No city offers such a variety of day trips than Adelaide, South Australia.
Stunning vineyards, rolling hills, charming towns, coastal drives & beautiful beaches are all just a short drive away from this relatively small city. Don’t spend your whole vacation in the city, rent a car and go an adventure to see what else South Australia has to offer!
Here are our top 5 best day trips from Adelaide. Enjoy!
1. Wine & Dine in the Barossa Valley
We’ve definitely seen our fair share of vineyards throughout Australia but it was our visit to the Barossa Valley that we left with the largest purchase of wines. If you love your wine then there’s no doubt you’ve heard of the Barossa Valley. It’s a gourmet lover’s paradise & home to some of the world’s best Shiraz. The Barossa Valley can be reached in just over an hour from the city centre and has just over 150 wineries to explore.
To maximise your time spent in each winery and not the inside of your car, aim to visit wineries that are within a close drive from one another.
These are our top 6 choices:
- Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre (The Pinot Noir Reserve is an excellent value, everyday wine).
- Turkey Flat Vineyards (Must try the Rosé and Fortified Wine)
- Penfolds Barossa Valley (Sample everything – they’re famous for a reason!)
- Kellermeister (These were our favourite, walked away with a dozen wines – highly recommended)
- Artisans of Barossa (A collection of 6 small batch wineries and a great restaurant for lunch)
- Seppeltsfield (Nice setting with lots of palm trees, as seen below. One of Australia’s oldest wineries. Their tawny port was divine.)
Aside from all the delicious wines and beautiful vineyards, the Barossa Valley is also home to many other local artisan products which can be found at Maggies Beer Farm. Maggie Beer is a cook, restaurant owner and a food author who has won many awards in recent years. Prepare yourselves for the sample overload on chutneys, jams, oils, spices, chocolates & cheeses. There is also a restaurant, The Farm Eatery just off site if you wish to enjoy a meal. Other notable restaurants for lunch include Fino, Harvest Kitchen, Hentley Farm, Vintners Bar & Grill and fermentAsian. All of which require reservations.
Tip: If you don’t have a designated driver, but still want to drink all the wines, Trail Hopper has a hop-on hop-off bus service with pick up and drop off in the city. This service allows you to visit up to 4 wineries in the day with a lunch. Be smart, don’t drink and drive!
2. Adelaide Hills: Sweeping Hills, Wineries & Farmlands
Only a short drive from the city centre will bring you to Adelaide Hills, a gorgeous area full of sweeping hills, wineries, farmlands. The quaint & kitschy town of Hahndorf was established in 1839 and is the oldest German town left in Australia. It’s a beautiful representation of Germany and the main street is dotted with German restaurants, bakeries, handcrafted German trinkets and souvenirs. Save yourself a flight to Germany and take the short drive to Hahndorf instead! For lunch, try a traditional German meal at The Haus but if German food isn’t your thing, we highly recommend Kitchen 2C, they make super fresh salads, soups and sandwiches. And most importantly, amazing dessert.
If you don’t have the time to visit all of the region’s wineries, visit Adelaide Hills Wine Tasting Centre on the main street which gives you the chance to sample many wines from the surrounding regions in one place. Not necessarily the same experience as going to the vineyards themselves but it’s convenient and the staff, very knowledgeable.
Next up on your visit to the hills should be The Beerenberg Farm! During the months of October – April, you have the chance to hand-pick strawberries from their fields (with a sneaky sample or two as you go – sorry!). They’ll give you a plastic tub and you can fill it till your heart’s content, return it to the desk, pay and away you go with fresh, delicious, affordable strawberries!
Nearly every city has a mountain that provides a view and Adelaide is no different. You can drive up directly to Mount Lofty and on a clear day, you can see all the way to the coast. There is also a small cafe up there.
