Welcome to Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia and a hidden gem in Australia’s tourism industry. From pristine beaches and lush parklands to world-renowned museums and galleries, there are countless things to do in Adelaide that cater to all ages and interests. Whether you’re a foodie, an art lover, an adrenaline junkie or simply someone who wants to unwind and relax, you’ll find plenty of things to do and see in Adelaide.
Yes, as an Adelaide local, I may be a bit biased. But I really do implore you to come and explore this under-rated gem of a city. So again, welcome to Adelaide, my home town!
(And don’t forget to check out this post too for the best places to stay in Adelaide)
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Adelaide Central Markets
One of the must-visit attractions in Adelaide is the Central Market, located between Gouget and Grote Streets in the heart of the CBD’s Chinatown. With over 80 stalls featuring fresh produce, gourmet foods, and local wines, the Central Market is a food lover’s dream destination. You can explore and experience the diverse tastes, flavors and aromas of Adelaide’s food culture as you wander through the bustling aisles of this historic market, which has been operating for over 150 years.
You’ll also find two food courts serving mostly Asian foods (it is in Chinatown after all) as well as many cafes serving a range of international cuisines.
Don’t miss the chance to interact with local vendors and sample delicious food while learning about Adelaide’s culinary history.
Sunset sailing cruise
Twilight sailing in Glenelg, South Australia is a magical experience, offering the opportunity to take in stunning sunset views while sailing along the coastline. Glenelg is a popular beachside suburb located just 20 minutes from the Adelaide city center, and offers a range of sailing experiences for all levels of expertise.
Visitors can join a twilight sailing tour, which typically lasts around 2-3 hours and includes sailing along the picturesque coastline, taking in the stunning sunset views, and enjoying a glass of wine or beer. The sailing tours also offer a chance to spot marine life such as dolphins and seals, adding to the excitement of the experience.
Swim with dolphins
Swimming with dolphins in Adelaide, South Australia is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that offers a unique and unforgettable encounter with these friendly and intelligent marine mammals. Visitors can embark on a dolphin swim tour, which typically lasts around 3-4 hours and takes place in the sheltered waters of the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary. The tours offer a chance to swim alongside the playful dolphins, observe their natural behavior, and even hear their distinctive vocalizations through a specialized underwater microphone.
The tours are led by experienced guides who provide information about the dolphins and their habitat, and ensure the safety and well-being of both the dolphins and the swimmers. With its tranquil surroundings, abundant wildlife, and the chance to interact with friendly dolphins, swimming with dolphins in Adelaide is a must-do activity for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
Day trip to Hahndorf
Hahndorf, located in the Adelaide Hills about 40 minutes from Adelaide CBD on the Southeastern Freeway, is a charming town with a rich German heritage. Visitors can stroll along the town’s main street lined with historic buildings, artisanal shops, and cafes offering traditional German treats such as strudel, sausages, and pretzels.
The town also offers a range of cultural experiences, including German folk dancing, music, and craft demonstrations. Beyond the town, visitors can explore the stunning Adelaide Hills wine region, home to many award-winning wineries and cellar doors. The region also offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, cycling, and wildlife spotting.
Day trip to the Barossa
The Barossa Valley, located about an hour’s drive north of Adelaide, is one of the world’s premier wine regions, known for producing some of the best Shiraz in the world. With over 150 wineries, the region boasts a rich viticultural history dating back to the 19th century. Visitors can explore charming towns, cellar doors, and vineyards, while enjoying exceptional food and wine experiences. Beyond wine, the region offers stunning landscapes, quaint markets, and a range of outdoor activities, including hiking and cycling. With its warm hospitality and picturesque scenery, the Barossa Valley is a must-visit destination for wine lovers and travelers seeking an authentic Australian experience.
Day trip to McLaren Vale
McLaren Vale, situated 45 minutes south of Adelaide on the stunning Fleurieu Peninsula, is a paradise for wine lovers and foodies alike. The region is known for producing some of Australia’s finest Shiraz, Grenache, and Cabernet Sauvignon wines, with over 80 cellar doors to explore.
