Popular destinations in South Australia
Here you will find an introduction to some of the most popular destinations and activities in South Australia. For more inspiration and valuable tips on your dream destination, simply follow the links under each destination. But first, the most popular top-five destinations in South Australia followed by a range of more detailed and inspiring destinations, as well as good-to-know advice on when planning a trip here, or for when travelling in the area.
- Barossa & Clare Valley; Vast fields adorned with lush vines. Among historic buildings and rolling hills with stray cows and well-kept farms, are hundreds of vineyards to visit (wotif.com/discover/australia/south-australia/barossa-valley.d55249). Make a stop at Barossa Reservoir where you can marvel at its acoustics that allow a person on the other side of the dam (100 m away) to hear exactly what you are saying.
- Kangaroo Island; Freely roaming kangaroos and wallabies in a wild windswept nature with an intense greenery among rugged rocks. Koalas that rest in the crowns of the eucalyptus trees, laughing Kookaburras and a great number of other bird species mixed with sea lions soaking up the sun on the coast, furry seals and waddling penguins. An island surrounded by sandy beaches made for snorkelling, surfing and bathing adventures (wotif.com/discover/australia/south-australia/kangaroo-island.d181687).
- Fleurieu Peninsula; Famous for its Shiraz but also South Australian’s own gourmet destination with fine restaurants in abundance. Wild animals roam the area and the parks are full of native plants. The landscape is framed by a rocky coastline and mile-long sandy beaches. Old lighthouses, gazing out over the ocean and with waves that invite you to world-class surfing (wotif.com/things-to-do/search?location=Fleurieu%20Peninsula,%20South%20Australia,%20Australia).
- Coober Pedy; A red moonscape punctured like a Swiss cheese? No, but the sight of a red desert with holes from excavations where people are looking for gems. Welcome to Coober Pedy, the opal capital of the world. An area so dry and hot that the locals chose to build their town below ground. A visit to this eccentric little town “in the middle of nowhere” is like nothing else (wotif.com/things-to-do/search?location=Coober+Pedy).
- Adelaide; A place for all the body’s senses. The city of festivals. Where art, food and cultural events come together (wotif.com/discover/australia/south-australia/playford/adelaide/adelaide-central-business-district.d6051337). Northeast of the city is Port Adelaide with its immensely popular bottlenose dolphins. Or let a bumpy tram take you all the way out to the beach resort of Glenelg to unwind or to unbutton (wotif.com/discover/australia/south-australia/adelaide.d6051330/adelaide-beaches).
The state capital Adelaide invites you to try the city life with its exciting food, culture, shopping or festivals in abundance. A place where one event replaces another. You can easy swop the city’s architecture for winding rivers, rolling hills and lush mountains where vineyards with European ancestry take you to another time and place. Just make a day trip out of the city. Shiraz-loving wine connoisseurs certainly would like a visit to Barossa Valley, and the Riesling enthusiast might find Clare Valley enjoyable. If you like outdoor life, there are mountain ranges and beautiful hiking trails, cycle paths and national parks to explore. Or why not a golf trip to beautiful green courses where kangaroos can be seen jumping around on the fairway.
Travel inland, a final stop before the green turns into brown and the desert takes off. Port Augusta is in stark contrast to the lush vineyards surrounding Adelaide. The city is located on the outskirts of the desert and with the mountain ridge Flinders Range in the distance. After that, patience and time is a must, because in northern South Australia, the vast emptiness awaits, the Outback. Dead-straight roads and a horizon that never seems to end. Here, the desert really takes up all the space. Suitable for those who want to drive around, but one must like empty plains. Challenge both yourself and the vehicle by testing non-paved roads on Oodnadatta Track.
In the opal town Coober Pedy, you encounter an unusual sight, to escape the oppressive desert-heat the buildings are located several meters below ground. In the west, even more desert awaits. Nullarbor Plain. If you cross the everlasting plains lined with only a few shrubs, the massive Salt Lake, Lake Eyre, eventually pops up. Don’t want to drive? Then let someone experienced guide you through all nature’s wonders; Discover the power of the desert in a safe way, wild nature reserves, go the top of the mountain ridge for a panoramic view or study the starry skies at an observatory.
Swop the desert-sand for mile-long coastlines. Visit resorts perfect for sun worshipers, windsurfers, party goers or realize the dream of meeting bottlenose dolphins. Bring a fishing rod, snorkelling equipment or get prepared to dive with sharks at Port Lincoln at Eyre Peninsula in the southwest. Or visit Fleurieu and Yorke Peninsula, only one to one-and-a-half-hour drive south of Adelaide. If you prefer country life you will find an abundance of wildlife in an untamed nature surrounded by an alluring mystique on Australia’s third-largest island, Kangaroo Island.
Destinations in South Australia
- Around Adelaide
- Central Adelaide
- Barossa & Clare Valley
- Kangaroo Island
- Yorke & Fleurieu Peninsula
- Northwest of Adelaide
- Coober Pedy
Getting to and around the area
In major cities and in the state capital, you can make use of public transport to get around, but in the smaller towns and especially the rural ones, it is your own means of transport that applies. To travel between cities and towns you can either hire a car, or travel by plane, train or bus. The classic train The Ghan goes north towards Darwin while The Pacific runs between Sydney in the east and Perth in the west. If you want to test a steam locomotive, Pichi Richi runs eastward to Quorn. Those who prefer flying can get to and from both cities and rural desert towns. But the flights only depart a few times a week and not to all destinations, so it is a matter of planning your trip. You can read more about what means of transport that apply for a selection of popular destinations. There are several options for guided tours around the cities and the larger towns.
Keep in mind
If you are travelling to Southern Australia from another state, it is important to keep in mind that you are not allowed to bring specific food items across the border, such as fruits and vegetables. Read more on Interstate Quarantine (interstatequarantine.org.au).
For those who plan to drive along the coast via Western Australia and South Australia, it is a good idea to drive counter clockwise to avoid going against the extremely powerful winds of “The roaring forties”.
When planning your stay in South Australia, it is important to investigate the current temperatures and weather conditions, after all, Southern Australia is the country’s hottest and driest state. Look carefully at what kind of destination suits you; City life, beach, desert or nature experiences. And you can do it all, of course – but make sure to do it in a way that suits you. Are you more of the adventurous and spontaneous type that do not fear a challenge? Or do you prefer a quiet and peaceful holiday with guided tours and safe choices? Choose what you are comfortable with and be sure to book this in during the season which fits your activities – and then pack what the season requires. Also, be sure to keep track of how to get from one location to the next. You don’t want to be stuck waiting for a public transport that barely exists. And if you like to drive – don’t forget the patience at home. Distances can feel extra-long if you head into the desert areas, and make sure you keep your food- and fuel supplies well-stocked.