Though known as one of Australia’s smaller cities, there’s still an abundance of amazing places to visit in Adelaide, South Australia’s capital city. Below are some of the best places I’m lucky enough to have on my doorstep as an Adelaide local!
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The 15 Best Places to Visit in Adelaide
1. North Terrace
The northern boundary of the Adelaide CBD, home to its most popular attractions
North Terrace borders the city center on its northern side, just before the River Torrens and the suburb of North Adelaide. As a first-time visitor to Adelaide, you’ll definitely spend time here, as it’s the location of various hotels, restaurants, and attractions.
Along this major road, you’ll find the South Australian Museum, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the University of Adelaide, the Convention Center, the InterContinental Hotel, David Jones department store, side-street entrances to Rundle Mall, and the prestigious seafood restaurant Fishbank.
You can stroll along the footpath of North Terrace on either side of the road to observe and enjoy its main sights.
2. Gouger Street
A foodie’s dream street lined with eateries just steps from the Adelaide Central Market and Chinatown
Adelaide has been referred to as Australia’s foodie capital, and the culinary heart of the City of Churches is undoubtedly Gouger Street. Minutes walk from Victoria Square (Tarntanyangga) and Whitmore Square (Iparrityi), Gouger Street is located in the middle of Adelaide’s action.
The legendary food strip is home to several of Adelaide’s most acclaimed restaurants, including iconic Argentinian joint Gaucho’s. Here, you’ll also find Little NNQ Vietnamese, Great River Korean BBQ, and Gyoza Gyoza Japanese Restaurant.
On the northern side of Gouger Street lies the Adelaide Central Market and Chinatown, two more staples in Adelaide’s food scene.
3. The East End
A selection of Adelaide’s favorite restaurants and retailers overlooking the parklands
Adelaide’s East End generally refers to East Terrace, which connects to North Terrace and borders the Adelaide CBD to the east, plus a selection of smaller roads and laneways surrounding it.
East Terrace itself hosts popular restaurants like Golden Boy and Africola, along with the San Churro dessert bar. Rundle Street, which runs off East Terrace, is home to nightclubs, restaurants, bars, dessert bars, and fashion boutiques.
A street over on Vardon Avenue, you’ll find the popular drinking spots East End Cellars, Mother Vine, and the Belgian Beer Café, making the East End one of the best places to visit in Adelaide at night.
4. The West End
The bustling center for nightlife and fun things to do in Adelaide
Over on the other side of the CBD is the West End, which encompasses West Terrace and Hindley Street. The latter is Adelaide’s go-to destination for nightlife, home to a selection of clubs and bars.
On Friday and Saturday nights, Hindley is bustling with people waiting to get into establishments like Rocket Bar & Rooftop, Dog and Duck, Bank Street Social, and if you’re feeling especially rowdy, the Woolshed.
Branching off from Hindley Street are the laneways of Leigh and Peel Street. These are home to destinations where you can enjoy a drink, like Paloma Bar & Pantry, or a dance at a club like Plain Jane.
5. North Adelaide
Lying on the banks of the River Torrens, North Adelaide has some of Adelaide’s best restaurants and pubs
North Adelaide is an inner-city suburb nestled amongst the greenery of the Adelaide parklands, separated from the CBD by the River Torrens and a five-minute walk.
On the main streets of North Adelaide—namely Melbourne Street and O’Connell Street—there are several acclaimed restaurants and pubs. Along O’Connell, be sure to check out the Italian dishes at Ruby Red Flamingo, Moroccan fare at Marrakech, and dessert at Chocolatree.
In North Adelaide, you’ll also find long-time favorite pubs like the Old Lion and the Queen’s Head.
One of Adelaide’s most iconic beachside suburbs
Situated just 20 minutes from the CBD, Glenelg is one of Adelaide’s favorite beaches. The beach itself is known for the gentle clean water of the Gulf St. Vincent and soft white sand, though it does get busy in the summer.
Along with the beach, Glenelg is home to the thriving Jetty Road strip, where you’ll find a collection of restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars, and of course, ice creameries. Jetty Road also has a few gift shops, fashion boutiques, and souvenir shops.
Entertainment-wise, Glenelg is home to “The Beachouse” amusement center, a playground on the foreshore, and the Moseley Beach Club.
