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The Essential Adelaide Travel Guide

There is so much more to Adelaide than you could imagine. Our locals guide will show you the best places to go and things to do when visiting Adelaide.

Adelaide has shaken off its quiet reputation as the City of Churches, transforming into a must-visit destination. Step into a hub of art and culture, secret laneways, picturesque botanic gardens and world class dining. You’ll also be within easy reach of the Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills wine regions, not to mention a selection of gorgeous beaches. Start planning your list of the top things to do in Adelaide so you’re ready to pack and go when it’s time to travel.

A true lover of South Australia, Chelsea spends her weekends with her partner exploring hidden breakfast spots & laneway bars, venturing into the Adelaide Hills to discover a new cellar door, or running the dogs on Glenelg Beach.

Henley Beach Adelaide, South Australian Tourism Commission
Henley Beach Adelaide, South Australian Tourism Commission

When to visit Adelaide

Visiting the City of Adelaide is a good option at any time of year however there are times where travel is not at its peak and therefore potentially less chaotic. February and March could be the best time of year to visit Adelaide if you’re looking to experience festivals like Adelaide Fringe. You can also expect warm weather to shine on your visit to Adelaide’s top beaches to make swimming, bathing and playing most enjoyable.  
For those looking for a retreat to experience the best Adelaide exhibitions, cosy food and wine scene and of course the Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills regions, between May and September would be optimal.    

Sunnys Pizza
Sunnys Pizza

Eat

Where to eat in Adelaide.
For an experience that takes you through the very heart of Adelaide’s best local dining spots, try a food tour with Feast on Foot. Gearing up to return in 2021, these walking food tours unlock local cafes and restaurants that might have otherwise escaped your notice. Sample your way through a variety of sweet and savoury delights and learn all about Adelaide’s street art and history along the way. Take your pick from all-inclusive tour options including the Dumpling Feast.    
You can’t research restaurants in Adelaide without Africola popping up and there’s good reason for it. Make a booking here for fragrant North African dishes that hero vegetables and legumes. That’s not to say this place is for vegetarians, meat lovers won’t be left disappointed with an array of spiced proteins featured on the menu including charred peri-peri chicken. A great restaurant to visit with a friend or two for seasonal share plates, warm flatbreads and flavour packed dips paired with a spiced cocktail or two. 
If you’re looking for an area of Adelaide to dine before stepping out to a choice of venues perfect for drinking and evening entertainment, head to Peel Street Adelaide. Here you’ll find its namesake restaurant Peel St that’s a locals pick due to its evolving menu and buzzing dining atmosphere. Dishes celebrate Asia and the Middle East, so expect bags of flavour in the mains and sticky sweet desserts designed to share.    
For informal and fun Italian dining in Adelaide, try Sunny’s Pizza. As the name suggests, pizza is the primary food focus here and it is the perfect ratio of wood-fired crispness and melting cheese. There are other ‘not pizza’ dishes on the menu too should you want extras to accompany your pizza, like garlic bread and dressed leaves. So if you’re looking for a good time vibe with great pizza and plentiful drinks in the mix, this is the place for you. 

Tram on Jetty Rd, South Australian Tourism Commission
Tram on Jetty Rd, South Australian Tourism Commission

How to get around in Adelaide

The city of Adelaide is particularly bike friendly, so it’s easy to hop on your own if you brought it along or a hire bike and make use of the purpose built lanes (painted green) and dedicated “bike box” at the head of intersections. Just don’t forget to wear your helmet, take plenty of water and a bike lock for security when you want to explore on foot.
If bike riding isn’t your thing, choose from trains, trams and buses on the Adelaide Metro network. You can also access a visitor pass that includes unlimited travel for three consecutive days, so this may work out more cost effective depending on your length of stay. 
There’s a free City Connector Loop-Bus that runs frequently throughout the city stopping at many attractions including the South Australian Museum, Adelaide Botanic Garden and Rundle Street for a spot of holiday shopping.  A free Tram service also operates through the city centre with limited stops. You can also hop aboard a Tram (at the cost of a ticket) and head to gorgeous Glenelg Beach.  

