As a local, I can confirm that Adelaide is one of Australia’s most underrated destinations. A city with a small-town feel, nestled in between long stretches of pristine beach and the greenery of the Adelaide Hills, there’s no place quite like it.
Read on to find out where to stay in Adelaide for your next trip.
When to Go:
What to Do:
Best Places To Stay in Adelaide
Don’t have time for a deep dive? These are my favorite places to stay in Adelaide for every travel type.
- Best Overall Hotel – Eos by SkyCity
- Best Luxury Hotel – Sofitel Adelaide
- Best for Families – Adina Apartment Hotel Adelaide Treasury
- Best for Business – Hilton Adelaide
- Best Boutique – Mount Lofty House Hotel
- Best Near the Beach – Oaks Glenelg Plaza Pier Suites
- Best Budget – Hotel Indigo Adelaide Markets, an IHG Hotel
- Best Resort – Sequoia Lodge
Now let’s move on to a deeper dive into the various neighborhoods in Adelaide and what you can expect.
Best 6 Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in Adelaide
1. Adelaide CBD
If you’ve never been to Adelaide before, you should definitely stay in the CBD during your first stay. This is where all the magic happens!
One of the best parts about Adelaide is that the city center is designed to be easily navigable.
The CBD is organized into a grid, bordered by the four main roads that are conveniently named North Terrace, East Terrace, South Terrace, and West Terrace.
Beyond these four roads are the city’s famous parklands, which provide Adelaide with much of its greenery. And then immediately after that are the city fringe areas, before you head out to the suburbs on all sides.
Within the grid, you have all the attractions and features of the city center. Here, you’ll find the business district where most firms and offices in the city operate. You’ll also find Adelaide’s major shopping outlets in Rundle Mall, which is home to department stores and a selection of specialty stores.
The CBD is the best area to stay in Adelaide for nightlife. Adelaide’s main nightlife strips are located in the CBD: namely Hindley Street (for nightclubs) on the city’s west end, Rundle Street (for bars and restaurants) on the east end, and Leigh and Peel Street in between, which host several cool bars and eateries.
The Adelaide CBD is home to most of the city’s hotels and is seconds away from the newly developed Riverbank Precinct and Adelaide Oval. This is where you can catch a game of AFL while you’re in town.
Adelaide Oval also holds other events throughout the year, including concerts from international touring artists. But even if there’s nothing on, the oval is an attraction in itself, and guests can climb to the top of the towering grandstands on a guided adventure.
If you’re trying to figure out where to stay in Adelaide with family, the CBD is a good option since it’s also close to museums, parks and playgrounds, Adelaide Zoo, and festivals held throughout the year.
There’s an ever-blossoming food scene in Adelaide, and many of the restaurants and eateries that should be on your bucket list are found right in the city center. Gouger Street, right off Chinatown and the Adelaide Central Markets, is one of the city’s best pockets for new restaurants.
Adelaide is smaller than its eastern counterparts, but the upside to this is that you can pretty much be anywhere in under an hour.
Base yourself in the CBD to explore the sights and attractions of the busy city center, and remember that the leafy Adelaide hills to the east and the white sandy beaches to the west are just a short drive away.
Adelaide CBD Mini Guide
The best area to stay in the Adelaide city center for first-timers, or those who want to be centrally located.
- Best Hotels — Eos by Skycity • Sofitel Adelaide • Oval Hotel, Adelaide
- Best Hostels — Hostel 109 Flashpackers • Adelaide Central YHA • Adelaide Travellers Inn
- Best Apartments — Apartment@96
- Where to Eat — Lucia’s Pizza & Spaghetti Bar – $ • Lantern by Nu – $$ • The Meat & Wine Co Adelaide – $$$
- Where To Drink — Maybe Mae • East End Cellars • Pink Moon Saloon
- Top Attractions — Rundle Mall • Nightlife: Leigh and Peel Street, Rundle Street, Hindley Street • Adelaide Central Markets • South Australian Museum • Art Gallery of South Australia • Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga • National Wine Center of South Australia • Adelaide Gaol • South Australian Migration Museum • Chinatown Adelaide • Bonython Park • SkyCity Adelaide • Government House • State Library of South Australia
2. North Adelaide
North Adelaide is located directly to (you guessed it!) the north of the CBD.
