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There’s plenty to do in the centre of Adelaide, but there’s even more to enjoy in South Australia. While it’s a big state and travelling distances can be long, there are plenty of amazing day trips from Adelaide. These fun and fascinating places will allow you to experience the best of what South Australia has to offer, and be back in the city by bedtime!
One of the things I love the most about my home state is the variety of things to do. Whether you’re looking to cuddle a koala, enjoy some delicious vino or laze by the beach, you’re sure to find some great options in SA.
To help you out, I’ve sorted these day trips from Adelaide by category. However, many of them offer a little bit of everything and are great fun for the whole family. Also, while these all make excellent day trips, you could also consider staying overnight to explore them even more!
The best day trips from Adelaide
There are many amazing Adelaide day trips to experience. Here are some of the best!
Best Adelaide day trips for food and wine
Do you love food and wine? (Is the Pope Catholic?). If so, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to great day tours from Adelaide.
If you’ve read much of my blog, it will come as no surprise that I recommend the Barossa Valley as one of the best day trips from Adelaide! This region, about one hour north of Adelaide, really is heaven for those who love food and wine.
The Barossa Valley is best known for its wine. It produces amazing reds, including bold Shiraz and graceful Cabernet Sauvignon. Don’t be fooled by its big reputation — wine makers in the Barossa are always friendly and welcoming, no matter how big or small your wine knowledge is!
In recent years, the Barossa has made a big push to offer more than just delicious vino (not that there’s anything wrong with delicious vino). As a result, there are a number of foodie hotspots as well. I particularly love Maggie Beer’s farm shop, while Ferment Asian is another foodie fave.
Due to the popularity of the Barossa Valley, there are a number of day tours from Adelaide, and there are also a number of budget options to tour the Barossa Valley. I particularly like the hop on, hop off bus in the Barossa.
If you speak to those in the know about wine in South Australia – i.e. wine guzzlers – you’ll probably hear about the rivalry between the Barossa and the McLaren Vale.
In fact, while the Barossa is possibly the most famous wine region in South Australia – the McLaren Vale is the oldest. In addition, the McLaren Vale also has the benefit of being just a stone’s throw from the coast. Wine and beaches are obviously a pretty good combination.
The region is about 45 minutes south of Adelaide, meaning you can easily visit it as a daytrip. There are dozens of fabulous wineries to visit (including the famous D’Arenberg Cube, which also has regular art exhibitions), as well as some great restaurants.
Like the Barossa Valley, there are a number of ways to visit the McLaren Vale. Although you can reach the Vale by public transport, it will limit the number of places you can visit. Therefore, I recommend getting a group tour from Adelaide or getting onboard the Trail Hopper hop on, hop off bus.
If you’re looking for a day trip from Adelaide that you can reach on public transport, then the Adelaide Hills are a great choice! Just half an hour from the city, the Hills offer great food and wine, as well as nature trails and views.
Some of the highlights of the region include the picturesque town of Stirling, with its organic cafes and boutique shops. I also love Hahndorf, which is like a little piece of Bavaria in the Adelaide Hills. Be sure to leave plenty of time to stop for a long lunch complete with a platter of local produce!
The Adelaide Hills also boast many excellent wineries, which are particularly famous for their light reds and white wines. Several of these are accessible by public transport, so if you are without a vehicle, it’s a good option.
There are also numerous tours that visit the Adelaide Hills, taking in the best of what this region has to offer. As it is so close to the Adelaide city, you may even prefer to only spend half a day and then spend the other half visiting the city. The choice is yours!
Just a bit further north than the Barossa Valley, the Clare Valley is a little further out and a little less famous. This means that it has a quieter, more peaceful atmosphere about it, making it the perfect place for a relaxed day trip from Adelaide.
One thing I absolutely adore about the Clare Valley is how “Australiana” it looks. Think rolling, sunburnt hills and gnarled gumtrees lining the wide open roads. It’s a totally unique wine tasting experience that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
There are many excellent Clare Valley wineries (here are ten of my favourites). Clare is generally best-known for its white, and especially its Riesling, however there’s actually a pretty huge variety of quality wines. There are also a few good restaurants and pubs.
The Clare Valley also boasts a few lovely artsy and historic towns. In particular, I love beautiful Mintaro with the grand institution-turned-museum, Martindale Hall.
