South Australia has evermore stood as a tourist paradise. In this article, you can find a list of the 11 best places to visit in South Australia.
The fourth-largest state in Australia, South Australia covers some of the aridest but most stunning places. With its rich history, varied landscape, vibrant culture, and good wine, South Australia is every traveller’s dream come true.
South Australia – First Glimpse
Straggling wilderness, stunning coastline, and unadulterated deserts – mark the charm of South Australia. The state capital, Adelaide, has a treasure trove of tourist attractions. Its beauty has drawn in artists and adventurers for generations.
Quaint countryside, verdant hills, and tranquil crater lakes are some of the most alluring and best places to visit in South Australia. The coastline- is dotted with beautiful beaches, secluded coves, and wildlife reserves on Kangaroo Island.
South Australia is also a sanctuary for food lovers. It is renowned for fine wine and fresh produce. Besides wineries, there are several edibles options available:
- Bountiful seafood
- Fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits, kiwi, etc
- A variety of local cheese
Natural spots such as vast deserts crossed by the famous 4WD tracks, the opal mines of Coober Pedy, and peaks of the Flinders Ranges are also some of the other best places to visit in South Australia. Even after the plethora of tourism seen by South Australia, most of these places are still conserved in their original pristine form.
The rich flora and fauna of South Australia bewitch thousands of tourists and photographers. Kangaroos, koalas, seals, whales, and many more animals- are easily spotted in their wild habitats.
Locate the best places to visit in South Australia with our list of the top 10 attractions.
Adelaide is typically the foremost on the checklist of the best places to visit in South Australia.
Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, is the fifth-most populous city in Australia. Culturally vibrant, Adelaide is known for its numerous extravaganzas and festivals. Sports events, food, wine, and the diverse topology make Adelaide a favourite destination for travellers worldwide.
Adelaide is termed the wine capital of Australia, due to the countless cellars within the city and its outskirts. The National Wine Centre of Australia in Adelaide houses more than 120 different varieties of wines.
The largest indoor market in the Southern Hemisphere, the Adelaide central market, is a must-visit for every traveller. Parks and gardens enfold the city, and 19th-century buildings stand proud amid the flourishing high-rises in the city centre. For party lovers, the Crowne Plaza is the go-to place. Here, you can find a glass of champagne as well as a hot bubble bath.
The cultural precinct, museums, galleries, and carefully preserved North Terrace’s historical gems are other major tourist attractions.
At the beginning of each year, Adelaide hosts the Fringe Festival, where dance, art, and culture- are used to inspire and stimulate the senses.
An AFL game or cricket match at Adelaide Oval is a lucrative trap for every traveller. The Mount Lofty Ranges or Adelaide Hills are among the best places to visit in South Australia. A tram ride to Glenelg from Victoria Square will find you a change in scenery and bring you right to the famous seaside ambience.
Reward your taste buds with exquisite cuisine at one of the many cafes and bistros. You can opt to eat at the Botanic Gardens Restaurant, recipient of several prizes, after a day of excursion at the Adelaide Botanic Garden. Plan a luxurious dinner at one of the award-winning wineries or world-renowned restaurants for an ultimate Adelaide experience.
Read more: 15 Fun Things To Do In Melbourne.
2) Kangaroo Island
The Kangaroo Island is the third-largest island of the Fleurieu Peninsula in Australia. Devastated by the 2019 bushfires, the locals and wildlife of Kangaroo Island have managed to survive and flourish again. A visit to this beautiful Island is a must on your South Australia travelogue, thus making its place on the list of the best places to visit in South Australia.
The prime attractions are:
- The sparkling azure sea.
- Close-up encounters with wildlife
- Coastal scenery.
You can also spend your time observing Kangaroos, seals, koalas, sea lions, and a variety of birds in their habitat.
A leisurely visit to the Kangaroo Island brewery to grab a beer, or a visit to the Vivonne Bay to admire Australian sea lions at Seal Bay, makes for a perfect vacation. You can also opt for Ocean Safari and Quad bike tours around the Island.
In Flinders Chase National Park, the Remarkable Rocks that are wind-sculpted and the curve of Admiral’s Arch are mandatory trips. Fresh seafood, eggs, and Ligurian honey is the Island’s identity.
One can fly directly to the Island from Adelaide or take a 45 minutes ferry ride from Cape Jervis.
3) Barossa Valley
A sixty-minute drive from Adelaide is the Barossa Valley. This luxuriant valley is one of Australia’s oldest, internationally-acclaimed vineyards. It is a haven for food lovers, lured by high-quality fresh produce, and is a must on the list of the best places to visit in South Australia. It is often the favourite day trip.
