Luxury Escapes Guide to the Adelaide Hills

Step into Adelaide’s storybook region, the Adelaide Hills – a picture-perfect leafy haven, just 20 minutes from the city.

This region is the stuff of fairytales — winding roads flanked with towering pine trees; native gum forests as far as the eye can see and row-upon-row of award-winning vineyards. In this produce-driven region, apple orchards pop out of nowhere and little red berries look like jewels as you whizz by. The best part? It’s just 20 minutes from Adelaide city.

It’s the sheer abundance of things to do and places to see (and stay) that make this region well worth a visit. Natural beauty, local produce that’ll have you stuffing your suitcase full of cheese, wine, gin, microbreweries and chocolate (life’s real essentials) and the friendliest of local folk are all ready and waiting. There are also a host of pristine natural wonders, must-see icons and a host of luxury experiences so you can really treat yourself, too.

Whether you stay in the Hills, or venture on day trips from the city of Adelaide, it’s time to step into this story book holiday — grab the car, get the wind in your hair, a glass in your hand and soak it all in.

Please note that due to current restrictions some operators may be temporarily closed. Check their websites for the most up-to-date information

Featured escapes

Things to see and do

ChocoVino at Hahndorf Hill Winery

What better way to soak up the views of the Adelaide Hills than with a glass of wine and some chocolate? At Hahndorf Hill, you can do it all thanks to its ChocoVino experience, which combines two of life’s joys into one utterly moorish time. In this unique tasting, some of the winery’s top drops are paired with quality chocolate from Australia and France to give you a true taste of terroir. It’s all from their very own ChocoVino tasting room that overlooks the vines, too. Ooh la, la!

Farm tour at Jurlique

One of Australia’s most popular and trusted natural skincare brands, Jurlique, is based in the Adelaide Hills. You can now soak up the serenity and breathe in the fresh air during a tour of its biodynamic farm — wander from the display garden and seed propagation area to the herb-drying shed, where you’ll learn some of the ins-and-outs of how these sweet-smelling products are made. The tour also covers the principles of biodynamic farming, bee keeping and soil fertility. If you’re a green thumb (or even a brown thumb that would perhaps like to graduate to green), this tour is for you.

Taste locally made artisan cheese at Woodside Cheese Wrights

Woodside Cheese Wrights is one of South Australia’s most celebrated local producers and owner and cheesemaker, Kris Lloyd is a passionate local produce advocate. The cheese here is made using goat, cow and buffalo milk, with some only available at certain times of year. At its cellar door in Woodside you can enjoy a mixed plate, or take some of the creamy morsels home with you. Soft, hard, oozy, smelly — you name it, they have it. Our top tip? The Monet cheese, topped with edible flowers, is practically a South Australian icon. The cellar door also houses a range of other local sauces, chutneys, crackers, cookbooks and more.

Gin blending masterclass at Ambleside Distillery

It seems gin is popping up everywhere these days, and we’re certainly not complaining about it. One of the Hill’s newest distilleries, Ambleside, is now offering a masterclass where you can blend your own gin. Choose from a collection of 22 botanicals to craft your own concoction. Make it as zesty, floral or herbaceous as you like — the decision is all yours. The experience also features a gin tasting flight as well a talk from one of the distillers, and you’ll get to take two bottles of your own gin home with you.

Stroll through Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens

It’s one of Adelaide’s most visited natural wonders, and for a city renowned for its parks, that’s an impressive feat. Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens, which spans 97 hectares, is particularly popular during the autumn months, where the leaves turn all shades of red, copper, crimson and gold. Meander through the Lakeside Trail to soak up the waterside vistas, or take your pick from the Nature Trail, Valley View or the Heysen Trail. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the sculpture and artworks throughout the park, as well as the wildlife. If you’d like a guided tour, they run every Thursday.

Try local produce and soak up the atmosphere at The Organic Market

A local hotspot, The Organic Market and Cafe, has been a staple in this region for over 30 years. For many, a visit to the leafy Hills town of Stirling, isn’t quite complete without a scone (with housemade jam and local cream) or a bruschetta and a mug of coffee (the mugs here are famous). Everything at the cafe is made in-house, or purchased from local producers (and we mean very local, down the road). Soak up the buzzing atmosphere and then wander to the adjoined grocer to take some goodies home with you — a slice of cake, some bread or even herbal tea.