As the Clare Valley is not as well-known as some other wine regions in South Australia, the options for visiting are more limited. Your best bet is probably to hire a car (although that means someone has to be a designated driver). There are also a number of private tours available.
Best day trips from Adelaide for animal and nature lovers
You don’t need to travel far from Adelaide to experience pristine nature and loveable animals. Here are some of the best Adelaide day trips if you love animals and nature!
I’m not usually a huge fan of zoos (for obvious reasons), but Monarto is an exception. This is a big, open-plain zoo where the animals are not kept in small exhibits, but instead roam freely.
It’s a bit like a mini-safari – complete with a jeep and everything. Spread out over 1,500 hectares, you can spot lots of animals including lions, zebras and Australia’s biggest giraffe herd. It’s impossible to be unhappy looking at a giraffe!
Another option for exploring the zoo is to walk some of the 10 kilometres of walking trails throughout the park. Don’t worry – they avoid the lions!
If you’re totally animal-mad, there are also a lot of fun behind-the-scenes experiences such as being a zookeeper for the day. They’re on the pricey side, but must be great fun (I wouldn’t know, because I am cheap.)
Monarto Zoo is about 45 minutes from Adelaide, and you can get the 805 bus from the city centre right to the zoo’s entrance.
Parra Wirra National Park
If you want to spend a day surrounded by quintessentially Australian bushland, you’ll love the Parra Wirra National Park. Although it’s less than an hour from Adelaide, the 1,500 hectare park feels like it could be hundreds of k’s from the city.
There are stacks of walking trails throughout the park, which will lead you through lots of native vegetation before getting to some gorgeous viewpoints. These trails range from a couple of kilometres to overnight hikes, depending on your enthusiasm.
I also like Parra Wirra because there are a few historic interpretive trails; great if you’ve got a short attention span for hiking, like I do! They are mainly through the Barossa Goldfields, with lots of old mines and even an old railway track. There’s a little museum that’s open Tuesdays and the odd Sunday.
Although Parra Wirra National Park is only about an hour, there’s no reliable public transport. Therefore you’ll need a car to visit.
Fair warning – this is a long day trip from Adelaide, but it’s totally do-able and totally worth it. Kangaroo Island is one of my absolute favourite places in South Australia and indeed the world.
If you want to see animals in their natural habitat, then Kangaroo Island is a total paradise. Flinders Chase National Park is simply bursting with fun and furry creatures, including kangaroos, koalas, and a plethora of reptiles.
Then there’s Seal Bay, home to one of the world’s largest New Zealand Fur Seal colonies. You will be amazed at how close you can get to them while on a guided walk! Not far away, the Raptor Domain Bird Sanctuary cares for many injured birds.
As well as fabulous animals and beautiful coastal walks, Kangaroo Island also has a selection of amazing wineries and food producers. For younger visitors, fun activities like snorkelling and sandboarding are sure to thrill!
To get to Kangaroo Island you need to either get a ferry or fly. The ferry departs from Cape Jervis, about an hour and a half from Adelaide. There is extremely limited public transport on the island, so I recommend either getting a tour or bringing your own vehicle across.
Although it’s definitely possible to day trip to “KI” – I’d highly recommend considering staying a night or two to make the most of it!
Belair National Park
If you’re looking to get away from the city and relax in nature, then a visit to Belair National Park is a great day trip from Adelaide. Located just 25 minutes from the Adelaide city centre, it’s easy to get to – and totally beautiful!
Belair National Park was the first national park in South Australia, and it still has some beautiful old heritage buildings. You can visit these on one of the many great walking trails which will take you through the park.
Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for all the beautiful native flora and fauna. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some kangaroos and koalas hanging out! Even snuffling echidnas can sometimes be spotted on the hunt for ants and other insects to snack on.
Also be sure to look closely for Aboriginal carvings and art, which are evidence of the Kaurna people’s long connection with this beautiful land.
There are quite a few picnic grounds and barbecues, so it’s a great place to stop for a meal out in the bush, yet just 13 kilometres from Adelaide.
As it’s so close, it’s possible to access the park by public transport (there are a couple of buses, including the 196 to Blackwood). You can also easily drive to the park, it’s located on Upper Sturt Road in Belair.
Best day trips from Adelaide for kids
You certainly don’t need to be a kid to enjoy these great Adelaide day trips — but they are fun for the whole family. So whether you’re young or just young-at-heart, take a look at these great ideas!
