I would love to tell you that you can see everything with a one day Adelaide Hills itinerary. Unfortunately that’s not the case. It doesn’t mean that you can’t still see a small potion of all the things there are to do in this region though. Here I have put together some different options to help you plan your own perfect Adelaide Hills day trip.
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TL;DR? Here's the outline
- About the Adelaide Hills
- Plan Your One Day Adelaide Hills Itinerary
About the Adelaide Hills
The Mount Lofty Ranges run from Cape Jervis at the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula almost all the way up to Peterborough in the mid north of South Australia, covering a total distance of around 300km.
They encompass the areas where the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Clare Valley wine regions are found.
While Mount Lofty is often thought the be the tallest peak in the range at 727m, it is actually Mount Bryan, located just north of Burra, at 936m.
The section of the range commonly called the Adelaide Hills is just the part that encircles the city to the east. Here, Mount Lofty is the tallest peak, popular with walkers and those wanting a meal with a view over the city.
The Adelaide Hills are dotted with picturesque little towns, with Mount Barker being the main commercial hub. Towns like Hahndorf and Lobethal are popular with visitors to the area.
The Adelaide Hills are the traditional lands of the Peramangk people.
Plan Your One Day Adelaide Hills Itinerary
With so much to see and do in the Adelaide Hills, planning just a single day can be daunting. Here are some suggested itineraries to help make that task easier.
Each one of these is a great road trip in its own right. Simply driving around the Adelaide Hills is enjoyable.
Of course these are only some of the Adelaide Hills road trips.
If you want further information about other things to do or more attractions, take a look at all the Adelaide Hills blog posts, or drop into the Visitor Information Centre in Hahndorf.
Adelaide Hills Itinerary for Wine Tasting
There are over fifty cellar doors in the Adelaide Hills, and there is no way you can taste wines at more than a handful of them in a single day.
Here are a mixture of my favourites, popular wineries, and those that have something unique to offer.
I also recommend to perhaps leave time to stop at a random cellar door you find on the day – you never know, it may become your new favourite Adelaide Hills wine.
Looking for a way to visit the cellar doors without driving? How about the Adelaide Hills hop on hop off bus?
The ChocoVino Experience at Hahndorf Hill Winery
I discovered Hahndorf Hill years ago when they held a chocolate and wine pairing session at a local shopping centre.
I just had to go along because I did not believe that chocolate and wine could go together. I mean, have you ever tried a square of Cadburys with a glass of wine? Not good!
But the right wine paired with the right chocolate turns out to be sensational! You can join in on a ChocoVino experience at Hahndorf Hill and see for yourself! Book via their webpage here.
Lunch at The Lane Vineyard Restaurant
For a superb lunch with views over the surrounding vineyards and hills beyond, it has to be The Lane. Not a bad place for an Adelaide Hills winery lunch!
The restaurant here was recently won gold in the Restaurant in a Winery category of the 2022 National Restaurant & Catering Hostplus Awards for Excellence, so you will be eating at the best in Australia.
After (or before) lunch, visit the tasting room to test out their wines.
The Lane also offers a range of experiences, many of which include food if you prefer something a little lighter or something special. Take a look at their Gathering Experience or their Winemaker’s Experience.
Located on the outskirts of Hahndorf, Sidewood is a certified sustainable Adelaide Hills winery. The have a great range of wines to try, including one of the most popular Adelaide Hills sparkling wines.
There is a restaurant here too, and some great spaces to relax, with daybeds, a playground fro the kids and games such as bocce.
Sidewood also offer one of the most fun experiences of any winery in the Adelaide Hills – they can teach you the art of Sabrage – that is, that fancy technique of opening a bottle of sparkling using a sword!
Take a look at the details on their website.
Shaw + Smith
Shaw + Smith are another of the popular Adelaide Hills wineries with a beautiful cellar door and sweeping views.
Their tasting is a little more formal that many of the others as you will be sitting at tables and each wine is explained individually.
There are also added experiences available on certain days of the week, such as their Friday Table. Details on their website here.
