Looking for day trips, or short trips, from Adelaide in South Australia? There’s heaps. From a feat of engineering with a secret (that you won’t believe until you try it) to a tiny German town in the middle of the Australian countryside, we whizzed about by tram, car and bus and had a blast to come up with our list of the top day trips from Adelaide to check out.
Even better, most of them are no more than 90 minutes away from town so you’ll be back in time to explore all the cool stuff you’ll find in Adelaide itself.
1. Marvel at the Incredible Whispering Wall
The Barossa Valley just north of Adelaide is best known for its wine, but it’s also home to the Whispering Wall – a place that might actually make you think you’ve had one vino too many. It’s seriously strange and completely amazing.
For starters, it’s 92 feet high, and, at the time it was built was the highest arched dam in Australia. The view downwards is a bit knee-trembly – however, that’s not what makes the Whispering Wall special. This is…
One of you stands at one corner of the dam (there’s a handy figure on the wall to show you where) and the other person walks across the top to the other side and stands by the figure over that side. Both of you press your faces to the side of the dam and one of you speaks in their normal voice.
And. woah……. you’ll hear what the are saying as clear as day – despite the fact that you’re over 100m away from each other
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which mean I earn a small commission if you use them to book. This does not cost you any extra.
I didn’t quite believe it until I tried it, but yep – I could barely see The Boyfriend in the distance, but could hear him babbling away to the man standing next to him as if he was right next to me.
The effect works because the curve of the dam is an exact half circle. Sound waves therefore simply bounce from one side to the other – it’s a similar effect to the Whispering Gallery in St Pauls in London.
While it works at any time of day, you’ll get best results early in the morning when there aren’t too many people around. Then you absolutely can whisper and yet still hear the other person.
The Whispering Wall opens at 8am and closes at 5pm in winter and 6pm in summer. It’s open seven days a week, every day of the year – unless it’s an extreme fire warning day when lots of things close in the Barossa Valley.
Where is the Whispering Wall: The official address is the Barossa Reservoir, Whispering Wall Rd, Williamstown SA 5351.
It takes about an hour to drive from Adelaide CBD to the Whispering Wall.
It’s very easily combined with a trip to the Big Rocking Horse and the Birdwood Motor Museum (see both below) or a wine tasting trip if you want to try a full day trip to the Barossa Valley from Adelaide.
2. Ride the Horse Drawn Tram & A Steam Train in Victor Harbor
Just under a 90-minute drive from Adelaide, Victor Harbor is a traditional Aussie seaside town with quite a few cool things in and around it.
One of which is the horsedrawn tram which goes back and forth across the causeway to nearby Granite Island, a beautiful windswept island full of nothing but grass, trees, frolicking seals, tiny penguins and sea views that go on for miles.
While it looks like hard work on the horses, it’s actually weighted so they aren’t pulling that much weight at all. The tram makes 10 journeys a day back and forth and it costs $10 return for adults.
Victor Harbor is also home to the Steam Ranger Heritage Railway, aka The Cockle Train which runs 140 days a year. This old steam train runs between Victor Harbor and nearby Goolwa and gets its name because back in the day people would take a horse-drawn version of the train to Goolwa to collect cockles in the bay.
It takes about 30 minutes to run between the two towns – and, the round trip (if you don’t get off and have a wander around Goolwa which you should as it looks super cute) is 90-minutes.
It costs $20 for a single ticket and $30 for the return. Here’s where to go to find full details of the Cockle Train timetable and which days the train is running next.
3. Go See Some Dolphins
I admit, when I think Adelaide, I don’t think dolphins which is why I didn’t discover that there is actually a pod of dolphins living around the Port Adelaide area and that they, sometimes come in so close you can see them from shore until I was just about the leave – cue frantic sunset drive across the city.
If you’re more organised than me, head to the Dolphin Research Centre in Port Adelaide town and pick up a map of the dolphin trail and you can drive to the points where you might see them. Like this one…. as you can see, no dolphins on that trip, but we did see a mother and calf the second time we went.
Of, if you want to make a day trip of your attempt to see the Adelaide dolphins, then it’s time to get out on the water and there’s a whole heap of tours to help you do just that.