Victor Harbor really is a destination that appeals to all ages. Families holiday here, seniors retire here, and for one week per year, teenagers get out of control here to celebrate finishing high school. What can I say, it has wide appeal!
It’s no wonder, really. Firstly, the area has several beautiful beaches where you can relax in the sun and perhaps even try to catch a wave. It’s not only people who love these waters – it’s also a whale-watching hotspot. Even if you don’t get to spot some graceful whales, you can still drop by the Whale Centre to learn more about them.
There’s also a horse-drawn tram that will take you across to Granite Island. It’s a nice walk around it, and there are little penguin tours at dusk. Back on the mainland, you might like to try your hand at mini-golf or just pat some of the Clydesdales who are off-duty.
For adults, there are also a number of art galleries, excellent cafes, pubs, and even a couple of wineries to sample some Fleurieu drops!
There is a public bus that departs daily to and from Victor Harbor from Adelaide. However, you may prefer to have a car so that you can explore the wider region easily. There are also a few excellent group tours which will introduce you to this fab region!
South Australia’s beaches get a lot of hype, for good reason! However, did you know we also have a pretty great river? Yup, like many South Aussies, many of my school holidays were spent by the banks of the Murray River, rather than on our glorious beaches.
The River Murray actually flows through several Australian states, covering a total distance of over 2,500 kilometres. Over its 100 million+ year lifespan, it’s shaped the Australian landscape, and been significant to Australia’s First Nations people.
Today, it’s a popular holiday location as there’s a bunch of things to see and do. The river itself is a highlight — why not try kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, waterskiing or more? Or, just relax on one of the beaches and admire the untamed beauty of the area.
As the river is so long, there are lots of towns to base yourself in for the day. I love laidback Blanchetown (2 hours from Adelaide) although there’s not a great deal to do apart from paddle in the river, while Murray Bridge and Tailem Bend (1 hour from Adelaide) offer a little more in terms of other amenities.
Or, head up to the Riverland (3 hours from Adelaide) – perhaps Morgan or Berri – to make the most of the great attractions there.
To make the most of a day-trip to the River Murray, I recommend driving as the distances are long and public transport is extremely patchy.
If you’re looking for a fun day trip with kids in Adelaide, then St Kilda is a great choice. Located about half an hour north of Adelaide, it’s best known for its fabulous playground – many generations of South Australians (including yours truly) remember visiting as a kid.
Since I visited back in the 90s it’s got even more impressive, with amazing features like a pirate ship, volcano and enormous slides.
As well as its huge adventure playground, there’s also a great pub where parents can grab a drink after supervising all that playing. There’s also a tramway museum, and a mangrove trail that will teach you about the ecosystem.
Although St Kilda is only 35 minutes from Adelaide, there’s no public transport right to it. If you don’t have a car, the cheapest way to get there would be to get the train to Nurlutta, and then take Uber or a taxi the rest of the way.
Best day trips from Adelaide to learn about history
While many of the towns in Adelaide are young, there are still plenty of places to go to learn about the Indigenous and European history of Adelaide. Here are some of the best of those day trips.
If you’re looking for a unique day trip from Adelaide, then I highly recommend paying a visit to Burra. About two hours north of the capital, this country town offers something very different.
Returning readers of my blog might know that I’m a South Australian currently based in Cornwall in the UK. Well, Burra is a strong link between the two. It is actually the amalgamation of several smaller tin mining towns, including one called ‘Redruth’. Redruth was one of the largest tin mining towns in Cornwall, and in fact is just a few miles from my current home.
Like with Cornwall, the mines definitely made up a large part of the history of Burra. You can still explore many of them, and see the remnants including sky-high chimneys. Other interesting historic buildings include the former gaol and police lockup.
As well as the history, Burra also boasts a surprisingly good selection of restaurants including the fabulous La Pecora Nera (The Black Sheep) pizza place. Don’t miss it after you check out the history of this interesting township!
There is unfortunately no public transport to Burra. You’ll likely need a vehicle to get there.
One of my most recommended day trips from Adelaide is to Port Adelaide. Located about 15 kilometres west of the city, Port Adelaide is a beautiful place with a gritty, working class history. Although it’s currently undergoing a rejuvenation, it hasn’t lost all its edge – several unions are still based here — and I just love it!
After Europeans arrived in South Australia, Port Adelaide became the main port where goods – and immigrants, all free settlers – arrived into the state. As with many port towns, the docks saw their fair share of riff-raff and the area had quite a gritty reputation.
