Adelaide had a glut of attractions in the CBD, all of which you can walk to. Beyond that, public transport can get you to a lot of other places, but taking a tour or having a car will help if you want to explore the surrounding areas like the Barossa Valley or Adelaide Hills.
The various festivals are something you may want to take note of - Adelaide is famous for it's arts festivals - and it's well worth planning a trip to experience one of them.
All the essential information you will likely need before visiting Adelaide is below, so take it all in and get ready for a wonderful trip to South Australia.
Adelaide Essential Info
Getting Around Adelaide
The CBD is very walkable - the area within the green ring of the park lands is approximately 2km wide and long - and with most of the main attractions centred around North Terrace and Rundle Street, which are only a block apart, it's easy to walk around this area. Beyond this small corner of the CBD, other attractions are only a 10min walk away, including The Central Market and Botanic Gardens. See below for details about the useful free tram zone.
The Park Lands are walkable too, if you like to walk whilst exploring a city. The Himeji gardens and Haigh's chocolate visitor centre are at the southern end.
Port Adelaide is another walkable area, with several attractions and a lot of history within a short distance of each other.
Adelaide Metro © Kina To
Adelaide Metro is the public transport operator in Adelaide for trains, trams and buses. The train is likely to be a good option if you plan on visiting Port Adelaide, Semaphore, or Outer Harbour if you arrived on a cruise ship. If you drive to Adelaide, the many park and ride stations could be a good place to park you car to access the CBD for a day.
There are effectively four main lines in the system and they all converge at Adelaide Railway Station in the CBD, which is located on North Terrace.
Adelaide Metro operates using either paper MetroTicket's or using a metroCARD for trains, trams and buses. The only exception is the tram, which you can tap onto and pay with a credit card.
Tickets cannot be bought on-board for cash but there are vending machines on-board trains and trams and at stations where you can buy a ticket. If you are taking a bus, you need to buy a ticket before you get on the bus.
Note that there is a free tram zone within the CBD, and you do not need a ticket to use the service within this area.
Fares are $2.20 for a metroCARD user and $3.90 for a MetroTicket user, off-peak (after 9am and before 3pm). During peak hours, it goes up to $3.95 and $5.80. You can also buy a Daytrip MetroTicket for $11.
A metroCARD is a rechargeable card that you can use to 'tap-on' to public transport. You can buy these at the airport, from vending machines, and at certain retailers. It costs $5 for the card itself, then a minimum of $5 in credit is added too.
Should you get a metroCARD or a MetroTicket? That depends on how much you will use public transport. Given the $5 cost, there may be savings and convenience to be had if you plan on taking a round trip twice or more.
Adelaide Tram © South Australia Tourism Commission
There are three designated tram lines on Adelaide Metro, but one of them overlaps the other two lines, so there are just wo distinct routes. One goes along North Terrace from the Botanic Gardens and the other goes to Glenelg.
The Glenelg route is obviously something to use if you want to visit the popular beachside suburb. The only other time you are likely to use the trams is to save a bit of time (or your legs) whilst wandering the CBD, as the two routes are covered by the free tram zone. Head to North Terrace for the east / west direction, or to King William Street for a north / south direction.
Adelaide Metro buses can get you anywhere the train or tram do not, including to the airport. You may want to take a bus to Hahndorf, but apart from there, there are no attractions close to the top of the list that need a bus.
More information on public transport can be found on the Adelaide Metro website.
Adelaide is relatively flat in the city, so cycling can be a good way to get around. Though due to the clustering of attractions in the CBD and Port Adelaide, a cycle does not really give you any advantage over walking. So only look to this option if you really like cycling.
If you wanted to cycle from the CBD to the coast, it's only 10km. Here is actually where a cycle becomes a real joy as you can bike alongside the beaches that line the entire eastern edge of the city.
If you're a cycling nut, check out this page for some great cycling trails around Adelaide.
Taxi / Uber
Uber operates in Adelaide via their app. Taxis are present too and can be hailed if their light is on, indicating they are available.
Using a car to get around Adelaide is a great option if public transport is too inconvenient. Adelaide is famous for it's easy to get around nature, with the beach to the east of the CBD and the Hills to the west both being just a 20min drive away. Traffic is not bad compared to the other east coast state capitals.
