Booze, chocolate, art and food – what more do you want from a destination?
High above Adelaide sits a picturesque agricultural region where winding roads pass through mist-shrouded valleys and a patchwork of mixed farmland. Artisanal food and drink producers make the most of the abundant fresh produce. Artists have long flocked here for the magical light. Here are some of the best Adelaide Hills attractions to tick off.
Red Cacao – Chocolatier of the Adelaide Hills
Just 20 minutes from the centre of Adelaide, the charming town of Stirling is the gateway to the Adelaide Hills. The tree-lined streets are full of cute cafés and shops. Red Cacao is the perfect place to stop in after admiring the autumn foliage. There’s always a range of gorgeous cakes and freshly made waffles available. Don’t leave without trying the legendary Aztec hot chocolate; rich dark drinking chocolate spiced up with cinnamon and chilli.
Owner Marcus Booth-Remmers spent years training as a chocolatier across Australia and Europe. Now he uses the best quality European couverture with cream, fruit and even red wine from local producers. On any day of the week he’ll be pouring, filling, coating and decorating hundreds of blocks and truffles.
The single origin cacao beans are chosen for their unique flavour profiles, and the same is true of the coffee. Get the best of both worlds with the Chocolate Coffee Experience. Simply choose a single origin bean and the trained staff will recommend two handmade chocolates to draw out and complement the flavours.
The Cedars – Hans Heysen Gallery
Venturing further, the settlement of Hahndorf was settled by Prussian Lutherans in 1839 and still bears a strong German influence. This wasn’t what drew Hans Heysen to the area, though; the landscape painter was captivated by the quality of the region’s light.
Heysen was one of the first Europeans to eschew the conventions of his home continent and paint Australia as it is. His watercolours changed the way white Australians perceived this country by capturing the lines of monumental gum trees and the mesmerising colours of the arid Flinders Ranges.
Fittingly, the 1870s villa just outside Hahndorf where he lived is overlooked by a collection of ancient gums. Some of them 600 years old! Himalayan cedars in the immaculately manicured gardens give the property its name. However, the highlight of any visit is Australia’s oldest publicly accessible artist’s studio. This is where Heysen captured the essence of Australian light and landscapes in his famed watercolours. Find out more about the gallery here.
Comida Catering Co restaurant in Hahndorf
When he ran Comida out of the Central Market, chef Brad Sappenberghs’ chicken and chorizo paella was one of Adelaide’s favourite dishes. It’s not on the menu at his new venue in Hahndorf. But there will be regular paella sessions on weekends when large groups can enjoy it as a communal meal.
During the week, coffees and cold pressed juices accompany simple breakfasts with a Spanish twist. And for lunch, Sappenberghs has upped the ante considerably. His elegant diner is a must-visit Adelaide Hills attraction. The venue’s enclosed deck, richly textured walls, exposed timber and beautiful terracotta-coloured ceilings make for a wonderful dining experience.
Tasty tapas plates arrive first. Then come the mains, divided into meat, seafood and a large vegetable section that includes the legendary patatas bravas. If you prefer a less formal setting, you can select a few items from the display fridge. It’s well stocked with local cheeses, cured meats and olives (plus a few Spanish items). Then borrow a picnic rug and find a comfortable space in the large gardens out back.
Longview Vineyard – Adelaide Hills cellar door
The Adelaide Hills is one of Australia’s premier cool climate wine regions. Picturesque cellar doors abound, but as the name suggests, the views here are worth travelling for. Built around a century-old pink sandstone cottage, this rustic-chic cellar door utilises recycled timber and steel in a modern design with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Outside, gently undulating hills covered with row upon row of perfectly manicured vines lead to ridges lined by magnificent gums. A short walk away, the lookouts afford spectacular views over Lake Alexandrina. You can see all the way across the Coorong sand dunes and out to the Southern Ocean.
At Longview Vineyard, Northern Italian wines like nebbiolo and barbera are paired with a seasonal menu. If you find the views as intoxicating as the wine, the good news is you don’t have to leave. After a day spent exploring the region, you can relax in the onsite 4.5 star accommodation spread between a heritage homestead and a dozen chic modern suites set in the vines.
Applewood – A unique Australian botanical distillery
One of our favourite boozy Adelaide Hills attractions, Applewood distillery is a fabulous afternoon stop. This industrial former cold store, full of exposed brick and jarrah beams, is the unlikely home to some of the most inventive drinks being produced in this country. Two things fuel the incredible creations coming out of Applewood distillery; the vibrant imaginations of Brendan and Laura Carter, and the rich library of flavours found in Australia’s native flora.
Plants like riberries, desert limes, peppermint gum and lemon myrtle find their way into distinctive, richly flavoured gins and liqueurs. At Applewood, there are no limits to their creativity. You’ll also find off-kilter creations like a gin featuring shiitake mushrooms and Chinese plum. Plus, a range of limited edition spirits.
All the botanicals are ethically and sustainably sourced. Alongside tastings (don’t miss the økar amaro), there’s a seasonal cocktail menu with a section featuring only ingredients that would otherwise have been wasted.
We hope these Adelaide Hills attractions tantalise your tastebuds and deepen your appreciation for this gorgeous region. See what else is on offer with a day tour from the city, or enjoy an in-depth exploration of Hahndorf, the heart of the Adelaide Hills.
Travel to Adelaide
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