7 Breathtaking Small Towns to Visit in Victoria

Victoria is a region of remarkable diversity, with each small town offering a unique slice of local life and natural beauty. Far from the urban sprawl, these towns are oases of tranquility and culture, each with distinctive attractions and activities that reveal Victoria’s rich heritage and landscape. Whether you’re drawn to the therapeutic mineral springs of Daylesford, the seasonal splendor of Bright or the historic charm of Port Fairy, Victoria’s small towns invite you to discover their stories and treasures. Here’s an in-depth look at seven breathtaking cities, complete with the sights and experiences that make each a special destination.

Daylesford

Street view in Daylesford, Victoria
Street scene in Daylesford, Victoria, via doublelee / Shutterstock.com

Daylesford is known for its natural mineral springs and spa retreats. The city exudes a serene, almost otherworldly charm, making it an excellent destination for relaxation and well-being. Start your visit at the iconic Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa, where you can soak in the therapeutic mineral waters and indulge in a variety of spa treatments. Located atop an extinct volcano, the Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens offer panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside. The gardens are perfect for a relaxing stroll, with beautifully landscaped paths, a conservatory and a charming café to enjoy.

As well as its wellness attractions, Daylesford also has a vibrant arts scene. Housed in a historic 19th-century mansion, the Convent Gallery features an impressive collection of contemporary artworks, a beautiful café and meticulously maintained gardens. Wander through the Sunday market at Daylesford train station, where you’ll find an eclectic mix of local produce, crafts and antiques. For dining, head to the award-winning Lake House Restaurant, located on the shores of Lake Daylesford. This renowned eatery offers a menu inspired by local ingredients, making for an unforgettable culinary experience.

Bright

The country town of Bright, Victoria on a cool autumn morning along Great Alpine Rd
The country town of Bright, Victoria on a cool autumn morning along Great Alpine Rd

Located in the heart of Victoria’s High Country, Bright is a picturesque town known for its beautiful seasonal displays, especially in autumn when the foliage turns into a riot of red, orange and gold. The city is surrounded by majestic mountains, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Take a scenic drive along the Great Alpine Route, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Bright’s Canyon Walk, along the Ovens River, is perfect for a leisurely stroll or bike ride, with several places to stop and enjoy the tranquil river scenery.

Bright is also a gateway to some of Victoria’s best ski areas, including Mount Hotham and Falls Creek. In the warmer months the city comes alive with festivals and events such as the Bright Autumn Festival, celebrating the beauty of the changing seasons with parades, markets and open gardens. For a taste of local cuisine, visit the Bright Brewery where you can sample craft beers brewed on site while enjoying the river views. The town’s main street is lined with boutique shops, cafes and restaurants, offering everything from gourmet cuisine to homemade sweets.

Harbor Fee

Harbor fee on the Great Ocean Road
Harbor fee on the Great Ocean Road

Port Fairy is a historic fishing village on Victoria’s south-west coast, known for its charming bluestone cottages, historic buildings and vibrant arts scene. Griffiths Island, just offshore, is home to a large colony of shearwaters and the picturesque Port Fairy Lighthouse. A walk around the island’s route offers beautiful coastal views and the chance to spot wildlife. The town itself boasts more than 50 listed buildings, including the iconic Moyne River Wharf and the beautifully restored old mills.

Port Fairy’s cultural calendar is packed with events, the most famous of which is the Port Fairy Folk Festival. This annual event attracts musicians and artists from all over the world, transforming the city into a hub of music and creativity. For a more relaxing experience, stroll through the Port Fairy Botanic Gardens or visit one of the many art galleries showcasing local and international talent. Dining in Port Fairy is a treat, with seafood being the highlight. Merrijig Kitchen offers a menu that changes with the seasons, with an emphasis on local produce and fresh seafood.

Beechworth

Historic Beechworth town center on a warm summer day in Victoria
Historic Beechworth town center on a warm summer day in Victoria, Australia, via FiledIMAGE / Shutterstock.com

Beechworth is a beautifully preserved historic town, famous for its gold rush heritage and well-preserved Victorian-era architecture. The Beechworth Historic Courthouse, where infamous outlaw Ned Kelly was tried, is a must for history buffs. Beechworth Gaol, which once housed Kelly and his gang, offers guided tours that delve deeper into the city’s rich and often turbulent past. For a more serene experience, stroll through Beechworth Historic Park, with its network of trails, waterfalls and picnic areas.

