Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, is a vibrant and sophisticated city with plenty of things to see and do. It has a rich cultural heritage with loads of interesting architecture showing fascinating insights in to the city’s past. Adelaide is known as the City of Churches for the large number of churches erected in the city and you can visit many of these as you discover the city. Adelaide also boasts many delicious and multicultural restaurants, a thriving cafe and bar culture and some great shopping. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Adelaide and here are what I think are the best things to see and do while you are in Adelaide.
Where to stay in Adelaide
While in Adelaide you will need somewhere to stay and there are plenty of accommodation styles on offer. The most popular places to find accommodation are in the centre of Adelaide and out at the seaside suburb of Glenelg. Glenelg is an easy 20 minute tram ride in to the centre of Adelaide and is a popular place with a lot of accommodation available.
Styles of accommodation can range from camping grounds to hostels to hotels to apartments. If hostels are your choice, I highly recommend visiting the Hostel World website where you will be able to choose and book a hostel to stay in. If you are looking for a little more comfort then visit the Booking.com website where you can compare and book the type of room that suits you.
How to get around Adelaide
It is easy to walk around Adelaide as it is a well planned and laid-out city. Most of the interesting things to see and do are over a square-mile grid with a number of parks and gardens surrounding it. To make the most of your time I suggest you download one of the free walking maps available on the City of Adelaide website www.cityofadelaide.com.au. I downloaded my walking map and found it so useful – and never got lost once!
Public transport is also pretty good in Adelaide with plenty of bus routes however, I found it very easy to walk. When I wanted to go further such as to Mount Lofty for a view over Adelaide I rented a car. If you want to rent a car I highly recommend Auto Europe Cars. You can compare and book your car here.
What to see and do in Adelaide
Visit Rundle Mall for some great shopping
Rundle Mall is Adelaide’s pedestrian-only main shopping street and is the longest and one of the busiest malls in Australia. The street was established in 1837 and so many of the buildings date back to the 19th century. Apart from seeing much architecture from that area the mall is home to a fountain and iconic sculptures including the Spheres, a group of life-size pigs (August, Horatio, Oliver and Truffles) and a giant cockroach. If shopping is your thing then there is a wide range of Australian and international retailers, about 700 of them I am told, along the mall and in the network of arcades that are connected to the mall. As well as great shopping there are around 300 non-retail services which includes many cafes and restaurants.
Rundle Mall is a hub of activity 7 days a week and at night as there is much nightlife to enjoy in the area and its surrounds. It is also in close proximity to many things to see and do in Adelaide such as visit the Adelaide Central Market, the SA Museum, Art Gallery, State Library and Parliament House. There is also the Adelaide Oval and the Adelaide Zoo.
Enjoy the hustle and bustle of Adelaide Central Market
Established in 1869 the Adelaide Central Market is one of Australia’s largest fresh produce markets providing a wide range of local and multi-cultural products. It is in the heart of Adelaide and not too far from Rundle Mall and is one of Adelaide’s best-known landmarks visited by locals and millions of visitors each year. It is a great place to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, seafood and breads. There are also plenty of coffee shops to grab a refreshment so you can keep on shopping as after all, the market has expanded and spreads over 5 main areas.
Take a heritage walking tour along the North Terrace
Adelaide is renowned for its gorgeous heritage architecture and fascinating history and along the North Terrace you will not be disappointed. The most popular heritage buildings can be found here – the SA Museum, Art Gallery of SA, State Library, and Parliament House. There is also the Adelaide Casino, the Convention Centre and the Festival Centre. One of the best ways to see and appreciate all these buildings is to take a guided tour of the area or use your self-guiding map previously downloaded.
Sports lovers (or not) should not miss the Adelaide Oval
Adelaide Oval from over the Torrens River
The Torrens River runs through the middle of Adelaide so walk across it to get to the Adelaide Oval. The Adelaide Oval is home to cricket matches during summer and AFL games during winter. If you are around at the right time you may wish to experience a match or a game. If not, don’t despair, you can take a tour of the Adelaide Oval and gain access to areas not usually accessible when you visit for a sporting event. Get the lowdown on the history of the venue and learn about the sporting greats that have played there. You can also run on to the oval through the interactive race – what fun. Gain insight into the 100-year-old heritage-listed scoreboard and go inside the players’ change rooms. You can book your tour of the Adelaide Oval here.
Or perhaps you would like to do a roof climb of the Oval. If you aren’t afraid of heights and are looking to find a great view over Adelaide up to the Adelaide Hills and out to the ocean then you will definitely want to do the roof climb of the Oval. You can book your tour to climb the Oval here.
