Lying between immaculate beaches and rolling foothills, Adelaide is one of Australia’s prettiest cities. However, it’s not as popular among international tourists as some of the country’s other travel destinations.
As of December 2022, Adelaide had 2.9 million annual visitors, and over 4.7 million day visitors, the vast majority of which are domestic (via Statista).
People generally visit the City of Churches to experience the world-class South Australian beaches, explore the surrounding wine country, and enjoy the exciting annual events held in the Festival State. But how safe is Adelaide for tourists, really?
When to Go:
Where to Stay:
What to Do:
Is Adelaide Safe to Visit in 2023?
By world standards, Adelaide is a very safe city. Being a less popular tourist city than global destinations like London, Rome, or even Sydney, Adelaide attracts far fewer scammers and petty crime perpetrators than you’re probably used to if you live in a big city.
In addition to the annual visitors, Adelaide is home to around 1.3 million people (via World Population Review). This relatively low population (again, compared to major tourist destinations) lends itself to low levels of crime.
Of course, the regular safety precautions still apply. Even with the low levels of crime, you’re more vulnerable to getting in trouble in certain situations. Stick to well-lit areas, and if you are going to walk down quieter side streets, particularly at night, ensure you are traveling in a group.
Don’t walk with AirPods in your ears or while looking at your phone—keep alert to your surroundings and trust your gut instincts. If one direction doesn’t feel right, choose another one. A great thing about Adelaide is that it’s easy to navigate!
Most areas of the city get quiet after about 11 p.m., except for the main nightlife areas on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s not like New York or Paris, where you can expect to find people around at pretty much any time. Keep that in mind if you plan on being out late.
Violent crime is pretty rare in Adelaide, but you do get people who are affected by drugs and alcohol wandering around the CBD from time to time. I have personally never had any trouble with this, though. Just be aware of your surroundings at all times, and if you’re approached by someone, it’s best not to engage.
Sadly, solo travelers and female travelers are extra vulnerable when it comes to sexual harassment, sexual assaults, and cat-calling. Again, you can mitigate the risks by avoiding traveling through quiet areas alone or at night.
It definitely shouldn’t be up to female travelers to protect themselves from attackers—the onus should be on the perpetrators not to attack. But the world still has a long way to go, and until then, it’s best to take every precaution to ensure your safety.
Safe Neighborhoods and Areas in Adelaide
Statistically, the safest neighborhoods in Adelaide are those which you probably won’t be visiting as a tourist.
They tend to be suburbs on the eastern side of the city, which is a beautiful area but isn’t particularly close to any attractions. You may pass through these areas on the way to the Adelaide Hills, though!
Similarly, the most dangerous neighborhoods in Adelaide also exist quite a distance away from the city center, and you probably won’t get there as a tourist.
One suburb to be aware of, though, is Port Adelaide, a portside suburb that you may explore if you are coming to Adelaide on a cruise.
Port Adelaide and the adjacent suburb of Outer Harbour have often been listed among Adelaide’s most dangerous suburbs with a crime rate of .41 per person (via Adelaide Examiner).
In the CBD, you might feel unsafe walking down Hindley Street late at night, which is known for its nightclubs and bars. Until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, it’s usually busy, though, so you’re unlikely to be alone on the main strip.
Be careful of wandering down the side streets running off Hindley Street. If you’re using one of the nearby car parks, be vigilant when retrieving your car late at night and, where possible, travel in groups.
While Hindley Street is pretty much as rowdy as Adelaide gets, there is usually a strong police presence there.
Crime in Adelaide
Perhaps owing to its lower population levels, Adelaide scores 31.11 on the Crime Index (via Adelaide Examiner). This is lower than Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, and Melbourne, the latter of which has an index of 44. The crime data released by SA Police in February 2023 reinforces this.
According to Numbeo, a website that conducts surveys to assess the general local attitude towards safety and crime, the number of people in Adelaide who worry about being robbed or mugged, having their car stolen, being targeted because of their race or gender, and violent crimes such as robbery or assault, is low.
By comparison, a moderate level of people worry about drug dealing and vandalism of property.
Adelaide’s public transport system is made of a network of buses, trams, and trains. Per the Adelaide Metro website, police officers in plain clothes regularly ride through the network to monitor the atmosphere. There are also more than 1300 security cameras across the network.
There are 24-hour emergency phones at Adelaide stations, along with night guard patrols on trains and trams on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, when there tends to be more activity.
Buses typically stop running in Adelaide by 7:15 p.m. (9:15 p.m. on Fridays), while trains run until 11:30 p.m.
Always stay vigilant when riding public transport alone at night, taking note of anyone who gets off the train or bus at your stop if you are walking into a secluded area. If you feel unsafe, there are taxis and Uber services available.
Hazardous Weather and Natural Disasters
Adelaide is prone to storms, flooding, and bushfires. The latter is perhaps the most deadly, and a major cause for concern for the Adelaide Hills in the summer.
If you are staying in the hills during summer, stay alert to all announcements regarding the threat of bushfires and ask your accommodation provider for an escape plan.
There have been earthquakes in Adelaide in the past, but these happen rarely. Those that I have experienced were barely powerful enough to even notice.
The last major earthquake was in 1954. It caused damage to 3,000 buildings and three people were seriously injured (via Australian Government).
Flooding that occurs as a result of storms is a bigger concern to local businesses than it is for tourists. If there is flooding while you visit Adelaide, it will most likely be a minor inconvenience rather than a serious threat.
The closest Adelaide has come to a tsunami is a false prediction by a clairvoyant back in 1976 (via ABC). The Adelaide Premier at the time went to Glenelg Beach on the day the tsunami was predicted to “hold it back” but, luckily, it never arrived, and the risk remains low.
