If you're a city slicker whose perfect idea of a holiday is staying in a vibrant metropolis but your partner prefers a slice of country life, then never fear – there is a way to enjoy the best of both worlds. Melbourne, like many other cities in Australia, boasts an excellent city atmosphere but is also only a short drive away from beautiful natural landscapes.
With a bit of forward planning and by picking up a car hire in Melbourne airport, you can ensure you have the flexibility to soak up all the city has to offer while still enjoying the freedom to hit the open road and enjoy some fresh country air.
Here is a brief round-up of the three best city activities and three excellent country escapes, all of which can be easily accessed from central Melbourne.
Immerse yourself in the coffee culture
Hopefully one thing you and your partner can agree on is that there's nothing better than an excellent cup of coffee. In Melbourne city you'll be spoilt for choice – Australia's culture capital is renowned for its award winning baristas, ensuring you won't have to look far to find happiness in a cup.
Catch a show
Whether you're into music, theatre, comedy or all three you're bound to find something to suit your tastebuds on the Melbourne show calendar. Make a night of it and head out for food beforehand, then recount your favourite parts of the show with a nightcap afterwards. Melbourne is full of wonderful restaurants and bars, so you shouldn't have trouble finding an excuse to stay out all night!
Advance your art education
Want to learn more about art and why Melbourne is steadily making its name as one of the artiest cities in the world? Head along to the Heide Museum of Modern Art to brush up on your knowledge. If you like what you see, add a few more art galleries to your list, such as the Ian Potter Centre and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. Film buffs will also adore the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.
Drive the Great Ocean Road
Did you know the number one ranked 'thing to do' in Melbourne on TripAdvisor is to drive the Great Ocean Road? Swap the city for the coast, load the car with snacks and tunes and enjoy a relaxing cruise on one of Australia's most beautiful roads. You'll be blown away by the natural charm of rugged cliff lines and surf beaches. Be sure to leave plenty of time for this part of your trip, though, as to drive the complete ocean road could take up to three days.
Enjoy a day wine tasting
The city of Melbourne may boast some beautiful wine bars but nothing quite beats wine tasting at a vineyard. Jump in your Melbourne car rental and head to a winery of your choice. The Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Macedon Ranges wine regions are all located near the city, perfect for an overnight trip.
Take a day trip to a small local town
Spending time in big cities is a great way to immerse yourself in art, culture, music and much more. But sometimes to really get to know local people the best thing you can do is drive out beyond the suburbs. Make a day of it and visit a nearby small town such as Healesville or Queenscliff. These quaint settlements may have you considering whether city life really is for you.