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Fun things to do when visiting Adelaide city
Are you wondering what to do in Adelaide? With gorgeous sunny days, beautiful beaches, award winning restaurants and some of Australia’s best wineries just a short drive away, trust me, there are plenty of fun things to do in Adelaide.
There are plenty of fun things to do in Adelaide. Soak up the sunshine at one of many beaches. Shop until you drop at the city boutiques, dine at award-winning restaurants or enjoy a cocktail in one of the funky little bars around the city.
Come with us as we share some of our favourite things to do when visiting Adelaide.
Things to see and do in Adelaide, South Australia
Adelaide is famous for colourful and diverse communities, gorgeous beaches, beautiful scenery and it’s historic cityscapes. It’s an exciting and relaxed city that proudly celebrates diversity and opportunity.
Known as the Festival City and renowned as one of the top festival cities around the world. Time your visit for the festival fun and visit Adelaide throughout February and March when the festivals are a buzz.
- The Adelaide Festival has been a popular event for over 50 years with internationally acclaimed theatre, music, dance and visual arts productions.
- WOMADelaide takes over the Botanical Gardens for 4 days of fabulous music, art and dance celebrations. WOMADelaide has an eco focus and hosts the popular Planet Talks with environmental discussions. Taste the World food and cooking demonstrations.
- Adelaide Fringe Festival features everything from cabaret to comedy and circus. Over 900 festival events are staged in pop-up venues in laneways, warehouses and parks, as well as established theatres, hotels and galleries.
Rundle Mall for the best city Shopping
Rundle Street Mall is a great mall to explore. There’s nothing quite like the ‘pop-up’ flower markets, funky little coffee stands, clever sculptures and talented street-musicians. They really do give this mall its friendly atmosphere.
Rundle Mall is lined with Department stores, fashion shops and trendy boutiques. You will find beautiful arcades and laneways laden with gift shops and cafes.
Don’t miss the Adelaide Arcade. Built in 1885, it is one of the most well preserved examples of Victorian elegance and home to more than 100 specialty retail outlets. It’s also home to one of South Australia’s famous chocolatiers, Haigh’s Chocolate. Take some of these delicious treats home!
Adelaide’s sculptures are some of the best I’ve seen around the country. The piglet family are my favourites! The four pigs won the Rundle Mall National Sculpture competition in 1997.
These popular pigs have been named Oliver (standing) Horatio (sitting) Truffles (sniffing the ground) and Augusta (sniffing the rubbish bin). I daresay, they’re some of the most photographed piglets in town!
Laneways and Bars
Adelaide has made a name for itself with it’s intimate bar scene. So whether you’re looking for a cosy corner for a glass of wine or a busy rooftop to sip cocktails with friends, Adelaide has the place for you.
Check out the bars tucked away underground, or on a rooftop near the main streets. Start with Maybe May, hidden in the tunnel between Peel and Leigh Streets or try some of our recommendations – Harry’s Bar on Grenfell Street, the Treasury 1860 on King William Street or our newest fave – Mississipi Moon on Gresham Street. There is nothing like one of their whisky sours, accompanied by dreamy music and fabulous atmosphere.
If you love your wine, try some of the wine regions’ specialties. There really is something to suit every taste.
Cafe’s and Restaurants
Adelaide’s cafe culture is buzzing with brunch being a popular weekend activity. You must try Queenie’s Store on Jetty Road in Largs Bay, Arbour Kitchen on Whitmore Square and be sure to enjoy a coffee at one of the many Cibo Cafe’s around Adelaide.
Adelaide offers plenty of choice on the culinary scene with many award-winning restaurants you will find a cuisine to suit every taste. Korean, Vietnamese, Modern Australian, South African, Italian food and so much more.
Coming soon: Where to eat and drink while visiting Adelaide.
Charming old pubs in Adelaide
Adelaide has always been known for its restaurants, trendy pubs and cafes but we’re loving the new energy that’s being breathed into the charming old pubs around the city.
Setting new trends when it comes to pub food. A recent visit to Adelaide took us to the Gilbert Street Hotel for one of the best ‘carbonara pasta’ dishes ever, and the Earl of Aberdeen Hotel in Putney Street for their Crab and Prawn Pizza. Explore them all!
