14 Incredible Things to Do in Adelaide, Australia (2020 Guide)

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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! 

Known as the City of Churches, South Australia’s capital city Adelaide has been developing the reputation as the new up-and-coming tourist hotspot in Australia.

The River Torrens runs through the city centre 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 history and culture were shaped heavily by these wealthy free settlers and became known for its many diverse religions, religious freedom and progressive government.

This earned Adelaide 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 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.

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 indulging in tasty dishes and delicious wine. 

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

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! 

With most of the top Adelaide attractions being so close together, you could easily make day trips from Adelaide to see the Barossa Wine Valley, beautiful white sandy beaches or the bayside town of Glenelg.

But if you’re looking for a bit of history and culture without leaving the city centre, there are also plenty of museums, historical buildings, music venues and sporting events to keep you entertained during your stay. 

1.Relax in the Stunning Adelaide Botanic Gardens

In the heart of the city 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 worth a look.

There’s a reason why it’s one of the best things to see in Adelaide. 

  • Cost: Free
  • Hours: 7:15 am – 6:30 pm
  • Location: North Terrace

2. Explore the Adelaide Central Market

Definitely one of the best things to do in Adelaide is browsing the vendor stalls at the Adelaide Central Market.

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 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.

Centrally located in the heart of Adelaide, the 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!

  • Hours: 9am-5:30pm
  • Location: 44-60 Gouger St

3. Ride a Bike Along the River Torrens

You can’t come to 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 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 and a few historic buildings.

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. 

Festival Centre at night
Festival Centre lit up for an evening event

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 Australia’s most prestigious sports venues and lures thousands of visitors from all over 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!

Adelaide Oval
Relax in the park or catch a match at the Adelaide 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 over 42,000 works of art!

The gallery is a must-see in Adelaide for all ages, they even offer a variety of activities for everyone to enjoy. 

  • Cost: Free (except special galleries)
  • 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, 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 a collection of beautiful street art.

You will find there is so much to see and enjoy in Adelaide!

Port Adelaide
Enjoy views of historic buildings throughout the city

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 that traverses from Waterfall Gully to the summit of Mount Lofty.

The view from the top of Mount Lofty makes this destination one of the best things to do in Adelaide.

From the summit you can see the city of Adelaide, which is sure to take your breath away!

At the base of Mount 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 the outdoors, or be adventurous and hike the 3.9 km to the top of Mount Lofty. 

  • 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 to Adelaide because they are sister cities.

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.

You will also find 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 the 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 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 and both kids and adults will enjoy the Beachouse, a five-story amusement centre with a Ferris wheel and historic Carousel.

  • Cost: $10.60
  • Location: Tram locations throughout the city
Glenelg Tram
Ride the historic Glenelg Tram

11. Live It Up at the Fringe Festival

If there’s one thing that can’t be skipped when visiting Adelaide in the fall, it is attending the annual month long Fringe Festival.

The Fringe will always be one of the top 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!

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, then a day trip to the wine country in Barossa Valley is a must! 

The Barossa Valley produces some of the best wine in the world.

Located just 60 km outside of Adelaide, a day trip to this stunning wine country is entirely possible and should be a part of any Adelaide itinerary. 

There are over 80 wineries that you can tour and sample delicious wines of a wide range of varieties. 

Although the region is best known for producing Shiraz wine, there are also several other varietals made popular by the Barossa Valley. 

These include Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache among others. 

Depending on the time of year of your visit you can also take part in one of a handful of 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 whether you want to make a 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.  

Vineyards outside Adelaide
Enjoy a variety of wines in Barossa Valley

13. Spend a Few Hours Wandering Around Rundle Mall

Shop till your heart’s content at 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.

  • Hours: 9 am-7 pm
  • Location: north-eastern corner of the Adelaide Central Business District

14. Take a Voyage to Explore Kangaroo Island

An Adelaide point of interest that will certainly give you a new perspective on the area 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 opportunity for adventure. 

You can spend half the day diving or 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. 

However you choose to visit Kangaroo Island we know that you will not be disappointed! 

Sunset at Kangaroo Island
Just another spectacular sunset on Kangaroo Island

Adelaide Travel Guide

Now that you know all of the best Adelaide activities and attractions, 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. 

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$25 – AUD$32 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 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.  

When you stay here you are just minutes away walking to a variety of attractions, restaurants, pubs and transportation at the city centre. 

Rooms start out around AUD$150, making it an incredible value when you are looking for a place to stay in Adelaide. 

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

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! 

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. 

Here are a few of our favorite places to eat in Adelaide.

Budget

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 bite to eat after a late-night rendezvous on the town!

Mid-Range

Serving up a fusion of Italian dishes with an Australian flair, The Messy Tomato has recently become a local favourite in Adelaide.

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.  

High-End

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. 

DISCLAIMER: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you book accommodation, tours or buy a product, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us keep creating more free travel content to help people plan their holidays and adventures. We only recommend the best accommodations, tours and products, and regularly review these. Thanks for your support, kind friend!

About the author

Lindsay Harvey

Lindsay is the better half of Called to Wander A passionate photographer, Lindsay has been traveling across North America with her husband and her Australian Cattle Dog in their truck camper documenting their experience. She is attempting to travel from Alaska to Argentina while overcoming Crohn’s Disease in order to inspire others to pursue their travel dreams.

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