Hahndorf, Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement, feels like a town a million miles away from its home in South Australia. Though it’s only half an hour away by car, this German town near Adelaide has its own distinct personality.
Hahndorf is a charming village where German culinary traditions are kept alive as local providores work with premium produce from the surrounding Adelaide Hills.
The Adelaide Hills and Hahndrof regions remain cooler than the nearby Adelaide plains year round, making it the perfect weekend getaway destination from summer through to winter. In summer, visitors can enjoy temperate days and balmy nights, and in winter visitors can expect Christmas in July celebrations, alongside atmospheric evenings when smoke curling from chimneys mingles with mist that shrouds the surrounding valleys. Spend a weekend eating your way through this beautiful region and it’s easy to see why it has long attracted local and international visitors alike.
Here’s our guide to how to spend 48 hours in this picturesque region, including things to do in Hahndorf, the best wineries in Hahndorf, and accommodation in Hahndorf.
8am: Enjoy breakfast with a difference
If you’re unsure how to get to Hahndorf from Adelaide, leave Adelaide via the South Eastern Freeway, and in twenty minutes you’ll find yourself on the leafy main road in Hahndorf.
Stop at light-filled Fred Eatery, a friendly cafe specialising in creative comfort food that’s heavy on Hills produce. Classics like smashed avo and bircher muesli sit alongside more unusual options, including lightly spiced Indian eggs, breakfast gnocchi and barbecue pork belly served with an omelette.
9am: Stroll down Main Street with a strudel in hand
Fifteen minutes further into the Hills, ditch the car and take a stroll along Hahndorf’s pretty Main Street. It’s easy to get a sense of the town’s history as you walk along an avenue beneath trees as old and as the cute 19th century cottages behind them.
More than 100 shops line the street, keeping traditions like leatherworking, cheesemaking and even candlemaking alive. And if you find yourself getting peckish, there are several bakeries specialising in traditional German treats like strudels and bienenstich. Main Street is also the place to be during any Hahndorf events.
11am: Blend your own gin
Located on the northern edge of town, Ambleside distillery has won plenty of awards for gins that make liberal use of local botanicals. But if you think you can do better (with a little help from the distillers) join their gin blending masterclass and create your own personalised gin using an array of ingredients.
12pm: Pick the freshest strawberries you’ll ever taste
You’ll find Beerenberg Farm jams and spreads on breakfast tables around Australia, but their best product is only available at the farm itself, and visiting Beerenberg Farm is one of the most enchanting Hahndorf activities the region has to offer.
Wander through the strawberry patch on the other side of town, filling your basket with the plumpest berries, then get them weighed and tuck in, until bright red juice runs down your chin. But be warned: you won’t want to go back to supermarket fare after the fresh, flavoursome fruit you find here.
1pm: Pack a picnic
Wander back down Main Street and add a few key alfresco-feast ingredients to your basket full of strawberries. Stop by the Harris Smokehouse for delectable smoked fish, and pick up some rich, creamy cheeses and goat’s curd at Udder Delights. Order a fluffy pretzel from the German Cake Shop Bakery and some cured meats from the nearby German Pantry to fill it with.
Then top it all off with a block of crystallised violet and cacao nibs in dark chocolate from Chocolate @ No. 5. Spread a rug out in the Pioneer Gardens and graze to your heart’s content.
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2pm: Discover Australia’s first great landscape painter
The unique light and epic sunsets of the leafy Adelaide Hills have long attracted artists from around the world and none was more influential than Sir Hans Heysen.
Famous for his images of the fertile Mount Lofty Ranges and the arid Flinders Ranges further north, he found the Adelaide Hills so enchanting that he spent most of his career living and painting at The Cedars – a rambling estate just outside Hahndorf.
Take a wander through the house, where Federation era furnishings hark back to an era when Heysen entertained eminent guests including Dame Nellie Melba, Anna Pavlova and Sir Edmund Hillary. Then visit Heysen’s purpose-built studio, before exploring the property on a self-guided walk that takes in the artist’s favourite spots. You might even recognise some of the views from his paintings.
