Beaches, marinas, restaurants and cafes can be found along Geelong's breathtaking waterfront. Image: Tony Ng via Shutterstock.

Geelong

Image: Beaches, marinas, restaurants and cafes can be found along Geelong's breathtaking waterfront. Image: Tony Ng via Shutterstock.

Geelong

Victoria's "city by the bay" boasts a spectacular waterfront, elegant architecture, a thriving arts scene and great dining and drinking options.

Geelong
Coastal city one-hour from Melbourne
(145 ratings)

Victoria's "city by the bay" boasts a spectacular waterfront, elegant architecture, a thriving arts scene and great dining and drinking options.

One hour from Melbourne awaits the second largest city in the state, Geelong. With a population of close to 300,000, the city is large enough to have its own centre of gravity. In fact, Geelong has been designated a UNESCO city of design using creativity and innovation to build more sustainable, resilient and inclusive communities.

The former industrial city has gentrified into a creative hub with many galleries and museums within walking distance in the city centre. The city also shares Melbourne's love affair with street art with many striking works throughout its laneways and alleys.

The Bellarine Peninsula is easily accessible from Geelong as is the Great Ocean Road which begins at nearby Torquay.

The city was founded during the gold rush days as a port city close to the Ballarat gold fields. It was more convenient for miners to stay here than commute from Melbourne, and because it is a port city, the gold could easily be exported to the world.

Gay Geelong

There are no dedicated gay bars in the city. The closest match is the Piano Bar which hosts drag several nights a week and is also the venue where touring drag queens such as Rupaul's Drag Race alumni perform. In fact, the chain of Piano Bars across the state have become beacons for queer people living in regional Victoria.

Getting There

Train. V/Line trains leave every 20 minutes from Southern Cross station. The one-hour trip costs $13.80 each way

Ferry. Port Philip Ferries have ferries between Docklands and Geelong twice a day $18 each way. The tip takes 90 minutes

Car. The drive takes about one hour from central Melbourne.

Traveler magazine have a review of Geelong written in 2022. It's sponsored by tourism Geelong, so it's not completely objective, but it does have a good rundown of recent openings in the city.

A narrow street in the CBD that was redeveloped in 2010 and is now a bustling entertainment district. The redeveloped section only runs for a few blocks, but many of the city’s most popular bars, restaurants and cafes are located here. Piano Bar is a rambunctious live music venue that hosts drag twice a week. For a calmer ambiance, grab a glass of local wine from Geelong Cellar Door. For the best coffee in town, or wholesale coffee beans and accessories, check out Coffee Cartel. One of Australia’s oldest regional art galleries, the Geelong gallery is also located on Little Malop Street.

Pakington Street is Geelong’s centre of cosmopolitan lifestyle and multiculturalism[11]. While it doesn’t have the cuteness of Little Malop Street, there is a splattering of good eating and drinking options. LGBT-owned Splatters Cheese Train serves a selection of cheese and charcuterie on a 20m conveyer belt (why has no one thought of this before!). Meet Me at Mary’s is a cute wine bar and restaurant housed in a former industrial warehouse. For coffee or brunch, check out the award-winning  King of the Castle.

The jewel of Geelong is the glistening arc of shoreline where Corio Bay meets the city. Along the waterfront you’ll find beaches, parklands, marinas, pools, cafes and restaurants. Many original 19th century features have been retained including a former-industrial pier, a ferris wheel and a carousel. The eastern end was built in the Art Deco style during the 1930s and boasts an abundance of history and charm.

Dotted along the waterfront are over 100 colourful characters carved out of wood from the pylons of a damaged city pier. You’ll find the Baywalk Bollards, which depict local history, along the entire waterfront from Rippleside Park to Limeburners Point. There are 104 in total. 

For a great brunch option, check out The Beachhouse overlooking the Eastern Beach ocean pool. The former bathing pavilion is now a stylish restaurant serving up great coffee and inventive breakfast dishes.