The Best Tours to See the Port Adelaide Dolphins
Take a Boat Ride
Let’s start with heading out on a boat.
This 3.5-hour dolphin tour, takes place on a catamaran and departs from the seaside suburb of Glenelg, a short tram ride away from Adelaide.
They guarantee you a dolphin sighting – or your money back. Click to see prices and availability.
Go For A Swim
If being above the water isn’t good enough, the same company also offer a tour where you get to go swimming with dolphins.
It’s not guaranteed, the dolphins are wild, so they choose to come to the swimmers in the water, but it’s truly magical when they do.
Again, this tour leaves from Glenelg – but that’s easy to reach from Adelaide by tram.
Kayak in the Sanctuary
The last dolphin tour, sees you hop into a kayak to paddle around the sanctuary where the Port Adelaide dolphins live – and again, they often come up to have a nose to see whos in their neighbourhood.
This tour leaves from Port Adelaide. This is definitely on my bucket list.
4. Book a Mystery Picnic
These are such a fun idea and if you’re into food and looking for a fun day out from Adelaide, you’re definitely going to want to check it out.
The idea is that you solve clues to find the different shops or producers to pick up the ingredients for your picnic – rather like a scavenger hunt.
We did one in Sydney and had such a good time.
They have a number of locations around Adelaide including McClaren Vale, Barossa Valley and the Adelaide Hills.
They’re also launching a mystery wine tour in the region soon too.
I’ll be giving that one a try next time I’m in Adelaide.
5. Swim with Tuna at Oceanic Victor
Tuna are known as the Ferrari of the sea as they can swim at speeds of up to 75kph – which is why snorkelling with a sardine in your hand in an enclosure full of a few of them is such an adrenaline rush.
As you lie on the surface of the water, out of the corner of your eye you’ll see a silver flash and then zoom, with a flurry of fins the tuna will snatch the fish from your fingers and speed off in the opposite direction.
The Oceanic Victor in-sea aquarium is a short catamaran ride offshore from Granite Island (meaning it’s easy to combine with a day trip to see the Sculptures and also wander round Victor Harbor).
It takes about two hours in all to get to the island, do your swim, play with the cuddly sharks they have there (yes, really) and then head back to Granite Island.
It costs from AU$120 per person.
Bookings in advance are recommended (see timings and availability here), but they do have an office on the island if you get the urge to give it a try when you’re there. You might be lucky and be able to slot into a free space.
Note: I was offered my swim for free so I could write about it – read more about my day swimming with the tuna at Oceanic Victor here.
RIP The Giant Burger of Granite Island
Back in 2018 a Sculpture Trail was added to Granite Island to try and draw more people to this beautiful place.
Despite it actually being a pretty cool attraction, the sculptures were removed in 2021.
Its most attention-grabbing exhibit was probably this giant burger by artist James Dive, which I’ve kept it here as a memory though because it was so cool!
Even without the sculptures, Granite Island and Victor Harbour have enough to do to easily make a visit here a whole day out from Adelaide.
How to get to Granite Island from Adelaide: It’s an easy 90-minute drive or if you want to use public transport, you can get to Victor Harbor/Granite Island by a mix of bus and train from Adelaide. You get the train to Seaford and then get a bus to Victor Harbor.
If you want to try this, I’d suggest going to one of the Visitor Information Centres or the Adelaide Metro Info Centre on Currie Street (it’s not open on a Sunday) to get the timetables. I really wasn’t confident I had found the best advice on timings or pricing online when I was researching it before our trip.
6. Eat all the Sausages in Hahndorf
When we were deciding to go to Adelaide, we originally thought a long weekend would be enough to see everything in the city. Hearing about Hahndorf was one of the reasons we ended up booking a week-long stay!
See Hahndorf is one of Australia’s oldest German settlements – and it hasn’t changed much since its first inhabitants arrived.
It’s still full of little cobblestone cottages – with the addition of German bakeries and alehouses full of oompah bands, steins of lager and meals containing your own body weight in pig products and sauerkraut.