With Adelaide having so many nearby areas to explore on day trips, such as the Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu Peninsula, and Kangaroo Island, having a car is a real advantage. They can all be enjoyed on a tour too, as an alternative option.
Car Rental / Share car
All the major car rental companies operate in Adelaide. You can hire a vehicle across many suburbs, including at the airport and in the CBD.
There are no car share operators present for now (they shut up shop during covid) but there are apps that allow you to hire people's private cars.
Food in the Barossa Valley © South Australia Tourism Commission
Food and Drink In Adelaide
Adelaide has it's own excellent food and drink scene with special mention for it's world renowned vineyards. These can be explored in the famous Barossa Valley or in McLaren Vale with wine tasting, tours, and excellent food to accompany the wine. In the CBD, the National Wine Centre should definitely be on your list if you have any interest in wine making.
The Central Market is great stop to make to check out all the delicious food on offer. Chocolate is another focus in Adelaide, with plenty of chocolate shops (especially on Rundle Street), the Haigh's chocolate factory visitor centre, and a CBD chocolate walking tour available. Other food tours are offered as well. See our list of tours at the bottom of the Things To Do page for the links.
Shopping in Adelaide © South Australia Tourism Commission
Shopping In Adelaide
Rundle Street Mall is the heart of shopping in Adelaide and where you can find all the major high street shops, and the historic Adelaide Arcade which has lots of boutique shops. Head further along Rundle street to the east and you will find another great boutique shopping area. The other area of the CBD to checkout is Central Market and the Chinatown next door.
Outside of the CBD, try Norwood or out in Hahndorf for more boutique shopping - Hahndorf has lots of unique shops due to it's Germanic heritage.
For outlet shopping, try Harbour Town, which is out near the airport in West Beach.
More info on the shopping scene in Adelaide can be found here.
Fringe Festival, Adelaide © South Australia Tourism Commission
Events In Adelaide
Adelaide is famous for it's arts events which are an absolute highlight of a visit to the city, if you can time it right.
The three main events are as follows: -
Adelaide Festival - Theatre, dance, visual art, music, and writer's week, are thrown together in a series of events in this festival that has been held annually for over 60 years. Held in March, it spans a couple of weeks and the Festival Centre is the heart of the festival, but events take place all over the CBD. Check out the program and more information here.
Adelaide Fringe Festival - This extension to the main festival is the second biggest fringe festival in the world and spreads it's over 1200 events between mid-February and mid-March and includes all manner of performances and displays that are often a bit more "out-there" than the main festival. More info here.
WOMADelaide - Held in March in gardens near the CBD, this is a massive four day music, dance and arts festival. More info here.
Other notable events include: -
Feast, Queer Arts and Culture Festival - Adelaide's major Pride and Diversity festival is the third biggest in the country and runs for three weeks in November. More info here.
Illuminate Adelaide - Following in the footsteps of 'Vivid Sydney' and Melbourne's 'White Night', this festival lights up the city through projection mapping and illuminated displays. Held in July.
OzAsia Festival - A three week festival held during October, this is contemporary Asian arts festival with theatre, art, music, dance, film, and more. More info here.
The Caberet Festival - held in June. More info here.
Cheesefest - A two day cheese celebration held at the end of October. More info here.
There are many more events. Check out this link to more information about major Adelaide events here, or this link for a full roster of all events here that can be searched by date, so you can see what's on when you're planning to visit.
Theatre In Adelaide
Adelaide doesn't tend to get the big Broadway style productions, but it does make good use of it's festival centre and other theatre houses outside of festival time.
The festival centre has several venues under it's banner, including the historic Her Majesty's Theatre, all varying in size and capacity.
Elder Hall and Adelaide Town Hall are venues for classical music.
Nightlife In Adelaide
The east end of Rundle street has a few cool bars and then the western end, where it turns into Hindley Street, is it's grittier counterpart (with Leigh street too). There are a few other bars and drinking spots in other areas of the CBD too, just spread about from each other. Try these guides for some more insight and recommended bars here and here.