Just north of North Terrace, you’ll find the upgraded Riverbank Precinct, Adelaide Oval, and the Adelaide Zoo, while the Botanic Gardens lie just to the northeast. You could easily explore these areas on foot when staying in North Adelaide.
This area is rich in history, and a drive-through will showcase several stunning heritage homes that have often been in the same families for generations. North Adelaide is also home to iconic pubs and a variety of fabulous new restaurants.
O’Connell Street is a hub of nearly 50 different eateries, from the famous O’Connell Street Bakery to Tony Tomatoes Pizza. There’s also a strong coffee culture in North Adelaide, with a variety of cafes and brunch spots to choose from.
North Adelaide is on the fringe of the northern parklands, so this area tends to be busy with sports team practices, joggers, and dog owners. It’s also close to the Adelaide Aquatic Centre.
Rather than high-rise hotels, North Adelaide accommodation is made up of boutique hotels and apartments. Although I’d recommend the CBD itself for first-time visitors, North Adelaide is a great alternative for those who want a quieter vibe, while still being minutes away from the CBD.
If you are in town to watch a footy game, North Adelaide may be the best place to stay. It’s an easy walk into the oval and you won’t have to worry about the post-game commotion that taxi and Uber drivers often try to avoid!
North Adelaide Mini Guide
A cool and quiet suburb with loads of hip eateries and picturesque architecture, best for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the CBD.
- Best Hotels — Majestic Minima Hotel • Comfort Hotel Adelaide Meridien • Princes Lodge Motel
- Best Apartments — North Adelaide Boutique Stays Accommodation • Majestic Old Lion Apartments • Majestic M Suites
- Where to Eat — Gin Long Canteen $$ • Marrakech Restaurant $$ • Ruby Red Flamingo $$
- Where To Drink — The Lion Hotel • The Pink Pig Wine Bar • Stacked Social
- Top Attractions — Adelaide Chocolate School • The Piccadilly Cinemas • Adelaide Oval • Adelaide Zoo • Adelaide Botanic Gardens • Adelaide Aquatic Center • Adelaide Riverbank Precinct • O’Connell Street • Plant 4 Bowden
3. Western Beaches
The beaches of Adelaide lie to the west of the city, around 15 to 20 minutes from West Terrace. The western inner-city suburbs themselves are mostly suburban, with a few great restaurants and coffee shops within that are worth exploring if you’re in town for a longer stay.
If you are on your second or third visit to Adelaide during summer, you may want to base yourself in the western beach suburbs of Henley, West Beach, or Grange.
During the warmer months, these suburbs are packed with locals, both those who live nearby and those who come from the eastern side of the city to enjoy the beautiful beach culture of the west. These areas have restaurants, brunch spots, coffee shops, and a few bars and pubs.
The seaside suburbs still maintain the character and heritage they’ve held on to since the earliest days of Adelaide’s settlement, so you won’t find high-rise hotels and resorts here. Rather, the western beaches are home to caravan parks, holiday rental homes, apartment blocks, and Airbnbs’.
Adelaide lies on the edge of Gulf St Vincent, an inlet of water on Australia’s southern coast. This means that the local beaches face the gulf, rather than the open ocean. While that’s not great news for those dreaming of surfing up a storm while in Australia, it does mean that the beaches are mostly calm with tame waves and relatively little wind.
Typically, Adelaide beaches are family and dog friendly. The sun sets around 8:30 p.m. in summer, so you’ll have plenty of time to grab some fish and chips, go for a long walk on the beach, and then enjoy the wild colors of an Aussie sunset.
Western Beaches Mini Guide
Best for those visiting in summer who still want close access to the CBD and a range of beaches at their fingertips.
