Your Ultimate Guide to Adelaide
1st August 2023
Adelaide in a nutshell
Adelaide is a cool little capital with plenty to keep you entertained as long as you choose to stay. Crammed with great things to see, taste and do, the CBD is a blend of striking architecture, narrow bar-lined laneways, unexpected street art and mouth-watering restaurants, all surrounding by sweeping parklands. This surprising boutique capital is the gateway to South Australia’s wine regions with Adelaide Hills, Barossa and Fleurieu Peninsula within an hour’s drive of the CBD.
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, and we haven’t even mentioned the beaches and hills yet!
Looking for accommodation? At the bottom of this article, find a 10% voucher code!
Because 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 15 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. Head further south and you’ll find more dramatic coastal scenes along the Fleurieu Peninsula where wineries and thick native vegetation meets the ocean. Looking for some things to do in Adelaide? Read on to discover some of the best things to do in this beautiful part of the world.
Accommodation for your Weekend Escape to Adelaide
At the end of this article, we recommend three options for Adelaide accommodation, based on different budgets. 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. Scroll down to the end to find our top suggestions.
Receive 10% off your stay using the code SAWE10!
Things to do in Adelaide
Walk amongst the trees
Looking for an adrenaline sport? Adelaide Tree Climb is an exciting adventure park nestled in the lush greenery of South Australia. With towering eucalyptus trees as its backdrop, this unique attraction offers an exhilarating experience for nature enthusiasts and thrill-seekers alike. Visitors can test their agility and endurance on a variety of high ropes courses, ziplines, and challenging obstacles. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, Adelaide Tree Climb provides a safe and thrilling environment to embrace your inner monkey and conquer the treetops. So, get ready to swing, climb, and soar, and create unforgettable memories in this outdoor playground!
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 samples provided by stallholders. Patisseries, cafes and multicultural food stalls tempt the senses as you stroll the numerous aisles. If you can’t Kangaroo Island anytime soon, make sure you visit their stall where you can sample gins or pick up some KI honey. Grab a coffee and sip as you watch people go about their daily lives.
Searching for a more in-depth central market experience? Why not take a three hour tour? Get to know the locals, taste the produce and learn about the history of the market.
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.
See Adelaide with the help of a tour
If you don’t have long to see the city, you might like to speed things up and take a tour. Fortunately, there are a number of options available for those hoping to visit all the best spots.
For example enjoy an Adelaide City and Parks bike tour. Explore Adelaide’s hidden treasures on a captivating tour. Begin at Himeji Japanese Gardens, a serene oasis. Pedal through Rymill Park and Bonython Park, surrounded by lush greenery. Discover North Terrace, Rundle Street, and the riverbank precinct, where history meets modernity. Enjoy a delightful morning tea at a local café. Led by experienced guides, this small group tour is suitable for all riding abilities. Simply immerse yourself in Adelaide’s beauty and create lasting memories on this unforgettable adventure!
Experience the best of Adelaide on an Adelaide City Morning Sightseeing Tour. Explore iconic city sights with expert commentary from a local guide. Enjoy a morning pick-up from selected hotels, immersing yourself in the classical culture of Adelaide. Throughout the day, witness the beauty of tree-lined streets and vibrant cultural precincts!
What better way to see the city than with a kayak tour? Discover the beauty of Adelaide from a unique perspective on the only guided kayak tour along the River Torrens. Marvel at the stunning views of the city skyline as you paddle through calm waters. With highly experienced guides, you can feel confident and safe throughout your adventure. Take advantage of the sunset tours for a truly magical experience. With small group sizes of up to 8 people, this kayak tour is the perfect addition to your day in the city.
Explore Adelaide Zoo
Adelaide Zoo is Australia’s second oldest zoo! Operated on a non-profit basis, the zoo is home to a great deal of amazing animals from across the world. You can certainly spend a whole day out here with the kids. A playground, cafe and lots of great experiences and talks throughout the day are plenty to keep you busy. Adelaide Zoo is located in the parklands just north of the city centre of Adelaide. Don’t miss the giraffe feed and panda talk. There’s so much to learn!
Wander through the gorgeous Himeji Garden
Inside Adelaide’s southern Park Lands, a little Japanese garden manicured to perfection is hidden. Commemorating sister city – Himeji, in Japan – the beautiful gardens were designed by landscape designer Yoshitaka Kumada and were built by many talented volunteers. Inside, find Japanese sculptures, a pond with turtles, lots of bird life and beautiful plants. Spend some time walking around the small garden and take a seat in order to soak up the atmosphere. You’ll be surprised just how relaxing it is in here!
Browse Rundle mall
Rundle Mall, is the main shopping street in Adelaide and the spot where you’ll find your favourite retail 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, Australia’s oldest family-owned chocolate maker known Australia-wide for their delicious chocolates. 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.