Adelaide Hills, Ben Goode
Adelaide Hills, Ben Goode

Play

Things to do in Adelaide.
There are plenty of fun things to do in Adelaide for all age groups and interests. Here are some of the best attractions to visit during your time in Adelaide.
If you’re wild about animals, Adelaide Zoo will be unmissable during your time in South Australia. One of the biggest animal draw cards here are Australia’s only Giant Pandas; Wang Wang and Fu Ni. Come face to face with these incredible creatures and learn about their natural habitat and the significance of the conservation work to protect them.
If you’re bringing the kids along let them explore the Variety Children’s Zoo, a space dedicated to exploration and animal education. It’s right next to the inclusive play area ‘Nature’s Playground’ too to make things easy for caregivers.      
You won’t want to miss native Australian species during your visit, including the cheeky Quokka, muscular Red Kangaroo and feisty Tasmania Devils. Adelaide Zoo is an essential on your things to do in Adelaide list whether you’re travelling as a family, as a group or even on a romantic weekender with your loved one. 
Foodies can’t miss the Adelaide Central Markets. An integral part of the Adelaide community, the market is one of the largest undercover fresh produce markets in the Southern hemisphere. There’s a huge range of growers produce to discover with over 70 traders in this vibrant space. You can find nut shops, Asian grocers, Artisan bread, pastries and desserts, fruit and vegetables plus a range of boutique goods from specialty regions like Kangaroo Island and The Barossa Valley. 
Take a break from browsing to dine-in at a variety of eateries like The Big Table serving delicious oversized brekkies, enjoy live music performances or get little ones involved at Market Minis where they can get stuck-in making simple dishes whilst learning about the importance of making good food choices.

Art Gallery of SA
Art Gallery of SA, South Australian Tourism Commission

Fans of art and culture won’t be left disappointed with a wide range of installations, murals and portraits featured across many of Adelaide’s streets. There are over 105 works of art in the East End, West End and Southern parts of Adelaide City, so you could easily spend a day walking the trail to discover and experience them all.  Every year Street Art Explosion works with new and established artists to create installations across Adelaide city and surrounding suburbs, maintaining Adelaide’s reputation as an internationally recognised artistic city. Explore Adelaide Street Art here to plan your route, ensuring you stop and enjoy the many pocket bars, boutique shops and eateries you’ll discover on foot.
If Street Art exploration is not for you, there are plenty of dedicated indoor art spaces to visit including the Art Gallery of South Australia, home to an impressive selection of paintings, sculptures, photography and textiles from all over the world. Check out current and future exhibitions on the AGSA website to plan according to your interests.   
Adelaide is the gateway to notable wine regions, so if you’re travelling with a loved one or friends and want to escape the city for scenic vistas and incredible food and wines, Adelaide Hills is unmissable. 
One of Australia’s best cool climate wine regions; Adelaide Hills is a short 20-minute drive from the bustle of Adelaide CBD. So you can stay in Adelaide and still include this region in your itinerary. With over 60 wineries to tackle, it is worth doing some research to make sure you’ll be hitting those your taste-buds will prefer. K1 by Geoff Hardy is a locals’ tip as it delivers on location and a leading cellar door experience. Nestled overlooking a lake and vineyard, you can sit back and breathe in amazing views whilst sampling Shiraz and Semillon/Viognier, or more rare wine varieties like the floral Arneis.   
Boutique spirits and craft beers are also making an impact in this region with a number of breweries and distilleries in Adelaide Hills. Ambleside Distillers is set in a picture perfect garden that feels welcoming with its rustic charm. Check out the cool lines of the Tasting Bar where you can enjoy botanic infused gin or a punchy apple brandy paired with a share platter for a lazy and delicious afternoon. For those wanting to step up their experience the Distillery offers Gin Blending Masterclasses where you can create your own blend of gin to go. Take a look at their schedule before going to ensure your favourite Gin experience is bookable on your travel dates.     
If you’re able to travel a little further and wish to continue your food and wine education, 50 minutes North East of Adelaide lies the Barossa Valley. This internationally acclaimed wine region offers a variety of some of the most awarded wines in the world. If you’re looking for more information on Adelaide’s wine regions check out our essential guide to Adelaide’s wineries.