- Best Hotels — Ramsgate Hotel by Nightcap Social • Parador Inn • Big 4 West Beach Parks
- Best Apartments — Atlantic West Beach Apartments
- Where to Eat — Estia Restaurant – $$ • Blue Rose – $$ • HNLY – $$$
- Where To Drink — West Rooftop Bar • Bacchus Bar • Seamore’s
- Top Attractions — Henley Beach • Grange Beach • West Beach • Henley Square • AFL Max • Kooyonga Golf Club • West Beach • Mini Golf • West Beach Adventure Park
Still along the western coast of the beachline, you’ll find the popular suburb of Glenelg to the south. I’d recommend staying here if you’ve already been to Adelaide a few times and are familiar with the city center, or if you’re just interested in a lazy beach vacation.
Glenelg is one of Adelaide’s most popular beaches, so be prepared for crowds here during the summer. However, you can beat the masses by staying in the area and heading to the beach early, or staying late. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights in summer will attract hordes of people, but the weeknights are quieter.
Running off Glenelg Beach is the iconic Jetty Road strip. Here lies a collection of restaurants, bars, and ice creameries. It’s not an Adelaide summer until you head to Glenelg on a balmy Saturday night and grab a waffle cone ice cream dipped in melted chocolate (although be prepared to line up for it!).
Glenelg has a little more in the way of accommodation than the beachside suburbs closer to the city center and is home to one of the most iconic hotels in Adelaide: The Stamford Grand. But you can also choose from a selection of newer apartments, all with amazing views of the ocean.
Glenelg is directly connected to the CBD by tram and bus. It’s also around 10 to 15 minutes away from the airport, which is also located in the western suburbs.
Glenelg Mini Guide
An iconic and historic beachside suburb in Adelaide’s southwest, and possibly the best place to stay in Adelaide near the beach. It’s ideal for those looking for a summer escape with an action-packed vibe.
- Best Hotels — Stamford Grand Adelaide • Adelaide International Motel • Ensenada Motor Inn & Suites
- Best Apartments — Oaks Glenelg Plaza Pier Suites • Oaks Glenelg Liberty Suites
- Where to Eat — Capriccio – $$ • Cardone’s – $$ • Sammy’s on the Marina – $$$
- Where To Drink — Marina Sunset Bar • The Moseley • Pier Bar
- Top Attractions — Glenelg Beach • Brighton Beach • Jetty Road • Bay Discovery Center • Moseley Beach Club • Glenelg Visitor Information • The Beachhouse Amusement Center • Temptation Sailing Wild Dolphin Tour
5. Southern City Fringe
The area directly south of the Adelaide CBD, known as the southern city fringe, is a good alternative to staying in the CBD if you’re familiar with the city and after a quieter getaway. It’s a quick walk, bus ride, or drive into the city, and you’ll also have the historic suburbs of Hyde Park and Unley at your fingertips.
Both suburbs boast a variety of restaurants, particularly along Hyde Park’s prestigious King William Road area. From Nido Pasta Bar to Samurai Teppanyaki House, there’s no shortage of world-class eateries to enjoy, along with several specialty shopping stores.
A number of businesses in Adelaide operate from this area, along with the eastern city fringe, so it’s a good idea to stay here if you’re in town for work. The area is also home to the Adelaide Showgrounds, where many events are held throughout the year.
The other major advantage to staying in the southern city fringe is that it’s closer to South Australia’s southern wine country and the coastal attractions of the Fleurieu Peninsula.
If you’re planning a day trip out to McLaren Vale or Victor Harbor, the Southern Expressway will take you there in under half an hour. It’s also not far from the South-Eastern Freeway, which will take you to the Adelaide Hills.
There’s not as much choice as far as accommodation goes in the southern city fringe, but you can still find a few good apartment options and motor inns, plus some Airbnbs’.
Southern City Fringe Mini Guide
Quiet and convenient, this area is great for returning visitors to Adelaide or those in town on business.
