Adelaide is known in Australia as the city of Festivals and for its excellent Food and Wine Experience. Besides that Adelaide is also the greenest city in Oz with its CBD completely surrounded by parklands.
Although Adelaide is the gateway to many great adventures like a tour to the Flinders Ranges, a road trip to Kangaroo Island road trip or an Uluru Trip by car it is often overlooked by international travellers, who plan only a short stay in this city.
On this post you learn about my top 20 things to do in Adelaide to keep you occupied for one week!
Why and what I like of Adelaide in South Australia
I am very fond of Adelaide, because it was in the Adelaide Hills that I got inspired to create an Australia Travel Blog and this is how Rocky Travel all started. 🙂
I recently spent three weeks there after road tripping the South East Coast Australia so I had time to discover new interesting things to do in and around Adelaide.
Last year Lonely Planet added Adelaide to the Top 10 Cities in the world to visit in 2014. I believe it can well make the list in 2015 and beyond! 🙂
Here are my picks when visiting Adelaide.
Free Things to do in Adelaide
Get active and hire a City Bike
This is a great way to explore Adelaide and its beautiful parklands. Hop on a free Adelaide city bike and set off exploring its CBD. There are 10 hire points around the city from where you can hire a bike for free. Check out their website for more info: http://www.bikesa.asn.au/adelaidefreebikes.
Walk the Rundle Mall and Rundle Street
Top thing do to in Adelaide during the day. Sightseeing. Either window shopping or watching people the Rundle Mall is the place to hang out. This is the heart of Adelaide where the city buzz takes place. Visit the Adelaide Arcade and Australia's most famous chocolaterie: Haigh's Chocolates. Continue your walk further to the Rundle Street for quirky shops, trendy cafes, evening pubs with live music and good restaurants.
The North Terrace – A Cultural Taste of Adelaide
The North Terrace is a pleasant and cultural walk. Starting from the eastern side where the botanical gardens are you walk past the Migration Museum and the South Australian Museum, the South Australian University, the State Library (great place with exhibitions and reading rooms). Further on walk past the Parliament, the and the train station.
Visit The South Australian Museum
The South Australian Museum has the largest exhibition of Aboriginal Art and History, it showcases natural science, history as well as ancient Egyptian over 5 levels of displays, so plan at least a couple of hours. This is one of the best museums I have seen to in 10 years of solo travels in Australia. Definitely a must-do-thing in Adelaide. For more info check out their website: samuseum.sa.gov.au
Walk in the Adelaide Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens are located on the eastern end of the North Terrace, a few minutes walk from Rundle Mall. The entrance is free and there are also free walking tours at 10.30 am. Worth a visit on a sunny day or for a break from the city buzz.
Explore 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 parklands 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 in the northern part of the city to Henley Beach. For more information check out www.adelaideparklands.com.au
Go to Henley beach by bus
I only discovered Henley Beach last year and loved it. First time travellers to Adelaide tend to prefer Glenelg Beach, which is good for shopping, its cafes and its playgrounds. I find Glenelg Beach a bit touristy, whereas Henley beach is where the locals hang out on weekends for a morning walk or a bike along the promenade. You can take the tram to Henley beach or hire a bike from the Adelaide CBD and cycle, about 20 km, along the parklands on sealed path down to Henley beach. This is also one of my favourite things to do in Adelaide at night. Enjoy walking the Henley Beach promenade at sunset and chilling out at the many beachfront bars, cafes and trendy dining venues.
Enjoy Adelaide Food and Wine
Experience the Adelaide Central Market
The Adelaide Central Market is a real institution and probably no. 1 among the best places to visit in Adelaide. A colourful place filled with a great atmosphere. A celebration of local produce and cuisine: from home-grown fruits, vegetables, native meats, cheese, breads, to an array of local seasonal delicacies. You will love browsing through the stalls, enjoying coffee, breakfast and lunch. On Saturdays there are food tastings, with stalls and shops offering free tastings of local produce. Get there early! The Adelaide Central Market is open from Tuesday to Saturday.
You can also consider joining the Central Market Breakfast Tour.
Discover the best places to eat in Adelaide
Adelaide is known for its great local food and excellent wines. Its mild climate makes it to the right place for dining out throughout the year. In the city there is a good mix of bars, pubs along with fine restaurants and cafés. The best streets for fine dining in Adeladie 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. Many don't know that in Adelaide you can get the freshest oysters and prawns of Australia: they are delicious! I did not like oysters till I tried the oysters from the Eyre Peninsula! I can highly recommend eating fish in Adelaide and taste some of the exquisite food of Australia.
Visit Adelaide Sunday's Markets
On Sundays morning there are an array of markets throughout Adelaide that you can visit. From Farmers Markets to Vintage Fashion and Antiques. My favourite is the Market Shed on Holland Street. I don't think there is anything like this in Australia, exclusively dedicated to organic produce. There are a few stalls selling fruits and vegetables, but mainly they are shops and cafes preparing food on the spot. Indeed a special place. If you (like me) love organic, wholefood, vegetarian and vegan food, that's your place! Try the vegan paella or the vegan pizza, they are sensational. Definitely something to add to the best thing to do in Adelaide on a weekend!
