Your Ultimate Guide to Adelaide 

Adelaide in a nutshell

Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, is compact, cultured and offers a little of everything. Originally the home of the Kaurna people, European settlement in the 1830s resulted in the establishment of the city. Adelaide was a planned city, and unlike other Australian cities, it was to be home of ‘free people’ as opposed to convicts. With British and Irish people settling at the beginning of the 19th century, Germans also added greatly to the population half way through the century.

Today, Adelaide is encapsulated by a luscious green park belt, the city centre boasts multicultural restaurants, chic cafes and a lively bar culture. Multiple boutique shops and plenty of heritage are laced throughout the city. A concentrated 5km2 centre makes Adelaide CBD neat and approachable. Museums and art galleries add a sprinkle of culture to the mix and interlaced leafy parks make for a peaceful cityscape. What’s more, there are plenty of hotels in Adelaide catering for a diverse range of visitors. There’s something for everyone in the South Australian capital.

things to do in Adelaide

Pic credit: SATC

But it’s not all about the city in Adelaide. Only 20 minutes away, visitors to Adelaide can reach the heavenly hills, thick with greenery and thriving with wildlife. Adelaide Hills, comprised of multiple charming towns and brimming with food, wine and culture is a destination in itself. Abundant viewpoints reachable by winding hillside roads, or endless hiking trails provide unbelievable views over Adelaide. Stand upon the Adelaide Hills to catch a panoramic view of the city centre, with a backdrop of the sea.

Which leads nicely on to the next best part of Adelaide; the seaside. Also within 30 minutes of Adelaide CBD, bustling seaside suburbs packed with cafes and restaurants line the stunning South Australian coastline. Gorgeous sandy beaches and clear waters running along the length of Adelaide make for spectacular scenery and blissful beachfront afternoons.

beaches in Adelaide

Pic credit: SATC/James Charles Taylor

A weekend escape to Adelaide

Living outside of Adelaide and looking for a culture-infused weekend escape? Look no further than the South Australian capital. Grab yourself a room at one of the many hotels in Adelaide and treat yourself to a getaway. Whether you’re living an hour, or five hours away from this beautiful city, a trip to Adelaide could be the refreshing break you’re after. 

This Ultimate Guide to Adelaide has been made to inspire your trip. Use it to put together a perfectly personalised plan for your getaway. 

Things to do in Adelaide

Visit Adelaide Central Market

Hip and teeming with locals, Adelaide Central Market is a key component to a great Adelaide getaway to-do list. Stalls selling fresh local produce including mounds of fruits and vegetables, sweets, chocolates, eggs, cheeses and olive oils overflow here. Walk around and nibble on some testers. What’s more patisseries, cafes and multicultural food stalls tempt the senses as you stroll the numerous isles. Make sure you stop by the packaging-free stalls and take a look at venders selling native Australian produce. Grab a coffee and sip as you watch people go about their daily lives. 

Adelaide Central Market

Pic credit: SATC/Alexandra Porter

Admire the Adelaide Botanic Gardens

Adelaide Botanic Gardens was designed and influenced by the Royal Gardens at Kew in London. Glass structures dating back to the 19th century are dotted throughout the gardens. In these conservatories, live an Australian rain forest, a giant Amazonian waterlily thriving since 1868 and a collection of Madagascan palms. Gorgeous flora and lofty trees, beautifully orange in autumn, set across the 51-hectare landscape will keep you captivated for a whole morning. Make sure you find the vibrant rose garden, established with the purpose of researching suitability for their growth in Australia. 

Adelaide Botanic Garden

Pic credit: SATC/Blanco Horner

Browse Rundle mall 

The central icon of Adelaide, Rundle Mall, is the main shopping street in Adelaide and the spot where you’ll find your favourite high street stores as well as boutique shops. Whether you enjoy shopping or not, a visit here is one of the best things to do in Adelaide. Wander down the street and admire the buildings above shops to grasp the sense of history which pervades. Of note is Haigh’s Chocolates, selling the most exquisite of treats as well as the Adelaide Arcade which opened in 1885. You can also do your shopping in less of a ‘mall’ environment in Adelaide. Extending east from the main shopping street, Rundle Street continues with an emphasis on smaller independent establishments. Along this street you’ll find a great deal more restaurants, pubs and numerous vintage and boutique shops.

