It's perfectly suited to a good old fashioned road trip, but visitors who don't own a car can still see what this great Australian state has to offer.

Travelers based in the city can hop on a train or bus to get around without having to find a parking space. We've put together a guide to the best day trips from the city.

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Go for a picnic at Hanging Rock

One hour is how long it will take to travel.

Hanging Rock rises from the plains around it because of a volcanic eruption which created a mound of lava.

Joan Lindsay wrote a novel about the disappearance of Victorian-era schoolgirls on February 14th, 1900. Natalie Dormer and Yael Stone are starring in a TV series based on Picnic at Hanging Rock.

The perfect place for a picnic is Hanging Rock. You can learn about the area's history at the Discovery Centre. Climb to the top of the rock after you've browsed its displays. Grab a snack or a beer at the Holgate Brewhouse on the way back.

There is a way to get to Hanging Rock.

Hanging Rock is close to the city. From Southern Cross Station, there are trains that go to Woodend. There are two ways to get to Hanging Rock Reserve from Woodend.

A narrow, straight walking path runs through green fields between Lilydale and Warburton in Australia.
The Warburton Rail Trail follows the soft gradient of a former trainline © FiledIMAGE / Getty Images

Cycle or walk the Warburton Rail Trail

One hour is how long it will take to travel.

Victoria had a passenger train network that stretched from coast to coast. Over the last decade or so many of the former rail corridors have been transformed into "rail trails": walking and cycling paths which connect up towns. The trails are family-friendly and easy to navigate.

The easiest way to get to the rail trail from the city is by public transportation. There are plenty of places to eat and drink along the 38 km route that goes past farmland, native forests, the Yarra River and several small towns. You should bring water and snacks for the walk.

There is a way to get to the rail trail.

The trail begins on the east side of the city. If you're tired, you can hop on the bus back to the start if you want.

French Island, Australia
Ex-mining trucks are now intrepid touring vehicles on the untamed French Island © Tim Richards / Lonely Planet

Go off-roading on French Island

Two hours is how long it will take to travel.

French Island is located in the center of Western Port Bay. The name was given by a French Exploring expedition in 1802.

Nowadays the islanders live off the grid and the local population has waned over time. Considering that 70% of the island is a national park and there is no bridge from the mainland, it has been difficult for a visitor to get to grips with its history.

Naturaliste Tours does a regular tour of the island with members riding in an ex-mining vehicle which can handle the rough tracks. The tour includes a visit to the Pobblebonk Swamp with its resident frog, a drive through an abandoned chicory farm, and a visit to the French Island General Store.

There is a way to get to French Island.

French Island is in the southeastern part of the state. To get to it, you need to catch a suburban train and change to a V/line train. The ferry sails from here for two hours.

Sovereign Hill, Ballarat, Australia
Step back in time at this Gold Rush–era township at Sovereign Hill near Ballarat © Tim Richards / Lonely Planet

Step back in time at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat

The travel time is 25 minutes.

The Gold Rush of the 1850s was one of the greatest in the history of the world. The rough-and-tumble miners' town grew into a graceful city with lots of frontier excitement.

The village is located around a former gold mine in the city's suburbs. It is an impressive place with the streets lined with replicas of buildings from the Gold Rush era. There are many crafts and trades that were shown. There are many places to eat at the United States Hotel.

A tour within an old mine shaft is one of the family friendly activities. The costumed actors stage entertaining performances throughout the site. The Art Gallery of Ballarat and the Ballarat Wildlife Park are both worth a visit if you can spare time.

There is a way to get to Ballarat.

It's located to the west of the city. There are direct trains from Southern Cross Station to the other side of the state.

Hispanic woman soaking in hot tub
Soak in a natural mineral springs in Hepburn Spa © Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd / Getty Images

Soak in mineral springs in Daylesford & Hepburn Springs

Two hours is how long it will take to travel.

The conjoined towns are popular as weekend getaways for Melburnians. It's a great year-round destination where you can enjoy warm, mineral-rich waters and dine in some of Victoria's best restaurants. New Agers, urbanites and down-to-earth farmers make up the local population and there is a thriving gay and lesbian scene here.

The area's mineral springs attracted a lot of fashionable Melburnians in the 1870s. The well-preserved and restored buildings show the prosperity of these towns, as well as the lasting influence of the many Swiss-Italian miners who came to work in the surrounding hills. There are many picnic spots, BBQ areas, children's playground and walking trails to visit.

There is a way to get to Daylesford.

The easiest way to get to Daylesford is to catch a train from Southern Cross Station to Woodend.

Puffing Billy steam train on Monbulk Creek Trestle Bridge just outside Melbourne
Melburnians love the Puffing Billy steam train, children in particular © Catherine Sutherland / Lonely Planet

Tour the Dandenongs on the historic Puffing Billy steam train

One hour is how long it will take to travel.

Taking a train to go on a train ride is a strange way to spend a day, but Puffing Billy is not an ordinary train. The Puffing Billy is a steam train that travels through the mountain range from Belgrave to Emerald Lake Park on a five hour return trip.

It's possible to hop on and off the train at any time.

There is a way to get to the railway.

There is a railway located to the east of the city. It can be reached by train from Parliament station to Belgrave station.

The article was updated in September.