From wandering around Adelaide city central market, the white sandy shores of Henley beach or to the world’s most iconic Fringe Festival we’ve tailored this guide to bring you the best things to do in Adelaide.
If you’re from anywhere else in Australia chances are you’ve overlooked the state of South Australia and undoubtedly Adelaide as well.
There’s no shame in admitting that we did as well, but until we first visited the great state of South Australia did we realise what an epic place it is.
Adelaide has long been known as the ‘city of churches’ due to the religious influence from the early settler; in fact it was Australia’s only freely settled British province founded in 1836.
The River torrens runs through the adelaide historic city centre from the Millbrook Reservoir in the city’s east through to the Torrens river outlet in the St Vincent gulf.
A vibrant and lively city surrounded by heritage buildings, street art galleries that boast an impressive collection of famous art and lots dozens of self guided walking tour options in the festival centre.
The great thing about Adelaide size is that f you decide to venture out of the adelaide city centre there are a myriad of day trips and coastal options to explore like the wine regions of mclaren vale, Barossa valley or far south into Kangaroo island.
The Fringe festival is a highly rated tourist attraction and a favourite of local south australians.
Kangaroo island is Australia’s third largest island and sits just south of the Fleurieu Peninsula, well worth a day trip here.
No matter your itinerary, the best adelaide tourist attractions are sure to please even the pickiest of travellers and you will love exploring South australia’s capital city.
Explore more of this amazing state with our South Australia travel guide
23 Amazing things to do in adelaide
The rolling green hills of the adelaide hills, the mount lofty ranges and the wine regions of adelaide outer suburbs provide for the most picturesque landscape and incredible adelaide sightseeing opportunities.
A collection of top tourist attractions in Adelaide such as the adelaide zoo. the south australian museum, rundle mall and the botanic gardens in the city will ensure your return to visit adelaide in the future.
If arriving into Adelaide airport you’ll be glad to know its less than 20 minutes to drive into the city centre.
1) Explore the adelaide central markets
In the beating heart of the city centre just west of the Victoria square is the adelaide central market, one of the best things to do in adelaide.
Spend hours walking around the heritage buildings that officially opened in 1870, however only renamed to the adelaide central markets by 1965 from the previous City market.
Over 70 vendors line the walls of the market selling their best and brightest produce, gifts, coffee, international amenities, fruit and veg stalls and Australia’s oldest cameras store.
It’s a very central market to walk to from anywhere in the city and definitely one of the best things to do in adelaide.
Grab a quick bite to eat as you stroll through, or consider booking a guided tour through the central market with a local to learn the history and culture of this 150 year old building.
To this day it is still South Australia’s most visited tourist attraction
Location: 44-60 Gouger st
Trading hours: Tuesday to Saturday 7am to 530 pm, closed sunday & monday.
2) Wander the Botanic gardens
Spread across 50 hectares of beautifully manicured gardens and lush green terraces, the adelaide botanic gardens is located in the far north east corner of the city centre.
Opened in 1857 the adelaide botanic gardens have been welcoming visitors for 165 years.
With loads of incredible adelaide tourist attractions and exhibitions like ‘wildlife photographer of the year’, stunning art galleries and exhibitions, there’s hours worth of sightseeing.
Explore the Amazon waterlily pavilion, the palm house and the Dahlia garden.
Why not take a self guided walking tour through a collection of Adelaide’s sights.
The gardens are well positioned to explore other adelaide tourist attractions like the adelaide zoo, adelaide oval and all conveniently sit on both sides of the river torrens, otherwise known as KarraWirra Parri to the first nations people of South australia.
If you’d rather sit and enjoy the sights, you could book a river torrens sightseeing cruise.
Location: corner botanic road and east terrace road
3) Art gallery of south australia
Slow the pace down a little to meander and explore the rich history of indigenous art/exhibitions and moving image found anywhere in south australia.
The art gallery of south australia is the first anywhere in Australia to acquire work from an aboriginal artist.
European and Australian male artists comprise a large selection of their art, however their work has expanded to include modern women artists, islamic pieces and the largest collection of Auguste Rode sculptures in the southern hemisphere.
