Adelaide is known for a few things: the city of churches, its excellent cultural heritage, and its thriving food and wine culture. Besides that, it is also the greenest city in Australia, with its city centre surrounded by parklands. In this guide, you learn what to do in Adelaide from a solo traveller’s point of view. I’m showing you fun things to do in Adelaide day and night.
Although Adelaide is the gateway to many great trips, it is sadly the most underrated city in Australia. In 2014, Lonely Planet added the capital city of South Australia to the Top 10 Cities in the world to visit, and later, in 2017, South Australia made it to No. 5 as the best region to travel to in the world.
Where To Stay In Adelaide
If you want to book your stay, here is where I recommend staying in Adelaide to solo female travellers.
Best Places to Stay in Adelaide:
Top 20 Things to Do in Adelaide For The Solo Traveller
I have been on four trips for +15 years and have fond memories of Adelaide. In the Adelaide Hills, I was inspired to write about my solo travels in Australia, and in 2010, I created Rocky Travel. Here are my favourite things to do in and around Adelaide. And most are free.
Walk the Rundle Mall for some serious shopping
This is the first thing you do when you arrive in the city. Take a relaxing walk in the city’s heart. Whether window shopping or watching people, the Rundle Mall is where to hang out. This is the heart of Adelaide, where the city vibe takes place. Stroll through the iconic Adelaide Arcade and stop at Australia’s most famous heritage Haigh’s Chocolate Shop.
Continue your walk down the main street for quirky shops, trendy cafes, evening pubs with live music and good restaurants. Adelaide is known for shopping. Adelaide Rundle Mall boasts Australia’s best shops for jewellery and the beautiful South Sea Pearls.
Gon on a Cultural Trail of the North Terrace
The North Terrace is a pleasant walk not far from the city centre, encompassing a cultural precinct and many attractions within a short distance. From the eastern side, close to the botanical gardens, walk past the Migration Museum, the South Australian Museum, the South Australian University, and the State Library, a relaxing place with exhibitions and many reading rooms.
The South Australian Museum’s largest Aboriginal Art Gallery exhibition showcases natural science, an extensive historical collection, and ancient Egyptian over five display levels.
If you choose one museum, I suggest going to the Art Gallery of South Australia, one of the best places to spend your time in the afternoon. If you are interested in art, there are many interesting temporary exhibitions along with permanent ones. The AGSA showcases nearly 40 thousand artworks, and the entrance is free.
Explore the Adelaide Parklands
There are 29 parks in Adelaide, and they are all different. From rose gardens to Japanese gardens to old olive groves and exotic trees. All gardens have a bitumen cycle and walk pathway. Take the Parklands Trail around the city to view the Botanic Gardens, Adelaide Gaol and Bonython Park, a great place along the river with playgrounds, BBQ facilities and adjacent to the Golf Course. The River Torrens Linear Park is the largest hills-to-coast park in Australia that takes you from Tea Tree Plaza to Henley Beach, which is north of the city.
Here are my favourite city walks and bike rides in Adelaide.
Bike Ride through Rymill Park
Biking is a great free way to explore Adelaide and its beautiful parklands and sights. Hop on a free Adelaide city bike and set off exploring its CBD. There are ten hire points around the city where you can hire a bike for free. I did several bike rides and loved cycling through Rymill Park in Adelaide. Check out the website where you can hire a free bike in Adelaide. Here is a photo of me cycling in Rymill Park.
The Adelaide Botanic Gardens
The Botanical Gardens are located on the eastern end of the North Terrace and are a few minutes walk from the city centre. The entrance is free, and free walking tours at 10.30 am. The Adelaide Botanic Gardens are worth seeing on a sunny day or for a break from the city buzz combined with the cultural walk in North Terrace. Don’t miss out on visiting the newly restored Palm Lake and the beautiful Aboriginal Artworks display, as they are a unique attraction.
Dive into the Himeji Gardens
If you love gardens, you must not miss out on a stroll through the charming and unique Himeji Gardens. This Japanese Garden is in the southern part of Adelaide, and it was established in 1982 to seal the sister partnership between Adelaide and the heritage city of Himeji.
The garden blends features of profound significance in the Japanese culture: the “Senzui” with lake and water and the “Kare Senzui” with rocks and dry to celebrate nature’s beauty. It’s a unique experience to walk through the 13 spots of the Japanese Himeji Gardens. They are open every day, and the entrance is free. However, you can also book a guided tour for a small fee. More info here.