We love the fabulous street art nearby which gives these laneways an eclectic atmosphere providing a new lease of life to once forgotten parts of the city.
Adelaide’s Street Art
Adelaide’s street scene is full of clever artworks ranging from stencils, paste-ups, sticker art, textiles and murals. These works have been created by emerging and established local, national and international artists.
You’ll find clever pieces tucked down the laneways as well as holding pride of place on more visual structures. Find them on Morphett Street Bridge, behind Jive on Hindley Street, Rundle Street and Synagogue Place as well as Liverpool Street in the City’s Centre.
Explore the street art on an EcoCaddy Street Art Experience Tour or download the DIY app for your phone.
Don’t miss the Adelaide Zoo
The Adelaide Zoo is home to many native Australian birds and wildlife including koalas, wombats, sea lions and kangaroos. You will also see traditional favourites such as lions, giraffes, monkeys and the giant pandas.
If you’ve ever wanted to be a Zoo keeper for a day, Adelaide Zoo is the place! You can hand feed the Giant Pandas, help Hippos with their daily mouth check, feed the Giraffe’s or hang out with the Koalas. Contact the zoo for more information about your special experience.
Museums and Galleries and Botanical Gardens
As one of the earliest settled cities in Australia, Adelaide has a number of beautiful old buildings.
Start with the Art Gallery of South Australia, and the South Australian Museum located on North Terrace. Two very stately old buildings holding significant collections of art and Australian cultural artifacts. Put them on your ‘to do’ list.
Visit Adelaide’s Royal Botanical Gardens. Wander among stunning rose gardens and see the impressive glasshouses including the exquisite 1877-built Palm House. During summer, the Botanical Gardens turn into an outdoor cinema.
The National Wine Centre of Australia is next to the gardens so if you are a wine buff, make sure you check it out! Discover about the growth of the wine regions of Australia and settle in for a wine tasting at the conclusion of your tour.
Adelaide’s Heritage, Arts and Culture Tours
Adelaide is proud of it’s unique heritage. Discover Adelaide’s history by taking the guided tours and self-guided walking trails throughout the city. Learn about Rundle Mall and the Adelaide Arcade, see the Riverbank Precinct and the unique history of Adelaide’s Central Market. They’re alive with interesting stories and flavoured with a scandal or two. Find more about the tours here.
The National Trust offers a number of guided tours which include Ayers House (after dark), City of Churches, Politics, Power and and Law and Old Adelaide Treasury Tours.
Or take one of the Self-Guided Heritage Walking Trails such as Crime and Mayhem, Adelaide Vintage Pubs, Faith in the City, Survivors from early Adelaide, Houses Great and Small, High on the Hill and Exploring Education.
If railways are your thing, visit the National Railway Museum in Port Adelaide just north of the city. For something different, visit the the Adelaide Gaol and Old Government House buildings. Both are rich in history and shed light on the origins of South Australia and its early settlement days.
Adelaide Central Markets is a ‘must do’
This fabulous undercover market has been Adelaide’s food epicentre since 1869. Farm-fresh fruit, vegetables, cured and smoked meats, seafood and an exceptional range of cheeses.
There is oodles of choice when it comes to delicious freshly baked breads and pastries, freshly harvested honey, flavoured oils and other pantry items. Fancy a plate of freshly shucked oysters straight from the Coffin Bay oyster farms? I did! Divine!
One of the stalls we did discover was the Kangaroo Island specialty store. Loaded with fresh produce exclusively from Kangaroo Island we settled in for a KI Wild Gin tasting. Loaded with fresh berries, and a splash of KIs Wild Gin – OMG! You must do this!
Sign up for one of the Central Markets Walking Tours to experience the markets at their best, enjoy the tastings and meet the marketers.
Adelaide’s Chinatown is between Grote and Gouger Streets alongside nearby the Central Markets. The main street is identifiable by the traditional red gates and the lions guarding the entrance.
There are a mix Asian Grocery stores, clothing stores and restaurants. Not only are these of Chinese heritage but also Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian, Japanese and Korean. Stop in for some delicious Yum Char dumplings (my favourite)!
Take the tram to Glenelg
There are a number of beaches within an easy distance from Adelaide city but Glenelg is the most accessible. Just a 25 minute tram ride from the centre of Adelaide, gets you right onto the Glenelg beachfront.
