ROLLING hills, a fresh country atmosphere, ocean breezes and hot beaches. Adelaide refuses to be dismissed as a secondary player to Australia's big capitals, despite being the fifth-biggest city with a population of 1.3million.
What immediately jumps to mind with Adelaide is its natural country charm and how it isn't affected by the hustle and bustle that usually comes with the package served up by Australia's other capital cities. There's a distinct sense of space, warmth with its people, wonderful beach culture, splendid wine country and shopping and dining experiences that rival the nation's best. Throw into the mix an array of festivals and an obsession with sport and it's easy to understand why a southern Australian experience is a good as any other location on the continent.
Adelaide's climate is Mediterranean, which means for most of the year the weather is clear and sunny with a brief, mild winter. The city's spectacular coastline stretches for 32 kilometres and showcases beautiful sandy beaches and trendy seaside fringes such as Semaphore and Glenelg.
Things to do in Adelaide
Journey through lush greenery, encounter unique animals, and view spectacular coastlines all within easy reach of the city—here are some of the things we recommend doing while in Adelaide.
Adelaide Oval is one of the most storied cricket grounds in all of Australia.
Source: Trentino Priori
One of the greatest things to do in Adelaide is visit the Adelaide Oval; it’s a historic sporting and entertainment venue, and is located in the centre of the city. The Oval has a capacity of 53,000 and has hosted tons of sporting events such as Ashes cricket, AFL footie and A-league soccer. In addition to sports, it holds numerous other entertainment events each year. Take a roof climb tour and get epic panoramic views from the best seats in the stadium at a glorious 50 metres above the green playing field, or experience a game with the roar of the spectators under your feet. This vantage point gives you a chance to see St Peter’s Cathedral and the Hills towards the east and the lush trees of Glenelg toward the west.
If you need something to eat, the Hill of Grace Restaurant is a fine dining spot that’s located in the Adelaide Oval and serves exceptional dining experiences overlooking the iconic turf. The menu is inspired by the abundance of quality produce and ingredients that South Australia has to offer and each dish is carefully created to be in sync with the season. Whenever you’re in this city, a visit to the Adelaide Oval is a must, whether it’s to catch a match or catch a glimpse of the city from above the treetops.
For more than 148 years, the Adelaide Central Market has been an iconic centre for food and culture. More than 8.5 million people visit each year to purchase fresh goods and eat multicultural cuisines. An astonishing number of more than 70 traders operate under its roof, serving patrons a multitude fresh produce, specialty food, and other goods. Fruit and vegetables, seafood, meat and poultry, all kinds of cheeses, and more are available to be bought from friendly and very helpful sellers. For the sweet tooth, bakeries and patisseries sell their freshly baked goods like muffins, croissants, and a variety of whole loaves.
For nut lovers, check out Carousel Nut Bar, Charlesworth Nuts and The Adelaide Nut where you'll find a fabulous selection of fruit, nut and confectionery whilst the Old Lolly Shop has more than enough sugary treats and chocolates to satisfy your cravings. And to wash down all that sweet stuff, coffee, tea, and other hot drinks are available at The Coffee Bean Shop. Other goods such as tea making tools to make a soothing morning cup, as well as coffee beans, coffee pods, and exclusive bean blends are also available for purchase.
See pandas Wang Wang and Fu Ni at the Adelaide Zoo this season.
Source: Adelaide Zoo
Another great attraction to take in when visiting the capital of South Australia is Adelaide Zoo. It’s the only metropolitan zoo in of Australia that is a non-profit entity and is home to more than 3,000 animals and 250 species of mammals, fish, reptiles, and birds. Opened in 1883 the zoo has since captivated and educated hundreds of thousands of visitors ever since.
There is a wide variety of animal encounters to experience at the Adelaide Zoo, from feeding tall giraffes to getting up close to ring-tailed lemurs in their habitat. See how these delightful creatures interact with you and with each other on one of the many amazing sessions where you can touch and feed animals. You can also view red pandas and two giant pandas that are the only breeding pair of giant pandas in the southern hemisphere. The VIP Panda Tour will take you on a journey through a behind-the-scenes visit with the giant pandas named Fu Ni and Wang Wang that can create lasting memories of furry fun.
