Things to Do in Adelaide: 9 Reasons Why Australia's Festival Capital is Our Top Pick for a Summer Holiday
From dining at world-class wineries and restaurants to exploring pristine beaches, there are endless things to do in Adelaide on your next getaway.
South Australia is a spectacular state to visit all year round. Home to otherworldly natural wonders, beautiful beaches, world-class wineries, impeccable restaurants and a jam-packed festival calendar, there are myriad things you can tick off your bucket list at this dreamy destination.
The world is your oyster (we highly recommend Coffin Bay for that) in South Australia, where you can be shark cage diving in Port Lincoln one day and catching a show in Adelaide CBD the next. And that’s just scratching the surface.
When the warmer days roll around and the summer sun starts to tease us, Adelaide’s cultural and culinary calendar really lights up — and a flight to the southern state is far cheaper (and much quicker) than a long-haul trip abroad. From charming churches and galleries framed by leafy trees to its buzzing wine bars serving local Shiraz alongside plates upon plates of pasta and seafood, Adelaide offers many of the appeals of a Mediterranean holiday right on our doorstep.
After a weekend in Adelaide thanks to Virgin Australia and the South Australian Tourism Commission, it's firmly established itself as our favourite interstate holiday spot. These are the best things to do in Adelaide in 2023, and nine reasons why it's our top pick for a sunny summer holiday.
There are 4 world-class wine regions within a 90-minute drive from the CBD
And some of the best wineries are only 45 minutes away! No guide of things to do in Adelaide is complete without mentioning the amazing wineries, and for good reason. Between the world-famous Barossa Valley and their award-winning darker reds, the Rieslings of Clare Valley, smooth Grenache in McLaren Vale and delicious drops of all kinds from boutique wineries in the Adelaide Hills – there is something for every palate.
You can enjoy a relaxed day of cellar door hopping at McLaren Vale favourites Chalk Hill, Alpha Box and Dice and Angove, or splurge on a degustation at the likes of Magill Estate, Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant or Fino at Seppeltsfield in the Barossa Valley. Whichever winery experience you choose – you’ll probably want to book a driver to make the most of your day.
It’s less than 4 hours to Lonely Planet’s #2 Region in the World
Yes, you read that right! Pro's in travel Lonely Planet has recently placed Kangaroo Island – just off the coast of South Australia – as a top regional travel destination, and we couldn’t agree more. Kangaroo Island is a rugged escape filled with stunning scenery, serenity and moments of bliss in nature. From the large population of kangaroos, famed attractions like Seal Bay, Flinders Chase National Park and impeccably clear waters everywhere you look – this is island life at its absolute best.
What’s more, some of the state's most exquisite accommodation can be found on the island, like One KI, Stowaway, and Southern Ocean Lodge – the latter once again standing tall and as beautiful as ever after it was burnt down in the 2020 KI bushfires. As of December 6, this luxurious space is ready to welcome back guests.
Keep active with endless hiking trails
You don’t have to wander too far from the city for a nature-bound adventure. Adelaide is surrounded by reserves and national parks that are overflowing with native bushland and wildlife, and they’re all begging to be explored. Set out on foot to walk a network of hiking trails that lead you to impressive lookouts and take in views of Adelaide's gorges and coastlines.
The waterfalls and rock pools you may stumble across will leave you feeling like you are away from it all. So lace up your boots and get your steps in - we love the Mount Lofty Summit, Hallett Cove Coastal Walk and a stroll through the Adelaide Botanic Gardens.
There’s a Beach Club that transports you to a coastal European town
Adelaide's pristine beaches often fly under the radar, but the Eyre, Yorke, and Fleurieu Peninsula’s boast some of Australia's most breathtaking shores - a day trip to any of them is easily one of the best things to do in Adelaide.
For those short on time or eager to stay local, The Moseley Beach Club offers a unique experience right on the sand – Adelaide's only one of its kind. Sip on a spritz, savour a bowl of chips, groove to DJ sets, and make a splash in the shimmering waters of Glenelg Beach just steps away. It's the perfect blend of seaside relaxation and lively vibes. The 2023 season is set to begin on December 4th for 5 months of sun-soaked fun, and we cannot wait.
Adelaide’s cultural calendar never sleeps
Adelaide is deserving of its ‘festival state’ tagline. From theatre to music, stage shows and film, Adelaide loves the arts. And luckily, we do too! Adelaide plays host to an energetic ensemble of festivals that light up the city and invite you to spend hours exploring the city.
