Home South Australia Adelaide Best Things to Do in Adelaide: A Journey Through South Australia’s Capital

Best Things to Do in Adelaide: A Journey Through South Australia’s Capital

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Best Things to Do in Adelaide: A Journey Through South Australia’s Capital
Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission

With a population of 1.35 million people, Adelaide is the capital of the state of South Australia. Designer William Light wanted the city to be surrounded by parks and public gardens (totalling 900 hectares of green space). The city of Adelaide thus offers a perfect balance between nature and modernity. It is quieter and more affordable than Sydney or Melbourne, but is still a cosmopolitan and big city. Adelaide is also called City of Churches due to the religious diversity. It is a place known for its good food, wines, and festivals.

How long to plan?

Minimum 2 days

Our fav. spots

Central Market, Semaphore, the Hills.

Best season

From November to May

Getting to Adelaide

Both international and domestic flights depart from Adelaide Airport. From Europe, it takes about 24 hours for two flights and a stopover.

If you’re traveling in Australia, two options are available to you: flying or taking the bus. You can also opt for the train, which is longer! Bus travel is the cheapest option, but it will take you more time to reach Adelaide.

National flights serve Adelaide Airport. To get there from Melbourne, the flight is only 1 hour and 20 minutes, 2 hours from Sydney. The low-cost airlines to compare for domestic flights are Virgin and JetStar

Adelaide Airport is located 15 minutes by car or 25 minutes by bus from the city centre. Some hotels in the city centre offer a shuttle service to pick you up from the airport.

If you’re travelling by car, you’ll drive about 14 hours from Sydney to Adelaide. It takes 8 hours from Melbourne to drive on the famous Great Ocean Road!

Best period to visit and how much time do you need?

Season and climate

The climate in Adelaide is Mediterranean, hot and dry in summer and cool and wet in winter. The average temperature in mid-summer is 30 degrees and 15 degrees in winter.

In the summer (December to February) the temperatures are between 15 and 30 degrees and it rarely rains. The precipitation in Adelaide is the lowest in Australia. In summer, temperatures in the city centre reach 45 degrees. Remember to walk around with a hat, sunscreen, and water!

Autumn (March to May) is very pleasant in Adelaide, with little rain and average temperatures between 12 and 23 degrees. The gardens and parks of Adelaide are beautiful at this time of the year.

In winter (June to August), the temperatures drop by 10 degrees. It even happens that it freezes on the hills of Adelaide. Although it is less sunny, this season is perfect for whale watching.

In spring (from September to November), the average temperatures are between 12 and 22 degrees. The days are mild, but the nights are cool.

The best time to visit Adelaide is from November to May.

How much time do you need?

To visit Adelaide, its city center, its gardens, its beaches and its Hills (hills), plan around 4 days.
The city center will take you the day, if you want to stroll there and visit some museums. You can use the free public transport to get around and thus be able to make the most of the city. Located on the free bus route, don’t miss a visit to the city’s Central Market.
If you are limited in time, 2 days may be enough to discover the city center and the surrounding area.

Where to stay in Adelaide?

Accommodations in Adelaide are much cheaper than in other major cities in the country. There are different options depending on your budget and the level of comfort you’re looking for, here are some of them:

Hotels: you will have several options at different budgets. Generally, expect to pay around AUD 130 for a room. We recommend the Franklin Hotel in the city center. With its very good pub on the ground floor, decorated with original artworks by local artists, the hotel is located opposite the bus station. It is next to the Rundle Mall shopping center. The Art Gallery of South Australia and the Adelaide Zoo are both 15 minutes away.

Airbnb: This is a good option for short-term stays. It can be the rental of a room or an entire house.

Hostels or youth hostels offer dormitory or private rooms. It’s a good option for young people or those on a tight budget. Rates start from AUD 35 per night.

Temporary sublets: many travelers or expatriates go on short vacations and sublet their rooms. You can find quite a few ads on Facebook.

Shared housing: if you plan to stay for several weeks, this will be the most cost-effective solution. You can post an ad on Flatmates, Facebook, or Gumtree.

Free accommodation options in Adelaide: let’s not forget the alternative solutions for staying without any cost, such as HelpX or Wwoofing, where you are accommodated by a host in exchange for a few hours of work per day. There’s also the option of Housesitting, where you look after someone’s house and pets while they are away. However, these solutions are more suitable for medium to long-term stays.