Located on the north terrace west of the botanic gardens make this awesome attraction in adelaide is available to visit year round.
4) Watch a footy game at Adelaide Oval
This premier sporting facility is a must-see attraction in Adelaide city.
Situated north of the adelaide central business district gathering thousands of visitors every weekend.
Watching an australian rules football game on a friday night is one of the best things to do in Adelaide.
Adelaide Oval hosts a number of sporting events year round like the AFL and Rugby Union .
Bordered by the River Torrens in the heart of adelaide city centre, when the football or rugby isn’t playing there’s always opportunity to join a self- guided tour of Adelaide Oval.
For the adventurous at heart, one of the more fun things to do is to walk the roof of the oval and see it from above!
5) See Giant pandas at Adelaide zoo
We’re not normally massive fans of Zoo’s, however as the world’s climate disaster and habitat loss increases, zoos have more and more of a role in wildlife conservation and species preservation.
Australian wildlife are no exception to this rule.
Adelaide zoo is an eco-certified, not-for-profit zoo and recipient of the sustainable tourism accreditation who run a number of charity and wildlife conservation programs to help keep wildlife alive.
Of all the animals in their sanctuary, the Giant pandas exhibition has been a must see attraction in Adelaide for years.
Squished between the gardens and Adelaide oval, the zoo runs everyday 930 am to 5pm and is one of the best things to do in Adelaide.
6) Best fringe festival down under
We visited Adelaide earlier this year during the nation-wide famous Fringe Festival and let me say it was an epic time!
If you’re wondering what the fun things to do in adelaide are then the fringe festival is where you’ll find them.
South Australia is known for hosting incredible festival theatre shows and exhibitions and the Adelaide fringe is top of that list.
During the months of Feb to March every year Adelaide turns it on for the biggest art festival in the southern hemisphere, hosting a range of street performances, indoor concerts and shows that sell both ticketed and non-ticketed events.
The best part about it all is that it’s completely free to enter.
For over 60 years people have visited south australia to take part this historic event when the weather here is warm, dry and perfect for street performers in the city.
Buy your tickets from their website here or see for yourself one of the most fun activities in adelaide.
7) Stroll down Rundle mall
With over 700 retailers showcasing their latest and greatest products, Rundle Mall is the perfect way to spend an afternoon in retail therapy.
As Australia’s first pedestrian mall, one of the best things to do in adelaide is to patrol up and down the vendors and shops exploring the best attractions and historic sites.
Street art is common amongst the laneways and alleyways here, and you don’t need to look hard to find the pig sculptures scattered across Rundle street, known as the malls balls.
One of the first things we saw entering Rundle mall’s open air market was Haigh’s Chocolates on the corner near the pedestrian crossing, not too far from the Adelaide arcade.
A number of exclusive brands are located here too, like H&M and Sephora for more expensive brands.
A short walk from Victoria square, Adelaide central market and the south australian museum on the north terrace, a stroll down Rundle mall is one of the best things to do in adelaide.
You can explore rundle mall and north terrace as part of your day trip to the adelaide festival centre during the Fringe.
Open daily from 9am to 5pm along Rundle Street.
8) Admire the artwork of the south australian museum
Older than the natural history museum of London, the South Australian museum has opened its doors to the public of south australia for over 165 years.
One of the best things to do in adelaide is to spend a day exploring the wide collection of art and exhibitions, like the Aboriginal and Pacific Islands life sciences.
With over 4 million specimens and material cultural items, the maintenance and collection of the pieces plays a vital role in building and expanding our understanding of the natural world.
Discover the local history of this incredible adelaide attraction by visiting daily between 10am to 5pm, and entry is absolutely free!
Location: North terrace next door to the art gallery of south australia.
9) Ride the city centre tram to Glenelg
The tram to Glenelg is great way to spend a day in Adelaide by admiring this seaside suburb.
The line runs from the middle of the city and runs south from the adelaide festival centre past iconic points of interest like the town hall, parliament house, the treeclimb adelaide, rundle mall and adelaide airport before making its final leg at Glenelg beach.
Treeclimb adelaide is Australia’s first inner-city tree climbing adventure spot located in the heart of adelaide city centre.