Pictures

1 /public/album_photo/c6/32/0dad1e7a92f81d976b6ba8bc63b4846c.jpg /public/album_photo/c7/32/87d443936e13f4f1057e544d9885a60a.jpg Waterfront The waterfront is breathtaking on a clear day.
Image: Tony Ng via Shutterstock
2 /public/album_photo/be/32/87b719d8a54ef0eac81afcfde26b0ec7.jpg /public/album_photo/bf/32/8a23382bbda3113c861e3902647a5038.jpg 19th Century Buildings The city is full of heritage buildings such as the National Wool Museum shown here.
Image: Nils Versemann via Shutterstock
3 /public/album_photo/76/32/22409ed7a8668eaa4f1ae5836b26c33d.jpeg /public/album_photo/77/32/5c715e4d28eacaa25570cc999ca8a36b.jpeg Geelong Cellar Door Geelong Cellar Door on Little Malop St is a charming wine bar with a great selection of wines from the Geelong region.
Image: Beau
4 /public/album_photo/66/32/8cb8b7670fb2bdaf9941eb38bd5793cc.jpeg /public/album_photo/67/32/16b2f4125b820c13143d2f3014a38087.jpeg Piano Bar A piano bar that moonlights as a drag bar is a great idea in theory, but in reality it felt more like live music at a suburban pub.
Image: Beau
5 /public/album_photo/4d/32/24c41bce515869ac6e8cc55df0e6e492.jpeg /public/album_photo/4e/32/f2dcaea7940b8842cd7159926f18f005.jpeg Little Malop Street Redevelopment of Little Malop St in the CBD started in 2010 and now the street is lined with restaurants and bars
Image: Beau
6 /public/album_photo/45/32/837569cf088f7519b8eb956632a37068.jpg /public/album_photo/46/32/e78c69e95f250c38b7e8109efdd8dac4.jpg Waterfront All of the most charming parts of Geelong are within a few streets of the waterfront.
Image: GagliardiPhotography via Shutterstock
7 /public/album_photo/3d/32/2fcfee1f50470229009d9143555ca35e.jpg /public/album_photo/3e/32/b2844583206de03d1503241214ad8082.jpg Bollards Along the Waterfront Colourful bollards made from old timber piles from a damaged pier line the waterfront. There are over 100 in total.
Image: Norman Allchin via Shutterstock
8 /public/album_photo/35/32/c00502fbf50865eb7bc5e177c2b6d4dd.jpg /public/album_photo/36/32/4c05e2d2365089e97c46b68a4ae09c6b.jpg Corio Bay and Geelong The scenic Corio Bay makes a stunning backdrop for the city of Geelong
Image: Judah Grubb via shutterstock
9 /public/album_photo/25/32/a758fd30efb73953b2edc3b1d34d9ceb.jpg /public/album_photo/26/32/6fe2ab01f281c22bd01e9087b6d3e305.jpg Cunningham Pier Cunningham pier is a 19th century, former-industrial pier. Unfortunately it's only used as a function space today.
Image: Alex Cimbal via Shutterstock
10 /public/album_photo/b6/32/41d9385e259763840b09fe1f2d0b68d0.jpeg /public/album_photo/b7/32/c7b8a47a7d32ed5efedf67fe7b7666ba.jpeg Coffee Cartel Coffee Cartel on Little Malop St is a great place to stop on the morning after the night before for a pick-me-up coffee. They also sell coffee beans and other provisions.
Image: Beau
11 /public/album_photo/ae/32/c3613547b94d6f815cd8310ed01eeb80.jpeg /public/album_photo/af/32/d337ae1dee745e93ad4b4b8e824aeb2c.jpeg Breakfast Terrine at the Beachhouse The menu at the Beachhouse is closer to fine dining than greasy spoon. The breakfast terrine made from local ingredients in the Geelong region was unexpected but full of flavour.
Image: Beau
12 /public/album_photo/a6/32/2f0429e6a2143015582abf70e15c69bb.jpeg /public/album_photo/a7/32/7c13da0b79fe83ea8717ecfce7728cb6.jpeg The Beachhouse The Beachhouse on Eastern Beach Road is a former bathing pavilion overlooking the Eastern Beach ocean pool. With an unbeatable view, inventive menu and delicious dishes, it deserves a spot on your itinerary.
Image: Beau
13 /public/album_photo/9e/32/28cc662b7b6cddec6f823f0c1e03fb4d.jpeg /public/album_photo/9f/32/ac72b6e8e20cf95e8a005732cc616ed9.jpeg Interior of Union Street Wine Bar The wine bar is tucked away off a quiet laneway and attracts a diverse and interesting crowd.
Image: Beau
14 /public/album_photo/96/32/3a532a9f0853c86e79cbd82772a0adaf.jpeg /public/album_photo/97/32/c550852a0c2d4c58a6cecea683bc09db.jpeg Union Street Wine Bar Union Street is an award-winning wine bar with friendly and helpful staff and a great selection of wines.
Image: Beau
15 /public/album_photo/8e/32/d4e96892c8ac97212d187c105be588e6.jpeg /public/album_photo/8f/32/8b0f13a5569af45b71c273363d50e3a9.jpeg
Image: Beau
16 /public/album_photo/7e/32/56bcc94cd362ed13daab5383a52440cd.jpeg /public/album_photo/7f/32/3215b8f8b18bac0f8878177331425b00.jpeg Interior of Geelong Cellar Door The sophisticated wine bar is tastefully decorated with exposed brick and a fireplace.
Image: Beau
17 /public/album_photo/6e/32/34748d8e370d47fabec2112b00fa792e.jpeg /public/album_photo/6f/32/1c2dc40bc4ae8a014694cbfa20dbc0ca.jpeg The Crowd at the Piano Bar The crowd felt like a giant hens party.
Image: Beau
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Waterfront
The waterfront is breathtaking on a clear day.
Image: Tony Ng via Shutterstock