Your Ultimate Guide to Victor Harbor
1st August 2022
Victor Harbor in a nutshell
Victor Harbor is a beautiful seaside town located on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Just over an hour away from Adelaide by car, the town faces striking Encounter Bay and is filled with old-world charm. Heavenly views across the sea and a friendly small-town atmosphere are the drawcard features of the area. Particularly in summer Victor Harbor is popular with tourists. Catering perfectly for those seeking relaxing coastal getaways, surfing trips, romantic escapes but also families holidays, there are endless things to do in Victor Harbor.
The slow-pace town was for thousands of years home to the Ramindjeri people who hunted and gathered in the region they called ‘Wirramulla’. Dreamtime stories here such as Kaiki (the Indigenous name for Granite Island), have great spiritual significance, with the magnificent southern right whale featuring often. The first Europeans arrived in Victor Harbor over 200 years ago, and whaling stations traded for years, until bigger profits were made from boats carrying goods such as wheat and wool and a train line was introduced.
Today, Victor Harbor is famous for its thriving tourism industry. Visitors head here when hiking on the famous Heysen Trail, for whale watching during the winter months, for the region’s wild penguin colony and iconic Granite Island which features horse-drawn trams which cross the causeway to the island.
Not far from the lovely seaside town, you’ll also be completely spoiled for choice when it comes to beaches. Fleurieu Peninsula is home to multiple secluded coves, crystal clear waters and dramatic rocky and undulating landscapes. The result, is a beach-lovers idea of heaven. Additionally, this kind of dazzling coastal landscape means great potential for hiking and biking. Coastal paths and trails are easily located; you can walk or cycle for hours, or days here. The main township itself is also a great place to hang out. Packed with cafes, restaurants and playgrounds, there’s something for everyone.
Make the one hour journey to Victor Harbor and spend a weekend amongst the natural beauty and wildlife of the region. This Ultimate Guide has been created to point out all of the wonderful things to do in Victor Harbor. Use this Ultimate Guide to sculpt your very own Victor Harbor trip.
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Things to do in Victor Harbor
Go whale watching in Victor Harbor
Visit Victor Harbor between the months of May and October and you might be lucky enough to see some of South Australia’s most magnificent visitors. Spotting whales in the wild is a magical experience and Victor Harbor is the perfect place to have a go. The SA Whale Centre can help you spot these majestic creatures. Drop by and grab some information about whale watching in Victor Harbor. Get some top tips for the staff and learn some fascinating facts about the whales. Interactive activities are also provided for the kids. For a more exciting and immersive whale watching experience, book yourself a spot on a tour by The Big Duck Boat Tours. As well as finding whales, you’ll likely see some dolphins and seals too.
Visit Granite Island
Located just off the shore of the Victor Harbor coastline, this sweet little island is definitely worth a visit. Granite boulders stacked up across Granite Island make for the perfect backdrop for a short wander, with incredible panoramic sea views. The walk around the perimeter is 3-kilometres long and the path is accessible for walkers of any ability. On your way around, visit the southern-facing viewing platform and gaze out to sea. If you’re visiting between May and October, stay for a while and try to spot whales as they swim up along the coastline. Learn a little about the importance of the land to aboriginal people and look out for the sculptures scattered around the island.
Take a horse-drawn tram to Granite Island
Whilst a trip to Granite Island is fun enough, add to your experience by taking a horse-drawn tram. Be lead by gorgeous Clydesdale horses across the historic 630-metre bridge and experience a snippet of Victor Harbor’s history. Horse lovers shouldn’t fear; whilst two horses work at one time, there are seven in total working on a roster. There are alternative ways to reach Granite Island, but this has to be the most delightful way.
Take your kids to Urimbirra Wildlife Park
Get up close and personal with some of Australia’s wildlife at Urimbirra Wildlife Park in Victor Harbor. A range of Australian animals can be seen throughout the expansive park. This is the ultimate of all things to do in Victor Harbor with kids. Pet a kangaroo, feed an emu and pat a koala at this friendly wildlife park and learn a little about the animals too.
Visit the Fleurieu Peninsula beaches
When considering what to do in Victor Harbor, don’t miss out on visiting some absolutely irresistible South Australian beaches. Dotted around the gorgeous Fleurieu Peninsula coastline, you’ll discover stunning hidden gems, lined with dramatic jagged rocks. Sweeping sandy beaches can be found in multiple locations. If you don’t mind spending a little time in the car, drive along the coast and find your favourite seaside spots.
