When in Adelaide: things to do in the city

Adelaide might have a reputation of being tiny, but those who have visited will know that’s just not true. Stretching in all directions, the little South Australian capital isn’t to be underestimated. From the sea in the west, to the hills in the east, there’s a lot to see and do. In this article however, we focus only on Adelaide CBD. Museums, galleries, cafes, restaurants, rooftop bars, gardens and more await you in Adelaide. Whether you’re visiting Adelaide for the first time, or showing around a guest, you’ll need to know the best things to do in the city…

Adelaide and its cool little city

Adelaide is small. There’s no doubt about it. Very little in comparison to its neighbouring state capitals – such as Sydney and Melbourne – it’s true that Adelaide can have a reputation for being quiet or even ‘boring’ (spoiler – Adelaideans don’t agree). Fortunately, if you live in Adelaide (or if you’ve ever visited), you know that that’s simply not true.

With world-class beaches to its west, thick forests and hills to its east and wine regions all around, the city’s greater vicinity is packed with potential for fun. But even Adelaide’s cool little city is bursting with opportunities.

As the festival state of the country, South Australia certainly goes a long way to fulfil its reputation and in doing so, Adelaide reaps all the benefits. Home to festivals of all kinds – music, dance, culture and much more – the city puts on a show for all its guests all year. Meanwhile, Adelaide is also dotted with boutique shops, trendy cafes (serving great coffee!), world-class restaurants and quirky bars. There’s also a great culture scene, with museums and galleries open to all.

Pic credit: Ben Goode/SATC

When in Adelaide: things to do in the city

Ever wondered exactly what things to do in the city whilst you’re in Adelaide? Look no further. In this article, we cover some of the best activities and sites in Adelaide CBD and help you plan the perfect trip to our cool little South Australian city!

Explore Adelaide Central Markets

Adelaide Central Market is a must-visit destination for tourists looking to experience the vibrant local food scene in South Australia. In fact, even if you aren’t hungry, it’s absolutely worth dropping by. Located in the heart of the city, the market offers a wide variety of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and multicultural cuisine. Visitors can explore the lively aisles, sample local delicacies, and chat with friendly vendors. The market is open five days a week and often hosts special events and food tastings.

Visit Rundle Mall (and Rundle Street)

Visiting Adelaide for the first time? You’ll need to visit Adelaide’s most famous mall; Rundle Mall. Located in the CBD, the outdoor mall is known for its shops, cafes, and street performers. Enjoy browsing international and local brands, as well as souvenir shops, in a lively and picturesque atmosphere. Rundle Mall is also home to iconic statues, including the famous “Malls Balls.” Once you’ve walked through the mall, you might want to make your way down to Rundle Street. Here at Rundle Mall’s eastern end, a selection of bars and restaurants as well as boutiquey shops and op shops please those seeking more of an authentic and trendy urban scene.

Head to an Adelaide museum

Adelaide’s CBD is home to several noteworthy museums, offering visitors a diverse range of exhibits and experiences. The South Australian Museum showcases the region’s natural and cultural history, whilst the Migration Museum delves into the stories and experiences of migrants in the state. For tourists interested in art, history, or culture, Adelaide’s museums are a worthwhile stop.

Art Gallery of South Australia

Pic credit: SATC/Megan Crabb

Go to AGSA

The Art Gallery of South Australia features local and international art and is a great way to spend an hour during a day in Adelaide CBD. The gallery is open daily and offers free admission to its permanent collection. Browse the building’s collection of over 45,000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts, or take a guided tour. The AGSA hosts several events and exhibitions throughout the year, such as Tarnanthi, the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art 3, and Warhol Unseen.

Enjoy a rooftop drink with Adelaide views

There’s never a bad time for a rooftop bar. Adelaide is home to several popular rooftop joints that offer both stunning views of the city skyline and a lively nightlife experience. The Hennessy Rooftop Bar and 2KW Bar and Restaurant, located in the heart of the city, are popular destinations for tourists looking for cocktails and contemporary Australian cuisine. Other rooftop bars worth visiting include Sol and the rooftop at Indigo. What better way to experience a city than from above (and holding a cocktail).

Have a coffee (or three)

Visitors will be glad to hear that Adelaide is good at coffee. The city’s bustling cafe scene makes it easy to cafe hop throughout the day. Cafe Troppo offers organic, locally-sourced food in a vibrant atmosphere, while Exchange Specialty Coffee serves up specialty brews and breakfast dishes in a chic setting. Other cafes worth visiting include Hey Jupiter, Peter Rabbit, and East End Providore. Laneway on Ebenezer is another great spot where you can people watch as you sip set within a cute little lane.

Visit the Adelaide Botanic Gardens

Another on our list of “When in Adelaide: things to do in the city” is Adelaide Botanic Garden. This lush oasis located in the heart of the city, features an array of native and exotic plant species, as well as greenhouses and themes areas. Walk through the Palm House, Bicentennial Conservatory, and First Creek Wetland, enjoy wandering along the walking trails or take a guide tours. Ready for a break? Adelaide Botanic Gardens is home to two cafes and an incredible fine-dining restaurant where local and native produce is the name of the game.

Taste world-class food

It’s safe to say that if it’s food you’re after, Adelaide is ready to impress. Adelaide boasts a thriving restaurant scene with diverse cuisine options. Try Africola – a popular destination for authentic African flavours where staff are super friendly, food is delicious and the decor is vibrant. Orana offers a unique dining experience with native Australian ingredients. Looking for something Thai? Golden Boy is an Adelaide classic where modern Thai cuisine steals tastebuds and hearts!

Affordable stays in Adelaide city

Receive 10% off your stay using the code SAWE10!

Found only 20 minutes on foot in the quaint suburb of North Adelaide, Adelaide Meridien is a comfortable and affordable hotel, perfect for your stay in the city. Located in a beautiful location near parks, cafes and one of the best restaurant districts in the city, Adelaide Meridien offers an outdoor pool, hot tub, guest laundry, and free WiFi.

To book your room at Adelaide Meridien, click here.

Looking for more things to do in Adelaide city?

Check out this Ultimate Guide to Adelaide and discover the best things to do in Adelaide.