Go on a Walking Food Tour
If you are interested in food and finding out the best restaurants where to eat in Adelaide you may want to go on a food tour. Either coffee and chocolate, food and bar tours, in Adelaide there is a good offerings of walking food tours with a specific cut.
Check out this page for more info about all Food Tours in Adelaide
Discover Adelaide great pubs at night
Adelaide has got some great pubs with excellent atmosphere. Pub crawl is one of the good things to do at night in Adelaide. The best street for pubs are Rundle Street, King William close to the South Terrace, Flinders Street, the 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 artworks and paintings hanging on the walls. The highlight is the quirky chandellier made of ice (yes it's a real piece of solid ice) hanging in the main room. Great vibe too!
Pop in the Adelaide National Wine Centre
This is another interesting place to visit in Adelaide. If you are on a tight schedule and don't have time for a food tour, just go to the Adelaide National Wine Centre for an insider knowledge about wine. They run free wine tastings events called “Uncorked”. They arew locate only 10 minutes walk from Adealide CBD. Check out their website for more info and their events calendar.
Go on day trips from Adelaide
The good thing about Adelaide is that is relatively close to many other places of interests. Just a short drive you can go to the Adelaide Hills. In less than one hour you can go to McLaren Vale and to Barossa Valley. In one and half hour you can drive futher south to Victor Harbour and Port Elliot.
Explore Mc Laren Vale and the Fleurieu Peninsula
I believe Fleurieu Peninsula is one of most beautiful and overlooked regions of South Australia. Only 45 minute south of Adelaide Mc Lare Vale offers a wealth of places worth checking out. From the Onkaparinga National Park to the rugged beaches of Maslin and Aldinga, to the inland local producers and wineries. You can spend a whole weekend touring the Fleurieu Peninsula or if you don't fancy self-driving, I would recommend joining this W4Drive Food and Wine Tour across McLaren and Fleurieu Pensinsula I did a couple of years ago and loved it.
Pick one of the Barossa Valley Wine Tours
If you like wine, then you must plan one day out to the Barossa Valley and indulge with some of the finest wines of the region. I went on one day Barossa Valley Wine Tour, visited 5 wineries, drove through picturesque villages and characteristic places. Barossa is the oldest area for growing wine and local produce in Adelaide. Really worth your time if you lvoe food and wine. Here you can read about my experience on this amazing Food & Wine Tour to the Barossa Valley.
Take the bus to the Adelaide Hills and visit Stirling and Hahndorf
One grat thing to do on weekends is to take the bus 864 from the CBD and head to Stirling. It's about 30 minutes drive. Stirling is a beautiful village nestled at the base of the Adelaide Hills with excellent places to eat (Organic Market Cafe) and a great food market on Saturday. From there you can continue your bus tour to Hahndorf and take a long walk along the beautiful tree lined main road. Check out the quirky shops and grab a real German Lunch, i.e. WeissWurst (sausage) at one of the pubs/hotels.
Drive up to Mount Lofty for a view over Adelaide
Mount Lofty is on the way to Stirling. You can include it in your day trip to the Adelaide Hills. You will need to hire a car in Adelaide though, because there is no public transportation that serves that area. Mount Lofty is of the best best vantage point with a spectacular view of Adelaide. And if you are visiting on Thursdays take advantage of the free Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens guided walks. If bushwalking is your thing, than this is the place for beautiful walking trails through the Adelaide hills to Cleland and its surroundings.
Go on a day-trip to Victor Harbour and Port Elliot
This is one place you can visit on a road trip to Kangaroo Island, as it is located south east, about 45 km from Cape Jervish (ferry to K.I.). You will need to hire a car and plan a whole day to visit Victor Harbour and Port Elliot. Both are beautiful coastal villages offering excellent places to surf, swimming beaches, fishing and great whale watching tours (in season). Port Elliot is smaller than Victor Harbour but in my opinion more interesting and less touristy, with an array of quirky shops selling anything from arts and crafts to antiques and local hand made things.
If you don't fancy self-driving here is a day-Tour from Adelaide.
Get up close to Wildlife – Visit Cleland Conservation Park and Monarto Zoo
These are two conservation parks in Adelaide that offer visitors an authentic experience with close encounters to wildlife like kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, echidnas, emus, the Tasmanian devils and many more australian native animals. They are both open space and natural areas. There is an entry fee though. Check out their website for more information. Monarto Zoo is one hour drive in the Eastern region of Adelaide. Cleland Conservation Park is 30 minutes drive from the city, and is served by public transportation too.
More things to do – Visit on one of the many Adelaide Festivals
I am sure there more things to do in Adelaide worth adding to this list. Adelaide is known as city of festivals and if you can, try to visit during one of these famous festivals. It's peak time and it gets very busy so you need to plan well ahead. The Adelaide Festival and the WOMAdelaide Festival, are held in March every year.
There are over 20 festivals from cultural, sports to food & wine events throughout the year. The best way to check what’s on when in Adelaide.
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Update: This post was last updated in January 2018