The Fleurieu Peninsula is the small peninsula just south of Adelaide. It has an incredibly varied landscape and is one of the most diverse places in South Australia. It literally has everything that you could possibly want within such a small area. From stunning white sand beaches to rolling hills etched with hiking trails and trendy coastal towns with a vibrant atmosphere, the Fleurieu Peninsula is Adelaide’s favourite weekend destination.
Whether you want to relax on the beach or enjoy some bushwalking through a national park, here are the 10 places you must visit on the Fleurieu Peninsula.
How to get to the Fleurieu Peninsula
Directly south of Adelaide, the Fleurieu Peninsula is one of the most popular places to head for city dwellers on a weekend. The rugged coastline, variety of wildlife and hills covered in vineyards make it perfect for a range of activities. It’s also a great place to tour around with a van or hire car with campgrounds dotted around the peninsula. I had a great time camping out in my van from the beach to the bush.
Adelaide to Victor Harbour | 84km or 1 hr 30 minute drive with the most direct route.
Adelaide to Cape Jervis | 106km or a 1 hr 45 minute drive with the most direct route.
Adelaide to Sellicks Beach | 52km or a 1 hour drive with the most direct route.
How much time to spend on the Fleurieu Peninsula
The beauty of the Fleurieu Peninsula is that you can explore a couple of places on a day trip or over a weekend from Adelaide. You can easily pick a couple of spots on the eastern coast or western coast to see just for a couple of days. Otherwise, I spent over a week on the peninsula so you can also extend your stay to see all the places mentioned in this blog, if you wanted.
Best places to visit on the Fleurieu Peninsula
For such a small area, the peninsula packs a whole lot of punch. There’s a variety of things to do and see no matter where you plan on staying. Here are the best places to visit on the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Deep Creek National Park
Certainly, one of the natural highlights of the Fleurieu Peninsula, Deep Creek is the largest portion of natural vegetation left on this slice of land. Encompassing around 4500ha and 18km of coastline, it’s filled with friendly native wildlife and beautiful views over the ocean. It used to be Deep Creek Conservation Park, but was recently made a national park in 2021.
There are a few campgrounds inside the park and some great hiking trails. I camped at Trig Campground for a couple of nights and did the Deep Creek Circuit Hike, both of which I can highly recommend. Trig Campground has a friendly bunch of resident kangaroos and the Deep Creek Circuit trail takes in the best of the whole park area in a loop.
This hike is 12km and took me 4 hours to complete. Most of it would be considered medium difficulty, but there are a couple of short, steep and rocky sections which make it a hard rated hike overall. The circuit can be started from a couple of different spots, but it was convenient staying at Trig Campground as the trail went right through there. You can also do it in either direction, but clockwise is definitely recommended for the slightly better gradients.
On a second trip to the park, I camped at Tapanappa Campground, which has a couple of nice viewpoints of the ocean. I also did a section of the Heysen Trail by walking down to Blowhole Beach and up to Cobbler Hill Campground, making a nice 6km loop hike. You have to book the campgrounds through SA Parks website here.
For those up for a longer hiking adventure, Deep Creek is also home to the five day multi-day hike known as the Wild South Coast Way on the Heysen Trail. Whether you’re looking for your first overnight hike or a longer challenge, this is a stunning coastal walk with world-class hike-in campgrounds.
Read next: Essential Guide to Deep Creek National Park
As the main town on the peninsula, Victor Harbour is a vibrant holiday destination. Located on Encounter Bay, it has some pretty impressive coastal properties and stunning views across the ocean. The town also has some incredible historical remnants including a Clydesdale horse-drawn tram across to Granite Island and some original colonial architecture.
If you find yourself there in the winter, you might also be lucky to catch the migratory Southern Right Whales on their way along the southern coast of Australia. You can head to the South Australian Whale Centre in town to find out where they are on their journey.
While Victor Harbour gets most of the crowds and attention, this small town just 6km away is a beautiful little spot to spend some time. It’s also a great alternative place to stay than the busier Victor Harbour.
The pretty Horseshoe Bay is a picture-perfect sandy bay in front of the town, or, you’ve also got Boomer Beach stretching to the west of the town towards Victor Harbour. If you want to head out for a nice walk, you can head up to Freeman Lookout for views in all directions.
The main shops and restaurants of Port Elliot are spread out along North Terrace and The Strand. There’s some great boutique shops and cafes, including the Jetty Food Store for organic and local produce and the Retro Vibe for coffee and cake.
All the best surfing on the Fleurieu Peninsula can be found on the east coast, particularly at Waitpinga Beach. Named after an Aboriginal word meaning “home of the wind”, it’s just 10km south of Victor Harbour. It’s a very exposed beach and is known for the most consistent surf close to Adelaide. However, it’s only recommended for experienced surfers as it has some rough conditions and powerful rips. It certainly looked wild when I pulled up to have a look. There’s a nice carpark with toilets available there too.