Nowadays, Port Adelaide is slowly being rejuvenated and is changing rapidly. Still, it’s easy to see the area’s history at places such as the Maritime Museum and the Port Adelaide Shipwreck Graveyard.
There are also many lively pubs, and an ever-increasing number of independent cafes and art galleries. Even a couple of bars have moved in of late.
As well as all of these attractions, just wandering around and enjoying the colonial architecture is quite a treat. Best of all, it’s easy to get to and around Port Adelaide by public transport. The easiest way is to get the train from Adelaide, but there are also frequent buses.
Beach beach day trips from Adelaide
Do you love the beach? If so, Adelaide is practically heaven on earth! We boast so many amazing beaches, yet they are almost never crowded. Whether you’re looking for a city beach or willing to travel that bit further, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Have you really been to Adelaide if you haven’t made it “down the Bay” for at least a day? Perhaps, but it’s certainly a much-loved day trip not just for visitors, but also for locals. Head down on a warm summer’s day and it’s sure to be standing room only!
Being just 12 kilometres from the Adelaide city and connected by a direct tram, it’s no surprise that a visit to Glenelg Beach is one of the most popular day trips from Adelaide.
The beach is absolutely beautiful, with plenty of soft white sand and clear water. Even on a busy day, you’re still sure to find plenty of space. There’s also volleyball courts, and a long jetty to walk down if you’d prefer not to take a dip in the water.
Glenelg itself has plenty of attractions, with dozens of great cafes, restaurants, bars and shops. Another highlight is ‘The Beach House’, a water park that features an epic waterslide as well as plenty of other rides and activities.
Should you finish checking out Glenelg, a beautiful walk is along the beach to its little brother Brighton, which has many of its own shops, cafes and pubs.
Getting to Glenelg is easy and visiting by public transport is recommended. The easiest way is to get the tram from the Adelaide city centre, although there are also buses. Driving is possible, but parking can be a bit of a pain.
Another of Adelaide’s city beaches is Semaphore, which is one of my favourite seaside spots in Adelaide. It’s a little more laidback than Glenelg, but it still has a great selection of shops, cafes and restaurants.
Semaphore boasts a huge swathe of sand, which is flanked by dunes and grass. This means that there are no imposing mansions like there are on the Glenelg foreshore (which just serve to make you jealous, frankly).
As well as the beach, there are a few fun activities which are especially popular with families in summer. These include a vintage carousel and ferris wheel, as well as a big waterslide.
There’s also a pretty coastal walk, and the beach is popular for kitesurfing and stand-up paddleboarding. Of course, just lazing on the sand with a book, enjoying the sun shine and the good vibes, is pretty awesome as well.
Semaphore is easy to access via public transport – either the train to Glanville, or the 157 bus.
Rounding out my list of the best city beaches in Adelaide is West Beach. It’s a very chilled-out place, which is particularly popular with young families as the water is quite calm.
There’s plenty of sand for everyone, and even on a busy day it’s rarely very crowded. Although the water is calm and perfect for swimming, it’s still important to keep an eye on little ones as there can be unexpected strong currents.
As well as the beach itself, there are a few other fabulous activities that make West Beach one of the best day trips from Adelaide. This includes a high ropes course nearby, which is great fun for everyone.
West Beach is easily accessible by public transport from the Adelaide city centre. You might like to hire a free bike to explore once you get there. West Beach is located very close to Adelaide Airport, so it can be a good stop if you have an early or late flight.
While even Adelaide’s city beaches are rarely crowded, you’ll have even more space if you venture out a little further. One of the best Adelaide day trips is to the beautiful beach of Middleton, just over an hour from the city.
This gorgeous beach offers incredibly soft sand that seems to go on almost forever. It’s the kind of place where you’ll have plenty of room to yourself – you might even want to bring a football.
Middleton Beach is also popular among surfers, so if you fancy learning to catch a wave (or already know how) – this is a great option. It’s one of the best surfing beaches in South Australia and home to a fab surf school, as well as a lifesaving club.
The town of Middleton is small but offers everything you’ll need for your day trip. In particular, the Heritage Bakery is somewhat of a South Australian icon — make sure to stop to enjoy a pie or pasty. Don’t forget to wash it down with a Farmers Union Iced Coffee.