Attractions and activities in Adelaide

Whether you love the tranquillity of nature or the bustle of the city, there is always something to do in Adelaide.

The City Center

For food lovers, explore the Central Market where you can taste fresh products and discover dishes from all over the world.

For lovers of art, culture, and history, visit the many museums of Adelaide on North Terrace and admire the architecture of the old buildings. Among the museums to discover, don’t miss the Migration Museum (free access – open from 10 am to 5 pm) or the Art Gallery of South Australia with exhibitions of Australian, Aboriginal, and also European artists (open from 10 am to 5 pm every day).

If you’re a shopaholic, going for a stroll on Rundle Street, packed with shops and shopping malls, is just what you need.

For the more athletic, discover the Adelaide Oval Stadium where the culture of sport is more than a myth. Built in 1871 and renovated in 2014, the stadium now hosts major matches of Australian football called footy, rugby, or cricket. Get your ticket and meet passionate Australians who will explain the rules of footy with sympathy and enthusiasm, even when you will likely remain confused by the rules, which are quite different from European ones.

Parks and Zoos

For nature lovers, visit the many parks in the heart of the city, especially the botanical garden. The Himeji Gardens, a Japanese-inspired garden, will offer you a zen break in the heart of the city center.

If you want to observe wildlife, head to Gorge Wildlife Park to get close to wombats, dingoes, and Tasmanian devils. You can also discover Cleland Wildlife Park where the animals are in semi-freedom and you can observe them very closely.

For a unique experience, you can also choose to join a tour to swim with dolphins! Set off for more than 3 hours to meet these playful cetaceans and join them in the water to perfect the experience.

For hiking enthusiasts, head to Mount Lofty starting from the waterfall. You will enjoy a panoramic view of Adelaide and its suburbs upon your arrival.

The beaches

For those who want to have a picnic on the beach, admire a sunset, or dive into the waves, Glenelg, Semaphore, or Henley Beach will delight you. Glenelg Beach is accessible by tram from Adelaide city center, making it one of the most popular beaches in the city.

Port Adelaide

Accessible by bus or train from the city center, this small town to the northwest of Adelaide offers several surprises. Visit the Fishermen’s Wharf Markets on the esplanade on Sundays to discover a huge two-story flea market where visitors stroll and connoisseurs negotiate prices even on the most whimsical items.

Continue your walk along the esplanade where street art has found its place among the few bars and restaurants where you can have lunch. Then spend the afternoon on a boat on the water to spot dozens of dolphins around you.

Vineyards

For wine enthusiasts, escape for a day to the vineyards of McLaren Vale and the Barossa. With over 200 vineyards, Adelaide is considered the wine capital of Australia. Also, let yourself be tempted by the National Wine Centre where you will be offered a tasting of more than 120 wines!

car rental adelaide 4
Credit : Florence Lourme

Where to go out?

If you like going out with friends, having a romantic drink or partying with strangers, you will find what you are looking for in Adelaide. Rundle street is full of cool bars and restaurants with flavors from around the world. Hindley Street is the street of night clubs where you can dance to all styles of music.

🎉 NOT TO BE MISSED The Fringe Festival takes place every year in Adelaide for a month from February 14 to March 15, and if you are in the city during these dates, it’s well worth the detour. It’s the second-largest independent festival in the world after Edinburgh’s: street performances, concerts, theater… The city becomes pedestrianized to offer the best experience to participants in a more than festive atmosphere.

Where to eat?

Located in the heart of the country’s most famous wine regions, Adelaide offers an incredible gastronomic scene. A few days’ stay there is not enough to experience everything the city has to offer in terms of restaurants, bars, and cafes. The choices are vast! Here are our recommendations for places to eat in Adelaide.

Adelaide Central Market

Visiting the Adelaide Central Market is an absolute must (whether you’re hungry or not). Ideal for a lunch break, the market is covered and offers many tables to sit and enjoy the products and dishes offered by the local merchants. You will find fresh produce, cheese, bread, charcuterie, and lovely cafes such as Jamface. Also, stop by Field to Fork, a small café offering healthy products, with vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free options. If you want to prepare your shopping list in advance, you can check the list of seasonal products.

