Discover a vibrant food, bar and cultural scene in the gracious sandstone city of Adelaide, the gateway to Australia's finest wine regions.
By Sue Gough Henly
What to expect
- Shop at the largest covered market in the Southern Hemisphere
- Discover more than 200 wineries within an hour drive of Adelaide
- Explore beautiful beaches and gardens plus an exciting small bar scene
- Time: 3 days
- Distance: 350 kilometres (218 miles)
- Transport: car
- Price: $$
Located between white sand beaches and rolling hills, Adelaide is a pretty city of gracious sandstone buildings, historic churches and expansive parkland. As one of the world’s Great Wine Capitals, it offers easy access to some of Australia’s finest wineries. Visit the South Australian Museum, meander through the bustling Central Market, and go bar hopping in buzzy laneways.
Day 1: Markets and art, gardens and bars
Get up early to explore the colourful Adelaide Central Market, the largest covered market in the Southern Hemisphere. Visit the Kangaroo Island Stall, Mushroom Man, The Smelly Cheese Shop, and Lucia’s Fine Foods, and pick up some goodies for a lunchtime picnic. Walk to the Jam Factory to visit the studios of Adelaide's most creative artists and snap up some ceramics, glass or jewellery to take home. Stroll along tree-lined North Terrace, Adelaide’s cultural precinct, and visit the South Australian Museum, which has the world’s largest collection of Australian Aboriginal cultural artefacts. If you are a cricket fan, take a tour of the refurbished Adelaide Oval (or for a more adventurous experience, try the RoofClimb), then pop in to the Sir Donald Bradman Museum to learn about Australia's best-known cricketer.
Enjoy your picnic at the Adelaide Botanic Garden, with its majestic tree-lined avenues and Australian native gardens. Visit its striking glasshouse conservatory, Amazon waterlily pavilion and Art Deco palm house. Walk to Rundle Mall, from where you can take a tram to Glenelg to stroll along the jetty, swim at the family-friendly beach and have a cool drink at a waterfront cafe. You can even go swimming with dolphins with Temptation Sailing. Enjoy a gourmet dinner with a difference at Orana, one of Australia’s top restaurants, where the seasonal tasting menu features modern interpretations of local and native wild foods. Then immerse yourself in Adelaide’s distinctive bar scene, visiting places such as Clever Little Tailor, Maybe Mae, Pink Moon Saloon, Udaberri, Hains & Co and on a laneway bar crawl around Leigh and Peel streets. Stay in a historic sandstone building at the tranquil Adina Apartment Hotel Adelaide Treasury.
Day 2: Head for the hills
Rent a car and drive 20 minutes into the Adelaide Hills, with its pretty villages, rolling vineyards, and tall eucalyptus trees made famous by Australia’s renowned watercolourist, German-born Hans Heysen. Drive to Mount Lofty for a panoramic view of the city and visit nearby Cleland Conservation Park to see Australian animals in their natural setting and hold a koala. In springtime (September to November), walk through the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden amid flowering rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias. Explore the quaint village of Hahndorf, Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement. Gourmet delights include the Udder Delights Cheese Cellar, Evercream Ye Olde Ice Creamery, Harris Smokehouse and Gulf Brewery. Visit The Cedars, Hans Heysen’s home, studio and gardens beside the Heysen Trail, one of Australia's great long-distance walking routes.
The Adelaide Hills is one of Australia’s finest cool climate wine regions, with more than 60 wineries specialising in Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Enjoy a winery lunch at Mount Lofty Ranges Vineyard, Pike & Joyce, or The Lane Vineyard and spend the afternoon tasting wine at wineries such as Ashton Hills (renowned for its Pinot Noir) Shaw + Smith (for a wine flight of five wines with a cheese sampler plate) and Bird in Hand, which also offers art, music and farm-to-table feasts. Visit Woodside Cheese Wrights and, if you are a car buff, check out the National Motor Museum in Birdwood. Stay at the beautifully restored, historic Mount Lofty House and dine at its Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant.
Day 3: Wine and beaches
Drive 40 minutes to McLaren Vale on the Fleurieu Peninsula to join Off Piste 4WD Tours for a half or full day adventure on 4WD tracks in the bush and along the beach. You’ll discover stunning scenery and local wildlife and taste wines straight from the barrel (or beers, depending on your preference). If you would rather explore on your own, McLaren Vale is renowned for hearty Grenache, Shiraz and Italian varietals, which you can taste at wineries such as Wirra Wirra, Penny’s Hill, SC Pannell, Oliver's Taranga, Coriole and Primo Estate. For lunch, don’t miss the dining experience at d’Arenberg Cube, an architectural anomaly in the heart of McLaren Vale. The restaurant, which looks like a twisted Rubik’s Cube, offers a seasonally changing degustation menu with the option to pair both local and imported wines.
Drive 40 minutes to Goolwa to take a boat tour that explores the mouth of the Murray River and the Coorong wetlands, or Canoe the Coorong to see birdlife up close. Alternatively, hop on a Big Duck Boat Tour at Victor Harbor to see New Zealand fur seals, Australian sea lions, dolphins and sea birds. Drive 40 minutes to Port Willunga Beach for a sunset dinner at The Star of Greece, a rustic, seaside cafe on the cliffs overlooking turquoise waters. It's a 50 minute drive back to Adelaide.
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