McLaren Vale is famous for its shiraz but that is not the only reason you should visit this picturesque wine region.
Located less than an hour’s drive from Adelaide, McLaren Vale is known as the birthplace of South Australia's wine industry. It has a lively vibe that’s more contemporary than quaint, affable locals, bucolic scenery, and more than 80 cellar doors to discover. McLaren Vale is the perfect destination to explore on two wheels or two legs as you explore lush green vineyards and admire the region’s stunning scenery. Discover stunning seaside vistas, boutique wineries and restaurants and trails winding through untouched Australian bushland and celebrate fabulous food, top drops, and scenery in South Australia with like-minded travellers on a McLaren Vale small group tour.
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McLaren Vale highlights
Onkaparinga River National Park
Take a drive to Onkaparinga River National Park where a short walk reveals views over McLaren Vale and the rugged cliffs that make up the many gorges. This National Park is home to one of the finest examples of South Adelaide’s original landscape and filled with natural rock pools and native wildlife like koalas, kangaroos, echidnas, and possums. Keep an eye out for the heritage-listed huts that reveal this area’s rural charm and farming history.
Cycle the Coast to Vines Trail
The Coast to Vines Rail Trail is also known as the Shiraz Trail and has been built along a disused rail corridor. This scenic vehicle-free trail takes you past glorious scenery and superb wineries. Make an extended stop at the acclaimed Wirra Wirra Winery for a platter lunch and exclusive tasting and tour. Wirra Wirra is an Aboriginal name meaning “among the gum tree” and the 125-year-old ironstone winery is still surrounded by the trees today.
Drop into the Star of Greece
Drive past the aptly named Silver Sands, where the sparkling beach and ocean meet, and follow the coast to Port Willunga which offers views out to Kangaroo Island on a clear day. Perched high on a hill you’ll find the iconic Star of Greece restaurant, one of South Australia’s most famous dining spots. It might look like a simple café but this breezy coastal dining destination offers much more than a casual bite to eat with a sophisticated menu and a wine list that makes it tempting to linger.
See Port Willunga
Port Willunga feels a million miles from Adelaide, even though it’s just 46 km from the CBD. Port Willunga jetty is crumbling away and known locally as ‘the sticks’ but it remains one of the most photographed spots in South Australia. You’ll find one of South Australia’s most photographed beaches here as well with golden sands, steep cliffs and water that beckons travellers to dive in when the weather is warm. It’s hard to believe this beautiful spot was once one of South Australia’s largest ports.
Skinny dip at Maslin Beach
Take a drive to Maslin Beach which is famous for being Australia’s first official nudist beach. The calm blue waters are great for swimming and snorkelling and enjoying a skinny dip provided you stick to the southern end of the beach. The rest of this vast stretch of golden sand enclosed within tall cliffs isn’t ‘clothing optional’ so don’t strip off all your gear and dive into the water unless you’re in the right spot. The sand dunes take on a beautiful glow as the sun starts going down.
Shop 'til you drop
Shop for local delicacies like juicy cherries, crusty sourdough and avocados from the Adelaide Hills as you stroll around the lively Willunga Farmer’s Market which has been operating for more than 20 years. Revive along the way at wineries and micro-breweries then stop at a café or a winery restaurant for lunch. After you’ve browsed unique jewellery and handmade clothing and accessories at McLaren Vale’s boutiques, stop for a coffee and a delicious pastry.
McLaren Vale tour reviews
McLaren Vale FAQs
Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards
From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).
However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.
The closest major airport to McLaren Vale is Adelaide Airport. From here, it's a 45 minute drive to McLaren Vale. If you are travelling to McLaren Vale from the Adelaide CBD, the trip takes 5 minutes less. Bus and train services are also available between Adelaide and McLaren Vale.
The easiest way to get around McLaren Vale is by car or with a small tour group. A limited bus service is available once you reach McLaren Vale but it is difficult to travel around to the wineries, beaches and other attractions if you don’t have your own transport or aren't part of a group tour.
Any time is a good time to visit McLaren Vale. Summer can be hot but cool breezes keep the temperature at a comfortable level for walking and other outdoor pursuits. Autumn brings with it crisp mornings and nights. Winter is perfect for snuggling up in front of a fire with a glass of red wine. The weather in spring is generally good although it can get chilly, especially after the sun goes down.
What you pack will depend on the time of year you are visiting, but you can't go wrong with clothes you can layer plus a jumper or jacket and wet weather gear. One or two smart casual outfits should be more than enough for dining out unless you're planning on visiting a lot of high-end restaurants or wineries.
There is good WiFi coverage in McLaren Vale's major towns. If you are visiting some of the more remote areas such as those around Onkaparinga River National Park, you may experience periods of time with no internet access.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
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