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Best Things To Do in Adelaide

Adelaide's activities and attractions draw in a wide array of travelers. The city offers superb shopping (Rundle Mall), abundant wildlife and nature sanctuaries (Adelaide Botanic Garden, Kangaroo Island and Waterfall Gully) and a plethora of cultural activities (the South Australian Museum and the Art Gallery of South Australia). But a trip to Adelaide is all about the top-notch cuisine and wine. For a free glimpse into Adelaide's food culture, peruse the stalls found at the Adelaide Central Market. Then, travel outside the city to wine regions like McLaren Vale and Barossa.

How we rank Things to Do

Updated September 9, 2017

  • #1
    Things to do in Adelaide
    View all Photos
    #1 in Adelaide
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Adelaide Botanic Garden offers eight gardens, a wetland and a forest, as well as architectural marvels like the Bicentennial Conservatory and the Santos Museum of Economic Botany. Noteworthy features include the Garden of Health (an area devoted to plants with healing properties) and the Little Sprouts Kitchen Garden (where kids can learn about fruits, vegetables and herbs).

    The 124-acre Adelaide Botanic Garden regularly woos visitors with its tranquil atmosphere and well-maintained landscaping. But if you really want to relax while in this city sanctuary, travelers recommend bringing a blanket and food for a picnic on one of the lawns. Also, save some time to admire the Palm House and the Bicentennial Conservatory's architecture. The former is a restored Victorian glasshouse from Germany, while the latter is the Southern Hemisphere's largest single-span conservatory.

  • #2
    Barossa
    View all Photos
    #2 in Adelaide
    Cafes, Wineries/Breweries, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Cafes, Wineries/Breweries, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Adelaide boasts an array of top-notch wine regions, but for some of Australia's best vino, visit Barossa. Located about 40 miles northeast of the central business district, Barossa features more than 150 wineries, as well as multiple farm-to-table eateries and two farmers markets. Family-friendly activities like cycling and hot air balloon rides are also available.

    Barossa's vineyards are the highlight of a visit to this region. Recent travelers suggested checking out Château Tanunda, Rockford Barossa and Murray Street Vineyards, citing the beautiful grounds, delicious wines and knowledgeable tour guides as reasons to plan a visit. Barossa is famous for its shiraz and riesling, but local vineyards make other varieties like grenache and cabernet sauvignon as well. For those in search of nonalcoholic activities, try a hot air balloon ride with Barossa Balloon Adventures or Barossa Valley Ballooning. One-hour flights are available every day at sunrise and cost 300 Australian dollars ($227) per adult and AU$195 to AU$240 (approximately $148 to $182) for each child.

  • #3
    McLaren Vale
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    #3 in Adelaide
    Beaches, Wineries/Breweries, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Wineries/Breweries, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    To see where South Australia's famous wine industry began, head 25 miles south of Adelaide to McLaren Vale. Roughly 65 wineries call this region home, where grapes have been turned into shiraz, grenache, cabernet and more since the first vines were planted in 1838. Travelers will also find six white-sand beaches, two walking and biking trails, five art galleries and a farm-to-table food scene that includes locally produced olive oil, fresh produce and an array of cheeses and chocolates in McLaren Vale.

    For some of the region's best vino, previous travelers recommend stopping by Old Oval Estate, d'Arenberg Wines and Primo Estate. Oenophiles rave about the cheese platters and wines available at Old Oval Estate, while Primo Estate and d'Arenberg Wines are great for tours and tastings. "The Blending Bench" class at d'Arenberg Wines, an interactive experience that involves blending and bottling a sample of shiraz, is especially popular with former visitors. It costs 70 Australian dollars ($53) per person.

  • #4
    Kangaroo Island
    View all Photos
    #4 in Adelaide
    Beaches, Hiking, Recreation, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Hiking, Recreation, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Situated 130 miles southwest of Adelaide, this lush island features 316 miles of coastline and more than 24 protected areas. Animals commonly found on Kangaroo Island include koalas, sea lions and an array of birds. Hikers will appreciate the 23-plus trails nestled throughout the island, while adrenaline junkies can explore the area by kayak, bike, horse or all-terrain vehicle. What's more, you can climb a lighthouse, dive near shipwrecks and sample local specialties like honey and marron (Australia's version of a lobster).

    According to recent visitors, must-do Kangaroo Island activities include hiking and spotting seals at Flinders Chase National Park; sipping locally made liquors at Kangaroo Island Spirits; and taking an ATV tour of the area. However, some bemoaned the long driving times to reach certain parts of the island. To avoid tacking on additional travel time for attractions after an hours-long drive from Adelaide, consider staying a night or two at one of the island's hotels.

  • #5
    Adelaide Central Market
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    #5 in Adelaide
    Cafes, Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Cafes, Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you enjoy sampling local cuisine, a visit to the Adelaide Central Market is a must. This sprawling market – which has serviced Adelaide's residents and tourists since 1869 – features more than 80 vendors selling everything from seafood and meat to produce, cheeses and baked goods. An array of cafes serving sushi, pizza, juices and more are also located on-site.