ArtWine is an interesting place to go wine tasting because they specialise in emerging wine varieties, so you will almost certainly find a type of wine here that you can’t find anywhere else.
They offer different food and tasting opportunities, and are also dog-friendly if you have your pooch along for the ride.
Bird in Hand
I want to make a mention of Bird in Hand because again, it is a popular brand known even internationally and has some great Adelaide Hills wines.
Bird in Hand have recently reopened after a major redevelopment. Now along with your wine tasting, you can enjoy great food and tasting platters as you enjoy the stunning views over the hills from the terrace gardens.
Adelaide Hills Itinerary for Foodies
There are a huge range of producers in the Adelaide Hills using local fruit, vegetables, milk, meat and other resources to make some of the best food items anywhere. Spend a day discovering some of the best.
Melba’s Chocolate Factory
Located in Woodside, Melba’s Chocolates have been creating sweet treats for over forty years now. They produce a huge range of chocolate and confectionary, from today’s flavours to favourites from the past.
Look out of their iconic Traffic Lights and Inch Licorice. Take a minute in between choosing what to take home to peek through the huge windows and watch the processes happening in the factory.
You may also like to pop in next door to Woodside Cheese Wrights while you are there.
Udder Delights Cheese Cellar
Udder Delights make a range of cheese at their factory in Lobethal. For years now they have had a shop and cafe on the main street of Hahndorf (with the most delicious cheese toast ever!).
Just recently they have branched out into brewing and opened a second Udder Delights as part of their Grünthal Brew in Verdun.
If just tasting and choosing some delicious cheese isn’t enough, visit the Grünthal Brew location and you can also take part in a cheese making class or include a cheese tile with your beer or gin flight to enhance your tasting.
Just a two minute drive outside Hahndorf is a family farm that has been run by the Paech family since 1839. It’s changed a little over the years though.
Today Beerenberg is home of arguably the best jams, chutneys and sauces in Australia.
They are also a go-to destination for picking your own strawberries in the summer months, and have recently opened up a cafe with some of the most incredible looking desserts and drinks.
Have German Food for Lunch in Hahndorf
As the oldest surviving German settlement in South Australia, and a fantastic tourism destination in its own right, Hahndorf is the perfect location for a foodie lunch.
I recommend trying some of the German fare on offer in one of the many eateries. Go simple with a German hotdog from Wunderbar Dog Haus or head to the Hahndorf Inn for a meal of schnitzel, wurst or pork knuckle.
For dessert get a cake from The German Cake Shop or pfannkuchen from Guten Appetit.
If instead you are looking for a fine-dining experience in the Adelaide Hills, take a look at the options available at Mount Lofty House, arguably some of the best Adelaide Hills restaurants.
The FruChocs Shop
This one is my favourite because I love these tasty treats found only here in SA – and the shops are the only place I can find the vegan versions.
While Furchocs can be found in supermarkets, there is a much wider range available here, so pop in and stock up. You can thank me later.
The German Pantry
I don’t eat meat, but every time I walk past this store the delicious smell all the cured sausages, salamis, and other German goods draw me in.
This is where you can find some of these rare international products that won’t be in your local supermarket.
Want a fun way to explore some Adelaide Hills foodie places? How about a Mystery Picnic? Follow the clues, collect ingredients and enjoy a picnic in a picturesque location. See here for details
Adelaide Hills Itinerary for Nature Lovers
There are a wide range of natural attractions in the Adelaide Hills. Pack yourself a picnic, grab your sunscreen or umbrella, and get out exploring the great outdoors.
While you may not be able to fit all of these into a single day, you can pick and choose to make up your perfect itinerary.
Mount Lofty Views
Stop in at the Mount Lofty Summit to enjoy the views back over the city to the beach. This is a great stop if you are driving back into the city along the Southeastern Freeway at the end of the day for sunset views.
Cleland Wildlife Park
Cleland Wildlife Park is located near the Mount Lofty summit and is a great opportunity to see some of Australia’s native animals in a bushland setting.
