The valleys, vales, city and hills of Adelaide

Adelaide, South Australia's capital is bursting with gastronomic offering, wine, culture, nature, and events. Discover picturesque metropolitan beaches, a thriving small-bar scene, epicurean trails, arts and culture festivals, and four world-class wine regions that frame the city, making it a food and wine lover's paradise - and that's just scratching the surface.

WORDS Ella Chronowski

Here’s our beginners guide on what to do in Adelaide.

Barossa Valley
Just an hour’s drive from the city, the internationally acclaimed Barossa Valley is home to some of Australia’s oldest vines still producing wine. Dating back to the first days of settlement in the 1840s, the German and English pioneers brought cuttings with them from Europe.  Known for big and bold Shiraz, some of Australia’s most recognised producers call the Barossa home. Think Penfolds, Jacobs Creek and Grant Burge – and if artisan produce tickles your fancy, a visit to Maggie Beer farm is a must.


Penfolds Magill Estate Kitchen


Adelaide Hills 
Leafy green trees wrap around the streets of the Adelaide Hills, and the colours change as the seasons evolve. The Hills, as it’s colloquially known, is the place for wildlife encounters, nature walks, beautiful botanic gardens and wine. The higher altitude and crisp air lend itself to cool-climate drops, with the region best known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Just a 15-minute drive from the city centre, a visit to the Adelaide Hills makes a fantastic day trip. Most cellar doors overlook rolling hills covered in vines, with delightful townships in between. Other highlights include the Mt Lofty Botanical Gardens and the charming German town of Hahndorf, where you can pick strawberries at Beerenberg Farm or order a pint at the Germans Arms Hotel.


JBRE Indian Pacific Experience Hahndorf SA 92


McLaren Vale
Less than 40 kilometres from Adelaide is McLaren Vale, the gateway to the Fleurieu Peninsula. Here you’ll discover an acclaimed wine region with more than 80 wineries and accompanying culinary delights. It’s hard to label this beautiful region as just one thing. Think coastal scenery meets rural farmland and scattered vineyards meets artisan producers meets heritage buildings – McLaren Vale fits somewhere in the middle. Grenache is the varietal the region is best known for with its Mediterranean climate, but beyond wine, you’ll also find small breweries and distilleries dotted around the region. If quirky art and architecture is your area of interest, don’t miss the d’Arenberg cube.


JBRE Indian Pacific Experience Mclaren Vale SA Corielo 134


Clare Valley
The Clare Valley represents a more classical country experience, with quaint townships sprinkled across the verdant valley. It’s easy to lose yourself here, with vine-filled valleys and rugged ranges offering peace and tranquility. Known for Riesling, a legendary Riesling Rail Trail encourages visitors to hire a bike and attempt to cycle the 33km trail, although it’s easy to be distracted by those cellar door experiences. If you’re after a more relaxed experience, pick a winery and relax over a long lunch. The Watervale Hotel is another must for foodies, offering a range of ethical epicurean experiences.


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Adelaide City Centre
Adelaide is a well-designed city. The perfect square blocks and straight streets make it easy to explore on foot and you’ll find a host of major attractions within the city centre. Wander through the Art Gallery of South Australia, which has an excellent permeant collection that includes works by Picasso and Renoir, and the Adelaide Oval, where you can take a guided tour and imagine your favourite team running onto the field of this 50,000-person stadium. Rundle Mall is your port of call if shopping is your game, with major retailers and boutiques lining the pedestrian street. If local produce has your heart, a visit to the Adelaide Central Markets will be essential to your local produce education. Walk through the aisles of colourful fruit and vegetable stands and savour artisanal cheeses, oils, herbs, and just about anything that makes you say ‘Ooooh’. Pick a few of your favourite things for a picnic at the Adelaide Botanical Gardens, or venture down to Glenelg, easily accessible by tram, and watch the sun set over the beach. If you’re keen to bar hop, consider a visit to Leigh St and Peel St, where small bars and acclaimed restaurants line the streets.


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Local Heros 
Every Australian State has a heritage brewery. Victoria has VB, Queensland has Great Northern, and South Australia has Coopers. As Australia’s largest owned brewery, you’ll find Coopers in almost every pub around town. If you’re a lover of fine ales, take the Coopers brewery tour to learn about the production process, accompanied by an in-depth beer tasting.

Do you have a sweet tooth? Then how about visiting Australia’s oldest family-owned chocolate maker, Haigh’s. Haigh’s stores are sprinkled throughout Adelaide, all with a wonderful in-store experience and enough chocolate to curb even the sweetest tooth. But, if you want to discover how the chocolate is made, visit Haigh’s Chocolate Factory, located on the edge of the city, which offers both self-guided and fully guided tours.


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While we’re talking about the biggest names to come out of Adelaide, there’s one that is a national icon. This is of course, RM Williams. RM Williams is headquartered in Adelaide, with the workshop just north of the city. Each boot is handcrafted in South Australia, and while you can’t visit the workshop, you can visit the next best thing: RM’s original workshop, where the man himself began making boots and leather goods. On every pair of boots, you’ll find the address – 5 Percy St Prospect – a nod to the origin. A visit to Percy St is a walk back in time with the heritage museum showcasing the history of the man and why he was such an important figure for rural Australia.

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