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Weekend Getaways From Adelaide
Adelaide is a fantastic city with plenty of things to see and do, both for long-time residents and new visitors alike. But with its excellent climate, gorgeous hinterland, and top-quality produce, Adelaide also makes a superb base for a weekend getaway. Whether it’s just an overnight stop or a two-night long weekend, there’s a huge amount of things to see and do within a couple of hours’ drive from the city.
Heading north to the world-famous wine regions, south to the spectacular coastlines, or inland to the relaxing river districts, there’s definitely weekend getaways from Adelaide to suit every budget and traveller. Let’s have a look at some of the best weekend road trips from Adelaide.
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Just 45 minutes from the city centre, the rugged Adelaide Hills area is an excellent road trip destination for those who don’t want to spend their entire weekend away in the car.
Start your getaway at the spectacular Mount Lofty lookout, with a stunning panorama across the entire city, with Gulf St Vincent in the distance. Turning your back on the big smoke, plunge down into Cleland Conservation Park with its plethora of bushwalks and hikes into dense forest. Don’t miss the sensational waterfalls! Once you’re done, head to nearby Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens, home to perfectly manicured gardens and immaculate displays of Australian natives.
Be sure to visit the historic town of Hahndorf, which was settled by German migrants in the 1830s and still retains a strong German influence today. There’s plenty of German food outlets, with a dizzying array of pretzels, schnitzels, sauerkraut, pork knuckles, and wursts, and German-style beer halls too. Architecture fans shouldn’t miss the two historic sandstone churches here, while art lovers can’t go past The Cedars, just outside of town. It’s the home and studio of Sir Hans Heysen, a famous Australian watercolour artist. Sir Heysen lived and worked in the house until his death in 1968, and guided tours are available.
Also near Hahndorf is the excellent Beerenberg Farm, home to some of Australia’s best jams and chutneys. During the picking season (October through May), you can even pick your own strawberries! There’s also many other top-notch artisan producers in the Adelaide Hills, such as Chocolate @ No 5 in Hahndorf, Melba’s Chocolate Factory in Woodside, the Woodside Cheese Wrights, and Cherrytime Orchard – all of which make perfect accompaniments for any romantic weekend getaways Adelaide.
Of course, no visit to the Adelaide Hills is complete without visiting some of the excellent wineries. There’s over 50 cellar doors in the area, and if you’ve got the whole weekend available, spending an entire day visiting various wineries is highly recommended. Some of the best Adelaide Hills wineries include Shaw & Smith, Cobb’s Hill, Bird in Hand, Sinclair’s Gully, Hahndorf Hill, and Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard. And in the unlikely event you start to tire of the excellent Adelaide Hills wine, there’s craft brewers and boutique gin distilleries to check out as well.
Birdwood & Gumeracha
For the final day of a weekend getaway in the Adelaide Hills, be sure to head for the northern area of the Hills, up around Birdwood and Gumeracha. Birdwood is home to the excellent Australian National Motor Museum, home to many excellent displays on the history of Australian cars, while at Gumeracha you’ll find the world’s largest rocking horse! Underneath the horse is a wooden toy factory, which is great to visit with kids.
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One of the best short trips from Adelaide is heading north out of the city, into the Barossa Valley. The Barossa, as it’s commonly referred to, is one of Australia’s best-known wine regions, home to world-famous wines and mesmerising scenery. Just a short drive from Adelaide (it’s only an hour from the city to the Valley), the Barossa Valley is centred around the towns of Lyndoch, Tanunda, and Nuriootpa. With outstanding produce to go with some of Australia’s best wines, it’s hard to beat the Barossa for SA short holidays.
Spend your days tasting the incredible wines on offer, particularly Shiraz which has been cultivated in the area for over 170 years! Some of the standout wineries include famous names like Penfolds, Wolf Blass, Peter Lehmann, Yalumba, Jacob’s Creek, Seppeltsfield, and many others. One great idea for your Barossa Valley road trip from Adelaide is to take a full-day winery tour from one of the many local operators. In addition to visiting the big names, they’ll take you to up-and-coming wineries, and some of the hidden gems too.
Food and Sculpture
While in the Nuriootpa area, don’t forget to check out the Maggie Beer Farm Shop. Run by Maggie Beer, a beloved Australian TV chef, her range of jams, chutneys, sauces, and of course signature verjuice is delightful and a must-do for any cook. Not far away you’ll find the Barossa Sculpture Park, with an interesting collection of outdoor sculptures. It sits on a hilltop with an excellent view of the Barossa’s rolling vineyards, and is a great spot for a romantic picnic.
