As the oldest wine region in South Australia (the first vines were planted in 1839, just three years after settlement) the Adelaide Hills has had time to get things right. Drive the region's many scenic routes and you'll find picture-postcard views at every turn; some of the best cool-climate wines in Australia; koalas, kangaroos and enough cute native animals to melt even the most world-weary heart; and gorgeous places to rest your head at the end of gentle days of discovery.
And this little pocket of paradise is so close to Adelaide. Just a few minutes' drive down the South Eastern Freeway and you're away from the rat race and surrounded by manicured vineyards and market gardens, natural Australian bushland and lush green pastures.
Each season offers its own appeal: leafy landscapes ablaze with changing colours in autumn; warm fires and historic cottages in winter; blooms and berries in spring; and cool cellar door retreats in summer. Village Charms Rolling hills and leafy valleys provide a spectacular backdrop for pretty towns across the Adelaide Hills.
You're unlikely to pass through any village without being enticed by a roadside stall, nursery, intriguing shop, aromatic bakery or historic pub. Visit Hahndorf for its German heritage; Woodside for its antiques; Stirling for its organic market and excellent shops; Gumeracha for its giant rocking horse (voted best big thing in Australia); Bridgewater for the award-winning cellar door and restaurant at Bridgewater Mill; Birdwood for the National Motor Museum; Macclesfield for its Sunday market; and Norton Summit for the Scenic Hotel.
Experience the best of the Hills at one of many great regional events. There's everything from the Adelaide Hills Harvest Festival for food and wine lovers in February; to the Oakbank Easter Racing Carnival in March; the Heysen Festival for arts lovers in September/October; and the spectacular Lobethal Lights Christmas extravaganza in December.
The cool-climate wines of the Adelaide Hills are among the most prestigious in Australia. Discover them at more than 20 cellar doors from Macclesfield in the south to Kersbrook in the north. The region is home to more than 200 grape growers and 50 wine labels.
Only in South Australia could a sanctuary for native plants, rare and endangered animals and Aboriginal culture be so close to the city centre. At Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary, you can enjoy a self-guided walk between 10am and 4pm all year round, or take a guided nocturnal tour to see bilbies, brush-tailed bettongs, Tamar wallabies and the elusive platypus.