Once a major manufacturing centre, Geelong has been reinvented as a city with an enviable lifestyle. Charismatic cultural precincts have sprung up, boasting excellent places to eat and drink, galleries and boutiques. Just 30 minutes from uber-urban Geelong lies the Bellarine and its lush vineyards, captivating bay views and charming coastal villages. Slow your pace and pull up in these seaside villages to discover delectable provedores and farm gates, world-class golf courses, coastal stores and enchanting beaches.

Explore the best of Geelong and the Bellarine on our four-day getaway road trip.

  • Just an hour from Melbourne, it's no surprise that the city's caffeine culture has made its way to Geelong. There are countless reliable cafe options, with Coffee Cartel a standout.

    Batteries charged, it's time to have some fun on the Geelong waterfront and the outdoor playground that is Eastern Beach. If it's too chilly for the seaside pool, you can watch the boats bobbing on the bay and take a turn on the historic carousel.

    Head towards the striking domed roof of the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre, in the heart of Geelong's cultural precinct and while away some time in this library with a difference. Wander through Geelong Gallery, one of Australia's leading and oldest regional art galleries.

    Take a break for lunch at the Hot Chicken Project. It's the hottest spot in town and will prepare you for an afternoon exploring edgy Pakington Street. Make sure you check out the emerging art in the former wool mill at Boom Gallery, then sit back and watch the world go by with a glass of wine from Geelong Cellar Door on Little Malop Street. Save room after a sensational dinner at Zigfrids Dining Hall and Bar for a cheeky late-night dessert from Armageddon Cake.

    It's time to call it a day. Collapse into bed at Devlin Apartments and get ready for a jam-packed second day.

  • Up and at 'em and prepare for a morning of retail therapy with breakfast at King of the Castle. Nab a rare vintage find at the Mill Markets in central Geelong, or stop by Geelong Vintage Market in North Geelong.

    If you're lucky with your timing, you can combine lunch with craft beer tastings at Little Creatures Brewery. Be sure to check out White Rabbit Brewery while you're there.

    The afternoon is time to venture a little further afield; north-west to the Moorabool Valley and its cool-climate wineries. Look out for Lethbridge Wines, Clyde Park, Moorabool Ridge and del Rios of Mt Anakie.

    If your visit coincides with the first Saturday of the month, head out of town to Golden Plains Farmers Market in Bannockburn for delicious fresh produce.

  • Your third day in the region is dedicated to following your tastebuds through the Bellarine. Book into a room at Starhaven Retreat then get the lay of the land on a segway tour at Leura Park Estate and tuck into lunch at Flying Brick Cider House.

    Then it's time to embark upon the Bellarine Taste Trail, stopping off at boutique wineries, restaurants, cafes, provedores and farm gates.

    Keep your eye out for McGlashan's Wallington Estate, Oakdene Vineyards, Advance Mussel Supply, Wildings Pantry Essentials, Lighthouse Olive Mill Shop, Curlewis Winery, Lonsdale Tomato Farm and Basils Farm.

    After all that, it's time to spoil yourself with a spa treatment at Mud Day Spa or Queenscliff Day Spa before calling it a night.

  • Grab a bite to eat at your accommodation or head to PIKNIK, the converted roadhouse serving up the region's best produce.

    Wander through charming Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale at your leisure, then cross to Hitchcock Avenue in Barwon Heads to browse Annie's Provedore, Barwon Heads Winestore and Kiitos Living by Design.

    If you're feeling a bit more energetic, jump aboard a sightseeing boat tour with South Bay Eco Adventures and spot Port Phillip Bay's resident dolphins, seals, whales, penguins and sea birds.

    For lunch it's hard to choose between Mr Grubb @ Oakdene or Jack Rabbit Restaurant. You won't be disappointed. Summon the last of your energy to stop off at beautiful Terindah Estate to feast one more time upon the flavours of the Bellarine and the stunning scenery.