Just 28 km from the vibrant city of Geelong in Victoria, Australia, nestled on the picturesque Bellarine Peninsula, our home of Portarlington is a historic coastal township that promises a memorable escape for travellers seeking beauty, culture, and relaxation.

We initially moved to the wonderful township of Portarlington in 2020. We have now bought a house and settled with our young family here and we just love it. Which is what has inspired this post – so that we can share a bit of our beautiful home with you.

Most people know ‘Port’ as us locals call it, as ‘just over the bay from Melbourne’. Most days we can see the cityscape in the distance of Melbourne. In fact, it’s quicker to take a ferry (just over an hour) from Docklands in Melbourne CBD than to drive!

Where Portarlington is located
Casey and Morgan smiling at Portarlington Beach

Where to eat in Portarlington

Begin your culinary adventure in Portarlington with a visit to The Portarlington Bakehouse, a local gem known for its wood fire baking. It’s safe to say the GCD family are regular’s at our bakery! We highly recommend the pies (the pastry is sooo good) the lamingtons are to die-for and the fresh bread is absolutely scrumptious. The Bakehouse’s long history and commitment to quality make it a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts.

Morgan smiling with 2 laptops at the Portarlington Bakehouse

For a taste of authentic Italian cuisine, make your way to the Pier Front Pizzeria, where traditional flavours and fresh ingredients transport you to the heart of Italy. This is some of the best pizza we have had since Casey and I backpacked around Europe in 2011. It is our go-to for takeaway night and the kids bunny ear pizza’s they do are so cute!

Pier Front Pizza in Portarlington

And don’t miss out on Devil’s Donuts, a sweet paradise that promises to delight both young and old. These warm donuts (choose jam filled or original) are insanely good, especially when there is a bit of a chill in the air. Our kids absolutely love them, and the sugar hit gives them plenty of energy for a bike ride up and down the Portarlington Pier or along the beachfront.

If you are a wine lover (like we are!) then visiting Arlo Wine Bar is a must! Casey and I have visited multiple times since they opened late December 2023. Read all about our experiences at Arlo’s Wine Bar on Casey’s wine blog. We also quite enjoy a meal at their sister venue, Pier St on the waterfront. They do a great breakfast!

Oh and being a massive coffee drinker myself, I have to include our favourite coffee spot – Staple Eatery & Deli which you can read more about in our Best Bellarine Peninsula Cafes blog post.

Laptop on a table looking towards the counter in Staple Eatery & Deli

What to do in Portarlington

Take a Port Phillip ferry ride from Portarlington to Melbourne and back for a day of urban exploration.

If you are a mussel and/or cruising lover, then taking a Portarlington Mussel Tour on Port Phillip Bay has to be done! Casey recently was invited aboard for a Sunset Mussel Tour that she wrote about on Travelling Corkscrew – and she is still talking about it! She loved every moment of it and says that it NEEDS to be on your Portarlington to do list.

Explore the Bellarine Coastal Trail, the main walking connection between Portarlington, Indented Head, and St Leonards. Meandering along the edge of Port Phillip Bay, this 17km trail offers breathtaking views of the coast and provides opportunities to explore the area’s rich heritage and Aboriginal history.

Sunrise over the Bellarine Coastal Trail

The wide and mostly flat trail is perfect for pram pushes, dog walks, family bike rides, or peaceful strolls alone or with friends. We know, as it’s a regular walking track for us – not 17km in one hit because hey we have two toddlers, but we do like to do parts of it when we can.

If you are looking for a bit of R&R then a visit to Zero Gravity Health is well worth a look. This beautiful space offers float therapy, infrared sauna, myotherapy and even fire and ice baths! Definitely worth checking out. Casey can vouch for the float therapy (pretty sure she was so relaxed she fell asleep!) and we have both enjoyed an infrared sauna.

Also, the fact that Portarlington is a coastal town means the beaches are amazing and abundant. You can catch us at our local beach (5 min walk) most weekends when the sun is shining. Casey is an avid SUP boarder and I like a bit of freediving (there are plenty of shellfish to be found) and of course, the kiddies love to dig in the sand and splash around at the water’s edge.

Casey's SUP board and kids toys at Steeles Rocks beach

Retail Therapy

What’s a travel guide without a section on where to shop, right? Portarlington has a number of boutiques in town, where each store offers its own unique charm and allure.

Just Next Door is a locally owned and operated boutique store stocking quality clothing, footwear, and women’s fashion alongside jewellery and plenty of gift options too.

The Ducks Nuts is the newest boutique in town opening in 2023 where you’ll find a delightful mix of treasures waiting to be uncovered. Bright, fun, and friendly, The Ducks Nuts is a shopping experience that is as delightful as it is unique.

The Ducks Nuts Boutique Portarlington

Hive welcomes you with open arms to a world of elegance and style, offering a relaxed shopping experience with a wonderful array of ladies’ apparel, homewares and gifts.

Where to stay in Portarlington

There are a lot of options for accommodation in Portarlington from camping to luxury depending on your travel style. We do recommend you book early, especially during peak times like over summer and long weekends, as it does get very busy.

There are a number of great Airbnb’s in Portarlington to choose from.

Or if you are more into caravan and camping then Bellarine Bayside Holiday Park is your go-to spot in the area. It is right on Portarlington Beach, so you won’t get a better spot. Plus it has it’s own boat ramp for the keen boaties and some great play areas for the kiddies (we have tried and tested them all for you!). We especially think the newish Beach Pods are pretty cool.

Bellarine Bayside Holiday Park, Beach Pods

If you want to stay right on the main street in the center of town then The Grand Hotel is for you. Plus further down Newcombe Street (the main drag) you’ll find Portarlington Beach Motel.

Plan Your Escape to Portarlington

Whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway, a family adventure, or a peaceful retreat, Portarlington offers something for everyone. With its stunning scenery, rich culture, and warm hospitality, Portarlington invites you to explore, unwind, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

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