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Looking For The Best Things To Do In Portarlington? We’ve got you covered!
Below you’ll find our guide to all the top Portarlington things to do for your ultimate getaway.
While many tourists visit Portarlington as a day trip, with a range of excellent accommodation, it’s also the perfect place to relax for a few days.
In addition to its fabulous beach, there are many Portarlington attractions, including some amazing festivals and wineries, and a whole host of great family activities.
What’s more, if you have a car, there are plenty of things to do around Portarlington as well.
In this article, we walk you through what to do in Portarlington, Australia.
We’ve included everything you need to know about the best places to visit, as well as the best Portarlington accommodation so you can plan an amazing trip.
Let’s get to it!
19 Best Things To Do In Portarlington
Portarlington is one of the less well-known towns in Victoria, but it still has a lot to offer. Here are 19 of the best things to do in Portarlington, presented in no particular order. We hope you have a ball!
Find the best places to stay in Portarlington by clicking here.
1) Relax At Portarlington Beach
Offering uninterrupted views of Melbourne and the You Yangs, the north-facing Portarlington Beach is a haven for tourists in summer.
It’s a beautiful, long wide beach with calm shallow waters ideal for families with children. It’s also a great option for adults looking for an alternative to the rugged coastline on the other side of the peninsula.
Here you’ll find sandbars, hardly any rocks, and almost no waves making it perfect for blow-up beach toys and beginner stand-up paddleboarding.
Portarlington Beach also offers an attractive foreshore with tall cypress trees, large grassy areas, picnic and barbecue facilities, and public toilets.
A highlight of the beach is the recently updated pier, where the Portarlington ferry from Melbourne Docklands moors.
2) Stroll The Portarlington Pier
The historic Portarlington Pier (1859) is a fairly long pier that’s popular with local anglers and the home of commercial fishing vessels.
The Melbourne Docklands to Portarlington ferry moors here and it’s where you’ll disembark if you catch the ferry to Portarlington from Melbourne.
The original pier was deemed dangerous and a new pier has been built that runs alongside the old one. It stretches way out into the bay, and a walk along the pier is one of the popular Portarlington activities for tourists.
The pier forms an “L” shape with the rather bland concrete making way for a more characterful wood-planked boardwalk.
There’s also a cute vintage covered bench seat where you can sit and enjoy the view back into Portarlington Harbour and out into the bay.
3) Visit Portarlington Wineries
Take a drive or join a tour on a ‘grape’ escape into one of Australia’s best-kept wine tourism secrets. Home to an eclectic mix of boutique family-owned wineries the Bellarine Peninsula is one of the country’s lesser-known wine regions.
Here you’ll find specialist winemakers producing top-quality cold-climate wines.
Each vineyard has its own unique growing environment and the grapes are carefully hand pruned and hand-picked for the best result.
But it’s not just about the wine, many of the wineries on the Bellarine offer delicious dining and beautiful bay views.
Even if you don’t drink wine it’s worth visiting at least one Portarlington winery during your stay.
Here are a few for you to choose from.
Where: 190 Scotchmans Road, Drysdale 3222
When: 7 days 11 a.m – 4 p.m
Phone: (03) 5251 4431
Bennetts On Bellarine
Where: 2171 Portarlington Road, Bellarine 3223
When: Mon & Thur: 11.30 a.m – 3 p.m, Fri: 11.30 a.m – 7 p.m, Sat: 11.30 – 9.30 p.m, Sun: 11.30 – 5 p.m, Closed Tuesday & Wednesday
Phone: (03) 8751 8194
Jack Rabbit Vineyard
Where: 85 McAdams Lane, Bellarine 3223
When: 7 days 10 a.m – 5 p.m
Phone: (03) 5251 2223
4) Have Fun On An Ultimate Adventure Tour
If you want to do something different while you’re in town, why not head out on an ultimate adventure?
This Bellarine Peninsula company offers either land or sea tours that are suitable for all ages. Or in some cases, you’ll enjoy a limousine tour followed by a sightseeing cruise.
These charters are perfect for families or small groups, and owner Chris can take you out to sea to spot marine life or to the local wineries on land.
If you take to the waters of Port Phillip Bay, you might get to spot fur seals or dolphins. For landlubbers, winery tours are a speciality, or book the Ultimate Adventure for the best of both worlds.
Where: Harding Street, Portarlington 3223
When: Tours depart at various times
Phone: 0447 972 740
5) Chow Down At The Portarlington Mussel Festival
Portarlington is best known for the beautiful blue mussels that grow in its waters. Popular with foodies these tasty little morsels feature on restaurant and cafe menus right across the region.
The best way to enjoy Portarlington mussels is at the Portarlington Mussel Festival. It was created in 2007 as a street festival to help promote the local mussel producers at a time when the industry was struggling.
