If you love picturesque scenery, amazing beaches, beautiful architecture, and cultural attractions, Adelaide is the perfect Australian destination for you.
Less crowded than the bigger cities and with more to do than the smaller towns, the City of Churches is a perfect addition to any Australian trip. These are the most fun things to do in Adelaide, my charming hometown!
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TL;DR The Best Things to Do in Adelaide
Just want a quick look at the best things to do in Adelaide? Don’t worry I got you covered with this quick list.
- Most significant landmark – Malls Balls at Rundle Mall
- Best park – Morialta Conservation Park
- Best free activity – South Australian Museum
- Best activity for kids – Gorge Wildlife Park
- Best activity for adults – BBQ Buoys Boat Ride
- Best food – Restaurant Botanic
- Best nightlife – Peel Street and Leigh Street
- Best all-around accommodation – Eos by SkyCity
24 Best Things To Do In Adelaide
1. South Australian Museum
A collection of wonderful exhibits showcasing the history of South Australia and the world.
Located in the CBD, the South Australian Museum features several permanent and rotating exhibits where you can learn about Adelaide’s true story. From Indigenous Australian artifacts to ancient fossils, there are endless treasures to discover.
Along with local history, the museum is home to wonders from around the world. Look out for the feline mummies brought in from Egypt and the 11-meter life-size model of the New Zealand giant squid!
This is a great place to visit for travelers on a budget as entry is totally free.
2. Adelaide Botanic Garden
Adelaide’s most beautiful native and exotic plants set out in a beautiful public garden.
Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens offer some of the most beautiful views in the city.
Also conveniently located in the eastern CBD, the gardens are designed around peaceful meandering paths that make it easy to explore top highlights like the Australian Native Garden, the Bicentennial Conservatory, and the International Rose Garden. See if you can spot the Elvis Memorial!
Guided tours of the gardens are available every day at 10:30 a.m. This is another one of the best things to do in Adelaide for free.
3. BBQ Buoys Boat Ride
Take in the sights of the Adelaide CBD while drinking and dining on the River Torrens.
The River Torrens is a beloved part of the city. You can take in the view from the river in the most popular stretch—through Elder Park—by taking a ride on BBQ Buoys.
These self-guided donut-shaped boats drift gently down the river while riders enjoy a picnic lunch and drinks. You can choose from a menu of grazing boards and platters that cater to a range of dietary requirements, or you can bring your own food.
BBQ Buoys fit up to 10 people at a time, so this is a great activity if you’re traveling with friends or family in Adelaide.
4. Morialta Conservation Park
A free public park where you’ll find hiking trails, waterfalls, a giant cave, and native wildlife.
There are numerous paid-entry wildlife parks in South Australia, but Morialta is a free alternative. Though there are no meet-and-greet opportunities here, you’ll get something even better: the chance to view kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, and more in their natural habitat. Just don’t get too close!
Morialta is one of the eastern suburbs’ favorite hiking destinations. There are numerous stopping points and observation platforms along the way, so all fitness levels are catered to. Or, if you want to travel with a group you can always get a guided group tour that comes with the benefit of learning more about the flora and fauna you will find.
The first waterfall and the famous Giant’s Cave are less than a half-hour walk from the entrance, and definitely worth the light effort!
5. Adelaide Gaol
The former site of Adelaide’s primary incarceration facility, now a museum offering ghost tours through the original colonial buildings.
Located on the north-western outskirts of the CBD, you’ll find the historic Adelaide Gaol. Home to some of South Australia’s most gruesome history, the gaol is the site of Adelaide’s last state execution in 1964, before the death penalty was abolished in 1973.
The ghosts of former prisoners are said to haunt the gaol to this day, and those who are game can try to catch them out on ghost tours and paranormal investigations, both of which can be booked through the website or Viator+.
For those who are more interested in the factual history of the place, guided tours are also available during the day. But the ghost tours are definitely one of the best things to do in Adelaide at night!
6. Peel Street and Leigh Street
Adelaide’s premiere nightlife strips filled with bars and restaurants.
Looking for fun things to do in Adelaide for adults? The parallel laneways of Peel Street and Leigh Street have everything you need.
Tucked away off Hindley Street on the city’s west end (which offers a slightly more rowdy selection of nightclubs), the laneways are home to chic bars and late-night restaurants where you could easily pass time until the wee hours.
Every week, it seems, there’s a new bar/club/restaurant opening on the laneways. Some staples to add to your bucket list are Casablabla for tapas and margaritas, Alfred’s Bar for a glass of red, and then the dancefloor of Plain Jane.
7. Rundle Mall
The city’s iconic outdoor pedestrian-only shopping mall, home to multiple department stores, specialty shops, and the famous Malls Balls.
