What to do in Adelaide

Welcome to Adelaide!  This site, produced by locals as a labour of love, is designed to be your local guide – helping you find the best bits our city has to offer, including stuff that only the locals know.

For starters, some handy info: here’s a link to what’s on this week, here’s a list of what’s on this month, here’s some info on getting around.

And here (below) is a list of things the locals do.  It’s in no particular order – but there should be something here for all tastes and every budget.

  • If the weather’s good, grab a free bike and get outdoors.
  • Give yourself at least one day visiting the cultural institutions on North Terrace – mostly free.  Highlights include the Aboriginal Cultures Collection and the Mawson exhibition at the Museum, the excellent collection of colonial and Asian art (and the excellent sunny café) at the Art Gallery. At the State Library we love the small art gallery and shop downstairs, the Wall of Treasures upstairs, and the historic Mortlock Library across the footbridge. At the very pretty Adelaide Botanic Gardens don’t miss the Museum of Economic Botany, the Amazon Waterlily Pavilion and the Bicentennial Conservatory. The exhibitions at the Migration Museum are also wonderful – and often moving. (We are a nation of migrants.  This museum tells our stories.)  The Art Gallery, the Museum and the Botanic Gardens all have good guided tours (usually free). Check their websites for more details.
  • Go to the Central Market. (Thursday to Saturday are the best days). For foodies, do a tour.  This is a MUST.  One of the best and oldest covered markets in the world.
  • See the Giant Pandas at the zoo.  You can even do a Panda Tour or one of the other behind the scenes at the zoo tours. (A bit pricey but very good.) The zoo is an easy – and lovely – walk from North Terrace along the river. Or you can take a boat.  Popeye  starts at Elder Park (near the Festival Centre). You can do a one way trip – or a 40 min round trip, with a zoo stop off. Every South Australian has ridden this funny little boat!
  • Get to a cricket or football game at the newly refurbished Adelaide Oval – just across the river from the city.  We have two local Australian Rules Football teams – the Crows and Port Power – both with a crowd of passionate followers. Attending a game is a a cultural experience not to be missed.
  • Even if there is not game on, the Oval is well worth a visit.  There is the the Bradman Collection (a free museum about Adelaide’s, and arguably the world’s greatest cricketer – Sir Don Bradman), the Oval tour (well worth the modest fee) and now the roof climb (an extraordinary opportunity to clamber on top of this sporting icon).
  • For shoppers
    • See our guest blog 5 fashion gems on spots to find SA designers and vintage treats.
    • There is Rundle Mall of course.
    • Rundle St East is great for shopping – quirky shops, designer clothes, good coffee.  Bauhaus is a favourite for gifts.   We also love nearby Urban Cow  in Frome Street, between North Terrace and Rundle Street where you can see, and buy, the work of over 150 South Australian artists and designers. Steven Ter Horst Chocolatier  is a must  for truly great locally made chocolate.
    • Also while you are in the East End, visit Tandanya (on Grenfell St near East Terrace) to buy (or just look at) some contemporary Aboriginal art.
    • For high quality local craft visit the Jam Factory – on Morphett Street, between Hindley Street and North Terrace. Glass, timber, jewellery, ceramics.  Not cheap but gorgeous. While you are there visit their exhibition gallery (out the back of the shop). Also worth popping around the corner to see what is on at the Samstag Museum of Art at 55 North Terrace.
    • Further afield, you can hit the boutiques and stylish homeware stores on King William Road Hyde Park – a short cab ride or cycle from the city (or jump on the 200 bus in King William Street and get off at stop 5).
  • For film goers
    • There is a very good art house cinema in the East End, the Palace Nova.
    • There is also the GU Film House – one in Hindley Street, one at Glenelg.
    • But for a real cinema experience the Capri is worth a visit. It is in Goodwood – a bike ride or short bus ride from the CBD. A volunteer- run, art deco treasure.  But, best of all, it has a Wurlitzer organ which is played every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday night before the film.  It rises up out of the stage!!
    • In summer you can’t go past the Moonlight Cinema in the Botanic Park (between Botanic Gardens and the Zoo).
  • For history buffs, do a tour of the historic Adelaide Town Hall.   Adelaide is the oldest local government area in the country (we were a settlement, not a penal colony) and so our Town Hall is also one of the oldest.  You will get to see the lovely heritage building (including the portrait filled Council Chamber) – and learn about the admirable Queen Adelaide (after whom we were named)  and the remarkable Colonel William Light (who chose our location and planned our city). Free, but bookings essential.
  • If you like cemeteries, visit one of the oldest in the country, West Terrace Cemetery. Tours run at 11.30 on the first Tuesday of every month. Or you can pick a self-guided tour brochure and wander yourself.  Look out for the Baby Memorial, and Caroline Clark Memorial (to honour the poor buried in unmarked graves) and the sections for various religions (Jewish, Druse, Islamic, Catholic).  There is even a mystery grave (site 106, row 12, plan 3) – the grave of Somerton Man (or Taman Shud man). Look him up on Wikipedia.
  • Have a look at the Aboriginal flag flying in Victoria Square.  The flag was designed in SA and first flown in this square.  Press the buttons on the flagpole to get the full story.
  • For more history – and loads of info about the city generally – get the Adelaidia app on your phone.
  • On Sunday morning visit the bustling  Market Shed on Holland Organic Market – behind the IGA supermarket in Gilbert St (open 9-2). Great for breakfast.
  • Also on Sundays (3rd Sunday of every month), and just down the road from the Market Shed, the Gilles Street Market – a fashion and design market.  Great for vintage clothes, young designers, clearance stock, accessories, etc.
  • Sundays are also the traditional day for Yum Cha.  Lots of restaurants in Gouger Street and Moonta Street (Chinatown) serve it, a sort of Chinese tapas – great for brunch.  They will explain how to order.