The little town of Hahndorf is one of South Australia’s most loved tourist destinations. It can easily be visited as a day trip from Adelaide or is perfect for a weekend getaway. Here are all the things to do in Hahndorf South Australia during your visit.
You could come to Hahndorf and simply wander back and forth along the main street and have a wonderful day. There are more Hahndorf attractions than the cute little shops and funky galleries though. Take a look at the list below and start planning your perfect day.
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TL;DR? Here's the outline
- Why Visit Hahndorf
- How to Get from Adelaide to Hahndorf
- Things to do in Hahndorf
- Browse the Hahndorf Shops
- Take the Kids to Hahndorf Farm Barn
- Go Strawberry Picking at Beerenberg Farm
- Do a Walking Tour
- Taste Local Adelaide Hills Wines
- Learn about Winemaking at Wolf Blass Gallery & Wine Museum
- Admire the Art at Hans Heysen – The Cedars
- Try the Local Gin at Ambleside Distillers
- Try one of the Craft Beers
- Get Your Culture On at the Hahndorf Academy
- Enjoy the Sculptures and Street Art
- Look for the Smaller Art Galleries
- Brush with Bubbles at The Paintbox
- Hire an E-Bike to Explore the Town
- Play a Round of Mini Golf
- Eat German Food
- Take a Photography Tour
- Explore with a Mystery Picnic
- Attend a Festival, Market or Event
- Check Out the Churches
- Accommodation in Hahndorf
- Where to Eat in Hahndorf
Why Visit Hahndorf
Hahndorf SA is best known as the German town in Adelaide Hills South Australia. It was first settled by Europeans in 1839 when Lutheran immigrants from Prussia came here. Hahndorf is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement and today has retained much of that traditional charm.
Most of the immigrants came to Australia on a ship called “Zebra”, and the town is named after Danish Captain Dirk Hahn. You can see a statue of him in the Pioneer Memorial Gardens today.
The German influence is still strong and is the most important part of Hahndorf tourism. There are obvious links to German culture through the architecture, food, place names, and even the music flowing onto the main street.
Harndorf is set amongst the natural beauty of the rolling hills that abound in this area. It is leafy and picturesque, and just strolling the main street, stopping for a German feast, browsing some of the galleries and tasting some of the local beverages will delight visitors.
The weather in Hahndorf is cooler than down on the Adelaide Plain, so it has a much more European feel to the town with cool weather vegetation, and beautiful colours in both autumn and spring. The fertile soils provide lots of delicious local produce from right here in the Adelaide Hills too.
Come to historic Hahndorf to shop German items, from food to souvenirs, eat great food, both with and without a German twist, drink acclaimed Adelaide Hills wines, beer and spirits and generally enjoy the small town vibe. It’s a fun day out that even the locals like to experience every now and then.
So, is Hahndorf worth visiting? Absolutely it is. And it is worth visiting more than once. I have been there many times now, and every time I visit I find different things to see and do and am in awe of how picturesque the town is.
Interesting Fact: During World War I many German place names were changed in line with the sentiment at the time, and Hahndorf was changed to Ambleside. It was changed back to Hahndorf in 1935.
How to Get from Adelaide to Hahndorf
Before you can have an enjoyable day in Hahndorf you have to get there! Where is Hahndorf? It’s located in the Adelaide Hills region of South Australia, a simple drive along the South Eastern Freeway.
The distance Adelaide to Hahndorf is around 27km and it will take 30 – 60 minutes to get there, depending on which option you choose.
While I’ve not talked about it below, technically the distance isn’t so far that you couldn’t ride there by bicycle if you were so inclined.
I wouldn’t recommend this though, as almost the whole way will be riding uphill, from the Adelaide Plain to the Adelaide Hills. I guess that means riding back from Hahndorf to Adelaide would be easy though!
How to Get to Hahndorf by Car
As you can see from the map above, it’s around 30 minutes from the Adelaide city centre to Hahndorf by car.
While cars are a great option to get to Hahndorf, parking in the town itself can be an issue on days when it is especially busy. Even the main street is narrow and sometimes tricky to navigate in heavy traffic.
I recommend being prepared to park a little off the main street and to walk, perhaps a few hundred metres, to your destination.
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Hahndorf can be easily included in a day trip that also includes either the Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale wine regions (but not both).