Filled with awesome wildlife experiences and shows, the zoo is right next to the Botanic Gardens and is just a 15 minute walk or a short 5 minute drive from the CBD. The zoo can be accessed from Frome Road where you can also park your car. Parking is also available on War Memorial Drive and Plane Tree Drive. The zoo is open from 9:30am to 5pm daily throughout the year, even on public holidays.
And if you want to experience wildlife in its natural habitat, don’t forget that Kangaroo Island is only a couple hours’ drive (and a short ferry ride) away! You can even hire a car straight on the island. Following the bushfires in early 2020 Kangaroo Island needs visitors to help rebuild its economy making your visit especially welcome.
Not everybody knows that the City of Churches is home to some great Australian beaches. Take a short drive out of Adelaide for a chance to take a dip in some of the area’s best beaches and uncover many sea animals in the crystal clear aqua waters.
Glenelg Beach is a famous metropolitan beach that’s the easiest to access. It’s safe for swimming and it’s highly recommended for beach sports like cricket and volleyball. Green areas for picnicking are available, too. Street parking is available just off Brighton Road.
Similar to Glenelg and not as famous as the one in Melbourne of the same name, Brighton Beach has its own jetty road and chilled vibes. Fish and chips stores are plentiful with crowds coming in mostly during the warmer months. People also go fishing there on the weekend. Sunsets can be seen from the jetty and the view of the horizon is truly astounding. The beach is a 10 minute drive from Glenelg and has parking around the jetty road.
Third one on the list is Henley Beach; it’s a bustling stretch of seafood restaurants and has incredible views of the St Vincent Gulf. Space for lying on the sandy beach is aplenty as the shoreline extends far into the distance. Relax and sip on some coffee while you’re there and take in all the sights and sounds.
Encounter nature’s beauty and enchantment at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens.
Adelaide Botanic Gardens
Right in the heart of the city lays the Adelaide Botanic Garden. It’s a magnificent garden filled with beautiful and diverse plants from all around Australia and encompasses 50 hectares of green gardens. Spend your time exploring the stunning grounds of the gardens and wander around taking in the beauty mother-nature has to offer.
The Botanic Gardens comprises of many smaller gardens with different landscapes. These include First Creek Wetland, Garden of Health, International Rose Garden, Little Sprouts Kitchen Garden, National Rose Trial Garden, Australian Native Garden, Cactus and Succulent Garden, Economic Garden, Australian Forest, and Dahlia Garden. Each garden is carefully grown and maintained to reflect different terrains and plants. A variety of birds and animals are present in the area due to the lush greenery, including swans, pigeons, and ducks. They forage for food within its abundant natural habitat and are great to watch while walking through the greens.
There’s also the Bicentennial Conservatory which was built in 1989 and is the biggest single plan glasshouse in the Southern Hemisphere. Inside, you’ll find a rich array of lowland rainforest plants from Indonesia, Australia, Pacific Islands, and Papa New Guinea, many of which are endangered in their original habitats. Admission into the Bicentennial Conservatory is free and is open daily from 10am to 4pm.
Besides the Conservatory, there’s the Palm House which is an imported Victorian glasshouse from Europe. It features a flourishing array of Madagascan plants from a part of the world where the climate is dry and warm, perfect for cultivating these exotic specimens. You can then visit the Amazon Waterlily Pavilion which houses the Victoria Amazonica waterlily, a marvellous sight to behold with its large and unique leaves and beautiful flower.
Where to eat in Adelaide
Dining out in Adelaide is serious business and seriously fun. The city has a bustling hub of bars and the food scene is a haven for foodies. Its impressive plethora of food and drink can’t be missed, and whatever cuisine you fancy, come with an appetite.
Best Cafes and Brunch in Adelaide
Sit down and enjoy an amazing cup of coffee at one of the various hot spots in Adelaide.