Rundle Mall in Adelaide

Pic credit: SATC

Head to the beach by tram

Glenelg is a seaside suburb west of the city centre and is accessible by tram from the CBD. Tourists as well as locals gather at Glenelg for beachfront walks and jogs, boating, swimming and breathtaking sea views (particularly at sunset). A jetty, jutting into the sea is perfect for an evening stroll. Bustling and full of shops and cafes, Glenelg has something to offer to everyone. In this beachfront part of Adelaide, you’ll also discover numerous heritage buildings; Glenelg is the oldest European settlement in South Australia. However, don’t be fooled. Whilst Glenelg offers a superb coastal experience, endless seaside neighbourhoods both north and south of Glenelg are equally as inviting. White sandy beaches with nearby sweet cafes and chic restaurants are scattered along Adelaide’s coastline, so take your pick.

beaches in Adelaide

Pic credit: SATC/KaZKaptureZ

Visit the National Wine Centre

If you’re interested in wine, but not looking to make the trip out of the city during your stay, drop into the National Wine Centre. Located just next to Adelaide Botanic Garden, the wine centre offers a range of tours and experiences. The establishment is actually partially a wine research centre as part of the University of Adelaide. However, visitors are able to tour the building and visit the wine tasting room (which offers a whopping 120 wines). Also noteworthy is the National Wine Centre’s architecture. Set within a very modern, grand building comprised of glass and wood, the exterior itself is worth a look!

Art Gallery of South Australia

Pic credit: SATC/Megan Crabb (Art Gallery of South Australia)

Discover Adelaide’s arts and culture scene 

During a self-guided tour or wander of the city, you might like to head inside some of the museums and art galleries on offer. The Art Gallery of South Australia – founded in 1881 – contains a massive 42,000 pieces in its collection. Paintings, photography, sculptures, aboriginal art pieces, and ceramics describe just some of the displays at the gallery. Also in the same precinct as The Art Gallery of South Australia is the South Australia Museum. Notable displays include the world’s largest Aboriginal Australian collection. Additionally, you’ll find a Megafauna gallery revealing extinct animals of Australia and finally an impressive fossil collection. The Jam Factory is also a great place to soak up some arts and culture. Housing art from talented locals, the arts and crafts centre has a variety of studios displaying pottery, glassmaking, metal design and much more. 

jam factory Adelaide

Pic credit: SATC/HEY GENTS (Jame Factory)

Pay a visit to the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute

Learn about the original owners of the land at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute. Featuring Aboriginal art, a museum, cultural exhibitions and numerous performances and events all throughout the year, it’s the best place in Adelaide to learn a little about Aboriginal Australia. Add this stop to your itinerary. It’s only a ten minute walk from Rundle Mall. 

Go to Adelaide Hills

One of the best things to do in Adelaide, is actually to drive away from the city towards the hills. It’s likely you’ll be staying at one of the hotels in Adelaide, however Adelaide Hills is a stunning region, not far away from the CBD. The South Australian capital is framed by gorgeous undulating hills to its west, within which numerous little towns are found. The Adelaide Hills region is a tourist’s dream. German heritage, wine districts, botanic gardens, great shops, restaurants and bars are all found in this beautiful part of South Australia. Adelaide Hills actually spreads across around 100 kilometres. You’ll be able to spend at least one day exploring. Set off in the morning and explore the hills, you’re bound to find something for everyone here. 

wineries in Adelaide Hills

Pic credit: SATC (Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard)

Take the kids to Cleland Wildlife Park

Also at the edge of Adelaide Hills, is Cleland Wildlife Park. The kids will love this part of your trip. Spend a few hours walking around the park, feeding the native Australian animals and listening to talks by keepers. Cleland Wildfire Park plays a really important role in helping visitors to connect with the nature round them and teaching guests about the importance of conservation. Snakes, reptiles, kangaroos and koalas are amongst the many species you can find here. 

Choose from endless hiking spots  

From your accommodation in Adelaide, you won’t be far from multiple conservation parks and national parks for hiking. Cleland Conservation Park situated within Adelaide Hills has an extensive network of walking and cycling trails. The park also offers striking views of the city from up high. Meanwhile, Morialta with its rugged ridges, gullies and waterfalls is another natural gem in the Adelaide landscape. Countless, well-signposted trails of different lengths can be followed here. 

