For people who want one of the best travel experiences “down under,” Adelaide offers almost everything – from beaches to hiking trails, quaint cafes to fine dining, historical architecture to modern art – just a few of the answers to the “what to do in Adelaide” question. As the most populous capital city in the state of South Australia, Adelaide is known as the “City of Churches” because of its numerous religious structures. (Interestingly, it seems like there are more pubs in Adelaide than churches. )
Adelaide and the Outdoors
What to do in Adelaide? Well, there are just so many outdoor activities to indulge in that are quite central, so let’s start there since most of the Adelaide hotels are in the city centre . If you are crazy about the ecology and the environment, there is the Adelaide Botanic Garden which is in walking distance from the center of the city. You can spend half of your day here just roaming around its wonderful garden lush with foliage. Although not as exciting as the other attractions, it provides a great place for relaxation.
If you want more upbeat outdoor activities though, there is the Adelaide Zoo located just a mile from the city center. It is a beautiful place for animal-lovers and people of all ages, especially the kids, will have a great time too since caretakers allow visitors to pet the animals. For those who have not yet seen giant pandas, the Adelaide Zoo is the place to be. There are also giraffes, hippopotamus, lions, and sea lions.
If you’re rather check out the nature and wildlife away from the center of the city, the Warrawong Sanctuary offers a great place for hiking. Merely a thirty-minute drive away, you can best experience the flora and fauna of Australia; it is suggested to book a cabin and take the guided night walk to the sanctuary since most of the animas there are nocturnal. For those who have not seen koalas, wallabies (pictured above), bilbys, and any of Australia’s other weird-and-unique wildlife, the sanctuary gives you that chance of a lifetime. And check out the fun souvenirs from the gift shop to remind you of your trip.
Lastly, the Cleland Reservation Park is just seven miles from the city. Kangaroos are hopping all over and you can feed them anytime. You can also spend your time with emus and Tasmanian devils. Interestingly, you are actually allowed to cuddle a koala in this park, which is the best treat ever.
Must-See Adelaide Attractions
Adelaide boasts of a number of museums, mostly historical in nature. For those interested in the stories of the Aborigines, the South Australian Museum has a special gallery just on this topic. The Adelaide Gaol is a prison which closed in 1988. Although sad, it is still a fascinating place to visit – their ghost tour is very atmospheric and similar to the gaol tour in Melbourne. For those into arts, the Art Gallery of South Australia offers a feast for the eyes. Not only do they display the works of colonial Australian artists such as Streeton, there are also ample collections of Aboriginal arts. Just recently, they re-opened an Asian collection which promises an interesting experience – and to boot, many of the hotels near the Art Gallery of South Australia have won awards or accolades for service & value.
The Migration Museum which is located at Kintore Avenue is a must-visit site. This museum is highly acclaimed for displaying the cultural heritage of Australia born from immigration, all exhibited in nine galleries. Despite its small area, you can spend more than two hours in this place alone. For those who want to explore the history of Railways in Australia, the National Railway Museum displays various artifacts related to railway, from carriages to steam engines. For aquarium buffs, the Seahorse Farm offers a different kind of aquarium experience. The seahorse and sea dragons are simply amazing, and the chance to pat a shark is a thrill!
Another popular site that is quite a ways drive from Adelaide but a lot of people do it as part of an overnight trip in the outback is the Big Bench at Broken Hill. It was built in 2002 for the Landscapes and Background exhibition and is actually a park bench measuring 2.5 times bigger than the regular thing. You can make some interesting photographs here, good for sending home to friends!
Lastly, you can take a dip at the Glenelg coast where there are several beaches; relax, sunbathe, swim and snorkel.
Adelaide’s name was taken from King William IV’s wife, Queen Adelheid Amalie Luise Theresa Carolin of Saxe-Meiningen (whew). When she married, she changed her name to Adelaide from Adelheid. The city would have been named Wellington if the Colonization Commissioners approved – they wanted to name the city in commemoration of the Duke of Wellington, who, in 1834, pushed for the South Australian Colonization Bill. However, the Queen’s name was chosen instead.
Food and Dining in Adelaide
As you may have suspected, eating or just relaxing on a terrace runs high on the what-to-do-in-Adelaide list. There are several places to dine in when in Adelaide; Asian, Italian, French, Argentinian cuisines are only some of the many choices you can choose from. Rundle Street has several al fresco cafes and is considered as the cultural hub of Adelaide. The Central Market area has several cafes, as well as more pouplar hotspots on Gouger Street.
Many restaurants in Adelaide is “BYO”, or bring-your-own; you can bring your bottle of wine at the restaurant and you will only pay for the service charge, which might be kind to your budget or a nice way to enjoy some wine you may have purchased at the nearby wineries (see below). Where to eat?
- If you want to splurge, there is the Magill Estate Restaurant which boasts of Australia’s best wine list.
- The Red Ochre is a modern Australian restaurant near the River Torrens, overlooking the cityscape of Adelaide.
- Café de Vili is a 24/7 café. Vili is considered as Adelaide’s most popular producer of pies and pastries.
- For budget eats, there is the Fasta Pasta which is a popular pasta chain in Australia but was founded in Adelaide.
Planning a Daytrip from Adelaide?
When you have extra time in your hands, there are places that you can visit located around Adelaide that is reachable by bus or train. We mentioned the Warrawong Sanctuary earlier, and if you do end up heading to that region, be sure to stop off in Hahndorf for its local art galleries and craft shops – the Adelaide Hills area has a lot to see and do, and there are a handful of boutique hotels near Handorf as well.
For wine aficionados, there are several vineyards worth visiting. The Barossa Valley Winery Region, Clare Valley Wine Region and Southern Vales Wineries are some of those which you can visit, both on your own and via guided tour. T
And still not had enough with those kooky wild animals? Head for Kangaroo Island – it’s a lovely trip and will keep you captivated, for sure.
Have you been to the City of Churches (pubs)?
Favorite suggestions on what to do in Adelaide?