Where to stay in Great Ocean Road for first time: 7 Safe areas

Finding where to stay on Great Ocean Road as a first-timer can be overwhelming. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find safe places to stay in Great Ocean Road for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safest areas to stay in Great Ocean Road for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map. I’ll also share where I stayed in Great Ocean Road and recommend some of the best hotels in Great Ocean Road for various budgets.

The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most iconic scenic drives, located in the state of Victoria. It stretches along the southeastern coast of Australia, covering about 243 kms between the towns of Torquay and Allansford. 

The road offers stunning views of the Southern Ocean, rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, and lush rainforests. It’s renowned for its natural beauty and panoramic vistas.

Perhaps the most famous attraction along the Great Ocean Road, the Twelve Apostles are limestone rock formations rising dramatically from the ocean. Though erosion has caused their numbers to dwindle, they remain a must-see sight.

Another notable natural wonder, Loch Ard Gorge features towering cliffs and a picturesque beach. It’s named after the clipper ship Loch Ard, which ran aground nearby in 1878.

London Arch (formerly London Bridge), natural arch formation, was once connected to the mainland, resembling a bridge. However, in 1990, a section collapsed, leaving it with two separate arches.

In addition to coastal scenery, the Great Ocean Road passes through lush rainforests and offers opportunities for hiking and exploring waterfalls such as Erskine Falls and Hopetoun Falls.

The region is a paradise for surfers, with numerous world-class surf breaks along the coast. Popular surf spots include Bells Beach, famous for its annual Rip Curl Pro surfing competition, and Jan Juc Beach.

Keep an eye out for native wildlife, including koalas, kangaroos, echidnas, and a variety of bird species. Many sections of the road pass through national parks and conservation areas where these animals can be spotted.

Along the way, there are charming seaside towns and villages to explore, offering opportunities to sample local cuisine, browse art galleries, and experience coastal culture.

You can also enjoy activities such as fishing, whale watching (during the migration season), cycling, and horse riding, making the Great Ocean Road suitable for a variety of interests.

Is Great Ocean Road safe to visit?

The Great Ocean Road is generally safe for travelers. But, there are potential hazards to be aware of, such as winding sections, sharp curves, wildlife crossings, and sometimes adverse weather conditions. It’s essential to drive carefully, obey speed limits, and be cautious, particularly during periods of heavy rain or low visibility.

Additionally, the road can be busy with tourists, especially during peak seasons, so it’s important to remain vigilant and watch out for other vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians.

As long as you exercise caution and drive responsibly, the Great Ocean Road can be enjoyed safely, offering stunning scenery and memorable experiences along the way.

Where to stay on Great Ocean Road for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Great Ocean Road for first-timers and tourists are Lorne, Apollo Bay, Torquay, Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Port Campbell, and Anglesea. 

Lorne is a picturesque seaside town with a vibrant atmosphere. It’s known for its beautiful beaches, scenic coastal walks, and charming cafes and restaurants. Lorne is a great base for exploring attractions like Erskine Falls and the nearby Otway National Park.

Torquay is the starting point of the Great Ocean Road and a popular spot for surfers and beach lovers. It offers a range of accommodations, and provides easy access to iconic surf beaches like Bells Beach.

Apollo Bay, situated midway along the Great Ocean Road, is a quaint coastal village surrounded by the lush greenery of the Otway Ranges. It’s an ideal location for those seeking a relaxed atmosphere, with opportunities for beachcombing, fishing, and exploring the nearby Cape Otway.

Port Campbell is close to some of the Great Ocean Road’s most famous landmarks, including the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge. Warrnambool, located at the western end of the Great Ocean Road, is a larger city with a rich maritime history. 

During my trip to Great Ocean Road, I stayed in Apollo Bay at the popular Apollo Bay Waterfront Motor Inn. It was a good value for money accommodation, centrally located close to all the bars and restaurants. My room was spacious and light. Highly recommended.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Great Ocean Road for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Great Ocean Road first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Great Ocean Road first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Great Ocean Road, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Great Ocean Road have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

7 Best areas to stay in Great Ocean Road for first-timers and tourists:

1. Lorne

Lorne is one of the top bases for visitors exploring the Great Ocean Road. It is a popular stop along this road, known for its beautiful beaches, great surfing spots, and charming coastal village atmosphere. 

The town is nestled between the lush Otway Ranges and the sparkling waters of Louttit Bay, providing breathtaking views from many vantage points. Main Beach is the town’s primary beach, offering golden sands and clear waters ideal for families and beachgoers.

Lorne has a vibrant arts scene with numerous galleries showcasing local artwork, sculptures, and crafts. The town also hosts cultural events and festivals throughout the year, including the Lorne Sculpture Biennale and the Falls Music & Arts Festival.

Beyond the beach, Lorne offers plenty of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Popular activities include bushwalking in the nearby Great Otway National Park, waterfall chasing, mountain biking, and birdwatching.

Lorne is a family-friendly destination with various amenities catering to visitors of all ages. There are playgrounds, picnic areas, and recreational facilities available, making it an ideal spot for a relaxing getaway with loved ones.

