As the oldest wine region in South Australia (the first vines were planted in 1839, just three years after settlement) the Adelaide Hills has had time to get things right.
Drive the region’s many scenic routes and you’ll find picture-postcard views at every turn; some of the best cool-climate wines in Australia; koalas, kangaroos and enough cute native animals to melt even the most world-weary heart; and gorgeous places to rest your head at the end of gentle days of discovery.
And this little pocket of paradise is so close to Adelaide. Just a few minutes’ drive down the South Eastern Freeway and you’re away from the rat race and surrounded by manicured vineyards and market gardens, natural Australian bushland and lush green pastures. Each season offers its own appeal: leafy landscapes ablaze with changing colours in autumn; warm fires and historic cottages in winter; blooms and berries in spring; and cool cellar door retreats in summer.
Rolling hills and leafy valleys provide a spectacular backdrop for pretty towns across the Adelaide Hills. You’re unlikely to pass through any village without being enticed by a roadside stall, nursery, intriguing shop, aromatic bakery or historic pub. Visit Hahndorf for its German heritage; Woodside for its antiques; Stirling for its organic market and excellent shops; Gumeracha for its giant rocking horse (voted best big thing in Australia); Bridgewater for the award-winning cellar door and restaurant at Bridgewater Mill; Birdwood for the National Motor Museum; Macclesfield for its Sunday market; and Norton Summit for the Scenic Hotel.
Festivals & Events
Experience the best of the Hills at one of many great regional events. There’s everything from the Adelaide Hills Harvest Festival for food and wine lovers in February; to the Oakbank Easter Racing Carnival in March; the Heysen Festival for arts lovers in September/October; and the spectacular Lobethal Lights Christmas extravaganza in December. Check out the full range on our events listing.
The cool-climate wines of the Adelaide Hills are among the most prestigious in Australia. Discover them at more than 20 cellar doors from Macclesfield in the south to Kersbrook in the north. The region is home to more than 200 grape growers and 50 wine labels: look out for famous names like Petaluma, Nepenthe, Shaw & Smith, Ashton Hills and Chain of Ponds at Gumeracha.
Only in South Australia could a sanctuary for native plants, rare and endangered animals and Aboriginal culture be so close to the city centre. At Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary, you can enjoy a self-guided walk between 10am and 4pm all year round, or take a guided nocturnal tour to see bilbies, brush-tailed bettongs, Tamar wallabies and the elusive platypus. The sanctuary is just near Mylor (less than 30 minutes from Adelaide) and now features convention facilities for 30 people, a family picnic area and the Bilby Cafe, open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 8pm.
Food Trail worth Following
Hills producers and chefs show off their skills on the Taste the Adelaide Hills trail. At venues including restaurants, wineries, pubs and cafés, at least one special dish comprises over three-quarters local produce. You’ll also find local specialties at farmers markets through out the region. Grab a trail brochure at Visitor Information Centres throughout the Adelaide Hills.
National Motor Museum
Pick your dream vehicle at the National Motor Museum: the Australian FJ, the Monaro, an Italian beauty, a Norton or Triumph. The museum is much more than a fantastic collection of vehicles – it tells the stories about Australia’s love of cars, and how motoring changed who we are and where we went. Located in Birdwood, the museum costs $9 for adults.
Hans Heysen’s The Cedars
Walk in the steps of world famous artist Hans Heysen. The Cedars, his historic property, home, gardens and studio remain much the same as when the great artist died in 1969. It’s just outside the much-loved heritage town of Hahndorf. Tours of The Cedars cost $8 for adults.
Stunning Scenery around Every Bend
Follow the landscape on a scenic drive in the Hills. The valleys, gorges and ridges, and the bush, orchards and vineyards make every route a reward. There are historic villages on the way, national parks and reserves for walks and picnics, and gardens, cellar doors and galleries to visit.
Mount Lofty Summit
Check out spectacular views of Adelaide and Gulf St Vincent at Mount Lofty Summit, a great tourist attraction in its own right but also home to an excellent restaurant offering modern Australian cuisine with a Mediterranean influence. The refurbished Visitor Information Centre features hands-on displays of attractions and conservation activities throughout South Australia.
Cuddle a Koala at Cleland
Cuddle a koala and see kangaroos and 120 other native species at Cleland Wildlife Park, just 12 kilometres from the heart of Adelaide in the Adelaide Hills. You’ll also see the world’s biggest bird aviary, plus there’s feed runs at 10am to 3pm daily and great night walks for a look at the world of native nocturnal animals. Cleland Wildlife Park is located at Mount Lofty and the cost for adults is $13.
History in the hills
The Adelaide Hills offer spectacular views, morning mists and grand mansions. Stunning in spring and summer when the flowers are in full bloom and autumn when the leaves turn bright yellow and red. Stroll about and enjoy the charm of colonial days in the historic townships of Stirling, Aldgate and Bridgewater. Stay in gracious accommodation in historic properties proud of their heritage such as Thorngrove Manor with its castle-like design and sumptuous furnishings and Mount Lofty House with its gracious rooms and English-style gardens.
The village of Hahndorf, where 187 German Lutheran settlers made their home, retains its German-style charm, entertainment, nightlife and German cake shops. At the Handorf Academy watch artists work, and purchase their crafts. The Cedars, home of the famous artist, Sir Hans Heysen, has been preserved and has a wonderful collection of artwork and furniture. His artist’s studio is as he left it and is still surrounded by the gums that featured in many of his paintings. While in the hills district dine at Bridgewater Mill the spectacularly renovated 1860s flour mill where you can visit the sparkling-wine maturation cellars of the Petaluma winemaking empire. For animal lovers the Cleland Wildlife Park has 70 hectares of shady bushland teeming with native birds and animals, including koalas and kangaroos. See rare and endangered species including bilbies, bettongs and platypus at Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary near Mylor. For antiques head to Woodside or further south to Strathalbyn.
Activites and Experiences at Adelaide Hills
- Aussie Lifestyle
- Flora and Fauna
- Food and Wine
Nearest Airport: Adelaide Airport