Sofitel Adelaide
Sofitel Adelaide

Rest

Where to stay in Adelaide.
There are many options when it comes to Adelaide accommodation with over 10 Accor hotels and apartments available. Be at the heart of the action at Mantra Hindmarsh Square Adelaide and choose from a selection of modern suites ideal for families or those that need a little extra space. You’ll also be close to the great shopping on offer at Rundle Mall and a short walk to Adelaide Oval for sporting events. 
For those looking for cheap Adelaide accommodation but unwilling to compromise on quality ibis Adelaide Hotel is a sure bet. Equally well positioned close to shops and Adelaide attractions, you can enjoy a vibrant atmosphere, modern room furnishings, bar and gym.   
Experience luxurious rooms and suites at Adelaide's newest 5 star hotel Sofitel Adelaide. This brand new hotel brings all the luxury trimmings you'd expect including; inspiring decor, stunning bathrooms with iconic bathtubs and incredible pool setting with elaborate chandelier lighting to name a few. Gatronomy is also a big feature at this hotel with Garcon Bleu restaurant dishing up sublime French flavours created using locally sourced produce, plus Carcon Bleu Bar, serving up panoramic views, cocktails and French champagne of course. The central location of this Adelaide hotel makes it easy to explore and discover Adelaide on foot or via public transport but you may find yourself questioning why you would leave the comfort of your hotel at all.

Stem, South Australian Tourism Commission
Stem, South Australian Tourism Commission

Party

What to do in Adelaide at night. 
When it’s late but you’re just warming up, Adelaide’s night life shines. Whether you’re looking for a cosy nook at a late night bar or somewhere to throw down your handbag and dance, there’s an Adelaide venue with a great playlist to suit.    
A rooftop bar is great way to see the city and be social. 2KW on King William Street is open from 12pm until late and brings a Mediterranean oasis to Adelaide with views across the city and out to sea. The wine list is strong and showcases the local wine regions including The Barossa, Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale. The Gin and Whiskey selection is also worth a second look but a rooftop view really begs for a zesty cocktail. Order the 2KW gin signature with a twist or the Adelaide Show for a softer, fruity affair. All the cocktails on the list showcase the very best of South Australia, with local produce incorporated in each concoction. 
If you’re feeling peckish, you can select charcuterie from the Barossa region, a selection of cheeses direct from Cheese Culture or choose from a range of nibbles. There’s also a restaurant with a selection of gorgeous dishes made to share, alternatively you can let the Chef decide so all your need to think about is soaking up the view.   
If you’ve been to Sunny’s Pizza and you’re ready for a good time and a wide selection of colourful (and often flaming) drinks, then 1000 Island is right next door. Unashamedly bold and brash, this bar is all about being loud and proud and having a great time with friends. It’s dimly lit and decorated in bright splashes of colour and features a variety of textiles. Order a Pina Colada or a Daiquiri and enjoy the music and atmosphere in this backstreet Adelaide bar. 
Another Hindley Street favourite Stem is a bar and a restaurant so you can plan to eat here and slide across for drinks at the concrete bar when you’re done. The food is largely Mediterranean style, plus there’s a glowing pizza oven churning out bubbling cheesy goodness. The space is sprawling but cleverly designed with planter boxes and greenery to make you feel the intimacy of a cosy bar setting. Grab yourself a table, your favourite drink and soak up the buzzy atmosphere.  
Step back in time with a visit to the Guardsman which occupies an old Adelaide Railway Station. Pick your booth or stand at your high table near the bar and enjoy a selection of Adelaide’s finest wine and beer produce. Like so many Adelaide bars, you can order great food here too that will definitely satisfy. Enjoy a spiced lamb curry or go traditional with pork and fennel sausage and mash, either way the food here is filling, hearty and wholesome. We’re sure you’ll hear a story or two with so much history about the place, so grab your pint and settle in for an evening of old world charm and good old fashioned fun.   
If you are done with the bar scene and ready for an Adelaide nightclub experience, Fat Controller is sure to deliver. Situated on the corner of Bank Street and North Terrace, this gritty club offers several bars, seated areas and dedicated space for entertainment. 
Its interior is dark and industrial with the red neon face of the Fat Controller beaming out across the floor.  Local musicians and entertainers are supported here so you might want to plan your trip specially to see a local headline show. 

