Ultimate Great Ocean Road Itinerary & Interactive Map 2024

Looking for the best Great Ocean Road Itinerary?

You’ve come to the right article as I’m going to give you a Great Ocean Road itinerary like no other.

Driving along the Great Ocean Road is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it would be a shame to visit this part of the world without seeing all of the incredible stops.

That being said, it can be hard to find an itinerary which visits all of the best sights, while still being a viable itinerary that actually makes sense.

Lucky for you, that’s what I’ve created. I had this problem myself and I had to create my own itinerary to drive the Great Ocean Road, and I decided to share it here on my blog.

So without further ado, let’s get into the itinerary.

How long does it take to do the Great Ocean Road?

Before I get into the Great Ocean Road itinerary, it’s important that you know how long to allow for the drive.

The actual distance of the Great Ocean Road is approximately 664km (413 miles) and would take around 9 and a half hours to drive it in one go.

But it would be a waste to drive it all in one go.

The whole point of driving the Great Ocean Road is not only the drive itself but all of the stops along the way.

Most people choose to split it into 3 days with 3 hours of actual driving each day, allowing for plenty of time to stop and admire the incredible natural beauty of the most famous route in Australia.

Of course, you can do it quicker, but I personally feel like you would miss some amazing stops. Or, you may choose to go even slower and spend more days on the road. If you do, good for you! You’ll have an extraordinary time.

But to answer the question of “how long?“, I would say to allow 3 days for the best Great Ocean Road itinerary.

A picture of some rock formations along the South coast of Australia.

Great Ocean Road Stops

I have a complete Great Ocean Road itinerary coming in just a second, but if you would like a checklist of all of the main sites that you need to see, here they are. These are what I consider the “must-sees” along the Great Ocean Road. In order from Melbourne:

  • Geelong
  • Torquay
  • Bells Beach
  • Aireys Inlet
  • Split Point Lighthouse
  • Anglesea
  • Great Otway National Park
  • Apollo Bay
  • Cape Otway
  • Maits Rest Rainforest Walk
  • Otway Fly Treetop Adventures
  • The Twelve Apostles
  • Loch Ard Gorge
  • London Bridge
  • The Grotto
  • Bay of Islands
  • Bay of Martyrs
  • Warrnambool
  • Port Fairy
A picture of a waterfall in a rainforest along the route.
Great Otway National Park

To make life easier for you, I have created a Google Map route that has all of the stops added to it. You can simply go onto the map and get directions to each of the stops. But to be honest, it’s not a hard route to follow, it’s pretty easy. Nonetheless, here’s my map.

Great Ocean Road Itinerary

If you want to just check places off as you go along, the above checklist is designed exactly for that. But, if you’d prefer an itinerary which takes you from place to place, I’ve outlined a rough one below.

But as I always say with my itineraries, I don’t actually recommend following it to a tee. Everyone travels differently and everyone likes different things. So take it as a base, but customise it to suit you and what you want out of the Great Ocean Road.

Or if you’d like to have all of the hard work done for you, consider taking a Great Ocean Road tour instead.

Day 1: Melbourne to Apollo Bay

Start in Melbourne

Most people choose to start their Great Ocean Road itinerary in Melbourne. Backpacking Melbourne is incredibly popular and means that travelling along the Great Ocean Road on a budget is really easy.

Melbourne makes for the perfect place to start as there are plenty of places to rent a car and it’s not too far out from the first stop.

Geelong (1 hour)

Many people skip over this stop and head straight to Torquay, but I find Geelong amazing and it makes for an amazing first stop along the Great Ocean Road. It takes about an hour to reach Geelong from Melbourne and the drive is pretty straightforward along a motorway.

Geelong is a city with a lot of history and a big sporting culture, being home to one of the oldest AFL teams, the Geelong Cats.

It’s a great starting stop to get a good look at the coastline too, as you can see some true natural beauty. Australia is famous for its coastlines, and the view won’t disappoint.