Rundle Mall is Adelaide’s favorite central shopping district. You’ll find every kind of store you can think of here, from fashion to homewares to books. There are also several eateries, food courts, plazas, and historic arcades to enjoy and explore.
One of Adelaide’s most iconic landmarks is the Malls Balls, a sculpture that sits in the middle of the mall and serves as a common meeting point. Also look out for the life-size bronze mall pigs and the Rundle Mall Fountain, which dates back to the 1800s.
8. Adelaide Zoo
Come and visit 2,500 animals who call the zoo home, including Adelaide’s favorite mascots: Wang Wang and Fu Ni, the giant panda couple.
For animal lovers, the Adelaide Zoo is conveniently located on the fringe of the CBD close to the popular suburb of North Adelaide. Here, you’ll find several animals from all corners of the world, along with plenty of beautifully landscaped areas to view them from.
There’s a petting zoo at Adelaide Zoo and several interactive animal experiences that you can reserve in advance. I’ve fed the penguins, which is a lot of fun (if you don’t mind literally getting your hands dirty!).
Of course, there’s also a range of Australian native animals to see and a fascinating reptile house.
9. Migration Museum
A social history museum highlighting the colorful story of settlement and immigration to South Australia.
Immigration has definitively shaped Adelaide’s history. You can see it in the food scene, the architecture, and the Migration Museum, which tells the story of how people from other lands helped to make Adelaide what it is today.
Some of the moving exhibits at the Migration Museum, which is conveniently located in the city center, showcase the struggles that migrants had to face upon landing in South Australia.
In particular, the museum educates new generations about the country’s White Australia Policy of the early 20th century.
10. Gorge Wildlife Park
Walk amongst kangaroos, cuddle a koala, and feed the camels at one of Adelaide’s favorite wildlife parks.
If you have your heart set on getting up close and personal with native Australian animals while in Adelaide, a visit to Gorge Wildlife Park is a must. Gorge is located a short drive into the Adelaide Hills and is set on 14 acres of bushland.
The major attractions are the kangaroo and wallaby mobs that you can walk through and feed, along with the koala petting and holding that you can book in advance.
There are plenty of other animals to see at Gorge, too, including fruit bats, Tasmanian devils, dingoes, echidnas, capuchin monkeys, meerkats, and American alligators.
11. TreeClimb Adelaide
All ages can safely explore the soaring tree tops and obstacle courses nestled just south of the city center.
Not scared of heights? TreeClimb is Adelaide’s newest amusement park, set in the trees of the southern parklands on the fringe of the CBD.
Fun for people of all ages, TreeClimb offers both a Kids Course and a harder Grand Course for adults. For those who aren’t tall enough, there’s the Nets Adventure for kids aged 2 to 10.
This is a wonderful activity for those looking for something a little different, or in the mood for a hint of adrenaline. If climbing isn’t your thing, you can glide through the Zip-Loops Course through the lush greenery of the parklands.
12. Art Gallery of South Australia
Observe award-winning artwork in various styles from both local and internationally renowned artists.
For art buffs or families looking for an entertaining and affordable day out, the Art Gallery of South Australia is located on North Terrace in the city center, just a few steps away from the South Australian Museum.
With free entry (some exhibits are ticketed), it’s the perfect way to absorb some of Adelaide’s culture that won’t cost you anything.
You can opt for a free gallery tour or a bespoke gallery tour, both guided, or you can simply stroll around at your own pace and observe the permanent and rotating exhibits. The Elder Wing of Australian Art in particular showcases fantastic examples of local work.
13. Beerenberg Farm
Pick strawberries, buy homemade jams, and then settle down for a bite of lunch or a cooking demonstration at Adelaide’s favorite farm.
When you’re in Adelaide, you’ll notice that establishments around the city use Beerenberg products for nearly everything—Beerenberg jam, Beerenberg ketchup, and even Beerenberg Bavarian mustard!
They all come from the family-owned farm in the Adelaide Hills, just down the road from the Hahndorf township.
At the farm, you can wander through the orchard to pick your own strawberries to take home. When you’re finished, enjoy fresh local produce in the café and pick up some Beerenberg gifts and products in the gift shop on the way out. The kids will love it!
14. Adelaide Central Markets
Home to stalls selling fresh produce, ethnic eats, organic treats, and countless other edible treasures, the Adelaide Central Markets is a must.
If you’re a foodie, the Adelaide Central Markets must be on your Adelaide bucket list. With more than 70 stalls, the market is South Australia’s most visited attraction.
Weaved in between the produce stalls are street food vendors and cafés. Lucia’s Pizza and Spaghetti Bar is one of the market’s most famous pillars, and over the years has slowly expanded from a small pasta bar to a café, gourmet deli, and panini bar.