Visit the State Library of South Australia
The State Library of South Australia, or SLSA, is located on North Terrace. It is the official library of the Australian state of South Australia. Not only is it a wonderful building to look at, but there are a few things you do can here in order to immerse yourself in local heritage. See items from the library’s collections in exhibition bays lining the heritage-listed Mortlock Chamber and the stunning Treasures Wall. Browse travel guides, read international newspapers and magazines and just take a quick wander. There are some great photo opportunities for those who love old books and buildings!
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. Try Henley Beach or Brighton Beach as alternatives nearby, or perhaps Semaphore slightly further north. Having said that, anywhere you head to on the coast offers sweeping sandy beaches, so take your pick!
Head to Holey Moley for golf with a difference
Visit the 80s and 90s whilst playing a round of mini-golf if the weather is letting you down this winter. Head over in the day or opt for a session in the evening paired with a drink and snack. Choose from cocktails, wine, beer or anything you fancy, and get stuck into a competitive round of golf with your friends. Music is blasting at this trendy spot in the CBD and holes are inspired by your childhood favourites. This is certainly one of the best things to do for a visitor to the city – especially if you’re coming from regional SA. Holey Moley is certainly an indoor mini-golf course with a fantastic twist!
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!
Take a tour for a more educational and thorough experience!
Discover Adelaide’s arts and cultural 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.
For more ideas regarding things to do indoors in Adelaide (or when it’s raining), check out our article on the very topic!
Visit 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 without hesitation. It’s only a ten minute walk from Rundle Mall.
Head to an Escape Room or enjoy a Virtual Reality Experience
Rainy days happen, even in a sunny city like Adelaide. And when it does, you’ll want a plan B. Embark on an exhilarating virtual reality adventure in Adelaide. Enjoy a free roam experience in a spacious Arena, allowing you to move freely and immerse yourself in the virtual world. Gather up to 8 friends and play together in thrilling multiplayer games. With no cables or wires to limit you, experience unrestricted movement wherever you desire.
If virtual reality isn’t your thing, put your brain to work at an Adelaide escape room. Unleash your inner detective with an adrenaline-filled escape hunt; crack puzzles, solve mysteries, and beat the clock. Step into a new world, where you’ll face thrilling codes and challenges. Ideal for hot or rainy days, this indoor activity offers multiple themed rooms to choose from.
Go to the 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, country pubs and bars are all found in this beautiful part of South Australia. Adelaide Hills actually spreads across around 100 kilometres. You’ll easily be able to spend one whole day exploring, and perhaps even two or three (especially if you enjoy hiking). Set off in the morning and explore the hills, you’re bound to find something for everyone here.
Whilst you’re in the Adelaide Hills, why not stop by Gorge Wildlife Park and see some of SA’s animals up close?
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 SA 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.
Click here for more walks and hiking ideas in and around Adelaide.
Go kayaking at the Dolphin Sanctuary
Kayaking at the Dolphin Sanctuary in Adelaide is another breathtaking experience not to look past. As you paddle through the calm waters, the stunning natural beauty surrounds you. The sanctuary is home to a diverse range of marine life, but the highlight is undoubtedly the playful dolphins. Spotting them gracefully swimming alongside your kayak is a magical encounter. The tranquility of the sanctuary and the close connection with nature make this adventure unforgettable. Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a beginner, this unique opportunity to explore and connect with marine life is a must-do in Adelaide.
Go to the Gaol
Adelaide Gaol, a historic landmark in South Australia, holds a captivating past within its walls. Built-in 1841, it served as a prison for over 140 years. Today, visitors can explore the eerie corridors and learn about the lives of notorious criminals and tragic souls who once called it home. The gaol offers a chilling glimpse into the harsh realities of the past, making it a fascinating destination for history enthusiasts and those seeking a spine-tingling experience.
Situate yourself up high for sunset views of Adelaide
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!). Skye lookout offers a slightly lower down but equally beautiful alternative. 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!
Discover Adelaide’s 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.
Take a peek at the iconic Adelaide Oval
Adelaide Oval has been widely regarded as one of the most beautiful sporting grounds in the world, even since its inception in 1871. People visiting Adelaide love to take a look at the venue, with thousands of visitors from around the world visiting each year. Located on the Adelaide Riverbank, the Oval hosts not only cricket but football, concerts and lots of functions and major events. Visitors can head to the Oval for stadium tours, world-class dining, city views and of course, RoofClimb adventures! Enjoy picturesque views of the city and beyond whilst walking across the roof of the oval. With a wide range of climb possibilities, RoofClimb is a must-do for locals and visitors alike!
Cafes and Restaurants in Adelaide
Cafes in Adelaide are world-class (granted, we might be a bit biased). Dotted throughout the city, you’ll find great coffee and tasty snacks, as well as eateries selling awesome brunches and delicious lunches. You might like to try La Moka for something cosy, friendly and with great coffee. Whilst La Moka is also open at night for evening drinks and tasty cheese boards, the daytime scene is casual and inviting. Alternatively, on Ebenezer Place, find Hey Jupiter, an authentic French cafe and restaurant with a European feel and Australian twist. Across the road, Laneway, with its spacious interiors, great drinks menu and outdoor seating offers a great al-fresco option. For more information regarding cafes in Adelaide, check out our recent article.
