For decades Adelaide has existed in the shadows of Australia’s more renowned cities. Despite being the country’s 5th largest city and a destination with culture, architecture, and great food, Adelaide attractions never made it to the top of the list for places to visit Down Under. Until 2014…
In 2014, Lonely Planet listed Adelaide as one of the Top 10 Cities of the World, presenting it as a city “ready to be uncorked”. Finally, all eyes were on Adelaide, and those looking for new destinations and off the beaten path experiences took notice.
Over the years, the capital of South Australia has blossomed into a fine cosmopolitan city. There truly are so many things to do in Adelaide, take in the beautiful architecture, visit trendy art and cultural events, enjoy great food, shopping, and nightlife. With so many Adelaide attractions, the city is earning itself a new title of “Radelaide”.
Best Time to Visit Adelaide
Adelaide boasts a mild Mediterranean climate. In the summer (December to February) the average maximum is around 30°C (86°F), although it’s not common for mercury climb up to 40°C (104°F)or even higher. In winter (June to August) the temperature drops to 15–16°C (60°F) during the day, and can go down to as low as 5°C (41°F) at night.
But if you want to avoid the heat and the cold, choose to visit Adelaide during the shoulder season (February to March or September through November), when the weather is pleasant and the city is buzzing with activities. It’s the perfect combination to make the most of the many Adelaide attractions, but no matter the season, you’ll never be stuck for things to do in Adelaide.
Top Things to do in Adelaide
Adelaide manages to strike the perfect balance between the laid back attitude of a small town and the hip and happening cosmopolitan feel of a big city. There are Adelaide attractions to please everyone.
The best time to visit is in March when the city is teeming with festivals, events, and fun things to do in Adelaide. The Adelaide Fringe Festival, on in late February to early March, is the most famous of them all, featuring music, art, circus, comedy, theatre, dance and cultural performances from all over the world.
The Garden Of Unearthly Delights, Adelaide Frindge Festival. Photo via Weekend NotesIf your visit doesn’t coincide with Adelaide’s “March Madness”, don’t fret, even on the least eventful day, there is still plenty of things to do in Adelaide.
Culture Vultures can entertain themselves for days with visits to the Adelaide museum, also known as the South Australian Museum, the Art Gallery of South Australia, and the State Library. Those with a love for beautiful architecture and history can admire the Parliament building, the Government House, the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, or one of Adelaide’s many churches (they don’t call it a city of churches for nothing).
If willing the hours away in the Adelaide museum isn’t your thing, and you’d rather get closer to nature, head to the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, or the Belair National Park that offers great trails for bushwalking and green areas for relaxing in the late afternoon.
What to do in Adelaide: Eat
Foodies will love exploring Adelaide’s eclectic mix of small restaurants, cafes, and bars peppered around the city. Particularly famous are Adelaide’s laneway bars along Linden Lane, James Place, Leigh St, and Peel St.
In our opinion, one of the best places to visit in Adelaide is Adelaide’s Central Market. It’s an ideal destination not only for foodies but those looking for a place to soak in some local culture and attitude.
Head to this Adelaide attraction on a Friday or Saturday night for some delicious dinner grub or start off your Sunday morning with a great brekky on the go. The market often hosts a variety of activities and cooking and tasting demonstrations during the weekend.
What to do in Adelaide: Shopping
If you want to take advantage of Adelaide’s boutique shopping culture, follow local advice and head to these 25 best spots to shop in Adelaide. You’ll find everything from vintage pieces in pop-up shops to exclusive designer stores and international favourites.
What to do in Adelaide: Hit the Beach
One of the more relaxing things to do in Adelaide is to spend time on some of Adelaide’s many beaches. Henley Beach has always been a local favourite due to its proximity to the CBD and a great seaside vibe. Another close by spot is Glenelg Beach, located only 10km from the centre of Adelaide.
For more fantastic beaches further away from the city centre, check out these:
Located between Seacliff and Glenelg, this beach has a relaxed vibe with lots of cool cafes, bars and restaurants close by.
On the north-west coast of Adelaide is the long stretch of beautiful beach bordered by sand dunes.
Head 30kms (18.5 miles) south of Adelaide city centre and you’ll find Port Noarlunga. The offshore reef at the end of the jetty makes this a get scuba spot!
Go a little further south, 33km (20.5 miles) from Adelaide to Christies. A picturesque beach which has that untouched vibe that is quite rare.
Port Elliot is a cute little town about 90 minutes from Adelaide. It’s worth the journey! This sheltered cove-like beach is great for families with kids.
What to do in Adelaide: At Night
When the sun goes down, the fun doesn’t stop! There are still plenty of things to do in Adelaide at night. The city comes alive with a variety of pubs, bars, and clubs dotted all around the city centre. The east end (near Rundle Street) is home to a number of popular pubs, while the west end (west of Morphett Street) offers a trendier and more alternative music scene.
