Picture driving in your VW van on your road trip through South Australia, along a hard white sandy beach.
You park your car and open the rear doors, the smell of ocean and sand hit your nose and gaze at some of the most aqua blue, pristine coastline you have ever seen.
The insanely beautiful coastlines here only make up half of the incredible places to visit in South Australia
Rock-pools, surf breaks and sunshine are only some of the attractions in South Australia that the locals here want to keep to themselves.
Drive north and the geography turns into cascading, red & dramatic mountainous ranges that have been home to Indigenous Australians for tens of thousands of years.
There are so many places to see in South Australia that we overwhelmingly felt that our month in S.A was never going to be enough.
South Australia is also the only state within Australia to share a border with every other state, to the exclusion of Tasmania and Australian Capital Territory (Canberra)
SOUTH AUSTRALIA ON THE MAP
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Sharing a border with most other states in this Great Southern Land, South Australia is primed for van life adventures and road trips all year round.
Covering almost 1 million square kilometres, South Australians live year round in some of the most arid parts of the entire country.
There are 3 major peninsulas to take note of when planning your South Australia road trip itinerary:
- Fleurieu Peninsula
- Yorke Peninsula
- Eyre Peninsula.
A big draw card and a major South Australian attraction is Australia’s longest straight driving road, the Nullarbor Plain.
Stretching 1,100km long it is indeed part of the worlds largest single exposure of limestone bedrock along the Great Australian Bight, and for sure a highlight of all the places to visit in South Australia.
ROAD TRIP THROUGH SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Due to its size, you would assume flying is the preferred option of travel around SA?
Well you would be wrong, as the only major international airport is located in the capital city of Adelaide, with a tinkering of other smaller domestic airports scattered around, like the one in Whyalla.
Road trips in South Australia are incredibly popular, and they are also the best way to see the landscape and the incredible beaches that the locals flock to.
READ NEXT: The BEST beaches along the Fleurieu Peninsula in our guide here
Be prepared for thousands of kilometres of driving through this state, as the distance between each place is far and wide at certain points, particularly between the 3 major peninsulas.
HOW MUCH IT COSTS TO TRAVEL SOUTH AUSTRALIA
The cost of travel in Australia is exponentially more expensive than most places in the world, which would make sense given our higher cost of living, particularly the south-east coast of Australia.
A single traveller can expect to pay
- $40-$60/ day on food
- $60-$120/night on accomodation
- $40-$100 per person on most mid-budget activities and adventures
If this sounds a bit out of your travel budget, then the alternative backpacker budget may be of suit to you:
- swapping out air bnb’s for dorm-room style hostels
- buying more of your own food and cooking instead of buying out
- opting for free tours around your area or within the CBD instead of paid activities (a lot of South Australia attractions are free to visit and free guided tours of the city are very common so look out for those)
WHERE TO STAY IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA
For some this is fairly obvious and explanatory, if you have your own van, car or tent then most times your accommodation is sorted.
Laura and I road tripped through South Australia for a month most recently with a company called Cruisin Motorhomes and we loved our experience.
These apps are VITAL and will literally show you the closest campsite to your location and guide you to the epic bucket list places to visit in South Australia.
If you just got your nails done and can’t afford a touch up, then there are plenty of places to stay in South Australia that won’t break your nails or your budget!
BORDER CROSSINGS INTO SOUTH AUSTRALIA
If you plan on jumping the border from Victoria into South Australia, or from anywhere into South Australia for that matter, our biosecurity laws are some of the tightest in the world.
Fresh produce like fruits and vegetables cannot be carried by you upon entry into the state as there are concerns of a fruit fly outbreak that can wreak havoc on local industries.
The crossing from Victoria into South Australia in particular has a check point where you must stop and allow the biosecurity officers to check your luggage, personal effects and van/car for any fresh fruit and veg.
If you forget to chuck out your things there may be a $300 fine waiting or you at the end!!
We found this a useful resource to avoid getting into trouble at the border
Your GUIDE to the 10 MOST BEAUTIFUL places to Visit in South Australia
Limestone Coast – Mount Gambier
The quaint border town less than half hour from the Victoria and SA border is Mount Gambier.
One of the lesser known regions, this little town still has so much to offer.
This region of the Southern coastline is known as the Limestone coast and is said to have been shaped by the water and the passage of time over 26 million years.
The Southern Ocean Drive covers the trip from Mount Gambier in the east all the way through to Kangaroo Island roughly 755km which should take you 10 hours in total.
A huge draw card to the Limestone Coast region and one of the best places to visit in South Australia is the abundance of naturally formed freshwater lakes.
Perfect for Scuba Diving & free diving these lakes have been attracting people from all over the world to these serene locations.
Visibility is almost as far as the eye can see, and in this case as far as the light will penetrate the water.
The Blue Lake is another South Australian attraction, as it’s not only beautiful to admire, it’s also the town’s main water supply, hence access and swimming is prohibited.
The Little Blue Lake however is accessible to the public for swimming year round.
A volcanic sinkhole in the middle of a paddock, it used to be a solid blue in colour however in most recent times has remained a green tinge.
READ MORE: Our new guide to travelling the Limestone Coast in South Australia
A favourite of ours on our journey was the coastal town of Robe, one of the more relaxed places to see in South Australia and your last stop along the drive towards Adelaide.
Robe Brewery located at the back end of the main town is the perfect afternoon escape, a signature collection of local brews, friendly staff and pooches allowed!
Stay the night at The Lake View Motel in Robe to soak the most out of this cute little town.
Head down into Robe main street and grab a coffee from Pelligrini’s Espresso Bar for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.
The beach down here is incredible and one of the best places to visit in south australia during the summer time.
The first of the three Peninsula’s along the coast and one of the more incredibly impressive places to see in South Australia, the road down south will lead you all the way to Kangaroo Island.