Drive from the city centre up to Hahndorf, enjoy the morning there, and then head off to your desired wine region in the afternoon. It’s approximately an hour from Hahndorf to reach either of them.
Public Bus to Hahndorf
The Adelaide to Hahndorf bus is the 864F. It runs every thirty minutes and takes around 50-60 minutes depending on traffic.
The bus leaves the city centre from stop D1 on the north side of Currie Street. It also stops at stop F1 on Grenfell Street before turning along Pultney Street, with various stops there too.
The fares have a range depending on how the ticket is purchased and if there are any concessions, but at most will be $5.90 each way. See more details on fares here.
Adelaide to Hahndorf Tours
There is a whole range of tours available to Hahndorf. One of the most cost-effective and flexible options is a day tour with the Adelaide Hills Hop On Hop Off bus.
Its main purpose is to act as a bus for wine tours in the Adelaide Hills region, but since it also does a stop in Hahndorf, it’s useful for a day trip without wine tasting too.
Of course, you can combine them both with a half day in Hahndorf and time to visit a winery or two. This option will mean you will have a little commentary about the area on the bus, but you will also be free to decide where you want to spend your time.
Many tours to Hahndorf also include wine tasting but there are some available that do not. For a budget option, this half-day tour of Hahndorf and the Adelaide Hills will give you a taste of the area. If you prefer a full-day small group tour with gourmet tastings, here’s another option for you.
How Long to Spend in Hahndorf
A full day in Hahndorf and the surrounding areas is a good amount of time to spend.
This would include a couple of hours to explore the town and shops, time for lunch, a visit to a winery or two, and perhaps a stop at Beerenberg for some strawberry picking or the Hahndorf Farm Barn if you have kids. You would have time for a quick visit to Mount Lofty on the way too.
You could easily spend a couple of days here though if you wanted to stay overnight. I stayed two nights right in Hahndorf and it was a perfect amount of time to relax, slow down and enjoy the country atmosphere.
Best Time to Visit Hahndorf
Hahndorf is one of those places that is great to visit all year round. Even in the rain, it has the perfect cosy cafes and pubs to retreat into with tasty treats and traditional German mulled wine to warm up your insides.
In summer it’s strawberry picking time, and the cooler weather in the Adelaide Hills makes it a great escape from the city. In spring everything is fresh and new, but my personal favourite time to visit is in autumn when the trees of the main street turn from green to yellow, orange and red.
Things to do in Hahndorf
Now that you are here, you will need to find out what to do in Hahndorf! Of all the things to do and see below, the most important is to slow down and take some time to soak in the atmosphere.
These Hahndorf things to do will mostly take you back to basics and get you enjoying your time in this historic little village.
Browse the Hahndorf Shops
I’m fairly sure this one goes without saying since shopping is one of the most popular Hahndorf activities. Come to Hahndorf to do all your souvenir shopping to remind you of your South Australian visit.
It is impossible to walk down the Hahndorf main street without even a teeny glimpse into the shops. Here are a few shops in Hahndorf I always seem to check out when I visit.
- The Hahndorf German Village Shop – this is where to find all your German items, from beer steins to cuckoo clocks, and Christmas items to accordions, there are some really great ideas here for gifts. Sexy German barmaid apron anyone?
- Grass Roots Vintage – this may look like a big pile of old stuff, but once you really start looking, there are some amazing treasures here. I can’t help but poke around a bit to see what’s here
- Hahndorf Sweets – indulge your sweet tooth here with local and international sweets. Many of these are hard-to-find items that will bring back childhood memories.
- 3 Wishes Candle Barn – this candle shop smells delicious before you even walk in, with “flavours” like gingerbread and creme brûlée. If the dozens of different scents aren’t your style, then you can customise and make your own candle here too.
- The Fruchocs Shop – Fruchocs are a popular local chocolate, and here in Hahndorf is a whole store dedicated to them. Stop in and pick up this unique South Australian treat. They even have vegan Fruchocs for plant-based people.
- The German Pantry – as soon as you walk in here the smell of the cured sausages and meats hits you. That’s not all there is though, look out for an assortment of European treats, such as cakes and biscuits, teas, coffees, spices, pickles and other ingredients.
- The Alpaca Shop – all sorts of great alpaca products, including the softest socks ever.
