Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia. It lies on the eastern shores of Gulf St Vincent in the central, southern part of the Australian continent. Adelaide is Australia's fifth largest city, with a population of over 1.2 million. More than three quarters of South Australians live in the Adelaide metropolitan area.
Adelaide is on a plain between the rolling Adelaide Hills and the Gulf and is bordered by many of Australia's famous wine regions. The Barossa Valley and Clare Valley regions lie to the north, the McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek regions to the south and the cooler climate Adelaide Hills region to the east. Historically known as the City of Churches due to its new world origins as an incubator for religious freedom, much of the architecture in the inner city is retained from the colonial era. Heavily influenced by the prevailing styles popular in England at the time, the heritage architecture is similar to many European cities built in the 19th century. The city is built on a grid plan, featuring tree-lined city streets unusually wide and spacious for an Australian metropolis and six city squares bordered by parklands.
Proximity to premium wine and food growing regions, as well as waves of immigration from Germany, Italy, Greece, Poland, Vietnam, China and India have created a unique multicultural gourmet food and cafe culture in the City and inner suburbs. This cafe culture is supported by Adelaide's global reputation for the arts and particularly the arts festivals held in March including the Adelaide Festival and the Adelaide Fringe Festival, which is second only to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in size.
The city is the home of Adelaide Oval, famed as one of Test cricket's most picturesque grounds and has been redeveloped to host Australian rules football matches during the winter months, a sport which has a long history in the city. Adelaide and the surrounding wine regions also host the Tour Down Under, which is the largest cycling race in the Southern Hemisphere and the first stage of the UCI WorldTour.
Adelaide is the smallest of Australia's "Big Five", and it is much less bustling than any of the other four major cities with a population of over a million. While it may come to a surprise for many, there are no skyscrapers in Adelaide, making Adelaide more closely resemble a city like Hobart or Canberra, rather than cities like Perth, Brisbane or even the Gold Coast, which only has half the population of Adelaide. Due to its laid back nature, it is often nicknamed "Australia's largest country town".
|City and North Adelaide |
Home to the city centre of Adelaide, home to many museums, parks and also the birthplace of the space industry in Australia. The city is also where Adelaide gets lively and its nightlife comes to life, while North Adelaide is home to the famed St. Peter's Cathedral.
|Port Adelaide, Enfield, Prospect and Outer Harbor |
Home to Adelaide's port; Port Adelaide. The area is home to several museums, places to eat and one of the more greener areas of Adelaide.
|West Adelaide |
Home of Adelaide's beachside communities as well as the suburb of Glenelg, an important town centre in the Western suburbs of Adelaide. It's also where Adelaide's surfing culture comes to life.
|South and East |
Home to the Haigh's Chocolate Factory, the factory of one of Australia's finest and most expensive chocolate brands, and the Penfold's winery. The area is also right at the doorstep of Adelaide Hills, a rather mountainous area to the east.
|Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park—Winaityinaityi Pangkara |
One of the largest bird sanctuaries in South Australia and the only national park in South Australia that functions more as a bird sanctuary rather than the usual national park.
|Belair National Park |
An urban national park home to the historic Old Government House, the home of the earliest governors of South Australia. The park also contains some waterfalls and several bushwalking trails through the bush.
|McLaren Vale |
Home to one of the wine growing regions of Adelaide; it may not be as internationally famous as the Barossa Valley but it nevertheless produces top quality wines and is a unique experience.
|Salisbury, Playford and Tea Tree Gully |
The outer suburbs in the northern part of Adelaide known for its many parks and gully and also for Westfield Tea Tree Plaza, one of the most important shopping malls in Adelaide.
An exburb of Adelaide, this rather isolated part is a separate city in its own right. Although Gawler is generally considered to be a borderline as to whether it's part of Adelaide or not, Wikivoyage covers it as its own city and not under Adelaide.
The South Australia time zone is 30 minutes behind Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) used in Victoria, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania. It's also an hour and a half ahead of Australian Western Standard Time (AWST), used in Western Australia and 45 minutes ahead of Eucla which uses Central Western Standard Time (CWST). South Australia observes Daylight Savings Time, similar to other southern/southeastern states but unlike Western Australia, Queensland, or the Northern Territory.
The NSW cities/towns of Broken Hill and Silverton also follow the same time as South Australia.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Adelaide is Australia's driest capital city, with summers that are hot and dry, and with winters that are slightly more wet and cool.
In summer, the average maximum is 29°C (84°F) but there is considerable variation and Adelaide can usually expect several days a year when the daytime temperatures soar above 40°C (104°F). Rainfall is light and infrequent throughout summer. The average in January and February is around 20 millimetres (0.8 inches) but completely rainless months are by no means uncommon. Given the regular hot weather, virtually every public building, indoor tourist destination and most public transport is fully air-conditioned.