Leave the sights and sounds of the capital city of Adelaide and head west towards the beaches and main attractions of South Australia like Sellicks Beach, Port Willunga & Second Valley.
Holiday makers and locals flock here during the summer months to their beach houses to enjoy the crazy pods of Dolphins that patrol the beaches almost daily.
READ NEXT: Explore 9 incredible things to do on the Fleurieu Peninsula with this guide here
Sitting between her two cousins, the Yorke Peninsula is not to be underestimated.
We spent 4 nights camped out here in our van in the incredible Dilbha Guuranda Innes National park located at the southernmost tip of the Yorke Peninsula.
Related Article: Travel the Yorke Peninsula and visit Innes National park using our destination guide
Having already explore the Eyre and the Fleurieu Peninsula prior to the Yorke, we will honestly say that we rushed the Yorke and drove straight down to Innes National park, however we still maintain that the Yorke Peninsula is still one of the best places to visit in South Australia even if you are in a rush.
Check out the many camp spots jettied along the national park here, including the beautiful Stenhouse Bay Jetty and Ethel Wreck, a main South Australian attraction.
Stay for the sunset and get your camera out along the famous roads that lead into the park and and enjoy one of the best places to see in South Australia.
Related Article: Our handcrafted Guide to the Eyre Peninsula
Had we more time we would have explored EVERYTHING on this part of the world, as it is HUGE and could take you a solid 2 weeks to get the most out of everything and drive around.
The westernmost Peninsula of the Eyre Peninsula lies just before the start of the town Ceduna, your gateway to the Nullarbor plain heading into Western Australia.
The capital city of Port Lincoln is in our opinion one of the best places to visit in South Australia, as it is also one of the only places on Earth you can go cage diving with the beautiful Great White Sharks off the Neptune Islands.
Far enough away from the city lights and main south australian tourist attractions, places like Greenly beach, Coffin bay National Park, Whalers Way, Streaky Bay & Port Lincoln are insanely gorgeous and will take up weeks of your time!
Here’s out top list of attractions in the Eyre Peninsula:
Taking a trip into Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is a full sensory overload and an iconic South Australia attraction, home to the Adnyamathanha people of Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park.
This uniquely rugged, semi-arid desert range fills 95,000 hectares of land and is most easily accessible from the Flinders Ranges highway heading North towards Northern Territory.
You can easily download an official map of Ikara-Flinders Ranges here
During your stay at Wilpena Pound Resort you have easy access to some of the most stunning naturally formed mountainous ranges anywhere in Australia, and a massive tick off the bucket list for the best places to visit in South Australia.
Everything from bushwalking, camping, bird watching to astro-photography lovers, this wild and untouched landscape has been home to the Indigenous people of Australia for tens of thousands of years.
The local council in collaboration with ‘friends of flinders ranges’ have created an app where you can easily listen to an audio recording of the natural history of the land.
Devastated by the bushfires of 2019-2020, the locals and wildlife of K.I have bounced back in a big way.
This secluded island off the coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula takes 45 minutes to reach via the SeaLink ferry crossing from Rapid Bay and will set you back around $100 per person (see their rates sheet here)
We spent just under a week here and we felt this was more than enough time to get a good feel for the island and tick off all the south Australia attractions we had planned, like sinking back a few at K.I Brewery and visiting the prettiest beach in Kangaroo Island at Vivonne Bay.
Flinders Chase national park makes up approximately 49% of the island, but was also burnt to 96% of the land, hence the recovery and rebuild effort has been extensive and arduous, but nonetheless the flora and fauna are in fact regenerating.
It was a fascinating National park to visit and from looking at the phots pre-bush fires I’m sure in it’s hey day it was stunning; none the less it was for us one of the most beautiful places to visit in South Australia.
Read More: Use our guide on 15 Amazing Things to do on Kangaroo Island when you plan that trip to South Australia
Use the links below to get more information about the best things to do in Kangaroo island and epic places to visit in South Australia
Things you cannot miss out on –
- Quad Bike Tours K.I
- Best of Kangaroo island 4WD Day Tour
- Gourmet Food and Wine tour of K.I
- Full day tour of Flinders Chase National Park
- Ocean Safari wildlife tour Kangaroo Island
- Spend a day touring the island, visit Seal bay, Flinders Chase and more!
McLaren Vale Wine Region
If wineries tickle your fancy then look no further than Mclaren Vale winery region article using this guide here
A beautiful glass of red overlooking the sunset hills of the southern Mount Lofty Ranges at Down the Rabbit Hole winery makes for a perfect end to a full day exploring the region.
With over 88 cellar doors to choose from the entire region sees great weather year round and apart from being our favourite winery, it’s also one of the more chill and scenic places to visit in South Australia.
Being in the middle of the Peninsula it gets breezes from both sides of the coast meaning mediterranean weather and growth year round.
Our favourite wineries to visit were
Although we are not city slickers, Adelaide city has a little something for everyone without feeling like a major BIG city.
We know you will want to stay a few nights here and with so many fun things to do in Adelaide, pour the champagne and enjoy your hot bubble bath at the Crowne Plaza right in town.
At the beginning of each year Adelaide hosts the Fringe Festival, a collection of eclectic dance, art and culture to inspire and stimulate the senses.
A perfect place to start your journey down the Fleurieu Peninsula is to visit the many beaches and bars along the way.
Bang smack in the middle of the state and probably one of the most epic places to visit in South Australia is also one of the hottest places down under.
Many locals live underground here during the summer months to avoid the scorching heat which has recorded to get as hot as 47 degrees celsius, the hottest in Coober Pedy’s history…crazy right?
Coober Pedy feels like a scene out of Mad Max, with roadhouses along the Stuart Hwy seemingly deserted.