Torquay (25 mins)

Next up after Geelong is the more conventional first stop along the Great Ocean Road. It’s not too far, only 20-25 minutes down the road.

And the drive is a nice one too, and you can enjoy scenic views along the way as you transition from urban areas to coastal landscapes.

There are almost 12,000 beaches in Australia and one of the best is found in Torquay. Torquay’s Front Beach is also perfect for a swim or surf lesson.

Torquay is also home to world-renowned surf shops and outlets, like Rip Curl and Quiksilver. You can take some time to explore Surf World, a museum dedicated to the history of surfing, showcasing vintage surfboards and memorabilia.

Torquay is a great place to immerse yourself in Australia’s surf culture. After all, it’s such an important thing to the country.

A picture of Torquay, one of the first stops in most Great Ocean Road itineraries

Bells Beach (20 mins)

Bells Beach is a quick 20-minute drive from Torquay. The road is well-maintained, as most of the roads along the route are. Once again, you’ll have glimpses of the coastline as you approach.

This iconic surf break is a pilgrimage site for surfers worldwide. The towering cliffs provide a dramatic backdrop, and if you’re lucky, you might witness surfers riding the famous Bells Beach waves.

The Bells Beach Surfing Reserve is an internationally recognised site and a key location for annual surfing competitions.

Simply sitting and watching people surfing is actually pretty therapeutic– but it’s also a great place to learn to surf, fresh off your surfing knowledge from Torquay.

Aireys Inlet & Split Point Lighthouse (15 mins)

This is one of the most stop-dense parts of the Great Ocean Road as Aireys Inlet is just 15 minutes away from Bells Beach. As always, the drive offers coastal views and a relaxed atmosphere.

Aireys Inlet is known for its stunning Split Point Lighthouse, one of many lighthouses along this coastline. You can take a guided tour to learn about its history and like any good lighthouse, take in panoramic coastal views from the top.

The nearby Painkalac Creek is also a nice spot to kill some time, as it offers a serene nature walk. Or, Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary is a snorkeler’s paradise, with vibrant marine life. But make sure the conditions are suitable, as it can sometimes be dangerous.

A picture of the Split Point Lighthouse, a must-have on any Great Ocean Road itinerary.

Anglesea (10 mins)

The quick stops continue and the short 10-minute drive to Anglesea continues to provide coastal views along the way.

Anglesea is a charming coastal town known for its relaxing atmosphere. Anglesea Heath is a nature lover’s paradise, with walking trails and birdwatching opportunities, which is the epitome of relaxation.

Other popular spots are the Anglesea Golf Club which is famous for its challenging course and breathtaking views of the coastline and the Anglesea River which is ideal for kayaking and fishing.

Anglesea is the perfect place to relax, and if you want to extend your Great Ocean Road itinerary to longer than 3 days, I would recommend spending the extra night here.

Great Otway National Park (45 mins)

As you venture into the national park, you should expect winding roads and lush forest scenery, but the drive from Anglesea to the park’s entrance takes approximately 45 minutes.

Great Otway National Park is home to a huge range of diverse flora and fauna and an abundance of routes and trails.

The Maits Rest Rainforest Walk is a short, accessible trail that takes you through ancient rainforests (I actually recommend doing the Maits Rest Rainforest Walk on day two), but you can also explore longer hikes, like the Great Ocean Walk. Some people extend this to be a multi-day hike.

It’s a great idea if you want to get a really in-depth feel of this part of Australia.

Make sure to keep an eye out for wildlife like koalas, kangaroos, and wallabies. It’s the perfect place for seeing the typical Australian animals.

A picture of Great Otway National Park from a viewpoint.

Apollo Bay (20-30 minutes)

The final leg for your first day along the Great Ocean Road is to Apollo Bay which is around 20 to 30 minutes. Once again, you’ll catch glimpses of the ocean and stunning countryside as you approach the quaint seaside town.

