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From browsing street vendors at the central market to attending the month-long Fringe Festival, here is our list of the best things to do in Adelaide, South Australia!
The capital city of South Australia, Adelaide, has been developing the reputation as the new up-and-coming tourist hotspot in Australia.
The River Torrens runs through the inner city and the city itself is situated on the Adelaide Plains, between beautiful beaches to the west with the Mount Lofty Ranges just to the east.
Adelaide has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild yet rainy winters.
Because of this, and the very friendly locals, it has consistently been ranked as one of the top 10 most livable cities in the world.
Founded in 1836, Adelaide was the only freely settled British province in Australia.
Its fascinating history and culture were shaped heavily by these wealthy free settlers and became known for its many diverse religions, religious freedom and progressive government.
That is how Adelaide earned the nickname “City of Churches”.
A vibrant city life, arts, music, wine, multicultural food and many annual festivals are what makes Adelaide one of the best Australian cities to visit.
There is also an abundance of outdoor activities and parks to explore from the green space downtown to the Adelaide Hills and the sandy beaches on the coast.
READ MORE: Check out our complete guide to travelling in Australia!
Adelaide has a small and compact city centre, created in a grid-like fashion, making it very easy to explore on foot or by bike. Even the Adelaide airport is only a 10-minute drive from the city center, so everything is close together.
The culinary and wine scene here is huge, you could almost make Adelaide a destination for food and wine alone!
In fact, the city claims it has the most restaurants per capita than any other city in Australia.
And its wine region produces more than 50 per cent of the country’s wine!
But, Adelaide offers so much more than just touring wine regions and indulging in tasty dishes.
The city recently became recognised as a “city of music” by the UNESCO Creative Cities Network because of the large number of live music venues.
Adelaide is also Australia’s Festival City, known for its many festivals held in the fall, including the famous month-long Fringe Festival.
A short drive or ferry ride away is Australia’s third-largest island and one of the top tourist attractions, Kangaroo Island, making Adelaide a major stopover for tourists.
The Best Things to do in Adelaide, South Australia
Whether you’re interested in indulging in food and wine before leaving to explore the magical Kangaroo Island, or you want to live it up at the Fringe Festival, there are tonnes of incredible things to do in Adelaide, South Australia!
With most of the top Adelaide tourist attractions being so close together, you could easily make day trips from Adelaide to see the Barossa Wine Valley, Adelaide Hills, Victor Harbour or the bayside towns of Glenelg and Henley Beach.
But if you’re looking for a bit of history and culture without leaving the inner city, there are also plenty of museums, heritage buildings, music venues, art galleries, and sporting events to keep you entertained during your stay.
1) Relax in the Stunning Adelaide Botanic Gardens
In the heart of the Adelaide city centre lies over 50 hectares of lush parkland at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens.
Spend all day or just a couple of hours touring several different areas including a formal rose garden, wetlands, three glasshouses housing an Australian rainforest, Amazonian water lilies, and Madagascan palms.
Opened in 1857, the Botanic Garden’s vision is to show the public the importance of plants and how they shape our future.
Whether you are an avid plant lover or just want to admire the historic architecture, the Botanic Gardens are definitely one of the most popular Adelaide tourist attractions.
There’s a reason why it’s one of the best things to see in Adelaide. You can combine the beautiful gardens with a trip to the Adelaide Zoo to see the giant pandas, as they’re right next to each other.
- Cost: Free
- Hours: 7:15 am – 6:30 pm, closes at 9pm on weekends
- Location: North Terrace
2) Explore the Adelaide Central Markets
Definitely one of the best things to do in Adelaide is browsing the vendor stalls at the Adelaide Central Markets.
It is the largest covered market in the southern hemisphere with over 70 vendors selling fresh produce, meats and cheeses, seafood, baked goods, health food, and handmade items.
If you aren’t looking to stock up on goods, the Adelaide central market is also a great place to grab a quick bite to eat.
There are a variety of cafes and food stalls serving up multicultural cuisine.
Located in the heart of the inner city, the Adelaide central market is easy to walk to from any part of town.
