Adelaide 7 day itinerary - a South Australia travel guide
This one-week itinerary serves up the best of Adelaide and beyond, plus the option to add Kangaroo Island at the end.
Our Auckland to Adelaide non-stop service arrives at Adelaide Airport late morning. Taxi to your accommodation to drop your bags before lunch. We recommend staying within the CBD, so that you can easily explore on foot or by tram.
Things to do when you first arrive:
- Adelaide is a city obsessed with good food and wine, which makes finding a great lunch restaurant rather easy. Consider the Botanic Gardens Restaurant for modern Australian cuisine, Andre's Cucina & Polenta Bar for Italian flavours or Concubine for Chinese fusion.
- After lunch you'll be able to check in at your hotel, then slip into comfortable shoes for a stroll. A good place to start is the Adelaide Visitor Information Centre, to collect some walking route guides.
- Follow one of the self-guided historic walking routes to discover Adelaide's past. The local heritage organisation has created several themed trails, including Exploring Education; Politics, Power & Law; Crime & Mayhem; Adelaide Vintage Pubs (a good option if you enjoy craft beer); and Houses Great & Small - just to mention a few.
- Pick a restaurant for dinner. For the current hot favourite, ask the concierge at your accommodation or let the online reviews guide you. Adelaide is an all-the-flavours city with Italian, Greek, Chinese, Indian, Korean, Malaysian, Vietnamese and German communities contributing to the culinary culture. Head to one of the cities many Eat Streets (Rundle Street of Gouger Street) or park up in a laneway (Peel Street or Leigh Street) for a taste of what's on offer.
Catching the tram to Glenelg is always a good idea. Even in winter, exploring the beach, pier and restaurants areas of Adelaide's premier seaside neighbourhood can easily occupy half a day or more. Back in the city, the wonderful foodie world of the Adelaide Central Market will set you up with essential snacks for the Epicurean Way road trip that starts tomorrow.
Things to see and do today:
- Call into the Bay Discovery Centre, a museum devoted to the cultural heritage of South Australia. It's in the historic Town Hall, right in the middle of Glenelg.
- Another place to while away an hour or so is the Glenelg Art Gallery, which specialises in Aboriginal and multi-cultural art.
- If the weather's fine, as it so often is in Adelaide, you could go sailing on a catamaran. Trips depart most days from the Glenelg Marina, however booking ahead is recommended.
- Open every day except Sunday and Monday, the Adelaide Central Market has been a hub for South Australia's foodies since it opened in 1869. It's totally undercover and has more than 70 traders selling local fruit and vegetables, meat and poultry, cheese, deli meats and baked delectables, including artisan breads. We recommend you pick up some goodies for your road trip.
- Continuing the foodie theme, enjoy dinner at a respected city-fringe restaurant, like Ruby Red Flamingo in North Adelaide, Windy Point or Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant.
Today you begin the Epicurean Way road trip. Pick up your rental car and drive north to the town of Clare, the best base for exploring the Clare Valley wine region. This first leg takes between 90 minutes and two hours. The Clare Valley is famous for white wines, particularly Riesling, but you'll find some drop-dead-gorgeous cabernet sauvignons as well. The best way to visit some wineries is on a bike.
Things to see and do in Clare Valley:
- If your accommodation doesn't provide bikes, you can rent them in Clare township. The Clare Valley Visitor Information Centre can help with maps and winery recommendations.
- Get on your bikes and find the Riesling Trail, an off-road cycling track that runs for 35 kilometres between Auburn and Barinia. Clare is at the northern end of the trail, so most of the wineries will be south from your starting point. Some wineries are on the trail; others are in adjoining roads.
- A number of wineries have a restaurant or serve food platters as part of the tasting experience.
- There are several good restaurants in the town of Clare. If your accommodation has a kitchen, you could opt to cook up a storm with some of South Australia’s wonderful ingredients.
This morning you'll leave Clare and take the less-busy back road to Barossa Valley. This means a left turn at Auburn in the direction of Saddleworth. You’ll find a range of great places to stay, from vineyard retreats to hotels, apartments and holiday homes. Whichever you choose you’re never far from a cellar door!
Things to see and do in the Barossa Valley:
- Take a break from driving in the historic town of Kapunda, said to be the most haunted town in Australia. Morning isn't the ideal time for ghost hunting, so we recommend coffee and a snack at the local bakery.
- Tanuda is a service centre for the Barossa region, so it's well-equipped with shops and eating places (our faves include FermentAsian and 1918 Bistro). Take a walk around town, picking up anything your chilly-bin might need in the way of ingredients and snacks.
- After you've checked into your accommodation, find a winery for lunch. FINO @ Seppeltsfield Estate, Hentley Farm Wines and Charles Melton Wines are just a few of your choices.
- If you're keen to try some more Barossa Wines, walk to two or three wineries that are handy to your accommodation.
- Get an early night tonight - tomorrow is a biking day.
Today's cycling adventure is as much about food as it is about wine. You can go it alone, armed with a touring map from the visitor centre, or book in with a bike tour. The region has a 40km network of sealed cycling and walking trails linking Angaston to Gawler via the towns of Nuriootpa, Tanunda and Lyndoch.