Visitors can indulge in wine tasting experiences while enjoying breathtaking views of rolling hills and vineyards. Beyond wine, the region offers a range of culinary delights, including fresh seafood, locally grown produce, and artisanal cheeses. McLaren Vale also offers a range of outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and surfing at nearby beaches. With its laid-back charm, natural beauty, and world-class wine and food, we think McLaren Vale is a must-visit destination on any trip to Adelaide.
Day trip to Victor Harbor
Victor Harbor, also located about an hour south of Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsula, is a charming coastal town that offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure. Visitors can stroll along the town’s historic jetty or take a scenic ride on the horse-drawn tram across the bay.
The town also offers a range of water-based activities, including fishing, kayaking, and swimming at pristine beaches. For wildlife enthusiasts, the town is home to a colony of Little Penguins and a seal colony on nearby Granite Island. The town’s main street is lined with boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants, offering a range of dining options.
We particularly love this Seal Island boat tour for nature lovers.
Kayak the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary
Kayaking in the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary is a unique and unforgettable experience. Located just 20 minutes from the city center, the sanctuary is home to over 30 resident dolphins, who often swim and play alongside kayakers. Visitors can explore the sanctuary’s calm waters, secluded beaches, and mangrove-lined creeks while enjoying breathtaking views of the Adelaide skyline.
The sanctuary also offers a range of wildlife encounters, including sightings of sea birds, pelicans, and occasionally, sea lions. With its tranquil surroundings, abundant wildlife, and the chance to interact with friendly dolphins, kayaking in the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary is a must-do activity for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
Book your Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary Kayak excursion here.
Art Gallery of South Australia
If you’re a lover of art and culture, then the Art Gallery of South Australia is a must-visit destination. Located on North Terrace in the heart of Adelaide, this world-class gallery is home to an impressive collection of Australian, Indigenous, and international art, including paintings, sculptures, and photography.
The gallery’s stunning architecture and tranquil gardens provide the perfect backdrop for the incredible works on display, and visitors can easily spend hours exploring the various exhibitions and galleries. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or just looking for a unique cultural experience, the Art Gallery of South Australia is a must-see destination for any traveler to Adelaide.
South Australian Museum
The South Australian Museum is a treasure trove of natural history, anthropology, and Australian Aboriginal culture. Located right next to the Art Gallery on North Terrace, this museum offers an immersive experience into the diverse and rich history of South Australia and beyond.
Visitors can marvel at the impressive collection of fossils, minerals, and ancient artifacts, including the world-renowned Opalized Fossil of a giant plesiosaur. The museum also showcases the vibrant cultures of Indigenous Australians, with exhibits ranging from contemporary art to ancient tools and weapons.
Whether you’re interested in dinosaurs, anthropology, or the history of South Australia, the South Australian Museum is a must-visit destination for any traveler to Adelaide. With engaging exhibits, knowledgeable staff, and a family-friendly atmosphere, this museum is a highlight of any trip to Adelaide.
Chill at a craft brewery
Adelaide is home to a thriving craft brewery scene, with a range of breweries and taprooms offering a diverse selection of hand-crafted beers and ciders. Visitors can take a self-guided brewery tour, or join a guided tour that visits multiple breweries, with tastings and behind-the-scenes tours available. Some of the most popular craft breweries in Adelaide include Pirate Life Brewing, known for its hoppy pale ales and IPAs; the Little Bang Brewing Company, which specializes in experimental brews and small-batch beers; and the Prancing Pony Brewery, which offers a range of traditional German-style beers and ciders. Many of the breweries also have on-site restaurants or food trucks, offering delicious pairing options to complement the beers. With its vibrant and creative craft beer scene, Adelaide is a must-visit destination for beer enthusiasts and anyone seeking a unique and authentic taste of South Australia.
Here’s our guide to South Australia’s best breweries.