Come November, you’re invited to discover a taste of Europe and indulge in culinary delights straight out of Italy at the Adelaide Italian Festival. Growing bigger and better each year, there are now 70 events across fashion, arts, film, music and of course food and drink, that shine a light on Italian traditions and culture.
And then there’s everyone's favourite Adelaide event of the year– the world-renowned Adelaide Fringe. We are eagerly awaiting the lineup of shows, spectacular art and activations that draws crowds from right around Australia – you won’t be the only visitor at the Fringe! The Fringe festivities kick off from Feb 16th 2024, and we highly recommend getting a glimpse of the annual event that takes over the city.
Photo Credit: South Australian Museum @joeyjoenes, and Adelaide Botanic Gardens (2).
You don’t need to spend big to discover something new
A holiday filled with things to do in Adelaide doesn't need to cost a fortune. Home to sensational museums and award-winning tours, you can spend a little to gain a lot. Take an Aboriginal cultural tour with the delightful Haydyn Bromley and his team through Bookabee Australia, where over a couple of hours you'll increase your awareness of Aboriginal cultural practices at a crucial time for championing First Nations experiences and voices.
Choose from a tour through the beautiful Adelaide Botanic Gardens to reframe the way you look at plant life and learn more about Aboriginal bush foods and plant uses. Or venture inside the South Australian Museum for a guided tour through the largest collection of Australian Aboriginal antiquities with an expert tour guide on hand to answer any questions.
It’s a 20-minute city, meaning you’re never far from your next adventure
Walking for hours upon hours on a summer holiday is a great way to stumble upon something new, but who really wants to walk for that long on a hot day? Luckily, this is a 20-minute city, meaning you’re always a short drive from things to do in Adelaide from good wine, good food, great shopping and your hotel room.
Adelaide’s easy-to-navigate town centre and flat topography makes it cruisy to stroll from the Adelaide Central Market to the Art Gallery of South Australia and the buzzing bars of the East End or Peel Street. If you’ve got the heels on for a night out on the town, you can hire your own personal driver from Door to Door Chauffeurs to take you from A to B in style.
Photo Credit: Bloom (top), Osteria Oggi (left), and Down the Rabbit Hole (right).
A rapidly growing restaurant scene is rivalling the bigger capital cities
Food tastes better in Adelaide. There, we said it. And don’t even get us started on the wine! Known for its abundance of fresh and tasty produce, everything from a simple spaghetti with chilli at Osteria Oggi to roast pumpkin yellow curry at Kiin and avocado on sourdough at Bloom makes an impact. Spring and summer are the perfect seasons to enjoy alfresco dining and sensational views with a glass of South Australian Shiraz from Maxwell Wines and make your way through the city’s seriously elevated culinary offering.
Head Down the Rabbit Hole and come up for air in Adelaide’s answer to Byron Bay. The relaxed restaurant and cellar door is set on expansive farmland with a plentiful (and picture perfect) garden providing everything the chefs need to create colourful plates of food that are good for the soul.
For lunch, we suggest eating your way through the Adelaide Central Market – a hive of activity where Adelaide family businesses sell everything from Sicilian olives to freshly-shucked oysters, smelly cheese from France and pretty Persian love cakes.
Adelaide’s restaurants don’t just deliver dishes that sing with flavour, they serve stylish interiors, too. Honouring the city’s architectural history while introducing design elements from its Mediterranean migrants, Adelaide’s best restaurants are decked out in natural, earthy tones, cool curves, soft greenery, and elegant limestone.
Photo Credit: Hotel Indigo, Garcon Bleu at Sofitel Adelaide, and Luma at The Playford Adelaide.
Centrally located designer hotels have everything you need for a stylish staycation
Sure, adventuring is fun when you’re on holiday, but sometimes you just want to do nothing, or at the very least, have a beautiful and comfortable temporary home to put your feet up at the end of the day. Luckily, Adelaide’s coolest hotels have got you covered.
Hotel Indigo, which boasts Adelaide’s most Instagrammable interiors, has a breezy rooftop bar perfect for a drink in the sun, two on-site restaurants, an infinity pool with a phenomenal view of Adelaide, a gym, and vibrant rooms that celebrate the city's festival calendar. What more could you ask for?
Inspired to book your next getaway to Adelaide? Virgin Australia operates domestic routes from Adelaide. With flights that are far cheaper (and quicker) than a trip to Europe, you'll have more spending money to wine and dine your way through the city.
If you've loved our guide to the best things to do in Adelaide on a holiday, find out more about this glorious city on Sitchu Adelaide. And because the food tastes so good in South Australia, check out our guides to the best Barossa Valley wineries, and our favourite CBD eateries.