Essential Adelaide guide: day trips

Adelaide prides itself on being a '20-minute city', where you can hit the beach, hills or vineyards in that time. Whether you're visiting for this month's Adelaide festival, or planning a holiday, here are our 10 top day trips out of the city

Glenelg beach

When Adelaide was established in 1836, its founders chose to build the city inland, to reduce the risk of invasion. Yet it is a mere stone's throw from the coast, with a tramlink connecting the city and the sea in 20 minutes for $9 return. Despite having a harbour and numerous luxury apartments, the front itself is surprisingly undeveloped, and the main street Jetty Road is the best bet for shopping and eating. On the beach a pier doubles up as a diving board and sunshade, as city-dwellers escape the heat. Other beaches worth a trip include neighbouring Brighton, art deco Semaphore and Largs Bay in the north-west – all a short journey away by car or public transport.
Glenelg Tram: Find bus, train and tram timetables and journey planner at

Port Adelaide

Red Lime Shack, Port Adelaide
Red Lime Shack in Port Adelaide Photograph: PR

The city port is in a suburb 14km to the north-west, and makes for a fun excursion through streets lined with heritage buildings. Have a mosey round the maritime, railway or childhood museums, grab a bite at the Red Lime Shack or a drink in The British. Take a boat out to watch dolphins or get lucky and spot them nearer the shore. There is also a strong cultural scene in the neighbourhood, not least from local theatre company Vitalstatistix.


Seppeltsfield, Barossa Valle, Australia
Seppeltsfield in the Barossa Valley. Photograph: Alamy Photograph: Alamy

There are many wine regions within reach of the city, but one of the most historic is the Barossa Valley, 56km to the north-east. Distinctive for its Prussian and English settlers, their influences are still visible today. The self-contained, palm-lined Seppeltsfield is the origin of many a bottle of fortified wine, while the quaintly charming town of Angaston now has a superb Italian cafe and cookery school. You can make a pilgrimage to where your local UK corner shop's finest bottle of Jacob's Creek started life, and, along with a lot of Chinese tourists, see that creek. Among the 200 wineries there are many boutique options too. Try a tasting at the family-run Whistler, or in the gingerbread-style timber house at Tscharke, both on Seppeltsfield Road, for a more intimate Barossa wine experience. On Saturday morning, head to the weekly farmer's market on Stockwell Road, where the whole community convenes to buy fresh produce and trade local gossip.

Adelaide Hills

Hahndorf near Adelaid, Australia
Hahndorf town. Photograph: David Wall/Alamy Photograph: David Wall/Alamy

Half-an-hour out of the city to the south-east you can find a rural retreat in the hills, with a microclimate of its own, that even brings snow in the coolest of winters. Prussian settlers made their home here in the early 19th century, and many a German tourist is bemused by the quaint faux-Bavarian town of Hahndorf. With more wineries – the Lane ( does top-notch paired food and wine in its restaurant – koalas and dingoes aplenty at Gorge Wildlife Park, and culture at artist Hans Heysen's home, The Cedars, it makes a varied day out.

Fleurieu Peninsula

Horseshoe Bay near Victor Harbour, Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia
Horseshoe Bay on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Photograph: Tim Hester/Alamy Photograph: Tim Hester/Alamy

An hour south from Adelaide, this is a popular spot for holidaymakers looking for a quiet place by the coast to fish, or just eat freshly caught salmon, trout, bream and mullet. You may recognise some of the scenery since it was one of several locations in the region used in the Clive Owen film The Boys are Back. At Victor peninsula whales can be seen close to the shore in winter (May-October), and Second Valley has explorable caves along the rugged coast. A road trip in this direction provides a good excuse to pick up some bottles from the McLaren Vale wine region en route (see below), or there are more wineries when you get there.

Heysen Trail

Wilpena Pound on the Heysen Trail, Australia
Heysen trail: Looking from Razorback Lookout to Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges. Photograph: David Foster/Alamy Photograph: David Foster/Alamy

This impressive 1,200km walking route, named after local artist Hans Heysen, connects up the Flinders Ranges (see below) and the Fleurieu Peninsula. You obviously won't be able to even scratch the surface in a day – and some sections are shut during the summer (November-April) due to fire risk – so pick a manageable route, referring to the Friends' of the Heysen Trail's comprehensive site and Google map for inspiration: It also runs group walks along the route (from $8).

Flinders Ranges

St Mary Peak, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
St Mary Peak, the Flinders Ranges. Photograph: William Robinson/Alamy Photograph: William Robinson/Alamy

Some of the oldest fossils in the world originate from the dramatic Flinders Ranges. It's possible to do in a (long) day, a 3.5-hour drive north of the city, but you may prefer to stay overnight. Indigenous people have lived in the area for thousands of years, and the scenery is best experienced with an Aboriginal guide. If you are able to stay longer, there is plenty of outback to explore and camping out under the stars is a must. If trekking doesn't appeal there is the heritage Pichi Richi Railway service between Quorn and Port Augusta.

Port Lincoln

Australian Sea Lions, South Australia
Swim with Australian sea lions in Port Lincoln. Photograph: Michael Patrick O'Neill/Alamy Photograph: Michael Patrick O'Neill/Alamy

If you fancy travelling further afield and you like diving, Port Lincoln is an hour away by plane. When there, you can swim with Australian sea lions, blue fin tuna and even partake in cage shark diving. Charlie Brooker once attempted to do just that but alas only found tuna.

Kangaroo Island

Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island, Australia
Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island. Photograph: Ingo Oeland/Alamy Photograph: Ingo Oeland/Alamy

Australia's third biggest island, which is the same size as Puerto Rico, can be visited in a day trip organised by Sealink for AUD $248 (£170). Coaches pick up from Adelaide hotels at the crack of dawn, before a short ferry crossing, guided tour of the island, and buffet lunch. If you are short of time it is a great way to see some of the island's highlights, including freely roaming wildlife such as the bouncing creatures behind the name, a colony of the rare Australian sea lions and miles of beautiful coast, such as the literally Remarkable Rocks. If you can stay one or more nights, there is much more to see, and hiking is a popular way to take it all in (find suggested routes here). There are various accommodation options, from camping and a YHA hostel (from £18pp) to high-end luxury, listed on the island's website,

McLaren Vale/Clare Valley vineyards

Primo Estate winery, Australia
Primo Estate winery Photograph: PR

And finally: even more wine! The McLaren Vale wine region is renowned for edgier, more Italian- and Spanish-influenced varieties, such as tempranillos. Boutique winery Primo Estate is recommended for its premium label, and the olive oil it produces has a huge fanbase too. If Riesling is your thing Clare Valley is for you; it even has its own hipster winemakers, Wine By Some Young Punks.

• The Adelaide festival runs from 1-17 March. The Guardian's daily coverage can be found at, supported by Emirates. For more information visit:


Sarah Phillips

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