South Australia is just made for exploring by car. I’ve driven all over the state, from almost every direction and had some great adventures. I’ve come up with these suggestions for 7 top South Australia road trips to get you out experiencing SA too.
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TL;DR? Here's the outline
- Ideas for Your South Australia Road Trips
- 1. An Outback Road Trip (including the Flinders Ranges)
- 2. An Eyre Peninsula Road Trip
- 3. Following the Murray River from Renmark to the Mouth
- 4. From Adelaide to Mount Gambier along the Limestone Coast
- 5. The Barossa Valley & Clare Valley
- 6. Fleurieu Peninsula, McLaren Vale & Adelaide Hills
- 7. Kangaroo Island
- Tips for a Top Road Trip
Ideas for Your South Australia Road Trips
The suggestions below are simply that, suggestions. I’ve purposely left them quite vague as it allows you to customise each drive to suit your interests, the time you have available and your style of travel.
Use these as a starting point to build the best road trips South Australia can offer for you.
The next time you get a chance to road trip South Australia, choose one of these trips, pack the car and hit the road.
Some of the suggested South Australian road trips do have more detailed itineraries available on the website – click through if you want more details.
There is also an epic road trip guide to help you combine all the areas when you are exploring South Australia on one big trip.
1. An Outback Road Trip (including the Flinders Ranges)
Duration: 14-21 days
Perhaps one of the best road trips in South Australia is through the Outback, including the Flinders Ranges. Begin your trip with a drive through the Clare Valley, famous for its wineries and charming towns.
Spend a night in Clare, sampling some of the region’s finest wines and enjoying a top meal at a local restaurant.
Continue your road trip towards the South Australian Outback, where you’ll find the rugged landscapes of the Flinders Ranges. Make your way to the dramatic Wilpena Pound, a natural amphitheatre surrounded by ancient mountain ranges.
Along the way, stop in the historic town of Quorn, known for its heritage-listed railway station, and stay overnight in an outback pub. The caravan park at Quorn is recommended too.
After the Flinders Ranges, keep heading north. If you have a 4WD drive along the iconic Oodnadatta track. Stop at the famous Pink Roadhouse and the William Creek pub. Do a scenic flight over Lake Eyre and the incredible Painted Hills.
Arrive in Coober Pedy, a unique underground opal-mining town. Explore the fascinating underground homes and churches, and spend a night in an underground hotel for a truly one-of-a-kind experience.
As you road trip South Australia, don’t forget to look up at the brilliant Outback night sky, a canvas of stars unlike any other.
2. An Eyre Peninsula Road Trip
Duration: 10-14 days
Begin your epic Eyre Peninsula road trip adventure in the town of Port Augusta, where the Flinders Ranges meet the sea. Spend a night here preparing for the journey ahead.
Your first stop takes you to Whyalla, a city with a rich maritime history. Discover the HMAS Whyalla, a World War II-era warship, and spend a night experiencing the charm of this unique destination.
If the timing is right, discover the giant cuttlefish as they visit the gulf to breed from May to July.
Continue your road trip to Tumby Bay, another coastal town known for its azure waters, pristine beaches and street art murals. Spend a night here, enjoying the relaxed seaside vibes.
From Tumby Bay, journey onward to the city of Port Lincoln, known as the “Seafood Capital of Australia.”
Spend a night eating fresh seafood at a local restaurant, before exploring the wineries, national parks and scenic drives in the area. You can’t miss Eyre Peninsula’s stunning coastline.
As you explore the Eyre Peninsula, make sure to venture to Coffin Bay, famous for its delectable oysters. Stop for a night and indulge in a seafood feast at a local eatery and do an oyster farm tour.
Enjoy beachfront camping or find comfort in a cozy cabin within Coffin Bay National Park.
Next, head to Baird Bay, where you can spend a night at a beachfront lodge and embark on the enchanting experience of swimming with wild dolphins, forging a unique connection with nature.
Streaky Bay beckons with its dramatic coastal beauty. This idyllic town is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering fishing, surfing, and the chance to witness magnificent marine life, including dolphins and whales.
As you make your way back to Port Augusta, stop off in Kimba. Kimba is renowned for its iconic “Big Galah” sculpture, marking it as the halfway point across the vast continent of Australia.