North of Glenelg beach is Henley beach and West beach, a cosmopolitan seaside suburb where the jetty is known by locals as a popular fishing spot.
Henley beach is only 15 minutes by car where you can spend a day at Henley square surrounded by lots of restaurants and bars overlooking the ocean.
To access the tram you can purchase a metroCARD and load it with money for the length of your stay, or tap and pay using a smartphone and/or credit-debit card for as many times as you use it.
It is more expensive this way but more convenient if you only plan on using it for the day.
10) Hire a bike or walk the River Torrens
One of the coolest things to do in Adelaide is to hire a bike from the stores across the city or walk the 35km one way track on a beautiful adelaide day.
The Torrens linear trail starts not far from the main ridge track and circles its way west running parallel to north terrace in north adelaide, passing by landscapes like adelaide oval, adelaide zoo and the national wine centre before making its way to west beach.
If you’d like to journey up the river then book a sightseeing cruise from the legends at GetYourGuide
11) Get behind bars at Adelaide Gaol
An alternative tour and interesting insight into the penal history of Adelaide, tourists can take walking tours through Adelaide gaol.
As one of the oldest heritage listed buildings in the city, the adelaide gaol walking tour is said to be one of the most haunted sites in south australia.
12) Belair national park
The birthplace of the national park system in South Australia, this culturally and historically significant park is home to the oldest plant nursery in south australia.
The oldest national park in South Australia, this untouched reserve sits at the base of the Adelaide hills (not technically within the region however).
If you want a change from the urban jungle of the city and you’re wondering what to do in Adelaide, then a visit to belair might just be what the soul needs.
13) Mount Lofty summit hike
By now hopefully you’ve realised its worth visiting Adelaide, however if you need a tree change then this hike is perfect for you.
Continue into the Adelaide hills via Sheoak rd (turns into Mount lofty summit road and explore Mount Lofty ranges driving to the summit of Mt lofty where you can do the strenuous hike or bike to the top.
The Mt Lofty summit walk starts at the waterfall gully carpark off the road of the same name, best accessed via the car park.
While you’re up here visit the summit cafe and function centre for a bite to eat and coffee after a well earned hike.
Just north of Mt Lofty is Morialta conservation park where you can photograph stunning waterfalls, go rock climbing and explore the creeks, gorges and woodlands.
Morialta conservation park has been a well loved recreational escape for more than 100 years for the people of south australia.
14) Waterfall Gully in Cleland conservation park
Not far from here is Waterfall Gully 5 km southeast of the capital city in Cleland national park that sits within the Adelaide Hills region.
Theres are 7 waterfalls that live within the conservation park and this is the largest of them all.
The hike to the mount lofty summit from here will take you approximately 2.5 hours (4.5km) one way and is one of the best things to do in adelaide hills.
15) Walk your way around South Australia
The walking enthusiasts among us will appreciate the many hikes and walking trails you can do through south australia’s capital city.
It’s one of the best ways to explore australian cities and become acquainted with the general area.
There are even EcoCaddy bikes, similar to what you find in Vietnam with a licensed rider pedalling a bike with a roofed seat in the back that you can hail for $10 around the city.
Pick up a map from the tourist information centre or book a guided tour through the city.
Explore places like the Adelaide gaol, St Peter’s cathedral, and the national wine centre where they run interactive displays showcasing the wine making process and tasting rooms.
Walking tours are one of the best ways to see adelaide as the city itself is relatively small and easy enough to navigate your way without getting lost.
16) Street art tours of Adelaide
Similar to Melbourne, Adelaide also has a unique and vivacious public street art scene that is easily accessible around Adelaide CBD.
If you divide the city into four corners, each corner has a ton of public street art murals on building walls.
A total of 110 murals exist around the city and all within a short walking distance of each other.
The best way to explore the city’s murals is by taking a street art walking tour.
However the most art you’ll find is in the top two northern districts, with a collection around Rundle St as well as the laneways between Hindley and Waymouth st.
Street art explosion are the group responsible for commissioning the series of public murals and help keep adelaide’s thriving street art scene some of the best in the world.
Our favourite was the Moonta st mural and the Delhi street mural.
