For any road trip enthusiast, driving from Adelaide to Melbourne is a must on the bucket list. Whilst the trip may seem long, we have listed the best stops to make this road trip go unforgettably fast.

In fact, the distance from Adelaide to Melbourne is around 700 km and we’re giving you the most scenic option, so you can make plenty of stops and take your time to experience some of Southern Australia’s lesser-known wonders.

It may not be the most direct route, but it’s certainly worth it. Here’s where you need to stop on your Adelaide to Melbourne road trip.

Of course, you’ll need to pick up your Thrifty vehicle from any of our Adelaide car hire locations, or the Adelaide Airport Thrifty if you’re flying in.

Adelaide to Mt Gambier

434 km south of Adelaide | 4.75-hour drive

Your first stop is home to the beautiful natural wonders of limestone, volcanic landscape and crater lakes. Take in the fresh air as you enjoy the panoramic views of Blue Lake, which turns a stunning shade of cobalt during summer months. Nearby, the Umpherston Sinkhole and Cave Gardens are must-sees, as is the Lady Nelson Visitor Centre, which houses a full-size replica of the late 18th-century sailing ship.

Conveniently, there’s a Thrifty car hire located in Mt Gambier Airport, should you begin your journey here.

Mt Gambier to Warrnambool

195 km | 2.5-hour drive

Next up is a city that marks the entrance to the Great Ocean Road drive. This charming seaside town is well known for its surf spots and homely village feel. Warrnambool is a popular spot for whale watchers – Head there in the next few months and take part in the Winter Whale Trail to get a glimpse of the big blues. Alternatively, history buffs can immerse themselves in the seafaring stories from the 29 known shipwrecks that occurred in the area at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village. Be sure to stop for lunch at Rafferty’s Tavern!

Warrnambool to Cape Otway

145 km | 2-hour drive

By now you’re in the heart of the Great Ocean Road tour. Along this leg you’ll want to stop at the iconic Twelve Apostles. Be prepared to know that only seven formations are standing, but they’re still remarkable in every way. Some great spots to stop overnight include the townships of Peterborough, Johanna, and Apollo Bay.

Be sure to spend a few days exploring the Otway Ranges – there’s a myriad of outdoor activities including hiking, horse-riding, and the famous Otway Fly Treetop Adventures is fun for the whole family (just don’t look down!).

Cape Otway to Colac

90 km | 1.5-hour drive 

Next, we’re heading north to drive through the mountainous Aire Valley and Otway Forest into the quaint country town of Colac – one of Victoria’s older townships. Grab a classic pub meal at the Union Club Hotel then head to Lake Colac for an afternoon of fishing or some chill out time to read a book (or catch up on the latest Thrifty blog).

Colac to Geelong

90 km | 1.5-hour drive 

The second last stop on your Adelaide to Melbourne road trip is known as the ‘Gateway City’ for its location and the fact that it is Victoria’s second largest city. Geelong is home to the Cats (Geelong Football Club), Australia’s second oldest AFL club. Here you can explore surrounding beachside towns such as Queenscliff, Torquay and Portarlington or explore the many wineries along the Bellarine Peninsula.

If you decide to take the ferry across to the other side of Victoria, simply drop your vehicle back at the Geelong car hire location, or extend your trip and take it with you!

Geelong to Melbourne

75 km | 1-hour drive

This takes us to the last leg of our trip, so by now you’re much more acquainted with the South Australian and Victorian terrain.

You will, of course, need another few days to explore the wonders of Melbourne – be sure to walk along the Yarra River, catch a theatre show or sports event, visit the famous Queen Victoria Market for some fresh fare or shop up a storm at Bourke Street Mall if you have the chance. Needless to say, you won’t struggle to fill your time in Melbourne!

When it’s all over, you can return your rental car to one of the many Melbourne locations or the Melbourne Tullamarine Airport if you’re returning interstate or home is overseas.