And at 150 years old, it is the oldest food market in Australia. Definitely a must-see destination!
Foodies can even consider booking a guided tour of the central market with a local so you can learn all about the history, culture, and food options.
- Hours: 9am-5:30pm, closes at 3pm on Saturdays and closed Sundays and Mondays
- Location: 44-60 Gouger St
3) Ride a Bike Along the River Torrens
You can’t visit Adelaide and not explore the River Torrens and Linear Park.
Rent a bike at one of the participating locations (there are several throughout the city) and enjoy a leisurely ride on the 30km long pedestrian and bike path that runs along both sides of the river bank.
Best of all, it’s free!
You will pass by the Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide Zoo and the Botanic Gardens.
Cross one of the many beautiful bridges to the north side and you will see the Adelaide Oval, a few historic buildings, and lots of stunning architecture.
Enjoy watching the rowing crews out on the river and then stop for a bite to eat or a glass of wine at one of the many eateries situated near the river’s edge.
If you’d rather just sit back and relax, you could also book a River Torrens sightseeing cruise on a historic boat.
4) Watch a Game or Climb to the Top of Adelaide Oval
If you are wondering what to see in Adelaide that you can’t see in other places, check out the Adelaide Oval.
The Oval is one of the most prestigious sports venues in South Australia, and the entire country. It lures thousands of visitors every year to its gates.
You can watch a cricket or football game, see a concert or attend a major event.
Just check the calendar to see what is happening when you’re in town.
No games or events on during your trip? Take a tour of the famous stadium and climb to the top to see some amazing views of the city.
Whatever you fancy, you will be sure to find entertainment at the Oval!
5) Tour the Art Gallery of South Australia
There is something fascinating to be found by history buffs, art lovers and world culture enthusiasts at the Art Gallery of South Australia!
Housing one of Australia’s best art collections, from aboriginal pieces to colonial and modern paintings and furniture, this is by far one of Adelaide’s top tourist attractions.
Every room has a different theme and has been cleverly curated. You will definitely be wowed by the impressive collection of over 42,000 works of art!
The gallery is a must-see in Adelaide for all ages, they even offer a variety of family friendly activities for everyone to enjoy.
- Cost: Free (except special art galleries and exhibitions)
- Hous: 10am-5pm
- Location: North Terrace
6) Go on a Self-Guided Walking Tour of the Historic City Centre
Pick up a map at the visitor information centre and go experience some of the best Adelaide sightseeing by touring the historic city centre.
This is one of the best ways to get acquainted with the city and see its many historic sites.
Choose one of the many self-guided trails or go on a few and walk at your own leisurely or fast pace. The choice is yours!
You can see the Parliament House, Town Hall, the Festival Theatre, Victoria Square, the Darling Building, any of the many cathedrals and Adelaide’s first post-war skyscraper the MLC building.
Turn down one of the backstreets or alleyways and you may find some stunning architecture or a collection of colorful street art.
There are so many amazing things in Adelaide, and a walking tour is one of the best ways to see it all.
7) Hike to a Waterfall and Mountain Top View at Cleland Conservation Park
The Cleland Conservation Park is best known for its great hiking trails, especially the hiking trail up Mount Lofty.
This is the highest point in the area, and the view from the summit makes this one of the best things to do in Adelaide Hills.
Up here you can enjoy a panoramic view of Adelaide city and surrounding areas in South Australia. The view is sure to take your breath away!
At the base of Mt Lofty is Waterfall Gully, a beautiful area with seven waterfalls.
The Park itself is nestled in the bushland of the Adelaide Hills, just 22 km southeast of Adelaide.
Go just to view the waterfalls and enjoy spending time in nature, or be ambitious and hike the 3.9 km to the top of the mountain. You can also try mountain biking in Adelaide Hills if you’re feeling adventurous.
If you’re looking for other outdoorsy Adelaide things to do, also consider checking out Belair National Park, the first national park in South Australia.
Or check out the waterfalls at Morialta Conservation Park; both are less than 15 km away from the city.