While you’ll probably be tempted to splurge on food, it doesn’t cost anything just to wander through the market and soak up the atmosphere!
15. Glenelg Beach
Adelaide’s most iconic beach, set at the end of an entertainment strip featuring bars, restaurants, shops, and pubs.
For those visiting Adelaide in the summer, Glenelg Beach is a paradise of picturesque shorelines, delicious food, and plenty of entertainment. The beach itself is known for calm waves and lots of sandy space, even on those days that draw big crowds.
Just beyond the beach, you have the Glenelg foreshore, complete with a Ferris wheel and water fountains surrounded by pubs, bars, restaurants, and the ever-important bayside ice cream store.
Though Glenelg is family-friendly day and night, nights on the weekend also tend to attract a young adult crowd visiting the Mosely Pub or beach club.
16. Holey Moley
Get your golf on at this inner-city indoor course, followed by a round of drinks at the bar with friends.
Conveniently located in the city center right on the fringe of the business district, Holey Moley is Adelaide’s favorite mini-golf facility and looks just a little different from your average course with windmills.
The golf courses have nostalgic décor and novelties that will make you feel like you’ve been transported back to the ‘90s (or at least into an episode of “The Simpsons”!).
Holey Moley is serviced by the Caddyshack, a full bar, and a comprehensive food menu is also available. Adults and kids (accompanied by a guardian) are welcome. For those who dare, there’s also karaoke …
17. Haigh’s Chocolates Visitor Center
Visit the home of Adelaide’s most legendary chocolate brand, Haigh’s, and sample a sweet treat or two.
Trying Haigh’s chocolate is something every first-time visitor to Adelaide needs to do. There are chocolate shops and pop-ups throughout the city, but to learn the real story of the Haigh family and their mark on South Australia, check out the Visitor Center.
Located just on the fringe of the southern city parklands, the Visitor Center offers a glimpse into the chocolate-making process with guided factory tours that run every day except Sunday. You can also take a self-guided tour if you’d prefer to go at your own pace.
This is an ideal activity for sweet tooths and families!
18. Mount Lofty Botanic Garden
Breath in the fresh Adelaide Hills air and witness the beauty of one of the city’s most peaceful and popular gardens.
Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is arguably the prettiest location in the Adelaide Hills. Tucked away in the town of Crafers, looking over the Piccadilly Valley, the garden is an oasis of cool-climate trees. Explore the grounds through winding paths set around the idyllic lake.
This is one of Adelaide’s favorite spots for picnicking and is totally free to enter. There isn’t a café but there is usually a coffee truck on the premises on weekends. It’s best to pack your own food and drinks just to be safe!
The best time to visit the garden is autumn, as the red leaves start to fall. Also, if you are looking for a guided tour you can’t do much better than a Mount Lofty descent bike tour.
19. South Australian Maritime Museum
Set in an 1850s building, this museum chronicles Adelaide’s nautical history—and no visit is complete without a trip to the nearby lighthouse!
The suburb of Port Adelaide is a huge part of South Australia’s history, literally serving as the first port of call for thousands of immigrants to the state.
Today, all that history is cataloged at the Maritime Museum, which boasts permanent exhibits detailing the fascinating realities of life at sea. You’ll see real boats and replicas, plus learn all about marine life and ecosystems.
The Port Adelaide Lighthouse is just a short walk from the museum and another fascinating historical relic that you won’t want to miss. This is another one of the best things to do in Adelaide for families. You can pre-book tickets for the museum here.
20. Adelaide Aquatic Center
Adelaide’s top swimming facility with three pools, a gym, and a spa.
For those visiting Adelaide in the warmer months, or those who just love to swim, the Adelaide Aquatic Center provides a full day of family fun. There are three pools to choose from, including an Olympic-style lap pool and a pool for the kids. Adults can relax in the sauna after their swim.
All pools are heated to a minimum of 29 degrees Celsius all year round, and the center is open every day except Christmas.
After all that swimming, refuel your energy at the café, which serves breakfast, lunch, and a range of hot snacks and drinks.
21. Hahndorf Township
Escape to Bavaria for a day in the German settlement of Hahndorf, one of the most famous destinations in the Adelaide Hills.
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Adelaide, no trip to the Hills is complete without a walk through the Hahndorf township.
A historic German settlement, the main street of the town today is home to a selection of Bavarian-inspired pubs and restaurants, plus art galleries and specialty gift shops.
Grab a bratwurst and a beer at the German Arms Hotel, then stroll down the street and peruse the iconic German Village Shop, selling authentic Black Forest cuckoo clocks.
Stock up on candy at Hahndorf Sweets, pick up a locally made candle at the German Village Kandle Haus, and then sit down for a coffee and creamy Bienstich at Otto’s Bakery.