The North Para River forms the Barossa Valley of South Australia. Located northeast of Adelaide, this region encompasses the towns of Angaston, Tanunda, and Nuriootpa. German and English immigrants initially settled the valley.
Their history and culture are still evident in buildings, heritage trails, museums, and European-style cuisine. It has also been home to the Peramangk, Ngadjuri, and Kaurna people for many years and holds a rich cultural history.
A winery tour is a must on your South Australian itinerary. You can shop at the famous farmer’s markets, dine at the incredible restaurants, relax at the day spas, visit the many gift shops and art galleries.
4) Clare Valley
The scenic pastoral landscapes of Clare Valley provide a perfect setting for romantic weekend retreats and vacations. Another famous vineyard is in the Clare Valley, just north of Adelaide.
The valley is also notable for its gourmet food. You can try out Riesling, the signature wine of the Clare Valley, at one of the five-star wineries. The Gourmet Weekend is held annually in May to celebrate the local produce.
Formed by the Hutt and Hill rivers, the Clare Valley historically had Polish, English, and Irish immigrants. Their culture and customs are still prominent in the charming heritage towns and historic bluestone buildings.
Burra, well known for its copper mines, preserved its rich history in mine buildings, stone dwellings, and museums along Burra’s Heritage Passport Trail. A visit to Sevenhill provides a drastic shift in scenery. From here, you can take a drive to Polish Hills River Valley or ride a bike along the old railway route.
The stunning Skilly Hills, dining and wine tasting experiences, and plethora of local markets, gift shops, and art galleries, make Clare valley one of the best places to visit in South Australia.
5) Flinders Ranges
The Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is a mandatory trip for all travellers in South Australia. Named after the explorer Matthew Flinders, the Flinders Ranges is a treat for nature lovers, photographers, and artists. These are the most extensive mountain ranges and one of the best places to visit in South Australia. It is home to the Adnyamathanha people of Flinders Ranges National Park.
Despite the arid conditions, this area is home to myriad wildlife. You can spot emus, yellow-footed rock wallabies, and colourful parrots in this region. The experience in nature confirms its spot on the list of the best places to visit in South Australia.
The best attractions include:
- The sickle-shaped natural amphitheatre of Wilpena Pound with St. Mary’s Peak at its highest point.
- Aboriginal art at Arkaroo Rock.
- The Heysen Trail and Mawson Trail.
- The Pichi Richi heritage steam railway.
- A drive along the Aboriginal Dreaming Trail.
- An aerial tour of Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre.
Everything from bushwalking, camping, bird watching to astrophotography is available here.
6) Fleurieu Peninsula
The Fleurieu Peninsula, an offshoot land projecting southwest from the Mount Lofty Ranges, is an ultimate destination for fishing, boating, bushwalking, whale watching, surfing, and swimming. It has wildlife reserves and incredible beaches like the sheltered sandy inlets in Gulf St. Vincent.
The Fleurieu Peninsula houses the major attractions of South Australia in Sellicks Beach, Port Elliot, Port Willunga, and Second Valley. You can do excursion tours uncovering captivating hamlets of Victor Harbor, Goolwa, Willunga, Normanville, Rapid Bay, and Yankalilla.
Birthplace to the internationally recognized McLaren Vale and countless other world-renowned labels, this region is a foodie’s dream tour.
One of the most known beach resorts on this South Australian peninsula is Victor Harbor. The rapidly growing resort of Goolwa and the Hindmarsh Island is a favoured haunt of travellers.
Other attractive stops on the peninsula include the surfing hotspot of Port Elliot and the vineyards of McLaren Vale. A popular South Australian activity is a cruise ride searching for southern right whales and humpback whales.
7) Eyre Peninsula
The Eyre Peninsula, named after explorer Edward John Eyre, is fringed by a rugged coastline of cliffs and sheltered beaches. Being one of Australia’s least crowded coasts, it is one of the best places to visit in South Australia. Port Lincoln allows people to go shark cage diving with Great White Sharks off the Neptune Islands.
Whale watching is prevalent from May to October. The southern right whales migrate along the Great Australian Bight Marine Park during this period annually.
During the Autumn months, numerous tourists and photographers flock into Whyalla to witness the Australian Giant Cuttlefish annually migrating on the shores of the Spencer Gulf of the Southern Ocean. At Baird Bay, you can even swim with balletic sea lions and snorkel with giant cuttlefish.
The Eyre Peninsula has incredible food and wine, combined with luxury stays and exquisite wilderness. The freshly caught oysters are a famous delicacy of the region.
The seafood and spectacular national park of Coffin Bay are famous tourist traps in the region. The Lincoln National Park, Golden island lookout, Venus Bay, and Baird Bay offer breathtaking scenery.