Spend Time in Glenelg
Glenelg is a must-see when in Adelaide. It is, in fact, one of the most relaxing places to see throughout the year; from the heart of the city, hop on the Glenelg Tram and head down to the beach. I suggest getting off the tram a few stops before Moseley Square to browse the main road’s exciting shops and trendy cafes.
Once in the town centre, check out the visitor centre for the latest news and grab some brochures. If you are an art lover, don’t miss out on the Glenelg Art Gallery and a stroll on the pier jetty at sunset before returning to Adelaide.
If you have a little more time, you can plan a sailing tour to swim and play with dolphins, and the tour starts from the Holdfast promenade. And if you travel with family and kids, you’ll find a stunning entertainment park at the Beach House, a complex packed with waterslides and more fun games. Indeed, Glenelg has no shortage of things to do and see.
Go for a Morning Walk to Henley Beach
I love Henley Beach. While first-time travellers prefer Glenelg Beach, which is good for shopping, its cafes and its playgrounds, I find Glenelg touristy, whereas Henley Beach is where locals hang out on the weekend for a morning walk or a bike ride along the beach promenade.
You can also take the tram to Henley Beach, hire a bike from the Adelaide city centre, and cycle down about 20 km on cycling paths to the beach. Enjoy the sunset and chill out at the beach-front bars, cafes and trendy dining venues. This is a relaxing thing to do in Adelaide after dark.
Cherish the Adelaide Central Market
The Adelaide Market is an institution and probably no. 1 among all Adelaide attractions. It is a colourful place filled with a great atmosphere. An authentic celebration of local produce and Australian cuisine, from home-grown fruits, vegetables, native meats, cheese, and bread to an array of local seasonal delicacies.
This is also a classic thing to do. You will love browsing the stalls and enjoying coffee, breakfast and lunch. There are food tastings on Saturdays, with stalls and shops offering free local produce tastings. Get there early.
A great way to enjoy the Adelaide Central Market is to join a Market Walking Tour. I went on a 3-hour morning walking tour and loved it. Don’t miss out on Lucia’s Place and have a lovely cappuccino with zeppole (bakery’s specialities).
Bonus Tip: Get there early in the morning for a relaxed breakfast, as the place gets packed with visitors and locals alike. The Adelaide Central Market is open from Tuesday to Saturday. Check the opening times here.
Take a Walking Food Tour of the Central Market
If you are interested in food and finding the best restaurants in Adelaide, you may want to go on a food tour. In Adelaide, there is a good offering of walking food tours with a specific angle, whether coffee and chocolate or food and bar tours. Check out this page with all Food Tours in Adelaide.
Explore The Market Shed – Adelaide’s Sunday Market
On Sunday mornings, there are many markets in Adelaide that you can check out, and the choice is hard. From farmers’ markets to vintage fashion and antiques and more. My pick is the Market Shed on Holland Street. I don’t think anything like this in Australia is exclusively dedicated to organic produce.
A few stalls sell fruits and vegetables, but mainly, they are shops and cafes preparing food on the spot. If you (like me) love organic, whole, vegetarian and vegan food, that’s the place to be! Try the vegan paella or the vegan pizza, and they are sensational. Another must if you are visiting Adelaide on the weekend.
Enjoy Adelaide at Night on a Pub Crawl
Adelaide has got some great pubs with an excellent atmosphere. A pub crawl is one of the things to do at night in Adelaide. The best street for pubs is Rundle Street, King William, close to the South Terrace, Flinders Street, and Hutt Street. In most pubs, you can eat.
Some have live music on certain days, usually Thursday, Friday and weekends. Try the Colonist Pub in Norwood, a great place with beautiful artwork and paintings hanging on the walls. The highlight is the quirky chandelier made of ice (yes, it’s a real piece of solid ice) hanging in the main room. If you want a great vibe in a quirky place, the Colonist Pub is right!
Things to do Around Adelaide on a Day Trip
One good thing about Adelaide is that there are many valleys and sights nearby that you can easily access without driving long distances. You can visit McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley in less than one hour. You can drive further south of Adelaide to Victor Harbour and Port Elliot in one and a half hours.
Take the Bus to Stirling and Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills
One great thing to do on the weekend in Adelaide is to take bus 864 from the CBD and head to Stirling. It’s about 30 minutes drive. Stirling is a beautiful village at the Adelaide Hills base with excellent places to eat, including the Organic Market Cafe, where you can spend hours. There is also a market in Stirling on the fourth Sunday of every month. From there, you can continue your day tour to the German town of Hahndorf and take a walk along the beautiful tree-lined main road.