You can get quite close to many of the animals, even feeding some of them, or you can book in to do one of the special animal experiences with your favourite furry (or not-so-furry) critter.
If you need to stretch your legs, there is a lovely walk here through the Cleland Conservation Park called the Streub Trail. It is easily accessible to all.
Mount Lofty Botanical Gardens
Just down the road from the Cleland Wildlife Park is the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens. Spend some time wandering amongst the different plants and trees here.
While the gardens are particularly spectacular in autumn as their cool climate lends itself to colourful deciduous trees, there is always something to see here year round.
If you happen to be visiting on a Thursday at 10:30am, look out for the free tour that leaves from the lower carpark.
Located not too far from the centre of Mount Barker the Laratinga Wetlands are a man-made flood plain to help with water treatment in the local area.
Such a great job has been done here that you would be forgiven for thinking this area has been like this for hundreds of years.
Not only is it a pleasant area to be in, it is also home to important flora and fauna. Keep an eye (and ear) out for the Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo that can be spotted nesting in hollowed out trees in the area.
Take a Look at Jurlique Farm
Jurlique is a well known skin care brand that has been operating from the Adelaide Hills for over 35 years and this is a perfect example of combining farming with natural methods.
They run a biodynamic farm using a range of methods and principles that are sustainable and eco friendly.
Not only can you stop into their farm shop and stock up on some amazing products, but you can also book in for one of their spa treatments or do a farm tour to learn all the details of the natural plants and processes that go into them.
Tours run for 90 minutes and can be done Monday-Friday.
Explore one of the Reservoirs
South Australia has opened up the areas around some of the reservoirs for hiking and cycling, picnics and playgrounds, kayaking and fishing.
In the Adelaide Hills region, you may like to visit one of the northern reservoirs – Little Para or South Para – or in the south, Mount Bold Reservoir.
Morialta Conservation Park
Go hiking in the Morialta Conservation Park to enjoy wildlife, views back over the city, see the waterfalls and the Giant’s Cave. You can join in on a wilderness walk or do activities such as rock climbing and abseiling here too.
Adelaide Hills Itinerary for Families
If you have little people along with you, you might like to make your day trip into the Adelaide Hills all about them. Thankfully, there are plenty of things to do in the Adelaide Hills with kids.
If you wanted to sneak in a winery along the way, many of them have small playgrounds or children’s areas.
I particularly recommend Sidewood to fit in with the rest of these activities as you will go right past on your way into Hahndorf.
Cleland Wildlife Park
They mostly run during school holidays, but there are pre-school activities for younger children throughout the term too.
An alternative could be to visit Gorge Wildlife Park if you are coming into the Adelaide Hills from the north.
As you drive through Hahndorf, make a quick stop at Hahndorf Sweets and introduce your kids to the sweets from your childhood. Find all sorts of traditional sweets, ones from overseas or just some fun and interesting options here.
You could also treat the kids with an ice cream or a gelato and one of the many places in Hahndorf if the weather is warm.
Hahndorf Farm Barn
If seeing the Australian native animals at Cleland wasn’t enough, your kids will love visiting all the farm animals at Hahndorf Farm Barn too.
Here they have the opportunity to participate in activities like milking a cow, pony and tractor rides, cuddling rabbits and guinea pigs, and holding a python.
Strawberry Picking at Beerenberg
During the strawberry season (usually from November to April) take the kids strawberry picking at Beerenberg.
If they haven’t completed stuffed themselves with strawberries, head into the cafe afterwards for one of the beautiful milkshakes, icecreams or perhaps even a waffle.
They do meals too, with options for kids if you would like something a little more substantial.
Big Rocking Horse
If you haven’t already worn the kids out, there’s one more main stop they will love, the Big Rocking Horse at Gumeracha.
Enjoy climbing to the top for views of the area, playing on the playground, visiting the small wildlife park and checking out all the wooden toys in the toyshop.
