When is the best time to visit South Australia?

From the outback in the north to lush wine regions in the south, the landscapes and weather vary a lot in South Australia. Southern parts of the state like Barossa Valley and Kangaroo Island have a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm, dry summers. As you go further north towards the Flinders Ranges, there are two seasons: hot and dry or cooler and dry. But remember, even in the outback it often falls below 0°C on winter nights. When to plan your trip depends on what you want to see, do and experience, but you can have a fantastic trip in South Australia all year round. 

Summer (Dec-Feb) is the busiest time of year in the southern parts of the state. The sunny weather, busy events calendar and the state’s gorgeous beaches make it a popular summer holiday destination. It’s usually too hot and dry to visit places like the Flinders Ranges in the summer months, especially if you want to go bushwalking and hiking, so perhaps plan your trip in the cooler if you plan on going to the outback.

Visiting southern parts of the state in the cooler months has its perks, too. It’s quieter, the colder weather adds distinct beauty to the landscapes and there are unique opportunities to see wildlife such as whales as they migrate from Antarctica. If you want to balance good weather and smaller crowds, consider going in the shoulder seasons at the end of spring and early autumn. 

South Australia in summer (Dec-Feb)

Best for:

  • Beaches
  • Swimming 
  • Seeing grapes on the vines 

South Australia is generally hot and dry in summer, with February being the hottest month. The outback is swelteringly hot, with daytime highs averaging 38°C but it’s not uncommon to push past 40°C. Nights are humid with temperatures hovering around 25°C. It’s probably not a good idea to do an outback tour during summer if you don’t handle the heat too well, but if you do, make sure you’re prepared.

Down south in places like Adelaide, average daytime highs linger in the mid-30s and rainfall is the lowest. With clear skies and consistently warm and sunny weather, the conditions are perfect for hitting up South Australia’s beaches. They’re lesser known than beaches in other parts of Australia like the Gold Coast or Byron Bay, but we think this makes them even more appealing. From hidden bays in the Eyre Peninsula to the powder white sands and crystal clear waters on the Fleurieu Coast, South Australia is a paradise for beach bums. 

South Australia in autumn (Mar-May)

Best for:

  • Hiking
  • Bushwalking
  • Cycling
  • Adelaide Fringe Festival
  • End of Harvest Festivals

The weather starts to cool down in March. Daytime temperatures down south drop to the mid-20s and there’s still plenty of sunshine to enjoy the beaches, swimming and balmy al fresco evenings in the wine regions. The Ikara-Flinders Ranges and outback cools down from April and the conditions are way more bearable for bushwalking and hiking. 

If you’re visiting in autumn, we recommend planning your trip around The Adelaide Fringe Festival – the biggest arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere. Adelaide and regional towns are transformed into a vibrant hub with every time of event imaginable including visual art, comedy, theatre, dance and circus. 

For the foodies and wine lovers, autumn is a wonderful time of year to visit wine country to experience the end of harvest celebrations. The dates vary from year to year, but celebrations are usually in full swing around early April. The biennial Barossa Vintage Festival is one of the highlights and promises to be a hoot whether you’re a wine lover or not. Join lively crowds of locals, visitors, winemakers and producers to celebrate (and taste!) the region’s best wine, gourmet food and culture. 

South Australia in winter (Jun-Aug)

Best for:

  • Smaller crowds
  • Whale watching
  • Seeing fur seals
  • Hiking Ikara-Flinders Ranges 

Winter in South Australia is generally mild and it never gets really cold, as in it hardly ever snows. Mount Lofty in the Adelaide hills may get a light dusting during cold years. Daytime temperatures in Ikara-Flinders Ranges average a pleasant 15°C with plenty of sunshine and occasional rain. Hiking and bushwalking conditions are prime in June, July and August.

Temperatures are similar throughout the rest of the state with average highs of 15°C in Adelaide, 14°C in Barossa Valley, 15°C on Kangaroo Island and 16°C on the Eyre Peninsula. Humidity is highest in June and rainfall is highest from June through August has the highest annual rainfall, most of which falls on the southern coastal areas. Winter nights and early mornings can be cool and crisp, and even in central and northern areas the temperature often drops to 2°C, so make sure you pack plenty of warm layers and a waterproof jacket.

Winter is an amazing time to see wildlife. You can spot humpback and southern right whales off the coast between May to November as they migrate from Antarctica to birth and nurse their calves. Kangaroo Island is a great spot to see colonies of fur seals hanging out on the rocks to bask in the winter sun. In Flinders Ranges, rainfall fills the creeks and waterholes and the flora comes alive, attracting wallabies, kangaroos, emus and heaps of other wildlife. 

South Australia in spring (Sep-Nov)

Best for:

  • Hiking
  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Wildflowers
  • Wildlife

Spring weather, particularly mid to late spring, offers awesome conditions for bushwalking, hiking and cycling with plenty of clear skies and sunshine. The temperature is just right, with daytime highs ranging between 15 and 24°C throughout the state. 

Nature blossoms in spring and wildflowers are in full bloom. Adelaide’s parks and roads, especially in the northern suburbs, are lined with bright purple jacaranda trees. There’s also the endless fields of bright yellow canola flowers in Clare Valley and the rows of almond blossom trees in the charming town of Willunga on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Not to mention the Flinders Ranges with common fringe lilies, fringe myrtle, Guinea flowers and Sturt Desert Peas adding a riot of colour to the usually arid landscapes.

It's also a fantastic time to see native wildlife come out to enjoy the sun, particularly baby natives. On Kangaroo Island you're likely to see echidnas, Pygmy Possums, sea lion pups and gorgeous Tammar Wallaby joeys coming out of their mother's pouch to explore. And make sure you look out for fluffy baby emus in Coffin Bay. 

You can visit wineries any time of year in South Australia, but the mild spring weather is ideal for walking or cycling around wine country, and wining and dining outside to admire the vineyards as they come alive with green budburst after the winter. You’ll also get to indulge in heaps of fresh produce that’s harvested in spring. 

Find out the best time to visit Kangaroo Island

Find out the best time to visit Barossa Valley

Find out the best time to visit Clare Valley

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