Just a mere 25-minute drive up the South Eastern Freeway from Adelaide’s city centre, you’ll find yourself in the otherworldly German village of Hahndorf/Bukartilla in the Adelaide Hills. The quaint town is famous for its tree-lined main street, German-style architecture, as well as home to niche stores and artisan eateries, to name a few qualities.
Hahndorf’s name alone is seemingly out of place in the Australian countryside; having been established by 19th-century Lutheran migrants in 1839, making the heritage-listed town Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement. Traditionally called Bukartilla by the Indigenous Peramangk people translating to ‘deep pool’ or ‘wash place’, the locale was a significant water and food source for the First Nation people.
Fast-forward to this day and age, Hahndorf is the place to be for German specialty stores and bakeries galore, galleries and olde leatherworks, impressive wineries and cellar doors, as well as yesteryear pubs and unique retail, amongst the slew of Hahndorf to-see and dos. We’ve put together a list of 10 of the best things to do in Hahndorf while you’re visiting the hillside destination.
1. Character Pubs
Sunny afternoons and crisp winter days combined with yesteryear pubs go hand in hand; and there’s just something about old-timey drinking houses which exude an ambiance that slick joints just don’t quite grasp. Hahndorf is home to a number of fantastic German-style spots which will surefire accommodate your boozy needs and European holiday dreamin’. On the main drag you’ll find The Hahndorf Old Mill Hotel, Hahndorf Inn, and German Arms Hotel in all their stone-built glory, serving up big old steins of beer and equally as large German pub fare.
The German Arms pride themselves as the town’s go-to hotel and exudes a Black Forest ambience inside their eating hall-style restaurant. Where possible, their meals are made with locally sourced, seasonal produce and their menu has a section specifically labelled as plant-based too. Take a look at our guide to the best pubs in the Adelaide Hills serving up delicious vegan meals.
2. German Specialty Stores
A visit to Hahndorf wouldn’t be complete without a peep into one (or all) of the German specialty stores. From handmade gourmet goods to handcrafted Bavarian ornaments, there’s something reminiscent of the European nation in all corners of the town.
Established in 1989, the family-run German Village Shop stocks imported, authentic products like delicate beer steins, decorations, and nutcrackers, as well as boasting an entire room filled with working Black Forest cuckoo clocks and toys. The Christmas-themed store transports you to a typical Bavarian village with cheery music welcoming you inside the doors, guarded by two 6-foot-tall nutcrackers. The German Village Shop is a warm hug.
On the other hand, The German Pantry stands proudly on the main road’s T-section, watching over all who enter the town. Here, specialty smallgoods are in abundance – from confectionary and jams to mustards and pickles, as well as delicatessen items and some great hot chocolate. Just make sure you don’t take photos inside the store – owner’s rules.
Pop across the road to The German Cake Shop complete with pretzel signage. This bakery is small in size, but makes up for it with their steamy soups, hot pies, freshly baked German desserts, and of course, pretzels. Dine amongst their clutter of clocks and antiques while indulging in an apple strudel or a bratwurst.
3. Fashion & Op Shops
No secrets here, we’ve nabbed many a fabulous wardrobe item from Hahndorf’s fabulous fashion stores and secondhand shops. If you’re after a piece of clothing that hasn’t seen the light of day since 1987, then Christian Care & Share Op Shop should be on your radar. But if you’re into a more-so curated, upscale thrift experience then don’t stride past Begin Again behind the Herbee’s Garden Cafe nook.
But if someone else’s crusty old boots aren’t your thing, Hahndorf also accommodates for less rummaging and more crispy clothing. Unique retail with delicate inventory can be found all along the main strip, namely: The Clothing Palette, homey Zest For Fashion, Boho Gypsy Belle where you’re bound to find some one-of-a-kinds, House of Knitwear, and The Alpaca Store, to name a few of our favourites.
4. Cellar Doors, Wineries & Breweries
Renowned for its cool climate in comparison to other winemaking regions in the state, the Adelaide Hills wine region is quite diverse, and Hahndorf is no exception. Both along the main drag and off the beaten track, you’ll find a number of cellar doors, wineries, and breweries too. In terms of wineries, The Lane Vineyard is top-notch, along with Sidewood Estate, and Hahndorf Hill Winery for stunning views across lush vineyards.
If you’re sticking to the more populated areas of Hahndorf however with a lowkey, bar-like feel; sip wines in the lovely Somerled Wines, La Prova, the intimate Landhaus Wines, and Adelaide Hills Wine Bar. Take a look at our guide to the best wineries in the Adelaide Hills whilst you’re in the region.
If naughty grape juice doesn’t quite tickle your fancy; Hahndorf Brewing Co slings its own range of house-made German-style brews from their hall and flower-lined beer garden, while Gulf Brewery pours from their cottage-esque microbrewery. Iconic South Australian craft beer, Prancing Pony is brewed in Hahndorf too, and you can gulp amongst their ginormous silos.
Spirits are no stranger to Hahndorf either, with Ambleside Distillers’ cellar door just down the road too. Relax on the patio or overlooking their science lab-like distilling apparatuses while gazing upon the gumtrees. Ambleside’s Big Dry Gin was crowned the Best Australian Spirit at the 2022 London Spirits Competition too, so you know it’s going to be an adventure for your taste buds.