10-Day Eyre Peninsula Road Trip
3. Following the Murray River from Renmark to the Mouth
Duration: 7-10 days
This road trip in South Australia will trace the course of the Murray River from Renmark to its mouth at the Coorong. Begin your exploration in Renmark, where you can rent a houseboat for an immersive river experience.
Spend a couple of nights here, allowing you to fully absorb the river’s tranquillity and beauty.
As you navigate downstream, make your way to Waikerie, a charming river town. Spend a night here, perhaps enjoying a riverside picnic and birdwatching along the riverbanks.
Continue your journey to Mannum, where you can explore the town’s historic paddle steamers and stay in a riverfront cabin for a night.
Further downstream, arrive in Goolwa, where the Murray River meets the Southern Ocean.
Spend a few nights here, enjoying the coastal atmosphere, exploring the Coorong National Park, and appreciating the region’s rich maritime history.
This South Australia road trip itinerary offers a peaceful exploration of the river’s beauty and its ultimate destination at the mouth of the Murray.
4. From Adelaide to Mount Gambier along the Limestone Coast
Duration: 10-14 days
Embark on a picturesque coastal road trip from Adelaide to Mount Gambier along the Limestone Coast. Begin your journey with a night in Victor Harbor, a charming seaside town known for its historic horse-drawn tram and penguin colony.
As you continue south, spend a night in Goolwa, exploring the serene coastal atmosphere and perhaps enjoying a river cruise along the Murray.
Continue your drive along the Southern Ocean Drive to Robe, where you can spend a night in a historic cottage and enjoy seafood dining overlooking the ocean. Explore the town’s heritage-listed buildings and coastal trails.
As you journey further south, stop for a night in the Coonawarra wine region, where you can sample renowned red wines and stay in a vineyard cottage.
Finally, arrive in Mount Gambier, where you can spend a few nights exploring the stunning Blue Lake and the Tantanoola Caves.
Related posts: Adelaide to Mount Gambier Road Trip
5. The Barossa Valley & Clare Valley
Duration: 7-10 days
Embark on a delightful journey through South Australia’s premier wine regions, the Barossa and Clare Valleys. Start your adventure in the Barossa Valley, famous for its vineyards and German heritage.
Spend a night or two in Tanunda, tasting world-class Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon wines at the cellar doors. Dine at a charming winery restaurant and soak in the valley’s picturesque landscapes.
Continue to the Clare Valley, renowned for its Rieslings and boutique wineries. Stay in Clare, exploring the town’s historic buildings and enjoying a wine-tasting session at a cellar door.
Take a leisurely drive through the Clare Valley, stopping for picnics among the vineyards and overnighting in a cozy bed and breakfast.
From Clare, make your way to Burra, a historic mining town known for its preserved 19th-century architecture. Spend a night in Burra, exploring its fascinating heritage, including the Redruth Gaol and the Burra Mine site.
On the way back to Adelaide, extend your journey to the charming town of Auburn, where you can spend a night at a boutique guesthouse. Explore the nearby Riesling Trail and sample more superb wines.
This road trip is a wine lover’s dream, offering the chance to taste exceptional vintages while enjoying the hospitality of South Australia’s wine regions and immersing yourself in the rich history of Burra.
You could combine this with a few days road tripping on the Yorke Peninsula too.
6. Fleurieu Peninsula, McLaren Vale & Adelaide Hills
Duration: 7-10 days
Begin your road trip in the coastal town of Normanville, where you can unwind in a cozy seaside cottage and soak up the peaceful atmosphere.
Spend a morning exploring the beaches of the Fleurieu Peninsula, where golden sands meet crystal-clear waters. Enjoy local cuisine at a beachside café as you watch the waves roll in.
Then make your way to McLaren Vale to taste some of the renowned wines.
From Normanville, continue to Cape Jervis, a picturesque coastal destination offering stunning vistas of the Backstairs Passage. Spend a night here, enjoying the natural surrounds.
Hike a short section of the Heysen Trail to get the best coastal views. While Cape Jervis is often a gateway to Kangaroo Island, your journey continues on the mainland.
Next, head to Victor Harbor, a charming coastal town known for its historic horse-drawn tram that transports visitors to Granite Island. Spend a day exploring the island’s natural wonders and enjoy a night in Victor Harbor.
Visit the nearby towns of Port Elliot and Middleton.
