20 Best things to do in Adelaide, Australia

Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and is the fifth largest capital city in Australia. It is also known for being one of the most livable and affordable cities in the world due to its high score of stability, culture & environment, infrastructure, healthcare, and education. 

Adelaide boasts a wide variety of natural landscape features including mountains, beaches, and parks as it is bordered by the Mount Lofty Ranges to the east, the Fleurieu Peninsula to the south, and the Gulf St Vincent to the west.

Some of the best things to do in Adelaide, Australia include taking a stroll along the River Torrens, visiting the Adelaide Botanic Garden, and checking out the vibrant street art in the city center. 

You can also visit the Adelaide Central Market, Glenelg Beach, Adelaide Oval, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the South Australian Museum, and the Adelaide Zoo.

Adelaide is known for its delicious food, world-renowned wine, vibrant coffee scene, and lots of big festivals & events. You can easily take day trips to wine regions such as Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, Mclaren Vale, as well as to Kangaroo Island and Fleurieu Peninsula.

20 Best things to do in Adelaide, Australia

1. Rundle Mall

Rundle Mall is one of the premier shopping centers in South Australia, consisting of 15 buildings and plazas. It is known to be the longest and one of the most popular malls in the country. 

Visitors can find a wide range of shops, including popular brands like David Jones, and Jay Jays. There are many dining options, food stands, grocery stores and banks within the mall, making it convenient for shoppers to grab a quick meal or handle financial transactions during their shopping trip.

Rundle Mall is located in the downtown area of Adelaide, bordered by North Terrace, Grenfell and Currie streets. It is located within walking distance from the South Australian Museum and the Art Gallery of South Australia. 

Rundle Mall is easily accessible by free city tram and free city connector buses. 

2. Adelaide Central Market

A trip to Adelaide is not complete without visiting the famous Adelaide Central Market, the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. 

Adelaide Central Market is a hub of food & culture, and has been a popular market for both locals & tourists for over a century and a half (since 1869).

The market is a feast for the senses, with its vibrant colors, enticing aromas, and lively atmosphere. You will quickly be charmed by the friendly traders as you explore the stalls filled with the freshest produce and delicious gourmet treats. 

For a tasty meal, consider dining at the renowned Lucia’s or one of the other food halls in the market. The dishes may be affordable, but they are full of flavor.

3. Adelaide Botanic Garden

The Adelaide Botanic Garden is a beautiful garden located in the center of the city, founded in 1857. Covering an area of 50 ha, the garden is home to some of Australia’s most exceptional plant collections.

One of the must-see attractions of the Garden is The Palm House, built in 1877 and beautifully restored. Other noteworthy spots include the Bicentennial Conservatory, Santos Museum of Economic Botany, First Creek Wetland, and Amazon Waterlily Pavilion.

The Garden is one of the free things to do in Adelaide, where you can take part in a free guided tour departing from the Schomburgk Pavilion at 10. 30 every morning.

Adelaide Botanic Garden is also home to a Visitor Information Centre and Diggers Garden Shop, and an on-site restaurant, as well as the Café Fibonacci, and Simpson Kiosk.

4. Glenelg

Glenelg is a highly sought-after beach destination in Adelaide, attracting both locals and tourists during the warmer months. It is located only a 25 minutes tram ride from the city center of Adelaide.

Captain Hindmarsh arrived on December 28th, 1836 and chose the area to be called Glenelg. On the same day, he declared South Australia as a colony under an old gum tree. 

Twenty years later, Glenelg became a municipality and a memorial was erected one hundred years later to commemorate the first landing. The pride of Glenelg’s history still lives on today.

Some of the best things to do and see in Glenelg include:

  • Swim with wild Dolphins
  • Swim at Glenelg Beach, watch the beautiful sunset
  • Visiting the Glenelg Museum to learn the history of the town
  • See South Australia’s Birth Place at the Old Gum Tree
  • Take a walk along its hiking trails along the coastline and inland
  • Go fishing, sailing, snorkeling 
  • Visit the Bay Discovery Centre
  • Shop ’til you drop at boutique stores along Jetty Road
  • Take the kids to the Beach House 

5. Himeji Garden

Adelaide Himeji Gardens is a Japanese style garden, designed to represent the bond of friendship between Adelaide and its sister city, Himeji in Japan. It was founded in 1985, in South Terrace. 

