Well, we all know and love Adelaide. It might be touted as one of the most livable cities in Australia, but what about when you want to get out of town, escape the city, and enjoy weekend getaways from Adelaide?
There’s actually a lot on offer just on Adelaide’s doorstep, which means you don’t have to drive for hours and hours to find your own little slice of two-day paradise.
There’s some world-famous stuff going on here. And if you live in Adelaide and you haven’t been to any of these places – get on it!
Think weekends in the sun sipping shiraz, hopping on a ferry over to Kangaroo Island to bask in the beauty of nature, chilling out in the laid-back Fleurieu Peninsula, or getting on two wheels and cycling through an award-winning wine region. All of that with some amazing food on top.
So let’s take a look and see what’s on offer, shall we? Honestly, there’s so much to pack into one weekend that there’s enough here for a weekend getaway from Adelaide every weekend!
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The Barossa Valley
Situated around 60 kilometres northeast of Adelaide city centre, Barossa Valley is an award-winning wine region.
Think rolling landscapes, grapevines, and green fields. In short, Barossa Valley is a wine-lovers paradise.
How to get to the Barossa Valley from Adelaide
It takes around an hour’s drive inland, but before you know it, you’ll be out of the sprawl and into the beautiful countryside.
From the airport or the centre of town head north on South Road (yes I know) which becomes the M2. The Barossa is very well signed and easy to follow.
You can also catch the bus or train to Gawler and change to the bus to Tanunda.
You’ll find more than 150 wineries here and 80 cellar doors in what is one of Australia’s oldest wine-growing regions. That’s right; this area has been producing wine for over 160 years – with several generations of grape-growers to prove it – so you can trust they know what they’re doing! In particular, Barossa is famous for its bold shiraz.
It’s not just about the wine, however. Foodies, as well as wine buffs, can spend their weekends indulging in the delicious gastronomy that Barossa is fast becoming very well known for.
There are numerous high-end restaurants and rustic eateries where you can sample fresh, local produce crafted into insanely delicious brunches, lunches, dinners and platters – all paired beautifully with some Barossa wine, of course!
Depending on what kind of trip you fancy, there are different ways you can enjoy this region and immerse yourself in all it has to offer.
You could opt to cycle through the countryside, stopping off at vineyards as you go (no need to worry about a designated driver!), or perhaps amble along walking trails skirting verdant fields. There’s even the option to book yourself on a tour, so you don’t have to worry about itineraries.
The Barossa Valley Way links up the main towns scattered along the valley itself. The top spots you should hit up include Nuriootpa, the biggest town in the region. It’s charming, it’s historic (dating back to 1838), and surrounded by vineyards.
Another place to head is the more rustic village of Tanunda. Here is where you will find Turkey Flat Vineyard, thought to be the world’s oldest commercially producing vineyard in continuous operation. They’ve got shiraz vines here that were planted way back in 1847!
Rowland Flat sits at the foot of the Barossa Ranges and is home to the now world-famous Jacobs Creek winery. Elsewhere, Lyndoch is one of the oldest towns in South Australia, and a stop on the Barossa Trail.
Highlights of the Barossa Valley:
- Seeing what all the fuss is about at the Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre
- Hiking or biking along the Barossa Trail for an afternoon of wining and dining
- Visiting World famous wineries such as Penfolds, Turkey Flat, Seppeltsfield and St Halletts
- Making sure you’re in town for the Barossa Gourmet Weekend – a festival of food, art and music
- Eating at one of Barossa’s awesome eateries, such as Harvest Kitchen or fermentAsian
Where to stay in the Barossa Valley
Discovery Parks Barossa Valley have great economy cabins for families and are also pet-friendly.
For something special and wonderful romantic Barossa Valley accommodation we love Walnut Cottage in Angaston, Fernweh Guesthouse in Tanunda and Lanzerac Country Estate which have lots of extra touches and will drive you into town!
Lanzerac Country Estate
Just so you’ve got some choice if you’re looking for a wine-based weekend getaway from Adelaide, the Clare Valley is another top destination for wine enthusiasts. Along with Barossa, it is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in Australia.
Where is the Clare Valley?
Located 140 km north of Adelaide, it takes just under 2 hours to drive to the Clare Valley from the centre of town. You can also catch the train to Gawler Station and then a bus on to Saddleworth.
The Valley is home to over 50 cellar doors and numerous vineyards with it’s specialty being Riesling, considered to be some of the best in the country, while its Shiraz and Cabernets are also well worth indulging in.