The fact that we can no longer just jump on a plane for an hour and end up in Germany is one of the few things we miss about living in England and so our day trip to Hahndorf, was the thing The Boyfriend and I were most looking forward to in our whole trip.
Unfortunately, our level of fever pitch excitement probably could never have been met by reality.
We planned a day of sitting outside the pub having a few (too many) beers and eating all the yummy German goodies my greedy heart desired.
We ended up in Hahndorf on Easter Sunday and so it was pretty busy.
There are two pubs there and we chose the one with an outside beer garden and the oompah music playing outside to get in the mood.
The Boyfriend went in to get a menu – and we realised the catch!
While the food was reasonably priced – about $30 for a huge platter – the beer prices were eye-wateringly expensive (around $30 for a stein – they are $25 in Sydney) – and to add insult to injury, if you wanted a stein (which The Boyfriend did) you had to give them a $20 deposit for the glass.
The beer garden also had wasps!
I’d never seen a wasp here, but apparently, a few of the evil creatures came over from Europe and have made their home in the Adelaide area and this weekend they were living up in Hahndorf!
We called the pub down the road and they wanted $28 bucks for a stein (we didn’t ask them about the deposit) but by now we’d kind of had enough.
We had a beer each and decided to head back to town where a meal for two with a couple of beers wouldn’t cost us close to $180 and I wasn’t having to freeze in horror every time one of the devil’s insects looked my way.
Don’t let this put you off though.
I still absolutely recommend a day trip to Hahndorf from Adelaide.
It’s an absolutely unique place (well unless you’re in Germany) and I really did enjoy walking around looking at all the cutesy buildings, checking out the shops selling strudel and, when we went in April the autumn colours on the trees were beautiful.
However be warned, it’s not Munich by Kangaroo! My advice – go in the week so there are fewer people, eat all the cakes or pig products you can see, drink your beer in smaller measures than a litre, don’t sit by the wasps and you’ll love it!
How to Get to Hahndorf
It’s really easy to get to Hahndorf from Central Adelaide, there’s a direct bus (the 864).
It runs roughly every 30 minutes (the Hahndorf bus timetable is here) and takes an hour to get to Hahndorf.
You can catch the bus at a number of stops in the Adelaide CBD but if you’re travelling at the weekend I’d recommend walking down to the first stop at West Terrace. The bus does fill up and people who’d got on at the last CBD stop were standing the whole of the one hour journey.
If you’d prefer to have someone take you there, there are a few different tours to Hahndorf available – this one also takes you to the Barossa Valley and for lunch at a vineyard.
7. Climb The Big Rocking Horse
It’s the biggest one in the world and stands at just over 18 metres high. The ladders to scale it are found in its legs and there are a couple of levels to climb to. The only disappointment is that it’s rooted into the ground so it doesn’t actually rock!
Once you’ve scaled the horsey heights, head to the small wildlife park on the property where for a bargain $1 entrance fee (and $2 per bag of food) you can feed kangaroos. This is a really cute short trip from Adelaide – you could do the whole thing easily in half a day.
Or, if you want to make this a longer day trip from Adelaide – The Big Rocking Horse park doesn’t have any koalas so seeing those is key to your Australian holiday fun, then also visit Gorge Wildlife Park about a 12-minute drive from The Big Rocking Horse.
South Australia is one of the few states left where you’re allowed to touch koalas. So, if that’s always been a dream of yours, it might be worth a look.
Where is the Big Rocking Horse: It’s at 452 Torrens Valley Rd, Gumeracha SA 5233. It opens at 9am and closes at 5pm, 7 days a week. It’s easiest to get here by car.
8. Drink Wine in a Cube
There are three wine regions close to Adelaide – Barossa Valley, home to the Whispering Wall and Big Rocking Horse, the lesser-known Clare Valley and McLaren Vale – home to the D’Arenberg cube – a five-storey quirky cellar door owned by the D’Arenberg wine family.
I admit it was the main reason why I went to McLaren Vale – but we did make the day of it, booking ourselves on the Trailhopper Hop-On, Hop-Off Wine Bus which took us to the four wineries of our choice from their extensive list.
The cube itself is part beautiful – part completely bonkers.