While exploring the garden, visitors should take care not to harm any of the plants or features, as well as not to walk on the graveled areas.

The garden has a traditional Japanese-style design, with a pond and waterfall at the entrance to create a peaceful atmosphere. The stone lantern next to the pond is decorated with the twelve Chinese zodiac symbols, adding a touch of whimsy to the otherwise traditional design.

Adelaide Himeji Gardens has two distinct sections, including the senzui, a lake and mountain garden, and the kare senzui, a dry garden.

The garden is open from 8 am to 17:30 pm daily, with guided tours available for groups of 10 or more. 

6. Carrick Hill

Carrick Hill is a 20th century heritage house museum & garden, and is a popular tourist attraction in South Australia. It was built by Edward and Ursula Hayward in the 1930s and served as their residence. It houses globally renowned art collections and rotating exhibitions.

Carrick Hill’s estate covers an area of 40 ha, including heritage gardens and 26 ha of native bushland. Carrick Hill is situated in Springfield, which is only 15 minutes drive by car from Adelaide’s city center.

Families and the kids could easily spend an entire day here, exploring the gardens, having a picnic, and walking around the Children’s Story Book Trail.

7. Heritage Walking Tours

Taking a guided walking tour is a popular way to learn more about the city’s history & culture. You’ll have the chance to explore some of Adelaide’s most interesting and historic locations. 

Tours typically last two to three hours and include visits to historic sites, such as the Town Hall, Adelaide Gaol, Darling Building, Parliament House, Festival Theatre, and Victoria Square.

These tours are suitable for all ages. A self-guided walking tour is one of Adelaide’s best free things to do & see to get an overview of different aspects of the city.

8. Cleland Conservation Park

Cleland Wildlife Park is located only 20 minutes from Adelaide, and is the ultimate day out for animal lovers. Feed the kangaroos and get up close to some of Australia’s unique species, and even hold a koala!

There are also educational programs and interactive experiences available, making it a great spot to learn about the area’s unique wildlife.

Through daily keeper talks, self-guided discovery trails, and engaging interpretation, visitors can learn more about the animals they are seeing while also getting up close and personal with them. 

Additionally, the park has a licensed café and souvenir shop, so that visitors can further enjoy their experience and take a piece of it home with them.

9. North Terrace 

North Terrace is Adelaide’s cultural boulevard and  picturesque street that is lined with the world-renowned museums, art galleries, beautiful gardens, and historical monuments.

Popular attraction on the North Terrace include:

  • The National Wine Centre of Australia
  • The Adelaide Botanic Garden, great place for relaxing and picnic
  • Government House, on corner of King William Street 
  •  Parliament House and the Adelaide Festival Centre
  • Adelaide Casino and the Adelaide Railway Station 
  • The Adelaide Convention Centre
  • SAMHRI building 
  • Migration Museum, MOD Museum, and South Australian Museum
  • The State Library and The Art Gallery of South Australia

10. Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute

Tandanya is an art museum dedicated to honoring and respecting the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which it is located in Adelaide, SA. It serves as a celebration of Aboriginal culture and heritage, providing a platform for Aboriginal artists and creators to exhibit their work.

Tandanya is a hub for activities that encourage the participation, celebration, and promotion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

It showcases a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performing and visual arts, including live music, theater, dance, visual arts, film, workshops and education programs. 

11. River Torrens

The River Torrens, which is 85 kilometers in length, is an important river of Adelaide. It originates in the Mount Lofty Ranges near Mount Pleasant and ultimately empties into the sea at West Beach.

The River Torrens was given its name by Colonel William Light in 1836 as a tribute to Sir Robert Torrens, who held the position of chairman for the South Australian Colonisation Commission at the time.

