Where to stay in Great Ocean Road 👉 EASY table to compare the towns
Welcome to my backyard, the Great Ocean Road (also known as GOR), one of the most beautiful roads in the world.
I drove through and stopped there multiple times, spending so many summer holidays in this beautiful part of Australia.
In this post, I want to share all I know about where to stay on the Great Ocean Road, and what are the best towns and areas.
To make your life easier I have also organised a quick and easy table that compares all the best areas to stay along the Great Ocean Road.
And, of course, you can watch also my video below for more of a visual appreciation of the area.
Living in Melbourne, I visit the GOR at least 2-3 times a year, and I update this guide on a regular basis.
But now let’s have a start.
Where to stay in Great Ocean Road – Quick comparison
The GOR is a road 243km long (151 miles) that starts in Torquay and ends in Allansford, a small village between Port Campbell and Warrnambool.
Every town along the route has its own character, appeal and activities.
A few are great for a short weekend, others work better for a long stay.
Here is a map of the coastal road where I highlighted the 10 towns and areas where you can stop on the Great Ocean Road
The table below compares the 10 destinations based on average cost ($-$$$$$), bars/restaurants, nature/beach and other factors (1-5 with 1 being the lowest score). I added also links to suggested hotels in the area.
Click on the town/area name to read much more information about it, with an extended list of pros and cons of booking there, besides tips on hotels, cafes, restaurants etc.
The list starts from the farthest town from Melbourne, Port Campbell (next to the 12 Apostles) and finishes in Torquay, the closest destination to Melbourne.
|Best for||Avg. Cost||Suggested|
along the GOR
|Port Campbell||Close to|
and Best Western
to iconic sites
|$$-$$$||12 Apostles Cottages||270Km||1||3||1|
|Apollo Bay||Family, Beach|
|Lorne||Couples & Families|
Value for money
|$$-$$$$|| GOR Resort and|
|$-$$$$|| Homestay and|
Here below is a video I made during one of my trips that will help you to familiarize yourself with the Great Ocean Road
You may also think to plan your visit to the Great Ocean Road as a day trip, however, keep in mind that the whole loop is over 500km.
There are a few great day tours from Melbourne or rent a car to do it yourself.
In fact, it is a great base if you plan a sunset or sunrise at the 12 Apostles or Loch Ard Gorge.
The town has its own character with plenty of food options and a few pubs to have a drink, or two.
From Port Campbell, you will be able to visit the most iconic attractions easily
- London Bridge
- Loch Ard Gorge
- Twelve Apostles
- Gibson Steps
- Bay of Islands
- Childers Cove on a sunny day, amazing beach
I have talked more about a possible itinerary of the Great Ocean Road with time allocation for any destination. Shortly, if you plan to see all of the above, schedule at least 2 full days (including the drive from Melbourne or the Airport)
If you think to explore also the Great Otway National Park, visiting the waterfalls and the Lighthouse at Cape Otway then plan a longer stay, at least 3/4 full days. By the way, the small road going to the cape (C157) is the best place to spot a few koalas.
Port Campbell is one of the most chilled-out towns on the coast.
It gets actually quite busy during the day but magically it turns into a relaxing village in the late afternoon, when most visitors go back to Melbourne or their own base along the coast.
It’s the best town to stay on the Great Ocean Road if you are after also a restaurant, a cafe or a few drinks at night.
Port Campbell is a good spot also if you want to spend a couple of hours sunbathing. The beach is shallow and well repaired (don’t expect big waves). Great for a swim.
When the northerly wind pushes the temperature well above 30 Degrees Celsius, plan a drive to the lovely boutique Childers Cove, a fabulous beach with a small cave on the right end side that you can actually enter. This is one of the most kept-secret sites along the coast.
I have tried a few accommodations in Port Campbell, these are the ones I personally suggest:
- Port Campbell Parkview Apartments, my favourite spot, great if travelling with friends or large families.
- the Best Western Great Ocean Road Motor Inn for its bargain price
- the Southern Ocean Villas if you are after a boutique stay, and we all need that 🙂
Princetown is a small village along the Gellibrand River with just a general store and a cafe.
