Looking for tips on things to do in Adelaide South Australia?
As part of our city guides series, we interviewed Nicole Smith from Bitten by the Travel Bug who is an Adelaide native.
Nicole shares with us her insider tips on the best things to do in Adelaide, South Australia, plus advice on where to eat, sleep, drink, shop and explore.
Why Visit Adelaide?
Adelaide is often the ‘forgotten’ city of Australia or considered ‘for the old fogies’ because it’s more food and wine country.
That said, Adelaide is one of the greenest cities in the world, the most affordable city in Australia, and we have a huge passion for sport and the arts.
Adelaide has the best of everything Australia offers within 20-minutes of the city centre – who wouldn’t love that?
Best of all, there’s minimal traffic problems in Adelaide.
Things to Do in Adelaide
- Take in a game of cricket at Adelaide Oval – Widely considered the best pitch in the world by players and one of the few places where you can still sit ‘on the hill’ and have a picnic.
- Spend an evening at Henley Beach – This has to be my favourite area of Adelaide. Beautiful clean beach that not many tourists frequent (they seem to head to dirty Glenelg), wonderful meals, and a great atmosphere in what is turning out to be quite an artsy neighborhood.
- Take a wine tour – We’re mad about our wine and know that ours is the best in Australia – take that Victoria! I recommend either arranging for a short-stay in one of the wine regions – we have 18 to choose from whether you want to be near the water or close to the city – or doing a Wine tour with a reputable company, such as Groovy Grapes.
- Enjoy Hahndorf – The oldest Germany community in Australia, Hahndorf hasn’t lost all of it’s old-style architecture or fun, and don’t forget to have a pint at the Hahndorf Inn.
- Meet the locals at Cleland National Park – If you want to see some of Australia’s native flora and fauna, head to the Adelaide hills and see kangaroos and koalas up close.
- Explore the River Torrens – The river that runs through the heart of the city is small but there is plenty going on. A hub for festivals, paddle boat for some fun, or take the Popeye river cruise.
- Eat Haigh’s Chocolate – Whilst there is a shop in Rundle Mall, visit the Haigh’s factory on Greenhill Road to see chocolates being made and taste samples of this South Australian companies chocolate.
- Mount Lofty – For a view across Adelaide this is the place to visit. It’s quite a way out so if you’re happy with something a little closer to town visit Windy Point instead.
- Victor Harbour – Horse drawn carriages, fairy penguins and cute markets are found in this coastal town about two-hours out of Adelaide. Especially popular in summer with locals who own beach-side properties.
- Kangaroo Island – Made famous by Oprah, Kangaroo Island is a wildlife paradise. Sea-lions, koalas, little penguins and of course a few kangaroos; Kangaroo Island is the perfect place to visit all year round. See a lavender farm, birds of prey display or taste the local produce, there’s plenty to do on this island.
Best Neighborhoods to Explore in Adelaide
Wander the main street and enjoy a proper German stout at the Hahndorf Inn, enjoy the leather or wood-craft stores, eat some lebkuchen (that is, gingerbread) or other traditional German cakes at the bakery, and enjoy the atmosphere.
If you have time I highly recommend you walk or take the bus one stop out-of-town to the Beerenberg Farm. The jams and condiments made by Beerenberg can be found around Australia and internationally, and if it’s strawberry season you can pick your own berries to enjoy.
Connected to the city by Adelaide’s trams (and the historic carriages on the weekends), Glenelg is Adelaide’s busiest beach. Personally, I’d choose to visit Henley Beach if you want to escape the crowds and have clean sands, but you can’t go past the restaurants, bars, shopping and nightlife in Glenelg.
Glenelg’s cleaner and quieter cousin, Henley Beach has white sands, volleyball courts, and quality restaurants and cafes – alongside the local fish&chip and yiros/souvlaki stores.
Henley Beach is quite an artsy places with plenty of galleries along Seaview Road popping up and a weekend organic market.
