Favoured by many for its reputation as the food and wine state of Australia and adored by those who can’t get enough of its mix of dramatic landscapes, incredible coastline, vibrant cities and rugged mountain ranges, South Australia comes close to the ‘state with it all’.
Food and wine culture is very much ingrained in the life of every South Australian and is adopted quickly by those that visit. The lush valleys deliver the perfect conditions for growing an abundance of flavours. The state’s famous wine regions – namely Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Coonawarra and the Adelaide Hills – are where you’ll find plentiful cellar doors inviting you over the threshold. You’ll succumb to the temptation at one of the state’s food and wine festivals, of which much of South Australia travel revolves around.
For those looking to get in touch with nature, the rugged Outback, wild landscapes of the Eyre Peninsula and hiking opportunities in and around the Flinders Ranges can be combined for an active South Australia tour. To mix it up, the vibrant capital of Adelaide followed by a few days on Kangaroo Island, where you’ll be surrounded by an abundance of free-roaming native Australian wildlife, presents the perfect combination.
While it’s not the first draw, the verdant coastline and sparkling blues of the ocean just add to what makes this part of Australia a joy to travel around.
Fine landscapes, fine wine, fine food and fines festivals; need we say more? Read on to find out everything there is to know about South Australia travel.
- Best Time to Visit South Australia
- Best Places to Visit in South Australia
- How to Get Around South Australia
- Where to Stay in South Australia
- Places to Eat and Drink on Your Trip to South Australia
- The Cost of a South Australia Tour
- Special Events and Festivals in South Australia
- Tours in South Australia
- Ready to Book Your South Australia Trip?
Best Time to Visit South Australia
The driest of all the states in the country, South Australia gets very hot! Over 75% of the population of this state are based in the capital city of Adelaide – escaping the heat, anyone?
The southern part of the state, including Adelaide, has a much more Mediterranean climate with sea breezes helping to keep everyone cool. Whereas in the north, it’s much drier. Regardless, it can get very hot in both north and south during the summer. Adelaide temperatures can reach 46 degrees in the summer (from November to February). The winters (March to September) in South Australia tend to be cold and rainy. However, when we say ‘cold’, we mean ‘cold for Australians’ as it’s still around 20-30 degrees.
Skin cancer is rife in Australia with some of the highest rates in the world, so make sure to wear sun protection. You can buy huge bottles of sun cream all over the country – applying suncream is a practise heavily encouraged by locals!
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Best Places to Visit in South Australia
One of the most diverse and intriguing states, you can have it all in South Australia – from the southern Mediterranean climate to the arid Outback and the lush wine region. However, despite this, South Australia is left behind when it comes to favoured Aussie states to travel. The upside to this is the lack of crowded tourist spots!
If you’re looking to experience all of Australia’s best selling points in one place – nature, wine, produce and wildlife – then Kangaroo Island is the spot. Boasting 509 kilometres of coastline, Kangaroo Island is nature’s playground where you can lounge on pristine beaches, interact with local wildlife and go wine tasting.
This 4-day Kangaroo Island tour will see you immersed in the diverse landscapes that this island is known for.
Wine Tours from Adelaide
Taking a spot on the top places to see in Adelaide list, the Adelaide Hills are just a 20-minute journey from Adelaide’s central business district but feel like you’ve entered another world. With several charming historical towns, cellar doors and marketings, the Adelaide Hills are a worthwhile day trip from the city.
If you like the idea of staying in the Adelaide Hills, then this romantic 3-day Thorngrove Manor Getaway in Adelaide is perfect for you.
One of the most wonderful outback destinations in Australia, ‘Flinders’, as it’s affectionately known by Aussies, is an ancient mountain range with plentiful local wildlife. From emus to kangaroos that wander across the road and yellow-footed rock wallabies, you can spot them all here.
If you’re planning to visit South Australia, then a trip to the Flinders Ranges should be on your list if you want to experience the ‘Outback’.
Barossa Valley & Clare Valley
Venture away from the city and into the country to find yourself in the charming valleys of Barossa and Clare; both beautiful but different in their appeal. Barossa Valley is known as the perfect region to experience the most-renowned Australian wines and is continually hailed as one of the most romantic destinations in Australia.