This is the best place to stay in the Great Ocean Road if you are looking for isolation and relaxation.
You will be also next door to the Twelve Apostles and the Gibson Steps and the lovely Princetown Beach (within walking distance).
It’s a great spot if you are looking for a well-priced cottage to host a family with kids.
And if you are travelling on a real budget, Princetown has one of the most inexpensive camping on the coast (there are not as many cheap options around the GOR).
The cottage is spacious and cozy, even with a hot tub overlooking the GOR hills. You will definitely be impressed.
Great Otway National Park
If you are looking for a secluded and romantic stay, close to the coast and hidden in the forest then you should book your accommodation in the Great Otway National Park, located between Apollo Bay and Princetown.
The park contains some of Australia’s most beautiful and pristine rainforest and coastal landscapes.
It is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including wallabies, echidnas, and over 100 species of birds.
A tip here, drive along Blue Johanna Road to spot a few koalas, they are so cute!
The park is also home to several beautiful waterfalls, including the Triplet Falls, Beauchamp Falls, and Hopetoun Falls.
And remember to add to the must-see bucket list the Californian Redwoods, with their impressive tall centenary trees.
Being a very secluded area means you will need to stock up in a supermarket in Apollo Bay. Besides the small cafe at the lighthouse, you will not find anything around.
The best bet for an accommodation is around Johanna Beach which is absolutely gorgeous. Sunset there is insane and you will be most probably on your own.
This is also the best place to stay along the GOR for stargazing. The sky is unreal and you will feel like metres away from the planets and stars.
The accommodation is actually quite close to the main road, however in a very quiet and private location.
Once inside, expect a charming environment with 2 bedrooms, perfect for summer and winter too.
I like this town for two main reasons: the great long beach and the proximity to the Great Otway National Park, with the many waterfalls, fantastic walks and strong possibility to spot the lovely koalas.
Apollo Bay has gone through an incredible transformation in the last few years.
Go there at lunchtime and it’s probably the busiest place on the Great Ocean Road with all the day tours stopping there for a break before heading to the 12 Apostles.
Stay overnight and you will see mostly families with kids, and just a bunch of food options still open (most of them close after the day tourists leave)
There are many houses available for rent in the market, fully serviced, which work great if you are travelling with kids.
The beach is awesome with an easy surfing break, perfect also for beginners, of any age.
You will not be so close to the iconic attractions of the GOR (12 Apostles, London Bridge, etc), in fact, you will have to dedicate a full day trip for that. Apollo Bay to 12 Apostles is a 1.5 hours trip (one way).
Ultimately, Apollo Bay is one of the best towns to stay in Great Ocean Road for families that want to mix beach time with attractions and excursions, both at the beach and in the forest.
I also suggest Apollo Bay if you are planning a long stay. It is right in the centre of the GOR and offers so much within a 1-2hours drive, besides the gorgeous local surfing, of course.
My suggested accommodations in Apollo Bay are:
- Beeches by the Sea Villas, recognised as one of the best stays on the whole Great Ocean Road
- Seafarers Getaway is a very popular choice, book well in advance to avoid disappointments
- the Motel Marengo in case you are travelling on a budget
Wye River and Kenneth River
Wye River and Kenneth River are two tiny villages that you will not probably even notice, unless you are on the hunt for a general store, right on the Great Ocean Road.
The location is one of the most scenic on the GOR, halfway from Lorne to Apollo Bay, and definitely the most spectacular part of the Great Ocean Road.
I also love the wide beach, however, it’s more for expert swimmers and great surfing too.
In both Wye River and Kenneth River you can find big homes which cater for families and groups of friends.
More often than not, houses have a unique view, being both villages developed on the hilly section of the Great Ocean Road,
A recommendation here. Take your cooking ingredients from your local supermarket because supply is somehow limited and pricey, especially in Kenneth River.
There are no restaurants or bars open at night. The Wye General Store offers good coffee and brunch till the early afternoon.