    Former travelers raved about the Adelaide Central Market, describing it as a must-visit destination for foodies. Popular stalls include The Smelly Cheese Shop and Mushroom Man's Mushroom Shop, while eateries like Le Souk and The Latvian Lunchroom serve must-try ethnic dishes like Merguez sausages (spicy sausages commonly made with goat or lamb) and Latvian pirags (soft baked pastries with a bacon, onion and pepper filling). However, some Canadian visitors caution that you may feel slightly underwhelmed by the market's offerings if you've been to the ones found in Toronto and Vancouver. Another downside: The Adelaide Central Market is not open on Sundays or Mondays.

  • #6
    Waterfall Gully
    View all Photos
    #6 in Adelaide
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Waterfall Gully is the largest of seven waterfalls situated in Cleland Conservation Park. At this popular outdoor attraction, photographers can snap jaw-dropping photos while fitness buffs traverse the nearly 3-mile-long Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty Summit path, a challenging hiking trail that starts at the base of the waterfall. Hikers report occasionally spotting kangaroos, echidna and koalas here as well.

    Visitors describe Waterfall Gully as an "oasis in Adelaide" that's well worth seeing. Many appreciate hiking around the area, though some caution that parking is limited by the trailhead. To snag a prime spot, arrive at sunrise when the park opens. Also, consider skipping this attraction's hiking trail if you're not in the best physical shape.

  • #7
    South Australian Museum
    View all Photos
    #7 in Adelaide
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    For a bit of science and history during your stay in Adelaide, consider visiting the South Australian Museum. An Egyptian mummy, animal fossils, Pacific islander artifacts and aboriginal boomerangs are just some of the items found in the museum's permanent collection. Rotating exhibits, which have included animal prints by Francisco José de Goya, opals and award-winning flora and fauna photographs, are also on display inside.

    This free museum is a hit with travelers, especially those with children. The facility offers a welcome respite from the sun and features many informative displays. Plus, kids can participate in storytelling sessions hosted by the Young explorers program and hunt for hidden compartments that are spread throughout the museum's galleries. A few areas, though, appeared a bit dated or repetitive, according to some visitors.

  • #8
    Art Gallery of South Australia
    View all Photos
    #8 in Adelaide
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Tucked between the South Australian Museum and the Museum of Classical Archaeology in the central business district, the Art Gallery of South Australia houses one of Australia's largest art collections, with approximately 38,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs, ceramics and more. Standout pieces include works by Renoir, Claude Lorrain and Napier Waller.

    Travelers rave about the Australian art displayed in this museum. Though some say the attraction itself is small, most agree its collection is top-notch. To take in all the property has to offer, visitors suggest joining one of the free collection tours led by the museum's friendly and informative staff members. These tours last about an hour and are offered at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily. Also, many recommend paying to see the property's temporary exhibits.

  • #9
    Adelaide Oval
    View all Photos
    #9 in Adelaide
    Sports
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sports
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Adelaide Oval is Adelaide's primary sports and entertainment venue. The stadium – which is located just north of the city center – hosts cricket, soccer and rugby matches seasonally, as well as various concerts. Available facilities include a restaurant; food, drink and merchandise concessions; restrooms; and a free museum dedicated to Sir Donald Bradman (an Australian cricket icon).

    Many Aussies say the Adelaide Oval is Australia's best sports venue, thanks in part to its convenient locale and mix of historical charm and modern design. Sports fans will likely enjoy watching a match here, but for even more information about the stadium's sports roots, many suggest joining a guided tour. Depending on when you visit, tours provide background on Australian Rules Football (AFL) – the rugby style most commonly played in South Australia – or cricket. Travelers rave about the tours, describing them as "fantastic" with informative and passionate guides.

  • #10
    Rundle Mall
    View all Photos
    #10 in Adelaide
    Cafes, Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Cafes, Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    This mall – which is made up of 15 buildings and plazas – is the longest and one of the busiest found in Australia. You'll have access to the city's best shops here, including David Jones, Jay Jays, Ted Baker London and Haigh's Chocolates. Plus, Rundle Mall is home to a variety of restaurants, food concession stands, grocery stores and banks, so you can grab a quick bite or exchange currency while taking a shopping break.

    Previous shoppers praised Rundle Mall's diverse selection and friendly staff, although some said this mall was a bit of a letdown after visiting those found in Sydney and Melbourne. If you want a more unique experience, stop by during Adelaide Festival in March when comedians, magicians, dancers and circus artists perform on-site. You'll rub elbows with more tourists at this time, but many visitors said the street performances were top-notch.

  • #11
    Adelaide Zoo
    View all Photos
    #11 in Adelaide
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Located approximately halfway between the Adelaide Oval and Adelaide Botanic Garden, the Adelaide Zoo gives families and animal lovers alike an opportunity to spot unique Aussie creatures, including echidnas, red kangaroos, koalas, wombats and Tasmanian devils. But travelers can do more than ogle at the zoo's critters. Experiences like feeding giraffes, holding meerkats and zoo sleepovers are also offered (for extra fees).

    According to prior visitors, the Adelaide Zoo is a great attraction for kids. Many recommend feeding the animals at the children's zoo for 2 Australian dollars (approximately $1.50), running around at the playground and watching the zoo's resident pandas. Travelers also appreciated the high level of care given to the animals, as well as the reasonable entrance fees and knowledgeable zookeepers, though some said areas of the property could use a refresh.

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