Rundle Street East
In the city centre, but if you’re looking for boutique stores, a range of pubs and plenty of great places to eat then Rundle Street East is your place to go.
Be sure to check out the laneways as there are more galleries, more restaurants and more shops than just on the main road!
Where to Eat in Adelaide
- Lenzerheide – celebrating Adelaide’s abundant fresh food and Swiss/Austrian cuisine, the Lenzerheide has taken home a slew of awards, including ‘Best European Restaurant’. Located 10 minutes out of the city the restaurant is easy to get to by public transport or car.
- I highly recommend the potato & leek soup and the chateaubriant (roasted beef tenderloin) at this somewhat pricey, but worth it, restaurant.
- Alphutte – comparable to the Lenzerheide (they were once sister restaurants), Alphutte brings German and Austrian cuisine to Adelaide. Centrally located on the corner of Pultney St and Wakefield St, the prices are quite expensive by Adelaide-standards.
- Estia – If you took my advice and headed to Henley Beach then Estia is the restaurant I’d recommend you dine at. Greek cuisine in Henley Square, tapas or single servings, a laid-back family atmosphere, and the sounds of the beach in the background – do I need to say more?
- I recommend the Tis Skaras Arnaki (marinated grilled chicken) and loukoumathes (honey puffs) for dessert.
- Spats – blink and you’ll miss it; Spats on King William Road, Hyde Park is fast becoming the locals favourite dinner and late night café and restaurant. Serving Eastern European food, I wasn’t blown away by it but for the prices it’s worth a visit. My tip would be to eat elsewhere and come for drinks and dessert.
- GoodLife Pizza – Hutt Street has plenty of choices but I go for cheap and cheerful Good Life pizza any day of the week. Wood oven fired organic pizza which not only is healthy but tasty – perfecto.
- Dumpling King – A student favourite in China town. Cheap, cheerful, and tasty Chinese food on a budget. The dumplings aren’t standout but when you’re paying AU$6 for a plate of 15, I’m not complaining. Top picks are the pork dumplings and the silver thread loaf.
- Joy Discovery Vegetarian Cafe – A really simple Vegetarian restaurant just off of Rundle Street East on Bent Street (next to American Apparel). Highly recommend one of their curries and some samosas!
- Chocolate Bean – have you ever wanted to try chocolate soup? Well this is the place to do it. Located on Union Street, just off of Rundle Street East, they serve great sandwiches and chocolate everything! They’re also vegan and vegetarian friendly.
- Cibo Espresso – Alright, I’m not much for chains but in Adelaide Cibo does coffee best. Located through the city and metropolitan area and expanding rapidly into Queensland and other Australian states, their coffee knocks all of the competition out of the water.
Grab a late night Mexican feast at Zambreros
- Vilis Pies & Bakery – Vili’s is an Australian icon and it started business in Adelaide. Forget fast food if your hungry at night, Vili’s Café’ which is just outside the city on Manchester St, Mile End is the place to go for a meat pie and frog cake. It’s not just the pies and cakes we love, the owner – Vili Milisits – is an icon around Adelaide who doesn’t let it get to his head by participating in on air pranks (he has his own rap!) and most days you’ll find him manning the fryer in the café.
- Zambreros – gourmet Mexican food. I’m talking close to foot-long burritos burritos made in front of you. There are two great things about Zambreros: 1. they’re open late. 2. They can serve beer and tequila!
Where to Drink in Adelaide
- Cooper’s Brewery – Located in Mile End, the brewery offers tours of the enormous factory that makes SA’s favourite beer.
- The Duke (of York) – Cheap pizzas throughout the week, a beer garden out the back and DJ + dance floor upstairs Thursday til Sunday makes it the perfect place to hang and have a good time.
- Zhivago – One of Adelaide’s newest and perhaps most edgy club, Zhivago is one of the hottest places to be and perfect for the inner hipster.
