The Fleurieu Peninsula is that triangle of land sitting south of Adelaide. It is well known for its wine regions, stunning beaches, picturesque little towns and incredible nature. Here’s a 3-day Fleurieu Peninsula itinerary that will give you a good balance of all of those thing as you explore the area.
Feature image photo credit: heidi who photos, Wild South Coast Way, Fleurieu Peninsula
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TL;DR? Here's the outline
Even as I have started to think about what I would like to include in this itinerary, my brain is screaming “3 days is not enough!”
That is true, there is so much to see and do in this area that you could probably spend weeks pottering around and still be busy.
In an ideal world, I would recommend 5-7 days on the Fleurieu to really have time to relax, enjoy, and experience the whole peninsula.
But I know that most people don’t have weeks to explore, so I am going to come up with a diverse itinerary that will give you a little taste of all the facets of this region. You will just have to come back again soon to see some more.
Where to Stay on the Fleurieu Peninsula
The Fleurieu Peninsula is big enough to make an argument that during a 3-day itinerary the accommodation needs to be in two different places – but it is also small enough that you could potentially choose one central place and travel each day from there.
It would involve a little more driving and slightly less relaxing, but it is certainly an option.
If you are going to stay in two different locations, I recommend staying the first night at Aldinga Beach, and the second night at Victor Harbor, Port Elliot or Middleton.
If you want to extend this itinerary for an extra day, I would recommend staying in one of the amazing vineyard options, either in the McLaren Vale or Langhorne Creek regions.
If you are going to choose a single location, then perhaps take a look around Willunga. A good option might be 1839 Cottages, a B&B right in the heart of Willunga.
Or you could go a little further south and stay at One Paddock Currency Creek Winery Villas for a stay amongst the vines.
The 3-Day Fleurieu Peninsula Itinerary
While this itinerary starts and finishes in Adelaide, you could start anywhere in the region too. Since it is mostly a Fleurieu Peninsula road trip itinerary, you will need your own vehicle.
Use RentalCars.com to search and compare lots of the car hire companies all at one time if you need a rental.
There is not a “best time to visit Fleurieu Peninsula”, but rather different things to do and see at different times of the year.
Of course the summer is going to be amazing for the beaches, but it can be too hot to hike or be outside during the day.
In winter it could be cold and rainy, but it’s the best time to see the whales, and it’s beautiful and green. So no matter what time of the year you visit, there will be something that’s “best” then.
Only have time for a Fleurieu Peninsula day trip? You could do any of these days in one day from Adelaide, or combine your favourite parts of each day into a single itinerary.
Leave your Adelaide accommodation by around 9am so that you arrive in McLaren Vale by 10am – this will give you time to taste wine at two different wineries.
If you would like to leave a little earlier, stop in at Port Noarlunga, Moana or Maslin Beach along the way and take a walk on the sand.
The south end of Maslin Beach is Australia’s first clothing option beach, so be aware of that if you choose to walk there.
A stop at the iconic d’Arenberg Cube is a must, but that opens a little later so first you can try one of the other wineries. Maxwell Wines is popular, as are Alpha Box & Dice and Wirra Wirra, and they all open at 10am.
If you want to try something a little less well known then take a look at Paxton Wines or Dowie Doole Cellar Door.
After the first winery of your choice, make your way to d’Arenberg. It’s more of an experience here to go with your wine tasting, so ensure you leave some time for the Alternate Realities museum and the Dali Exhibition.
There are two very good restaurants here that you can choose to stay and have lunch. Booking in advance is advisable.
Many of the wineries in McLaren Vale have a range of extra experiences you may want to consider, such as special tastings, tours and wine blending. You can spend the whole day here wine tasting if that is your preference. If that's the case, you might like to overnight here in McLaren Vale, and use the hop on hop off bus to get around.
If you do not want to have lunch at d’Arenberg, there are lots of great foodie restaurants and cafes around the area to choose from.
Pizzateca does great wood-oven pizzas using local ingredients (their pizza sauce is made by hand using the traditional family method!) and The Current Shed is well acclaimed for it’s delicious food that looks too good to eat.
After lunch, drive to Willunga, in my opinion the most picturesque little town on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Take a walk along the main street and browse the stores.
Foodies will love Kookery, who have the cutest kitchen ware and gifts. If the wine wasn’t enough, you can taste local beer at Shifty Lizard Brewing Co or opt for hight tea at Tealicious Cakes (Thurs – Sun)
The Willunga Farmers Markets are considered the best in the area. They are on every Saturday morning from 8am until 12pm. If you are in the area when they are on, you may like to re-jig the itinerary a little. There would be some backtracking, but the towns are only 7km apart and you could easily come to Willunga first, and then go wine tasting in McLaren Vale in the afternoon.
After exploring Willunga, it’s time to head to the beach! The Fleurieu Peninsula has some incredible beaches. There are long stretches of white sand with space for everyone – and this area is no exception.
If it is warm, it’s great to take a dip here, otherwise just enjoy being outside while walking. On the Port Willunga beach, look out for the beach caves and jetty pylons, which make for great photos at sunset (or any time really).
If you prefer to go a little further south then Aldinga Beach and Silver Sands are considered two of the most beautiful in South Australia.
You can drive onto the beaches here if you choose, but stay on the hard sand and watch out for the tides.
Right near Aldinga Beach is Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park. There are boardwalks through the park to allow you to explore some of the flora and fauna in this area. There are some great beach views from here too.
If you are here on the right day, dinner just has to be at the Star of Greece, one of South Australia’s most loved restaurants. It sits on the cliffs above the “Star of Greece” shipwreck, hence the name.