Do the Adelaide Oval Roof Climb
The Adelaide Oval Roof Climb is an adventure like no other, offering breathtaking views of Adelaide from atop its iconic stadium. The climb takes you to the top of the stadium’s roof, where you can enjoy stunning panoramic views of the city and its surroundings. During the climb, you’ll be safely harnessed to the roof, and your guide will provide you with interesting facts and stories about the history and architecture of the stadium. The climb lasts about 2 hours, and the views are absolutely worth it. Whether you’re a sports fan or just looking for a unique way to see Adelaide, the Adelaide Oval Roof Climb is an experience you won’t forget.
Book the Adelaide Oval Roof Climb here.
Hang out at Glenelg
Glenelg is a vibrant seaside suburb located just a short tram ride from Adelaide’s city center. With its pristine beaches, charming cafes and restaurants, and range of attractions, Glenelg is a must-visit destination for travelers to South Australia. Visitors can take a dip in the clear waters of the Glenelg beach, stroll along the picturesque Jetty Road, or take a ride on the historic Glenelg tram, which has been running since 1929. Other popular attractions include the Bay Discovery Center, which offers an insight into the history and culture of the area, and the Glenelg Foreshore Playground, which is sure to delight younger visitors. In summer, you can also sit back with a cocktail and enjoy the sunset at The Moseley, one of Australia’s only beach clubs. With its relaxed coastal vibe and range of activities on offer, Glenelg is a perfect destination for families, couples, and solo travelers alike.
Explore Adelaide’s beaches
Adelaide is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia, with over 30km of coastline to explore. Whether you’re looking for a spot to soak up the sun, take a dip in the ocean, or catch some waves, Adelaide has a beach for you. Some of the most popular beaches include Glenelg Beach (mentioned above), a bustling seaside suburb with a range of attractions and amenities; Semaphore Beach, a long stretch of white sand with calm waters, a historic jetty, mini golf, and excellent cafes; and Henley Beach, a family-friendly spot with plenty of parks, playgrounds, and cafes.
For those seeking a quieter and more secluded spot, there are also a range of hidden gems to discover, such as Maslin Beach, a stunning nude beach located south of Adelaide, and nearby Sellicks Beach with its stunning cliffs. With its warm climate and crystal-clear waters, Adelaide’s beaches are a must-visit destination for beach lovers and anyone seeking a relaxing and refreshing getaway in South Australia.
Wander through Adelaide Botanic Gardens
The Adelaide Botanic Garden is a tranquil oasis located in the heart of the city, offering visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life and immerse themselves in nature. The garden spans 50 acres and features a diverse range of flora and fauna from around the world, including a stunning glasshouse conservatory, a Mediterranean garden, and a wetland area.
Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the winding paths, enjoy a picnic on the lush lawns, or simply relax and take in the natural beauty of the surroundings. The garden also offers a range of educational programs and events, such as guided tours, workshops, and lectures, making it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts and families with children. With its peaceful ambiance and stunning natural surroundings, the Adelaide Botanic Garden is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a refreshing and rejuvenating experience in the heart of the city.
Monarto Safari Park
Monarto Safari Park, located in Monarto near the Riverland (about an hour up the Southeastern Freeway from Adelaide), is one of the largest open-range zoos in the world, spanning over 1500 hectares. The park offers visitors the opportunity to see a range of exotic animals in their natural habitat, including lions, rhinos, giraffes, and cheetahs. Visitors can explore the park on foot or by taking a safari bus tour, which offers a chance to see animals up close and learn about their behavior and conservation efforts.
The park also offers a range of unique experiences, such as behind-the-scenes tours, animal encounters, and even the opportunity to stay overnight in the park’s glamping tents. With its commitment to conservation, stunning natural setting, and opportunities for unforgettable animal encounters, Monarto Safari Park is a must-visit destination for wildlife enthusiasts and families alike.
