From the Outback to lush wine regions, South Australia has diverse landscapes and weather patterns, and so the best time to visit depends on what you want to see and do.

If you want to explore the state’s gorgeous beaches, summer (December-February) is when to do it as the weather is hot, dry and sunny. The best season for foodies and wine lovers is early autumn (March-April) when vintage celebrations take over wine country.

Winter (June-August) is an excellent time to see wildlife and whales off the coast, while spring is a popular season for hiking and bushwalking as it's not too hot and native wildflowers are in bloom.

Here’s our seasonal guide to travel in South Australia to help you plan your trip.

Spring (September-November)

Best for: hiking, cycling, wildflowers, and wildlife

With daytime highs averaging a pleasant 15-24°C, spring is a great time to go hiking or cycling. Nature flourishes in spring, with purple jacaranda trees lining Adelaide’s parks and roads, carpets of yellow canola flowers in Clare Valley and rows of almond blossoms in Willunga. Bushwalkers in Ikara-Flinders Ranges will also be treated to a pretty display of native wildflowers, including fringe lilies, fringe myrtle and guinea flowers.

Spring is also a good time to see native wildlife. The warmer, longer days are ideal for animals to birth their young, so look out for gorgeous tammar wallaby joeys and sea lion pups on Kangaroo Island, and fluffy baby emus in Coffin Bay.

Summer (December-February)

Best for: beaches, festivals, and summer nights in wine country

South Australia is generally hot and dry in summer. With sizzling temperatures, particularly in the Outback where highs reach 38-40°C, summer is the best time of year to enjoy the hidden bays along the Eyre Peninsula or bathe in the clear waters on the Fleurieu Coast. It is the busiest time of year, so be prepared to share the sand with more people.

There's also a real buzz in Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and other wine regions. You can go wine tasting any time of year, but it’s hard to top watching the sunset with a glass of vino on a balmy evening. The festival calendar is also jam-packed — including the Adelaide Fringe (the biggest arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere) in mid-February to mid-March.

Autumn (March-May)

Best for: hiking, bushwalking, cycling, and festivals

Early autumn offers warm weather and smaller crowds on the beaches. If you like hiking but don’t enjoy the heat, autumn may be a better time to visit the Ikara-Flinders Ranges as temperatures drop to a more bearable 31°C in March, and 26°C in April.

Festival fun continues into autumn with WOMAdelaide and Adelaide Writers’ Week. Vintage season, AKA the harvesting of grapes, also takes place in March and April. This is one of the busiest and liveliest seasons in wine country with plenty of celebrations dotted around each region.

Winter (June-August)

Best for: smaller crowds, whale watching, fur seals, hiking Ikara-Flinders Ranges

Winter days are typically mild and wet with average highs of 15°C. It's even cooler in the Outback and the Adelaide Hills, particularly at night and early morning. The cool weather is all the more reason to sit in cosy cellar doors with a glass of red.

If you don't mind cooler temps, winter is a fantastic time to see wildlife. Watch fur seals basking in the winter sun on Kangaroo Island, or head to the Flinders Ranges to see wallabies, kangaroos and emus grazing near creeks and waterholes. Humpbacks and southern right whales can also be spotted off the coast between May and November as they migrate from Antarctica to birth their calves.

Learn about the best time to visit Kangaroo Island

Learn about the best time to visit Barossa Valley

Learn about the best time to visit Clare Valley

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