- Cost: Free
- Hours: Open 24/7
- Location: Waterfall Gully Rd
8) Relax in the Himeji Garden
One of the best Adelaide activities is to relax and bask in the beautiful Himeji Gardens.
Whether you want to meditate, or just go for a leisurely stroll through the park, this is the place to do it!
Named after Himeji, a historic city in Japan, the garden’s design was given as a gift as it is Adelaide’s sister city.
The garden was opened in 1982 and has a fish and turtle pond, gravel garden, manicured shrubs and plenty of shaded or sunny areas to enjoy a book or picnic.
- Cost: Free
- Hours: 8am – 530pm
- Location: 6018 South Terrace
READ MORE: Plan your perfect 3 day itinerary in Melbourne!
9) Discover Plenty of Wonders at the South Australian Museum
Since 1834 the South Australian Museum has displayed Australia’s natural and cultural heritage for all to see.
It is home to an expansive Aboriginal and Pacific Island collection that will delight all who come to the museum.
This museum also has displays full of fossils, dinosaurs and other preserved animals from ancient times.
One of the other top exhibits is the Egypt collection, where there are even two mummies on display!
Kids will also love this family friendly museum, especially the hands-on discovery exhibit.
- Cost: Free (except for temporary exhibits)
- Hours: 10am-5pm
- Location: North Terrace – Next door to the art gallery
10) Ride the Tram to Glenelg
Hop on the tram in downtown Adelaide to the quaint beachside community of Glenelg.
Just a short 30-minute ride away, Glenelg is a popular destination in South Australia because of its beautiful white sandy beaches and Jetty Road where you’ll find fantastic boutique shops and cafes.
The Jetty is a popular spot to watch the sunset. Both kids and adults will enjoy the Beachouse, a five-story amusement centre with a Ferris wheel and historic Carousel.
While you’re there you can also check out Henley Beach, and it’s only 4km to West Beach. Henley Beach has a relaxed vibe, complete with trendy thrift stores and cozy pubs and ice cream shops. West Beach is more popular for water sports.
- Cost: $10.60
- Location: Tram locations throughout the city, get off at the Moseley Square stop for exploring Glenelg
11) Live It Up at the Fringe Festival
If there’s one thing that can’t be skipped when visiting South Australia in the fall, it is attending Adelaide’s annual month long Fringe Festival.
The Fringe will always be one of the most fun things to do in Adelaide as it is the second-largest annual arts festival in the world.
Featuring over 7,000 artists from all over the globe, and with over 1,300 events staged throughout the city, it is one magical festival that can’t be missed!
Adelaide has even been called the Festival Capital of the Southern Hemisphere, so if you’re planning on hitting up at least one festival, make it the Fringe.
It is about to celebrate its 60th anniversary, and as a not-for-profit and open-access festival, anyone who wants to be an artist at an event can!
So come one, come all, buy a ticket for one night or for the entire thirty days.
And if you have a talent to show off, sign up to be an artist!
12) Drink Wine in the Barossa Valley
If you’re running out of things to do in Adelaide, or you just want to spend some time relaxing in the countryside, a trip to the best wine country in South Australia is a must!
The Barossa Valley produces some of the best wine in South Australia, and it’s only 60 km outside of Adelaide. So a trip to stunning wine country is an easy addition to your Adelaide itinerary.
There are over 150 wineries and 80 cellar doors where you can do a wine tour and taste lots of delicious, world class wine.
Although the region is best known for producing Shiraz wine, there are also several other varietals made popular by the Barossa.
These include Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache among others.
Depending on the time of year of your visit you can also attend one of the South Australian wine festivals.
The most popular are the Barossa Vintage Festival (end of March – the beginning of April) and the Barossa Gourmet Weekend (end of August).
If you weren’t satisfied with a simple day trip to the Barossa Valley there are many places you can stay overnight so you can hit up all the cellar doors.
So whether you want to make a wine tour day trip of the region, or want to spend a relaxing weekend touring wineries, a trip to the Barossa Valley is definitely a top thing to do in Adelaide.
Real wine lovers can also visit the nearby Mclaren Vale, another top wine region in Australia.