17) Himeji gardens
The embodiment of Japanese inspired garden architecture is found nowhere else than the Himeji gardens in the cities southern garden that borders the cbd.
Built by japanese landscape designer Yoshitaka Kamada, the garden on display replicates that of the Japanese city of Himeji, with carefully placed stepping stones and centralised lake.
Himeji became adelaide’s sister city in 1982 and is free for guests daily from 8am in the south park lands of the city.
Location: 6018 South Terrace
18) Wine region of South Australia
No where else in the state will you find a greater selection of world class and award winning wineries and cellar doors than south australia’s wine growing region.
Home to places like Mclaren Vale, Barossa Valley and Clare Valley, there are a number of great wine tasting tours and delicious wines to try all day long!
Mclaren Vale and the adelaide hills are further south towards the Fleurieu Peninsula whereas the barossa Valley is further north of Adelaide.
The barossa Valley has over 150 wineries and 80 cellar doors to visit so we personally recommend purchasing a tour of the Barossa Valley to get the most out of your time here.
The Barossa is known for their Shiraz red wine region but that’s not to say that’s all their good at.
19) McLaren Vale wineries
Drive a little further down south in the middle of the Fleurieu Peninsula and you’ll find yourself in the heart of Mclaren Vale wine country.
Our favourite winery here is Down the rabbit hole winery run by Dom and Elise Cook on their family run farm and blue double decker bus that also serves as a wine tasting area.
We’ve ventured here twice over the last few years and love it everytime we come here.
Other wineries to visit in the area are D’arenberg winery, hahndorf Hill winery and Cobbs Hill estate.
If you prefer not being the designated driver you can always book a tour of the wine region and get a little spicy with your drinking game!
20) Drive west to Victor Harbor
A little drive west from the city on the other side of the Fleurieu and you’ll find Victor Harbour.
A small city that has many cool places to visit like Horseshoe bay in Port Elliot and Granite island.
If you plan on visiting Melbourne then head east from Victor Harbour towards Robe and Mount Gambier and explore the Limestone coast of SA.
The peninsula between Robe and Victor harbor is known as Coorong national park and stretches for app 180km
21) Cross the sea and explore Kangaroo island
Take the maiden voyage 45 minutes across the sea from Cape jervis through to Kangaroo island south of the Fleurieu peninsula.
One of the most unique adelaide attractions is to take a day trip (or week long trip) across the sea to explore the long stretches of coastline.
The island has a mix of both sandy beaches, dense national park in Flinders Chase as well as a sand dune desert.
Snorkelling, sandboarding, wine tasting or gin tasting – there’s heaps of activities on Kangaroo Island you don’t want to miss out on.
The best way to experience the island is to book a tour from Adelaide.
A day trip may not be enough to cover the sights and adventures so it might be worth your time to stay for a few nights at the very least.
If Kangaroo island doesn’t tickle your fancy then you can also look at checking out Granite island just off the Victor harbor coast.
The island cafe is temporarily closed but is due to open soon, but if you happen to be around screwpile jetty you can try some stand up paddle boarding just behind the breakwater wall.
22) Port Adelaide tourist attractions
Port adelaide is 15 km north of the main city and is just as south australian as any other attraction in adelaide.
Port adelaide is a maritime village, a blue collar suburb that might be a little rough around the edges but nonetheless impressive and full of awesome things to do.
Filled with street art, a maritime village museum and a dolphin river cruise along the banks of the Port adelaide river; you’ll never run out of cool things to do in port adelaide.
23) Climb the steps of Parliament house
On the corner of North Terrace and King william road is the current government building that sits directly opposite the old Parliament house as it was outdated and overcrowded.
An architecturally pleasing building, it sits at the end of the road that also runs directly into St Peters cathedral.
Adelaide Travel Guide
Where to stay in Adelaide – Best accommodation
No matter your budget you should not have to worry about where to stay in Adelaide as there are a ton of options to choose from ranging from the cheaper hostel accomodation options through to the more expensive and comfortable 4-5 star hotels.
Australia is not a cheap place to travel or to stay so understanding the higher costs of living and accomodation will allow you to plan better for your time down under.