- The Austral – if you want a pub, a real pub, with a pub atmosphere, the Austral on Rundle Street East is the place that you need to go. Three areas, a few video games, seating out the front and a bar – what more do you need?
- Boho Bar – risqué and circus themed, Boho bar on the bottom of Unley Road is a feast for all of your senses. Come for a meal, drink, or one of their Halloween extravaganzas.
Where to Stay in Adelaide
If you’re looking for a central location that’s budget friendly my top choice would be Adelaide Central YHA. Located in Light Square it’s a two blocks to Rundle Mall – Adelaide’s main shopping strip and there are plenty of bars and restaurants nearby.
If you’re after luxury in Adelaide then you can’t go past the Intercontinental Adelaide. On North Terrace, you are a stone throw away from Adelaide’s main sights – the Torrens River, Rundle Mall, the museums, and even Adelaide Zoo!
If you are wanting a beachside getaway be sure to enquire about Oaks Liberty Towers and Oaks Plaza Pier at Glenelg. One is on the water and Marina whilst the other is one street back. Offering larger apartment-style rooms it is a great choice for families looking to stretch out and relax.
If boutique is more your style then I’ve heard good things about the Clarion Hotel Soho. Slick, sexy and modern, the Clarion Hotel Soho is perfect boutique hotel for a couple’s getaway.
If you’re looking for a unique and local experience check out Airbnb. From luxury, mid range and budget accommodations Airbnb has you covered. Click here to view all properties available during your stay in Adelaide.
For more places to stay in Adelaide choose from the largest range of hotels, apartments, and guesthouses with our partner Booking.com. You get free cancelation on most rooms, and in most cases you only pay when you stay.
Best Markets and Shopping in Adelaide
My personal favourite type of shopping is through little boutiques and King William Road, Hyde Park and Rundle Street East take the cake for choices. King William Road can be a little higher priced but check out Wild Child for a great range, though sizes do run small.
Rundle Street has big name bands like Australian designer Lisa Ho and Zimmerman to favourite miss gladys sym choon and alternative chain, Dangerfield. There are also some quirky boutiques in the backstreets including Mid-West Traders.
Adelaide love their markets, but the one closest to our heart has to be Adelaide’s Central Market. Open Monday to Saturday the restaurant is home to fresh produce from across the state, an array of boutique stalls, as well as a camera store and second-hand book seller. If you want a quick, cheap, fresh bite then this is the place to go.
Adelaide also has a Farmers Market at the Wayville Showgrounds. Farmers from across the state come every Sunday to sell their produce and cut out the middle man, meaning you get great tasting produce and get to support farmers from around the state. There’s everything from fruit & veg to baked goods, bottled cordials and small goods.
If fashion and design are more your style then the Gillies Street Market, which happens twice a month, will be a winner with you. Find your inner vintage goddess amongst live music and food stalls.
Taste cordials and lots more at the Adelaide Farmers Market at Wayville Showgrounds
Events and Festivals in Adelaide
January we play host to the Tour Down Under. Forgiving all the locals who will done lycra and think they are the next Cadel Williams, Adelaide puts on a good show. Think outdoor parties by the Torrens River, a big parade welcoming the athletes, 7-days of intense racing through the best areas of South Australia, and of course – street parties, the chance for many of the neighborhoods that riders will start/finish in to host a party and celebrate what’s best in that area.
For four weeks during February and March Australia’s largest arts event, the Adelaide Fringe Festival comes to town. Similar to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Adelaide opens its doors to artists from around the world to share their art forms – cabaret, comedy, circus, dance, film, theatre, puppetry, music, visual art and design.
The Clipsal 500 is the beginning of a busy March. V8 supercars turn the cities East into a race track. It’s not just the V8 Supercars that will take to the track as the GT championship is back in 2013, as well as playing host to the Dunlop racing series.