In winter from June to August, the average maximum is 15–16°C (59–61°F) and the minimum is usually around 8°C (46°F). Winter sees regular rainfall with June being the wettest month of the year, averaging around 80mm. Frosts are common in the valleys of the Adelaide Hills, but rare elsewhere. Adelaide experiences no snowfall in the city centre itself, although very occasionally a small sprinkling can be observed on higher ground at the top of Mount Lofty and in the Adelaide Hills.
Autumn and spring are slow, gradual changes between the extremes of summer and winter. From mid-February to late March, Adelaide goes into its mad March festival season of arts, music and sport festivals to take advantage of the moderate weather. Spring also makes a good time to visit Adelaide, as flowers are usually in bloom following the rains of winter.
The first people to live on the Adelaide plains were the Kaurna people, whose territory extended from what is now Port Broughton to Adelaide's north, south to Cape Jervis on the southern tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula. The Kaurna lived on the Adelaide plains in family groups called yerta, a word which also referred to the area of land which supported the family group. Each yerta was the responsibility of Kaurna adults who inherited the land and had an intimate knowledge of its resources and features. Adelaide's rich Aboriginal history and living culture can be explored at Tandanya, an Aboriginal-owned culture and history centre on Grenfell Street. Tandanya is free to visit and tours are available for a small charge.
Following the mapping of South Australia's coastline in the early 19th century by European explorers Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin, an expedition down the Murray River was held which reported favourably on land on the coast of Gulf St Vincent. At the same time, British reformers were keen to establish a colony based on free settlement rather than by the transportation of convicts, as all the other Australian colonies at the time were founded. In 1834, the South Australia Company was founded and it convinced the British Parliament to pass a law which created a colony for free settlers in South Australia. In December 1836, after a 10 month journey by a fleet of ships from England, the first Governor, John Hindmarsh proclaimed the creation of the new province in a ceremony in what is now the beachside suburb of Glenelg.
After wrangling between the colonists, Adelaide's first surveyor, William Light designed a city grid of wide boulevards surrounded by parklands, with one central square (Victoria Square) and four smaller squares (Hindmarsh, Light, Whitmore and Hurtle) set on the southern banks of the Torrens. Light's original design, with small changes, largely survives to this day.
The city's early industries were based around mining and agriculture, with England as the key export market. The relatively radical politics of many of the free settlers led to Adelaide being home to early progressive reform including the secret printed ballot, the first jurisdiction in the world to allow women to vote and run for Parliament and early trade unionisation and activism.
Following Australian federation in 1901, South Australia began to move into secondary manufacturing industries, a process which was sent into overdrive by the long term government of the conservative Premier Thomas Playford following World War II. Playford set out to actively attract manufacturing companies like General Motors to South Australia by offering cheap land and low taxes. This, along with the growing ubiquity of car transport, led to Adelaide's relatively low density as workers lived close to the factories where they worked in the outer suburbs.
Mass migration from southern Europe transformed Adelaide's Anglo-Celtic culture, with Greek migrants mainly settling in the inner western and inner southern suburbs and Italian migrants settling in the inner eastern and north-eastern suburbs. These cultural identities persist to today, with continental delis and cafés being a common feature of Adelaide's inner city.
While South Australia's economy boomed, its public and cultural life lost much of its early radicalism, with blue laws requiring bars and pubs to close at six in the evening - causing the "six o'clock swill". The White Australia policy also meant that Adelaide residents were overwhelmingly from European backgrounds.
Cosmopolitan capital city
The 1960s saw a dramatic change in Adelaide's cultural life, with the start of the Adelaide Festival of Arts and Adelaide Fringe Festival, which transformed Adelaide's arts culture and the end of the decade saw the election of the first Labor government since the 1930s. By 1970, Don Dunstan became Premier of South Australia. Dunstan was a transformational figure and sought to reshape Adelaide in the mould of a modern cosmopolitan capital city. Dunstan's government ended the six o'clock swill, pedestrianised Rundle Street creating Rundle Mall and built the Festival Centre, creating a hub for arts in Adelaide. His government enacted a range of progressive reforms, including making South Australia the first jurisdiction in Australia to legalise homosexuality. This time also saw changes to Australia's immigration laws which saw Vietnamese and Chinese migrants join earlier waves of migration and the creation of communities in the north-west and western suburbs, as well as Gouger Street's multilingual Chinatown precinct next to the Adelaide Central Market.