Best places to stay in Great Ocean Road in Lorne:

Mid-range ($$): Cumberland Lorne Resort, popular 4-star hotel located on Mountjoy Parade, located in the heart of Lorne town center, short drive from Lorne Country Club and Erskine Falls. It has free secure parking, a swimming pool, fitness center, BBQ facilities, and spacious apartments with a full kitchen.

Mid-range ($$): Lorne World, great beachfront hotel in a fabulous location, close to everything, within walking distance from Lorne Beach and the shopping strip. It features  self-contained accommodations with comfy beds and free parking.

Mid-range ($$): Lorne Surf Apartments, 4-star boutique adults-only aparthotel located in a quiet area in Lorne, 5-15 mins walk from Lorne Swing Bridge beach and Lorne main street (via a big hill). It features studios with a full kitchenette, free parking, and laundry facilities.

Budget ($): Lorne Bay View Motel, 3-star seafront hotel located on Bay Street, 15 mins drive from Kennett River, a popular place to watch koalas. It has studios with a spa bath and a kitchenette.


2. Apollo Bay

Apollo Bay is a fantastic area to stay along the Great Ocean Road, offering a unique coastal experience. It is known for its stunning beaches, beautiful coastal scenery, and proximity to attractions such as the Great Otway National Park and the Twelve Apostles. 

It’s a popular tourist destination, offering activities like surfing, fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing. The town itself has a relaxed atmosphere with various accommodations, restaurants, and shops catering to visitors.

Best places to stay in Great Ocean Road in Apollo Bay:

Luxury ($$$): Apollo Bay Guest House, 5-star good value for money accommodation in Apollo Bay, within walking distance from Apollo Bay Beach and Apollo Bay Golf Club. It has rooms with stunning ocean views and free wonderful breakfast. 

Luxury ($$$): Chocolate Gannets, 5-star self-contained accommodation located in Apollo Bay. It features seafront and garden villas with a fully equipped kitchen and laundry amenities. It’s the perfect base  in Great Ocean Road for a beach getaway.

Mid-range ($$): Apollo Bay Waterfront Motor Inn, popular 4-star good value for money inn located in Apollo Bay, within walking distance from shops, cafes and restaurants and the visitor information center. 15 mins drive from Great Otway National Park. It is a cozy place for a weekend getaway from the city.

Budget ($): YHA Apollo Bay Eco, great backpacker hostel on Pascoe Street. It features dorm rooms with shared bathrooms,  a rooftop terrace, 2 kitchens, BBQ facilities, and free onsite parking.


3. Torquay

Torquay is an excellent area to stay along the Great Ocean Road, particularly if you’re interested in surfing, beach activities, and a laid-back coastal vibe.

Torquay is renowned as the surfing capital of Australia, attracting surfers from around the world to its famous breaks, including Bells Beach, which hosts the Rip Curl Pro surfing competition. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, there are waves for every skill level.

Apart from surfing, Torquay offers beautiful beaches perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing. Front Beach and Torquay Beach are popular spots for families and sunseekers, while Jan Juc Beach and Point Danger offer excellent waves for surfing.

You can explore coastal walking trails, go rock climbing at the nearby Aireys Inlet, or enjoy water sports like kiteboarding, snorkeling, and stand-up paddleboarding.

Best places to stay in Great Ocean Road in Torquay:

Luxury ($$$): RACV Torquay Resort, 5-star hotel in Torquay, featuring a tennis court, indoor pool and a fitness center, and a spa. It is next to the Torquay golf course.  A beautiful place to stay.

Mid-range ($$): The Sands Torquay, 4-star hotel in Sands Boulevarde, 10 mins walk from Fisherman’s beach. It has a  fitness center, free parking, a restaurant, an indoor pool and a 24-hour front desk.

Budget ($): Torquay Foreshore Caravan Park, popular 3-star beachfront campground on Bell Street, easy walk to Torquay Surf Beach, where you can enjoy surfing, fishing and swimming. Lots of local cafes and restaurants nearby. It is a 15 mins walk from Torquay’s town center, a few mins drive from Bells Beach.


4. Warrnambool

Warrnambool is a large coastal city with a rich maritime history and charming heritage buildings. It’s a good base for exploring nearby attractions like the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve and the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village.

Warrnambool is renowned as one of Australia’s premier whale watching destinations. Between June and September, southern right whales migrate to the waters off Warrnambool’s coast to calve and nurse their young. You can spot these creatures from shore or join a whale watching tour for a closer look.

Best places to stay in Great Ocean Road in Warrnambool:

Luxury ($$$): Lady Bay Resort, 5-star resort in Warrnambool, within walking distance to Beach Promenade. Easy drive to various attractions like Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, Botanical Gardens, and Logans Beach. It features an outdoor pool and a BBQ area. They can help arrange whale watching cruises and tours to the Twelve Apostles. 

Mid-range ($$): Quest Warrnambool, 4-star stylish modern aparthotel in the heart of Warrnambool, featuring an outdoor pool, a barbecue area, and family rooms. 5-10 mins walk from Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village and the main patrolled beach of town. Lots of restaurants and cafes nearby.