What to do in Adelaide: And Beyond
If you have just a few extra days and are looking for more places to visit in Adelaide and the surrounding areas, we highly recommend a visit to South Australia’s wine regions: Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley, and the world renowned Barossa Valley, is one of our favourites. Spend a few days indulging in South Australia’s local produce and wine, or simply enjoy a weekend surrounded by beautiful views and wildlife.
READ NEXT: A GUIDE TO VISITING THE BAROSSA VALLEY
Where to Stay in Adelaide
Depending on the type of experience you are after, you may opt to stay in the city centre or venture out to the nearby beach suburbs. There are great accommodation options no matter where you choose to base yourself. Here are a few eco-friendly places to make your stay in Adelaide a green one:
Located right in the city centre, Miller Apartments offer self-contained, stylish accommodation, perfect for anyone looking for a more home away from home feel as they travel. They are fully committed to reducing water and energy consumption and chemicals used in cleaning. The aparthotel is also of an eco-design with solar powered gas heating, green star appliances and much more.
Hotel Grand Chancellor
Centrally located, the Hotel Grand Chancellor is just a short walk from Adelaide Central Markets and is surrounded by trendy bars and restaurants. They are certified as a ‘Sustainable Tourism Accredited Business’ and are actively involved in events such as WWF Earth Hour and Oz Harvest.
This five star boutique hotel offers affordable luxury in the heart of the city. The Mayfair Hotel’s crowning jewel is the rooftop restaurant. It uses fresh, locally sourced and sustainable produce and has its own beehive. The initiative was introduced not only to produce great honey but to help grow Adelaide’s bee population.
Prefer a private space that’s also affordable? Go with Airbnb. There are over 350 Airbnb listings in Adelaide, some are as cheap as $30/night for a private room in a local’s home or $106/pp for an entire home! You can also find eco-friendly listings and maintain a low impact on the local environment.
Don’t have an Airbnb account yet? Sign up now and receive a $35 USD credit to put towards your first Airbnb stay!
Where to Eat in Adelaide
Food is one of the highlights of visiting Adelaide, and is why we are giving this Adelaide attraction a focus of its own. Thanks to the city’s thriving immigrant population, the restaurant choices will allow you to travel around the world without ever leaving Adelaide. From high-end restaurants with top chefs to food trucks and markets, there are great eats scattered all over town.
Here are some of the top picks for eating in Adelaide:
Red Lime Shack
If you are looking for a quick and tasty bite to eat while you’re exploring the city, then the Red Lime Shack is the perfect place. This veggie and vegan friendly spot offers delicious fresh food made from fresh and organic ingredients. You can pick up some light breakfast, snacks, burgers, tasty salads, sweet treats and more.
This quirky vegetarian eatery has an extensive menu including plenty of options for vegans. It’s located in the stunning Grand Ballroom on the first floor of the Rundle Mall. It’s a casual place, nothing too fancy but the food is hearty, tasty and you have to try their homemade botanical sodas!
This Thai restaurant is in the Tripadvisor Top 5 of Adelaide restaurants and is a winning example of the city’s flavor infusion. While it’s not labelled as a vegan restaurant, they do claim to have the largest vegan menu in the city.
Whether you are vegetarian or not, Marrakech Restaurant is a must. Authentic and traditional Moroccan dishes cooked to perfection. Portions are huge, so go hungry! They also offer a Moroccan banquet which is a great way to sample a wide variety of their yummy dishes!
Andre’s Cucina and Polenta Bar
For fine dining, a visit to Andre’s Cucina & Polenta Bar is a must. The chefs decide each day what to cook based on what is fresh and in season. They are famous for their ‘Menu Fisso’, an Italian culinary feast made to share.
Adelaide Central Market
Of course, if you are a bit of a foodie and want to stock up on some amazing local ingredients to take home or cook for yourself, then head to Adelaide’s Central Market. They also have a wide variety of eateries there to grab a tasty snack to keep you going throughout the day.
How Much Time do you Need in Adelaide
The majority of Adelaide’s visitors stick around the city for 2-3 days. It’s just enough time to check out the main sites and Adelaide attractions. Hit up the Adelaide museum, cross a few churches off the list, eat some delicious food, and experience Adelaide’s nightlife and you have yourself a very enjoyable Adelaide trip!
Here is how to spend a weekend in Adelaide or extend your stay to 3 Days to give yourself enough time to squeeze in some beach time. If you have 4-5 days or more, look to escape the city and spend more time in a place like Barossa Valley or head down to Kangaroo Island.
Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Photo by Matthew Fuentes via Flickr CC
Are you an Adelaide local or someone that visits the city often?
What advice would you give to travelers planning a trip to Adelaide?
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