WOMADelaide, the dance, music and arts festival is held mid-March. A unique music experience runs over four days in the cities Botanic Park and show cases performances and workshops by the best traditional and contemporary musicians, dancers and DJs.
WOMADelaide also has a very cool ‘Taste the World’ cooking program and environmental discussion forum, and supports a number of charitable causes. Best of for families, all kids 12 and under get free entry into the festival!
If contemporary and traditional isn’t the beat to your drum I highly recommend checking out the Future Music Festival. A one-day festival from noon til 10pm, Future Music Festival showcases the best of up & coming or the summers top performers. This year features big name performers like The Prodigy, Bloc Party, Dizzee Rascal, Rita Ora, Ellie Goulding, Fun, The Temper Trap and Psy – and that’s not even half the line up!
Adelaide is also home to the Schutzenfest in January – the cities equivalent to a German beer fest; the Adelaide Festival , an arts festival which runs alongside the Fringe Festival in March, and the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in June. There’s also the Adelaide Fashion Festival in October for the fashionistas among us!
Getting Around Adelaide
If you’re in the city centre it’s pretty easy to walk around between the main sites or take the free connector bus.
If you’re heading to Glenelg, from one side of the city to the other, King William Road, or the Entertainment Centre, I recommend you take the tram. It’s one route so easy to get on or off, and if you’re travelling through the city its free!
I’d recommend visitors use buses to get around but to make your own decision check out the Adelaide Metro website or visit the Adelaide Metro store on the corner of Currie Street and King William Street in the city to plan your journeys.
Finding WiFi in Adelaide
Adelaide isn’t the most WiFi friendly city. I’d say that all hotels and hostels will have WiFi, and many cafes will but it won’t be the best quality.
If you’re having connection problems I’d check out China Town and Grote Street as there is quite a few Internet cafes, otherwise check out Internodes Hot Spot locations for cafes that offer free WiFi.
Best Time of Year to Visit Adelaide
Little tip from a local – visit between January and March. Not only will you get the best weather but this is when Adelaide really shines and proves that it can compete with Melbourne and Sydney.
Getting There and Away?
Adelaide is a big city and serviced by all Australian airlines (Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar), including many regional ones.
Getting from the airport to the city is easy. It’s about AU$15-20 for a taxi or there are airport JetBus services from the city and many surrounding suburbs.
If you prefer the scenic route, Adelaide is the heart of many of the overland train journeys offered by Great Southern Rail. Take the Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin, via. Alice Springs; The Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth, via Adelaide; the Overland from Melbourne to Adelaide; or the Southern Spirit from Adelaide to Brisbane, via. Melbourne.
Trains get into the station at Mile End, and though only minutes from the city I recommend you take a taxi or catch a public bus from Richmond Road.
Best insiders tip for Adelaide
If you want a view of the city, a great place for a picnic or somewhere to go ice blocking (yes, you sit on a rug on a huge piece of ice and hurtle down a hill!) then I recommend visiting Light’s Point.
I love Adelaide because
Adelaide has the beaches people travel to Sydney for, the arts & culture of Melbourne, plenty of great food, but the laid back attitude of a small city/country town, which makes Adelaide a brilliant blend of everything I want in a city.
Plan Your Trip to Adelaide
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BIO – Nicole Smith is an Adelaide born girl behind travel blog, Bitten by the Travel Bug where she documents her solo journey around the world in search of adventure, culture and just a little bit of luxury. When she’s not writing on the blog you can find her on in 140-characters-or-less Twitter or on Facebook. Pin to share: What do you suggest for things to do in Adelaide? Share in the comments.
More South Australia posts
BIO – Nicole Smith is an Adelaide born girl behind travel blog, Bitten by the Travel Bug where she documents her solo journey around the world in search of adventure, culture and just a little bit of luxury. When she’s not writing on the blog you can find her on in 140-characters-or-less Twitter or on Facebook.
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What do you suggest for things to do in Adelaide? Share in the comments.