If you’re short on time, you can also just visit the National Wine Centre in Adelaide. To learn all about winemaking and indulge in some nice food and wine without leaving the city, The National Wine Centre is perfect.
13) Spend a Few Hours Wandering Around Rundle Mall
Shop till your heart’s content at Rundle Mall, Australia’s first pedestrian mall.
With over 700 retailers selling today’s best fashion items, you need not worry about finding that perfect outfit for a night on the town.
But there’s more than just fashion to be found at Rundle Mall.
Look for the friendly pigs and what the locals call the Mall’s Balls.
Don’t leave before snapping a quick selfie with them!
There’s also plenty of food venues to try such as Haigh’s Chocolates and don’t forget the historic Adelaide Arcade.
Rundle Mall is located right in the heart of the city, near Adelaide Central Market, Victoria Square, and the Town Hall. So Rundle Mall fits in nicely with a day of checking out the best Adelaide tourist attractions.
- Hours: 9 am – 5 pm
- Location: north-eastern corner of the Adelaide Central Business District
14) Take a Voyage to Explore Kangaroo Island
One of the best and most unique Adelaide tourist attractions is a visit to Kangaroo Island.
The island, just a short 45-minute boat ride from Adelaide, boasts plenty of awesome things to do.
From enjoying the vast and beautiful stretches of water around the island to heading inland to explore the wilderness and wildlife, Kangaroo Island offers tonnes of opportunities for adventure.
You can spend half the day diving, snorkelling, surfing, or sailing around the island.
And with the other half, you can meet koalas, kangaroos and wallabies as you venture into the wild Australian bush.
While you can certainly find adventure for yourself on Kangaroo Island, the best way to enjoy the island is to book a tour from Adelaide.
You can make a long day trip of the experience. Or you can book a multi-day tour that will cover your meals, transportation and accommodation.
Either way, Kangaroo Island is a highlight of South Australia so we know that you will not be disappointed.
Granite Island and Hindmarsh Island are other popular islands near Adelaide if you’re interested!
Adelaide Travel Guide
Now that you know all of the best Adelaide things to do, we’re going to help you plan the rest of your trip with information on where to stay and where to eat!
Best Accommodation – Where to Stay in Adelaide
If you are wondering where to stay in Adelaide, don’t worry, you have plenty of options!
Whether you are looking to save a little cash by staying in hostels or budget hotels or want to splurge on a special occasion, you can find a whole range of options in Adelaide, South Australia.
Australia, in general, is a fairly expensive place to travel.
So if you are used to third world prices as you travel, be prepared to spend a little more for your accommodation.
But, Adelaide is super friendly to backpackers, so your options for hostels are abundant.
And if you’re looking for more privacy and a little fancier accommodations, there are plenty of reasonable budget and mid-range hotels to choose from.
The Best Hostel in Adelaide – Adelaide Central YHA
Rated the best hostel in Adelaide for friendly staff, cleanliness and location the Adelaide Central YHA is a great deal for the budget-savvy traveller.
The list of amenities is enormous, with key points being great free WiFi in all rooms, breakfast (pancakes made from 8-9 am), excellent entertainment room, and a large self-catering kitchen.
You can even join in on the fun nightly ping pong competitions or communal dinners.
Laundry services are offered, along with 24/hr security access and luggage storage.
With rooms ranging from AUD$30 – AUD$38 for 4-8 person mixed/male/female dorms, you can expect great value considering all the amenities Adelaide Central YHA has to offer.
They also have private rooms available with private or shared ensuites if you are looking to spend a little extra on nicer accommodations.
Enjoy the fun atmosphere. Make friends. And even go on pub crawls and city walks with staff from the hostel.
Best Budget Accommodation for Couples – O’Connell Inn
Located in North Adelaide yet close to the Oval and Festival Centre, O’Connell Inn is one of your best options for budget accommodation in the city.
With rates as low as AUD$100 for a room, you can’t beat the price in terms of the amenities.
Each spacious room includes free WiFi and comes with a flatscreen television and mini-refrigerator.