Lorne is probably the most organised town on the Great Ocean Road, hosting even a cinema, which is a great idea for a night movie or for one of those cold winter days.
It has a fantastic beach, great to learn surfing (very easy waves), and plenty of green space for a picnic between the beach and the main road, including a few free barbeques.
If you have kids there is a good size playground, a free skate and scooter park and a trampoline area too. Really, the children will not get bored in Lorne.
During the winter holiday (last week of December till the end of January), you may also find some rides, another great plus for the evening fun.
There are plenty of restaurants and cafes, surely the biggest selection on the Great Ocean Road.
And so many options for an after-dinner drink. Pubs and bars with a late closure time.
Lorne’s location is unfortunately not the best if you want to visit the 12 Apostles, especially at sunset time, being over 2 hours drive away.
When possible, try to avoid driving at dusk or at night. There are plenty of wild animals around, especially wallabies.
You will need to plan a day trip to visit the iconic GOR sites, mostly close to Port Campbell.
In the near proximity of Lorne, you should make a point to visit the Erskine Falls (the earlier the better, it’s a popular attraction).
Also head to Teddy’s Lookout for the most beautiful view of the spectacular section of the Great Ocean Road between Lorne and Apollo Bay.
If staying in town, check out the Lorne Hotel. The great thing is that you are meters from the beach, and all the restaurants and bars
The rooms are on a building behind the pub, very well positioned to have a super quiet night
The room has lots of space and includes kitchen facilities (see photos here)
Aireys Inlet is a tiny coastal town along the Great Ocean Road, named after Captain James Airey, who built the famous Split House Lighthouse on the rocky cliffs overlooking the ocean in 1891.
The lighthouse is still in operation today and is one of the town’s main tourist attractions.
I loved my beautiful walks there, along the coast, secluded and romantic.
Aireys Inlet is also next door to Fairhaven Beach, one of the most popular surf beaches on the Great Ocean Road.
You will find a bunch of restaurants and bars in the village. For a bigger selection head to Anglesea, just 15-20 minutes away.
Aireys Inlet is the perfect place to stay on the Great Ocean Road for a romantic weekend break away.
Try to book your accommodation on the second Sunday of the month, when you can attend the Aireys Inlet Market, featuring local artisans selling their wares.
Anglesea is a small town with a fantastic variety of beaches, from flat shallow water to a wide selection of surfing-style beaches.
It is the best town to stay in Great Ocean Road for families looking for a quiet beach to play and relax with small kids in a safe environment (Point Roadknight Beach).
Older kids will enjoy great surfing, of any level, with the possibility to get private lessons for beginners.
Head to the Golf Club to spot a few kangaroos roaming around. They are always so cute.
From here you can visit most of the GOR, however, you will need a full day trip for the 12 Apostles and the Bay of Island (170Km each way)
Here below are 3 of my recommended accommodations in the area.
- the Great Ocean Road Resort is a great hotel with a gym and a pool. My kid enjoyed it so much on one of our last trips to the coast.
- the Shady Nook is a unique experience, meters from the most family-friendly beach in the whole of the Great Ocean Road, Point Roadknight Beach.
- Anglesea Family Caravan Park, is a great value option if you are on a budget or you prefer camping
Torquay is the first town that you will find on the Surf Coast (if approaching the GOR from Melbourne or Geelong/Avalon Airport).
It is very well known as the surfing capital of Australia, although people on the East Coast may not agree with that 🙂
The town of Torquay has two great beaches, one popular with surfing lessons and one more repaired from the swell, north of Point Danger, that is beloved by families with small kids.
On a nice summer day go to the Jan Juc beach for a swim, such a beautiful spot. There is also a nice 1-2 hour walk that follows the coast, just off the cliff.
Drive a few Km southwest for one of the world’s best surf breaks, Bells Beach, which hosts the annual Rip Curl Pro surfing competition (eastern weekend).
Bear in mind that the sea around Bells Beach can be really dangerous. You should avoid swimming there. Only experienced surfers should go in the water.
