3 days in Adelaide
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
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.
What to expect
- Shop at the largest covered market in the Southern Hemisphere
- Discover more than 200 wineries within a one-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: $$
Day 1: Explore Adelaide city
Start your day at the colourful Adelaide Central Market, the largest covered market in the Southern Hemisphere. Visit stalls selling cheese, charcuterie and jams, and pick up some goodies for a lunchtime picnic. Then walk to the nearby 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 houses the world’s largest collection of Australian Aboriginal cultural artefacts. Or, if you’re a cricket fan, take a tour of the Adelaide Oval, try the RoofClimb, then pop into the Sir Donald Bradman Museum to learn about Australia's best-known cricketer.
Enjoy a picnic lunch at the Adelaide Botanic Garden, with its majestic tree-lined avenues, Australian native gardens, striking glasshouse conservatory, and Art Deco palm house.
Then take a 50-minute tram from the city centre to Glenelg. Spend the afternoon relaxing with a stroll along the jetty and a swim at the family-friendly beach. Animal lovers can even opt to swim with dolphins with a tour by Temptation Sailing.
Day 2: Head for the Adelaide Hills
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. Rent a car and drive 20 minutes to the region to spend the day admiring its pretty villages, rolling vineyards and tall eucalyptus trees.
For an intimate wildlife encounter, head to Cleland Conservation Park to see Australian animals in their natural setting. Early risers can enjoy the breakfast with the birds experience, or opt to hold a koala.
Explore the quaint village of Hahndorf, Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement. The picturesque town is home to many bakeries, pubs and cafés, and you can taste the region’s produce at the Udder Delights Cheese Cellar, Evercream Ye Olde Ice Creamery and Harris Smokehouse.
Spend the afternoon wine tasting at Ashton Hills (renowned for its pinot noir), Shaw + Smith (for a wine flight of five wines plus a cheese sampler plate), and Bird in Hand, which also offers art, music and farm-to-table feasts.
Once you’ve had your fill, head to Mount Lofty for sunset where you can enjoy panoramic views across the city’s skyline and coast. Stay at the beautifully restored, historic Mount Lofty House and dine at its Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant. Alternatively, head back to the city and taste African cuisine at the quirky Africola.
Day 3: Wine and water in the Fleurieu Peninsula
Chester d’Arenberg Osborn, d’Arenberg Cube
“I have been told that the d’Arenberg Cube is like Willy Wonka’s wine factory, a place for adults to lose themselves and escape.”
McLaren Vale is the heart of the South Australian wine industry, and home to some of the Australia’s oldest grape vines. Set on the breathtaking Fleurieu Peninsula, it’s the perfect place to taste local produce and get close to nature.
From Adelaide city, drive 40 minutes to McLaren Vale 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 its 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.
After you’ve tasted all the wineries have to offer, head out on a 40-minute drive to the historic port town of Goolwa for the afternoon. Here you can 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.
On your way back to Adelaide, stop off at Port Willunga Beach. Take a walk on the sand at sunset, then head to The Star of Greece for dinner. The seaside restaurant is set atop a cliff and overlooks the turquoise waters of the peninsula. From here it's a 50-minute drive back to Adelaide.