Top 5 things to do in Adelaide

Got a few days in Adelaide and not sure what to do during your time there?

To help you out we’ve put together this list of what we think are the Top 5 must-dos while you’re in Adelaide and you can download our FREE Top 5 guide here.

Adelaide is a city known for its rolling, vineyard dotted hills that spill into the sea and also as a vibrant city small enough to make getting around super easy, but large enough that there is something for everyone.  Unlike many other Australian cities, Adelaide was ‘planned’ from the start with grid like streets surrounded by park lands.

You can easily spend a day walking around the city where you’ll find plenty of cafés and restaurants, interesting nooks and crannies to explore but you won’t want to miss out on some of Adelaide’s hidden jewels. So here’s what we think are the Top 5 must do’s while you are there:

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North Terrace Cultural Precinct. Photographer Adam Bruzzone, image courtesy SA Tourism

  1. Take a wander along North Terrace

North Terrace is one of four terraces that bound the CBD of Adelaide and theoretically it’s part of the Adelaide Park lands. It has an interesting mix of historic and newer buildings and is a nice walk to take on a sunny day and learn about the stories behind its buildings.  It’s also easy to see along here, why Adelaide is known as the ‘City of the Churches’. Each of these following places are worthy visits in their own right:

  • North Terrace East
    Learn about the East End of North Terrace
  • Government House
    Peer over the fence to see South Australians Governors home
  • Institute Building
    This building was the first home to many of North Terraces cultural institutions
  • State Library of South Australia
    Visit South Australia’s largest library and step back in time and feel like you are walking into Hogwarts!
  • Migration Museum
    A brief detour off of North Terrace to learn about migration and settlement history
  • South Australian Museum
    Explore the extensive collections of the south Australian Museum
  • Art Gallery of South Australia
    Art Gallery founded in 1881 has a magnificent collection of old and new
  • The University of Adelaide
    The university has fascinating historic buildings and collections
  • Adelaide Botanic Gardens
    The perfect place to rest after a long walk, or explore more history
  1. Adelaide Botanic Gardens

Rich in history, these gardens opened to the public in October 1857 and has been established and planted over the ensuing years. While you are there you can immerse yourself in the beauty and diversity of plants across Australia and around the world. Spend as much or as little time as you want in the 50 hectares of magnificently maintained gardens and stunning architecture.

In among the beautifully landscaped gardens, you’ll discover majestic avenues leading to stunning architecture such as:

  • The Bicentennial Conservatory (the largest singles span glasshouse in the southern hemisphere and home to a number of endangered rainforest plants),
  • Palm House built in 1877 it features a fascinating collection of plants from the ancient island of Madagascar and is one of the last of its kind remaining in the world.
  • Amazon Waterlily Pavilion which is an exquisite glass palace for a jewel of the natural world – the Victoria amazonica waterlily with its interpretive gallery exploring the unique forms of the waterlily
  • Santos Museum of Economic Botany with its classical Greek-style exterior, featuring high ceilings, ornate Victorian details and historic cabinet displays

The gardens also have free guided tours taking in the history and significant planting of the park but if a guided tour is not your thing, grab yourself a map from the Information Centre and explore for yourself.

If you don’t take a picnic with you, you’ll be able to grab yourself refreshments at either the Botanic Gardens Restaurant, Café Fibonacci and Simpson Kiosk.

Open Monday – Friday 07:15, weekends and public holidays 09:00 until 17:30 – 19:00 depending on what time of the year it is. Check out their website to get a hold of the most up to date information at www.environment.sa.gov.au/botanicgardens

  1. Adelaide Zoo

If you make it to the Botanical Gardens, then you’re only a stone’s throw away from Adelaide Zoo. This zoo is Australia’s second oldest zoo and like other leading zoos in Australia is operated on a not-for-profit basis. It is home to over 1800 animals from all over the world, including over 300 native and exotic species.

The zoo has daily presentations and talks (tiger, pelicans and penguins) with scheduled sea lion, hippo and lion feeds throughout the week. Popular exhibits here re the two Giant Pandas Wang Wang and Funi from China. They also have a children’s zoo where the kids can pet over 120 animals (for example kangaroo’s, quokkas, goats, koalas and cows)

Opening hours are 09:30 – 17:00 daily and is located just north of the CBD (north west of the Botanic Gardens)

  1. Adelaide Central Market

One of Australia’s largest fresh produce market providing a wide range of fresh and multi-cultural products. Grab yourself some locally grown fresh produce, clothing and souvenirs. Established in 1869, the market has been a thriving hub of food and culture for over 145 years. Incidentally, it is Australia’s oldest continually running market and was initially started as eight carts full of produce from local market gardeners.

Located conveniently in the heart of Adelaide CBD, it’s a great place to experience cultural diversity and has a great many places to grab yourself a bite to eat, enjoy a coffee, sit back, relax and people watch.  We highly recommend popping by here.