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Just north of the Barossa Valley is another of the great South Australian road trips destinations, the Clare Valley. Smaller than the Barossa, but no less interesting, the Clare Valley is renowned for excellent wine and more wonderful scenery. It’s just under two hours drive from central Adelaide, and is definitely one of the best weekend getaways from Adelaide.
Wineries and the Riesling Trail
The Clare Valley is home to the best riesling wines in Australia, with highly regarded producers like Taylors, Kilikanoon, Sevenhill Cellars, Annie’s Lane, and Jim Barry Wines all hailing from the area. With a whole weekend to explore, one tantalising idea is to follow the Riesling Trail, a 35 kilometre pedestrian and cycling track that runs the entire length of the valley. It stops at most of the major wineries, and is largely separate from roadways – a huge plus for the safety conscious. Bike hires are available in both Auburn and Clare, while many Airbnbs and hotels will have bikes to use as well. If you’re not in the mood for cycling, guided tours are also a great option, for seeing a variety of wineries and a touch of inside knowledge.
Staying Longer on the Fleurieu Peninsula?
Spring Gully Conservation Park
It’s hard to beat a great bush sunset, and Clare Valley is home to a spectacular one, at Blue Gum lookout in Spring Gully Conservation Park near Sevenhill. Bring a picnic blanket, a bottle of riesling, and some local delicacies to watch the sun sink slowly into the valley hills. It’s a beautiful sight – and if you’re lucky, a curious kangaroo or echidna might just decide to join your picnic!
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One of the most popular spots for romantic getaways South Australia is the Fleurieu (pronounced FLOO-ree-ooh) Peninsula, an hour’s drive south of Adelaide. Showcasing top-notch wines, pristine coastline, rugged bushland and interesting towns, Fleurieu is a beautiful place and home to some of the best road trips from Adelaide.
If you’ve got multiple nights available, be sure to spend at least a full day exploring the magnificent wineries of McLaren Vale, another of the world-class wine regions in South Australia. Take a locally-run day tour, visiting the highlight wineries like d’Arenberg, Hugh Hamilton, Hardy’s, Mitolo, and Coriole, but also dropping in at lesser-known gems. While you’re at d’Arenberg, be sure to check out their incredible glass Rubik’s Cube building – three storeys high, and home to several restaurants and tasting rooms!
After a long day of wine tasting, spend the next day of your weekend getaway from Adelaide splashing in the superb waters of the Peninsula. Carrickalinga Beach is a particular highlight, with glistening white sand and rolling breakers, while there’s an onshore reef at Normanville that’s just perfect for snorkelers. If you’re into fishing and scuba diving be sure to check out Second Valley Beach. On the eastern side of the peninsula Goolwa and Middleton Beaches are great surfing destinations. Those on family short trips from Adelaide will also appreciate Horseshoe Bay at Port Elliot, with a sheltered bay, lifeguards, and gentle waves.
National and Conservation Parks
Not a fan of the water? Fleurieu Peninsula still has plenty to offer, particularly the spectacular Onkaparinga National Park. Featuring stunning gorges, cliffs, and remote bushland, it’s a great place for bushwalking and hiking. There’s also the Deep Creek Conservation Park, home to 15 walking trails and superb coastal views. With such a stunning variety of options, Fleurieu Peninsula is definitely one of the best weekend getaways from Adelaide.
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Day Trips to Kangaroo Island
Located about four hours (drive and ferry ride) south-west of Adelaide, just off the coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula, Kangaroo Island is a spectacular spot and one of the best SA short holidays available. With such a long drive (and a ferry across to the island), it’s perfect for staying one or two nights and enjoying everything the island has to offer. There’s vast stretches of untamed wilderness, fantastic animals, historic buildings, and even – of course! – a few wineries.
Staying on K I Longer
Seal Bay Conservation Park
Start your Kangaroo Island road trip by visiting Seal Bay Conservation Park, on the southern coastline. It’s home to a huge colony of Australian sea lions, who spend their days lying around on the beach and cruising through the water. They’re very cute and fantastic to see up close, and are a genuine highlight of the island. Note that the Conservation Park is only available on official government-run guided tours, which must be booked in advance.