As the name suggests, Appolo Bay has an extraordinary bay as the heart of the town. Apollo Bay’s stunning beachfront is perfect for swimming and is incredibly picturesque

The town itself offers a range of dining options, from seafood to cafes. You can also head to the Apollo Bay Harbor to watch local fishermen at work or embark on a fishing adventure yourself.

There’s also a huge selection of places to stay in Apollo Bay. I personally recommend the Beachcomber Motel & Apartments which offers amazing stays for an affordable price. I can’t recommend it enough! You also have a beautiful view of the beach.

📍 Accommodation- When staying in Apollo Bay, I recommend Beachcomber Motel & Apartments. It is the place to be in Apollo Bay, with a stunning view of the sea and really great rooms for reasonable prices. Book now!

Day 2: Apollo Bay to Port Campbell

Your second day begins in Apollo Bay, of course, where you spent your first night. I recommend setting off early in the morning, on this day especially as day two is when you get to see the Twelve Apostles. And those extra few hours lying on your phone in bed, trust me, you’ll regret them if you run out of time at the end of the day.

Cape Otway (30 mins)

The drive from Apollo Bay to Cape Otway takes about 30 to 35 minutes. The road is winding, with dense forest on both sides, it’s like something out of a movie.

When you reach Cape Otway, the views are incredible and there is a fair bit to see and do too. Cape Otway Lighthouse is a must-visit. It’s the oldest lighthouse in Australia and offers guided tours. You can’t complete the Great Ocean Road without stopping here.

The Telegraph Station and Radar Bunker in particular are fascinating, as they provide insight into the lighthouse’s role during wartime.

A picture of the lighthouse in Cape Otway, one of many lighthouses along the Great Ocean Road.

Maits Rest Rainforest Walk (15 mins)

The drive from Cape Otway is pretty quick only taking 15 minutes or so. The contrast from the dramatic coastline to the stunning rainforest is so unique and it’s incredible to see the sudden transition.

Maits Rest Rainforest Walk takes you through ancient Myrtle Beech trees draped in moss. As I’ve said about so many things along the way, it’s like something from a movie. The whole 3-day trip is.

It’s a really peaceful experience and you can spot native birds while enjoying the tranquil sounds of nature.

Otway Fly Treetop Adventures (45 mins)

Otway Fly is a bit of a longer drive from Maits Rest Rainforest Walk. It takes about 45 minutes but it’s a beautiful trip through Great Otway National Park. Stunning roads to say the least.

Otway Fly is like the rainforest walk but a bit more extreme. As the name suggests, Otway Fly Treetop Adventures offers thrilling treetop adventures. It’s essentially a walkway high up in the rainforest canopy. It’s pretty unique and very exciting.

And there’s an opportunity to add even more excitement with zip lines also going through the forest canopy. It makes for a really fun hour or two.

Twelve Apostles (55 mins)

Next up is the main attraction, the Twelve Apostles. For many people, the reason they want to do the Great Ocean Road.

The drive from the Treetop Adventures to the Twelve Apostles takes approximately 55 minutes to 1 hour. Along the way, you’ll catch views of the ocean, and as you approach the Twelve Apostles, the coastline becomes more dramatic, as you would expect.

These limestone stacks are one of Australia’s most iconic natural attractions and seeing them in real life is a true pinch-yourself moment. Visiting the Twelve Apostles had been on my bucket list for years so it was really special for me to see them.

So much so that I decided to take a helicopter tour. It was indescribable. One of the best experiences I have ever had, and even though it’s expensive, I would recommend it to anyone. Millions of people have seen the Twelve Apostles, but how many have flown over them?

But if you don’t opt for a helicopter tour, there are still some amazing places where you can get a great view over the Apostles. The most popular is the Twelve Apostle Lookout.

Another great place is the Gibson Steps which offers a view of the Apostles from sea level, it’s one of the only places you can see them from sea level, but this brings popularity and it’s usually quite busy. But worth it.

Heads up, there are only actually nine “apostles” left, despite the name. So don’t try counting and finding the missing 3 haha!