- Hommes Uniques – this is a great store for the guys with some fabulous products aimed just at them, like the “medicinal brandy” or the “butterscotch cough elixir”
- Leathersmith & Bush Gallery – not only do they have some great leather products here, but the store itself is also fun to browse. Look out for messages from customers from all over the world stapled up on pieces of leather, and the walls and ceilings in one area are covered with foreign currency signed by customers too. I bought ridiculously comfy Ugg Boots here to get me through the winter (now on winter number three and they’re as good as new!).
- Ye Olde Ice Creamery – dozens of delicious ice cream flavours, including vegan options
I could go on listing all the shops in town because they are all tourist attractions and worthy of a quick look, but I will stop now and let you discover them for yourself.
(Wondering where the well-known Udder Delights Cheese Cellar is? After being an institution in Hahndorf for many years, they have relocated to nearby Lobethal)
Take the Kids to Hahndorf Farm Barn
If you have little people with you – and perhaps even if you don’t – then the Hahndorf Farm Barn is the best of the things to do around Hahndorf with kids.
Here you can visit dozens of common farm animals and some that are not so common. Kids can take a ride on a pony or a tractor, have a go at milking a cow and hold a python. There are animal talks to learn about the animals too.
There’s plenty of space here to have lunch, so bring a picnic and spend the whole day here with your kids. They will love it.
Go Strawberry Picking at Beerenberg Farm
When it comes to strawberry picking in South Australia, Hahndorf is the place to go. During the warmer months of November to April, Beerenberg strawberry farm opens the gates to allow visitors to pick their own strawberries.
Choose and pay for the number of strawberries you would like to take home, then head out into the strawberry patch to fill up your containers. Of course, while you are picking, it’s one for the container, one for the mouth, so you get to sample the produce straight off the plants – and I don’t think they could get any tastier. This is one of the yummiest activities in Hahndorf!
Once you have finished picking your strawberries and eating yourself silly, head back to the Beerenberg farm shop and browse through their incredible range of jams, spreads, sauces and chutneys. There are so many different items here that you will be sure to find gifts for all the family.
If you can fit any more food in, make your way into the adjoining cafe to enjoy a delicious lunch inspired by all the Beerenberg products. It’s a great Instagram location in Hahndorf too.
Beerenberg is a little out of the centre of Hahndorf on Mount Barker Road and is best accessed by car. The drive is less than 2km out though, so it is definitely possible to walk there.
Do a Walking Tour
Sharon Pippos of Hahndorf Walking Tours leads a whole pile of different walking tours through Hahndorf. The tours range from a basic overview through the main street, to specialised tours focussed on particular aspects.
Learn about the history of Hahndorf, construct your own strudel, or, if you are looking for things to do in Hahndorf at night, discover Hahndorf on the after-dark tour.
There are other less frequent tours too, such as photo tours and Aboriginal culture tours. See the website for more details and to book.
Taste Local Adelaide Hills Wines
You don’t have to even leave the main street to taste some of the local wines made in the surrounding areas. Call into the gorgeous cellar door of Somerled Wine or cross the road to Landhaus Wines. On the outskirts of town, you can also find the stunning Sidewood Estate.
Of course, there are more winery cellar doors just outside of town that you can visit while you are here – visiting these is one of the best things to do near Hahndorf.
My personal favourite is Hahndorf Hill Winery. I have enjoyed their wines for years (I recommend the Gruner Veltliner) after discovering them when I attended a wine and chocolate matching workshop.
I mostly went along because I didn’t believe that wine and chocolate matched at all. How wrong I was! The best part is that this tasting is still offered today. It’s called the ChocoVino tasting. See the details and book here.
The Lane Vineyard is another winery with a beautiful cellar door and a fabulous restaurant. They have a whole range of experiences available that complement the wine tasting (although just tasting the wine is pretty good too!). See here for details. Some of the options are:
- Private Winery Tour & Tasting
- Winery Dining Experience
- Personalised Wine Blending Experience
- Cheese and Wine Masterclass
- Boatshed Experience
Other popular wineries that are great for wine tasting any time are Shaw + Smith and Nepenthe Wines.
Learn about Winemaking at Wolf Blass Gallery & Wine Museum
While we are on the topic of wine, as you wander up and down the main street looking for things to see in Hahndorf, take a peek at the Wolf Blass Gallery & Wine Museum.
The museum showcases the personal achievements of Wolf Blass himself over sixty years of winemaking in South Australia. Take a peek into the restored cooperage hut inside too.