Since then the festival has grown to become one of the region’s most popular events with a whopping 30,000 patrons devouring ten tonnes of plump mussels!
If you’re not a fan of mussels it’s still a great day out, with live music, kids’ activities, cooking demonstrations, and over 200 stalls to browse through.
Add it to your calendar for a fun-filled day by the bay.
Portarlington Mussel Festival
Where: Portarlington Park
When: 13 January 2024
Entry: Adults $5.00, Kids are free
6) Dance At The Portarlington Celtic Festival
Each winter the peaceful Portarlington village bursts into life when the National Celtic Festival comes to town.
Considered Australia’s premier Celtic Festival, over 18,000 people arrive from all over the country to celebrate all things Celtic.
The 4-day event is held at a range of venues throughout the town, including community halls, churches, cafes, and the Portarlington Pub.
Festival-goers can enjoy concerts, workshops, dancing and acoustic performances, competitions, Celtic martial arts, markets, and scrumptious food.
This is a ticketed event, but it’s free to wander around the markets and outdoor areas, including the stage.
National Celtic Festival Portarlington
Where: Various venues across Portarlington
When: King’s Birthday Long weekend in June (7-10/06/24)
7) Take A Portarlington Mussel Tour
Portarlington, often hailed as the Mussel Capital of Victoria, plays a significant role in Australia’s mussel harvest, accounting for around 60% of the total yield.
Portarlington Mussel Tours, with a maximum of 12 passengers, will guide you through the world of mussel farming.
You’ll embark on the discovery aboard Valerie, a renovated 40-year-old boat, to witness the cultivation and harvesting of mussels.
The experience includes a culinary demonstration, allowing you to sample the seafood, complemented by local produce and wine.
By the end of the tour, you’ll have a greater appreciation for mussels, a new understanding of sustainable aquaculture, and memories of a fantastic day on the bay. Spotting dolphins is a bonus!
Portarlington Mussel Tours
Where: Harding Street, Portarlington 3223
When: Tours depart at various times.
Phone: 0438 520 842
8) Ride The Portarlington Miniature Railway
Kids can enjoy the magic and charm of a miniature train ride at the Portarlington Mini Railway.
Set amongst native parklands overlooking Port Phillip Bay, this hidden gem is great value for families on The Bellarine.
The facility offers a kilometre of track with railway signals, a vintage railway station, a signal box, and an undercover platform.
There’s also a kiosk serving light refreshments, a terrific playground, undercover barbecues, and picnic tables.
They had a sausage sizzle going the day we visited – which was much appreciated!
Portarlington Bayside Miniature Railway
Where: Cnr Point Richards and Boat Roads
When: Every Sunday 11 a.m – 4 p.m September – April – it’s best to check their website for dates
Tickets: Single Ride: $4.00, Family Day Pass: $35.00
Phone: 04761 24598
9) Portarlington Park
Portarlington Park can be found on The Esplanade. It’s slap-bang in the centre of town, and convenient for all that Portarlington has to offer.
The hillside position means it has marvellous views, and it’s not far from other Portarlington attractions including the Portarlington Grand Hotel, the ferry terminal, and various food and shopping options.
At the park, you’ll find sand underfoot for a soft landing, climbing equipment, swings, a flying fox and lots more for the kids to play on.
The park is also dotted with cleverly carved wooden sculptures that reflect the coastal location.
Where: 1A The Esplanade, Portarlington 3223
When: Always open
10) Play A Round At Portarlington Golf Club
Whether you’re a mad-keen golfer or just like to play on the odd occasion, you’ll no doubt enjoy a round of golf at Portarlington Golf Course.
The award-winning 18-hole course is considered to be one of the best on the Bellarine.
It’s a challenging tree-lined course with a variety of golf holes and pure putting surfaces. And thanks to the town’s stormwater, the grounds are beautifully maintained all year round.
Green-fee players are welcome. Booking ahead is advised.
Portarlington Golf Club
Where: 130 Hood Road, Portarlington
Green Fees: Weekday: $55.00 Weekends & Public Holidays: $65.00
Phone: Reception: (03) 5259 2492, Pro Shop: (03) 5259 3361
11) Stroll The Portarlington Rambler’s Walk
Portarlington Rambler’s Walk is easy, flat, family-friendly and a great way to explore the area.
Suitable for all ages, it’s only 1.3 kilometres long and follows a gravel path that traces the local coastline offering fantastic views over Corio Bay.
The walk commences at Point Richards car park, and you’ll pass various points of interest along the way. It’s the ideal way to spot local flora and fauna, too.
Look out for birdlife at the little lagoon, an olive grove between the houses and the hill, and the memorial cairn to a 16-year-old who lost his life while attempting to save his sibling.