Everyday throughout the warmer seasons, usually November to April, you can pick your own strawberries at the Beerenberg Farm in Hahndorf. The family farm has been producing the juicy morsels across six generations, so it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about producing some of Adelaide’s sweetest and best-tasting strawberries. There’s also a cafe on site if your stomach isn’t quite satisfied from your harvest. Find out more details about Beerenberg Farm here.
6. Cafes & Dining
While all the venues mentioned in our Character Pubs category and Cellar Doors & Wineries section above are exceptional on the dining front; Hahndorf has a number of grounds which are less booze-focused and more-so on the food and coffee-specific side of things.
Cuisine from all over the globe can be found in the neighbourhood with options for the omnivorous and herbivorous alike. Although we can’t name them all, these are our top picks for the best cafes in Hahndorf.
For casual cafe eats; head to Hahndorf Kaffehaus & Fine Foods to step back in time while enjoying traditional German breakfasts, currywurst with a side of chips, or something from their baked-goods window. Sit in the sunshine at German Spoon Cafe sipping coffee and listening to live accordion music. Wunderbar Dog Haus claims to have ‘probably the best tasting hot dog in the world’.
Big platters of snags, pretzels, and homemade cakes don’t go astray at The German Inn; they also self-proclaim to make the best coffee in town. Cafe 1839 for fluffy pancakes and flavoursome dumplings. And The Plough for traditional Irish grub and bakery, as well as a teeny-tiny 10-seater pub with big pints of Guiness. Each cafe serves up a healthy dose of ambience too.
If you’re looking for a more refined dining experience; Comdia is worth a visit for their contemporary fare with a Spanish flare – having further established their name as an Adelaide crowd favourite after their appearance as the first ever fully serviced restaurant at Adelaide Fringe’s Gluttony in 2023.
Visit Gepetto’s for a generous serving of seafood pasta, and Bangkok Noi for fresh Thai cuisine. Il Mulino serve up epic handmade pizzas, while The Haus Restaurant is the go-to for patio dining accompanied by award-winning, hearty German cuisine.
7. Artisan & Handmade Stores
Within moments of stepping foot in Hahndorf, you’ll notice the slew of artisan stores and shops offering their handmade wares and nibbles. There’s Hahndorf Leathersmith with their bags, belts, boots, and akubra hats; Beeswax with all things that buzz from skincare to candles; Bamfurlong with their plates and pottery; The Cutler’s Cottage with their slick knifes; Hommes Unique with everything from whiskey droppers to suits of armor; third generation The Candle Shop for European waxy stuffs and wooden German folk art; and Blacksheep with their keepsakes and crafty bits and bobs – to name a few favourites.
In terms of edible handcrafted goods, they’re aplenty too. Stumble into the iconic Hahndorf Sweets for traditional morsels like spuds and novelty treats life Duff; The Fudge Shop for your chewy fix; neighbouring FruChocs Shop for a taste of South Australia’s beloved fruity confectionary; Evercream for a smooth serving of ice cream; and taste award-winning cheeses at Udder Delights.
8. Galleries & Collectables Stores
Many a gallery and collectables store line the streets of Hahndorf, with a few hidden gems along the roads less travelled too. Hahndorf Acadamy showcases local artists’ works, while Decor Dreams offer contemporary, palette knife oil paintings. And if you want to try your hand at some creative works yourself, get your supplies from the glorious PaintBox.
At Bukartilla you’ll find a collection of minerals, gemstones, shells, fossils, insects, butterflies, and natural materials like timber, and precious opals. On the flipside at The Cedars, the beautiful home of famed 20th-century landscape painter, Sir Hans Heysen; find over 200 of his original works in a rotating display in the preserved house, and mosey around the splendid countryside gardens.
Adjoining the Adelaide Hills Wine Bar, Wolf Blass Gallery & Wine Museum displays the personal achievements, awards, and records of Wolf Blass over a brilliant 60 years of winemaking. The chic room also showcases wine photography and a library space.
Now, not all galleries are for looking and no touching; Hahndorf is a treasure-trove if you’re on the hunt for antiquated bargains. Head to Grass Roots Vintage for oodles of aged, outdoorsy and garden items. And don’t stroll past Hahndorf Antiques & Collectables; they’ve got everything from hat stands and purses to glassware and oil lamps, spoons and jewellery to toy cars and rotary phones. And a little ways down the road you’ll find Salvage & Save Windmill Hill with a similar offering near Prancing Pony Brewery.
9. Fairy Gardens & Magical Shops
Awe-inspiring for kids and adults alike, part of Hahndorf’s charm can be found in magical shops and fairy gardens. At Wanderlust Soul Haus Of Healing you can find all kinds of crystals and stones, palo santo burning sticks to protect your space, and even psychic readings and energy healing. The Fairy Garden, although not a physical garden, stocks everything you need to create your own; from intricately crafted toadstools and teapot cottages, to sleepy gnomes and costumes. Tucked behind Herbee’s Cafe you’ll come across a small, but vibrant fairy garden waiting to be wished upon by the youngins. And there’s something a little magical about the Christmas-themed German Village Shop too.
10. Autumn Colours
All these things to do and see, but when to visit! Hahndorf will deliver the goods any dang time of the year, but autumn really does turn on the ambience. March marks the beginning of autumn in Adelaide, but April is the best time to head up the hill to gaze upon stunning hues to red, yellow, and orange; with the last of the leaves falling in May. It’ll be a hard task to snap a below average photo when visiting the picturesque village during the autumn season in Hahndorf. Take a look at our favourite Adelaide Hills spots and trails for the best leafy colours nearby.