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’, there are plenty of short trips you can take in a day, so you don’t have to spend the night (and pay for accommodation!).
Whether you’re hopping on a bus, renting a car with friends, or grabbing a cheap flight, these are the best day trips from Adelaide.
Located just half an hour’s drive from Adelaide’s city centre, Hahndorf is a fascinating and beautiful village with a proud German heritage. It’s a great place to eat and drink with a huge range of different cuisines available. For the most authentic and traditional experience, try the German-style pubs to get your fill of German sausages and German beer. If you’re looking for handcrafted, local products, Hahndorf is a great place to shop, with art galleries and studios, a leathersmith, jewellers and souvenir shops. If you love food and wine, Hahndorf boasts some of Adelaide’s best butchers, bakers, cheese makers, specialist chocolatiers and sweet shops, as well as winery cellar doors, a craft brewery and gin distillery.
Port Elliot is home to some of the best beaches in South Australia. It sits on the coast between Victor Harbour and Middleton, just over an hour’s drive south from the city centre, making it the perfect Adelaide road trip destination. Horseshoe Bay is the area’s most famous beach – where you can laze on the pristine sand, swim in the turquoise sea and wander along the picturesque jetty. After you’re done soaking up the salt and sand, make sure to stop by the Port Elliot Bakery, which is famous for its doughnuts and even has a special flavour of the month!
Just a short 45-minute drive south of Adelaide is the charming town of McLaren Vale. McLaren Vale boasts gorgeous white sand beaches and is one of the most famous wine regions in Australia. Choose from a range of cellar doors to visit, and sample some of the state’s best wines – tastings are usually free or cost a small fee that is usually redeemable on purchases. If you prefer not to drive, many cellar doors are close enough to walk between or, if you fancy a longer walk, there are plenty of hikes and trails to explore.
Kuitpo Forest Reserve is a beautiful collection of natural bush and pine forests in the South Mount Lofty Ranges, about a 45-minute drive south of Adelaide. Kuitpo offers plenty of different adventures, such as horse riding, mountain biking and hiking for all levels of fitness. After walking up an appetite, enjoy a peaceful picnic lunch among the trees.
Deep Creek National Park, a 1.5-hour drive from Adelaide, is the largest remaining area of natural vegetation on the Fleurieu Peninsula. It is home to a vast array of native wildlife, from kangaroos and echidnas to hundreds of varieties of birds. There are hikes to suit all levels of fitness and time constraints. If you’re feeling up for a challenge, the Deep Creek Circuit Hike takes between four and five hours – you’ll hike through bushland, past waterfalls and to the spectacular Deep Creek Cove. Relax on the beach and cool your feet in the ocean before continuing back to your car, and make sure to bring a packed lunch and plenty of water with you! Check out these tips to make sure you’re well prepared for a hike in the Australian bush.
Pink Lake (Yorke Peninsula)
South Australia is home to a bunch of incredible candy-coloured lakes. Pink Lake is one of the closest to Adelaide, about a 2.5-hour drive away, near Yorketown on the Yorke Peninsula. This natural wonder is well worth the road trip! The inland lake gets its pink colour from particular algae and bacteria that grow in it – they produce beta-carotene, which is also found in carrots! The Pink Lake is a beautiful spot to take photos to show your friends and family back home.
Victor Harbour is a coastal town just over an hour from Adelaide by car. You can walk or take the iconic Horse Drawn Tram across the wooden causeway to Granite Island, which is famous for its wildlife and whale watching. The rugged, rocky island is an exciting place to explore – if you’re lucky, you might see a penguin, seal or whale! Back in the town itself, you can catch a heritage SteamRanger train along the scenic coastline. If you want to learn more about the town, visit the South Australian Whale Centre or the Encounter Coast Discovery Centre. There are also plenty of restaurants and cafes to fill hungry bellies after a day’s exploring – we recommend fish and chips at sunset!
Make sure you check out our guide to driving in Australia and you’ll be all set for your amazing Adelaide road trip!