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.
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.
Bars in Adelaide
Adelaide has a bar scene that offers a wide range of options for people looking for a night out. Whether you prefer cosy and intimate cocktail bars, lively pubs, or rooftop bars with stunning views of the city, Adelaide has something for everyone.
You can start with Maybe Mae, a sophisticated, art-deco cocktail bar that serves classic and contemporary drinks in a stylish and elegant setting. Their menu features classic pub dishes using fresh produce and seasonal ingredients.
If you are in an adventurous mood, enjoy a gin-tasting session at Howling Owl. Taste at least a few of their 220 gin varieties from around the globe, all of which will be served with a seasonal garnish and a premium mixer.
Meanwhile, if you are looking to experience Paris in South Australia, you can go to La Buvette. This French-style wine bar offers a wide range of wines, along with small plates of cheese, charcuterie, prawns and other food items.
Located on the rooftop of SkyCity Adelaide, Sol is a great place to grab a sunset drink with views across the city. A top notch list of cocktails and local wines and beers makes this place stand out amongst the crowd. Plus, the vista over the river and Adelaide Oval is one not to forget!
SA Weekend Escape’s top hotel picks!
Wondering where to stay in 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 three recommendations and get your choice of accommodation in Adelaide just right.
Discount code: Get 10% off your stay using the promocode SAWE10 at the following hotels’ booking engines.
Quality Apartments Adelaide Central
Found in the very heart of Adelaide CBD, walking distance from everything you’d want to explore in the city, Quality Apartments Adelaide Central is an unbeatable Adelaide accommodation option. Found within a beautiful, historic building, the apartments here offer a dose of luxury living. One or two-bedroom apartments are complemented by open-plan living spaces and luxury amenities.
Adelaide Royal Coach
Alternatively, the Adelaide Royal Coach, located just outside of the CBD is perfect for those who prefer to rest their heads in a slower part of town. Situated park-side, yet with only a short 10 minute walk to the bustling east end of Adelaide, the Royal Coach is convenient and highly comfortable. An indoor pool and onsite Angus & Co restaurant make your stay that little bit more enjoyable.
Comfort Hotel Adelaide Meridien
Finally, taking one small step further away from the CBD, Comfort Hotel Adelaide Meridien is the answer for those who like the affordable option in a quirkier part of town. Snug North Adelaide is a leafy grid of gorgeous streets, many lined with cosy cafes and boutique shops. Adelaide Meridien, found in the heart of North Adelaide, is a comfortable hotel with a beautiful location. Spacious rooms and an onsite Angus & Co restaurant mean that you’re truly set up for the weekend here.
KT Apartments is a newly opened luxury apartment accommodation located in the heart of Kent Town Adelaide. This East Adelaide location boasts a vast array of shops, galleries, bars, cafes and restaurants. Stylishly appointed self contained apartments, each with two bedrooms and one or two bathrooms, also feature spacious living and dining and a large balcony overlooking Adelaide. This is your sleek home from home in the city.
EconoLodge East Adelaide
Situated only 5 minutes on foot from the CBD, EconoLodge East Adelaide is an affordable and comfortable hotel in a prime location. Next door, the Adelaide Royal Coach offers access to Angus & Co Bar and Grill. Parking is available on site, and views look across to the parklands. EconoLodge East Adelaide is the perfect base from which to explore Adelaide!
Grow at Goodwood
Brand new! – Grow at Goodwood apartments offer the perfect solution for your short term holiday accommodation needs. Located in the heart of Goodwood, South Australia, Grow at Goodwood are brand new apartments just a few minutes drive away from Adelaide’s Central Business District and minutes from the Adelaide Royal Showgrounds.
Grow at Goodwood apartments provide all the comforts of home, with stylish and contemporary furnishings and modern amenities. Perfect for both short and longer stays, Grow at Goodwood is the ideal choice for travellers looking for a convenient and comfortable place to stay while they explore Adelaide.
Need to stay closer to Flinders Medical or Flinders University, or perhaps the gateway to McLaren vale Wine District!
Discover Mantra Tonsley Adelaide: Unparalleled Convenience
Immerse yourself in comfort at Mantra Tonsley Adelaide, perfectly positioned in the dynamic Tonsley Innovation Precinct. As the closest hotel to Flinders Medical Centre and Flinders University, our location ensures unparalleled convenience for visitors to these institutions. Just 25 minutes from the airport and city center, we offer spacious accommodations, modern amenities, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Choose Mantra Tonsley Adelaide for a stay that combines seamless accessibility with the very best of Adelaide hospitality.
Book you stay!
Book a room at Quality Apartments Adelaide Central.
Book a room at Adelaide Royal Coach.
Book a room at Adelaide Meridien Hotel & Apartments
Book a room at KT Apartments
Book a room at EconoLodge East Adelaide.
Book a room at Grow at Goodwood.
Book a room at Mantra Tonsley Adelaide