South Australia’s capital city Adelaide is well worth putting on your list of places to visit in Australia. It’s surrounded by parklands and has space and room to breathe, which you don’t get in Melbourne and Sydney.
Adelaide offers travellers a great experience whether you’re looking for an Aussie beach holiday, want to see kangaroos and koalas, or try some of Australia’s best wines. It has a friendly and laid back vibe.
There are accommodation options from five-star hotels to hostels. There are even campgrounds within 15 minutes from the city centre. For families or solo travellers, Adelaide is an excellent destination for exploring a part of Australia many visitors overlook.
One of the great things about Adelaide is there are a lot of attractions right in the middle of town. Better still, many of them are free. Along North Terrace, you can visit the South Australian Museum of Natural History. Right next door is the Art Gallery of South Australia. It is not hard to spend a day walking around these two beautiful old sandstone buildings.
Further along North Terrace, you’ll get to the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. As you walk the grounds or relax under a giant 100-year-old Morton Bay fig tree, don’t worry if you think you can hear lions roaring. The Adelaide Zoo is right next door to the Botanic Gardens.
You’ll have to pay to get into the zoo, but it is a great place to spend a day. The primate exhibits, bird show, and petting zoo are all very popular. However, the stars of the zoo are the two panda bears. Between the state of the art animal-friendly exhibits and the garden setting, the zoo is a relaxing and enjoyable experience.
Australia is a sports-mad country, and one of the jewels in the crown of the sporting landscape is the Adelaide Oval. It is recognised internationally as one of the most scenic sports grounds in the world.
Not only is it a spectacular stadium, but you can also do a guided tour of it – from the roof! The two-hour-long roof climb tours take you 50 metres above the ground as you walk around the roof of the oval. There are a range of tour options available – all provide great views of oval and the city skyline.
For something unique, try a dusk or night tour. The dusk tour gives you a chance, if the weather co-operates, to see the sky light up at sunset and the ground change character as the lights go on. The night tour has a party atmosphere. Tunes are playing as you walk around, and you get a post-climb cocktail at the end of the tour.
For a long time, Adelaide has been known as the Festival State, and if you travel through the city in February and March, you’ll see why. Second, only to the Edinburgh Fringe, Adelaide’s Fringe brings the city alive. Every Theatre, town hall, club, park – in fact, any open space – has performers and shows.
Everywhere you look, there are comedians and street performers – it is an exciting time to be in Adelaide. As if the Fringe wasn’t enough, the world music festival WOMADelaide comes to town in March too.
If you happen to miss the Adelaide Fringe, the three-week Adelaide Cabaret Festival takes place in June. If intimate performances on a cold winter night sound like your kind of thing, you’ll love it.
Adelaide has a vibrant and world-class restaurant and bar scene. Whether you like fine dining or a relaxed café atmosphere, there is something for all tastes. There are lots of guides on the best places to eat in Adelaide, so check them out when you plan your visit. Just for starters, have a look at Africola, Shobosho, and Orana; they’re at the top of many lists.
To wash all the great food down, Adelaide’s rooftops, cellars and laneways are home to some great bars. Craft beer, gin, cocktails, and South Australia’s exceptional wines can all be enjoyed at a range of cool locations. Visits to Proof Bar, Clever Little Tailor, La Buvette Drinkery, and Haines Co are a great place to start.
Regarded as the heart and soul of Adelaide’s food culture, the Adelaide Central Markets is a celebration of all that is wonderful about food. With over 70 shops and stalls, it is the largest undercover fresh food market in the Southern Hemisphere. The markets have everything from fresh fruit and veg to fantastic coffee and pastries. Cooking demonstrations and tastings add to this gourmet experience.
Adelaide has over 20 beaches along its metropolitan coastline. While they all offer something a little different, what they share is lots of clean white sand and sparkling blue water. All of Adelaide’s beaches face west, so expect to see some incredible sunsets too. They are all within an hour of the city centre.
