For decades Adelaide has existed in the shadows of Australia’s more renowned cities. Despite being the country’s 5th largest city and a destination with culture, architecture, and great food, it never made it on the list of top places to visit Down Under. Until 2014…
In 2014, Lonely Planet listed Adelaide as one of the Top 10 Cities of the World, presenting it as a city “ready to be uncorked”. Finally, all eyes were on Adelaide, and those looking for new destinations and off the beaten path experiences took notice.
Over the years, the capital of South Australia has blossomed into a fine cosmopolitan city with beautiful architecture, trendy art and cultural events, great food, shopping, and nightlife, earning itself a new title of “Radelaide”.
Best Time to Visit Adelaide
Adelaide boasts a mild mediterranean climate. In the summer (December to February) the average maximum is around 30°C, although its not common for the the mercury to climb up to 40°C or even higher. In winter (June to August) the temperature drops to 15–16°C during the day, and can go down to as low as 5°C at night. But if you want to avoid the heat and the cold, choose to visit Adelaide during the shoulder season (February to March or September through November), when the weather is pleasant and the city is buzzing with activities.
Top Things to Do in Adelaide
Adelaide manages to strike the perfect balance between the laid back attitude of a small town and the hip and happening cosmopolitan feel of a big city. There is something here for everyone.
The best time to visit Adelaide is in March when the city is teeming with festivals and events. The Adelaide Fringe Festival, on in late February to early March, is the most famous of them all, featuring music, art, circus, comedy, theatre, dance and cultural performances from all over the world. WOMADelaide, Royal Adelaide Show, Future Music Festival, Groovin the Moo and Stereosonic Festival, follow closely drawing crowds to the city all throughout March.
If your visit doesn’t coincide with Adelaide’s “March madness”, don’t fret, even on the least eventful day there is still plenty to do in Adelaide.
Culture Vultures can entertain themselves for days with visits to the South Australian Museum, the Art Gallery of South Australia, and the State Library. Those with a love for beautiful architecture and history can admire the Parliament building, the Government House, the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, or one of Adelaide’s many churches (they don’t call it a city of churches for nothing).
Those looking to get closer to nature will enjoy spending some time at the Adelaide Zoo, Adelaide Botanic Gardens, or the Belair National Park that offers great trails for bushwalking and green areas for relaxing in late afternoon.
Foodies will love exploring Adelaide’s eclectic mix of small restaurants, cafes, and bars peppered around the city. Particularly famous are Adelaide’s laneway bars along Lindes Lane, James Place, Leigh St, and Peel St.
In my opinion, no visit to Adelaide is complete without a stop at the Adelaide’s Central Market, an ideal destination not only for foodies but those looking for a place to soak in some local culture and attitude. Get there on a Friday or Saturday night for some delicious dinner grub, or start off your Sunday morning with a great brekky on the go. The market often hosts a variety of activities and cooking and tasting demonstrations during the weekend.
If you want to take advantage of Adelaide’s boutique shopping culture, follow local advice and head to these 25 best spots to shop in Adelaide. You’ll find everything from vintage pieces in pop-up shops to exclusive designer stores and international favourites.
For a more relaxing time be sure to spend time on some of Adelaide’s beaches. Henley Beach has always been a local favourite due to its proximity to the CBD and a great seaside vibe. Another close by spot is Glenelg Beach, located only 10km from the centre of Adelaide. For more fantastic beaches further away from the city centre, check out this summary of Adelaide’s Best Beaches
At night, the city comes alive with a variety of pubs, bars, and clubs dotted all around the city centre. The east end (near Rundle Street) is home to a number of popular pubs, while the west end (west of Morphett Street) offers a trendier and more alternative music scene.
If you have just a few extra days, I highly recommend a visit to South Australia’s wine regions: Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley, and the world renowned Barossa Valley, my personal favourite. Spend a few days indulging in South Australia’s local produce and wine, or simply enjoy a weekend surrounded by beautiful views and wildlife.
Want more helpful links? Adelaide Travel Guide by Nomadic Notes might help.
Read next: A Guide to Visiting Barossa Valley
Where to Stay in Adelaide
Depending on the type of experience you are after, you may opt to stay in the city centre or venture out to the nearby beach suburbs. There are great accommodation options no matter where you choose to base yourself.
If you are after a budget friendly hotel, check out this list of Top 10 hotels in and around Adelaide by the Guardian that rounds up the best places to stay without breaking the bank. You’ll find everything from a cottage B&B amid the wineries to a hostel near Glenelg beach.
Hostel are also easy to come by in Adelaide with over 15 options available right in the city centre. Hostel 109, My Place Backpackers, and Backpack OZ come with the highest ratings and offer the benefit of the social atmosphere along with helpful front desk staff.
Prefer a private space that’s also cheap? Go with Airbnb. There are over 350 Airbnb listings in Adelaide, some are as cheap as $30/night for a private room in a local’s home or $106/pp for an entire home!
Where to Eat in Adelaide
Food is one of the highlights of visiting Adelaide, and is often an activity that needs a focus of its own. Thanks to the city’s thriving immigrant population, the restaurant choices will allow you to travel around the world without ever leaving Adelaide. From high end restaurants with top chefs, to food trucks and markets, there are great eats scattered all over town.
If you want an expert opinion, Adelaide’s chefs share their favourite cheap eats in Adelaide including the best Greek, Thai, Vietnamese, and Dim Sum in the city. For a more sophisticated taste, Gourmet Traveller ranks Adelaide’s best restaurants 2015, featuring a great French-influenced menu at Bistro Dom and André’s Cucina & Polenta Bar.
Don’t miss a chance to grab a snack at the Adelaide’s Central Market, dine for cheap at a BYO in Chinatown, or experience Adelaide’s cultural hub on Rundle Street.
How Much Time Do You Need in Adelaide
The majority of Adelaide’s visitors stick around the city for 2-3 days. It’s just enough time to check out the main sites, cross a few churches off the list, eat some delicious food, and experience Adelaide’s nightlife.
Here is how to spend a weekend in Adelaide or extend your stay to 3 Days to give yourself enough time to squeeze in some beach time. If you have 4-5 days or more, look to escape the city and spend more time in a place like Barossa Valley or head down to Kangaroo Island.