Compared to those in Barossa, most of the 30 or so wineries in Clare Valley are fairly small, family-run operations. You’ll find them strung out along a 40 kilometre stretch of Horrocks Highway, between the towns of Auburn and Clare.
Kicking things off in Auburn – the gateway to the Clare Valley – you’ll discover historic cellar doors and heritage buildings in this village. Restaurants here are great for a rest stop too, with their seasonal menus.
Sevenhill is also well worth a stop-off if only to pay a visit to the venerable Sevenhill Cellars. Founded in 1851 by Jesuit priests, this winery boasts not just underground cellars for wine storage, but also its very own crypt! Also located here is family-run Pikes Wines.
A must-visit along the Horrocks Highway is the storied town of Mintaro. Established in 1849, this was the first town listed as a State Heritage Area in South Australia. Combine the charming mid-19th century heritage buildings with good wine – at the boutique Mintaro Wines, for example – and you have the perfect day out.
However, if you’re all wine’d out for a minute, you may want to check out Burra. Set in the east of the valley, this historic settlement gives you a glimpse of what life was like in a 19th-century copper mining town. It’s easy to spend a whole day wandering around here.
And then there’s Clare. Clare is ideal for a weekend getaway with its luxury lodgings and upscale eateries. This makes for a great base for exploring the rest of the valley, for sure.
Highlights of the Clare Valley:
- Grab yourself a bike at Auburn and cycle along the Riesling Trail all the way to Clare
- Snap a million photos at the incredible Lake Bumbunga – its water changes colour from pink to white and blue
- Stopping off for food at the award-winning Slate Restaurant, situated at Pikes Wines
- Escaping from the Mintaro Maze in time for tea (or wine)
- Strolling in search of dinosaurs at Red Banks Conservation Park
Where to stay in the Clare Valley
Again another part of Australia full of wonderful, quaint places to stay.
Watervale Retreat is considered exceptional by many and offer fully self-contained cabin accommodation in a beautiful rural setting.
The Rising Sun Hotel is one of the few licensed pubs in the area with accommodation and has a great restaurant as well.
If coastal drives and scenic seasides are your kind of thing, you’ll definitely want to make a beeline to the Fleurieu Peninsula. Situated around 40 minutes south of the city, it makes for a super convenient weekend break from Adelaide.
Where is the Fleurieu Peninsula?
Located just 30 minutes drive south of Adelaide is the wonderful Fleurieu peninsula, home to stunning beaches, amazing wineries and much more.
To get to Fleurieu Peninsula from Adelaide just head out of town on the South Eastern Expressway which you can reach from the airport on Marion road.
A trip here is a mix of culinary delights, exploring the charm of historic towns, sipping coffee al fresco at hip cafes, and spending days on the white sandy beaches.
There’s a Mediterranean ambience to life here – it’s the sort of place where you can linger over lunches and lap up the coastal views.
For those of you wondering where the wineries are to go with their Med vibes, don’t worry; you’ll find a fair few scattered throughout Fleurieu.
Victoria Harbour is one place you could base yourself for a weekend. This is the biggest town on the peninsula and offers a smorgasbord of everything Fleurieu is about. There’s the chance to spot whales and dolphins in the bay, maritime history, fresh seafood and chilled sandy beaches to while away an afternoon or two.
For something closer to nature, Goolwa works as a gateway to the Murray River and the Coorong National Park. A stay in this decidedly chilled locale means waterside walks, learning Aboriginal culture and glimpsing an abundance of wildlife.
McLaren Vale, in the north of the peninsula, is the area’s wine region and is a must-visit.
It’s known for its sustainable wine production and world-class wines. If your tastebuds are tingling right now, you should consider basing yourself here to sample its incredible shiraz, grenache, and chardonnay.
In the north of the Fleurieu Peninsula, you will also find the Onkaparinga River. This river estuary is a hotspot for wildlife, bushwalking and rock climbing. Further south is Deep Creek Conservation Park, situated along a unique and dramatic rolling coastal landscape.
For another beautiful spot, check out the golden-hued sands and cliffs of Port Willunga Beach. With its shipwreck, old jetty pylons and scenic vista, this is a popular beach hang-out and (understandably) one of the most photographed on the peninsula.
