The ultimate guide to Adelaide

Two people walking past the Adelaide Festival Centre lit up for Illuminate Adelaide


Posted May 17, 2023

Adelaide is fast becoming one of Australia’s leading cultural and lifestyle destinations, and for good reason. Here's what to do on your next Adelaide getaway.

The South Australian capital is a world class city, brimming with exciting experiences, cultural events, road trip opportunities and boutique shopping precincts. And if those aren’t enticing enough, the city is also the gateway to some of the world’s best wine regions and some truly stunning beaches. 

So, whatever it is you’re looking for in a holiday, Adelaide has you covered, and we’ve put together an ultimate city guide to get you started.

Adelaide Fringe, 2020

Adelaide Fringe Festival. Image: Meaghan Coles

Indulge in some boutique shopping

Rundle Mall lies in the heart of the city and offers the most quintessential Adelaide shopping experience. This pedestrian-only strip covers it all, from big name stores to independent boutiques.

The heritage-listed Adelaide Arcade is here too, so make sure you take a wander and you may just discover some hidden gems. Local pop-up shops and art exhibitions are often rotating around this historic arcade, so it’s a great place to pick up a unique little souvenir.

Outside the mall is the East End’s Rundle Street, a hub for upmarket shopping. Pop your head around the corner into some of the laneways - you’ll find some funky vintage boutiques and cafes.

Sample local and international foods

All that shopping can work up a hunger, and Adelaide Central Markets have you covered. A favourite of locals and visitors alike, meander through the countless eateries and sample a variety of multicultural tastes. 

This is also the place to take your tastebuds on a tour through the whole state of South Australia. The market’s guided tours will introduce you to the state’s best produce, from the Riverland region’s fruit to the Eyre Peninsula’s seafood. 

Embrace your inner art critic

Head to the Adelaide’s cultural boulevard, North Terrace, and you’ll find some seriously impressive art galleries and museums. 

The South Australian Museum, home to the world’s largest display of Aboriginal artefacts, is a great starting point. 

Next door is the stunning Art Gallery of South Australia which showcases some of Australia’s best art collections and exhibitions.

Make sure you also hop on over to Adelaide’s funky West End precinct, where you’ll find JamFactory- a unique non-for-profit centre promoting the works of local artists. 


Glenelg beach, Adelaide

Glenelg Beach, Adelaide. Image: South Australian Tourism Commission

Enjoy the great outdoors

Right on the city’s doorstep is Mount Lofty, worth checking out for spectacular views, wild forests and accessible walking trails. The Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty trail is a popular choice and offers the reward of a cafe at the end. 

If you’ve got a spare day up your sleeve, why not jump in the car and head to the Barossa for a little fresh air. Here you’ll be treated to panoramic rolling green hills, lush bushy forests, and the chance to refuel at some of the world’s best wineries.

Don't be put off traveling in the cooler months either - South Australia offers plenty of opportunities for winter escapes as well.

Hit the sand

Adelaide has a thriving beach culture, with more than 50km of exceptional beaches close to the city centre. Jump on a tram and head to Glenelg, where you can go for a dip, wander along the foreshore and grab a bite to eat at one of the many cafes along Jetty Road.

Henley beach is another gorgeous spot to soak up the sun, as well as dine on some quality seafood and drinks at a beachfront restaurant. Make sure you stick around to catch a stunning South Australian sunset, and if you’re lucky, you may just spot a dolphin frolicking in the water. 


Mount Lofty Vinyard Ranges

Mount Lofty Vineyard Ranges. Image: South Australian Tourism Commission

Get festive

Whatever your festival flavour, Adelaide has you covered. The city is home to a wide range of cultural events and festivals, so make sure you check the calendar before you go. A highlight is the Adelaide Fringe, which is the largest open-access festival in the Southern Hemisphere and attracts local, interstate and international acts. 

Since 2021, Illuminate Adelaide has been a major drawcard for South Australia, lighting up the city of churches during winter each year. During July, the festival brings a bold mix of arts, technology and music events to the city and state, with renowned artists and innovators from around Australia and the world participating in the festival. 

The Santos Tour Down Under is an unmissable event for cycling enthusiasts, and doubles as the perfect opportunity to take in the sites of the nearby Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills.

For lovers of the arts, the Adelaide Festival has entertained crowds for over 55 years with world-class theatre productions, visual arts displays and dance events. The festival brings a real buzz to Adelaide, with venues across the city participating in the action. Adelaide Cabaret Festival is another annual highlight for culture vultures thanks to its rambunctious (not to mention eclectic) program.

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