Australia is home to an eclectic array of landscapes. Ochre red deserts, lush rainforests, pristine coasts and vibrant cityscapes. While each is stunning in its own respect, when it comes to cities, Adelaide should be high on the list of places to visit in Australia.
When I first arrived in this South Australian city, I had very few expectations. Adelaide is often palmed off as a second-rate city compared to the ever-popular neighbours of Melbourne and Sydney. However, I very soon realised that this little southern city might just be one of Australia’s best-kept secrets.
Nicknamed the ‘20 minute city’, this capital city of South Australia has the unique luxury that everything is almost exactly within 20 minutes of one another. Unlike many of the other capital Australian cities, this makes travelling in this city easy (and honestly such a joy!). And wow there is plenty to explore! From bustling markets, stunning botanic gardens, cute little towns as well as an enviable food and wine scene that puts Melbourne to the test, Adelaide is well worth a spot on your bucket list.
If you are looking for the best things to do in Adelaide, where to stay and the best Adelaide restaurants – we have you covered! Let’s dive into the very best things to do in Adelaide on your upcoming adventure.
But first – where to stay in Adelaide?
Depending on how you are travelling, Adelaide’s “where to stay” must-do’s will of course vary. I personally was travelling in a campervan at the time, and so opted for caravan parks and the like. However, there are plenty of stunning options in Adelaide for where to stay!
If you are flying into Adelaide and are looking for a centrally located hotel, check out Hotel Indigo. This boutique hotel is just minutes from the famous Adelaide Central Market. Plus, the vibrantly decorated rooms create a fun (and beautiful) location in Adelaide of where to stay on your trip.
Adelaide Central YHA
If you are searching for a more budget-friendly option, Adelaide Central YHA is a great location in Adelaide where to stay on your upcoming trip. Easily spotted by its giant painted mural, this YHA offers a range of dorm and private rooms conveniently located in the city centre. With some of the best Adelaide restaurants and experiences just minutes away!
Okay, now for the best part – the best things to do in Adelaide of course!
The best things to do in Adelaide
1. Adelaide Central Market
Adelaide Central Market is a sight to behold. As one of the largest undercover fresh produce markets in the Southern Hemisphere, this is the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat, grab some produce or just simply soak up the ambience. Located in central Adelaide, you can choose to drive and pay for parking, or to take public transport. The hall itself is a show of sky-high ceilings and rows upon rows of stalls to explore! There is a reason this is consistently rated as one of the best things to do in Adelaide!
Be sure to treat yourself to one of the many artesian goodies on the premises. The owners also may give you a few samples to try (who doesn’t love free samples!).
2. Take a day trip to the Barossa and Claire Valley Wine region
A visit to Adelaide wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Barossa and Clare Valley. If you’re looking for Adelaide’s “where to stay” must-do’s outside of the city, this is it! These lush wine regions, notorious for producing bold red wines, are located just an hour from Adelaide. This is the perfect weekend getaway or midweek hinterland retreat.
Cycling around the Barossa is often cited as the best way to see and do it all while exploring this region – and it truly is! And with over 80 cellar doors, there is plenty to explore. However, if you want a little less touristy experience, I recommend exploring the Reisling Trail in the Claire Valley. This dedicated eucalypt-lined cycling track is the perfect way to explore the local wineries at your own pace. I recommend hiring a bike early (even though it may be a little counter-intuitive to head out on a tour of wineries first thing in the morning!). That way you have plenty of time to explore the 30km long track and spend the day soaking up the quiet rolling hills and sipping on award-winning wine.
Oh and of course, enjoying a bite to eat at the local restaurants (easily some of the best Adelaide restaurants are in this region). How does it get better than that?
3. Meet the Australian wildlife
Whether you are an Aussie looking to explore a new city or heading down under for the first time, meeting Australian wildlife is one of the biggest joys of an Australian adventure. One of the best places to do so is Adelaide Zoo. As Australia’s second-oldest zoo and home to over 2500 animals and 250 species, you will get to meet some of the locals as well as a huge variety of other majestic animals from around the world.