Head to Blowhole Beach for a small and intimate beach, rarely crowded and brimming with wildlife (mainly dolphins and kangaroos). Alternatively Second Valley, more popular in recent years, is absolutely pristine and ideal for a refreshing dip. Rapid Bay is also a favourite for locals and tourists alike. Stay closer to your Victor Harbor accommodation and drive to Port Elliot to find Horseshoe Bay and Knights Beach. The coastline at Port Elliot offers a number of options, including some stunning smaller and secluded beaches.
The spectacular coastline in this part of the state also offers some of the best surfing beaches in South Australia. If you’re new to surfing and looking to give it a go, opt for a class. Take a group or private lesson and learn the basis in one of the most stunning surfing locations around.
Cycle or walk along the Encounter Bikeway
Snaking its way round Encounter Bay, Encounter Bikeway is a stunning way to travel along the coastline. The trail is 30-kilometres long and meanders its way from Victor Harbor to Goolwa. Follow the whole path, or take just one section to travel between sites. Coves, beaches, playgrounds and cafes interspersed along the way make the path inviting to family bike rides. Look out for opportunities for panoramic ocean views from Freeman Knob or whale watching opportunities from Basham Beach. A fantastic way to approach the entirety of Encounter Bikeway is to walk one way, catching the train back.
Explore the natural landscapes of Fleurieu Peninsula
Head inland during your trip to Victor Harbour and explore the unique national parks and conservation areas. Deep Creek Conservation park is a stunning place to discover the essence of Fleurieu Peninsula nature and wildlife. 15 walking trails, including part of the famous Heysen Trail, wind their way through this glorious gem just outside of Victor Harbor. Whales can be seen cruising the coast in the winter, western grey kangaroos are plentiful and over 100 species of birds call the conservation park home.
Alternatively, opt for a day trip to a flatter, coastal area of South Australia. Coorong National Park is an utterly fabulous place for a dose of nature. Located a little further south, a trip here involves a short drive. The serenity, ecological diversity and extensive wetlands of Coorong National Park invite guests to enjoy a range of activities. Kayaking, fishing, hiking, bird watching and boating are popular in the region.
Wander around historic Victor Harbor
The centre of Victor Harbor oozes historic charm. Quaint old wooden toy shops, sweet shops and pubs make the town charming and very inviting to visitors. A 3-kilometre guided walk – the Victor Harbor Town Centre Heritage Trail – is an ideal way to explore the town. As you walk, find 38 heritage buildings and 50 blue heritage plaques placed on historic buildings which give you a sense of the town’s vibrant history. Uncover the stories of the town, learning a little more about what makes Victor Harbor what it is today. To collect a Victor Harbor Town Centre Heritage Trail map, visit the Victor Harbor Visitor Information Centre.
Take a tour
Is your visit to Victor Harbor a little fleeting? You’ll be wanting to see all the main attractions and sites in a shorter period of time. Why not embark on a full day tour to Victor Harbor and McLaren Vale for an unforgettable experience? Take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque esplanade of Victor Harbor, immersing yourself in the coastal beauty. Explore the historic river port of Goolwa and the charming coastal town of Port Elliott. As you pass through Horseshoe Bay, Rosetta Heads, and Encounter Bay, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views and stunning landscapes. This awesome Victor Harbor tour promises a day of discovery and natural wonders!
Ride the Cockle Train to Goolwa
When it comes to family-friendly activities in Victor Harbor, there are lots of things for the kids to enjoy. Get onboard the historic Cockle Train from Victor Harbor to Goolwa for a family adventure. Get to the station from your Victor Harbor accommodation and begin your journey. The train is an ideal and unique way to visit one of the neighbouring Fleurieu Peninsula towns. The train, set upon Australia’s first railway line, was built in 1887 and offers spectacular scenery across the sea. Take a break from driving for a day. There are plenty of things to do in Goolwa for a few hours too. Opt for a leisurely seaside lunch in Goolwa and then take the train back. It’s the perfect family day trip.