3. McLaren Vale & The Fleurieu Peninsula (Wine & Beaches)
McLaren Vale is another one of South Australia’s most sought-after wine regions and the vineyards here can be found conveniently close together. With a warmer climate than the Adelaide Hills, you’ll find the best of Shiraz, Chardonnay, Grenache & Cabernet Sauvignon. There’s no doubt the #1 winery to visit in this region (& rightfully so) is d’Arenberg.
d’Arenberg’s $15 million project resulting in an extremely impressive 5 story cube-shaped building which is inclusive of an art gallery, cellar door (with epic views), private tasting rooms, a bar, unique bathrooms (shown above) and a beautiful restaurant. There is a $10 entry fee and the wine tasting is included with this. Other notable wineries to visit in this area are Serafino, Coriole and Penny’s Hill Wines.
Carry on further south towards Encounter Bay, Port Elliot (with a stop at Port Elliot Bakery) and Victor Harbour. Once you’re in Victor Harbour take a walk across to Granite Island or pay the $7 and take the extremely slow Horse Drawn Tram. Keep an eye out for dolphins! This is a beautiful part of the peninsula.
I wish we had more time to discover the Fleurieu Peninsula. It’s definitely somewhere we would love to come back to in the warmer months! For a full list of activities, events, and places to see, click here.
4. Glenelg Beach Town
Glenelg is Adelaide’s most popular seaside destination and can be reached in just 25 minutes from the city centre in either a car or tram. It is often buzzing with locals and tourists browsing the shops, relaxing on the beach, walking along the foreshore, strolling the jetty, dining at one of the cafes & eating gelato.
During the summer months, The Beachhouse is multi-level amusement park complete with waterslides, rides, a function centre, food & drink. A fun day out for the whole family. If you’re a sucker for sunsets, stick around at Glenelg beach till sundown!
5. Kangaroo Island
Regretfully, this was one place we didn’t quite make it too (we ran out of time!) and to be honest, although you can do it in a day trip, it wouldn’t be very fun, cost-effective or worthwhile. It’s definitely better experienced over the course of at least a few days, especially considering the cost to get there ($98 AUD per adult return or $196 AUD with a vehicle).
Kangaroo Island has 500km of coastline to explore and with its lack of development, combined with its size, is likely to leave a lasting impression. This island is known for its large wildlife population including kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, platypuses & sea lions. Aside from the animals, you can enjoy the remarkable landscapes, countless white sandy beaches, trail walks, luxury lodges and gourmet, local cuisine.
Photo Credit: Australia.com
To reach Kangaroo Island take a flight with Regional Express or a ferry with Sealink. The ferries leave from Cape Jervis (1 hour 40 minutes from Adelaide city) and it takes roughly 45 minutes. Due to the lack of public transportation on the island, it’s recommended to travel with your vehicle on the ferry. Make sure you inform your rental company if you are doing this as there is extra paperwork required. I really wish we could have made it over here so if you go, let us know how it is!
6. Adelaide (What?!)
Staycation in Adelaide city! Tip #1. Come hungry, bring your walking shoes and prepare yourselves for overindulgence of coffee, food and fancy cocktails. Adelaide city is one of the easiest & smallest cities to navigate. The city is surrounded by greenery and is very well known for its restaurant and cafe culture.
Shopaholics can get their fix at Rundle Mall, sports fans can take a tour of Adelaide Oval & nature lovers, take a walk through the Botanical Gardens.
Looking for a cultural experience? Take a stroll along the north terrace and visit the art galleries, state libraries, parliament house and museums.
Pick up fresh produce at the Adelaide Central Market alongside China Town. Looking to get your dance on? Nightclubs can be found along Hindley Street and last by not least, foodie lovers head to the east end for countless restaurants, cafes & bars.
If there are three restaurants you need to visit (preferably with 2 or more people) then it’s Luigi’s Delicatessen (brunch), Africola (dinner) and finishes off with La Carpe Diem (crepes). In fact, do it in that order but prepare yourselves for expansion in stomach size. Our top experiences with incredibly flavoursome food! Make sure you book in advance for Africola.
Photo Credit: Africola
Hot Tip: The best time to visit Adelaide is in March! There are events on all throughout the month, most notably the annual Fringe Festival. It’s one of the busiest times of the year and the city really comes alive with events, shows, street closures, light shows and music concerts. It’s hard to say what the city would have been like without this contagious atmosphere!
What’s your favourite Australian city to visit? Is it Adelaide?