On the flip side, Clare Valley is an off-the-beaten-path experience for those seeking a little adventure accompanied by rolling countryside, verdant greenery and abundant vineyards. Explore both of these wine regions on this Adelaide tour to the Barossa and Clare Valleys.
McLaren Vale Wine Tours
Another worthy wine region in South Australia, the McLaren Vale is Barossa Valley’s cooler cousin. Giving off a Tuscan vibe, the vineyards and luxurious and perfect complemented by a beautifully calm coastline that makes you feel as though you have been transported to Italy.
Experience what McLaren Vale wine tours have to offer on this 6-day Fleurieu Peninsula tour.
Face the wilderness in this great expanse of land known as the Eyre Peninsula, one part of South Australia’s stunning coastline. Home to jaw-dropping aquatic experiences such as diving with great white sharks, pristine coastline and a notable food and wine scene, the Eyre Peninsula is perfect for those that favour a watery adventure.
You can experience the Eyre Peninsula on a South Australia tour designed by one of our Local Designers.
Encompassing the McLaren Vale and Port Eliot, the Fleurieu Peninsula is so special that it deserves a mention as a whole. On a Fleurieu Peninsula tour, you’ll spend your days tasting award-winning wines, discovering remarkable landscapes and dining at restaurants you’ll want to write home about.
Discover the Pink Lakes of South Australia
Did you know that South Australia was home to several incredible fuschia lakes?
Well, now, you do! Due to the high salinity levels, the presence of salt-loving algae and pink bacteria, South Australia is punctuated by bright pink lakes. Often fringed by verdant green fields or red ochre plains, these dreamy milkshake lakes have been stunning travellers for years. From the Outback to the Eyre Peninsula, you’ll find these lakes in many locations across the state.
A city often left out of many South Australia itineraries and Australia tour packages, Adelaide actually offers everything the rest of Australia offers but within 20 minutes of the city centre – wine regions, lush forests, pristine beaches, abundant wildlife and fine dining!
Built on a special structure so that traffic never had to be a problem, Adelaide is a dynamic city which comes alive during South Australia’s revered festival season. There are lots of cool things to see in Adelaide and with an abundance of great day trips from Adelaide available, who wouldn’t want to visit?
Port Lincoln Great White Shark Tour
Just off the coast of Port Lincoln, you’ll find the Neptune Islands – one of the best places in the world to spot great white sharks. A short journey by boat and you’ll find yourself in the waters where great whites and dolphins hang out.
To ensure the protection of the sharks and their environment, audio vibrations are used by eco-tour operations to attract the sharks. If you’re brave enough, you can be submerged in a cage before the water’s surface to have an up-close-and-personal encounter with these magical creatures.
How to Get Around South Australia
The capital, Adelaide, was built and designed with convenience in mind. Broad roads surround its central business district and great transport links whisk people around the city and out to its suburbs and beyond. The rest of South Australia seems to flow just as well as this city does.
There are a number of ways to get around South Australia;
Self-Drive Around South Australia
Driving is one of the most popular ways to get around South Australia as it allows you the freedom and the ability to stop wherever you like. For the most part, the roads in this state are well maintained, and speed limits keep drivers safe.
If you plan to drive around South Australia, then it is best to fly into Adelaide airport and then hire a car at the airport to set off on your journey. Lots of the best places to visit in South Australia are reachable by day trips from Adelaide.
Flying Around South Australia
Most major airports – Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – are less than a two-hour flight from Adelaide. Adelaide airport also services a number of international flights and is just an easy 15-minute journey from the city centre.
If you’re looking to visit multiple states within a trip then flying interstate is the best way.
Trains, Buses & Ferries in South Australia
Adelaide is well connected to a number of major centres in Australia by bus and train. Within the state, the rail network connects Adelaide with a number of top destinations.
Bus SA is a network of bus companies which service routes to several parts of rural South Australia.
Private Tours of South Australia
A close second, if not on par, to driving yourself, a private South Australia tour is another great way to see the state whilst also having plenty of freedom to adjust your itinerary.