UR Caffe has been operating since 2011 by a couple who came to Adelaide to live their dream of becoming cafe owners and offering the best coffee in town coupled with delicious food. The coffee and food are just two of the reasons why people keep coming back for more; a third reason is the atmosphere. The café is tucked away in a small pocket on Melbourne Street in North Adelaide. Here, you can relax and bask in the sunshine with your cup of joe.
UR Caffe’s menu was created to offer tasty and healthy food using unique Thai flavours and quality ingredients, some of which come from their own home. They offer all day breakfast which is comprised of everything from traditional bacon and eggs to spicy corn fritters served with bacon and avocado salsa. One dish that we’d recommend is the Avo Pom. it comes with two poached eggs on sourdough toast, smashed avo, cherry tomato, pomegranate, shaved radish, and crumbled feta cheese. Also, their pastries are always freshly baked in the café with gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian options also available.
At Peel Street Restaurant located at, you guessed it, Peel Street, chefs Jordan and Martin, curates a menu that is scrumptious and bursting with flavours. The menu is divided into small and large plates, with dishes having Middle Eastern or Asian can taste a little bit of everything. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and is open every day except Sunday.
Their breakfast menu includes fruit salad, muesli, and fried food. Peel Street is a good refined modern and stylish eatery with most dishes featuring a creative twist. A good offering of local and imported beers is also stocked.
A favourite local hang out is Café Troppo, which serves seasonal food and immensely good coffee. The café’s ethos is focused on producing superb food that is grounded in sustainability. In line with its eco spirit, they try to use local produce whenever possible. As for the coffee, it is organically grown, fair trade, and ethically sourced. Additionally, a good range of hand-blended teas are offered.
The café’s interior is like an oasis filled with hanging gardens, leafy walls, and greenery along the sidewalk. The open concept allows for natural lighting to flow in, and Instagrammers to snap the perfect shot. The atmosphere is certainly chilled and friendly, while the owners Phil and Annie, with their two children run the café in line with keeping the environment as clean as they can. This means they use eco-friendly cleaning products, organic local ingredients, and recycling waste. The café is easily accessible through Whitmore Square and operates daily except on Mondays.
Award-Winning Restaurants in Adelaide
Adelaide possesses some of the most celebrated restaurants in Australia, with delectable cuisines all within easy reach. Here are some top picks to try out.
Modern Australian cuisine is at the heart of every dish at Restaurant Orana.
Source: Restaurant Orana
If you're seeking for something fancy, Restaurant Orana is a great choice. It’s a 25-seat restaurant located in the CBD which serves upscale contemporary Australian cuisine focused on indigenous ingredients and the aboriginal philosophy of healing and giving more than taking. Headed by owner and chef Jock Zonfrillo, Orana has been crowned the 2018 Australian Restaurant of the Year at the Gourmet Traveller’s annual awards and was also twice recognised by The Advertiser as Restaurant of the Year.
Its remarkable and intricate menu comprises of native meats, fruits, vegetables, and herbs and spices. Unusual ingredients such as kangaroo tendon, green ants, and the lilly pilly fruit are used to create innovative and delicious dishes. The constant inventiveness of Zonfrillo makes it all the more appealing.
Magill Estate Restaurant
Another top restaurant is Magill Estate Restaurant located on Penfold Road in Magill. After an 18-month renovation in 2015, the kitchen and interior made a fresh bold statement to reflect its new style and feel. Its custom-made Blackwood dining tables and soft lighting deliver an outstanding atmosphere and accentuate the beautiful surrounds of vineyards and distant waters. Scott Huggins, whose global career spans more than 17 years, heads the kitchen with his immense culinary knowledge and inventive spirit. His passion to design and create elegant dishes with the freshest ingredients has made Magill Estate one of the best restaurants in Australia.
In addition to the modern cuisine and fine dining atmosphere, Magill Estate boasts a cellar with an extensive range of excellent Penfold’s wines dating all the way back to 1951. The two-hatted restaurant carefully pairs each wine with its dishes to give you a great food and wine experience every time you dine here. Though surrounded by wonderful views and located on historic grounds, the restaurant is just 8 kilometers from the CBD, which is just a short 15 minute drive.