Morialta conservation park

Pic credit: SATC/Joel Durbridge (Morialta)

Situate yourself up high for sunset 

Adelaide is known for its gorgeous city views. At sunset, the best place to be is up within the hills to capture a glimpse of the entire city alight with orange, framed by the calm sea in the distance. The panoramic view from Mt Lofty, the highest point in the Adelaide Hills, is sensational and involves an hour walk each way (you can also drive here!). Alternatively, you can also head just about anywhere towards the hills and find multiple viewpoints from which to sit and soak up the views. If you’re going to spend a weekend in the city, don’t forget to add this to your list. Bring a picnic and soak up the views. This is one of the best things to do in Adelaide!

views of Adelaide

Pic credit: SATC

Discover Chinatown 

Not far from the Central Market, Chinatown also makes up a significant proportion of the CBD. Despite its name, this zone of the city centre offers an excellent selection of Japanese, korean, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Thai cuisine and shops. Impressive red gates at its entrance and red lanterns dotted throughout give Chinatown a vibrant feel. Chinatown boasts some of the most diverse dining options in the city. A wonderful blend of five star restaurants, food courts, wine bars and pubs are around every corner.

Opt for a heritage walking tour

Dubbing itself the ‘city of great buildings’, or the ‘city of churches’, Adelaide is teeming with culture and fascinating history. Self-guided tours provided by Adelaide city council are an ideal way to explore the heritage of the city. Adelaide is comprised of a unique combination of old colonial buildings and newer sleek glass buildings, making for an interesting cityscape. If you’re not interested in a tour, just a stroll through the city will be enough to give you an impression of the place. After all, the city’s centre is relatively small and ideal for walking.

things to do in Adelaide

Pic credit: SATC/Elliott Thompson/ @ellshots

Restaurants in Adelaide 

Scattered with restaurants, bars and cafes with cuisine from all parts of the globe, Adelaide has an exceptional food and drink scene. Africola is a great example of a hip restaurant with excellent food and a casual vibe. A diner-style restaurant, Africola offers South African BBQ dishes in a colourful setting. Meanwhile, Golden Boy, a Thai Restaurant set within a bright space and with comfy booths and communal tables is a great choice. The restaurant delivers delicious and authentic Thai food with punchy flavours. For something special, head to The Mayflower at The Mayfair Hotel for a classic and elegant evening meal. 

restaurants in Adelaide

Pic credit: SATC/Andy Nowell

If you’re celebrating, or simply in need of a treat, The Mayflower also offers a spectacular High Tea experience. Finger sandwiches, scones and exquisite cakes and tartlets, paired with sparkling wine or a tea make for the perfect combination. Once you’ve finished indulging, take the celebration and head to the chic and trendy Hennessy rooftop bar. An impressive cocktail menu and friendly, highly skilled bar staff will be ready to greet you.

Book your trip to Adelaide

Whether you live just outside of the South Australian capital or five hours away, a city escape might be just what you’re after. Looking for hotels in Adelaide? Take a look at our two recommendations. Get your choice of accommodation in Adelaide just right. 

hotels in Adelaide

Pic credit: The Mayfair Hotel

When it comes to hotels in Adelaide, this has to be the most stylish. The Mayfair Hotel, providing boutique Adelaide accommodation in the heart of the city has an absolutely unbeatable location. Set within a Heritage Listed Colonial Building, the Mayfair Hotel is rich in history and provides guests with a luxurious hotel experience. Swish, modern interiors and a range of facilities make this option one of the most superior and dazzling hotels in Adelaide, without a doubt.

hotels in Adelaide

Pic credit: The Mayfair Hotel

Alternatively, the centrally located Adabco Boutique Hotel also offers visitors to Adelaide an ideal place to spend the night. Nestled amongst leafy trees in the east of the city, minutes from the very centre of the city, Adabco Boutique Hotel is another of the best hotels in Adelaide. The hotel presents modern, clean and spacious rooms at affordable prices. It’s the perfect choice for a  night away.

hotels in Adelaide

Pic credit: Adabco Boutique Hotel

Grab yourself a snug and cosy room at one of these first-rate hotels in Adelaide and spend a weekend exploring the city!

Book a room at The Mayfair Hotel.

Book a room at Adabco Boutique Hotel.