The first floor is an area known as the Museum of Alternative Realities and contains an inhalation room and some strange artwork.
The Cellar Door is the beautiful part on one of the upper levels, it’s light, airy and, has balconies that jut out from the side of the cube from which you can see the whole of McClaren Vale spread out below you.
How to get to McClaren Vale: McClaren Vale is a short 40-minute drive from Adelaide, but if you’re going to be tasting wine, it’s better to get someone to drive you.
There’s a whole heap of wine tours available in the region (click here to find one you like the look of).
Or do as we did and book the Trailhopper Bus which offers an easy day trip to McLaren Vale.
You’re collected in Adelaide at 10am and dropped off at 5pm. And what makes it different from the tours is that you choose which of the wineries on their list that you visit, and, how long you want to stay at them (within their timetable).
9. Take The Mega Day Trip
If you like the sound of lots of the above, but don’t have much time in Adelaide, then there’s an amazing day trip that takes in Hahndorf, Victor Harbour, Goolwa (although not the train) and ends up in McClaren Vale for a cheeky vino before you head home.
If you don’t feel like doing the driving, it’s the perfect opportunity to get a feel for the best South Australia has to offer.
10. Check Out Salty Dog (and the seaside)
Salty Dog here is a bench just outside the Town Hall of Glenelg, a seaside town a short tram ride from Adelaide CBD.
I was drawn to him not only because benches shaped like dogs aren’t really that common but because he has his own hashtag – which seems kind of random for a seat!
Sadly, despite his seeming potential as a social media star, it’s quite hard to find out much about #saltydog,
However, what I did manage to glean is that he was created by an artist called Rob Garrett and arrived in Glenelg 2015 as part of an annual sculpture exhibit.
Admittedly, most people don’t come to Glenelg to look at a bench! They come to admire the gorgeous sandy beach, maybe have a swim or paddle in the sea and wander out of the jetty.
Glenelg is a thriving seaside town full of shops and restaurants and definitely worth a half-day trip out from Adelaide City Centre.
It’s also really fun to get to as the simplest way to arrive is by tram.
The Glenelg Tram is Adelaide’s last remaining tramway. You can catch it right in the middle of town (there’s a stop on King William Street by the junction with Rundle Mall) and it takes 30 minutes to whisk you to Glenelg.
The tram runs seven days a week and is pretty frequent. Here’s the timetable if you want to check out the exact timings though
Adelaide’s other beachy hot spot is Henley, a bit further north than Glenelg.
We went here for sunset as it seemed to have more beer venues with a direct view of the ocean than Glenelg.
Again, it’s super easy to get to – just jump on the H30 bus from town and you’re there in 30 minutes.
One thing to remember when you get on a bus in Adelaide, you buy your ticket from the driver, but then you have to validate it in the machine a little bit further down the bus.
We had no idea until people started yelling at us (in a nice way!). Adelaide is full of nice people in fact, it just got voted one of Australia’s Friendliest Cities.
11. Visit The Stunning Kangaroo Island
So, most of our trips so far have been really quick, easy day trips from Adelaide, but if you’re happy to go a little bit further afield, you can also visit the incredible Kangaroo Island on a day trip from Adelaide too.
Kangaroo Island is one of Australia’s most beautiful places – and if you want to see Australian animals in the wild, it’s one of the best places to do it. It’s particularly famous for the colony of seal lions at Seal Bay, but you’ll also potentially swap koalas, kangaroos and echidnas. The scenery is also stunning.
If you want to see more about the tour, here’s where to find the details and make a booking.
I’m saving that one for another day because I want to actually stay on the island itself
If you’re thinking about doing that too check out this guide to the best things to do on Kangaroo Island from my friend Delphine, but if you’re only on a short trip to Australia a day trip to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide might be your best chance to check out things like the amazing seal colony and other fantastic wildlife you find on the island.
12. Tour The Street Art in Port Adelaide
I really messed up when it came to my research in Port Adelaide. I knew the town was breaking away from its slightly rough past and was now a bit swishier.
