Last updated on April 25, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Great Ocean Road

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.

Loch Ard Gorge
Loch Ard Gorge

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

Best towns to stay in the Great Ocean Road
Best towns to stay in the Great Ocean Road – Click here for a bigger size map.

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.

Area
NBHD
Best forAvg. CostSuggested
Hotel/Stay
Distance from
Melbourne
along the GOR
Bars &
Restaurants
BeachNightlife
Port CampbellClose to
iconic sites
$-$$$$Parkview Apts
and  Best Western
290Km343
PrincetownValue, next
to iconic sites
$$-$$$ 12 Apostles Cottages270Km131
Great Otway
National Park
Seclusion,
hiking
$$$-$$$$ Glenaire Cottages215Km121
Apollo BayFamily, Beach
hiking
$$$-$$$$Beeches and
Motel Marengo
190Km343
Wye River
Kenneth River
Family homes,
View
$$$-$$$$$Southpoint160Km131
LorneCouples & Families
Bars/restaurants
$$$-$$$$Lorne Hotel
and Phoenix
140Km544
Aireys InletRelaxation,
Beaches
$$-$$$$ Sunnymead125Km251
AngleseaBeaches,
Value for money
$$-$$$$ GOR Resort and
Shady Nook
112Km352
TorquaySurfing
Budget
$-$$$$ Homestay and
Torquay Hotel
100km443
Comparative table of the best towns and areas to stay in Great Ocean Road

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.

Port Campbell

Port Campbell is the best town to stay on the Great Ocean Road if you want to be close to the 12 Apostles, London Bridge and all the other iconic destinations.

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.

The Forage on the Foreshore is my favourite spot for a coffee, right in front of the beach. The 12 Rocks Beach Bar is a nice place, also at the beach, for a few drinks, less so for the food.

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:

Parkview Apartments    Best Western Motor Inn     South Ocean Villas

Gibson Steps
Gibson Steps

Princetown

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).

You should check out the 12 Apostles Cottages for an amazing value 2BR with an ocean view. Really unbeatable.

Certainly, the accommodation is basic but the space and the location are just perfect, especially for families travelling with kids.

Check availability at the Cottages

For a romantic getaway, you should check out the Southern Anchorage Retreat, just a few km from the Princetown village, right in the middle of a forest with a great sea view (see photos here)

The cottage is spacious and cozy, even with a hot tub overlooking the GOR hills. You will definitely be impressed.

Check availability at the Retreat

Californian Redwoods
Californian Redwoods

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 Glenaire Cottages is my secret spot in the GOR. The view is just unique, especially when you are in the spa right on the deck (See photos here).

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.

Check availability at Glenaire

Cape Otway Lightstation
Cape Otway Lightstation

Apollo Bay

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      Seafarers Getaway     Motel Marengo

Beauchamp Falls
Beauchamp Falls

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.

Southpoint is a unique place to stay with one of the most amazing views of the Great Ocean Road and the Ocean (see photos here).

Check availability at Southpoint

Teddy's Lookout
Teddy’s Lookout

Lorne

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.

Walk down to the Grand Pacific Hotel for one of the most iconic buildings in Victoria, facing the beautiful long pier, a popular spot in summer, great for a walk and a dive.

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)

Check Price at Lorne Hotel

For a charming and romantic getaway, check out the Phoenix Apartments.

Besides the amazing view (see photos here). You will also be a stone away from all the restaurants and bars.

Check availability at Phoenix

Erskine Falls
Erskine Falls

Aireys Inlet

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.

The Sunnymead has just completed a long and due refurbishment, which has taken this hotel to a completely new boutique level.

The solar-heated swimming pool is a great touch, especially if you are not too keen on the cold Ocean water.

Check availability at Sunnymead

Sandy Gully Beach
Sandy Gully Beach east of the Split House Lighthouse

Anglesea

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

GOR Resort     Shady Nook     Caravan Park

The 12 Apostles at sunset time
The 12 Apostles at sunset time

Torquay

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.

The Homestay Guesthouse is one of the best bargains on the Surf Coast.

It’s modern, clean and spacious, really all you need for a short break.

Check availability & price  

The Torquay Hotel is another good option, close to the beach, bars and restaurants but still very quiet at night.

Fantastic value for money, especially considering the location

Check price & availability

Bay Of Islands
Bay Of Islands

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.

What are the best towns on the Great Ocean Road to be based on to see the most iconic attractions?

I would say, Port Campbell, Princetown and Apollo Bay. Here below is a quick map of the attraction close to the three towns

Single base to visit the attractions of the Great Ocean Road
Single base to visit the attractions of the Great Ocean Road
Port Fairy Beach
Port Fairy Beach
Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

2 thoughts on “Where to stay in Great Ocean Road > TABLE to compare towns”

  1. Hi, I have enjoyed reading all the information you have provided.
    My husband and I are planning on spending a week on the Great Ocean Road.
    I would appreciate some feedback on where to base ourselves please.
    After the great Ocean Road we plan to stay somewhere for a couple of nights, near Robe then head to SA. We don’t travel often so any help would be really appreciated.
    Kind regards Robyn

    Reply
    • Good day Robyn,
      I am so sorry for the late reply. You may have booked already your stay. My suggestion would have been to stay for a week in Apollo Bay. It has a beautiful beach and from there you can explore everything in the area with day and half-day trips.
      Let me know if you need more help and I will be happy to help out
      Cheers

      Reply

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