Things to see and do today:
- There are more than 80 cellar doors in the Barossa, so no shortage of wineries for tastings. There are also numerous cafes, restaurants, bakeries and food shops, to help you stay steady on your wheels.
- Artisan food highlights include Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop, Barossa Valley Cheese Company, Tanunda Bakery and Schulz Butchers.
- Cellar doors known for their great hospitality include Elderton Wines, Chateau Tanunda, Pindarie Wines, Henschke Wines and Seppeltsfield. If you find it hard to choose, ask a local for recommendations.
- Tonight could either be a flop on the couch (if you did a lot of tasting and biking) or a slap-up dinner at one of the Barossa's best restaurants. Hentley Farm Restaurant and Appellation Restaurant both get rave reviews.
McLaren Vale, land of divine reds, is your next destination. It's a two-hour drive from the Barossa Valley and the route (via Mount Pleasant) is beautifully scenic. On the way you’ll pass through the Adelaide Hills wine region.
Things to see and do today:
- Have a chocolate break at Cocolat in Balhanah or Melba's in Woodside.
- The National Motor Museum in Birdwood is definitely worth a look, if you have an appreciation for motoring history.
- There are wineries all the way and every town has several great places to eat.
- Hahndorf is a possible lunch stop. While it can be a bit touristy, this town has a fascinating history of German settlement and is famous for its cheese and hearty Bavarian food. The Haus Restaurant on the main street offers a great menu in a relaxed setting.
- Once you've checked into your McLaren Vale accommodation, find d'Arenberg to experience the famous d'Arenberg Cube. This outrageous piece of contemporary architecture contains five levels of sensory excitement related to wine and wine making. You'll probably want to stay for dinner - the restaurant offers one of Australia's best degustation menus but you'll want to book well before you arrive.
It's possible you've had your fill of biking the wineries, so today offers something different - historic Victor Harbor, which is about 40 minutes' drive from McLaren Vale. Bring your togs and pack a picnic lunch.
Things to see and do in Victor Harbor:
- Walk to Hindmarsh Falls - it's an easy adventure through eucalypt and bottlebrush forest.
- Catch the historic Cockle Steam Train from Goolwa to Victor Harbor and back.
- Book a cruise on the Coorong and see the spectacular wildlife and scenery where the Murray River meets the sea.
- Walk or catch the horse-drawn tram across the bridge to Granite Island, a great place for a hike and a picnic. It's like a giant pile of very photogenic boulders and the sea views are magnificent.
- From Victor Harbor you can catch a boat trip to see seals, dolphins and whales. The whale-watching season is May to October.
- On your way back to McLaren Vale, call into the Star of Greece for an early dinner. This much-loved Mediterranean restaurant looks out over the St Vincent Gulf and is named after a shipwreck.
Your non-stop return flight to Auckland leaves just after midday, so you need to leave McLaren Vale after breakfast to check in before 10am. The drive takes about 45 minutes.
From McLaren Vale it takes just over 90 minutes (including the ferry trip) to reach Kangaroo Island. If you have more time up your sleeve, you won't regret adding this itinerary extension. Kangaroo Island is one of the best places in Australia for seeing wildlife and it's foodie hub with boutique wineries and artisan food producers. There's plenty of accommodation on the Island including the main township of Kingscote, or you can find a holiday rental at one of the island's beautiful beaches. If you're ready to let someone else take the wheel then cruising on the Murray River is an alternative add-on for your Adelaide holiday.
Things to see and do on Kangaroo Island:
- Stay overnight in a Lighthouse Keepers Cottage and wake to spectacular scenery and the sounds of waves crashing on the beach below.
- Kelly Hill Conservation Park protects a splendid limestone cave system. A guided tour through the caves is close to a real speleology adventure - you'll even wear helmets with headlamps.
- See kangaroos in the wild. Best spots for roo viewing are Black Swamp in Flinders Chase National Park, Grassdale in Kelly Hill Conservation Park and Lathami Conservation Park.
- You won’t get any prizes for spotting koalas on Kangaroo Island - the island is home to about 27,000 koalas. For a sure-fire koala spotting experience, head to Hanson Bay Sanctuary.
- Discover some of the nature-made landmarks around the island - the Remarkable Rocks, Little Sahara, Admiral's Arch and the Ravine des Casoars (the Ravine of the Cassowaries).
- There are many wineries and a craft breweries on the island, so you can do some tasting between wildlife experiences or at Kangaroo Island Spirits you can even have a go at blending your own gin.
- Hire a quad bike or fat tyre bike through KI Outdoor Action and discover the Little Sahara sand dunes at speed!
- On the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month there’s a farmers' market in Kingscote; it's an excellent chance to try some of the local artisan foods.
- Find the perfect wilderness beach somewhere within the island's 509km of coastline.
Your non-stop return flight to Auckland leaves just after midday. If you don't want to rise extra early to drive from Kangaroo Island to the airport (a 3.5 hour trip), you can head back to Adelaide the night before and stay somewhere handy to the airport.