Adelaide has a warm dry summer and mild winter. During the hottest months of summer, temperatures can soar over 40° on some days. In winter, temperatures in the mid to high teens is typical.
More info here.
Best Time To Visit
In terms of the weather, most of the year is a good time to visit. However, depending how sensitive you are to the heat, you may want to avoid January or February to reduce the risk of experiencing the days when a heat wave hits. To avoid the risk of it being overly cold, you could avoid winter (June to August). This leaves March to May and September to December with the best opportunities for great weather.
Events may sway you, with March being the time to experience the Adelaide festival (see above).
As a tourist in the CBD, there's nothing different about Adelaide than any other major Australian city.
Areas around Adelaide are prone to bush fires during the extended summer period. Always be sure to keep an eye on the news to make sure you don't unintentionally visit an area with an active bush fire.
If you find yourself visiting during a heat wave, take the obvious precautions we know in Australia to avoid sun damage, but also be aware to avoid dehydration and stay out of the sun during the middle of the day.
See more health and safety information here.
The Adelaide area was occupied by Aboriginal people of the Kaurna nation. The land was called Tarntanya, Tandanya, Tarnadnay or Tarndanyangga in their language. This is where the name of the Aboriginal cultural museum comes from. This culture was mostly destroyed shortly after colonial settlement and the language was lost until a modern revival from early documentation.
Colonisation by the British officially began in 1836 and the city was named after Queen Adelaide, the wife of King William IV, the British king at the time. Rather unique to Australia, the city was planned as a city of free settlers, not convicts.
Adelaide is a planned city, with it's design being drawn up and laid out by surveyor Colonel William Light.
The free settlers were presumed to be not so criminal in their ways so no gaol was proposed to be built in the 1837 plan, but after robberies and a murder in the first year, a police force and gaol were quickly created.
Read more about Adelaide's history here.
Kangaroo Island © South Australia Tourism Commission
In addition to the potential multi-day trips already mentioned in the list of Adelaide 'Things To Do' - The Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, Fleurieu Peninsula, and a Murray River Cruise - the following options are a little further away, so could be the next stop in a trip across South Australia.
Kangaroo Island - We already mentioned this in the Things To Do list as a possible day trip, but it's worth adding here again since it is seen a highlight of South Australia's tourism offering and worthy of more than a day. Visit for a few days and you can enjoy the wonderful landscape, wildlife, adventures, small town vibes, and minor manmade attractions. Access to the island by ferry from Cape Jervis. More info here.
Flinders Ranges - Another highlight of South Australia, this national park area lays on the edge of Australia's desert interior around 500km north of the city. It is known for it's incredible landscape, the wildlife, and a few well appointed accommodation options that offer tours with views you will never forget on 4x4 drives or plane rides. More info here.
An Epic Train Journey - Incredible and epic Australian train journeys converge on Adelaide, the centre point for the famous trains that are; The Ghan (Adelaide to Darwin); Indian Pacific (Sydney to Perth); Overland (from Melbourne) and; the newest journey, the Great Southern (Adelaide to Brisbane). More details are provided in our 'Getting There' section, which you can find here.
The Outback - Adelaide is a good place to access the outback as it is so close to the desert. If you plan on visiting Adelaide with your car, there are many outback roadtrip options to choose from: -
If you head into NSW you will go through the Broken Hill and Menindee area. Broken Hill is a classic outback town famous for it's silver mines and location use in films.
For a true outback adventure, if you have a 4x4, head through the Flinders Ranges and up the Birdsville Track into Queensland.
The only sealed route north out of South Australia brings you through the unusual and fantastical town of Coober Pedy, where people have underground houses and mine for opal, and then to that great Australian icon of Uluru.
Heading west, the desolate crossing of the Nullarbor will take you to Kalgoorlie and on to Perth.
Melbourne or Sydney - The closest cities to Adelaide are great places to visit and, since they are so "close" to Adelaide, why not add them on to create a bigger trip? See our guide for Sydney here and Melbourne here.
Need info on 'How to get to Adelaide?' or 'Where to stay?'
Go to the second page of our travel guide for the full run down.
Or, go to page 1 to discover all the 'Things to do'.