Flinders Chase National Park
Afterwards, take your road trip west to the magnificent Flinders Chase National Park, the second-oldest national park in South Australia. There’s some stunning features here like Admiralty Arch and the Remarkable Rocks, but there’s plenty of bushland, thick forests, sheer cliffs, and loads of wildlife too. There was a severe bushfire that ravaged the landscape in 2019/2020, but the forests are recovering quickly and it’s heartening to see the kangaroos, koalas and platypus returning.
Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park
On your Kangaroo Island road trip, be sure to stop by Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park (formerly known as Parndana Wildlife Park), which is home to plenty of Australian animals. There’s cuddly koalas, wombats, snakes, roos, and much more. If you’re in the mood for getting even closer, hands-on experiences are also available for an extra fee.
Produce and Wineries
Finally, round out your visit to the Island with some of the incredible produce available. Kangaroo Island is a bee sanctuary, and home to some of Australia’s best honey producers like Clifford’s Honey Farm, and Island Beehive. Naturally, excellent seafood is available, freshly caught from the ocean and awaiting your picnic or romantic night in. Be sure to check out the oysters, abalone, and marron, accompanied by a glass of wine (or two!) from one of Kangaroo Island’s great wineries.
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Day Trips to Murraylands
Heading to the east, there’s plenty of great options for weekend getaways from Adelaide in the Murraylands area. Stretching along the banks of Australia’s longest river, the mighty Murray, the Murraylands region covers a wide area and has plenty to offer. The main town, Murray Bridge, is just an hour’s drive from central Adelaide and is a great place to start your weekend getaway. The town is pleasant and historic, with a variety of shops and cafes to explore. Don’t miss the Murray Bridge bunyip in Sturt Reserve, with its fascinating history!
Monarto Safari Park
On your way into Murraylands, be sure to stop at Monarto Safari Park (formerly known as Monarto Zoo). It’s Australia’s largest open-range zoo, and packed full of both African animals like lions, cheetah and giraffe, plus Australian favourites like wallabies, Tasmanian devils and kangaroos as well. You can even have a close-up experience with some of the animals, which is great fun for the whole family.
The Bend Motorsport Park
If your road trip needs an injection of speed, it’s hard to top Tailem Bend Motorsport Park! Just near the town of Tailem Bend, this purpose-built racing complex offers everything from hot laps to go-karting, off-roading to time trials. It might not be the most romantic weekend getaway destination, but it’s definitely one of the most exhilarating!
The Murray River , Lakes and Coorong
For a complete change of pace, turn your road trip into a boat trip! The sedate waters of the Murray are plied by cruise boats and paddle steamers, offering short trips, full day cruises, and overnight excursions as well. It’s a great way to see various parts of the river that are inaccessible by road, and some of the scenery is absolutely magnificent. A little further south, the Murray empties into enormous Lakes Alexandrina and Albert. The other option is the beautiful Coorong. There’s excellent water sport opportunities on both the lakes and the Coorong, so bring your kayak, your fishing rod, and your water skis, and make the most of your South Australian road trip through the Murraylands.
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If you’re heading a bit further afield, one opportunity for an excellent road trip from Adelaide is spending a few days in the Riverland. Located about 2.5 hours drive north-east of Adelaide, centred on the Murray River around the area of Loxton, Berri and Renmark, the Riverland is home to magnificent scenery and some excellent produce.
Murray River National Park
Start your road trip through the area by visiting the Murray River National Park. It’s a huge area of wetlands and bush, centred on the river itself. Home to thousands of species of fish, birds and land animals, there’s plenty of hiking, fishing, camping and canoeing opportunities in the park. The most impressive section is around Katarapko, though Lyrup Flats and Bulyong are both superb as well.
After getting among nature in the National Park, pick yourself up with some fresh fruit from the Berri area. It’s one of the country’s best-known fruit growing regions, particularly for citrus and stone fruits like apples and cherries. Be sure to stop by Aggie’s Fresh Fruit Stall and Tony & Effie’s Fruit Stall in Glossop, while in nearby Berri you’ll find fresh coffee beans, bread, local wine and gin, and craft beer as well.
And when you’re all stocked up with tasty supplies, it’s time to get out on the water. The Riverland is one of the best places in Australia to rent a houseboat, which doesn’t require a special license to operate. Spend a day or two tootling up and down the river, exploring wherever the currents take you! Out on the water, operating on your own time, and with nobody for miles to bother you – it’s one of the best romantic weekend getaways Adelaide has to offer.