Budget ($): Comfort Inn Warrnambool International, great inn in a quiet street, within easy walking distance to all local shops and Warrnambool Train Station. 5-15 mins drive from Lady Bay Beach, Flagstaff Hill Lighthouse, Logan Beach for whale watching from May and October. Rooms are spacious and clean.


5. Port Fairy

Port Fairy is a popular stop for tourists exploring the scenic coastal region of Victoria, Great Ocean Road. It’s known for its charming streets lined with preserved 19th-century buildings, art galleries, boutique shops, and seafood restaurants.

The town hosts the Port Fairy Folk Festival, which attracts musicians and performers from around the world. Port Fairy is also known for its beautiful beaches, such as East Beach and Pea Soup Beach, which are popular for swimming, surfing, and fishing.

The surrounding area offers opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, birdwatching, and whale watching during the migration season. Nearby attractions include Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, Griffiths Island, and the Great Ocean Road.

Best places to stay in Great Ocean Road in Port Fairy:

Luxury ($$$): The Oak & Anchor Hotel, 5-star beautiful boutique hotel in Port Fairy, 10-15 mins walk from Port Fairy East Beach and Pea Soup Beach. It has luggage storage space, free parking, and delicious breakfast. Rooms are well appointed with high quality linens.

Mid-range ($$): Seacombe House Motor Inn Port Fairy, 4-star historic inn on Sackville Street, featuring cottages and private rooms. Step away from a range of local shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants. 510 mins walk from the historic Port Fairy Wharf and beaches. 

Budget ($): Merrijig Inn, 3-star good value for money bed and breakfast, a few mins walk from Shipwreck Walk Trail, short drive from Port Fairy Golf Club and East Beach. It has a garden, a fireplace in the shared lounge, a library, and a shared kitchen.


6. Port Campbell

Port Campbell is a convenient base for exploring iconic  natural attractions along the coast of the Great Ocean Road, such as the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, The Grotto, London Arch, and Gibson Steps.

The village is located near the Port Campbell National Park, which encompasses a diverse range of coastal landscapes, including cliffs, beaches, and offshore islands. You can explore walking trails, picnic areas, and scenic viewpoints, immersing yourself in the region’s natural beauty and wildlife.

Port Campbell serves as a gateway to the Shipwreck Coast, a treacherous stretch of coastline known for its maritime history and numerous shipwrecks. History enthusiasts can learn about the region’s maritime heritage at the Visitor Information Centre and explore sites associated with famous shipwrecks.

Best places to stay in Great Ocean Road in Port Campbell:

Mid-range ($$): Port Campbell Parkview Motel & Apartments, 4-star comfortable accommodation located on a quiet street, just off the Great Ocean Road, within walking distance from Port Campbell Beach. It features modern apartments and studios with a fully equipped kitchen/kitchenette.

Mid-range ($$): Sea Foam Villas, 4-star beachfront villa located near Port Campbell Bay Beach,  only a couple of mins walk from shopping on Lord Street. 

Budget ($): Loch Ard Motor Inn, 3-star inn located close to  Port Campbell Beach and only 10 mins drive from the 12 Apostles and Lochard Gorge. Rooms come with a kitchenette and private bathroom. Great spot to stay at the end of the Great Ocean Road.


7. Anglesea

Anglesea is a delightful stop along the Great Ocean Road. The town is known for its beautiful beaches, including Anglesea Beach and Point Roadknight Beach, which are popular destinations for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing.

You can enjoy various outdoor activities such as bushwalking, mountain biking, and golfing. The Anglesea Golf Club is particularly well-regarded and boasts picturesque views of the surrounding landscape.

The town also has a relaxed atmosphere with charming cafes, restaurants, and shops, making it a great place to unwind and enjoy the coastal lifestyle. Wildlife enthusiasts can visit the Anglesea Golf and Recreation Precinct, where kangaroos are often spotted grazing on the fairway.

Best places to stay in Great Ocean Road in Anglesea:

Mid-range ($$): Great Ocean Road Resort, 4-star hotel conveniently located opposite the Anglesea River and only 5 mins walk from Anglesea Beach. It has an onsite bar/restaurant, pool, tennis court, and free parking. There are also laundry, BBQ facilities, children’s playground, and a trampoline park.

Mid-range ($$): Anglesea Riverside Motel, nice property located close to local restaurants and cafes. Short walk to the park and beach. Anglesea is a pretty town with a good shopping center and local pub serving good food.

Budget ($): Anglesea Family Caravan Park, a holiday park located  along the Great Ocean Road, offering a swimming pool, covered BBQ facilities, and children’s playgrounds. Easy walk to  Anglesea Beach and  downtown Anglesea.


In conclusion, Lorne, Apollo Bay, Torquay, Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Port Campbell, and Anglesea are the best places to stay in Great Ocean Road for first-timers and tourists. These are the most popular bases in the region where you can have easy access to a range of accommodations and amenities.

You can continue reading about other destinations in Australia in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Great Ocean Road. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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