Adelaide is perfectly situated, surrounded by clear blue oceans, lush green forests, the red outback and rolling vineyards on all sides. As a student living in Adelaide, a.k.a. ‘the 20-minute city’, you’re just a short drive away from any of these incredible landscapes, which makes it incredibly easy to rest and relax, or adventure and explore, a number of unique destinations.
Whether you’re hopping on a bus, renting a car with friends, or grabbing a cheap flight, you don’t need to wait for semester holidays to take a break from the city – these places are perfect for a day-trip or a weekend away!
1. Victor Harbor
Splash it up at the beach or watch the sunset with fresh fish and chips. Victor Harbor is a little coastal town on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula that’s only about a 90 minute bus ride from the city centre. From the waterfront, it’s impossible to miss the wooden causeway – a bridge that connects to Granite Island, which is popular for whale watching during June to October and the modern-art pieces hidden amongst the island’s trees and huge granite boulders.
Another prime location for whale spotting – and just a beautiful view in general – is the Bluff. Just a short hike up the Rosetta Trail (or a quick walk from the carpark) and you’ll find incredible panoramic views of the area. Remember to take a camera! You can also head to nearby Port Elliot, home to the popular Horseshoe Bay (perfect for a beach day in the summer) and the Port Elliot Bakery, famous for its creative doughnut creations.
2. Mount Lofty
Bushwalks galore, sunsets over the city, koala cuddling and kangaroo feeding at nearby Cleland Wildlife Park – Mount Lofty is just a 25 minute drive from the city and a world away from everything. On a Sunday morning, you’ll find huge crowds of lycra-clad locals hiking to the top for an Instagram picture – we recommend visiting as early as possible in the morning or during the week for the best experience. If it’s your first time hiking, the Waterfall Gully to Mt Lofty summit hike is recommended. It’s 7.8km uphill, with cafes at each end to treat yourself after the workout. For a longer route, try the 15km Mt Lofty summit from Chambers Gully hike – it’s a much quieter route.
Also make time to visit the stunning Mount Lofty Botanic Garden when you’re in the area.
3. Port Lincoln
Sea lions, sharks, seafood, sandboarding! A quick flight will get you to Port Lincoln, ‘the seafood capital of Australia’, for unforgettable weekend of adventure. For a truly unique Australian experience, why not try swimming with sea lions, an Australian coastal safari, or, for the brave, a shark cage dive that will get you up-close and personal with South Australia’s fearsome Great White Sharks.
The oldest surviving German settlement in Australia, Hahndorf is only a 30-minute drive from Adelaide’s city centre. This beautiful and historically significant town is packed with old pubs serving one-litre steins of German beer and traditional German cuisine – the Hahndorf Inn and German Arms Hotel are two highlights.
Shops selling locally made goods, like cheese (make sure to visit Udder Delights’ cheese cellar) and honey, art galleries, and antique stores are dotted along the main street, along with German bakeries serving apfelstrudel and baked pretzels. Make sure to visit The German Village Shop and marvel at the intricate handcrafted cuckoo clocks. At the nearby Beerenberg Farm, you can buy delicious jam or pick your own strawberries to take home – you simply pay for each basket you pick.
5. McLaren Vale
This beautiful wine region in Adelaide’s south has white-sand beaches on one side and green hills covered in vineyards on the other. There are countless incredible wineries with open cellar doors, offering tastings – either for free, or for a small fee that is usually redeemable on purchases.
For something different, visit Maxwell Wines and try their deliciously sweet meads. McLaren Vale’s newest landmark is the d’Arenberg Cube, a whimsical museum with wine tastings offered on the top floor, offering panoramic views over the region. While you’re there, make sure to visit Pizzateca and its Instagram-famous pink wall and The FruChocs Shop, where you can watch South Australia’s famous apricot-chocolate delights being made.