Most visitors to Australia aren’t expecting to catch a glimpse of a small town that would look more at home in the mountains of Europe, but then again most people visiting Australia aren’t familiar with Hahndorf before they arrive. Tucked into the Adelaide Hills just a half-hour south of Adelaide itself, Hahndorf was settled by Lutherans and bears a strong resemblance to the homeland of Germany.
One of the most popular towns in all of South Australia for day trips, Hahndorf clocks in at just under 2,000 residents, meaning that its charm and quaintness aren’t just a facade–things really are that laid-back here. A short drive from the Princes Highway, the buildings of Hahndorf appear more like old-world Germany than contemporary Australia. Add to that the surreal nature of bakeries and markets and butchers, and it’s almost as though you’ve stepped into a time warp and ventured back to a simpler, more locally-oriented time.
The European influence isn’t just for Hahndorf accommodations, but also for its important structures. Home of the oldest church in Australia as well as other religious spaces, history buffs and architecture fans will find themselves engrossed in learning while touring St. Michael’s Lutheran Church or Australia’s oldest day school. And the history in the walls is quite formidable, with a number of important moments in the history of South Australia occurring within the town limits of Hahndorf.
For those who are gearing up for some good eating before escaping to wine country, there’s no better place to start than in Hahndorf, where bakeries and chocolate shops are a common and popular sight. Whether it’s delicious pastries made from centuries-old German recipes or some of the most mouthwatering chocolate in the southern hemisphere, Hahndorf has something for everyone’s sweet tooth. Fine dining and inviting home-cooked meals are also easy to come by, with a number of mom-and-pop restaurants around town serving up dishes to locals and travelers alike. Those who have been on the lookout for some fine German beer will be thrilled with what the town has to offer, and more than satiated enough to continue on their journey towards wine country.
An afternoon in Hahndorf is just the sort of relaxing day trip needed to boost the spirits and feel as though, for just a day, one has traveled to a different land, where the spirit of the old country is still very much alive and kicking.