Australian Wildlife and Beach Safety
When visiting Adelaide, it’s vital to practice beach safety.
The primary concern that most tourists worry about when they visit Australia is sharks, and Great White Sharks have been sighted close to the shore at some of the popular Adelaide city beaches, including Henley and Grange.
However, the number of people who have actually been attacked by a shark in Adelaide is low.
If you’re swimming at the beach, always swim between the red and yellow flags, where the lifeguards can easily watch over you. There will often be helicopter patrols on the lookout for sharks so pay attention to any sirens you may hear. If the lifeguards instruct you to get out of the water, do so immediately!
It is possible to be stung by jellyfish or come across the deadly blue-ringed octopus in South Australian waters, but this is rare. In 30 years of living in Adelaide, I’ve never known anyone to have any trouble with deadly sea creatures here.
As Surf Life Saving South Australia explains, if you are bitten by a blue-ringed octopus, consider it a medical emergency and ring 000.
Contrary to popular belief, Adelaide isn’t home to a plethora of poisonous spiders. Those to watch out for include the redback, which is easily identifiable with a red streak on its black body, and the funnel-web spider.
Funnel-webs dwell in the ground and may be found in the bushland surrounding Adelaide, while redbacks tend to build their webs in dark, dry spots, like outdoor sheds or toilet blocks.
The best way to protect against spiders in Adelaide is to shake your shoes and clothes before putting them on, as some harmless species are often found in dark areas like these.
There are some poisonous snakes that reside in Adelaide, but you’re unlikely to run into them when visiting the CBD or city fringe areas. You may spot a snake in the Adelaide Hills or when visiting the rural wine country surrounding the city, though.
The poisonous snakes to look out for in the area are the eastern brown snake, the red-bellied black snake, the copperhead snake (I have seen one of these crossing a country road on Kangaroo Island!), the western brown snake, and the tiger snake (via Government of South Australia).
If you see a snake, don’t try to touch or attack it. Remain still and calm and it will likely leave the area. If you are bitten, dial 000.
The good news is that for every creepy creature thriving in Adelaide, there’s a fluffy, pleasant counterpart. The bad news? Some of Australia’s cutest native wildlife can also be dangerous to humans.
Despite their resemblance to teddy bears, wild koalas have sharp claws and can be aggressive when they feel threatened. Most koalas will just climb higher up their gum tree to avoid humans that pass them, but if you pursue a koala, you may be chased or scratched.
Wild kangaroos can also be aggressive when defending their young, or if they feel threatened by any pets you have with you. You might come into contact with wild kangaroos in the national parks around Adelaide (I’ve seen plenty at Morialta Conservation Park) or in the Adelaide Hills.
Don’t approach wild kangaroos, as cute as they are. If you want to get up close and personal with a kangaroo or koala, visit a wildlife park (Gorge or Cleland are great options that allow you to feed kangaroos safely).
Adelaide’s Dark Reputation
Some tourists question whether Adelaide really is a safe city thanks to its dark reputation as “the murder capital of Australia.” This stems from 2008 research cited by ABC which stated that Adelaide was home to 15% of the country’s murderers, but only 8% of the population.
In actual fact, Adelaide is statistically one of Australia’s safest cities. In terms of murder figures, Australia has a national rate of one murder victim per 100,000 people, while South Australia has .9 per 100,000.
Compare this to the Northern Territory’s six murder victims per 100,000 and it becomes clear how little your chances of running into trouble in Adelaide really are.
Along with the 2008 statistic, there have been three major serial killings in Adelaide’s recent history that have helped to garner this reputation: the Truro Murders in the late 1970s, the Family Murders in the late ‘70s and ‘80s, and the Snowtown Murders in the ‘90s, the latter of which inspired the Australian crime film “Snowtown.”
The details of these cases are particularly disturbing by Australian standards and have certainly left a dark mark on Adelaide’s reputation, but figures show that it’s still safer in Adelaide than in many other Australian cities.
FAQs About Adelaide Attractions
Is Adelaide safe for a solo traveler?
Yes, Adelaide is safe for a solo traveler by world standards. As always, keep your wits about you and maintain responsibility for your personal safety.
Are there hate crimes in Adelaide?
Adelaide is a safe place for people from all walks of life and identities. The murder of Dr. George Duncan in 1972 sparked a reform in local laws, and South Australia became the first state to decriminalize homosexual relations between 1975 (via The Guardian).
You will also find a melting pot of cultures in Adelaide, as waves of migrants have emigrated to the city from all over the world. Though there are individual incidents that do occur, generally, other cultures are respected and welcomed.
What is the safest place to visit in Adelaide?
All of Adelaide is statistically safe to visit. The CBD experiences more crime than most suburban areas due to the fact that it’s a hub of activity, but the CBD is still very safe.
What should I avoid in Adelaide?
As you would in any city, avoid walking alone in secluded areas at night in Adelaide. The parklands surrounding the city are particularly unsafe at night, so always opt for a taxi or public transport when leaving the CBD.
What is the nicest place to visit in Adelaide?
Adelaide has several nice places to visit. The CBD is where you’ll find the majority of the major attractions, but the neighboring areas of North Adelaide and the southern city fringe are worth a visit, too.
The beaches to the west of the CBD are beautiful during the summer, and the Adelaide Hills to the east are home to several rural attractions.
So, How Safe is Adelaide to Travel in 2023?
Adelaide is absolutely safe for travel in 2023. It has historically enjoyed low crime rates—despite being home to some of Australia’s most infamous crimes—and crime levels have still not risen back to what they were before the COVID-19 pandemic.
As long as you take control of your own personal safety, whether you’re walking on the street or relaxing at the beach, you’re more than likely to be fine in the City of Churches.
Next…be sure to take a look at the best areas & places to stay in Adelaide to ensure you choose the right area for your trip.