When is the best time to visit the Great Ocean Road?

Summer months are the most popular time to visit the Great Ocean Road, but a trip during spring or autumn offers a less crowded experience and winter is full of wild charm. Read on for our full guide on the best time to visit the Great Ocean Road.

The Great Ocean Road is a windy drive along the southern coast of Victoria, encompassing nearly 300 kilometres of pristine beaches and spectacular natural scenery. Attractions such as the iconic 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, Otway Rainforest and several surf beaches draw travellers to the area all year round. But special events, weather and crowds make different times of the year more appealing depending on the kind of experience you are looking for.

  • Summer (December – February)

    The weather along the Great Ocean Road is undoubtably the warmest from December to February, with longer days and a decreased chance of rain making this an excellent time to visit. But with the Australian school holidays starting just before Christmas and lasting until early February, this is also the busiest time to visit the area. Popular attractions will be crowded, including the 12 Apostles and many of the beaches along the drive, as locals and travellers make the most of the pleasant weather.

    If you want to travel during this time, we recommend our Reverse Great Ocean Road tour, which travels in the opposite direction to the regular route, avoiding the crowds at many of the stops. The Sunset Tour is also available during the summer, offering the wonderful opportunity of witnessing the sun disappear into the ocean at the 12 Apostles.

    Melbourne is famous for its changeable weather, and the wind off the Southern Ocean means the Great Ocean Road can be cool all year round, especially in the evening. Always bring a jacket along, even in these warmer summer months. This is probably the only time of the year you’ll be able to swim without a wetsuit, but be warned, the water will still be a chilly 18 degrees.

  • Autumn (March – May)

    The weather in Autumn is generally milder and it’s a quieter time to visit the Great Ocean Road, with the exception of Easter weekend. Exploring during this time will mean a more relaxed trip, cheaper accommodation options if you stay over and less crowds at the top attractions.

  • Winter (June – August)

    The cooler months of winter is the quietest time to visit the Great Ocean Road, also making it the cheapest when looking for accommodation in the area. It does get pretty cold by Australian standards, but don’t let that frighten you off, there are plenty of reasons to visit during this time. The increased rain fills the waterfalls and creeks and the wild weather in the Southern Ocean makes witnessing the waves smash against the 12 Apostles a mesmerising experience. May – October is also the best time to spot whales along the Great Ocean Road as they migrate from the cooler waters of the south.

  • Spring (September – November)

    As the days grow longer and the weather warms up, the draw of the coast sees crowds increase on the Great Ocean Road. Bushwalkers will enjoy the full flowing waterfalls and added colour from the blooming wildflowers.

Special Events

  • The Great Ocean Road and towns along the drive host festivals and events throughout the year celebrating everything from local seafood to folk music. Here are some of the most popular events to be aware of when you book your trip:
  • The Falls Music & Arts Festival – usually held in Lorne over New Years Eve, this festival attracts thousands of music fans to ring in the new year with popular local and international acts. The 2020/21 event is set to be an all Australian line-up due to the covid-19 pandemic.
  • Lorne Pier to Pub – this unique 1.2 kilometre open water swim takes place annually in January, attracting up to 4000 competitors each year.
  • Rip Curl Pro – they don’t call it the Surf Coast for nothing. Each year at Easter, Bells Beach hosts some of the world’s best surfers as they compete to win the iconic bell trophy.

Related article: Which is the Best Great Ocean Road Tour?