7. Henley Beach
A city beach with an array of restaurants and ice creameries
Another beach that should definitely be on your Adelaide itinerary is Henley, which is directly west of the CBD. Only 15 to 20 minutes from central Adelaide, Henley is one of the best places to visit in Adelaide for free.
Henley lies between West Beach and Grange, both of which you can walk to along the foreshore. The beach runs off Henley Square, which holds an array of restaurants, bars, and cafes.
There are also fish and chip shops and street food destinations (Cheeky Greek is a must!) where you can get a takeaway dinner and eat it on the grass of the foreshore.
The stunning Adelaide Hills location home to markets, cafes, and a stunning botanic garden
- Hotel: Mount Lofty House
The Adelaide Hills boast several of Adelaide’s top attractions, and among them is the town of Stirling. Though Stirling is nestled within the rural greenery of the hills, it’s only around 40 minutes away from the CBD, so you could easily visit on a short trip to Adelaide.
On select days, the town also hosts the Stirling Markets. A number of vendors of street food, baked goods, fresh produce, arts, crafts, and plants showcase their goods in the colorful stalls of the market.
9. Hahndorf Township
The starring attraction of the Adelaide Hills
If there’s one place you absolutely have to visit in the Adelaide Hills, it’s Hahndorf. The German township is one of Adelaide’s most popular tourist destinations, centered around a main street that will make you feel like you’ve landed in a 19th-century Bavarian village.
There are plenty of chances to sample traditional German bratwurst, sauerkraut, and bienenstich at establishments like the Hahndorf Inn and the German Arms, but the main street also features restaurants serving other cuisines, including Geppetto’s Italian.
10. Morialta Conservation Park
Immerse yourself in rural Australia just 20 minutes from the Adelaide CBD
Just a short drive from the CBD is Morialta Conservation Park, a natural park filled with gorges, waterfalls, and wooded bushland dedicated to protecting Australian flora and fauna. This is one of the greatest hidden spots in Adelaide.
There are numerous hiking trails here (along with a dog-friendly recreation area at the beginning of the park that has a playground and barbecue facilities). The main sights to see in the park itself are the First, Second, and Third waterfalls and the Giant’s Cave.
Walking through Morialta is often a peaceful experience and is another great free thing to do in Adelaide.
A north-western beach with a carnival-like atmosphere—one of the greatest places to visit in Adelaide with kids
- Hotel: Largs Pier Hotel
Semaphore is slightly further away from the CBD than some of the other popular local beaches, but it’s worth the half-hour drive!
This beach is close to the port suburbs of Port Adelaide and Outer Harbour, so you could coordinate a visit with a trip to the port if you were strapped for time.
The beach at Sempahore is tranquil and idyllic with calm waves and lots of space. On the foreshore, the Semaphore Summer Carnival runs through December and January. The whole family can enjoy amusement park rides and carnival food, along with the eateries located near the beach.
12. Hyde Park
A chic city-fringe suburb home to restaurants and shopping.
- Hotel: Hotel Alba Adelaide
Just five minutes from the CBD on the other side of the southern parklands, Hyde Park is an affluent suburb with a wonderful selection of restaurants, coffee shops, and bars
Another eatery to look out for is Hello Neighbor, which specializes in brunch during the day. At night, they turn into Artusi, a gnocchi bar with a collection of dumpling dishes to try.
Hyde Park is also home to a few fashion boutiques and beauty spas—the perfect destination where you can relax and unwind.
13. Port Adelaide
A historic port suburb with iconic architecture, brunch spots, and a popular museum
If you’re a history buff, you need to visit Port Adelaide. Still featuring much of the early colonial architecture that was first built in Adelaide in the 19th century, the north-western port suburb is now home to a variety of chic eateries and attractions.
When visiting Port Adelaide, visiting the iconic Maritime Museum is a must. The museum tells the story of South Australia’s maritime history and is a short walk from the lighthouse that has been so instrumental in the suburb’s history as an active port.
Home to the Big Rocking Horse
One of South Australia’s claims to fame is the creation of the biggest rocking horse in the world—the Big Rocking Horse. You can marvel at this wonder in the small town of Gumeracha in the Adelaide Hills, and then pick up a souvenir at the iconic toy factory nearby.