A picture of the Twelve Apostles, the main attraction on any Great Ocean Road itinerary.

Loch Ard Gorge (5-10 mins)

After taking in the highlight of the Great Ocean Road (I recommend spending an hour or two but some people spend much less time), take the short 5-10 minute drive from the Twelve Apostles to Loch Ard Gorge.

Loch Ard Gorge is known for its towering cliffs and sandy beach. It’s a postcard-worthy view. I would consider it one of the most famous spots along the route.

The story of the shipwrecked vessel “Loch Ard” is a significant part of Australian maritime history and is detailed on informative plaques at the loch.

London Bridge (15 mins)

And speaking of famous spots, London Bridge is another. Not to be confused with the London Bridge, of course, but funnily enough, this one has also fallen down 😂.

Just 10-15 minutes from Loch Ard Gorge, the drive to London Bridge is quick, easy and picturesque.

The arch is officially known as London Arch, but most people still refer to the archway as London Bridge, its name prior to 1990 when it collapsed.

You used to be able to walk over the natural bridge, but now you simply have to admire it. But it’s still worthwhile seeing, it’s beautiful and having such recent history makes it all the more interesting.

It’s a great spot for photography, and you can learn about its geological history through some signs they have, detailing how it’s changed over the centuries.

A picture of London Arch.

Port Campbell (10 mins)

The last stop of the day is to Port Campbell which is the town closest to the Twelve Apostles and the other sights along this part of the Australian coast. And it also marks the spot where you are spending your second and last night on this Great Ocean Road itinerary.

It’s a great place to spend the night and you should definitely take advantage of the local dining scene. It’s amazing! You can enjoy fresh seafood at affordable prices. Afterwards, I recommend taking a stroll along the beach to relax and soak in the coastal atmosphere.

In terms of places to stay, my personal recommendation is the Loch Ard Motor Inn. It’s right in the heart of the town and has amazing views of the south coast. There are also some really nice viewpoints just a short walk away. And like all of my recommendations, it’s reasonably priced.

📍 Accommodation- When staying in Port Campbell, I recommend the Loch Ard Motor Inn. The rooms are incredible value for money, and there’s nothing better than waking up with a view of the ocean. Book now!

Day 3: Port Campbell to Warrnambool

The third and final day of this Great Ocean Road itinerary begins in Port Campbell. This is the day with the least stops, but with the most driving as the final part of the Great Ocean Road is to drive back to Melbourne.

The Grotto (15 mins)

The Grotto is around a 10-15 minute drive from Port Campbell.

The Grotto is yet another unique geological formation- the whole of the southern coastline is like no other, it’s marvellous. I would describe the spot as a “photographer’s dream”, but to be honest, pretty much every stop is!

It’s essentially like the London Arch but on land, and it’s like a doorway into the cove which lies behind. It’s beautiful.

Bay of Islands (20 mins)

The drive from The Grotto to Bay of Islands is roughly 20 minutes or so. By this point, you’ll either be fascinated by the landscapes and unique rock shapes, or fed up with seeing similar landscapes and unique rock shapes.

If you’re the latter, don’t worry, it’s very common and many people choose to skip this stop for that exact reason.

But if you do choose to head to the Bay of Islands, you also won’t regret it.

This stretch of coastline offers some of the most photogenic landscapes along the Great Ocean Road. It’s like a miniature version of the Twelve Apostles, it’s pretty cool.

What I’d suggest doing is Googling all of these locations and planning your own itinerary. As I said at the start, some things will interest you, some won’t. Pick and choose the ones you want to see in real life based on images.

Bay of Martyrs (10 mins)

From one bay to another, the Bay of Martyrs offers a very similar experience to the Bay of Islands. To be honest, I’d choose between one or the other, if you visit both you’ll probably find whichever you visit second a bit lacklustre because you’ve already seen the same thing pretty much.

It’s just down the road, 5-10 minutes at most, so you’re more or less having the same view. Both are great, but there’s no need to visit both.

