Adelaide is an exciting ‘must visit’ city.

Here’s your ultimate city guide to cosmopolitan Adelaide, South Australia’s favourite city with a growing reputation as Australia’s favourite fun, arty, foodie destination.

Known as the Festival City, with its trendy lane-way cafes and restaurants and chic rooftop bars, Adelaide is a great place to relax and enjoy the music scene.

With just over a million people this small city has a great ‘atmosphere’.

Surprisingly easy to get around with an efficient public transport system – Check out the Adelaide Trams, Trains and Bus options.

Catch a tram to Glenelg from the city to discover some of South Australia’s most beautiful beaches or take a short drive up into the Adelaide Hills to explore the beautiful wine regions.

There is so much to do in Adelaide that I decided to put together a ‘to do’ guide to make life a little easier when visiting Adelaide.

Things to do in Adelaide

Have you been to Adelaide? Trendy lane-way cafes and restaurants and chic rooftop bars, Adelaide is one of Australia's most cosmopolitan cities. Click To Tweet

Fabulous Restaurants, Old Pubs and Trendy new Bars

Adelaide street art

Adelaide has always been known for its restaurant and trendy cafes but what we’re loving is the new energy that’s being breathed into these charming old pubs. Setting new trends when it comes to pub food, a recent visit took us to the Gilbert Street Hotel which served up one of the best ‘carbonara pasta’ dishes ever!

We love the fabulous street art nearby which gives these laneways an eclectic and funky atmosphere and a new lease of life to once forgotten parts of the city.

Adelaide festivals are world famous

Renowned as one of the top festival city in the world, Adelaide knows how to ‘put on a show’! The ideal time to visit Adelaide is throughout February and March when the festivals are in full swing.

The Adelaide Festival has been a popular event for over 50 years with internationally acclaimed theatre, music, dance and visual arts.

WOMADelaide takes over the Botanical Gardens for 4 days of fabulous music, art and dance celebrations.  WOMADelaide has an eco focus and hosts the popular Planet Talks with environmental discussions, Taste the World food and cooking demonstrations.

Adelaide Fringe Festival features everything from cabaret to comedy and circus. Over 900 festival events are staged in pop-up venues in laneways, warehouses and parks, as well as established theatres, hotels and galleries.

Museums, Galleries, Botanical Gardens and don’t forget the Zoo

Strelitzia - Bird of Paradise

Adelaide was one of the earliest settled cities in Australia and has a number of beautiful old buildings. Located on North Terrace, the Art Gallery of South Australia and the South Australian Museum are two very stately old buildings housing significant collections of art and Australian cultural artifacts.

Visit Adelaide’s Royal Botanical Gardens. Wander among stunning rose gardens and see three impressive glasshouses including the exquisite 1877-built Palm House.

Don’t miss the Adelaide Zoo.  Home to many native Australian birds and wildlife including koalas, sea lions and kangaroos as well as traditional favourites such as lions, giraffes, monkeys and panda bears.

Adelaide’s Architecture and Heritage Tours

Adelaide treasures its city’s unique heritage and is has a number of guided tours and self-guided walking trails to showcase the city’s grand old buildings and history.   Alive with interesting stories, tales of earlier times and flavoured with a scandal or two so, make sure you don’t miss these tours.

The National Trust offers a number of Guided Tours which include:

  • Ayers House (after dark)
  • City of Churches
  • Politics, Power and and Law
  • Old Adelaide Treasury Tours.

or take one of the Self-Guided Heritage Walking Trails:

  • Crime and Mayhem
  • Adelaide Vintage Pubs
  • Faith in the City
  • Survivors from early Adelaide
  • Houses Great and Small
  • High on the Hill
  • Exploring Education

The Adelaide Arcade is one of the city’s architectural and shopping gems.  Built in 1885, it is one of the most well preserved examples of Victorian elegance and home to more than 100 speciality retail outlets.

Don’t miss the shoppingKombi Coffee

Rundle Street mall is a great city malls explore.  I love seeing the ‘pop-up’ flower markets, funky little coffee stands, clever sculptures and street-musicians.  They really do give this mall its friendly atmosphere.

Walking along the mall you will find Department stores, fashion designers and boutiques with arcades and laneways laden with gift shops and coffee shops and cafes.  Don’t forget about the food-halls sub-ground level which have an abundance of restaurants and cafes.

Don’t miss the Adelaide Arcade.  Home to a museum and one of South Australia’s famous chocolatiers, Haigh’s Chocolate.  Don’t forget to take some home!

Adelaide’s Rundle Mall sculptures are some of the best I’ve seen.  The piglet family are my favourites!  These four pigs won the Rundle Mall National Sculpture competition in 1997.

The popular pigs have been named Oliver (standing) Horatio (sitting) Truffles (sniffing the ground) and Augusta (sniffing the rubbish bin). I daresay, they’re some of the most photographed piglets in town!

A trip to Adelaide Central Markets is a ‘must do’

This fabulous undercover market has been Adelaide’s food epicentre since 1869.  Farm-fresh fruit, vegetables, cured and smoked meats, seafood and an exceptional range of cheeses!

Delicious selections of freshly baked pastries, fresh cheeses, freshly harvested honey, flavoured oils and other delicious pantry items.

Sign up for one of the  Central Markets Walking Tours to experience the markets at their best, enjoy the tastings and meet the marketers.

Relax at the beach

The beaches are an easy distance from the Adelaide city.  Just a 25 minute tram ride from the centre of Adelaide, gets you right onto the beachfront at Glenelg.

A bustling seaside town with heritage hotels, alfresco cafés and a beautiful white sandy beach – Glenelg is one of my favourite beaches to visit.

If you want to be swept back 40 years, visit Semaphore.  Just south of Adelaide, Semaphore is the most unique retro beach experience, where you can wander along the esplanade, enjoy fresh fish and chips on the beachfront and swim in sheltered waters.

Remember those old carousels with handcrafted wooden horses?  Well, Semaphore has one!

Experience the Barossa Valley

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Whenever visiting Adelaide I always spend a day or two visiting the Barossa Valley, one of Australia’s best wine regions.

Quaint little townships like Tanunda and Hahndorf are famous for their European-style atmosphere, beautiful stone buildings and handcrafted gifts, preserves and award-winning wines.

Visit famous wineries such as Kellermeister, Rockford Wines, Murray Street Vineyards and Penfold Estates.  Stop at Maggie Beer’s farm to pick up a picnic hamper and enjoy lunch as you take in the scenic views of the Barossa, or enjoy something exotic at one of the boutique wineries.

Read Next:  Are you looking for a great Aussie wine that won’t break the bank?  Check out our Australian Wine Guide – for under $30 a bottle.

The Barossa Valley offers a selection of wine and food cycling trails.  A relaxed way to tour the countryside and sample the wares.  I think that will be my next adventure!

Adelaide is that perfect escape!  It has something for everyone and the climate is always so – Mediterranean!   

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City guide to cosmopolitan Adelaide

Have you been to Adelaide?  What did you think of the Rundle Mall piglets?  What did you enjoy most on your visit?  We’d love to hear about your adventure so why not drop us a note in the comments below.