This one-week South Australia trip takes you from Adelaide into the Outback, Flinders Ranges, the wine regions and to Kangaroo Island accompanied by your private driver and a local guide for the entirety of the trip.
Where to Stay in South Australia
From Outback lodges, leafy hideaways in the mountains and beachside camping to five-star internationally renowned hotels, South Australia has a range of accommodation suitable for all travellers.
When it comes to deciding where to stay, each region and destination brings a variety of different options.
Staying in Adelaide
Adelaide is a vibrant coastal city with a big draw. If you’re looking for a luxury retreat in the centre of the action, moments from world-famous restaurants and boutique bars, then Adelaide is the place to go. For more affordable accommodation, you can head out of the city to one of the nearby beaches.
Staying in The Barossa & Clare Valleys
If you want to roll out of bed and be steps away from multiple cellar doors and wineries, then the Barossa Valley and Clare Valley are the perfect places to stay. From romantic escapes to family budget stays, there are all types of accommodation in these wine regions. Many of the boutique lodges boast stunning views, their own vineyards and exceptional wine and food.
Staying in The Flinders Ranges and The Outback
Camping, glamping, luxury resorts, cosy homesteads and more, whether you like to rough it or crave those luxuries while in nature, you’ll find something to suit you in this part of South Australia. Eco-lodges are also rising up as a great option for South Australia tours in the Outback.
Staying on Kangaroo Island
Accommodation on Kangaroo Island varies from a choice of simply lodges to cute cottages and stunning retreats and hotels. This 6-day South Australia tour features a gorgeous little Kangaroo Island lodge for the perfect mix of nature, indulgence and luxury.
Staying in the Adelaide Hills
A romantic escape just 20 minutes from the city of Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills seem like a world away with its winding lanes, pretty little towns and boutique hotels. The Thorngrove Manor Hotel in the Adelaide Hills is a perfect representation of the stunning properties that you can stay in here.
Staying in the Murray River, Lakes and Coorong Region
Whoever you’re travelling with, or even if you’re travelling alone, this region will present an option to you so perfect that you won’t want to leave. From charming bed and breakfasts to river houseboats and more, being close to the great outdoors is best in the Murray River, Lakes and Coorong region.
Staying on the Fleurieu Peninsula
Relax, surf, wine, dine and more; the Fleurieu Peninsula is the perfect place to cosy up in your own holiday cottage or grab your camping gear and sleep in the great outdoors. On this 6-day Fleurieu Peninsula tour, you’ll spend a day in a winery so that you’re never too far from a delicious red and a cheeseboard.
Places to Eat and Drink on Your Trip to South Australia
South Australia is a legend among the six states for its food and wine. From the bountiful Barossa Valley to the lush Adelaide Hills and everything in between, South Australia is a playground for wines and diners. Discover South Australia’s top foodie spots here;
If you were to ask a local for a restaurant recommendation in Adelaide, you’d have to prepare yourself for a tidal wave. Adelaide’s restaurants, cellar doors and local produce are world-class. Right on the coast and a short drive from Australia’s famous wine region, Barossa, Adelaide is perfect for those that want to indulge in exceptional food and wine experiences.
It is often said, if you want the best of Australia, Kangaroo Island is your place – superb beaches, fine wine and fresh seafood. Kangaroo Island is where you’ll find ocean-to-plate experiences, beautifully crafted wines and dining experiences, including one where you dine within the branches of a 100-year-old fig tree!
If your idea of foodie heaven is to stand in the sea and slurp oysters fresh as the day with an expert guide on an oyster farm tour, then the Eyre Peninsula is your place. Join a seafood tour to sample the freshest of the fresh or upgrade your seafood experience by dining at one of the award-winning restaurants scattered across this peninsula.
One of the world’s finest wine-growing regions, the Barossa Valley is a lush, fertile, undulating stretch of land just an hour from Adelaide. For wine lovers and foodies, Barossa is the ideal place to sample vintages, dine at cellar doors and taste some of Australia’s most revered wines and dishes.
The Cost of a South Australia Tour
Factoring in all the different variables, designing a tour that is within budget can feel like a bit of a headache. Luckily, our Local Designers have been doing this for years and years. They take your travel style, budget and interests and design an Australia tour that is perfect for you.