12) Portarlington History Walk
An alternative to the Portarlington Rambler’s Walk is the Portarlington History Walk, which sets out from the Ol’ Duke Hotel.
This one involves heading uphill from the centre of town, so the views just keep getting better as you head towards the endpoint.
Again this is a short walk. As it involves a fairly steep ascent, though, this one-kilometre walk is more of a challenge.
En route, you’ll pass a mix of modern luxury homes and traditional wooden houses. Breathtaking panoramas over Corio Bay and the You Yangs, meanwhile, are your reward at the end of the walk.
13) Treat Yourself At Daniel’s Donuts
A Portarlington holiday is not complete without a trip to Daniel’s Donuts.
Offering row upon row of deliciously decadent doughnuts, it’s unlike any other doughnut store you’ve ever seen.
Doughnut lovers drive for miles to devour these melt-in-your-mouth fluffy treats, and it’s not uncommon to see people lining up outside the door.
The huge range has just about every doughnut you can imagine, including such delights as Nutella, Cookies And Cream, Cheesecake, and my personal favourite the Golden Gaytime.
Pies, sausage rolls, cakes, and slices are also available, as well as vegan and gluten-free options.
Dine in or sit outside and enjoy the beautiful view across the park and out to Corio Bay.
Daniels Donuts Portarlington
Where: 64 Newcombe Street, Portarlington 3223
When: Monday – Saturday: 7 a.m – 6 p.m, Sunday: 6 a.m – 6 p.m
Phone: (03) 7066 6863
$15.00 for a box of 6
14) Browse The Portarlington Market
Like other markets, the Portarlington Market is a great place to wander around, meet the locals, and most importantly, score yourself a bargain.
Run by the Lions Club, this vibrant community market is a much-loved fixture on the Bellarine markets circuit.
Its prime location has smashing views and the stalls are jam-packed with awesome goodies.
Market-goers can browse through fresh local produce, handmade soaps, gifts, and homewares, as well as specialty items like jam and honey.
Where: W.G. Little Reserve, Newcombe Street, Portarlington 3233
When: Last Sunday of the month September – April
Time: 9 a.m – 2 p.m
15) Have A Feast At The Little Mussel Café
Of all the Portarlington places to eat and drink, the Little Mussel Café is a local favourite.
Head here for all kinds of sophisticated eats, where the menu is centred on mussels. There are plenty of other options, though, including Thai specialities.
As well as yummy food, you can also enjoy stunning views over Portarlington Foreshore Reserve and the coastline beyond.
The delicious range of drinks is a highlight of popping into the Little Mussel Café. These include cocktails and iced coffee, as well as the usual favourites.
Little Mussel Cafe
Where: 40-42 Newcombe Street, Portarlington 3223
When: Thur -Sat: 11 a.m – 9 p.m, Sunday: 11 a.m – 4 p.m
Phone: (03) 5259 1377
16) Hop Aboard The Bellarine Railway
Taking a trip on the Bellarine Railway is one of the most relaxing things to do in the Portarlington area.
The steam train is staffed by volunteers, and you’ll travel over a now-defunct branch line stretching for more than 15 kilometres.
It’s a unique way to see some of the picturesque Bellarine Peninsula. You can board in either Drysdale or Queenscliff before travelling to the other destination.
The Bellarine Railway fleet comprises 11 locomotives from all over Australia, including Queensland, SA, Tasmania, WA and of course Victoria.
The carriages have comfortable leather seats, which you can unwind in while passing through fertile farmland and enjoying stunning views of Swan Bay.
Where: Administration Office: 20 Symonds Street, Queenscliff 3225
When: Booking Office: business hours, Tours depart various times.
Phone: (03) 5258 2069
17) Explore The Bellarine Peninsula
The beautiful Bellarine Peninsula is within easy reach of Portarlington and makes a great day trip destination while you’re in the area.
We love this part of Victoria, where you can discover glorious beaches, appealing markets, rolling farmland, gourmet food, attractive towns and much more.
Highlights include the local towns of Barwon Heads, Queenscliff, Point Lonsdale, and Ocean Grove. Gorgeous beaches and incredible scenery are a given.
Visiting wineries, breweries and distilleries is also popular here, and there are plenty to pick from. You can also dine out, play golf and discover a range of family-friendly activities.
18) Chill Out At The Portarlington Grand Hotel
Portarlington Grand is a historic property in the centre of town. It offers a large beer garden, yummy pub grub, big screens and live music.
The 1888 building occupies a commanding plot, overlooking the harbour area as well as the main street in town.
A laid-back pub food menu offers something for everyone, and you can dine in the bistro between Wednesday and Sunday. Meals are served in the Atrium on Mondays and Tuesdays.
