Top 10 reasons to visit Adelaide and South Australia
From beautiful beaches to exemplary wine, South Australia and its capital Adelaide are brimming with reasons to visit.
The understated gem of Australia, Adelaide is located between idyllic white-sand beaches and green rolling hills. This compact, accessible city is the gateway to more than 200 vineyards, all within an hour’s drive. With impeccable foodie credentials, Adelaide has a vibrant market precinct and scattering of quirky bars lining the famous laneways. But lovely as it is, there’s more to South Australia than its capital – and if you need convincing, here are our top reasons why you should visit…
Stay in true luxury
A heritage-listed Art Deco building, the Mayfair Hotel displays all the class of its London namesake. Rubbing shoulders with Adelaide’s burgeoning laneway bars and incredible restaurants, you’ll be rewarded for venturing out from its tastefully decorated rooms – but if you’d rather stay put, the Mayfair’s 13th-floor Hennessey Bar is stunning. The elegant décor, from marble bar to glittering chandelier, spills out on to a stylish deck and balcony, allowing you to enjoy Adelaide’s Mediterranean climate.
Watch wildlife in the hills
If touring gently rolling hills, historic villages, and country roads lined with grapevines appeals, read on. An easy 30-minute drive east of the city is the cool countryside of the Adelaide Hills. Kick off the day with an excellent breakfast and panoramic views at Mount Lofty, before meeting kangaroo, koala, wallaby, emu, Tasmanian devil, and wombat at Cleland Wildlife Park. Of the nearly 50 wineries in the region, our favourite is Penfolds Grange for a tour and to dine at their cellar door.
Hit the beach
The picturesque Fleurieu Peninsula is home to fantastic surf beaches and pretty harbour villages. Just a 45-minute drive south of Adelaide, you can laze on the sand, or if you’re feeling active, fish, snorkel, and scuba dive. At the historic river port town of Goolwa, Australia’s longest river, the Murray, meets the sea. Keep an eye out for seal and penguin, which frequent the coast. And if you haven’t yet had your fill, the charming McLaren Vale has over 65 wineries open for tastings.
Wine and dine in the Barossa
The lovely Barossa valley is South Australia’s most famous wine region, with more than 150 wineries and around 80 cellar doors. Seppeltsfield Wines offers the chance to taste a tawny fortified vintage from the year you were born, straight out of the barrel – an experience enjoyed by HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall when they visited. A&K recommends a hot-air balloon ride to take in an aerial view of the vineyards. For the more active, a cycling tour will help build up a thirst.
Sleep amid the vines
We highly recommend a stay at The Louise, a winery hotel set on a hill and surrounded by spreading grape vines as far as the eye can see. There are just 15 suites, each with its own terrace, allowing you to take in the view while sampling world-class local wines. The hotel’s Appellation Restaurant is well worth a visit, attracting international acclaim with its locally sourced produce. The daily chef’s tasting menu is our favourite.
Hop over to Kangaroo Island
Known to locals as KI, this wildlife haven seems like something out of a storybook. With just 4,000 people living on the island, there’s plenty of scope to find a patch of wilderness and get under the skin of this incredible place. For the active visitor, a trip through the rock formations and a hike along the spectacular new KI Wilderness Trail – a three-hour walk along the coast – are a must. With the Southern Ocean on one side, on the other you can spot abundant wildlife including kangaroo, koala and many birds.
Experience a shore thing
Sitting on the clifftop, surrounded by sand dunes, boutique hotel Southern Ocean Lodge is the stuff of (sweet) dreams – and a favourite haunt of the rich and famous. The Great Room serves as the lobby, with exhilarating views of the Southern Ocean crashing against the rocks below. The open bar and wine cellar allow you to continue your South Australian wine odyssey in comfort. An eco-friendly design, the lodge runs on rainwater, solar power, and compost recycling. Rooms are effortlessly cool, and the Osprey Pavilion is our top choice. Don’t miss the Kangas and Kanapes experience – sunset drinks surrounded by kangaroo in their natural habitat.
Get out in the Outback
Remember the sweeping landscapes of the film Australia, starring Nicole Kidman? You can experience the red desert in person at Arkaba Conservancy in the Flinders Ranges. A four-and-a-half-hour drive, or quick flight north of Adelaide, this former sheep station is an elegant 1850s homestead and wildlife sanctuary set across 24,000 hectares, offering guests an all-inclusive experience in its five elegant rooms. Each day, 4x4 safaris allow you to get close to the wildlife and learn about award-winning conservancy projects. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can book a guided walk and sleep in campsite swags for two nights. Hot water is solar-generated at the homestead, with no appliances in rooms, and a decanter of rainwater on bedside tables.
Eat at Australia’s best restaurant
Scottish chef Jock Zonfrillo, winner of MasterChef Australia, is an odd champion for the Aboriginal food revolution. Nonetheless, Orana has been named Australia’s Restaurant of the Year at the Good Food Guide Awards. Sitting in the centre of Adelaide’s Rundle Street, the intimate dining spot focuses on native Australian ingredients and traditional cooking methods. Orana means “welcome” in some Aboriginal languages, and Zonfrillo has spent years researching with the Aborigines. Everything cooked in the restaurant is foraged by the chef’s team, keeping the menu in line with the seasons.
Tour with a local
Adelaide is small and compact, and with a friendly welcome guaranteed, you’ll soon feel at home in its European-style streets and lush green spaces. One way to accelerate the process is to take an electric pedicab tour run by knowledgeable locals, exploring the city’s intricate laneway networks, parks, cafés, and boutiques. Lasting from one to two hours, let your guide know what you’d like to see, and they’ll tailor the experience for you.
The Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island is defined by superb contemporary design, astonishing location and first name service
Located on the corner of King William and Hindley Street, the chic and intriguing Mayfair Hotel offers glamour in the heart of Adelaide's CBD
Food, wine, luxury accommodation and a warm welcome await at The Louise Barossa Valley
Arkaba has made the transformation from an outback sheep station to a private conservancy