Geelong is a beautiful waterfront city about 65 km southwest of Melbourne. It is the second largest city in Victoria & one of the fastest growing regional cities in Australia. The ideal location of Geelong makes it a perfect getaway from Melbourne & a great stopover between Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road.
With abundant activities and attractions to visit in Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula, you can spend multiple days purely in Geelong to soak in its beauty. However, one day is sufficient to visit the popular attractions in Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula if you are time-restricted.
In this article, I will take you through a one-day itinerary to visit Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula to explore their iconic landmarks. Suggestions on accommodations and mode of transport are also provided for your convenience.
During this 1-Day Itinerary in Geelong, we will first explore Geelong’s city centre before visiting Geelong’s picturesque coastline. Towards the end of this itinerary, we will head off to the beautiful Bellarine Peninsula for some stunning sunset views.
Where to Stay in Geelong
During my recent visit to Geelong (May 2022), I found most accommodations around Geelong were charging AUD 100+ for a standard room. This was certainly more pricey than Melbourne and the nearby towns.
After comparing various accommodation options, I ended up booking myself into a 3-bedroom cabin in Discovery Parks – Geelong. It was definitely a great decision. Although I was travelling solo, this 3-bedroom cabin was one of the more affordable options at the time (AUD 117 for 1 night). This can be even more affordable if you have travel companions to share the cost with. The place was spacious and clean, with a kitchen and basic amenities available. This is one of the places I will stay again on future visits.
There is also a range of other accommodations available in Geelong to suit every need. You can find them here on Booking.com.
1. Geelong Gallery
Geelong Gallery is also known as Geelong Art Gallery. It is positioned in Geelong’s city centre and is a popular attraction for visitors to Geelong. Together with its neighbouring Geelong Library and Heritage Centre, Geelong Gallery forms an essential part of Geelong’s culture precinct.
Entry to Geelong Gallery is free of charge. Visitors can walk through its various galleries to appreciate a great variety of artworks from the 1800s and the 1900s. A range of temporary exhibits can also be found in Geelong Gallery throughout the year. You can find the up-to-date list of its exhibits here on the Geelong Gallery website.
2. National Wool Museum
Geelong was built on its wool industry and was once regarded as the world’s wool capital. Although the wool industry is no longer the leading industry in Geelong in the modern days, its influence on Geelong’s culture and economy can still be found today.
To showcase Geelong’s wool industry, a National Wool Museum was opened in Geelong in 1988 for visitors to discover Geelong’s history through its wool industry. It is also Australia’s only comprehensive wool museum, which is well worth a visit.
Within the National Wool Museum, you can find an extensive display of Geelong’s wool industry from its early settlement era to its various industrial revolutions. Within the museum, visitors can also find a range of looms and tools used for wool making. There are also re-created millworker’s cottage and shearer’s station from the early 1900s, which are very interesting and educational.
Entry to National Wool Museum requires a ticket, which was only AUD 10 per adult when I visited in May 2022. You can also find its up-to-date ticket price on their website.
After visiting National Wool Museum, we will take a short walk from Geelong city centre to visit Geelong’s beautiful waterfront.
3. Geelong Bollard Trail Walk
Geelong Bollard Trail Walk is one of the most popular attractions in Geelong. It features over 100 reclaimed timber pylons, transformed into sculptures of iconic characters from Geelong’s history. These bollards are dotted along Geelong’s beautiful waterfront area between Rippleside Park and Limeburners Point, which forms one of the best walking trails in Geelong.
The one-way walk between Rippleside Park and Limeburners Point can take at least 1-hour to complete. There are also many interesting attractions to visit along this walk, such as the Carousel, the Giant Sky Wheel, and Eastern Beach. Hence, I suggest planning at least 2 hours for completing the one-way walk between Rippleside Park and Limeburners Point.
With that being said, most of the popular attractions along Geelong Bollard Trail are located between the Cunningham Pier and Eastern Beach. This walk itself takes only as little as 30 minutes one way. If interested, you can join the Wangim Walk and visit East Beach Promenade as well. For people who are only planning 1-day in Geelong, this can be a much better option.