If you are after a family beach, go to Glenelg or Semaphore. As well as beautiful wide beaches, they also both have plenty of family activities including waterslides, minigolf, train rides and much more. You can catch a tram from Adelaide to Glenelg, which makes Glenelg super easy to get to.
Try Henley Beach if you want to combine your beach visit with trendy cafes and restaurants. Henley Square is where all the action is. Relax on the lawns while you decide where to go for dinner.
The beaches south of Adelaide have a different look and feel. If you are into snorkelling, surfing or paddle boarding head this way. Many of the beaches south of Adelaide are backed by tall cliffs or rolling hills; they are a magnificent sight. Try Port Noarlunga and snorkel the reef there. Maslin beach has a spectacular red cliff backdrop, and if you like an all-over tan, it is Adelaide’s official nudist beach.
In 20 minutes, you can go from the centre of Adelaide and find yourself in the Adelaide Hills. You leave the traffic and business behind and find yourself in a world of quaint villages, vineyards, and Australian wildlife.
Your first stop in the Adelaide Hills should be the Mount Lofty precinct. Within five minutes of each other is Mount Lofty Lookout, Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens, and Cleland Conservation Park.
The lookout is the highest point in Adelaide. At the summit are a restaurant, visitor centre and stunning views of the city. The lookout faces west, so it is a popular spot at sunset as you can watch the sun go down across Adelaide.
No matter the time of year, the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens are a beautiful place to walk around. In fall, the yellow, red, and orange leaves are a highlight. The gardens are much cooler than the rest of Adelaide in summer, so they are the perfect place to lie under a tree and relax.
No visit to Australia is complete without feeding kangaroos and cuddling a koala. You can do this and more at Cleland Conservation Park. Come face to face with some of Australia’s best-known animals. There are interactive experiences visitors can do that get you up close to everything from huggable wombats to butterflies.
Fifteen minutes from Mount Lofty, you’ll find the historic town of Hahndorf. Settled by German immigrants in the mid-1800s, the main street celebrates the town’s heritage. From the architecture to arts and crafts and, of course, delicious food, you’ll have no trouble filling a day walking up and down the main street.
South Australia is an internationally known wine region. From Adelaide, you can do tours of the Barossa Valley, Southern Vales, and Adelaide Hills wineries. Not only will you get to taste some fantastic wine, but many of the cellar doors are also set in lovely valleys or on vine-covered hillsides.
While the wines have the sophistication you’d expect from a top grape-growing region, many of the wineries are in towns and villages that have retained their colonial history and charm.
Located about 30 minutes from Adelaide, Port Adelaide is home to several transport-related museums. If airplanes, boats, or trains are your thing, there are dedicated museums to all three in ‘The Port.’ But, if you would rather put your feet up and relax, try the Port Adelaide River dolphin cruise.
The Port River is home to a pod of bottlenose dolphins that make their way around the main channel and into different arms of the river. The entire area has protected status as the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary.
The cruise lasts for a couple of hours, and you’re bound to see the dolphins swimming in the river or even having a play on the bow wave of the boat. There’s something magical about seeing dolphins in the wild. If you have always thought of dolphins as your spirit animal, you will love this tour.
Adelaide is the gateway for exploring other parts of South Australia. The Flinders Ranges are 4 hours north of Adelaide. The Flinders are made up of over a dozen dramatic mountain ranges set against big skies and red earth of the Australian outback. The crater-shaped Wilpena Pound is a great base to explore the region.
There are some spectacular scenic drives through ancient gorges. The area is also popular with hikers and mountain bikers. Accommodation ranges from luxury eco-villas and ‘glamping’ to stays in working cattle stations. The Flinders Ranges are a great way to experience the beauty and wide-open spaces of the Australian outback.
This amazing blog post was written by Natalie and Steve from Curious Campers! Follow along with their travels on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube. You can even check out their awesome Facebook group!