Bay Of Martyrs is slightly less popular so with fewer crowds than some of the more famous stops, it’s a bit more relaxing. Which is welcome after a jam-packed three days.

Warrnambool (30 mins)

My penultimate stop on this itinerary is at Warrnambool, which is a good 45-50 minutes worth of driving from either of the two bays.

Warrnambool is one of the most underrated cities in Australia in my opinion. I just really like the vibe there, not sure how else to explain it but I think it’s a really nice way to begin to end such a wonderful route.

One of the best things to do is to head to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, an immersive open-air museum-like experience that transports you to the 19th century in Australia. It includes a maritime museum, recreated historic buildings, and a nightly sound and light show that brings history to life.

Speaking of night, Warrnambool is also a really good place for stargazing. I found the skies to be very clear.

Most Great Ocean Road Itineraries will end at Warrnambool, I recommend taking the extra step to Port Fairy, but if you want to stop here, it’s a good place to spend a night too if you want to relax before heading back to Melbourne.

Port Fairy (20 mins)

Port Fairy is just 20-25 minutes further on from Warrnambool and I think it’s worth the extra journey.

It’s just your typical quaint seaside town, but I think it’s the best way to end because it sums up the entire route perfectly.

By the sea, with gorgeous views of odd rock formations, in a quirky little town with coloured houses, a nice atmosphere, and surrounded by good places to eat. And of course, there’s a lighthouse too.

A picture of the lighthouse in Port Fairy

After spending some time in Port Fairy, it’s time to head back to Melbourne, which is actually only 3.5 hours of driving along the motorway. The Great Ocean Road is a prime example of “taking the scenic route” rather than the most direct!

But it’s so worth it. The drive back to Melbourne usually has a mixture of emotions. I remember being relieved to be finished because the days were pretty full-on and I wanted to relax, happy because I’d had a great time and ticked off bucket list experiences, but sad because it was over.

I suppose that’s just travelling in a nutshell.

Things to Do along the Great Ocean Road

And of course, there are so, so many things to do along the Great Ocean Road. It’s a place filled with endless adventure! It would be impossible to list all of the best things to do as part of your Great Ocean Road itinerary, but I’ve condensed it down into must-dos.

There are some very specific things which I consider must-dos like walking through the rainforest canopy at Otway Fly Treetop Adventures or walking down the Gibson Steps to see the Twelve Apostles. But it would be impossible to list every single thing to do. So these are more general ideas for what to expect along the way.

1. Visit the Twelve Apostles

Okay, I know I said I wouldn’t include specific things, but it would be impossible to include things to do along the Great Ocean Road without mentioning the Twelve Apostles. They’re the main attraction and a big reason people choose to take on the 3-day trip.

As I said in the itinerary, it’s unreal seeing them for yourself. It’s a proper case of “pictures don’t do it justice“. And I used to think the pictures looked amazing- so imagine how spectacular it really is! All in all, you can’t mention the “Great Ocean Road” without thinking about the Twelve Apostles.

A picture of the 12 Apostles.

2. Go surfing

There are endless opportunities to go surfing along the Great Ocean Road. Being along the coastline and being in Australia, the two go hand in hand and pretty much every beach will have the opportunity for you to surf.

Surfing in this part of the world is amazing – there’s nowhere better than in Australia – and it’s a great way to get active which is welcomed after long journeys in a car. Aside from all of that, surfing’s just super fun and deserves a spot on your plans.

A group of surfboards lined up against a wall.

3. Head up into the sky

As I said earlier, taking a helicopter tour over the Twelve Apostles is amazing. It’s such a unique perspective getting a birds-eye view over the rock formation, and so few people. get to experience it.

But if that’s not for you, you might prefer taking a hot air balloon ride from Melbourne at the beginning or end of your route. There are also lots of other great helicopter and hot air balloon tours along the route, and I would encourage everyone to do at least one of them.