Just next door to Waitpinga, Parsons Beach is another popular surf beach. The carpark there is high up on the coast offering some great views across the surf beaches and is worth a stop just for the photo.
The tiny community of Rapid Bay is most well-known for having one of the best campgrounds in all of South Australia. The bay has a long sandy beach backed by towering limestone cliffs with a camping area located right on the edge of the beach. There are only public toilets available, but the $12.50 per person fee is worth paying for being able to park up right on the sand and sleep the night with the sand of the ocean outside your door.
The campground fills very quickly on weekends, even in winter and it operates on a first in best dressed basis. There’s a caretaker on site and you must call the number on the gate before you let yourself in. However, there’s not a whole lot going on in Rapid Bay, so if you need supplies, Yankalilla down the road is your best bet.
There’s also a jetty which is very popular for fishing with both locals and campers alike, all heading out here in the afternoon and early morning.
Between Rapid Bay and Normanville, this quiet slice of the coast has steep sheer cliffs and a pretty pebble beach. Fishing is very popular here as well, both off the rocks and the jetty. Otherwise, there’s a nice walk along the edge of the coast from the jetty where you can play around in the rocks and have a dip in the water. It’s a lovely place to spend a warm afternoon, although it gets very busy in the summer months. There’s a small carpark and public toilet down near the jetty. Otherwise, there’s also a caravan park just back from the beach too.
Known as one of the most beautiful beaches close to Adelaide, Sellicks is a very popular place to enjoy on a summer’s day. It’s one of the few beaches in the state where you’re allowed to drive on the sand, even for 2WD. You’ll find concrete ramps leading down to the sand with plenty of room for cars to park up on the beach. It’s a pretty safe swimming spot as well and windsurfing is popular when the winds are blowing right.
The beach stretches for ages along the coast into the distance all the way to Aldinga Beach to the north. Being just an hour from Adelaide, it can get packed on a summer day, so visit during the week or off season if you can.
This small rural town right at the tip of the peninsula is the mainland port for the Sealink and Kangaroo Island Connect ferries. Kangaroo Island is one of the most unique places to visit in South Australia, and this is where you need to head if you want to jump on a ferry across to the island. Otherwise, you can stop at the lookout just before the ferry terminal and watch as the boats come and go.
Cape Jervis is also the southern trailhead of the 1200km-long Heysen Trail, one of Australia’s few thru-hikes. You might see hikers beginning or ending their triumphant adventure on one of the longest trails in Australia.
Onkaparinga River National Park
Close to the city and yet it feels a world away, the Onkaparinga River National Park is a peaceful place to get lost in nature for a few hours. It’s home to South Australia’s second longest river and is just 32km away from the city centre.
There’s so many walking and cycling trails and lookouts to enjoy with varying difficulties. The main trailheads and car parks are on Piggott Range Road with maps so you can plan your day in the park. I did the Sundews Ridge Hike which is 4km and Punchbowl Lookout Walk which is 2km in one day. The trails are all well-marked but you can download official SA Parks maps here.
There’s also a campground there called Pink Gum Campground which has around 11 large sites for $16.50 per night. The campground also has toilets available, but they are a few hundred metres away from most camping sites. It was relatively quiet when I stayed there for a night and is a nice budget-friendly camp close to the city centre. You can book it through SA Parks here.
McLaren Vale Wine Region
South Australia has some of the best wine in Australia and McLaren Vale is one of its premium wine regions. It might get overshadowed by the Barossa Valley, but it’s one of the closest regions to the city making it perfect for a day trip.
Driving through the area, you can see beautiful vineyards covering the rolling hills which are at their most colourful in autumn. Some of the most popular vineyards and restaurants to head to include Down the Rabbit Hole (with great food and wine and a retro old bus), d’Arenburg (famous winery known for it’s unique 5-storey cube building) and Paxton Wines (family-owned and known for its organic and biodynamic wine).
Where to stay on the Fleurieu Peninsula
Whether you’ve got your own van and camping setup or you prefer to stay in B&Bs and guesthouses, there’s plenty of options.
If you’re camping or travelling in a van, I stayed at:
- Port Elliot Showgrounds ($10 for unpowered site)
- Rapid Bay Campground ($12.50 per person)
- Trig Campground (Deep Creek Conservation Park) ($17 per site)
- Pink Gum Campground (Onkaparinga River National Park) ($17 per site)
If you prefer to stay in accommodation, check out some of these unique places:
- Peppercorns B&B (Old Noarlunga)
- The Garden Cottage at The Olives (Yankalilla)
- Wintergarden Beach Cabin (Victor Harbour)
- The Old Chaff Mill Organic Vineyard Retreat (Sellicks Hill)
Where to next?
If you’re travelling around South Australia, you can head east to the Limestone Coast and Mount Gambier, up into the Adelaide Hills or even further north to the Flinders Ranges.
Read next | 10 Best Things to Do in Mount Gambier