6pm: Tuck into a hearty German feast
Hahndorf’s oldest licensed venue has been trading since the village was founded in 1839. You’ll find a few nods to current trends at the German Arms Hotel, but the traditional section of the menu gets the most love from patrons, and for good reason.
Enjoy the warm country hospitality with a traditional wurst platter, smoked kassler chop or slow-cooked pork knuckle and sauerkraut, and wash it down with a stein of one of the imported German beers on tap.
8am: Say buenos dias at Comida
Hahndorf may be more famous for its Teutonic heritage, but Spanish-influenced Comida restaurant is also a great spot to start the day.
Grab a seat on the spacious deck out back or wander around the veggie garden while you decide between a sweet or savoury breakfast. Choices include French toast-like torrijas with rhubarb, caramel and hazelnuts, and eggs with hearty kingfish and potato fritters.
9.30am: Take a scenic drive up the Onkaparinga Valley
Leave the freeway behind for the serpentine roads of the Onkaparinga Scenic Drive. Roll the windows down and draw in the clean Hills air as you wind past roadside stalls full of local fruit, rustic stone churches and pockets of remnant bushland that harbour large populations of koalas, kangaroos emus.
Pass through the charming villages of Verdun, Oakbank and Woodside before turning off to Lobethal – famous for its extravagant Christmas lights displays. Then loop back via the cool climate vineyards of Lenswood and easy-going Uraidla. The winding roads will require all of your concentration, so leave plenty of time to stop and take in the views of the rolling vineyards, blooming orchards and verdant valleys you encounter along the way.
12pm: Eat pizza in a 130-year-old church
Many a pizza lover has found enlightenment at Lost in a Forest, a converted church in the middle of Uraidla. With original features including the stained-glass windows, the pizzeria has a wood-fired oven that turns out delicious treats like the banh mi pizza with 20-hour slow-cooked pork, and the ‘shroom’ piled high with different types of mushrooms (some from the nearby pine forests). The drinks list has an excellent selection of lo-fi drops from the surrounding region, many of which are hard to find elsewhere.
1.30pm: Get to know your pet nat from your pinot
For those wanting to explore some of Hahndorf and the Adelaide Hills wineries and cellar doors, drive five minutes to the small village of Summertown.
There the Summertown Aristologist’s new cellar door is the best place to get acquainted with ultra-cool natural wines from the Basket Range region, and one of the best wineries to visit in Adelaide Hills.
Nearby Ashton Hills kickstarted the pinot renaissance in the eighties and still leads the way with elegantly perfumed cool climate expressions, dispensed from a cosy cellar door that you’ll never want to leave.
The Hahndorf Hill Winery offers stunning Hahndorf Hill wines, with a cellar door offering which highlights local produce.
On your way back towards Hahndorf, stop off at The Lane vineyard for an Adelaide Hills winery lunch or dinner at the winery restaurant. This cellar door offers stunning views over the adjacent vineyards, and the range of experiences on offer includes structured tastings and tours with a winemaker, as well as a chance to try five different styles of shiraz or chardonnay from around the Adelaide Hills. A popular destination for day trips from Hahndorf, spend an afternoon at The Lane Vineyard enjoying the wineries tours and wines.
7pm: Enjoy dinner with a view of the Flinders Ranges
Not only is Haus Hahndorf’s largest restaurant, the award winning restaurant is the only place where you can look at an original Hans Heysen while you dine. Haus’s extensive menu stretches to several pages and the wine list is even longer; fortunately dishes like 12-hour slow-cooked ribs, lamb shank pie and vegan curry each have a suggested drink pairing.
Hahndorf is home to several stunning accommodation options hosted by the Haus Group.
Need a place to stay?
The Manna by Haus, Ascend Hotel Collection, situated on the heritage-listed township’s Main Street in the heart of Hahndorf, offers uniquely charming accommodation with a variety of rooms to suit every traveller.
The Studios by Haus, Ascend Hotel Collection offers the ultimate in luxury in the centre of town.
The Lodge by Haus is a cozy Hahndorf hotel base from which to explore the areas rich hospitality. For travellers looking for Hahndorf family accommodation with modern amenities (including free wifi) and close access to public transport, the Haus group offers family (and even pooch) friendly accommodation options.