The tram costs are $10.40 for a day ticket, so check the Adelaide timetable to find a time that suits and spend the day at the city beaches.
Glenelg is a bustling seaside town with heritage hotels, alfresco cafés and restaurants and all just a few steps from the beautiful white sandy beach. It’s a great place to hang out for the day, exploring and enjoying a little beachside shopping.
Hang around the Glenelg jetty to catch a spectacular evening sunset, and treat yourself to fish and chips on the beach as the sun goes down.
If you want to be swept back 40 years or so, visit Semaphore. Just north of Glenelg, Semaphore is the most unique retro beach experience, where you can wander along the esplanade, enjoy fresh fish and chips on the beachfront and swim in sheltered waters.
Remember those old carousels with handcrafted wooden horse carousel? Well, Semaphore has one!
Take a day trip into the wine regions
You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to weekend getaways and day trips.
One of the big attractions of Adelaide is that there are 5 world-class wine regions in South Australia with 3 of them within an hours drive of the city and Clare Valley, just 2 hours away.
Explore the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills and the Clare Valley and visit popular wineries such as Kellermeister, Rockford Wines, Penfold Estates and d’Arenberg Estates. Don’t forget to visit the smaller boutique wineries as you may be surprised at the exceptional quality wines these specialists produce.
Head into the Adelaide Hills and check out the quaint villages of Tanunda and Hahndorf. They’re famous for their European-style, traditional style stone buildings and handcrafted gifts, preserves and award-winning wines.
There are many epicurean trails showcasing the region’s wonderful cheese’s, preserves and other delicacies. Maggie Beer is a well known talent in the Barossa Valley who became famous for her range of preserves, small goods and other delicacies. Make sure you visit Maggie’s Farm Shop for a tasting experience.
If you are a day trip that is something truly unique, you can’t go past beautiful Kangaroo Island, just a short ferry-ride away where you will see some of the most stunning natural wonders Australia has to offer. You will discover wineries, the Oyster Farm shop, a distillery and quality seasonal produce.
The best time to visit Adelaide
Adelaide is proud of its mild Mediterranean climate.
The best time to visit is between April – October, during the cooler winter months and the shoulder seasons of the Australian summer. Summers in Adelaide can be very hot, but there is little humidity while winters are mild and temperate.
Accommodation in Adelaide
One of our favourite places to stay in Adelaide is the Stamford Grand at Glenelg. We often choose this grand old hotel as it’s on the beachfront and just a short tram ride into the city. If that doesn’t suit, there are plenty of other accommodation options.
Getting to Adelaide
Like most visitors, we flew into Adelaide Airport. Adelaide is well-connected to Australian cities like Melbourne, Sydney, Darwin and Perth and serviced by a network of domestic and international airlines.
Air: We flew in with Virgin Australia, who offer good value direct flights to Adelaide from most capital cities around Australia. It’s also super simple to jump online and pre-book extra luggage for the flight home if you’ve done as we did – shopped heavily!
Road: Adelaide is easily accessible by road from all states.
The Ghan, Overland and Indian Pacific services link Adelaide to Alice Springs, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Experience these epic rail journeys: www.journeybeyondrail.com.au
*during Covid times – Check state requirements for border permits and follow State restrictions.
Getting around Adelaide
It’s surprisingly easy to get around Adelaide. Adelaide has an efficient public transport system and offers visitors a FREE Adelaide Metro’s Visitors Pass providing unlimited travel on all Adelaide Metro buses, trains and trams for 3 consecutive days from the day the card is first used.
Taxi: The airport is around 6 km from the city which means it will take only 15 minutes by car of taxi. A taxi should cost $25-$30.
Shuttle buses: Available from the airport to city hotels, seven days a week.
Public Transport links to the city, Glenelg and Harbour Town are available.
Ride Sharing – Uber, Ola and Sheebah are available.
Hire Cars – Avis, Budget, Europcar Hertz, Thrifty, Redspot and Sixt are available.
Hirers must have a valid driver’s licence with International drivers reminded that Australia is left-hand drive and speed limits are strictly enforced.
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- Australian Wine Guide – for under $30 a bottle
- McLaren Vale Wineries and Cellar Door Experiences
- Adelaide to Alice Springs – the perfect road trip