22. The Beachouse
A maze of waterslides, rides, arcade games, all overlooking the scenic Glenelg Beach.
Located along the Glenelg foreshore, you’ll find the amusement center known as the Beachouse, a popular facility for children’s birthday parties and corporate functions. When I was a kid, it was called Magic Mountain, and though the name has changed, the magic remains the same.
The Beachouse has attractions for people of all ages, including mini golf, bumper cars, bumper boats, a play castle, and a carousel. If you’re there in the summer, there are also three waterslides.
The whole family can enjoy the arcade and ticket games, before enjoying hot food and milkshakes at the Beachouse Café.
23. Henley Square
Home to restaurants, bars, ice cream shops, and a fountain for the kids to enjoy on hot days at Henley Beach.
Adelaide’s other popular beach destination is Henley Beach, directly to the west of the CBD. Though slightly less well-known among tourists than Glenelg, Henley offers a stunning beach with plenty of space.
It’s backed by Henley Square, which also features a water fountain for the kids and a collection of coffee shops, premium restaurants, a few bars, and ice cream shops. Dogs are welcome in the square (and on the beach provided they’re leashed before 8 p.m.).
For an affordable family-friendly activity in Adelaide, visit the square, grab the kids an ice cream cone at Bottega or Copenhagen, and go for a stroll down the Henley jetty.
24. Monarto Safari Park
Adelaide’s answer to an African safari.
Monarto Safari Park is the largest open-safari experience outside of Africa. Located just an hour out of the Adelaide CBD, Monarto is a conservation charity that offers guests a glimpse into the lives of animals as they would be in the wild.
The park stretches across 1500 hectares, and guests can walk to view some animals and take a guided safari tour to see others.
The best part of the park is the many animal experiences on offer. Meet the meerkats, tickle a rhino behind the ears, stroll through the Land of the Lemurs, meet the chimps, go on a giraffe safari, or if you dare, immerse yourself in the Lion 360 Experience.
I’d recommend the Lion 360 (which is actually totally safe!). You’ll stand in a caged dome so you can get as close to the lions as possible, and even have a chance to feed them (using tongs, of course).
FAQs About Adelaide Attractions
What should you not miss in Adelaide?
A trip to Adelaide is not complete without a visit to the Adelaide Hills. Only about 40 minutes from the city center, the Adelaide Hills is flourishing with cultural and rural attractions, from historic townships to working farms to restaurants, resorts, and activity centers.
What is Adelaide best known for?
Adelaide is home to the Adelaide Fringe, which is the largest art festival in Australia and the second-largest in the world.
If you visit Adelaide from late February to late March, you’ll be able to attend the various live performances and exhibits held around the city, including those displayed in the famous Garden of Unearthly Delights in the city center. That’s why Adelaide is called the Festival State!
Interestingly, Adelaide is also known as the City of Churches thanks to the large number of beautiful old churches you’ll find here.
How many days in Adelaide is enough?
At a minimum, four days in Adelaide is enough to see everything within the city center, and perhaps to touch on the Adelaide Hills. But if you’d like to incorporate a visit to a nearby wine region, or are interested in a day at one of Adelaide’s gorgeous beaches, it’s best to stay for at least a week.
What is the best time to go to Adelaide?
Adelaide is the most active during “Mad March”, as this is when the Adelaide Fringe and Adelaide Writers Week take place.
That said, the summer, from December through February, is the best time to come to make use of the beaches. However, this is also when it’s the busiest. For a less crowded alternative, opt for visiting in autumn, from March through May, or spring, September through November.
What is there to do in Adelaide at night?
Adelaide is home to a nightlife and restaurant scene full of local character. If you’re a foodie, you can spend your nights exploring the many award-winning eateries in the city and through the suburbs.
Those interested in a more action-packed night can check out the bars and clubs along popular strips like Hindley Street, Rundle Street, and Peel and Leigh Street.
Is Adelaide expensive to visit?
Australia on the whole is generally expensive to visit because the cost of living is high, so those costs are naturally passed on to the consumer. However, the University of Adelaide states that Adelaide is one of Australia’s most affordable cities.
What are the best Adelaide beaches?
All of Adelaide’s beaches are pretty high by world standards, as most feature lots of sand, space, and clean, calm water. The most popular beaches are Henley, Grange, and West Beach, which are directly to the west of the city center, and Glenelg Beach, which is to the southwest.
A little out of Adelaide to the south, there are many more popular beaches that would be ideal for day trips from the city. The most highly rated include Aldinga Beach and Moana Beach.
How do I spend a day in Adelaide?
If you’re visiting Adelaide as a first-timer, the best way to spend a day here is to explore the CBD by foot. There are lots of attractions in the city center, including several museums, parks, and shopping districts.