Admire Adelaide Botanic Gardens and other gardens
The 51-hectare Adelaide Botanic Gardens opened in 1857. It’s design was influenced by the Royal Gardens at Kew in England and the Palace of Versailles gardens in France. Some of the structures you will find in the gardens date back to the 19th Century. If all things garden aren’t your scene you might consider having a picnic in the gardens with all the fresh produce you bought from the Adelaide Central Market.
There are a number of other gardens around Adelaide including the Himeji Garden. This garden was a gift from Adelaide’s sister city, Himeji in Japan. The gardens of course are designed in Japanese style and you will find here a zen rock garden and koi fish to aide in relaxation during your hectic sight-seeing of Adelaide.
Discover wine at the National Wine Centre
Just outside of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens you will find The National Wine Centre. I found this to be a fascinating educational experience. After all, if you asked me what some of my favourite things in life are, wine would definitely be on the list.
Here at the National Wine Centre you will develop a knowledge about winemaking and wine appreciation. And there are around 120 different wines available to sample and appreciate! Coming to the wine centre will stand you in good stead for a potential day or weekend or longer trip to the Barossa Valley – home to some of South Australia’s best wine producers. You can book a tour to the Barossa Valley here.
Learn about the traditional owners at the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute
A short walk from Rundle Mall is the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute. This is a very interesting place where you learn much about the Aboriginal culture through fascinating art and cultural exhibitions. The centre was established in 1989 and has been providing experiences on contemporary and traditional Aboriginal culture through visual and performing arts. I learnt a lot and found it extremely interesting.
Sail down the Torrens River
A great way to see a different perspective of Adelaide is from the Torrens River. Taking a cruise along the river will show you things you might miss if you are walking around the city. So sit down for a while and watch Adelaide unfold from the river. To book a tour of the Adelaide which includes a sailing trip aboard Popeye down the Torrens River book here.
Enjoy the seaside charm of Glenelg
Glenelg Beach Pier
Glenelg is a seaside town that is only 11 km away from Adelaide. It can be easily reached by taking a tram, the only tram line now in existence in Adelaide, and takes around 20 minutes. Leaving from Moseley Square, the tram runs through Adelaide and out to Glenelg.
Glenelg is rich in history as it is the oldest European settlement in South Australia. So you will find many lovely heritage buildings as you wander around including the Glenelg Town Hall housing the Bay Discovery Centre, a museum that is dedicated to the history of Glenelg. Very interesting and well worth a visit.
I found Glenelg to be a great place to spend outdoors. After all, you have the beach which you can spend a long time at either swimming if it is warm enough or walking along the sand. There are many activities to do including walking along trails, fishing from the beach, riding a bike or just spending time outside. Or perhaps you would prefer to spend your time in one of the many eateries to relax in and enjoy a meal.
There is also plenty of accommodation available in Glenelg. So if you are wanting to relax near the beach as well as spend time in a vibrant city then you might want to stay in Glenelg. Check out Booking.com to compare and book your accommodation.
Get fabulous views from the Adelaide Hills and Mount Lofty Summit
An easy drive from Adelaide is the Adelaide Hills area. As the name suggests the area is very hilly and if you go to Mount Lofty Summit you will be treated to fabulous views over Adelaide. Even though you can reach the area by public transport you will be limited by timetables. Therefore, the best way to see the area is by car so if you don’t have one I would highly recommend you hire one. You can find out how much it is to hire a car here. Also while in the hills you might want to visit Cleland Wildlife Park where you can get up close to many Australian native animals like koalas and emus.
Spend the day at the Adelaide Zoo
Who doesn’t like going to the zoo? Like many cities, Adelaide has a zoo and it is in easy walking distance of the city. To jump the que you can purchase your entrance ticket in advance. You can purchase yours here. Then spend as long as you want checking out the animals. It is a fund place to see and do in Adelaide.
I found there to be many interesting places to see and things to do in Adelaide, this is probably why I have been there many times. There are also plenty of day trips to be done to places such as the Barossa Valley to check out the wines. Or perhaps to Hahndorf to discover all things German! But they are other blogs. For now, enjoy Adelaide.
Hi. I’m Sharyn and welcome to my blog on living, working and playing in Australia. I’ve been travelling all my life thanks to my dad who worked for an Australian airline. I’ve travelled with my family, as a single person, in a couple, with friends and now with my own family. My travels in Australia have inspired this website and my travel guide Live Work and Play in Australia. Read More.