Although Middleton is only about an hour from Adelaide, public transport is a bit limited. There is one bus that runs mainly from Monday to Friday, from Noarlunga (which is accessible by train from Adelaide) to Middleton. Once per day it runs all the way to and from Adelaide.
It is also easy to drive, and there is plenty of parking.
If you’re a beach lover looking for a day tour from Adelaide, then another great option is Sellicks Beach. About an hour south of the city, Sellicks Beach is a gorgeous, family-friendly beach loved by both locals and visitors.
It’s almost unbelievable that a beach as beautiful as Sellicks isn’t utterly crawling with people – yet you’ll often have Sellicks Beach nearly all to yourself. Even on a busy day, there’s still more than enough room for everyone.
The huge beach is gorgeous, while the sea is generally pretty calm. This means its ideal for families and you’ll often see many parents and kids building sandcastles and perhaps snacking on some fish and chips from the nearby shop.
When there are winds, the surf does pick up a bit and it’s not unusual to spot some kitesurfers and surfers trying to catch a wave or two. You might even like to join in the fun!
It is technically possible to get to Sellicks Beach with public transport, by getting to the Seaford Train Station and then picking up the bus. All in all this takes about two hours, however, whereas its about a 50 minute drive.
Best Adelaide day trips for a little bit of everything
Can’t decide, or trying to keep everyone happy? If so, check out these day trip ideas which feature a little bit of everything that makes South Australia great!
Yorke Peninsula (Moonta & surrounds)
If you want to experience the best of everything on this list – the beach, a bit of history, and plenty of nature – you’ll love the Yorke Peninsula. In particular, Moonta is a great base for your day trip from Adelaide.
Moonta is a picturesque country town located right on the coast. It’s walking distance to a beautiful beach, complete with gorgeous white sand and clear blue water. There’s also a long jetty to walk on or do some fishing off.
The town of Moonta itself is very pretty, with some cute cafes and bakeries. It’s also a historic mining town, and there are several museums. More historic museums and homesteads can be found in other towns including Wallaroo and Ardrossan.
While there are many interesting man-made sites, the nature around the Yorke Peninsula is perhaps even more beautiful. The Innes National Park is a particular delight, with lots of untamed wilderness and cycling trails.
Unfortunately, there’s not much public transport to the Yorke Peninsula so in order to explore it, you’ll really need access to a vehicle.
Southern Flinders Ranges
The Southern Flinders Ranges is quite the hike from the Adelaide city centre, so you’ll want to get up early to get a head start! However, the 2.5 hour drive is totally worth it to get a taste of the outback.
The Southern Flinders Ranges offers some of South Australia’s most beautiful scenery. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for some scurrying echidnas or hopping kangaroos, as there’s plenty of them in this region!
In particular, Melrose is a stunning spot with amazing walking trails, while Jamestown is a pretty town with a few great cafes and restaurants. There’s also Peterborough, which is a historic railway town that has a train exhibit — my favourite bit is the story about Bob, the loveable railway dog!
The red dirt of the Southern Flinders might not seem like it would be the ideal place for wineries, however the Southern Flinders is one of South Australia’s upcoming wine regions. There are a number of great wineries you can stop in at and enjoy!
There’s no reliable public transport to the Southern Flinders Ranges, so you’ll want a car to enjoy this day trip from Adelaide.
If you’re looking for a touch of everything a little bit closer to Adelaide, then the Adelaide Hills region around Woodside is a great choice. Just 45 minutes from the city, it has plenty to offer.
I’ve already mentioned that the Adelaide Hills are one of the best wine regions in South Australia – and you can definitely taste some of it in this area! In particular, Bird in Hand is a South Australian staple with perhaps the most instagrammed door in the state.
If wine isn’t your thing or you need to bribe your kids into letting you visit, you can also drop by family favourite Melba’s Chocolate Factory. A bit further afield, the Big Rocking Horse in Gumeracha is more than the world’s biggest rocking horse (although that’s pretty impressive) – you can also feed kangaroos and other animals!
This area is also really beautiful, with a bunch of different walking trails to enjoy. In particular, the Charleston Conservation Park is the place to see Australian animals in the wild. Or, head for Gorge Wildlife Park where you can even cuddle a koala.
If you’ve got any petrolheads amongst you, you might also like to pay a visit to the National Motor Museum.
Best of all, you can access Woodside by public transport. The 830F bus departs from Adelaide toward Lobethal, stopping in Woodside. A car is also a good option so that you can have more flexibility.