Where to stay in Adelaide
There are loads of places to stay in Adelaide with plenty of family friendly accommodations available in the CBD and other parts outside the city. Here are a few popular areas to help you choose.
Gain access to some of Australia's top wineries. With its dizzying array of wines, Adelaide has become one of the top cities to enjoy a variety of vino. Situated just a short 30 minute drive from the CBD, Adelaide Hills is a fantastic area to stay in and explore and is home to a few of South Australia’s best wineries and dining. Here you’ll find many bed & breakfasts, luxury hotels, cosy cottages, boutique hotels, a notable mansion, and even a castle. A bed & breakfast is a particularly strong option here, as it gives a homey feel that attracts many visitors. Markets thrive in Adelaide Hills, and the people are hospitable, and with so many options that cater to all budgets, you won’t be left without a place to stay.
Mount Lofty House is one of the most sought-after accommodations in Adelaide Hills. It’s a 15 minute drive from the city with breathtaking views of vineyards. The historic hotel overlooks the picturesque Piccadilly Valley and boasts a day spa, restaurant, quiet gardens, two operating vineyards, sports areas, and a swimming pool where guests can relax and unwind. With so many amenities, it’s definitely a premier luxury escape.
Green vineyards streaming through Barossa Valley
Located 60km northeast of Adelaide city, Barossa is another favourite region with a laid-back town that’s renowned for its wine made from the vineyards that line its landscape. A bunch of accommodations are available to you in Barossa such as romantic cottages, family villas, B&B’s, and caravan parks. There are six caravan parks you could stay in around this region if you’re planning on hiring a campervan in Adelaide.
A luxe boutique hotel called The Louise overlooks a valley of vineyards and a horizon of the Barossa Ranges. Amenities include a pool, games courts, sauna, laundry, and a fitness centre. Each spacious suite is furnished with marble bathrooms and its own private courtyard. Its elegant and luxuriously styled ensuites encompasse indulgence and splendour to make guests feel like royalty.
After relaxing, you can visit the German villages that are sprinkled across the area. Hahndorf and Bethany are two German influenced towns worth visiting while you’re here. Not forgetting heritage vineyards and cellar doors that are a must when you’re in one of the top winery regions in Australia, you can sample fine wines at Rockford Wines in Tanunda which is a 13 minute drive from The Louise, or at Henschke which is 25 minutes away.
Known as a ’20 minute city” due to the short time it takes to drive to most attractions, Adelaide CBD is easy to get around and explore in. It’s structured like a grid, and this makes it easy to access entertainment, shopping, and dining. From 5-star boutique hotels to pamper your every need to budget-friendly motels, Adelaide offers accommodation to suit a variety of travellers' budget.
One popular hotel is the Mayfair Hotel located within the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance building in the heart of the CBD.
It features free Wi-Fi, a fitness centre, bar, restaurant, lounge, and a rooftop terrace. Close by is the Rundle Mall filled with tier 1 branded retailers and the surrounding streets are lined with specialty shops, cafes, and boutique retailers. There’s easy access to the Adelaide Oval and Convention Centre and a short walk gets you to the Art Gallery of South Australia.
Bursting with hidden gems, family-friendly attractions, and an idyllic beach, Glenelg is a magical vacation spot that’s only 20 minutes from the CBD and five minutes from Adelaide Airport. This town has a broad range of accommodation options including self-contained apartments, motels, beach hotels, and caravan parks.
Oaks Plaza Pier is a 4-star hotel that’s one of the best in town that offers beachfront views. The hotel features a Jacuzzi, gymnasium, and swimming pool; while its studios feature wide balconies with ocean views. A short stroll away you’ll find restaurants serving fresh seafood and many nearby attractions such as the Glenelg Jetty, Marina Pier, and Bay Discovery Centre.
- Population: 1.35m
- Temperature: January 28C - July 15C
- Country Code: 61
- Timezone: GMT + 9.5 (GMT + 10.5 from the first Sunday in October to the first Sunday of April)
- Visitor Information: www.southaustralia.com