Check out the art galleries and the quirky shops like Menz Fruchoc’s shop. Finally, end your day with the best local food at the German Arms, an iconic pub hotel in South Australia where you can have a schnitzel, wurst and lots of German beer. If you love farmers’ markets, check the calendar; there is a community market on the fourth Saturday of every month. If you are an art lover, a must-see is the Hahndorf Academy Gallery.
Head up to Mount Lofty
If you plan to spend some time in the Adelaide Hills, you must head up to Mount Lofty as it is on the way to Stirling, and it’s the perfect way to end your day trip. You will need to hire a car in Adelaide because no public transportation serves this area.
Mount Lofty is a great vantage point with a spectacular view of South Adelaide. And if you are visiting on Thursdays, take advantage of the free Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens guided walks. If you are a keen walker, this is the place for beautiful walking trails through the Adelaide hills to Cleland and its surroundings.
Get up close with wildlife in Cleland Conservation Park and Monarto Zoo.
You can also do it on your day trip to the Adelaide Hills to tie in a visit to the Cleland Conservation Park and the Monarto Zoo. If you like to get up close to animals in a natural habitat, don’t miss out on them. They are conservation parks just outside the city that offers visitors an authentic experience with close encounters with wildlife like kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, echidnas, emus, the Tasmanian devils and more Australian native animals.
They are both open spaces and natural areas, but there is an entry fee. Monarto Zoo is one hour drive in the eastern valley of Adelaide. Cleland Conservation Park is 30 minutes from the city and is also served by public transportation.
Visit McLaren Vale and the Fleurieu Peninsula
I believe the Fleurieu Peninsula is one of the most beautiful and overlooked regions of South Australia. Only 45 minutes south of Adelaide, Mc Lare Vale offers a wealth of places worth seeing. From the Onkaparinga National Park to Maslin and Aldinga’s rugged beaches to the inland local producers and wineries.
I’d recommend spending an entire day touring the region on a self-drive or guided trip. I have made this trip alone, by car, and on a day tour.
Gon on a Barossa Valley Wine Tour
If you like wine, you must plan out North East of Adelaide one day to the Barossa Valley and indulge in some of the region’s finest wines. I went on one day Barossa Wine Tour, visited five wineries, and drove through picturesque villages and characteristic places.
This is the oldest and historic area for growing wine and local produce in Adelaide and a top region for premium wines in Australia. According to wine connoisseurs, it’s estimated to be a leading region for wine in Australia. You can travel by yourself by hiring a car, or if you want to rest, join one of the many food & Wine Tours of Barossa Valley.
Drive to Victor Harbour and Port Elliot
This is another excellent place to see around Adelaide, or maybe you can include it in your Kangaroo Island trip. It is located southeast, about 45 km from Cape Jervis (ferry to K.I.). You will need to hire a car and plan a day to visit Victor Harbour and Port Elliot.
They are beautiful coastal villages offering excellent places to surf, swim beaches, fish, and the opportunity to go on a whale watching tour (in season). Port Elliot is smaller than Victor Harbour but, in my opinion, more enjoyable and less touristy. An array of quirky shops selling anything from arts and crafts to antiques and local handmade things.
If you don’t fancy self-driving, check this page with all day-Tours from Adelaide.
Visit Adelaide during a Festival
I am sure there are more things to do and places to see in Adelaide. As you may know, the city is known as the city of festivals, so you can try to visit one of the world-known Adelaide Festivals. While it gets jam-packed, you must plan and book well ahead. The Adelaide Festival and the WOMAdelaide Festival are held in March every year and are two of the most known festivals.
Over 20 festivals, from cultural and sports to food & wine events throughout the year—the best way to check the site for all festivals in Adelaide.
Where to eat in Adelaide
Adelaide is known for its superb local food and excellent wines. Its mild climate makes it the right place for dining out throughout the year. There is a good mix of bars, pubs, and fine restaurants and cafés.
The best streets for fine dining in Adelaide are Rundle Street, O’Connell Sreet, Gouger Street and Grote Sreet for Asian eateries. Hutt Street, further in the Eastern part of the city, is great for brunch and breakfast.
Adelaide is famous for having the freshest oysters and prawns in Australia. I was not too fond of oysters until I tried the oysters from the Eyre Peninsula. They are delicious! I highly recommend eating fish in Adelaide and tasting some of the exquisite food of Australia
Guided Day Trips and Tours in Adelaide
I recommend the tours below if you want to join a guided day tour or activity.👇
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First published in 2015, last updated in Jan 2024
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