The vegetation and wildlife of the Gawler Ranges, and a venture across the legendary Nullarbor Plain for a severe 4WD adventure through the scorched desert, constitute some of the most adventurous tours in South Australia.
8) Murray River
The Murray River is Australia’s longest river, flowing more than 2500 kilometres from the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales, through the Riverland to the Southern Ocean in South Australia. Beautiful eucalyptus trees and mesmerizing Sandstone cliffs along the river add to the region’s allure. Many water birds make the river wetlands their essential habitats.
Home to hundreds of towns, native wildlife, and extraordinary natural beauty, the Murray river runs across the country of South Australia. The river has flowed through the region for over 130 million years; it carries rich Aboriginal history and heritage. A plethora of water-based activities, from fishing, boating, water-skiing, and swimming to gliding along on a paddle steamer, form some of the top tourist attractions.
During the summer months, camping along the Murray River to idle away by relaxing by the water, fishing, swimming, and boating is a leisurely trip in itself.
From the riverside town of Renmark, you can tour the Olivewood Historic Homestead and Museum, organize a river cruise, or hire a houseboat. The “garden city” of the Riverland region, Loxton, is home to galleries and historical sites, making it another popular place to visit.
9) Mount Gambier
Mount Gambier is a beautiful travel destination comprising of an extinct volcano. It lies along the Limestone Coast and composes a scenic experience as a quaint border town. It houses four exquisite crater lakes and several sinkholes and gardens.
When the cave roof crumpled, the Umpherston Sinkhole- was created. It was transformed into a “sunken garden” by James Umpherston and named after him. Ferns, calla lilies, and hydrangeas prosper in the gardens, while the lush plants cascade over the top of the sinkhole, infusing the space with a magical feel.
The Blue Lake transforms its colour from dull grey to a brilliant sapphire blue annually in November, making it a favourite among tourists. Kilsby Sinkhole and many other ridges are hotspots for scuba and diving activities.
The Anglican Church and Riddoch Art and Cultural centre are important hubs of history and architecture in the area. The stalactite caverns of Tantanoola caves are breathtaking, as are the world heritage site listed Naracoorte Caves. It exhibits fascinating fossils, colonies of bats, and haunting subterranean scenery.
Several other attractions line the Limestone Coast. These include lagoons and coastal dunes of the Coorong, salt lakes between Lake Alexandrina and the sea, the wineries of Coonawarra, Beachport, a former whaling station, and the historic beach resort of Robe.
All this and more makes it one of the best places to visit in South Australia.
10) Innes National Park, Yorke Peninsula
The Yorke Peninsula is a beautiful South Australian tourist destination separated from Kangaroo Island by Investigator Strait. The Stenhouse Bay Jetty, Ethel Wreck, and other camping sites along the Innes National Park make it one of the best places to visit in South Australia.
Sitting at the tip of the spectacular Yorke Peninsula, Innes National Park offers a sparsely populated area in nature.
Popular things to do are camping, boating, fishing at the beaches, and scuba diving the many wrecks scattered along this coast.
Rugged seascapes, majestic wildlife in the backdrop of white sand beaches, and blue seas are the prime attractions. The rusted hull of the Ethel showcases the region’s fascinating shipwreck history. You can explore the park by hiking on foot or by car.
You can lounge on white-sand beaches and visit one of the local breweries or enjoy a luxurious stay at a Hamptons-style cabin at the Innes National Park.
Wildlife is abundant here. The park harbours various birds, including ospreys, malleefowl, and hooded plovers. Emus and kangaroos- are spotted in the park, and southern right whales, dolphins, seals, and sea lions off the coast.
11) Coober Pedy
Last but not least, making it to the list of the best places to visit in South Australia is the opal mining town of Coober Pedy. It lies in the heart of South Australia and is one of the hottest places in the Southern Hemisphere.
The locale’s name- is derived from an Aboriginal phrase meaning “white fellows in a hole“. Most inhabitants live underground to escape the intense heat of summer and the harsh cold of winter.
Since 1911, when white opal- was found, opal mining has been significant. Coober Pedy is the largest supplier of gem-quality opals globally. It is also the largest open mining field anywhere in the world. The Old Timers Mine and Museum provide an insight into the history of the precious stones.
The Painted Desert in the north is the remnants of an underwater world and a major attraction. The sunset-coloured salt beds have painted the mountains and hillside, providing a taste of Australia’s beautiful desert landscape. Tourists can also visit underground homes and the subterranean Catacomb Church.
Other tourist attractions are scattered over the South Australian landscape, apart from the listed places. The McLaren Vale Wine Region is one such example. A road trip across South Australia is one of the best modes of travel across this spectacular land.
To read more about other Australian cities, see here.