Top things to do in Adelaide

Adelaide is quickly becoming the lifestyle capital of Australia. Once considered a sleepy city, Adelaide is undergoing a rapid transformation with a burgeoning small-bar scene, world-class art and music, and a festival calendar to rival that of any other Australian city. Discover its laneway secrets, take in the stunning flora at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, and find delicious treats around every bend.
Top things to do in Adelaide

Top things to do in Adelaide

Drink and dine in laneway bars

In the city center, Adelaide’s laneways and side streets are being transformed with hidden bars and eateries. Along Peel Street enjoy a whiskey at Clever Little Tailor or espresso martini at La Moka. Hains & Co is a sailor-themed bar tucked down Gilbert Place, specializing in gin and rum. One of Adelaide’s hottest bars, Proof, can be found on Anster Street, which pairs classic cocktails with tasty share plates and gourmet toasted sandwiches. Underground bar Bank Street Social is the go-to for local craft beer and Australian spirits, while La Buvette Drinkery serves French apéritifs with a side of escargot. Get your caffeine hit at Coffee Branch on Leigh Street, and dine on playful, modern Australian cuisine at Peel St.

Sample fresh produce at Adelaide Central Market

Savor South Australia’s rich bounty of produce – farm-fresh fruit and vegetables, artisan cheeses, smoked meats, and seafood – at Adelaide Central Market. For more than 140 years, the undercover market has been the epicenter for Adelaide’s food scene. Start with a coffee at Fair Espresso and freshly baked pastries at Dough. Sample the local cheeses at Say Cheese and hard-to-find international cheese at The Smelly Cheese Shop. Drop by Island Pure, which brings together more than 25 producers from Kangaroo Island, and stocks small-batch gin, flavored oils, honey, and sticky figs. To discover the best of the market, join Mark Gleeson’s early morning walking tour, during which you’ll enjoy generous tastings and meet the people behind the stalls.

Stroll along North Terrace

Visit Adelaide’s tree-lined boulevard, North Terrace, home to the city’s most important cultural institutions. Housed in one of Adelaide’s most beautiful buildings, the Art Gallery of South Australia features a collection of more than 38,000 works spanning Australian, European, North American and Asian art. Delve into Australia’s natural and cultural heritage at the neighboring South Australian Museum. From here it’s a 20-minute stroll to the Botanic Gardens, where you can wander among thousands of species of roses, and see three impressive glasshouses including the exquisite 1877-built Palm House. If you’re traveling with kids don’t miss the Adelaide Zoo, home to native Australian wildlife including koalas, Australia sea lions, and kangaroos. If you love cricket, join a guided tour of Adelaide Oval, which takes you into the ground’s inner sanctum. Afterward, visit the Bradman Collection, a private collection of memorabilia from Australia’s great Sir Donald Bradman.

Go shopping

Explore Adelaide’s East End at Rundle Street. Originally home to Adelaide’s central market, the area is undergoing a retail renaissance with fashion boutiques – including Australian designers Gorman, Zimmermann and M.J. Bale – and specialty stores attracting the city’s style set. Find major department stores at Rundle Mall, shop for homewares along Norwood Parade and visit nearby Magill Road for art and antiques.

Relax on the beach

When the mercury rises, head to one of Adelaide’s many popular ocean beaches. Catch the 25-minute tram from Rundle Mall to Glenelg, a bustling beachside neighborhood with heritage hotels, alfresco cafés, and a white sandy beach. For the ultimate retro beach experience, drive 14 kilometers (9 miles) south of Adelaide to Semaphore, where you can walk along the esplanade, tuck into fish and chips or swim in its sheltered waters. Kids will love its historic carousel with 40 handcrafted wooden horses. If you’re looking to hit the surf, both novices and experienced surfers are catered for on the Fleurieu Peninsula, a 45-minute drive south of Adelaide.

Visit the festivals

Adelaide is recognized as one of the best festival cities in the world, with many of the state’s biggest festivals falling during February and March. It’s the time of Adelaide Festival, WOMADelaide and Adelaide Fringe, which celebrate the arts and music by bringing world-class entertainment to venues across Adelaide. Adelaide Festival presents a mix of internationally acclaimed theatre, music, dance, and visual arts, and has been delighting audiences for more than 50 years. As part of the Adelaide Festival, WOMADelaide transforms the beautiful inner-city Botanic Park for a four-day celebration of music, art, and dance from across the globe. It also hosts the popular Planet Talks environmental discussions series and Tastes the World food and cooking demonstrations. Adelaide Fringe presents an eclectic program covering everything from cabaret to comedy and circus. During the festival, more than 900 events are staged in pop-up venues in laneways, warehouses, and parks, as well as established theatres, hotels, and galleries.

Head for the hills

Spend a day or two exploring the Adelaide Hills, one of Australia’s top cool-climate wine regions. Drop into some of the region’s 60 wineries such as Hahndorf Hill, which is pioneering the Austrian grape varieties of Bläufrankisch, Grüner Veltliner, Zweigelt, and St Laurent, or Bird in Hand, renowned for its award-winning Shiraz. Afterward enjoy a leisurely lunch at The Lane Vineyard, dining on dishes such as crispy pork belly and Hereford 40-plus days dry aged striploin, at its hilltop dining room. If you’re visiting on the weekend, don’t miss the Adelaide Hills Farmers’ Market for a taste of fresh, seasonal and local produce. Stay overnight in quaint country cottages or drive an easy 30 minutes back to central Adelaide.

How to get there

International and domestic flights arrive at Adelaide Airport, which is a 15-minute drive from the city center or 25 minutes via public bus. There is also a door-to-door shuttle service from the airport to city hotels.

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