We generally recommend allowing anywhere between $65-$100 per person per night to stay anywhere within the inner city, $50-$80 for mid-range hotels and $25-$50 for backpacker/hostels.
Best luxury hotels in Adelaide
Majestic M Suites
The most luxurious hotel with your very own private balcony/terrace, a 51m2 living space, king bed and a private bath less than 20 minutes from the airport in the heart of North Adelaide city centre.
Majestic M suites also has free cancellation for ease of booking.
There’s a very good reason the Mayfair is rated the number 1 hotel in downtown adelaide.
A boutique hotel set in the middle of the central business district that comes complete with over 170 elegant rooms with hand-crafted south australian furnishing, custom made beds and locally sourced food and beverages.
The Hennessy rooftop bar, Mayflower restaurant and the contemporary bistro Den all offer exceptional quality and the highest of restaurant and hotel experiences state wide.
Best mid-range hotel in adelaide
This comfy and cosy hotel sits less than 10 km from adelaide cbd and they offer a variety of different styles and set ups according to you and your family needs.
Each room has a smart tv, modern bathroom with room service and complimentary WIFI.
They offer guests a classic king room for couples, the classic family room for the kids and the classic twin for friends or those who enjoy sleeping separately.
The Marion group offer all day dining, free parking on site, bike hire to explore into the city and they’re in close proximity to public transport.
Best budget-friendly Hostel in Adelaide
Adelaide central YHA
The 4 star centrally located hostel is the best bang for your buck when it comes to inner city living.
Ideally positioned in the cbd, close to public transport, close to adelaide attractions, restaurants and bars this is the ultimate backpackers destination.
Free wifi in every room with free cancellation gives you hassle-free bookings at an affordable price.
Guests staying here can enjoy free luggage and bike storage, a clean and open kitchenette, a common working and hang space with a travel desk giving you information for day trips out of Adelaide.
Be quick though, YHA has a tendency to book out quickly so if you like the sound of this place then check their availability.
Where to eat and drink in Adelaide
No trip is complete without a fully belly and a warm cup of coffee, and we have your back on both of these.
Coffee shops are scattered literally everywhere within Australia but they dont all do great coffee.
This list of the top 3 should help you plan your coffee stops and guide you where to eat for your time in Adelaide.
Best coffee shops to visit
Set in the inner city suburb of Norwood, 30 acres is a farm inspired cafe/restaurant that serves up delicious eggs benedict with kale, vermouth hollandaise and roasted mushrooms and peppers all inspired by the couples previously owned 30 acre farm in the Adelaide Hills.
This farm to table dining provides a unique ambience with globally sourced and inspired furnishings from and an old German ship, and materials of an old shatterproof number in a bomb shelter in the Czech Republic – this is the place to visit in adelaide.
Location: 223 The parade, Norwood
This tiny community focussed cafe in Piccadilly is situated in the Mount lofty ranges south east of Melbourne – enough encouragement to get you exploring the region around Adelaide for sure.
White walls and natural wood finishes with and large windows that look out to a lush green garden draws in the senses as you take in the aroma of freshly baked bread by owner and founder Duncan Reid.
Brid is a spin off of the word ‘bread’ – lending to his kiwi accent, it’s a very new cafe that opened in the height of covid-19 lockdowns.
Location: 176 Picadilly Rd, Piccadilly
Best restaurants in Adelaide
Africola continues to dominate the headlines as the latest and hottest menu in the south australian market in 2022.
The spices of the North African cuisine consume your senses with a four course chef’s selection if you so wish, or why not try the fried cauliflower, golden dahl or marinated eggplant.
The menus best enjoyed shared, so get a group of your best friends and enjoy the best restaurant in Adelaide together.
Africola is also conveniently located in the cbd and a short 12 minute walk from the central train station.
Want to try a vegemite finger?
How about a wagyu tomahawk?
We have no idea what these dishes are but apparently this New York inspired italian restaurant serves them!
Voted one of Australia’s best pasta haunts, Fugazzi breaks their menu down into 4 stages; snacks, pasta, fire and sides.
Located in the cbd this is a super easy and accessible restaurant on a friday or saturday night.
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