Another great option is to head to Cleland Wildlife Park. Here you can get the chance to enjoy a morning cuddle with the koalas or sit in on the “keeper talks” to learn all about the dingoes, koalas wombats and other Australian wildlife that call this park home.
4. Visit the german settlement of Handorf
Hahndorf is the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia and is conveniently located just a short 25-minute drive outside Adelaide. Tucked away in the Adelaide Hills, it offers some pretty stunning views and experiences. The best way to explore this beautiful town with its brown timber-trimmed German-style heritage buildings is (of course) on foot down the elm-lined historic main street.
These gorgeous historic buildings are filled with some of the best Adelaide restaurants, bakeries, boutique stores, and german bars waiting to be explored. I recommend grabbing a traditional pretzel or apple strudel from one of the many bakeries. Or, if you want something a little different, check out the gingerbread-themed cafe Bean and Bikkie Co – where you can try gingerbread lattes with gingerbread men (and ladies). Also, if you’re looking for Adelaide’s “where to stay” must-do’s outside of the city, this is another top contender. With plenty of stunning little hotels and cottages to settle in for the evening. This area was easily one of my favourite and best things to do in Adelaide.
5. Grab a bite to eat at Stazi & Co
While I was in Adelaide I was recommended to check out Stazi & Co – the greek vegan project. When it comes to the best Adelaide restaurants, this one definitely is high up there! Especially for plant-based lovers looking for a convenient and yummy meal. In fact, no matter your dietary preferences or requirements, this place serves up some seriously mean vegan greek street food worth checking out.
6. Have a picnic at Adelaide Botanic Gardens
Whether you are a nature lover or just looking for a break from the hustle of the city, a stop by the Adelaide Botanic Gardens is a welcome retreat when in Adelaide. Featuring over 50 hectares of stunning gardens in the heart of this central Australian city, this city oasis is home to a huge variety of plant life and exquisite architecture. Pack a picnic blanket and enjoy lunch under the shade of the giant oak tree or grab a quick bite at the Gardens Kiosk.
7. Wander through the hills of Second Valley
A short drive south of Adelaide is the elusive charm of Second Valley. You may know this place as an iconic ‘Instagram spot’ – well at least that was how I stumbled upon it! With picturesque rolling hills against the deep blues of the St Vincent Gulf, it’s easy to see why. So whether you want to pack your camera and enjoy a little photoshoot, or simply get away from the city lights and escape into the hills (literally), Second Valley is worth a spot on your Adelaide itinerary.
8. Visit an art gallery
While art galleries aren’t often high on my list of things to do, Adelaide is home to a great collection of galleries often ranked as the best things to do in Adelaide! The first to check out is the Art Gallery of South Australia. With a rotating roster of exhibitions, you can expect anything from Australian art, cultural pieces and unique contemporary pieces.
The University of South Australia also has an interesting science and technology museum called MOD – said to be unlike any other museum in Australia. Here at this futuristic discovery centre, you can expect a quirky array of exhibitions, talks and events. Easily one of the best things to do in Adelaide for art lovers and critical thinkers!
9. Explore the local beaches
No guide to the best things to do in Adelaide would be complete without a mention of the famed Glenelg Beach. Renowned for its wide-open spaces, sidewalk cafes, home to some of the best Adelaide restaurants, and a buzzing vibe. Whether you head there for a morning stroll, an afternoon picnic or a summer swim, truthfully it’s just a stunning long beach worthy of soaking up.
Another Adelaide classic (for van lifers especially) is to check out Sellicks Beach. This is notorious as one of the few places where cars are allowed to drive on and park on the sand. This hard-packed beach is perfect to park up and make a coffee or enjoy an afternoon beverage or two!
And that brings us to the end of the best things to do in Adelaide! What are your Adelaide “what to do” must-do’s? Are there any other best Adelaide restaurants or Adelaide “where to stay” must-do’s that should be on this list?
For more ideas on things to do in this South Australia bucket list region, be sure to check out the best things to do in South Australia!
What are your favourite places to visit in South Australia?
What are the best things to do in South Australia? Anything you’d add to this Australia travel guide?
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