Each room has a great view of the inner courtyard or surrounding parks.
There is a business centre in the hotel offering services to help keep you connected if needed.
If you have a car, there is free secured parking offered.
Additionally, the modern boutique hotel is consistently rated high for its service, location and cleanliness.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Adelaide – Holiday Inn Express Adelaide City Centre
An exceptional value for its location and amenities offered, the Holiday Inn Express Adelaide City Centre is a great option for anyone seeking both comfort and accessibility during their stay in Adelaide.
Each family friendly room comes with free WiFi, bathtub, mini-fridge and free breakfast buffet.
The rooms are spacious and accommodate comfort as you can spread out and enjoy your stay in Adelaide.
You will also have access to a swimming pool, fitness room, and a bar and restaurant.
If you don’t feel like going out for a meal, room service is also available.
Expect a clean, comfortable experience and friendly staff to make your stay more pleasant.
The inn is within walking distance to all the best Adelaide tourist attractions, as well as numerous restaurants, pubs and public transport stops.
Rooms start out around AUD$150, making it an incredible value when you are looking for a place to stay in South Australia’s capital city.
Best Luxury Hotel in Adelaide – Mayfair Hotel
The Mayfair Hotel in downtown Adelaide sets the standard for exceptional value in luxury hotels.
A glamorous boutique hotel set in the perfect location allows you to combine your desire to explore the city with a chance to return to your hotel room and feel relaxed.
There’s a reason this elegant hotel is rated number 1 in Adelaide!
You’re likely not going to find friendlier or more helpful staff and the spacious rooms will leave you wanting for nothing.
Each room offers a flatscreen TV, free and fast WiFi, mini-fridge, complimentary mini bar, bathrobes and standard amenities such as toiletries, coffee/tea and a safe to make your stay more enjoyable.
There is a fabulous restaurant on-site and also a rooftop bar to enjoy a tasty beverage with a view.
There is also room service if you aren’t in the mood to go out or want to relax in your room watching television after a long day of Adelaide sightseeing.
No doubt if you are looking for comfort and luxury in your stay in Adelaide, the Mayfair Hotel will provide you the best luxurious accommodations by far.
Best Restaurants in Adelaide
In addition to having one of the best wine regions in the world, Adelaide is considered to be a top foodie destination of Australia.
With more restaurants per capita than any other city in the country, you will be sure to find a great meal anywhere. One of the best Adelaide things to do is simply just eating!
From European dishes to local seafood and plenty of Australian favourites, you will find a great mix of multicultural cuisine as it is a melting pot of international immigrants.
And after hiking in Adelaide Hills, exploring the Adelaide Zoo, or just sightseeing and walking around, you’ll need some food to fuel you up.
Here are a few of our favorite places to eat in Adelaide, South Australia.
Bakery on O’Connell is a popular cafe among the locals in Adelaide that is known for its traditional meat pies. They also serve up hearty breakfast sandwiches, pastries, smoothies, shakes and Nutella frappes.
A famous local staple in South Australia is a pie floater, a meat pastry submerged in pea soup, and Bakery on O’Connell whips up a rather good one.
Open 24/7, this cafe is a perfect spot to grab a sweet treat or a hearty snack after a late-night rendezvous on the town!
Serving up a fusion of Italian dishes with an Australian flair, The Messy Tomato has recently become a local favourite in South Australia’s capital city.
Breakfast is the go-to meal along with fantastic pasta dishes served with fresh seafood or vegetarian options.
With menu items starting at just $3 and upwards of $20 for some dishes like their ever-successful spaghetti crab, you can eat here on a budget or spend a little extra on a fancier meal.
Spoil yourself at Georges on Waymouth right in the heart of downtown Adelaide.
Enjoy fresh seasonal produce along with tasty Mediterranean and European dishes featuring lamb, oysters, locally caught fish, and the best quality chicken and beef.
Make sure to order a dessert to go along with your meal as all of their sweets are made in house from scratch.
Also if you haven’t visited the National Wine Centre yet, that is another amazing place to treat yourself to a long lunch with wine tasting.
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