Nestled along the banks of the tranquil Angas River, stop in next at Strathalbyn, known for its heritage buildings, antique shops, and serene countryside vistas.
As you continue your adventure, head inland to the Adelaide Hills, a region renowned for its vineyards and cute towns.
Spend a night in Hahndorf, a delightful German-influenced village with boutique shops, wineries, and a vibrant arts scene. Stroll through the picturesque streets, sampling local wines and indulging in traditional German cuisine.
This road trip offers a diverse mix of coastal serenity, natural beauty, and cultural exploration as you journey from Normanville to Cape Jervis and end your adventure in the enchanting Adelaide Hills town of Hahndorf.
7. Kangaroo Island
Duration: 5-7 days
The next road trip is to the beautiful Kangaroo Island.
After the drive from Adelaide and the ferry ride across to the island, spend a night in Kingscote, the largest town, and explore the local wildlife sanctuaries. Get up close to kangaroos, koalas, and birdlife.
Loop around the southern part of the island, stopping at Seal Bay, Little Sahara, Vivonne Bay and Raptor Domain along the way.
Arrive at Flinders Chase National Park and spend a night in historic cabins or camp under the stars. Explore iconic attractions like Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch, and enjoy wildlife encounters, historical sites and hiking trails.
Continue your adventure by heading back along the north coast and spending a night in Emu Bay, known for its pristine beach and beautiful sunsets. Visit local art galleries, do some wine tasting and enjoy the island cuisine.
Your Kangaroo Island road trip is a nature lover’s paradise, providing an opportunity to connect with Australia’s unique wildlife and stunning landscapes.
Tips for a Top Road Trip
Planning a road trip can be an exciting adventure, and having some helpful tips in your toolkit can make it an even more enjoyable and memorable experience. Here are some valuable tips for a successful road trip:
1. Plan Your Route: Research and plan your route, identifying the destinations, attractions, and stops you want to visit along the way. Use navigation apps or GPS devices to help you stay on track.
2. Create a Flexible Itinerary: While planning is essential, leave room for spontaneity. Unexpected discoveries and detours can often lead to the most memorable experiences.
3. Check Your Vehicle: Ensure your vehicle is in good working condition. Schedule a maintenance check-up before your trip, including oil changes, tire inspections, and brake checks. Don’t forget to pack a spare tire and essential tools.
4. Pack Essentials: Prepare a road trip essentials kit, including items like a first-aid kit, flashlight, batteries, blankets, and a basic toolkit. It’s better to be over-prepared than underprepared.
5. Pack Light: Travel light to maximise space and fuel efficiency. Only bring what you need, and make use of packing cubes or organisers to keep things tidy.
6. Stay Organised: Keep important documents, like your driver’s license, registration, and insurance, in a secure and easily accessible location. Use a travel wallet or folder to keep them together.
7. Snacks and Water: Pack a variety of snacks and a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the journey. Local snacks from your destinations can add a fun dimension to your trip.
8. Entertainment: Create road trip playlists, download audiobooks or podcasts, and have games or activities on hand to keep everyone entertained during long stretches of driving.
9. Accommodation Reservations: If you have specific overnight stops or accommodation in mind, make reservations in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.
10. Safety First: Always wear seatbelts and follow road safety rules. Take regular breaks to rest, stretch, and stay alert. Avoid driving when tired and definitely not after too much wine tasting.
11. Budget Wisely: Set a budget for your road trip, including fuel, accommodation, food, and activities. It’s a good idea to have some extra funds for unexpected expenses.
12. Capture Memories: Bring a camera or smartphone to capture the moments and landscapes you find along the way. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey, not just document it.
13. Connect with Locals: Interact with locals to discover hidden gems and learn about the culture and history of the places you visit.
14. Respect the Environment: Leave no trace. Dispose of trash properly, respect nature, and follow any conservation guidelines in the areas you explore.
15. Stay Connected: Have a reliable means of communication, whether it’s a mobile phone, a satellite phone, or a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, to stay in touch and navigate effectively.
By following these tips, you’ll be well-prepared to hit the road with confidence, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable road trip to South Australia filled with incredible memories and discoveries. Safe travels!
Read these posts next to add more to your road trip
Big Things in South Australia
Pink Lakes in South Australia
Silo Art Trail South Australia (with downloadable map)
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