Adelaide is South Australia’s cosmopolitan coastal capital. Museums, galleries, gardens, and gourmet restaurants are some of the city’s finest treasures, and lovers of the arts can indulge in opera, symphony, and a flourishing live music scene. The city’s wide boulevards seem refreshingly uncrowded, and nature is never far away.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Adelaide is from March to May and September through November, during the city’s fall and spring.
Top Places to Visit in Adelaide
- North Terrace
A handsome tree-lined boulevard graced by historic and cultural treasures, North Terrace is a great place to kick off a city tour. Parliament House, at the intersection of King William Street and North Terrace, is perhaps the most imposing building in Adelaide with its monumental colonnade. Just down the street, cheek by cheek, the State Library of South Australia, the South Australian Museum, and the Art Gallery of South Australia offer a triple dose of art and culture and are three of the city’s top attractions.
2. Adelaide Botanic Garden
Established in 1855, Adelaide Botanic Garden features educational themed plantings such as medicinal plants, a Mediterranean garden, Australian native species, and a wetland designed to sequester enough water to eventually irrigate the entire grounds. The Santos Museum of Economic Botany provides insight on the important role plants play in everyday life through a series of permanent collections. Other garden favorites include the palm house, the Bicentennial Conservatory with lowland rainforest plants, night-flowering Amazonica water lilies, and Australia’s oldest avenue of Moreton Bay fig trees. Exploring these beautiful gardens is one of the best things to do in Adelaide for free.
3. Art Gallery of South Australia
The Art Gallery of South Australia exhibits one of Australia’s finest art collections. The elegant, colonnaded Victorian building, established in 1881, sets the tone for the eminent works within its walls. The collection crosses all mediums, from sculpture, paintings, textiles, metalwork, and photographs to ceramics, jewelry, and furniture. The Australian collection spans the colonial days to the present, including indigenous and Torres Strait Islander art.
4. South Australian Museum
The South Australian Museum, adjacent to the State Library, is a top research facility renowned for its Aboriginal heritage collections. In addition to the excellent Australian collection, you can admire artifacts from the South Pacific Islands in the permanent Pacific Cultures Gallery, gaze upon Egyptian antiquities, and learn about local flora and fauna in the South Australian Biodiversity Gallery.
5. Adelaide Zoo
Adjoining the Adelaide Botanical Gardens on the northwest, the Adelaide Zoo was established in the late 19th century and is much loved for its educational focus and charismatic collection of animals. The giant pandas are the stars here, delighting young and old alike. Other popular attractions are the aviaries, orangutans, and the Envirodome, an interactive visitor center with a vertical garden and terrarium. Kids will love the petting zoo, where they can cuddle, kiss, and feed a cast of furry and feathery farmyard friends, as well as kangaroos, quokkas, and wallabies.
6. Cleland Wildlife Park
Less than a 20-minute drive from the city center on the northwestern slopes of Mount Lofty, Cleland Wildlife Park cares for a cute and cuddly bunch of Aussie animals in a naturalistic environment. Kangaroos, wallabies, potoroos, and emus roam freely in the wide-open spaces, and you can wander among them, feed them, and enjoy close-up encounters. Photographers will have a chance to capture some excellent shots, and the interactive keeper presentations provide interesting details about the animals and their habitats. For an extra fee, you can cuddle a koala and take home a souvenir photo.
In the sheltered and surf-free Gulf St. Vincent, the seaside village of Glenelg is a popular escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. To get here, most visitors opt for the 25-minute trip on Adelaide’s only surviving tram, which departs from Victoria Square in the city center. As well as its beach appeal and many tourist attractions, Glenelg has a fascinating history. The first group of free settlers disembarked from HMS Buffalo in Holdfast Bay here, making this the oldest European settlement on mainland South Australia.
8. Barossa Valley & Clare Valley
Settled by Prussian and English immigrants, the Barossa Valley is about an hour’s drive from Adelaide airport and is one of Australia’s oldest grape-growing regions. Foodies will be in heaven here with the plethora of fresh produce and fabulous restaurants. In addition to all the gastronomic delights, you’ll find some cultural treasures in the region such as heritage trails, cookery schools, craft stores, galleries, and museums. A little farther afield, the rolling green hills of the Clare Valley also nurture a rich grape-growing history and thriving gourmet food culture.