Climb up The Bluff
When it comes to things to do in Victor Harbor, climbing up The Bluff is a must. Boasting breathtaking views across the town itself, the whole of Encounter Bay, Granite island and luscious green farmlands, The Bluff offers the best views in the region. Choose to walk the one hour Rosetta trail which takes you from the carpark and back, for the ultimate experience. At the peak, learn a little about European settlement, seafaring explorers and the naming of Encounter Bay.
For those seeking an adrenaline rush, you could also consider an abseiling adventure on the Bluff. Embark on a thrilling two-hour abseiling tour down The Bluff that will leave you exhilarated. You’ll experience the rush as you abseil over a magnificent boulder, descending to the ocean beach below. And with the guidance of qualified and experienced instructors, feel confident as you scale down ridged cliff faces. Take in the breathtaking scenery and enjoy 360-degree views of the stunning coastline!
Victor Harbor Farmer’s Market
Every Saturday 8am-12.30pm Victor Harbor Farmer’s Market is a great place for a wander, a coffee and a browse of local products. Located at Grosvenor Gardens, the market sells everything from kids clothes, to honey, fruit, vegetables, cheeses, gifts and more. Catch local musicians throughout the morning too. If it’s sunny, this is the perfect opportunity to kick back with a morning coffee on the grass. Idyllic!
Discover some of the local wildlife
If you’re wandering what to do in Victor Harbor with children, you might consider discovering some of the local wildlife. Little penguins can be found on Granite Island, but only in the evening. During the day, the penguins leave Granite Island to catch fish, returning from the open waters and dodging predators in the Great Australian Bight at night. In order to protect the colony, the only way to view the penguins is by taking a tour.
Bottlenose Dolphins, New Zealand Fur Seals and Australian Sea Lions are some of the other remarkable sea creatures living in and around Victor Harbor. If getting close with wild dolphins sounds like a dream, take a tour with Big Duck Boat Tours. This is certainly the best way to immerse yourself in the coastal scenery amongst some of the local wildlife. Even just floating upon the ocean amongst the stunning surrounding environment is an overwhelming experience. However, dolphins are known to swim around the boats during tours, making the tour utterly special.
Restaurants in Victor Harbor
Dotted throughout Victor Harbour are a number of cosy cafes and tempting restaurant. First thing’s first; everyone is in need of a coffee at some point during the weekend. Drop into Qahwa Coffee Roasters for a chic and trendy vibe and a cosy cup of coffee. Simple, fresh and vibrant, the cafe is friendly and even better, it’s right next to the beach!
Seeing as you’re on the coast, you also may as well indulge in some delicious fish and chip too. Swing by The Original Victor Fish Shop and find a seat by the seaside to get the full Victor Harbor experience. For another typical Victor Harbor experience, pop down the road to Port Elliot Bakery and grab a tasty, warm treat. The shop, open for 28 years, has a great reputation and the queue down the road speaks for itself!
Restaurants in Victor Harbor
Those looking for something delicious for an evening meal might like to try Red Orchid Thai Café – known for its modern approach to delicious Asian cuisine. Otherwise, Loco Mexican is an excellent choice for all kinds of groups. Their fun approach to Mexican cuisine, excellent drinks menu and vibrant decor makes for a great night out, whether you’re with friends, family or your partner.
For something with a more local feel, try The Anchorage. With sea views and a traditional, heritage-style atmosphere, the restaurant here serves all time classics using fresh, local produce. Fish, fruit and vegetables are chosen from local markets daily, whilst meat is local and chosen from local farmers. Try something from the Specials Menu and don’t miss out on their hearty breakfast!
SA Weekend Escapes’ Top Hotel Pick
Just over an hour from Adelaide by car, Victor Harbor might be just the weekend escape you’re after. Looking for hotels in Victor Harbor? Look no further than The Anchorage Hotel, a waterfront hotel in the very heart of the town.
The Anchorage Hotel is known for its unbeatable location on the sea front and its delicious cuisine. Guests at The Anchorage Hotel enjoy a locally renowned restaurant only metres from their room, serving excellent meals created with local produce and paired with South Australian wines. You can also pick up a quality barista-made coffee on your way out in the morning to explore the region!
The hotel caters to all kinds of groups including families on holiday and couples seeking a romantic getaway. Spa rooms with balconies, family suites and apartments are all available for booking. Grab yourself a snug and cosy room at The Anchorage in Victor Harbor this weekend and spend a weekend exploring the seaside! To book your room, click here.
Use the code SAWE10 to receive 10% off your stay at The Anchorage!