Attend a festival
South Australia is renowned for its vibrant and diverse festival scene, with events taking place throughout the year across the state. Some of the most popular festivals include the Adelaide Fringe Festival, the largest open-access arts festival in the southern hemisphere, which showcases a range of performances and exhibitions across multiple venues in Adelaide; the WOMADelaide festival, a celebration of world music, arts, and dance held in Adelaide’s Botanic Park; and the Barossa Vintage Festival, a biennial celebration of the Barossa Valley’s rich wine and food culture. Other festivals include the Adelaide Festival of Arts, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, the Santos Tour Down Under, the Semaphore Music Festival, and the Adelaide 500 car race, just to name a few.
With such a diverse range of festivals on offer, there is something for everyone in South Australia, making it a must-visit destination for festival-goers and cultural enthusiasts.
Enjoy North Adelaide
North Adelaide is a charming and historic suburb located just north of the Adelaide city center. The suburb is characterized by its wide, tree-lined streets, historic architecture, and diverse range of cafes, restaurants, and boutique shops. Visitors can take a stroll through the lush gardens of the Adelaide Botanic Garden, catch a show at the iconic Adelaide Oval, or explore the historic buildings and museums in the area. North Adelaide also offers a range of cultural experiences, including festivals, concerts, and art exhibitions.
North Adelaide is a foodie’s paradise, with a diverse range of restaurants, cafes, and bars offering cuisine from all around the world. Visitors can indulge in authentic Italian pizzas at Tony Tomatoes and savor modern Australian dishes at The Store. For those seeking a taste of Asian cuisine, Gin Long Canteen offers delicious Vietnamese street food and Krung Thep offers amazing Thai food, while British pub-style fare can be found at The Kentish Hotel. We also love Marrakech restaurant for Moroccan food. North Adelaide is also known for its thriving cafe culture, with cafes such as The Flying Fig and Mylk Bar serving up specialty coffee and brunch dishes. With its diverse range of dining options, North Adelaide is a must-visit destination for foodies and those seeking a culinary adventure.
Carrick Hill, located in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia, is a historic mansion and garden that offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of Adelaide’s wealthy elite in the early 20th century. The mansion’s lavish interiors are adorned with fine art, antique furniture, and decorative arts, while the surrounding gardens offer a serene escape with manicured lawns, water features, and a rose garden.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the mansion, stroll through the gardens, or enjoy a picnic on the sprawling grounds. The estate also offers a range of cultural experiences, including concerts, exhibitions, and workshops. Carrick Hill also features a delightful cafe (tea and scones, anyone?). On Fridays during summer, enjoy a twilight Carrick Hill gin tasting experience with the pop-up Ursula’s Gin Bar. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and beautiful gardens, Carrick Hill is a must-visit destination for those seeking a cultural and historical experience in South Australia.
Snorkel or Scuba Dive Port Noarlunga Reef
Port Noarlunga, located just south of Adelaide, is a hidden gem for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts. The crystal-clear waters of the Port Noarlunga reef are home to a diverse range of marine life, including colorful fish, stingrays, and even the occasional octopus or shark. Visitors can explore the reef by snorkeling or scuba diving, with rental equipment available at the nearby dive shop.
The reef is accessible from the jetty or the beach, with a range of entry points suitable for all levels of experience. If you’re extra lucky, you may even spot one of South Australia’s most precious marine creatures, the Leafy Sea Dragon! In addition to the reef, Port Noarlunga offers a range of other attractions, including beautiful beaches, coastal walks, and charming cafes and restaurants. With its stunning natural beauty, abundant marine life, and range of activities on offer, Port Noarlunga is a must-visit destination for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts and anyone seeking a unique and memorable experience in South Australia.
Ride The Handlebar
Handlebar Adelaide is a unique way to explore the city of Adelaide, Australia. This pedal-powered bar allows you to cycle through the streets while enjoying your favorite drinks with friends or family. The tour takes you through the vibrant streets of Adelaide, showcasing the city’s landmarks, parks, and attractions. You’ll also get the chance to stop at various bars and pubs along the way to try out some of the local brews. The atmosphere is lively, and the views are lovely.
I may have been guilty of having a bit too much fun on the Handlebar for my most recent birthday!
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