Adelaide Botanical Gardens
Adelaide Botanical Gardens

Unwind

How to unwind when visiting Adelaide.
Relaxing on holiday is important, even when travelling with the kids. There are plenty of great ways to switch-off and find your calm even in bustling Adelaide City.  
Take a leisurely stroll around Adelaide Botanic Gardens, a peaceful oasis right in the heart of Adelaide City. With 50 hectares to explore, you could spend an hour or a whole day wandering the grounds, so be sure to pack water, sunscreen and snacks for the day.
Walk amongst thousands of species of roses, marvel at the manicured gardens or perhaps educate yourself on the power of plant healing in the Garden of Health. If you visit in late summer, you’ll be treated to a sea of gorgeous colour in the Dahlia Garden, the perfect picture for your Insta-account! Take time to rest under a shady tree in the Australian Forest, you’ll be amongst some trees with a lifespan dating back 150 years when the original gardens were planted.

City of Holdfast Bay
City of Holdfast Bay

A 20-minute trip aboard a Tram and you’ll be at Glenelg Beach, one of Adelaide’s top beaches. Pack for the day as there’s plenty of things to do here if your interests go beyond a lazy meander between the lapping waves and beach for a snooze. 
Stretch your legs with a walk along the pretty foreshore, pop into the boutique shops to purchase a holiday memento or take a seat at one of the many restaurants along Jetty Road.  If you’re with children, they might let you relax for a time with the promise of time spent at the Glenelg Foreshore Playspace and Coastal Reserve. Here they can let loose with water play, in-ground trampolines and rope activities whilst you take a seat on a shaded grassy spot.
Grab a spot at Moseley Beach Club as the sun sets. This venue is Australia’s only official bar on the beach, bringing a slice of European summer holidays to Adelaide. The perfect spot to relax and unwind with a colourful cocktail in hand - bliss. 
For a truly unforgettable experience set sail from Glenelg with Temptation Sailing and explore the ocean from a 58-foot sailing catamaran. With a range of sailing experiences on-offer, you can enjoy sailing with dolphins, an afternoon tea cruise or get cosy with a twilight sail beneath the setting sun. 
Other beautiful Adelaide beaches you should make time to visit include Henley Beach and Brighton Beach. Henley Beach is only 20-minutes from Adelaide city and is the perfect wide sandy beach to laze and bathe the day away. Fringed by great places to drink and dine, take a seat on the grassed area of Henley Square and watch the world go by. Brighton beach is the perfect place to take a dip to cool off in the hot summer months plus, it’s patrolled by the Brighton Surf Lifesaving Club. Take a stroll down Brighton Jetty and enjoy the endless views of the ocean beyond. 
Are you planning your Adelaide getaway? There’s plenty of Adelaide accommodation options available with Accor to stay during your adventure. If you want to see more of South Australia, here are some of the best road trips to take outside of Adelaide. Check out alternate hotels in South Australia to stay at along the way.

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