If you’d also like to book a room at the Grand, find out more about this in our guide to Portarlington places to stay.
You can also check out what’s on here, which includes events run in collaboration with the Bellarine Railway
Portarlington Grand Hotel
Where: 76 Newcombe Street, Portarlington 3223
When: 7 days 11.30 a.m – 8 p.m
Phone: (03) 8533 4898
19) Step Back In Time At The Portarlington Mill
Tucked into a court just 300 metres from the Portarlington beachfront is the historic Portarlington Mill.
Built in 1857, the beautiful 4-storey building has been made using locally quarried stone. Its original purpose was to make flour from crops grown throughout the peninsula and it’s one of the few remaining Victorian flour mills.
The mill closed in 1874 and it was then used as a brickworks and factory, and much later as flats for holidaymakers.
Now part of the National Trust Register, it houses a number of interesting artefacts including memorabilia from the steamship Edina which brought holidaymakers to the seaside village.
If you’re here on a Sunday it’s well worth dropping by to check out this wonderful slice of Portarlington history.
Address: Turner Court
Open: September – May, Sunday 12 pm – 4 pm
Adults: $5.00 Children: $3.00
Family: $12.00 Concession: $4.00
Accommodation In Portarlington
Even though Portarlington is a tiny seaside fishing village, there are still some fabulous places to stay.
Below I’ve listed a few different options for you to choose from, but if you don’t want to waste any time click here to book the best Portarlington accommodation now.
Waterline Property offers modern self-contained holiday apartments in Portarlington with stunning ocean views.
The 2 and 3 bedroom townhouses comfortably accommodate up to six people making them an ideal choice for families and groups.
For those who like to cook the kitchens are well-equipped and feature a dishwasher, coffee pod machine, fridge, and microwave.
Additional amenities include smart TVs, split system climate control, laundry facilities, and free undercover parking.
Each apartment features a relaxing balcony with a barbecue for enjoying the scenic views.
Conveniently located you can’t go wrong when you book the Waterline Property Apartments.
If you’re looking for a weekend of relaxation, then the Oxley Estate Bed & Breakfast is the perfect place for you to recharge your batteries.
Set on 10 acres, guests can enjoy an orchard and olive grove, lush gardens, and delightful farm animals like goats, sheep, and alpacas.
This is a great option for both couples and families, with 4 luxury guest rooms each with a corner spa bath and a family room to choose from.
The estate also features an inground pool, communal kitchen, laundry facilities, and barbecue area.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Portarlington worth a visit?
Yes, Portarlington is worth a visit. This beautiful seaside town has many popular attractions including festivals, boat tours, winery visits, a golf course, and a calm swimming beach. Portarlington is also well-located for visiting other parts of the Bellarine Peninsula.
What is Portarlington known for?
Portarlington is known for its safe swimming beach, fresh mussels, and panoramic views of Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne’s skyline, and the You Yangs. The town becomes a hive of activity when it hosts the Portarlington Mussel Festival and the National Celtic Festival.
Why is it called Portarlington?
There is some debate about why it is called Portarlington. Originally called Drayton the town was renamed Portarlington less than a year later. This may have been to honour Sir Henry Bennet, 1st Earl of Arlington. Another theory is that it was named after Portarlington in Ireland as there were many Irish settlers in the area.
Is it safe to swim in Portarlington?
Yes, it is safe to swim in Portarlington bearing in mind that all bodies of water can be dangerous. The sheltered bay has calm swimming waters and there is a designated swimming zone within the Portarlington Harbour that’s ideal for families with small children. There’s also another swimming zone to the west of Portarlington Pier.
Where does the Portarlington Ferry leave from?
The Portarlington Ferry leaves from the Portarlington Pier and sails to the Docklands in Melbourne. The pier is easy to get to as it’s just a 5-minute walk from the beach and Newcombe Street in the centre of town. The ferry has both indoor and outdoor seating, a licensed cafe, and room for up to 20 bikes.
For those looking to escape the busy city, Portarlington is the perfect place. This is a delightfully quiet seaside town with an excellent beach and plenty of attractions to keep you entertained.
Whether you visit on a day trip or stay a bit longer, you’re bound to have a great time in Portarlington, Victoria!
You can discover more things to do in Victoria here.
- 13 Best Bellarine Peninsula Accommodation Guide
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- Werribee Mansion Rose Garden: Top Guide
- 15 Top Things To Do In Werribee
- 15 Best Great Ocean Road Tours From Melbourne
- Best Great Ocean Road 2 Day Itinerary
- Best Great Ocean Road 3 Day Itinerary
- Best Great Ocean Road 4 Day Itinerary
By Audrey Chalmers
Audrey grew up in Victoria and travelled the world but she always called Victoria home. She loves nothing more than exploring her home state and sharing it here.