The Big Rocking Horse is one of the best places in Adelaide for kids, who will enjoy the toy factory and attached wildlife park.
A trip to Gumeracha is pretty affordable, too: you can climb the rocking horse for just $2, enter the wildlife park for $4, and wander through the toy shop for free!
A leafy eastern suburb with its own shopping and dining district
- Hotel: The Palms Apartments
The suburb of Norwood, just five minutes from the CBD, is home to the Parade—the premiere dining and shopping strip in the eastern suburbs.
The Parade is full of history, and though much of it has been redeveloped, you can still see glimpses of old Norwood in the still-standing Norwood Concert Hall with its signature clock tower.
Of course, the Parade is also where you’ll find Argo, Adelaide’s most famous brunch spot.
FAQs About Adelaide Attractions
Is Adelaide expensive?
Adelaide is generally slightly less expensive than the bigger cities of Sydney and Melbourne. On a global scale, it would be considered average in terms of costliness.
There are definitely more expensive destinations that you can visit—accommodation here is much cheaper than you’ll find in cities like London or Paris. But prices are still more costly than you’d expect in traditionally more affordable destinations, like Bali.
That said, there are lots of free things to do in Adelaide, particularly in the CBD. If you base yourself in the city center and are visiting mostly local attractions, Adelaide is also a very walkable city.
There’s not a huge amount of traffic compared to busier destinations, so you might also find that you’re spending less time on the road with the meter running.
How many days do I need in Adelaide?
Three days should be enough to see most of Adelaide’s city attractions, but you’ll want to leave a bit more time if you plan to go up to the Adelaide Hills, or to spend time at Adelaide’s famous beaches.
Three days also isn’t enough if you want to include a day trip to the surrounding wine country or regional attractions. Five to seven days would be the best amount of time to include absolutely everything.
When is the best time to visit Adelaide?
Generally, summer is considered the best time to come to Adelaide because of the hot weather, as Adelaide’s beaches are often on the bucket list. This would be between December and January, and December is a particularly good time to come because Adelaide is also lit up with Christmas lights and decorations.
However, local schools begin their summer vacation in the first or second week of December and they’re off for all of January. With either Christmas or summer holidays taking place around the world, this is also the busiest time to come to Adelaide, and one of the most expensive.
Another great time to come is in late February to March (which we call “Mad March”), as it’s the time of the Adelaide Fringe. This is one of the biggest arts festivals in the world, with live performances and events taking place all over the city.
You’ll find people from all walks of life in Adelaide at this time—both those who arrive to participate in the shows, and those who come to watch them.
If you want to miss the chaos and prefer visiting Adelaide at its quietest time, then winter or late autumn would be the best. From April through August, Adelaide is tranquil (though there are still pop-up winter events to look out for).
Autumn in particular is a great time to visit the Adelaide Hills because of the red and pink leaves that color the countryside.
Will a US cell phone work in Adelaide?
Your US cell phone should work in Australia, but you can check for sure with this website. The main issue that you’re likely to have is dealing with expensive international call, text, and data plans provided by your carrier.
The best option is to get a local Australian SIM card to put in your phone. These are available for purchase at the major airports, but are more affordable at local supermarkets and lower-end department stores, including Coles, Kmart, and Target. All three are located in the CBD.
If you are purchasing a SIM card at a supermarket or department store, the shop assistants likely won’t be able to help you set it up on your cell phone, but the SIM card should come with instructions. You will need your name, passport, and address of your accommodation in order to purchase it.
Keep in mind that your cell phone will also need to be unlocked before you put your Australian SIM card in. Make sure that your cell phone is therefore not still on a plan that you haven’t paid for.
In many cases, travelers use old cell phones so they don’t have to set up an Australian SIM card on their everyday phones.
Coverage in the Adelaide CBD is usually pretty strong, but you might find that you lose coverage if you travel to more rural areas around the city.
Are people friendly in Adelaide?
Like other Australians, Adelaideans have a reputation for being friendly and welcoming. If you’re passing a stranger on the footpath (sidewalk), you’ll find that most people will make eye contact and smile, if not say hello.
Locals also tend to be laidback, chatty, and easy-going with a unique sense of humor (though I’m biased). You’ll get along with people best if you don’t take yourself too seriously!