Highlights of the Fleurieu Peninsula:
- Spotting whales and dolphins offshore at Victoria Harbour
- Riding the Cockle Train – the oldest steel-railed railway in Australia – between Goolwa and Victoria
- Cycling along the Shiraz Trail in McLaren Vale to sample award-winning wines
- Enjoy a leisurely lunch at the Star of Greece restaurant, complete with views of Port Willunga Beach
- Cruising along the Coorong River into the national park to spot some wildlife
Where to stay on the Fleurieu Peninsula
With so much diversity on the Peninsula, the big decision here is whether to stay by the sea or in the vines. What a horrible problem to have!
In wine country, we love the very quaint Grape Pickers & Cooks Cottages – very central and comfortable ( and pet-friendly) but there are only 2 so don’t procrastinate!
McLaren Vale Motel and Apartments are a great budget option and have a swimming pool and conference centre right in the heart of town.
Grape Pickers Cottage
Kangaroo Island has to one of the best weekend getaways from Adelaide and indeed one of the best weekend destinations in the country!
At the very tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula is Cape Jervis which is where you will find the ferry terminal for Kangaroo Island.
120 kilometres southwest of Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island and feels like a world away from life on the mainland.
Home to native bushland, abundant wildlife, homegrown produce, and clean beaches lapped by crystal clear waters, as soon as you step foot on Kangaroo Island, you’ll be in holiday (or exploration) mode.
KI, as locals call it – or historically, Karta (“island of the dead”) as it is known in Aboriginal language – is home to a lot of wildlife. You’ll find a whos-who of Australian wildlife here, from koalas and wallabies to echidnas and, of course, kangaroos.
Because of its remoteness, animals have been able to thrive here. There are also many conservation areas and parks on the island to further protect the island’s fauna and flora.
That, coupled with the fact that there are only about 4,500 people living here, makes Kangaroo Island a definitive destination for getting in touch with nature.
One place to hit up is Seal Bay. This award-winning location (known for its resident seals, of course) can be explored on a self-guided boardwalk tour, which gets you up close and personal to the seal colony.
In the western end of Kangaroo Island, you’ll find Flinders Chase National Park – a rugged wilderness that, although sadly devastated by bushfires, is now recovering and has since reopened. Expect incredible rock formations with vibrant colours – and more seals (as well as kangaroos and koalas).
Away from the intrepid natural side to Kangaroo Island, Kingscote, in Nepean Bay on the island’s northeastern corner, works as a great place to base yourself. This is the largest town on the island and is awash with hang-outs for hungry people.
Just 15 minutes’ drive out of Kingscote is the inviting stretch of sand that is Emu Bay. This five-kilometre long beach is a popular spot for swimming and holiday homes, but if you’ve got your own set of wheels, you can also drive along it yourself. There’s no chance you won’t be able to find a spot to call your own for a day of bliss.
The ferry port of Penneshaw is where you may start your weekend getaway from Adelaide.
The second-largest town on the island, there are some great accommodation options here as well as hotspots for wining and dining. Further along, you’ll find numerous beaches in easy reach, such as Brown Beach and Hog Bay.
If you’re in the area on the first Sunday of the month, lucky you! Head to Kangaroo Island Farmers and Community Market in Penneshaw. Think regional gastronomy, food vendors, arts and crafts, and a local atmosphere.
Highlights of Kangaroo Island:
- Visiting Kangaroo Island Brewery to see what the craft beer scene is like at this end of the country
- Enjoying some exquisitely delicious Italian food and locally produced wine at Amadio Wines
- Walking the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail – or part of it, at least (it takes five days)
- Paying a visit to Emu Bay Lavender Farm to snap its beautiful fields of purple and eat their enormous scones!
- Visiting the Seals and Sea Lions at the Seal Bay Conservation Park
- Gorging on fresh Oysters and Abolini at the Oyster Shop in American River
- Checking out the island’s art scene at Kangaroo Island Gallery
Where to stay on Kangaroo Island
One of the trickiest aspects of visiting Kangaroo Island is working out where to stay. It is such a big island you need at least a week to see most of it and even then you will likely miss things.
Staying somewhere central like Kingscote is our recommendation. That way you can go east, west or south on any given day and back again without too much effort. It’s also the capital of the island and where you will find banks, supermarkets and other services. As a town, it is quite quaint and there are a number of small restaurants and places to stay such as Villas on the Bay and KI Dragonfly guesthouse.
There are a number of excellent holiday homes on the island particularly around Emu Bay, Penneshaw and American River.
See our Kangaroo Island Airbnb Page for stays and experiences!