Once you’ve finished browsing, make your way into the adjoining Adelaide Hills Wine Bar and relax over a glass or two of the local wines, accompanied by local tasting platters or some tapas and pizza.
Admire the Art at Hans Heysen – The Cedars
Sir Hans Heysen was a German immigrant who became one of Australia’s best-known artists. He did many paintings of beautiful gum trees and landscapes in the Flinders Ranges. “The Cedars” was his home for over 40 years.
Visitors can now take a tour through Sir Hans Heysen’s studio and house. The Cedars was also the studio of his daughter Nora who, while following in her father’s footsteps, was more of a portrait artist rather than a landscape painter.
There are more than 200 pieces of art on display around the property to view during your tour, and the guide will point out some of the locations Hans sat in as he painted the view.
Self-guided tours through the gardens are available whenever the house is open, but the guided tours are at 11 am & 2 pm only.
Try the Local Gin at Ambleside Distillers
We didn’t plan this trip very well because Ambleside Distillers are also closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I was really looking forward to tasting the range of gins made here with local flavours. This will be on the top of my list as soon as I can get back to Hahndorf again.
Perhaps I will even book one of their experiences, such as the Gin Blending Masterclass to really learn what this gin phenomenon is all about. Details can be found here.
Try one of the Craft Beers
If neither wine nor gin is your thing, there are also two craft breweries right in the centre of Hahndorf.
The new kid on the block is Hahndorf Brewing Co, right next to the Hahndorf Inn. This bierhaus-style venue serves up beers made using the Reinheitsgebot method. These traditional regulations were put in place all the way back in 1516 in Bavaria, and the basic idea is that they limit the ingredients that can be used to just water, barley and hops.
Hahndorf Brewing Co are another place that serves up a range of German foods to go with the beer and their range of Schnapps.
Gulf Brewery has been around for a while now, serving up their own style of beers, but sadly they have recently closed their cellar door on the main street of Hahndorf. You can still look out for their beers in the pubs and other venues around town to try this local brew.
Get Your Culture On at the Hahndorf Academy
The Hahndorf Academy can be found at 68 Mount Barker Road, right in the middle of Hahndorf. It is a kind of art gallery, museum and gift shop all in one. The gallery part of the building has an ongoing array of exhibitions that use the space to show off artworks of all shapes and sizes.
The museum is the German Migration Museum, filled with memorabilia and artefacts related to the arrival and subsequent lives of German immigrants.
The shop sells all sorts of handcrafted products, supporting local artisans from the surrounding areas and greater South Australia. You can find ceramics, jewellery, paintings, greeting cards, books, toys and much more.
The Hahndorf Academy is also home to the Adelaide Hills Visitor Information Centre.
Enjoy the Sculptures and Street Art
As you leave the Hahndorf Academy, take note of the sculpture in the gardens next door. This is one of 26 stone sculptures spread all over the region as part of the Adelaide Hills Sculpture Trail.
As you continue to walk around town, look out for all the other public art you will see too. From that statue of Captain Hahn in the gardens to some angel wings and some inspirational slogans, there is plenty to find. Look out for the legs too – trust me, you will know what I mean when you see them!
Look for the Smaller Art Galleries
There are always some smaller galleries in Hahndorf too, although they do tend to come and go.
During my last visit to Hahndorf, I stopped into the Sanctuary Gallery, part gallery, part gift shop with a focus on cute, nature-based items.
Just a little further down the street is The Aboriginal Art House which specialises in Aboriginal fine Art.
Brush with Bubbles at The Paintbox
After looking at artwork, perhaps you would like to make your own! pick up all your supplies at The Paintbox to take home, or join in on one of their art classes while in town. Their most popular Brush with Bubbles class sounds inviting even to someone with no artistic talent like me.
Take a look at all the class times here. (The Paint & Sip classes on Saturdays are particularly popular, so I recommend booking well in advance if you hope to attend)
Hire an E-Bike to Explore the Town
If walking back and forth along the main street is getting to be too much or you want to explore further afield, hire an E-bike and get the bike to do the work. Explore the town or head out into the rolling hills surrounding Hahndorf.
A map will be provided with a suggested route through the wineries or a ride between Hahndorf and Mount Barker.
The E-bikes can be hired from The Manna reception or from the Adelaide Hills Visitor Information Centre and the map can be seen online here in advance for your planning.