Trading Hours (the market is generally closed on bank holidays)

Monday CLOSED
Tuesday 07:00 – 17:30
Wednesday 09:00 – 17:30
Thursday 09:00 – 17:30
Friday 07:00 – 21:00
Saturday 07:00 – 15:00
Sunday CLOSED

  1. You don’t have to be an avid football or cricket fan to enjoy a trip to Adelaide Oval

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The Oval, Adelaide. Photographer John Montessi, image courtesy of Adelaide Oval SMA Ltd

This place is a hive of activity outside of football and cricket, so you might find it an interesting place to visit. They provide Oval tours where you can go behind closed doors and discover hidden secrets on its iconic heritage, access restricted areas and take in the grounds and they also house the Bradman Collection, which is a world class exhibition to an Australian Legend Sir Donald Bradman, who is said to be the greatest batsman in the history of cricket, which is on display at the newly developed purpose built museum.

In addition to this you can also have an unforgettable experience in the Roof Climb. Watch the sun set over Adelaide and the city is bathed in a magical twilight glow, or make the journey during the day with views stretching out to the Adelaide Hills on one side and the coast on the other! The Roof Climb takes approximately 2 hours, it’s a guided experience with comprehensive health and safety briefing.

If this takes your fancy, it’s worth getting in touch with them before you go to check to see what’s on and book if you are interested in the Oval Tour or the Roof Climb. Contact details (08) 8211 1100

We can’t stop at 5 highlights as there are so many more things to do while you are here, so in addition to the Top 5, we have suggested a few more things to consider while you are in this city.

adelaide-hills-winery

Pike & Joyce Adelaide Hills, SA. Photographer Adam Bruzzone, image courtesy SA Tourism

Adelaide Free Bikes: You can grab a bike from one of 20 locations around the city and North Adelaide. To grab a bike with a helmet and bike lock for free, just provide a form of identification. Details: http://www.bikesa.asn.au/AdelaideFreeBikes. We suggest getting a bike at the Torrens Lake weir and take a leisurely bike ride around the lake while soaking up the sights of Adelaide

Wander the weekend Markets: Adelaide is a hive of activity when it comes to markets. There are weekend markets, week day markets, twilight markets, farmer’s markets, vintage markets, in fact pretty much anything you can think of markets! Be sure to check out Gilles Street Market which runs on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month, Wayville Farmers Market which runs every Sunday, there’s also the Market Shed on Holland every Sunday and there’s Flinders Street Markets on Saturdays and Sundays. You’re certainly spoiled for choice!

Heading out of the City there are certainly more diverse things to go and see. Adelaide is famous for its world-class wine regions: the Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley, Coonawarra…..to name but a few!

These wine regions surround the capital, making day tours from Adelaide through the regions easy and enjoyable. Choose one of the many wine tours leaving the CBD or venture out in your own camper and head off on your own adventure through the cellar doors. Just be sure to have a designated driver!

torrens-river-adelaide

Torrens River, Adelaide. Photographer Adam Bruzzone, image courtesy SA Tourism

Stroll the River Torrens: The River Torrens run through the heart of Adelaide. You’ll find lots of meandering pathways for walking or cycling, strewn with picnic-ready grassy knolls and alfresco dining eateries dotted along the way.

Cleland Conservation Park (National Parks South Australia): a short 20-minute drive south-east of Adelaide is the Cleland Conservation Park which features the Cleland Wildlife Park, Mt Lofty Summit and the scenic Waterfall Gully. You can explore the national park using the extensive network of walking and cycling trails. However, at time of print, there is part closure of Waterfall Gully to Mt Lofty Walking trail so it’ll be worth checking ahead of time what the suggested alternative routes are. Don’t let this put you off though as this is truly a spectacular national park and is worth the visit.

Useful Information

Adelaide Visitor Information T. 1300 588 140

Email: visitor@adelaidecitycouncil.com

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 09:00-17:00, Saturday/Sunday 10:00-16:00. Public holidays 11:00-15:00.

Parking in and around Adelaide

The majority of the CBD is city meter parking and you’ll pay per half hour. Most of the inner city spaces are suitable for cars only unless you want to take up to spaces with a motorhome but then you’ll need to be mindful of the width of the vehicle. We wouldn’t advise it.

The best parking spots for a campervan around the city are:

  • South Terrace heading to East Terrace and vice versa down in the south east corner of the CBD
  • In between South Terrace and Greenhill Road (A21) along ‘Hutt Road’
  • Just north of the CBD along ‘War Memorial Drive’ (near the Oval),
  • A little further north of the CBD along Strangways Terrace,

Be sure to grab yourself a local map of the area and check out these ideal parking spots!

If you are looking at campervan hire for the Adelaide area, check out our Travel Routes which provide details on things to see and do depending on which way you’re heading out of the city.

Don’t forget to get in touch if you have any questions.