During the annual Adelaide Festival and Fringe, our city fills with people and pop-ups.
However, don’t let that fool you into thinking that Adelaide is only fun during festival season. There’s a huge amount to see and do in South Australia’s capital throughout the year. A vibrant street art and street food scene has breathed new life into the urban landscape in recent years, while a small bar revolution is enlivening the city’s nightlife. Add to that the sensational beaches, vineyards and wildlife viewing opportunities that are within easy reach, and you have all the makings of a top holiday.
Enjoy this Adelaide travel guide.
Need to know
Capital of: South Australia
Base yourself: City, North Adelaide
Average hotel price per room/per night: $150AUD
Best breakfasts: Central Market, East End, Unley Road
Great coffee: East End, North Adelaide
Top spots for a beverage: Hindley Street, East End, Glenelg Beach, wine regions
Must-do tours: Central Market walking tour, street art tour, Barossa Valley wine tour
Best times to visit
Adelaide is Australia’s driest capital city. From December to February, t-shirts and shorts are all you’ll need as temperatures average in the high 20s, but can peak in the high 30s and even low 40s.
From March to May the days are milder, with temperatures in the high teens to low 20s. In winter, pack waterproof layers and warm clothing. This is the wettest time of the year and temperatures drop to the low teens.
Spring pushes the average back up 5 degrees, but keep a jacket or jumper handy. It cools down quickly at dusk.
Adelaide tours & experiences
Take a stroll along leafy North Terrace, where you’ll discover magnificent museums, theatres and galleries.
One of the highlights is the Art Gallery of South Australia. Admire the mid-nineteenth century architecture from the street, then head inside to view the extensive collection of works that spans cultures and time periods.
Just next door, the Migration Museum shares how immigration has shaped Adelaide’s cultural identity. There are hundreds of artefacts on display and every one of them has an interesting story to tell.
Keep an eye out for the amazing street art around town – particularly in the East End. Some of the murals are massive, so they’re hard to miss! Guided street art tours are popular. While you’re out and about, call into arts incubators like The Mill and the Jam Factory, where you’ll get to view the work of up-and-coming creatives.
Soak up some culture after dark in the parallel laneways of Peel Street and Leigh Street. Bar hopping between them will have you listening to the blues over cocktails at Clever Little Tailor, eating Nutri-Grain bar snacks at Maybe Mae, and sharing pintxos and espresso martinis at Udaberri.
Heritage buildings sit side-by-side with new developments across Adelaide, making it impossible to ignore the city’s past.
Put on your walking shoes and download a self-guided heritage walk from the Adelaide City Council website. Leigh Street is a great spot to step back in time. The paved road and restored shop fronts hark back to yesteryear.
Another of the city’s historic highlights is the State Library of South Australia’s Mortlock Wing. The smell of old books fill the air and various exhibits detail aspects of Adelaide’s past.
Adelaide may well have started out as a convict-free zone, but the infamous Adelaide Gaol certainly hosted its fair share of miscreants over the years. The gaol opened in 1841 and is one of the oldest remaining colonial buildings in South Australia. Get scared silly on a ghost tour.
The iconic Adelaide Oval is an intriguing blend of the old and the new, with state-of-the-art design and heritage features like the classic scoreboard. The Oval has been a part of Adelaide life since the 1870s and is well worth a visit. Take the standard guided tour or book your spot for the Adelaide Oval RoofClimb – an exhilarating stroll across the stadium’s soaring roof! A 75-metre pedestrian footbridge now links the Adelaide Oval with the Adelaide Festival Centre and riverbank redevelopment.
Adelaide is home to the second oldest zoo in Australia, and it’s the only place in the country – in fact, in the Southern Hemisphere – where you’ll have the opportunity to see giant pandas. Say hi to big fur balls Wang Wang and Funi, along with around 3,000 other furry, feathered and scaly critters. Book your zoo tickets in advance. The zoo is an easy walk from the city centre.
Over the past couple of years, Adelaide’s East End has been transformed from a hub of same-same Asian and Italian restaurants to one of the city’s most exciting culinary destinations.
Wander down Rundle Street and see what you can discover. From gastro pubs to Middle Eastern eateries, there is something to suit every taste. My top recommendation is Africola – where food, wine and fun are all given equal attention. Snacks of biltong and boerewors are followed by fire cooked meats and local produce that has likely been fermented or foraged.
Adelaide’s street food scene is booming. Local walking tour operator Feast on Foot will lead you to some of the tastiest options, and show you some of the inner city’s most vibrant street art as part of the deal. It’s a feast for all five senses!
Cafe culture is alive and well in Adelaide and the suburbs house some of the best cafes. Mister Sunshine’s at Thebarton is an oasis in an industrial hub, and is worth seeking out.
Shopping in Adelaide is all about the eclectic boutiques and brands.
Rundle Mall’s Fashion BNKR stocks the newest looks from South Aussie brands like Finders Keepers, Cameo, and Keepsake. Keep walking down Rundle Street to Miss Gladys Sym Choon. It’s a must-visit for fashionistas.
A trip to Adelaide wouldn’t be complete without braving the crowds at the Adelaide Central Market. Shopping for fruits and vegetables might not be high on your holiday agenda, but you can also pick up wonderful cheeses, fresh-baked bread and gourmet small-goods. Join a guided breakfast tour of the market to meet a cross-section of vendors and sample some of the finest local produce and smallgoods.
If you’re worried that you won’t fit into your new Finders Keepers jumpsuit after all that cheese, hit the suburban shopping strips on The Parade in Norwood or King William Road. You can walk off the extra calories and give your credit card a workout at the same time.
There’s no end of things to do in Adelaide that will leave you feeling refreshed.
Grab a free city bike and ride the River Torrens Linear Park Trail. The trail actually runs all the way from Adelaide’s northern suburbs to the beachside suburb of Henley, but you can just do the city section. Enjoy the beautiful riverbank and listen out for lions or gibbons as you ride past the zoo. Exploring the riverfront by Segway is also popular.
You’ll pass by the Adelaide Botanic Garden and it’s well worth making a stop to smell the flowers. There are 50 hectares of themed gardens to enjoy and some interesting architecture to admire as well. The International Rose Garden is always popular. You can see it at its best in spring and autumn.
If you have access to a car, pick one of Adelaide’s fabulous wine regions to visit. The Barossa, McLaren Vale or the Adelaide Hills are all within easy reach. There are also plenty of great wine tours on offer. Any time is a good time to visit the wine regions. Summer means outdoor wine tastings, while winter is perfect for enjoying a glass of red by the fire. You can’t go wrong.
One of the closest options to the city is the Hahndorf Hill Winery, which offers a ‘ChocoVino’ experience. Guests enjoy wine tastings matched with chocolates from around the world. The nearby village of Hahndorf is one of Adelaide’s must-sees. Stroll the main street and enjoy the many galleries, gift shops and cafes.
Do you have any tips to add to our Adelaide travel guide? We would love to hear from you. Please send us a message.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Natasha Stewart worried her middle school teachers by submitting an English assignment that was essentially copied from Nick Cave’s Where the Wild Roses Grow. These days the freelance writer is more likely to be writing about food than plagiarising musical ballads. After a short stint interning at online bridal magazine The Knot, Natasha started writing about leisure and food for Weekend Notes. She follows the ethos that you should always be willing to be a tourist in your own town. Having completed her Graduate Diploma of Food Studies and Graduate Certificate of Food Writing at the University of Adelaide, Natasha contributes regular food reviews to Adelaide street magazine Rip it Up and other publications.
You might be interested in