Craving a bit of time in the country? Discover South Australia's hidden villages and quaint, rural towns on a scenic drive through the Adelaide Hills. From farmer's markets and providores to nature walks and wineries, this rustic region has something for everyone.
Nestled on the fringes of the Adelaide Hills just east of the city centre, this mountainside region is a paradise for bushwalkers, nature lovers and history buffs alike. Take to the trails to reach Mount Lofty's famous summit, where a deceptively difficult 4.5-kilometre track rewards visitors with 360-degree views from the country to the coast, or detour mid-climb to reach Cleland Wildlife Park, where South Australia's resident kangaroos, koalas, wallabies and wombats can all be held and hand-fed. If you have a more relaxing escape in mind, wander through the perfectly manicured Mount Lofty Botanic Garden before indulging in a seven course degustation at the historic Mount Lofty House – a 19th century boutique hotel with views across the Piccadilly Valley and beyond.
Easily one of the most picturesque towns in the Adelaide Hills, this quaint community is famed for its tree-lined streets and dedication to locally sourced produce. Also home to the region's largest farmer's market, this little town comes alive on the fourth Sunday of each month with more than 80 artisan producers setting up shop beneath the lush canopy overhead. Fill your basket with freshly baked breads, house-made jams and just-picked produce or escape the crowds in one of Stirling's charming laneways, where you'll find plenty of gourmet chocolatiers and farm-to-table cafes to spend the afternoon.
The oldest settlement of its kind in Australia, this German-inspired town has retained its European charm with cobblestone streets, authentic eateries and traditional bakeries at every turn. Settle in for an old-fashioned feast at the Hahndorf Inn, where frothy, overflowing beer steins accompany a metre-long bratwurst, or satisfy your sweet tooth at The German Cake Shop, where flaky apple strudels are served Deutsch-style with a dollop of fresh cream.
While Balhannah itself is a little-known locale, a look at the area's resident vineyards is more than enough to put this humble village on the map. Home to industry big guns like Nepenthe, Bird in Hand and Shaw + Smith, this oft overlooked town provides visitors with access to some of the best cellar doors in the country – all without the crowds of the Barossa Valley. Equally endowed with artisanal chocolate shops and specialty providores, you'll have no trouble finding the perfect food pairing to suit your wine of choice.
While stops in Stirling, Hahndorf and Balhannah might leave little room for further indulgence, a trip to Woodside is incomplete without a tour of the local producers. Specialising in gourmet goods of all kinds, this food-focused town is home to some of the country's most loved brands including Baylies Epicurean Delights and Melba's Chocolate Factory. Can't bear another bite? No problem. Woodside is also the region's premiere destination for art galleries and antique shops, meaning there's still plenty to see if your eyes are bigger than your stomach.
Ready to trade in city stress for country charm? Pick up a car rental in Adelaide and experience this picturesque hillside one village at a time.