Victoria is Australia’s second smallest state, but it’s packed with activities that make it an ideal destination for all ages and interests.

Most people spend their time in Melbourne, but there’s so much to explore away from this bustling city.

Whichever direction you go, there are remote wilderness areas to explore, and Victoria is home to two of the world’s greatest road trips and Australia’s premier foodie region.

Grab a map, hire a car and discover what this fantastic state has to offer with our roundup of 13 great reasons to visit Victoria.

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Explore the Mornington Peninsula

Scuba dive then see the mansions of Australia’s elite

The Mornington Peninsula is one of the most popular places to snorkel in Victoria, and Blairgowrie Pier is a great starting point. There is excellent shallow shore diving and snorkelling around the jetty, with an abundance of marine life to be found.

Start your day exploring the seabed, then enjoy lunch in a pub overlooking the bay and stroll along the famous ‘Millionaire’s Walk’. This stunning cliff-top promenade is dotted with summer mansions owned by some of Australia’s wealthiest people.

Swim with stingrays

A 15-minute drive from Blairgowrie brings you to Rye Pier, another popular spot for snorkeling in Victoria. This pier is surrounded by marine life, but is best known for the huge resident stingrays that cruise along the pier.

When you’ve had enough of those huge rays, you can spend the day relaxing on the white sands of Rye Pier. Bathed in shallow, turquoise waters, this beach is reminiscent of the Maldives.

Scuba diver exploring the wreck of HMAS Canberra.

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Scuba diver exploring the wreck of HMAS Canberra.

Experience the thrill of wreck diving

One of Australia’s most famous shipwrecks lies opposite Blairgowrie. Ex-HMAS Canberra, a former Australian Navy warship, is Victoria’s first artificial reef created for divers and sits in 28 meters of water.

If you have an Open Water Diver certification, you can dive this wreck. The diving depths range from 15 to 28 meters and there are many diving routes.

You can drift on the main deck and explore the deck, engine rooms, galley and living quarters of this huge 138 meter long wreck.

Diving with sea dragons

Some weird and wonderful creatures inhabit our ocean and the invasive sea dragons are one of the most captivating.

These rare little creatures are related to seahorses and look like, you guessed it, seaweed. With their leaf-like appendages and striking markings, they look otherworldly and live in the waters of the Mornington Peninsula.

A snorkeling safari to find these sea dragons is a great way to keep the kids entertained. You can join guided snorkeling tours at Portsea Pier or dive with invasive sea dragons at Flinders Pier.

At sunset, you can watch thousands of penguins as they waddle to their burrows.

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At sunset, you can watch thousands of penguins as they waddle to their burrows.

Visit the largest colony of little penguins in the world

Drive back to the Mornington Peninsula and around Western Port Bay to visit another of Victoria’s wildlife gems, Phillip Island. This famous island is home to the largest colony of little penguins in the world.

It is well laid out for visitors, with viewing platforms and a variety of restaurants. At sunset, you can watch thousands of penguins as they waddle to their burrows.

Head west from Melbourne

Eat your way on the Bellarine Taste Trail

Hire a car and head west from Melbourne to experience some of Victoria’s most epic views, food and wilderness.

First, the Bellarine Taste Trail. This trail has nearly 50 food and wine destinations, all packed into a small area that you can easily drive around in half a day. There are on-farm producers, unique vineyards, breweries and award-winning cafes to satisfy any hungry road-tripper.

Indulge your inner chocolate addict

If you’re willing to take a two-hour detour north, you’ll be rewarded with a chocolate lover’s paradise.

The Chocolate Mill, an unassuming property nestled among eucalyptus trees, is full of mouth-watering artisanal chocolates that attract bus tourists. In addition to more types of chocolate than you could wish for, the Chocolate Mill has a cafe that offers “the ultimate hot chocolate” in a variety of indulgent flavors.

One of Victoria's great tourist destinations - the Twelve Apostles.

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One of Victoria’s great tourist destinations – the Twelve Apostles.

Go on a trip on the Great Ocean Road

An hour’s drive west of Bellarine will take you to the Great Ocean Road. It is one of the most spectacular roads in the world and stretches for 243 km along the coast of Victoria.

It was hand-built by soldiers returning from World War I and is the largest war memorial in the world. As you travel this remarkable route, you can learn about soldiers’ stories and see famous sites such as the 12 Apostles Marine Park and Bells Beach (home of the Rip Curl Pro surfing competition).

Surround yourself with waterfalls and wild platypus

Be sure to stop at Great Otway National Park if driving along the Great Ocean Road. This national park is dotted with beautiful waterfalls and walks for all abilities.

The Forrest section of Great Otway National Park offers mountain bike rides, while a canoe trip on Lake Elizabeth will take you to a colony of wild platypus. Spot these shy and iconic creatures at dawn and watch for magical glowworms at dusk.

Take your camera for breathtaking sunsets and pink lakes

Victoria’s remote and unspoilt far northwest attracts nature enthusiasts and photographers, especially to Murray-Sunset National Park. This park is famous for its breathtaking sunsets and bright pink lakes.

You can camp in the park, hike, canoe, fish or simply enjoy the wide range of wildlife that reside there. From September to mid-October, this beautiful wilderness area is covered in pink, yellow, and white wildflowers. It is a feast for the senses and offers unique photographic opportunities.

Explore East Melbourne

Tambo River on the Great Alpine Route.

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Tambo River on the Great Alpine Route.

Go on an alpine adventure

The Great Ocean Road may be Victoria’s most famous road, but its lesser-known inland counterpart, the Great Alpine Road, deserves your attention.

This spectacular route begins in Wangaratta and winds through more than 300 kilometers of varied landscapes, including mountain ranges, plunging valleys, verdant forests and wine estates.

Whether you drive a short section or the whole route, you can choose from many gastronomic delights along the way and take part in alpine adventures such as horseback riding, caving and abseiling.

On the way to the Great Alpine Road, be sure to explore Victoria’s most famous wine region, the Yarra Valley. With over 70 wineries to choose from, plus a selection of craft breweries, this is the perfect place to start your road trip.

Visit Australia’s home of Prosecco

A detour along the Great Alpine Road in Wangaratta will take you on a delightful tour of Australia’s Prosecco homeland, the King Valley. Located adjacent to the famed Milawa food region, King Valley is renowned for its Italian wines, Mediterranean delicacies and prosecco.

You could just visit for lunch, but with so many offerings, an overnight stay and a bike cellar tour is the best bet.

North of Melbourne

Step out into Australia’s largest cactus garden.

Less than three hours from Melbourne is one of Victoria’s unique highlights. Cactus Country is a 12-acre desert oasis that will transport you to the landscapes of Mexico, the African Sahara and Argentine Patagonia.

This desert wonderland has been lovingly maintained since the late 1970s and is home to thousands of cacti and succulents. Try homemade cactus ice cream as you hike the trails and take in the views from the lookout dome. Children will enjoy cactus hunting and there is also a Mexican restaurant.

Catherine Curzon is a New Zealand conservationist, travel writer and digital marketer.