4. Wangim Walk
Wangim Walk is a 440-metre long wave attenuator near Royal Geelong Yacht Club. It is a relatively new addition to Geelong’s waterfront area but provides an unparalleled view of Geelong’s skyline and Corio Bay. It is also a great spot for sunrise and sunset in Geelong.
This walk is flat and easily accessible. It took me only 20-minutes for a return walk in a leisurely manner. You can also complete this walk in a shorter time frame if in a rush.
5. Eastern Beach Promenade
Eastern Beach is a popular bathing beach in Geelong. Towards its eastern end, you can also find one of Geelong’s most recognisable landmarks, the Eastern Beach Promenade.
Eastern Beach Promenade is a 200-metre long, semi-circular, wooden platform that forms a shark-proof sea bath area along Eastern Beach. Visitors can take a leisure walk along the wooden platform to appreciate the stunning Corio Bay. There are also a diving tower and platforms along the promenade for visitors to enjoy a range of water activities within the sea bath.
A kid’s pool is also available nearby for children to enjoy the water safely. Toilets, showers, and changing facilities are also available at the pavilion on-shore. Kids’ playgrounds and picnic facilities are available as well. These all make Eastern Beach Promenade a great place for the entire family to enjoy.
6. Geelong Botanic Gardens
Geelong Botanic Gardens is a beautiful botanic garden located near Eastern Beach Promenade. Although relatively small in comparison, Geelong Botanic Gardens is one of the most gorgeous botanic gardens I have visited in Australia.
Within Geelong Botanic Gardens, you can admire the tropical plants within the conservatory, take an Insta-worthy photo in its picturesque rose garden, and check out a range of native and international plants with a coffee in hand. A walk around the Geelong Botanic Gardens can take as little as 15-30 minutes. However, you may wish to spend a much longer time here to chill and relax.
7. The Dell & Clifton Springs
The Dell is a stunning spot between Geelong and Portarlington. It is famous for being home to a former mineral spring, Cliffton Springs.
On arriving at The Dell, you will first be greeted by a breathtaking view from its lookout platform, overlooking the beautiful Port Philip Bay. From this lookout, you can also obtain a great overview of Clifton Springs and the beautiful jetty remains.
To access the old jetties and Clifton Springs, there is a staircase near the lookout platform. Alternatively, there is also a long ramp to the beachfront for people with mobility issues.
Clifton Springs is a mineral spring, which was popular among locals and visitors between the 1870s and 1920s. This spring has since become inactive and no longer serves its original purpose. However, this site is still of cultural and environmental significance & is currently listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.
To protect the relics from the site of the former springs, a boardwalk has been built around the former Clifton Springs. This boardwalk also provides a great view of The Dell. Educational information is also available along the walk for visitors to gain more insights into The Dell and Clifton Springs.
The drive between Geelong and The Dell takes about 25 minutes on average. Free carparks are available near the lookout platform. To make the most out of your visit to The Dell and Clifton Springs, make sure you plan at least 1-hour to spend around this spot.
8. Portarlington Pier
Portarlington is located at the northern end of the Bellarine Peninsula. It is a beautiful little town with stunning coastal views. There is a lot more to discover around Portarlington. For this one-day itinerary, we will only be visiting its gorgeous Portarlington Pier due to limited time.
Portarlington Pier is about a 12-minute drive from The Dell and a 30-minute drive from Geelong. It is formed on a 500-metre-long breakwater, which stretches into the bay and provides a peaceful harbour for everyone to enjoy.
The views along Portarlington Pier are absolutely surreal and magnificent. This is especially true around sunset times. If time allows, you can also bring your fishing rod to catch some Pinkies or Snappers while waiting for sunset.
A return walk along Portarlington Pier takes about 30 minutes to complete, but you may wish to plan for more time to enjoy the views and serenity along Portarlington Pier.