The town’s lively main street is lined with historic buildings housing boutiques, cafes and restaurants. The Beechworth Bakery is legendary and offers a tempting range of pastries, pies and cakes. For a taste of local produce, visit the Beechworth Honey Discovery Center where you can learn about the honey production process and sample a variety of honey products. Beechworth also boasts a thriving arts scene, with galleries and studios showcasing the work of local artists. The annual Beechworth Celtic Festival is a highlight and celebrates the town’s Scottish and Irish heritage with music, dancing and traditional food.

Kyneton

Kyneton, Victoria, Australia: Piper Street is a lively shopping street
Kyneton, Victoria, Australia: Piper Street is a lively shopping street

Located in the Macedon Ranges, Kyneton is a charming town known for its historic buildings, vibrant food scene and beautiful gardens. Piper Street is the heart of Kyneton, lined with Grade II listed buildings housing trendy cafes, restaurants and boutiques. Established in 1858, the Kyneton Botanic Gardens are a haven of peace, with winding paths, majestic trees and a charming river walk. The gardens are perfect for a picnic or a relaxing stroll.

The city’s culinary scene is a big draw, with establishments such as the award-winning Royal George Hotel, which offers a menu featuring local produce and seasonal ingredients. For a unique dining experience, visit Source Dining, where the emphasis is on farm-to-table cuisine. Kyneton is also home to several wineries, such as the famous Passing Clouds Winery, where you can enjoy wine tastings and vineyard tours. The city’s historic architecture is best explored on foot, with a self-guided walking tour of sights such as the Kyneton Museum and the historic Bluestone Theatre.

Yarra Glen

The quaint town of Yarra Glen on a warm spring morning in Victoria, Australia
The quaint town of Yarra Glen on a warm spring morning in Victoria, Australia

Located in the heart of the Yarra Valley, Yarra Glen is a small town known for its wineries, gourmet food and breathtaking natural beauty. The town is a gateway to some of the region’s most famous vineyards, including Yarra Yering and Domaine Chandon. These wineries offer tastings and tours, giving you insight into the winemaking process and the chance to taste award-winning wines. The Yarra Valley Dairy is another must-visit, where you can sample a variety of artisan cheeses made on site.

Yarra Glen’s scenic landscapes make it a popular destination for outdoor activities. The Yarra River, which runs through the city, is perfect for kayaking, fishing and picnicking. For a more adventurous experience, take a hot air balloon ride over the Yarra Valley, with breathtaking views of the vineyards and rolling hills. The town itself has a charming village atmosphere, with a variety of boutique shops, cafes and restaurants. A historic landmark, the Yarra Glen Grand Hotel offers a cozy pub atmosphere and a menu featuring local produce and wines.

Apollo Bay

Municipality of Apollo Bay, Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Municipality of Apollo Bay, Great Ocean Road, Victoria

Located along the Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay is a coastal gem known for its beautiful beaches, rugged landscapes and access to the Great Otway National Park. The town’s main beach is ideal for swimming, surfing and beachcombing, with golden sand and clear water. The nearby Marriners Lookout offers panoramic views of the city and coastline, making it a popular spot for photographers and nature lovers. Stretching from Apollo Bay to the iconic Twelve Apostles, the Great Ocean Walk offers a unique way to experience the region’s natural beauty.

Apollo Bay is also a gateway to the Otways, with its lush rainforests, waterfalls and abundant wildlife. The Otway Fly Treetop Adventures offers a unique perspective of the forest canopy, with a treetop walk and zipline tour. In town, the Apollo Bay Fishermen’s Co-op is the place to go for fresh seafood, with everything from fish and chips to gourmet seafood platters. The city’s vibrant arts scene is showcased in galleries and studios, with local artists drawing inspiration from the breathtaking coastal scenery.

The takeaway

Victoria’s small towns offer a wide range of experiences, from historic gold rush towns to picturesque seaside villages and serene spa retreats. Each city has its own unique charm and attractions, making them perfect destinations for a weekend getaway or a longer holiday. Whether you want to relax and rejuvenate, explore nature or immerse yourself in history and culture, these seven cities are sure to leave you with unforgettable memories. So pack your bags and set out on an adventure to discover the breathtaking beauty of Victoria’s small towns.