- Best Hotels — HotelMOTEL Adelaide Arkaba Hotel • The Osmond Hotel & Apartments
- Best Apartments — La Loft Apartments
- Where to Eat — Antica Pizzeria e Cucina – $$ • Godi La Vita – $$$ • Samurai Teppankyaki House – $$$
- Where To Drink — Amor Wine Tapas Cocktails • Dolly • The Unley
- Top Attractions — King William Road • Victoria Park • Adelaide Himeji Garden • Unley Museum • Haigh’s Chocolate Factory • Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers Market
6. Adelaide Hills
This region is one of South Australia’s greatest highlights. It’s around 40 minutes from the CBD and easily accessible via the South-Eastern Freeway, so you should definitely consider staying here if you’re interested in seeing Adelaide’s more rural side.
The Adelaide Hills, which border the city to the southeast, bring fresh air, national and wildlife parks, orchards, abundant greenery rich in native Australian plants, and several cultural attractions.
There are several townships in the Adelaide Hills, one of the most iconic being the German settlement of Hahndorf.
The town is definitely worth a visit if you don’t base yourself here, providing a unique mix of quaint Australian rural architecture and European culture. If you would like to stay here, there are several inns and rentals available. I’d recommend visiting at Christmas, when they hold their iconic Christkindlmarkt.
Scattered elsewhere throughout the hills are secluded retreats and farm stays that offer phenomenal views. Choose from villas looking over vineyards, lavish manors with castle-like architecture, and cottages and B&Bs just steps away from troops of kangaroos.
Accommodation in the Adelaide Hills can be expensive, but you also have more affordable options, such as the humble lodging often attached to pubs in towns like Stirling or Crafers.
There are bus services that connect the major townships of the Adelaide Hills with the Adelaide CBD, but if you want to plan your own itinerary or reach more remote attractions, the best mode of transport is driving.
Rental cars are readily available in Adelaide, but ensure that you’re familiar and comfortable with South Australian road rules. You could also rely on a taxi or Uber service to get to and around the hills, but keep in mind that these services are limited the further into the hills you go.
Adelaide Hills Mini Guide
This mecca of wineries, historic townships, and cultural attractions is best for those looking to experience Adelaide’s rural side.
- Best Hotels — Mount Lofty Hotel • Sequoia Lodge • The Studios by Haus, Ascend Collection
- Best Apartments — Hahndorf Oak Tree Cottages • Grandview Accommodation – The Elm Tree Apartments • Sticky Rice Villas
- Where to Eat — The Lane Vineyard – $$ • Lost in a Forest – $$ • Hardy’s Verandah – $$$
- Where To Drink — Bridgewater Inn • The Crafers Hotel • Adelaide Hills Wine Bar
- Top Attractions — Hahndorf Main Street • Beerenberg Family Farm • Melba’s Chocolate Factory • Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens • Cleland Wildlife Park • Gorge Wildlife Park • Stirling Laneways • National Motor Museum • Mount Lofty Summit • The Big Rocking Horse • Heysen – The Cedars • Gatekeepers Day Spa • Monarto Zoo • Jurlique Farm • Brayfield Park Lavender Farm
FAQs About Where to Stay in Adelaide
Where are the best beaches in Adelaide?
All the beaches in Adelaide are located to the west of the CBD. The most popular beaches are Henley, Glenelg, Grange, and West Beach, but you can also visit Semaphore to Adelaide’s northwest, or Brighton to the southwest.
If you are prepared for a bit of driving on the Southern Expressway, you can visit some more secluded and rural beaches along the Gulf St Vincent. Among the most popular are Aldinga Beach, Seaford, Moana, and Carrickalinga.
These beaches typically feature bigger waves and more space. There are few cafes and hotels in these areas, but they are extremely popular during the summer holidays, or on select holidays throughout the year, like Australia Day or the Easter weekend.
You can also bring your car onto some of these beaches, which makes hauling everything you need for a day at the beach much easier!
When is the best time to visit Adelaide?
The best time to visit Adelaide depends on what you want to get out of your trip. If you want to enjoy iconic Australian beach culture and plan on staying at the western beaches or at Glenelg, summer is a good time to visit.
The end of December and most of January are the busiest times of year in Adelaide because kids are on school holidays, so the beaches will always be full of people at this time. If you do want to stay at one of the Adelaide beaches in December or January, be prepared to book your accommodation up to a year in advance.