Taking care of everything from airport transfers to rental car pick-up, hotel and restaurant reservations, guided activities and tours, our Local Designers make planning a trip to Australia, or anywhere else in the world, simple!
As an example of a trip to South Australia, this 9-day South Australia tour costs AU$2,506 per person and includes:
- Eight nights of three-star accommodation
- Seven activities
- Eight breakfasts, one lunch and one dinner
- Rental car hire
- Entrance fees
- Licensed English speaking guides at designated activities
Simple changes such as the type of accommodation and how many places you visit can adjust the cost of your trip.
At Designer Journeys, we understand that everyone travels differently and has different interests, priorities and preferences when it comes to planning an Australia tour. You can browse our range of fully-customisable Australia trips and tailor any one of these tours to your preference or simply use the ‘design your own trip’ function to connect with a Local Designer who will create the perfect trip for you.
Special Events and Festivals in South Australia
Known as the ‘festival state’, South Australia does not disappoint when you look at its event calendar. Almost every month of the year features an eclectic event celebrating the state’s food, wine, arts, music or wildlife.
Adelaide Festival – March
One of the biggest arts festivals in the country, the Adelaide Festival occurs annually in March. Now running for more than 55 years, the festival continues to delight all those that attend with internationally acclaimed artists, theatre productions and world-class musicians.
The Adelaide Festival happens at the same time as the Adelaide Fringe Festival, the second-biggest festival in the world after the Edinburgh Fringe that happens each year in August. The Adelaide Festival brings an eclectic mix of acts to venues across South Australia.
Adelaide Fringe Festival – March
Similar in style to that of the Edinburgh Fringe, Adelaide Fringe Festival differs from the Adelaide Festival in that the venues hosting musical, theatre and spoken word acts are spread across 500 venues in and around Adelaide for 31 days. You are sure to find something to suit at the Southern Hemisphere’s largest open-access festival.
Crush Festival – January
The sound of corks popping and wine glasses filling is the soundtrack to the Crush Festival which occurs every January in the luscious Adelaide Hills. The area, renowned for producing fine wines, comes alive as the best wineries showcase their product through long lazy lunches, tasting sessions and degustation dinners.
Laneway Festival – February
Showcasing contemporary Australian and international music, Laneway Festival attracts thousands each year. Not only do you find this unique festival in Adelaide, but Laneway Festival also has a regular slot in the calendars of several cities across Australia including Melbourne and Sydney. Vibrant cafes, galleries, restaurants and markets all become stages to showcase new music.
Tasting Australia – April
Adelaide’s town square comes alive for ten days dedicated to celebrating South Australia’s best produce. Award-winning chefs, restaurateurs and winemakers serve up an array of goodies for a gourmet feast like no other. As one of Australia’s oldest food festivals, Tasting Australia has earned a reputation as the ultimate foodie festival.
Tours in South Australia
Here’s our pick of the must-do tours in South Australia;
9-Day Wine, Wilderness & Wildlife Self-Drive
Experience what the mid-north has to offer and travel through the Flinders Ranges, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and more on this South Australia road trip!
6-Day Wonders of Fleurieu: Art & Wine
Experience what the McLaren Vale, one of Australia’s most iconic wine regions, and Kangaroo Island have to offer on this Fleurieu Peninsula tour!
3-Day Thorngrove Manor Luxury in Adelaide
Experience ultimate seclusion and luxury on this trip on this stay at Thorngrove Manor, one of the best places to visit in Adelaide.
8-Day Wonders of the Outback, Adelaide to Uluru Self-Drive
Embark on a journey from Adelaide through the Outback on a fascinating adventure through desolate landscapes on this unique Australia tour.
Ready to Book Your South Australia Trip?
With Designer Journeys, you can take the hassle out of planning a trip and leave it in the capable hands of one of our 200-plus Local Designers in countries across the world. Our Local Designers in Australia know this country like the back of their hand and will take your budget, interests and travel style to design the perfect trip! Browse our gallery of fully-customisable Australia tours here or design your own Australia tour to connect with a Local Designer now!