It serves up modern food with a mediterranean influence using local ingredients, not greek as may be assumed from the name. Book in advance if you can, they do often book out.
Dinner is available only from Thursday to Saturday for most of the year, but every night over the summer holidays.
If Star of Greece is not an option, I recommend grabbing a light dinner tonight, perhaps takeaway that you can eat while watching the sunset from one of the many vantage points.
Stay this first night here in either Aldinga Beach or Port Willunga. This is a popular beach holiday location and there are dozens of beach houses and holiday homes to choose from in this area.
For more than two people, I recommend taking a look at VRBO/Stayz, they have so many options!
Add On: While in this area, you could incorporate the Route 31 Coastal Drive into your itinerary for some great scenic views.
This morning we are going to head south along the coast and enjoy a little more of the nature in this area. It’s more of a road trip morning, where most of the stops will simply be to take in the view.
Of course there will be some great views as you drive too.
The first stop is not too far away, at Sellicks Beach. Drive to where the Esplanade and Palmerston Ave meet for a beautiful view of the red cliffs as you look south.
This area is called Cactus Canyon for the spiky plants that grow here – and make a nice contrast in your photos.
As you get back on the main road, you won’t be able to miss the towering Buddha of Nan Hai Pu Tuo Temple of Australia.
I have, in the past, pulled in here to take a look around and take some photos, but there was no one around and I’m not entirely sure how they feel about this. It’s an option for you to consider as you pass.
Just around the corner from the temple there is a viewpoint where you can pull off and grab some beautiful photos over the rolling hills and gullies and out to sea.
A few kilometres further along you will see a sign for another lookout – this time it’s for the Myponga Reservoir Lookout. Drive down Reservoir Road until you find it, and then continue on until you come down into Carrickalinga.
Of course there are more lookouts on the way in and on the cliffs overlooking the beach if you want to take a look.
If you are feeling like it is time to stretch your legs, pass through Normanville (although you can stop to take a look if you like) and onto Hay Flat Road, and look out for the Ingalalla Falls picnic area about 10km along the road.
From there it’s about a 250m walk to the base of the Ingalalla Falls and the rock pools that surround it. South Australia does not have a lot of large waterfalls, and at around 90m, these are one of the highest in the state.
Continue along Hay Flat Road until you reach the main road again, and turn left. It’s time to make your way to Victor Harbor.
Turning right will take you to more great parts of the Fleurieu Peninsula, including Cape Jervis (where the Kangaroo Island ferry leaves), Second Valley, Rapid Bay and the Deep Creek Conservation Park. There is a lot more beautiful scenery, beaches and hikes in this area, but that will have to be for your next trip - or added in if you have an additional day.
The rest of the day will be spent here in Victor Harbor where there are plenty of things to do and see. You can read more in my full post on Victor Harbor, but here are a few suggestions:
- Take the Horse Drawn Tram over to Granite Island
- Ride the Cockle Train
- See the animals at Urimbirra Wildlife Park
- Do a surfing lesson at Middleton
- Do a Big Duck Southern Ocean Adventure
- Visit the South Australian Whale Centre or do some whale watching (May – October)
For dinner in Victor Harbor I always seem to end up at one of the pubs. Both the Crown and the Hotel Victor do decent pub meals without being too fancy. Nino’s is also a popular Italian restaurant right in the centre of town.
If you want something a little more upscale, I enjoyed a nice meal at the McCracken Country Club a few years ago.
You will be staying the night either here in Victor Harbor or in nearby Port Elliot or Middleton. Again, because this is a popular summer holiday destination, you will find an abundance of holiday homes available for rent.
There are also a good range of hotels and apartments here too. The Bluff Apartments were always my go-to when travelling with kids.
Now I would probably look at one of the beautiful boutique places, such as the Middleton Beach Huts.
For breakfast today, call past the Port Elliot Bakery and grab some of their delicious pastries and a coffee. This bakery is considered one of the best, and it is not unusual to see a line up out of the door and down the street.
People will drive down from Adelaide just to pick up their pie or donut of the month! Maybe choose some extras to take with you for later in the day.
After breakfast start the day off with a morning stroll in the nearby town of Goolwa. Head to the Goolwa Barrage and follow the boardwalk into the dunes for a taste of the Coorong.
This area is a conservation park known for it’s fragile and unique wildlife with the waterways being an important international bird sanctuary to migratory birds.
Look out for the pelicans that made this area famous in the “Storm Boy” movies.
Take a look around the town centre of Goolwa before making your way to Strathalbyn. Spend the rest of the morning exploring the town and enjoying the historical attractions and shops, galleries and cafes.
Strathalbyn often have markets and events happening, so look out for something during your visit. Choose a place for lunch while you are here. Read more about the things to do in Strathalbyn here.
In the afternoon, drive towards the Langhorne Creek area and visit a cellar door or two in a different wine region.
It’s only a small area with a handful of cellar doors (8 during my last visit) and I again recommend you only choose two at most, unless you have a designated driver.
Any of the cellar doors will be worth the stop, but I liked Vineyard Road and Bremeton Wines.
Now it’s time to start the trip back to Adelaide. From here, it’s a fairly easy drive up to Mount Barker and then back to the city on the South Eastern Freeway.
If you happen to be coming back around sunset, take a detour to the Mount Lofty Summit to enjoy watching the sun sink into the sea behind the city from the viewing deck.
Now that this itinerary has shown you a little of what makes the Fleurieu Peninsula great, you will be planning more road trips back here, to enjoy even more of the wine, food, beaches, national parks and scenery.
Think about walking the Wild South Coast Way or taking the Route 31 Scenic Drive – both new additions to the Fleurieu Peninsula things to do this year. You won’t be able to stay away!
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