A two-hour drive from Melbourne, Bendigo is one of our favourite day trip destinations. The historic city and its surrounding villages offer a refreshing cultural and contemporary scene, with quirky shops, romantic stores, quality dining, creative, passionate producers and artisans that make an overnight stay a total must.
From eating and drinking, to shopping and exploring, here's our guide to all the best things to do in Bendigo…
8:30am – Depart Melbourne for Bendigo
The drive from Melbourne to Bendigo is super simple and should only take two hours. Make sure you leave nice and early – after all, you want to make the most of your weekend away in Bendigo, don’t you?
10:30am – Brunch at Brewhouse Coffee Roasters
Once you arrive in Bendigo, head straight to Brewhouse Coffee Roasters for some epically tasty food and coffee. The Brewhouse team roast all their own beans on site so it’s little wonder they’ve got a rep for having the best coffee in Bendigo! The brunch menu is pretty tasty too (the scrambled eggs are HEAVEN!), so make sure you fill up before heading about your day.
11:30am – Shopping at Bob Boutique
Tucked inside Bendigo’s historic Hotel Shamrock, Bob Boutique is packed full of quirky, locally made and designed art, accessories, homewares, gifts and more. Owner and local Bendigo artist Sonia Brit makes a lot of the items herself and has such a unique, personality driven style. Don’t be surprised if you walk out with a few bags! A Bendigo shopping must.
12:00pm – Head to View Street for an art and design overload
A one-stop-shop for all things art and design focused, a trip to View Street should be at the top of your list of things to do in Bendigo! It’s a real mixed bag here – everything from locally made furniture at Jimmy Possum and traditional leather bound books and stationery at SB Libris, to contemporary visual arts at the La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre and handpainted silks and canvases at Llanvair.H.R. Make sure you stop by Pondalowie Vineyards Cellar and Store too – their wine, all made from Bendigo sourced grapes, are spectacular!
1:00pm – Lunch at Rocks at Rosalind
All that shopping sure works up at appetite! Located inside the iconic National Bank, Rocks on Rosalind is our pick for lunch – it’s easily one of Bendigo’s best restaurants! Enjoy one of their famous banquets (you can also order a la carte) and a glass or two of wine in the beautiful space, which overlooks Rosalind Park and the Alexandra Fountain.
2:30pm – Get primped and preened at Jools for Jim
Treat yourself to some pampering by booking in for the Shu Uemura Art of Hair Ceremony at Bendigo hair salon, Jools for Jim. Inspired by traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, the luxurious Shu Uemura hair treatment involves thorough brushing to stimulate the scalp, an application of fancy hair oils, Shiatsu massage, shampoo AND a treatment before finishing off with a brilliant blow dry. In short, the Shu Uemura Art of Hair Ceremony is PURE HEAVEN and will leave you with the softest, shiniest, bounciest hair of your life.
3:30pm – Check out the exhibitions at the Bendigo Art Gallery
One of our favourite things to do in Bendigo is to visit the famous Art Gallery on View Street – there’s always such a fascinating array of exhibitions on display! The Bendigo Art Gallery is currently hosting three exhibits; the Paul Guest Drawing Prize (focusing on contemporary drawing), The Artificial Kingdom (showcasing Carolyn Dew’s stunning photography) and Rorschach inspired paintings from Ben Quilty. The onsite gift store is worth a visit too; the perfect spot to pick up some artsy mementos.
5:00pm – Check in to The Schaller Studio
Named after inimitable Australian artist Mark Schaller, The Schaller Studio is our favourite place to stay in Bendigo. The well-appointed studios have a cool, modern vibe and are filled with plenty of original Schaller artwork – think vibrant paintings, oversized sculptures and detailed mosaics. Plus, the beds are super comfy too! In keeping with the cultural overtones of Bendigo, The Schaller Studio also host regular art tours, art classes and artisan markets.
6:00pm – Enjoy an evening drink at The Dispensary Enoteca
Once you’ve freshened up, we suggest an evening drink before dinner…and really, there’s no better place to go than The Dispensary Enoteca! Tucked down a street art-filled laneway in a space that was once an apothercary, The Dispensary Enoteca will wow you with their drinks list – there’s an incredible variety of wine, beers, cocktails, liqueurs and more on offer! Not sure where to start? Owner Tim Baxter will help you out – he’s a walking, talking encyclopaedia when it comes to drinks so just let him know what flavours you like and he’ll create a drink to suit. We can safely say the Negroni we had was the best EVER!
7:30pm – Devour dinner at Masons of Bendigo
Housed in the former WD Masons Glass shop on Queen Street, Masons of Bendigo is one of the most amazing restaurants we’ve ever dined at – you need to eat here while you’re in Bendigo! The name of the game here is sharing, with all dishes perfect for devouring with friends (a glass of wine to wash it all down is a must). Produce used is fresh, flavoursome and locally sourced, with the focus being on creating memorable flavour combos. All we can say is, we hope you’re prepared to roll out of Masons of Bendigo because the food there is so good, you’ll want to eat everything in sight!
9:00am – Breakfast at The Pantry
Before you check out of your accommodation, make sure you fill up on brekkie at The Pantry, the onsite café at The Schaller Studio. The buffet spread here is delicious – fresh fruit, cereals, muffins, juice and more! Nom!
10:00am – Discover Bendigo’s history at the Post Office
For your first stop, head straight into town to view the fascinating collections at the Post Office Gallery on Pall Mall. There’s a mix of things on display here; everything from ‘social history’ pieces to artworks from local creatives. Once you’re done, take a stroll through picturesque Rosalind Park – so beautiful and relaxing!
11:00am – Visit the Bendigo Pottery
Australia’s oldest working pottery maker, Bendigo Pottery has been producing high quality ceramics for over 150 years. The Bendigo Pottery site is open to visitors, with pottery-making demonstrations by professional potters, hands on pottery experiences, a retail store, interpretive museum, café, gallery with works by local potters, artists and sculptures, and an antique and collectibles centre with over 30 independent stall holders.
12:30pm – Enjoy lunch at Percy and Percy
Housed in a former grocery store, Percy and Percy is our pick for lunch before heading back to Melbourne. Akin to the café culture in the hip suburb of Fitzroy, Percy and Percy offers a seasonal menu using fresh local produce – the Vietnamese slaw is our fave!
2:00pm – Depart Bendigo
All good things must come to an end, which sadly includes your weekend away in Bendigo. On the drive home, make sure you stop off at Castlemaine, another beautiful historic town. There’s lots of great foodie and artsy things to see and do here so if you can, try and visit Apple Annie’s, The Restorer’s Barn, Rike Design or Faulkner Gallery. Enjoy!
So, there you have it Listers – our guide to all the top things to do in Bendigo!
Image Credit: Ewen Bell, Jason Tavener and Bendigo Tourism