The Adelaide Riverbank, also known as Karrawirra Pari or the Redgum Forest River to the Kaurna people, is a significant location in Adelaide as it is both geographically and spiritually central to the city. It has been a gathering place for thousands of years. 

The area spans 380 hectares along the River Torrens, including areas such as Gilberton, Bonython Park, and Bowden, and contains many important buildings and public spaces, as well as a variety of institutions that serve a beneficial purpose.

Torrens Lake is a great spot for a variety of water activities, including rowing, dragon boating, canoeing/kayaking, and model powerboat racing. You can just simply take a stroll along its scenic banks.

12. Cobbler Creek Recreation Park

Cobbler Creek Recreation Park is situated between Salisbury & Golden Grove, and is a great place to experience nature, relax away from city life, go for walks, or try out mountain biking.

The trails at this park are designed specifically for both beginner and intermediate bikers, and even offer some challenging sections for advanced riders. There is also a pump track for kids and a bike jump area for those looking to showcase their skills.

You can have a picnic and the kids play at the Kites and Kestrels adventure playground. BBQs are allowed on the grassy area near the playground, but only when there is no Total Fire ban. The playground features a flying fox and climbing structures that are modeled after tree-top raptor nests.

If you’re in search of a peaceful getaway, the trails in the area offer serene views of River Red Gum lined creeks, woodlands filled with bird sounds, and ridge tops with panoramic views of the Adelaide Plains.

13. National Wine Centre

The National Wine Centre of Australia, located in the North Terrace, is one of the best things to do in Adelaide for both wine connoisseurs and novices where they can sample more than 100 Australian wines from 65 different regions. 

The center is also easily accessible via public transportation and boasts an impressive architectural design with an eye-catching wine barrel-shaped exterior.

14. Jam Factory

JamFactory, located in the West End creative precinct of Adelaide on Morphett Street, offers a unique opportunity to see Australian craft and design in action. 

Their galleries and shops showcase the best of local talent, and visitors can also watch glass blowing demonstrations and observe artists working in the jewelry, furniture and ceramics studios. 

Free guided tours are available at 11am from Monday to Wednesday, but booking is required for groups of 6 or more, with a fee of $5 for adults and $4 for students and concessions.

15. National Railway Museum

The National Railway Museum in Port Adelaide, is Australia’s biggest railway museum, showing more than a hundred exhibits mainly from the South Australian and Commonwealth Railways. 

It opened its doors in 1970, and moved to its current, larger location in 1988. Visitors can take free train rides every half hour, and enjoy an extensive model railway and the opportunity to climb aboard many trains. 

The museum is a great place for families and friends to learn about local history and view Australia’s finest collection of artifacts and rolling stock. 

The National Railway Museum is one of the four unique museums in Port Adelaide along with the Clipper Ship City of Adelaide, SA Maritime Museum, and SA Aviation Museum. 

16. Art Gallery of South Australia

The Art Gallery of South Australia is one of the best things to do in Adelaide for art lovers, attracting 780,000 visitors each year. It is situated in the North Terrace, between the University of Adelaide & South Australian Museum, in the heart of the central business district.

The Art Gallery of South Australia is home to a collection of over 42,000 artworks from Australia, Europe, North America and Asia such as paintings, sculptures, photographs, and works of indigenous artists.

17. Adelaide Zoo

Adelaide Zoo is one of the best things to do and see in Adelaide for families and children. It is located a mere 15 minutes away from the city center, is home to a plethora of wildlife with 1,800 animals from nearly 300 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish living in its 8 hectares of botanical paradise. 

It is also the home of Wang Wang and Funi, the only giant pandas in the Southern Hemisphere.

Visitors to the Adelaide Zoo can explore a variety of exhibits, such as the Immersion Southeast Asian Rainforest, Nocturnal House, Reptile House, Bug Barn, Seal Bay, Australian Rainforest Wetlands, Children’s Zoo, and an environmental education center. 

During the day, zoo staff provide food for the animals, conduct keeper talks and lead free walking tours at half-hour intervals between 9:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

18. Chinatown

Adelaide’s Chinatown is a popular destination for those looking to experience the city’s diverse culture, with its convenient location in the South East end of the CBD and its array of international cuisines, restaurants, and shops. 

