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Best places to visit in South Australia

Discover the highlights and the hidden gems of this central Australian state.

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A lone woman stands at a lookout overlooking an ocean and beach

Update on travel around South Australia

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the 2020 bushfires some areas may be closed to tourists.

Before visiting, check with the destination and the tourism board. Otherwise you can use these recommendations as inspiration for where to visit on a future trip.

From the desert in the north to the coast in the south, there are many natural wonders to take in across South Australia. And let's not forget the world-class wine regions in the heart of the state.

Whatever your travel desires, we've uncovered the best places for you to take your next break in this state.

Best places to visit in South Australia

Rock Formation At Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island

Famed for its geological formations, untouched landscape and wildlife, Kangaroo Island is all kinds of perfect for a day or weekend trip that'll see you reconnect with nature.

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Woman in red dress and sun hat admiring the view at sunset over the Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia.

Barossa Valley

One of the three most famous and accessible wine regions from Adelaide, the Barossa packs a punch with over 150 wineries and 80 cellar doors to be savoured. It specialises in Shiraz and Cabernets.

  • Best for: Red wine lovers.
  • Where is it? An hour drive north-east of Adelaide.
  • Top things to see and do: Explore the charming town centre, hop between wineries, go on a hot air balloon ride, take a wine-blending class and cycle or walk the heritage trails.
  • How long do I need? 1-2 days.
  • Recommended tour: Keep things flexible and hop on the TrailHopper. It's a hop-on, hop-off minibus that takes you to various wineries – and holds your wine for you, too.

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Maslin Beach, Onkaparinga, Fleurieu Peninsula, Adelaide, South Australia

Fleurieu Peninsula, including McLaren Vale

This pristine stretch of land takes in rugged coastline, local beaches and the wine region of McLaren Vale. Once you're done sampling its 160 vineyards and 70 cellar doors, you'd do well to hit the coast for relaxed vibes and marine activities.

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Adelaide city centre and River Torrens

Adelaide

It doesn't matter if you're a local wishing to spend some time in the big smoke or a visitor in the capital, Adelaide has it all. From historical buildings and exceptional cuisine to city beaches and an arts scene, there's something for everyone in the big city.

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Scenic View Of Landscape Against Sky During Sunset

Adelaide Hills

For a wine region that receives less traction but is no less attractive, Adelaide Hills hits the spot. Its 60 wineries overflow with cool climate wines such as Shiraz and Semillons and festivals abound throughout the year.

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Point Lowly at Eyre Peninsula, South Australia

Eyre Peninsula

An outdoor lover's playground, Eyre Peninsula is the sum of Australia's finest landscape. Its pristine coastline calls for families to run its beaches and foodies to savour its seafood. Inland, there are forests teeming with wildlife for you to spot and ochre ranges and granite monoliths begging to be climbed.

  • Best for: Outdoor pursuits and seafood lovers.
  • Where is it? The Eyre Peninsula is that triangle-shaped land west of Adelaide. It's a good 4 hours and 15 minutes to Whyalla, which is the doorway to the Eyre Peninsula. It's a seven-hour drive to Port Lincoln. Flights between Adelaide and Port Lincoln are also available.
  • Top things to see and do: Hunt for oysters in Coffin Bay, go whale watching off the coast of Port Lincoln, swim with sea lions and spy a great white shark (from a safe distance).
  • How long do I need? 5-7 days.
  • Recommended tour: Cover it all, from top to toe, with a six-day Eyre Peninsula overland tour. Highlights include Flinders Ranges National Park, Kimba, Talia Caves, Port Lincoln, Lincoln National Park and Mt Remarkable National Park.

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Murray River looking north from cliffs at Paringa.

Murray River Lakes and Coorong Region

Flowing from New South Wales and Victoria, the famous Murray River flows through South Australia's Lakes and Coorong until it meets the ocean at Murray Mouth. It's the nation's longest river and for bragging rights, you can cruise along it in South Australia.

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Coastal scene (site of wrecks) Innes NP, Yorke Peninsula, SA

Yorke Peninsula

Locked between Port Lincoln and Adelaide is York Peninsula. It comprises 700km of breathtaking coastline that'll make you feel as though you're on an exotic island. At the very tip of the peninsula is Innes National Park where camping and hiking opportunities abound.

  • Best for: Beach bums.
  • Where is it? A 1-hour drive from Adelaide to the Yorke Peninsula then a further 2.5-hour drive to Innes National Park.
  • Top things to see and do: Stay in a Hamptons-style cottage at Marion Bay, work on that tan in Hardwicke Bay, go dolphin watching in the aptly named Dolphin Bay, stay in the ghost town of Inneston and search for stromatolites in Inneston Lake.
  • How long do I need? 3-4 days.
  • Recommended tour: This guided small-group tour takes you from Adelaide to Yorke Peninsula with stops along Minlaton and Innes National Park where you'll see shipwreck cove, Cape Spencer and West Cape lighthouses, Spencer Gulf beach, wineries and more.

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Australia, South Australia, Outback, Coober Pedy, view of the isolated opal mining town where many of the dwellings are underground.

Coober Pedy

This former opal mining town is now a spot on the map for tourists near and far. See what life underground was like and get a true sense of outback life.

  • Best for: History buffs.
  • Where is it? An 8.5-hour drive north of Adelaide.
  • Top things to see and do: Visit an underground dugout, snap a pic of the John McDouall Stuart Monument, see the sunlight play with the colours of the desert in Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park and check out the opal fields.
  • How long do I need? 1-2 days in town, though Coober Pedy is popular as part of a week-long itinerary from Adelaide.
  • Recommended tour: Tick off more than one destination with this seven-day 4WD tour of the South Australian outback. The itinerary includes stops at Port Augusta, Coober Pedy, Dingo Fence, Brachina & Bunyeroo Gorges, Flinders Ranges and Clare Valley.

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Umpherston Sinkhole (Cenote)

Mount Gambier

Nudged up against the border of Victoria, Mount Gambier is best known for its limestone landscape, crater lakes filled with cobalt blue waters and verdant sinkholes. Come here with a camera.

  • Best for: Getting off the beaten track.
  • Where is it? 5 hours south of Adelaide.
  • Top things to see and do: Hike Mount Gambier, wander through Umpherston Sinkhole and its garden, explore the many cave complexes, including Cave Garden, Naracoorte Caves and Tantanoola Caves, visit the Big Lobster and throw a line at Beachport Jetty.
  • How long do I need? 1-2 days.
  • Recommended tour: Mount Gambier is easy to self-drive/tour.

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What are the best beaches in South Australia?

With so much coastline to spare, South Australia has beach after beach worth throwing your towel on. Here's an inexhaustive list of some of its most highly decorated stretches of sand:

  • Stokes Beach, Stokes Bay (Kangaroo Island)
  • Robe Beach, Robe (1.5 hours from Mount Gambier)
  • Glenelg Beach, Glenelg (Adelaide)
  • Aldinga Beach, Aldinga (Fleurieu Peninsula)
  • Horseshoe Bay, Port Elliot (Fleurieu Peninsula)
  • Henley Beach, Henley (Adelaide)
  • Maslin Beach, Maslin (Fleurieu Peninsula)
  • Semaphore Beach, Semaphore (Adelaide)
  • Coffin Bay National Park, Coffin Bay (Eyre Peninsula)
  • West Beach, Adelaide
  • Second Valley Beach, Second Valley (Fleurieu Peninsula)

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