Discover your next favourite drink at Paracombe Premium Perry

A little off the beaten Hills track, Paracombe Premium Perry is for the cider-lovers. But it’s a little bit different here — the team at Paracombe produce ‘perry’, similarly made to cider, but made with pears. Pretty-as-a-picture orchards line the property here, and if you’re lucky enough to come in spring you might just see them blossom. This fourth generation perry is award-winning and you can sample it (or buy some for later) from the shed door. A rustic space on their farm property, the shed door is open Saturdays and Sundays. If you want to learn more, ask the team for a tour.

Top places to eat and drink

Sidewood Estate

The recently opened Sidewood Estate cellar door and restaurant is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the tastebuds. The beautifully designed space mixes heritage architecture with modern furnishings and design touches, set amongst towering gums and carefully curated gardens. Here, you can enjoy a tasting of its award-winning wines, or stay a little longer with a meal at the restaurant. Chef Ali Seedsman, who’s well known in these parts, has crafted a too-hard-to-decide Ausrtalaisan menu with delights the likes of steamed prawn cakes and tamarind lemongrass lamb ribs. While the menu changes, you’ll not be disappointed.

Applewood Distillery

If you’ve sipped enough wine for the day, why not migrate your tastebuds to the spirit realm. Applewood Distillery is an award-winning Hills distiller that supports local farmers and native ingredients in its products. Not only will you find a variety of gins featuring a smattering of different native ingredients, but there’s also limoncello made using local lemons, amaro, outback liqueur and coffee liqueur. Take a gin flight through the range, taste a couple of your choosing, or even take a distillery tour. There’s also a cocktail menu (and some non-alcoholic, too, to keep your driver happy) if you’d prefer to sit and sip on your own accord.

Goldings Wines

Set amongst rolling vineyards and bushland as far as the eye can see, Goldings Wines is home to some of the Hills most popular wines. Sample cool-climate drops in its tasting room, or head to the Market Kitchen (open for lunch Thursday to Sunday) to sample local produce prepared on their casual, ever-changing a la carte menu. While some of Goldings’ surrounds were burnt in the recent bushfires this award-winning cellar door is still fully operational and worth the visit, and what better time to support them than now?

Piccadilly Kitchen

Mostly inhabited by farmers and producers, Piccadilly is a series of undulated valleys and hillscapes. Nestled on a corner side (that you might just miss, so be careful), is the heartiest of cafes you ever did stumble across. Cakes, muffins and all sorts of baked treats are towered on trays and in pretty glass displays dotted about the countertop. This is a local’s den, and you’ll feel the warmth the minute you walk in. Sit inside and soak it all in or take in the crisp air outside in their courtyard. Must try — the milk tart, and if you’re lucky, the chicken pot pie in winter.

Lost in a Forest

Housed in an old church, Lost in a Forest is pizza heaven. The building and surrounds look as though they’re straight out of a picture book, and step inside and you’ll be even more enveloped in the story. There’s intriguing artwork on the walls and couches scattered about the cosy space, complete with a woodfire, and outside — a charming courtyard amongst the leafy streetscape and hills behind. The pizzas here are well known in these parts, with favourites the likes of the Banh Mi and the Jesus Fish ensuring people return time and time again. Pair it with some local vino and you’ve found a match made in heaven (you’re in a church, after all).

Crafers Hotel

The Crafers Hotel is another pub favourite in the Adelaide Hills, but take the term ‘pub’ fairly loosely, as this is as much a beautiful restaurant as it is an ode to traditional heritage pubs of the region. Lovingly restored, the beloved Crafers Hotel building now houses a restaurant and bar area, all exquisitely styled. The menu is French style, so while you can still find Aussie staples like schnitzel, you can also indulge in steak frites, escargots and chicken liver pate. The beverage list offers a great collection of local drops, too.