The beautiful Adelaide Hills are the section of the Mount Lofty Ranges that run closest to the city. Many people have set up home in the hills to take advantage of the cooler air, and there are some grand old summer houses here as well as sleek contemporary weekenders. You can access the towns and some stunning walks via short bus or train rides from Adelaide, but having your own car opens up a lot more of the area, notably the Torrens River Gorge. Leaving the city by Glen Osmond Road you join the South Eastern Freeway, the main road to Melbourne – there’s an old tollhouse not far out of the city at Urrbrae and several fine old coaching hotels.
The Heysen Trail, a long-distance walk from Cape Jervis to Parachilna Gorge, cuts across the hills, with four quaint YHA hostels along it; most are run on a limited-access basis and you’ll have to pick the key up first from the office at the Adelaide Central YHA.