4. Go snorkelling

It would be a sin to visit this part of Australia without going snorkelling at least once. Or like me, at every possible opportunity.

The coral reefs, the fish, the other marine life, the water temperature, it all comes together to create the perfect snorkelling opportunity. Just be careful as the conditions can be pretty dangerous sometimes, but if there are other people out there snorkelling…go for it!

A picture of me standing up at a beach in my swimshorts with a snorkel and mask on my head.

5. Look out for wildlife

And a final thing you need to do the whole way throughout your Great Ocean Road itinerary is to look out for wildlife.

Australia has so many special animals, and nothing compares to spotting one in the wild. Kangaroos are the easiest and you’ll likely see lots, but if you spot a koala or maybe even a platypus (very rare to spot), then you’ll have a memory to last a lifetime.

Keep your eyes peeled at all times, you never know what you’ll see!

A picture of a koala sleeping in a tree infront of a rockface.

Josh’s Great Ocean Road Top Tips

Of course, when taking any route anywhere in the world, there are some things which are useful to know in advance. After spending 3 days completing the Great Ocean Road, here are my 5 top tips to help your experience go that little bit more smoothly and make your experience that little bit more enjoyable.

  • Download maps: Before setting off, download this part of Australia on Google Maps. It will come in useful when your mobile signal isn’t as great and will save you from having to try and navigate for yourself.
  • Be aware of your fuel: Although this route doesn’t quite go as remote as the Outback, there are some occasions where you’re pretty far from a gas station. If your tank is half empty and you pass a station, you may as well fill up.
  • Book accommodation in advance: I’m a big fan of spontaneity but it’s not really possible along the Great Ocean Road. The best accommodation in terms of value for money books up well ahead of time. Plan where you’re going to stop and book your stays.
  • Don’t drive too fast: Not just for your safety, but to take in the views. You don’t want to rush through the drives without admiring the breathtaking surroundings you have along the way. Drive slower and appreciate where you are.
  • Start early and finish early: The best way to go about your days, in my opinion, is to start early in the morning to beat the crowds at the 12 Apostles, for example, and stop early in the day so you can enjoy your evening and see some amazing sunsets.
A picture of a sunset with lots of pinks and purples over the Twelve Apostles. Be sure to include time to see some sunsets on your Great Ocean Road itinerary.

Bonus tip: If you hadn’t already figured by the time you left the car rental company, they drive on the left in Australia, like the UK and Ireland. To clarify, do NOT try and drive on the right, unless you want a head-on-head collision.

Great Ocean Road Itinerary: FAQ

Below are some questions related to my Great Ocean Road itinerary along with my answers.

Can you do Great Ocean Road in 2 days?

Yes, it is possible to do the Great Ocean Road in 2 days but it will feel rushed. Most people allow 3 days to complete the route.

Is the Great Ocean Road safe?

Yes, the Great Ocean Road is safe both in terms of driving conditions and personal safety. It’s a very common route so there are thousands of people in the same position as you and you are never alone.

How long do you spend at 12 Apostles?

Most people spend an hour or two admiring the Apostles from different viewpoints. Of course, if you plan to complete a hike, then allow more time at the landmark.

Where should I start Great Ocean Road?

Most people start the Great Ocean Road in Melbourne with the most common first stop being Geelong or Torquay.

Is Great Ocean Road worth it?

Yes, the Great Ocean Road is absolutely worth doing. It’s the best way to see this phenomenally beautiful part of Australia. It’s guaranteed to give you priceless memories.

Does it matter which way you drive the Great Ocean Road?

No, it doesn’t matter which way you drive the Great Ocean Road, but most people choose to go from West to East.

Great Ocean Road Itinerary: Conclusion

And there you have it, a complete and in-depth Great Ocean Road Itinerary.

There are so many great stops and amazing things to do along the Great Ocean Road.

It’s genuinely a once-in-a-lifetime experience and will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

Enjoy your trip to Melbourne, and most importantly, enjoy your time making your way through my Great Ocean Road Itinerary. 🙂