Lobethal Bushland Park
If you need a stop between Hahndorf and Gumeracha, call into the new Lobethal Bushland Park. There is a great playground here that kids will love, separated into two areas to suit younger kids and older ones.
Adelaide Hills Itinerary for Beer & Spirits Lovers
The Adelaide Hills are not only about wine, but there is a growing craft beer and distillery scene too. You can find enough of either to sped a full day visiting either craft breweries or distilleries, but here I have combined them into one day that will suit everyone.
Before heading off, I recommend checking that the places you want to go are open. Mondays and Tuesdays, particularly in winter, and probably not a great day for this itinerary.
If you are visiting on those days, perhaps call into one of the Adelaide Hills pubs, as many of them also have some of the local craft beers available.
Prancing Pony Brewery
Located in Totness, Prancing Pony Brewery is one of the oldest in the area, first opening in 2012. They offer a good range of beers, often changing, and also have a decent menu of meals available.
If you’re not a beer drinker, then there are cocktails, wine and non-alcoholic drinks too. Sunday afternoons there is live music to enjoy while you are enjoying a tasting paddle too.
This one is located right in the main street of Hahndorf, and offers a cosy tasting experience. Gulf Brewery calls themselves an artisan brewery, making only small quantities of craft beer.
They have a standard range of six beers and an apple cider, and will have seasonal or specialty beers available too. Just this year they have started dabbling in gin too, to that will be something interesting to taste.
Will here, there are cheese platters and pizzas available to eat with the drinks. (Note: currently only open Fri-Sun)
Ambleside Distillery has beautiful new tasting rooms located just outside Hahndorf and is the best known Adelaide Hills distillery.
It’s worth stopping in here to try their Big Dry Gin alone, after winning the Best Aussie Gin at the 2022 London Spirits Competition.
You can just enjoy a tasting flight of their core gins, or you could participate in a gin blending masterclass or a cocktail masterclass. Bookings are essential whichever you choose to do.
Grünthal Brew is the new brainchild from the owners of Udder Delights Cheese Cellar in Hahndorf.
They have branched out into microbrewing and distilling, and have now created what they like to call “the ultimate local hang out and tourism destination for craft beer, delicious gin, artisan cheese, local wine, tasty food and good times.”
So since it has a little bit of everything, it’s a great place to include on any day trip.
Adelaide Hills Itinerary for a Bit of Everything
Since almost all of the suggestions for this itinerary have been mentioned above, this will just be a brief list. It touches a little on each aspects of the Adelaide Hills and will give you a good overview.
It makes for a busy, fun day out that almost everyone will enjoy.
Mount Lofty Summit
Stop at the summit either on the way up or on the way back. It’s always great if you are returning when the sun is setting to admire the views, but it’s also a go way to start the day with views over the city.
Cleland Wildlife Park
Allow 90 minutes to an hour to explore Cleland Wildlife Park. You could spend all day here, but this amount of time will allow you to have a good look then move on to enjoy the rest of the day.
Hahndorf Hill ChocoVino
Pair your first wine tasting with some chocolate at Hahndorf Hill Winery. I chose this experience since it is quicker than many of the others, can be done at multiple times throughout the day, and, well, it’s just delicious! (Bookings essential)
I think a visit to Hahndorf should be part of every Adelaide Hills itinerary.
It could be as simple as taking a walk along the main street and exploring the shops, having lunch in one of the pubs or restaurants, visiting a gallery or even wine/beer/gin tasting without having to travel far.
Pick Strawberries at Beerenberg
If it’s summer, this has to be on your itinerary. If it’s not, just head into the shop and cafe for a snack or to stock up on all the delicious Beerenberg goodies to take home.
As I mentioned above, this is a great place to stop for a little bit of everything – beer, gin, cheese, wine, food – so it’s perfect for a busy itinerary. A stop here may save you time in some of the other places during your day.
Spending more time in South Australia? These posts may help you
11 Relaxing Adelaide Hills Accommodation Options
5 Day Kangaroo Island Itinerary
Which Adelaide Wildlife Park to Visit
Eyre Peninsula Road Trip
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