South Australia’s top five road trip destinations

South Australia’s top five road trip destinations

car driving through pink lake

You may know Adelaide and that the region’s vineyards are world-renowned, but did you know that South Australia also has giant monoliths, ancient conservation parks, pink lakes, and thrilling marine activities? And it’s all ‘down the road’ from Melbourne, making it the perfect road trip destination for those who want a little more.

Best road trips in South Australia


Known as the 20-minute city, Adelaide is chock-full with cultural, historical, and gourmet experiences that woo and wow. All within a 20-minute drive of the city centre.

One of Adelaide’s biggest drawcards is its love of good food, good wine, and good company. From the vibrant produce of the Adelaide Central Market to the eclectic array of award-winning restaurants, cafés, and cheap eats that cater to every palate.

There’s clearly something in the Adelaide air that inspires creativity in the kitchen, as well as laneway and rooftop bars. This is along with Adelaide’s 60 wineries and 40 cellar doors, including Penfolds Magill Estate, just 7km from the CBD.

Adelaide’s also known for its love of putting on a good festival. From the quirky Adelaide Fringe Festival to the multicultural WOMADelaide, the celebratory vibes are high. Coming soon, Illuminate Adelaide kicks off in July with a month-long celebration of art, sound, light, technology, and imagination.

Another Adelaide must-do is to watch a cricket or footy match at the Adelaide Oval. It’s widely regarded as one of the world’s most scenic stadiums. Why not climb the Adelaide Oval roof at twilight for the ultimate thrill?

For an outstanding Adelaide Hills stay, choose the iconic Mount Lofty House. This beautifully restored mid-19 th century property offers stylish rooms with expansive views across the lush Piccadilly Valley. Whether you stay at Mount Lofty House or not, the mouth-exploding 7-course degustation dinner at the Three-Hat Hardy’s Verandah is not to be missed.

See Adelaide Oval light up by night and catch an AFL match. Photo: South Australian Tourism Commission

Fleurieu Peninsula

Some 30-40 minutes south of Adelaide, the Fleurieu Peninsula gives off Mediterranean and wine country vibes, ensuring a vacation that hits all the R&R sweet spots.

Stunning beaches encourage relaxation as the sounds of the surf sweep away any stress carried from home. Historic coastal towns charm, as do the 40+ galleries and exhibitions found on the Fleurieu Art Trail. The trail weaves you through creative hot spots, like McLaren Vale, Goolwa, and Cape Jervis.

Thanks to its moderate climate, fertile soil, and the locals’ extensive knowledge of grapes including the best organic and bio-dynamic wines which you find at Gumtree Wines, Shottesbrooke Vineyards, and Battle of Bosworth Wines. However, it’s McLaren Vale that is a Shiraz lover’s dream, being a world-leading wine region for the variety). A bike tour is a perfect introduction to some key wineries, or go all-in on a McLaren’s winemaking tour.

Victor Harbor is home to sea lions, fur seals, dolphins, and, in winter, migrating whales, and thanks to Big Duck Boat Tours and Spirit of the Coorong and Helivista, you can have a front row seat to the animals.

Eyre Peninsula

If seafood and sea-based activities excite you, take a road trip to the Eyre Peninsula, a region about as large as Switzerland.

Sample the best of the region’s seafood – oysters, rock lobster, tuna, abalone, and more – on the spectacular 700-kilometre Seafood Frontier touring route from Whyalla (4 hours from Adelaide) to Ceduna (8 hours). If you’re an oyster-lover, shuck your own on a fun-filled 3-hour oyster farm tour in Coffin Bay.

The Eyre Peninsula’s sea-based activities are as memorable. Swim with sea lions, frolic with dolphins, kayak at sunset, go fishing, or learn to kiteboard, surf, and stand-up paddleboard. From May to August, swim with giant cuttlefish at Stoney Point. For the brave, Port Lincoln is home to South Australia’s most thrilling activity: great white shark cage diving!

Head inland for enriching outback Eyre Peninsula adventures. Bushwalk or 4WD through the awe-inspiring 1.5-billion-year-old Gawler Ranges, stop at the impressive Pildappa Rock wave formation or visit the Southern Hemisphere’s second-largest granite monolith at Mt Widunna.

Clare Valley

Head 90-minutes northwest from Adelaide to reach Clare Valley, a region rich in geological wonders, quaint farm towns, and an abundance of 5-star wineries.

Bike the 33-kilometre Riesling Trail to sample Clare Valley’s most famous export. Visit Sevenhills Cellar, Clare Valley’s oldest winery with vineyards planted in 1851 by Jesuit priests. Head on a tour of Martindale Hall, a totally unique experience of a living museum, a step back in time to the days of gracious living on a large pastoral estate late in the 1800’s to early 1900’s (there’s even a cellar door spanning some seven rooms).

Alternatively, in the heart of Clare Valley, the Spring Gully Conservation Park is filled with native flora and fauna, including echidnas, kangaroos, wallabies, and more.

On your drive back to Adelaide, travel via the bubble-gum pink waters of Lake Bumbunga. The salinity alters the colour of the lake, and when it’s at its pinkest, it’s a rare sight and worthy of the detour.

Kangaroo Island

Impressive Kangaroo Island offers sweeping white-sand beaches, spectacular landscape, and enchanting wildlife encounters. And it’s only a hop from mainland Australia, reachable by a short 45-minute ferry ride!

As Australia’s third-largest island, Karta Pintingga (Kangaroo Island) isn’t short on attractions – most gifts from Mother Nature. Like the Flinders Chase National Park, filled with hiking trails to see ancient geological wonders, like the Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch.

Kangaroo Island’s 540-kilometres of stunning coastal beauty leaves you awestruck. Seal Bay Conservation Park is a gorgeous natural bay that Australian sea lions call home. In fact, it’s the only place in the world where you can observe sea lions this close! The squeaky white sands and clear aquamarine waters of Vivionne Bay also impress, as do the two kilometres of dunes here.

Out on the water, adventure awaits in the form of kayak trips, snorkelling, scuba diving, and cruising to see wild bottlenose dolphins. Watch out for fur seals, sea lions, and stingrays while on the water.

With many gin distilleries, breweries, and wineries, as well as a world-class dining scene, Kangaroo Island is spoilt for local, seasonal, boutique produce that is always close to the source it came from. Indulge in luxurious seafood such as oysters, marron, abalone, and King George whiting while you sip on local wines and take in the relaxing coastal views.