Visitors can explore the bustling laneways, sample delicious delicacies, or purchase traditional Chinese items. Furthermore, the area plays host to many cultural events, such as the annual Chinese New Year celebration.

Chinatown is home to Gouger Street, or Grote Street where you can find many restaurants serving delicious Asian cuisines such as Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, and Korean.

19. Adelaide Museum

The South Australian Museum is a must-see for those looking to explore the cultural and natural history of the area. 

It boasts the world’s largest collection of Australian Aboriginal cultural artifacts, including the Yuendumu Doors, as well as a Biodiversity Gallery featuring interactive presentations and touch screens to learn more about the land and marine wildlife of South Australia.

The museum also has other galleries such as the Pacific Cultures, Ancient Egyptian Room, Opalised Fossils, Minerals, and Ediacaran. If you want more information and direct access to the collections, take a look at the Discovery Centre on level one.

20. Day trips to Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, Kangaroo Island, Mclaren Vale, Clare Valley, Fleurieu Peninsula, Marine Wildlife Cruises

Best day trips from Adelaide include:

  • Day Trips to Adelaide Hills, a 30 minute drive by car from Adelaide city center. You can visit Hahndorf, Gumeracha, Birdwood.
  • Day Trips to Barossa Valley, one of Australia’s best wine regions, a hour drive from north Adelaide
  • Day Trips to Fleurieu Peninsula,  45 minutes drive from Adelaide, where you can visit the  McLaren Vale with its wineries, Victor Harbor and Goolwa, and Onkaparinga National Park.
  • Day Trips to Kangaroo Island, to see Flinders Chase National Park, Seal Bay Conservation Park, and the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park.
  • Day Trips to Clare Valley, South Australia’s wine regions
  • Day Trips to Murraylands, an hour from Adelaide

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Adelaide best known for?

Adelaide is known for being South Australia’s capital city that is known for its laid back lifestyle,  delicious food & wine, vibrant coffee scene, and lovely beaches. It is also famous for its great outdoor activities, and easy day trips to the wine production areas of Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale.

Is Adelaide Australia worth visiting?

Adelaide is definitely well worth visiting because it is the capital city of South Australia that is known for its delicious food, wine, coffee, as well as beautiful beaches, rivers, and historical attractions. It also offers easy day trips to the wine regions of Barossa Valley & McLaren Vale.

How do I spend a day in Adelaide?

Spend a day in Adelaide by enjoying a breakfast at a local cafe, visiting the St Peter’s Cathedral & Adelaide Oval, visiting the River Torre for walking or biking along the riverbanks, exploring North Terrace with its collection of Victorian architecture, the Central Market, and enjoying sunset at the Glenelg Beach.

How many days in Adelaide is enough?

A stay of around 3-4 days is sufficient to take in the major attractions and to sample the local food & wine scene, although longer stays are recommended for those who want to explore the surrounding wine regions and beaches.

What are the free things to do in Adelaide?

Some free things to do in Adelaide include visiting Glenelg, one of the city’s best beaches; visiting the Rundle Mall, and the Devour Adelaide Central Market, walking through Adelaide Botanic Garden, exploring the South Australian Museum and the Art Gallery of South Australia.

What are the best things to do in Adelaide at night?

Adelaide offers a variety of nightlife options such as visiting trendy bars & nightclubs, taking a stroll through Rundle Street, watching a live music performance, dine at one of the city’s many restaurants, or enjoying a comedy show at the Adelaide Fringe Festival.

See more: Where to Stay in Adelaide First Time

So there you have it, the best things to do in Adelaide, Australia for your next trip. If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment below.

About Author: Linda Smith

I'm Linda Smith, the Hotel Expert, an experienced travel blogger who passionate about traveling. I'm here to share with you all my travel experiences and tips. I cover a wide range of travel topics, specializing in sharing information about the best areas, neighborhoods, and hotels in each city. I hope all these things will make your travel easier.

Leave a Comment