If you prefer to stick with a group rather than go it alone with your E-bike, tours are available through Bike About Tours here. Spend the day seeing the area, and tasting wine and other local produce all at a relaxing pace.
Play a Round of Mini Golf
Take some time out from all the shopping, eating and wine tasting to play a round of mini golf. Tucked in behind some of the buildings on the main street, this makes for a great fun family.
Eat German Food
While I will talk about some of the places to eat in Hahndorf below, I also wanted to include trying some of the delicious traditional German fare available in various restaurants and cafes all over the town. There’s nothing like the German style hearty meals available all over town for either lunch or dinner.
Many of these German foods can be found in more than one place, and I am sure the offerings will change with the seasons too. Keep an eye out for these favourites and grab a bite during your visit.
- Pork Knuckle
- Wurst of all kinds (including German hot dogs)
- Apple Strudel
- Bee Sting Cake
- Glühwein (mulled wine)
Take a Photography Tour
Hands up if you are forever taking photos with your phone and then looking back at the photos later and wishing you were a little better at it. Yes, me too.
Some people seem to take amazing photos just with their phones, and now you can learn all the tricks while exploring Hahndorf at the same time.
This two-hour workshop will teach you all the tips for taking great portraits, street photography, close-ups and architecture, all with just your phone! Take a look at all the details and book here.
If you have graduated beyond a smartphone and would instead like to learn about night photography with a “real” camera, there’s a great workshop for that too. This is where you can learn cool things like light painting and long-exposure light trails. You can see all the details for that one here.
Explore with a Mystery Picnic
Have you been on a Mystery Picnic yet? This is a great way to explore Hahndorf and the surrounding area while trying some of the local produce without having to plan it all yourself.
This great day out has brought together a treasure hunt, a food tour and a picnic. You sign up in advance and the day before you will receive clues to get you started. After picking up your first ingredient for your picnic, you will get another clue.
You will eventually collect a number of ingredients, see a lot of the local area and get to try some of the great local foods before sitting down and enjoying a picnic with your loved ones.
Hahndorf is a great place to do this because there are so many great local producers, but there are Mystery Picnics available in different regions all over SA for couples, families and friends. Look out for special picnics that take advantage of the seasonal local produce too.
Attend a Festival, Market or Event
You are, after all, in South Australia, so that means there’s bound to be a festival or two coming up soon in Hahndorf. if there’s not a festival, there will probably be a market, or perhaps even a special event. Here are some of the most popular
- Hahndorf. Handmade. Handcrafted. Handpicked (September)
- Pretzel Festival (29th – 30th April 2023)
- Winter Reds Festival (29th – 31st July 2023)
- Sparkling Spring Weekend (20th – 23rd October 2023)
- Hahndorf Winter Lantern Festival
- POP Markets (generally one Sunday a month)
Look out for events that happen as part of larger SA festivals too, such as the Fringe, Tasting Australia and History Month.
Check Out the Churches
It will be no surprise to hear that most of the churches in Hahndorf are Lutheran. There are two worth a quick look at if you are keen to learn a little more about the history of the area since the Lutheran faith was such an integral part of their lives right from when those first settlers arrived from Adelaide in 1838.
St Michael’s is the oldest Lutheran church in Australia, dating from 1858. It is still an active church today, with services each Sunday.
St Paul’s Lutheran Church is, in my opinion, a much more spectacular-looking church. It is set in larger grounds right on the main road. St. Paul’s was also first built in a different location in 1858, but that first church soon became dilapidated and the current one was built in 1890.
Accommodation in Hahndorf
For family accommodation stay in the cabins at Hahndorf Resort Tourist Park or for a budget price the Hahndorf Motel looks good. If you have a group of up to ten people, the 4-bedroom Thiele House Retreat looks perfect. For a romantic getaway amongst the vines, choose the Winemaker’s Hut.
Where to Eat in Hahndorf
While there are plenty of places in Hahndorf serving up traditional German food, there is also a great range of restaurants in Hahndorf serving up everything from Thai food to pizza, Mexican to Indian for both lunch and dinner. Here are some of the ones I have tried and enjoyed:
- German Arms Hotel
- Hahndorf Inn
- Herbee’s Garden Cafe
- The Haus Restaurant
- German Spoon
- Kitchen 2C
You can also check out my post on eating vegan in Hahndorf
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