong Australia?

Geelong is 75 kilometres south-west of Melbourne. It’s about a 1-hour 20-minute drive from Melbourne and if you’re also visiting Melbourne, here are some things to do in Melbourne at night

The city lives up to its moniker as the gateway to the Great Ocean Road and Bellarine Peninsula.

Geelong is the ideal base for visiting several world-class tourist attractions in Victoria.

How To Get To Geelong City

It’s not difficult to get to Geelong. There are several options available.

  • By car, it’s an easy one hour’s drive along the Princes Highway.
  • If you don’t have a car regular V/Line train services depart Southern Cross Station in Melbourne.
  • Avalon Airport is conveniently located just 20 minutes from Geelong’s city centre. A shuttle service meets every flight that lands there.
  • Another option is to catch the Port Phillip Ferry from the Docklands. It currently docks at Portarlington but Geelong is scheduled for December 2019.

Weather And Best Time To Visit Geelong

Geelong enjoys warm summers, glorious springs, mild autumns and crisp winters.

Summer is dry, with hot spells and cooling afternoon breezes off Corio Bay. The months of June and July are the coldest and October is the wettest.

Honestly, any time is a good time to visit Geelong. However, summer is when all the fun and action happens with lots of festivals taking place throughout the region.

March is a great month to visit too, with warm days and cool nights. Check out the latest weather forecast for Geelong here

Best Places To Eat In Geelong

food in gellong
A delicious feast at Little Creatures Brewery. There are plenty of places to find good food in Geelong.

From its high-end restaurants to its quick and cheerful cafes, Geelong has some of Australia’s best regional dining.

A handful of Melbourne’s big culinary names have jumped ship and set up shop in Geelong. Here are a few for you to choose from:

  • For breakfast, you can’t go past the “Jack Sparrow” at Sailor’s Rest or the corn fritters at 9 Grams in Pakington Street.
  • For lunch, it’s fish and chips at The Boat House – head to the top deck for panoramic views of city and bay.
  • For a nice juicy steak, it has to be Parkers Steakhouse. – No Geelong local would go anywhere else.
  • For fine dining head to IGNI where every course comes with a story.
  • For seafood Fishermen’s Pier has the best views and the best food. Or for something casual try takeaway paella from the Mussel Boat.

Where To Stay In Geelong

The Geelong area offers a huge choice of places to stay. From luxury apartments to hotels and heritage houses to simple camping grounds, there’s something to suit all tastes and budgets. Check out a range of Geelong hotels here

Quality Hotel Bayside Geelong

Located on Geelong’s Esplanade, and only 15minutes stroll into the town centre. The Quality has the magnificent waterfront foreshore as its front garden.

Rydges Geelong

Situated on the edge of the CBD, Rydges Geelong is a small hotel with guest rooms, suites, pool, spa and gym.

It’s a short walk from the vibrant foreshore and the hotel has sweeping views of dazzling Corio Bay.

Nireeda Apartments

Geelong’s hidden treasure, Nireeda Apartments is located within 300 metres of the Waterfront and is just a one minute walk to Westfield and Market Square shopping centres.

Sabina On Little Myers

From Sabina’s front door it’s only a hop, skip and jump to Geelong’s inner city and waterfront attractions. This stunning three-bedroom Victorian house accommodates up to six guests.

BOOK HERE

Audrey Chalmers grew up in Geelong and has returned to her hometown to raise a family with her husband Andrew after travelling the world. Their blog seegelong.com.au is all about how to get the most out of Geelong, whether you are on holiday or live there permanently.

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things to do in geelong guide

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