Visiting in February or March is a better option because school has started again and most workplaces around the city are back into full swing, so the beaches will likely be less busy. “Mad March” is also a great time to visit Adelaide because it’s when several annual events are held in the city.
The Adelaide Fringe is one of the world’s most renowned arts festivals, and the biggest of its kind in Australia. From mid-February to mid-March, the Garden of Unearthly Delights is set up in the eastern parklands of the CBD and serves as a hub of various shows from international artists, from musicians to comedians to stage actors.
As part of the Fringe, there are live shows held all over Adelaide, across the CBD and the outer suburbs. Many restaurants hold special gastronomic events to make the most of the increased foot traffic, and you can also look forward to street parties and markets.
If you visit Adelaide in March, you’ll also be in town at the same time as the WOMADelaide music festival, the Adelaide Cup horse race, and the Adelaide Writers’ Week literary festival. The city is alive, the crowds are out, and the weather is pleasant as autumn sets in, making this one of the best times to visit the City of Churches.
What is the best area to stay in Adelaide?
For those visiting Adelaide for the first time, staying in the CBD is your best bet. It’s the most central location and is closest to the most attractions, as well as public transport options. The city center is also easy to navigate so it’s great for getting your bearings.
The exception would be if you’re coming to Adelaide purely to enjoy the beaches, in which case you should opt for the western beachside suburbs or Glenelg. And if you want to plan your trip around the more rural attractions in the city’s east, you’ll want to stay in the Adelaide Hills.
How do I get from the airport to my accommodation?
The most common and direct way to get from the airport to your accommodation in Adelaide is by taxi. There’s a taxi rank right outside the Arrivals area of the airport. Unlike airports in bigger cities, Adelaide Airport is relatively small and very easy to find your way around.
The Adelaide Metro bus service also connects Adelaide Airport to the CBD, Glenelg, and West Beach, and you can purchase tickets at the airport as you leave the terminal.
There is also a shuttle bus that operates daily from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. on weekends). This will take you from the airport directly to a number of hotels in the city for a small fee of $10 per person.
Various car rental companies also operate out of Adelaide Airport. The drive to the city is around 15 minutes.
Is Adelaide walkable?
For a visiting traveler staying in a central location, Adelaide is very walkable.
The city itself is very flat, so walking doesn’t require a lot of exertion (as an Adelaide local, it’s always a shock when you go somewhere like Edinburgh, San Francisco, or even Sydney and realize that other places aren’t so flat!). Most of the attractions in the CBD are also within walking distance.
The beaches and the hills aren’t within walking distance from the city center, so your best option would be to drive yourself or use public transport.
Several convenient bus lines leave directly from the city, and the tram service will also take you straight to Glenelg from the CBD. Taxis and ride-sharing services are also readily available in Adelaide.
Is Adelaide a bike city?
You’ll see many cyclists in Adelaide making use of the bike lanes that exist alongside the roads. Adelaide is probably around the middle of the scale when it comes to bike-friendly cities. An increasing number of cyclists appear on the roads, and there are more rules to protect them than you’d find in some cities.
However, Adelaide’s still not as bike-friendly as cities like Amsterdam or Helsinki. You do still get drivers who don’t follow or respect the rules, but most drivers are accommodating of cyclists.
There’s a popular bike track worth using called the Mike Turtur Bikeway that straddles the River Torrens and takes you through the heart of the CBD to Glenelg Beach.
If you are a cycling enthusiast or want to cycle while in Adelaide, the best time to visit is January, when the Santos Tour Down Under cycling festival is typically held. Around this time, there are many more cyclists around the Adelaide streets.
So, Where Should You Stay in Adelaide?
- Adelaide CBD
- North Adelaide
- Western Beaches
- Southern City Fringe
- Adelaide Hills
Adelaide is an often overlooked Australian destination with a wonderful selection of areas to stay in. In some cases, there are only minutes between the areas I recommend basing yourself in because many attractions in the city are so central.
Wherever you choose to stay, it’s easy to get around Adelaide with a car or public transport, and with only around 1.5 million people living here, getting through traffic is a breeze compared to some of the busier Australian cities.