I knew it had a cool looking lighthouse… but, as I said, I had no idea it actually had a pod of dolphins you could kayak with in the middle of town – or even just spot from certain places around the shore, or that is was absolutely teeming with street art.
The art explosion started in 2015 when the city launched it’s first Wonderwalls Festival where local and international street artists were invited to put their mark on the city. A second festival in 2017 added even more cool artworks.
There are 31 official murals on the Wonderwalls Map. I think my favourite was this one by Polish artists Sainer & Bezt which you’ll find at the eastern end of St Vincent’s Street, just past the junction of Jubilee Street.
If you’re getting peckish at this point I can also firmly recommend the sausage and mash at the Railway Hotel which is just down the road from the mural
But street art isn’t the only cool thing to do in Port Adelaide.
There’s also a train museum an aviation museum and that fabl old lighthouse which you can actually climb – the view from the top is pretty cool.
You could easily make a visit to Port Adelaide a whole day trip from Adelaide and not run out of things to do.
How to Get To Port Adelaide: Getting to Port Adelaide from Adelaide town centre is really easy.
We drove which takes just 25 minutes, but you can also jump on a train from the Central Adelaide Railway Station (which is down by the river) and get to Port Adelaide Railway Station in just 20 minutes
13. Visit The Telephone Car
You’ll find this highly practical vehicle in the National Motor Museum in Birdwood, about a 50-minute drive from the centre of Adelaide.
This houses Australia’s biggest collection of motor vehicles – and The Boyfriend spent an immensely happy morning here while I went off on a walking tour of Adelaide itself.
The Museum is open from 10am to 5pm, every day except Christmas Day. Adult entry costs $15.50.
How to Get to The National Motor Museum: The museum is found on Shannon Street in the small town of Birdwood.
Perhaps appropriately, we couldn’t find any public transport that would get us to the motor museum from Central Adelaide (it might be there but I couldn’t find it – if you know different please let me know in the comments) so we hired a car and drove.
14. Hang Off Things at the Ariel Park
This new attraction, officially known as Mega Adventure Australia, was something we spotted as we were driving up the coast from Glenelg – it’s about five minutes away from the seaside town and only opened earlier this year.
The idea is simple, you’re strapped into a safety harness and using that you get to climb up high things, dangle off high things, balance on wires suspended between high things and, safely throw yourself off high things.
For someone scared of heights like me, it looks absolutely terrifying but the few people who were giving it a try when we were there looked to be having a whale of a time.
There are over 70 different things to play with in the park and yes, kids can go on it so long as they are over 120cm high – those 120cm to 140cm must be accompanied by an adult on the attraction itself – not just standing underneath waving supportively.
It costs from $55 to go on the Sky Challenge. Here’s where to find out everything you need to know.
So there you have it – all the day trips from Adelaide that we took during our week-long stay, and a couple of extras. We had an absolutely fantastic time and came away realising how underrated Adelaide is on the Australian tourism scene.
If you want to see how we spent our time when we were in the city, also check out our post on the Fun and Unusual Things to do in Adelaide
Where to Stay in Adelaide
On our last trip to Adelaide, we found an amazing hotel located smack bang in the middle of everything. It’s called the Miller Apartment and one of the reasons we chose it was that it was split level which is handy when I wake up earlier than The Boyfriend does.
The downstairs had its own kitchen and living room – and then, up a rather fabulous (albeit a bit steep) spiral staircase is a compact bedroom.
Miller Apartment is on Hindley Street which is Adelaide’s party strip – however, this particular room is right at the back so you would be cushioned a bit from the noise.
We were there on a Monday night and didn’t hear a peep from anyone.
Click here to see more pictures and room rates (not all the rooms have staircases).
The place was super popular so you probably need to book it in advance – and if you are planning day trips and so have a car, they do have parking for a fee which lets you come and go as you please.
Who Writes Differentville?
My name is Helen Foster and I’m a journalist and author living in Sydney.
My travel articles have been published in titles including The Australian, Body & Soul at the Sunday Telegraph, RAC Horizons, Jetstar magazine and more.
I like the weird, the wonderful and anything that makes me jump and down with glee like I’m about three. That’s what you’ll find here.