Chinatown

Close to the Central Market, on Gouger Street, is Adelaide’s “Chinatown.” You will find a variety of Asian stores and restaurants. Vietnamese, Japanese, Malaysian, Thai, and of course Chinese cuisine, there is something for everyone. Note that most of these restaurants serve late into the evening, which is interesting if you do not eat at Australian times.

West End

The western part of Adelaide is home to numerous dining options for all tastes and styles. It’s one of the must-visit places to eat in Adelaide.

Hindley Street

Extending west from Rundle Mall, Hindley Street is where you’ll find quick eats. The street offers a wide choice of fast food: kebabs, burgers, pizzas, etc. Ideal for a pre or post-night out in the area.

Perpendicular to Hindley Street, Peel Street is a small street full of good addresses. We recommend the restaurant of the same name, Peel Street, one of the best addresses in Adelaide.

Bank Street

And for those on a budget, Moona restaurant on Bank Street is one of the most popular restaurants in the area. With excellent value for money, Moona is famous for its authentic Korean dumplings handmade by the owner Ki Dong Ra. Don’t let the exterior facade of the place discourage you. The chicken, pork, and vegetable Mandoo dumplings ($15) are a treat and worth the wait.

East End

To the east of Rundle Mall, you find yourself on Rundle Street. This street also houses many lovely restaurants of all styles. Café Brunelli is an Italian restaurant open 24/7. A good option for eating at any time or if you are in Adelaide on a public holiday.

From Rundle Street, follow Ebenezer Place or Vardon Avenue. In these shaded little streets, you will find European restaurants such as the French Hey Jupiter or the Belgian Café Oostende.

South Adelaide

To the south of the city center, The Original Coopers Alehouse is the brewery that will serve you the most famous local beer: Coopers. Recently renovated, the establishment offers some of the best pub food. The restaurant displays a large selection of dishes made from fresh local products, a wide choice of beers, and local wines. You just have to choose between wine or beer to accompany your dish!

A little further south on the same street, The Astor offers good value for money dining. A popular and modern hotel, you will find classic pub dishes all day starting at $10. Are you up for a good steak, a juicy cheeseburger, or even a bowl of vegetarian nachos? The Astor offers a special menu that is almost too good to be true.

The National Wine Center

Finally, in a completely different style, we recommend stopping at the National Wine Center in the center of the Botanic Gardens. Let’s not forget that Adelaide is located in the heart of a major wine region. So what could be better than eating a good platter of local products accompanied by a glass of wine? The National Wine Center, which also offers a permanent exhibition on wine in Australia, is the perfect place to stop for lunch in the shade of the trees of the Botanic Gardens.

How to get around in Adelaide?

The traffic in Adelaide is not as busy as in Sydney or Melbourne. Even finding a parking spot is not a problem. Parking is quite expensive, but the city provides free parking spots (from 15 minutes to 3 hours). In the evening and on weekends parking is usually free!

If you prefer public transport, have a look at Adelaide Metro. There are buses, trams, and trains. Some services are free, such as the tram in the South Terrace city centre, which takes you to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, or the Free City Connector bus, which connects most tourist attractions. If you want to more places, you can buy individual tickets on the bus or rechargeable cards at the station, in information centres (tourist offices) or in newspaper shops. With this card you get special prices.

For $25, you get a card that allows you to travel indefinitely for 3 days by bus, tram and train across the whole transport network.
The Adelaide Rail will take you along the coast a little further north and south of the city, but also inland.

Finally, for the more athletic, take advantage of the numerous bike paths and BikeSA bicycles, which can be rented for free during the day upon presentation of an ID, to discover Adelaide and its surroundings.

Recommendations for Adelaide

Take a boat trip to Port Adelaide. For only 10 AUD, you’re cruising for two hours, and you can even see dolphins if you’re lucky.

In February and March, Adelaide hosts several festivals. The city is very busy at the time and you have the opportunity to watch free concerts, street performers, and outdoor games.

At the Semaphore or West Lakes cinemas, you get to watch movies for only 8 AUD, no matter what day. In comparison, tickets in other cinemas cost 20 AUD!

Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 17:30 to 20:30, you can enjoy a vegetarian and vegan dinner at Govinda Restaurant. This is a Krishna Temple, where you have to take off your shoes before going to dinner.

From Tuesday to Thursday between 4pm and 6pm, it’s Happy Hour at the Lady Burra Brewhouse. There you get the beer brewed locally in the heart of the city centre.

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