Torquay hosts also the Australian National Surfing Museum, a must if you are a passionate surfer.
And finally, in the same area of the museum, you will find a few outlets selling boards and clothes
Torquay has obviously a big disadvantage, it is far from the iconic attractions (12 Apostles, etc), over 3 hours (around 200km) along the spectacular Great Ocean Road, or 2 hours on the direct route through Colac.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where are the Holiday homes with the best view of the Great Ocean Road?
Difficult to find a definitive answer to this question. I usually suggest either Wye River or Kenneth River. They are both located in the most scenic section of the Great Ocean Road, you will not be disappointed.
Best Romantic stay on the GOR
You have two possibilities and you may well divide your holiday between the two:
- along the Great Ocean Road where you will find a few isolated accommodations with a beautiful view over the coast. Go down to the local beach for a few beautiful walks, have a swim or head back to the accommodation for a pot of tea on the balcony.
- in the Great Otway National Park, in the wilderness, close to the magnificent coast and the many waterfalls. You can organise so many walks on the secluded beaches and the virgin forest. Just an amazing experience. You may even book your B&B at the Lightkeeper’s house on the Cape Lighthouse. Really unique.
Best town on the Great Ocean Road for adults and couples
I suggest staying in Lorne if you are after a lovely beach and plenty of bars/restaurants. Otherwise, Port Campbell if you are more for a romantic getaway close to the main attractions (12 Apostles, etc)
Best place to stay on the Great Ocean Road for families
Anglesea and Apollo Bay are my favourites. They are both towns that get pretty busy during the day but very quiet from the late afternoon. They offer good playgrounds around and a reasonable selection of restaurant options. Point Roadknight beach in Anglesea is the best beach for kids on the Great Ocean Road with shallow water and long small waves. For older kids, both towns offer great surfing for beginners with the possibility to get private lessons too.
Where to stay in Great Ocean Road for a week or more
Hard to say because it really depends on the type of holiday you are after. Port Campbell is the best spot to be close to the iconic places for sunset. Moreover, you can also think to organise a day trip to the lovely Port Fairy. Apollo Bay works also very well because you can mix beach time with some hiking in the Great Otway National Park.
Can you tell me your favourite 3-day itinerary from Melbourne?
The Great Ocean Road drive is one of the most scenic routes not only in Australia but also in the world.
On the first day, you can start your drive from Melbourne and stop at the Torquay outlet surfing city for some shopping. On a nice summer day go to the Jan Juc beach for a swim, such a beautiful spot. Stop in Anglesea for lunch. Head to the Golf Club to spot a few kangaroos and drive to the Split Point Lighthouse for a walk. Follow the Great Ocean Road till Lorne where you will spend the first night.
On the second day, you will arrive at Apollo Bay for lunch. From there drive through the Great Otway National Park. You may want to visit the lighthouse and spot a few koalas on the way. The Californian Redwoods is another amazing place to visit in the park, just next to the Hopetoun Falls. Budget 1-2 hours for the Gibson Steps, one of the most scenic beaches. Sunset is a must at the 12 Apostles. Stay the second night at Port Campbell.
On the last day visit all the iconic attractions around town and head back to Melbourne either through the direct route (to have exposure to the Victorian countryside) or back on the Great Ocean Road.
Can you tell me your favourite 2-day itinerary from Melbourne?
You will not certainly be able to visit my hidden secret places on the Great Ocean Road, however, you can still see plenty of iconic attractions.
On day 1, I would suggest heading straight away to Port Campbell (~3 hours using the direct route from Melbourne, M1/A1 + C163 + C164) and staying there for the night. On the first day, you can visit all or most of the iconic attractions like the London Bridge, the Grotto (amazing view and kids-friendly place), Bay of Islands Coastal Park (as beautiful as underrated in my opinion), the Blowhole, Loch Ard Gorge, Tom and Eva Lookout, The Razorback, Twelve Apostles and Gibson Steps
On day 2, visit the attractions left from the day before and drive back to Melbourne through the Great Ocean Road with a stop in Lorne for lunch.