After losing government for one term to the conservatives at the end of the 1970s, Labor returned to office under John Bannon in the 1980s. A more business friendly leader than Dunstan, Premier Bannon sought to drive the development of Adelaide's city, seeing the construction of Adelaide's tallest building now known as Westpac House and the development of the Adelaide Convention Centre and Adelaide Casino. However, bad bank loans saw the state-backed State Bank of South Australia collapse in the early 1990s, requiring a huge government bailout and plunging the state deep into debt.
Revival after the State Bank
The 1990s under the Liberal government led by Premiers Dean Brown, John Olsen and Rob Kerin saw the conservative government undertake asset sales and reduce government services to reduce the state debt. This reduction in government spending, as well as the decline of Australian manufacturing following the abolition of the tariff wall by the federal government, led to slow growth in South Australia's economy and widespread emigration to the eastern capitals, particularly Melbourne.
Labor returned to office in 2002 under Mike Rann who sought to reshape Adelaide's industrial base to focus on education services, mining and defence industry, as well as building on its strengths in wine. Rann's government invested heavily in rebuilding the city, with overhauls to public transport, the construction of a new central hospital and the redevelopment of Adelaide Oval. Following ten years with Premier Rann as leader, Labor elected Jay Weatherill as premier in 2011, who has largely continued this agenda, but with a renewed focus on transforming public spaces in the inner city through the relaxation of planning restrictions and looser liquor licensing for small bars.
- 1 Adelaide Airport (ADL IATA) (around 7 km (4.3 mi) to the west of the city centre and is close to popular tourist beaches at Glenelg and Henley Beach). Adelaide Airport is well-connected to other major cities in Australia, and has daily international flights to hubs in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and New Zealand which allow for one-stop connections around the globe. More frequent flights connecting via Sydney, Melbourne or Perth may be cheaper.
Travellers from East and Southeast Asia can catch direct flights from Singapore (on Singapore Airlines), Kuala Lumpur (on Malaysia Airlines) and Denpasar (on Jetstar Airways). Travellers from the Middle East or northern Africa can catch a daily flight on Qatar Airways from Doha. Travellers from Europe can take a one-stop journey to Adelaide on any of these carriers.
Travellers from New Zealand can catch a direct flight flying daily from Auckland on Air New Zealand. Travellers from North America or South America can travel one-stop on Air New Zealand via Auckland or can transit to a frequent domestic flight after first landing in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.
Domestic services within Australia include frequent services to every mainland capital city on full-service carriers Qantas and Virgin Australia. Jetstar is a budget carrier that operates less frequent, heavily discounted services mainly to Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast. There are also flights to Alice Springs and Cairns.
Regional services and operations are provided by Regional Express Airlines (Rex), Alliance Airlines, Cobham Airlines and Qantaslink flights operated by both Cobham Airlines and by Alliance Airlines. These services operate mainly to South Australia's regional cities and towns including Mt Gambier, Kingscote (Kangaroo Island), Port Lincoln and Whyalla, but also serve Mildura in Victoria and Broken Hill in New South Wales.
There is only a single terminal for international and domestic departures; accordingly, transfers are relatively seamless. The airport has ATMs and currency change. Food and shopping is available both landside and airside. Lockers are available in the car rental area in the carpark, including some larger lockers that would fit bike boxes. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the terminal.
Between the airport and the city
Adelaide Metro's regular JetBus[dead link] J1/J2/J7/J8 connects the airport with the City, Glenelg and some major shopping centres. J1 Services depart every 15 minutes 8AM to 6PM every day to the City, less frequent from 5AM to 11PM. The journey to the City takes around 25 minutes during peak hour. Services to Glenelg are every half hour during the day, less at night. Services to Arndale, West Lakes and Marion shopping centre are hourly during weekdays.
Buses depart from a single dedicated stop left (west) of the Short Term Car Park outside the main terminal. All buses in all directions leave from this one stop, so check the front of the bus to make sure its heading where you want to go! Realtime bus information is available for this stop[dead link] and all Adelaide Metro stops or via dedicated apps for your Smartphone like metroMATE[dead link].
The JetBus is part of the Adelaide Metro network, so the standard ticket types and fares in the public transport section apply, and a ticket used on the JetBus can be used with another bus, train or tram according to its type. metroCARDs are also available for sale at the airport from a vending machine next to the JetBus stop.
Taxis are available downstairs out the front of the terminal. A taxi to the City costs around $30 during the morning peak hour and around $20 at other times, which can make it as economical as the JetBus for a group. Drivers will always use the meter, but a $2 surcharge is payable in addition to the metered amount for pickups from the airport.
Major national rental car companies operate kiosks on the ground floor near baggage claim. The car rental car park is on the ground level directly opposite the terminal.
Adelaide is at least a day's drive away from the capital cities on the Australian east coast. The shortest driving route from Adelaide to Melbourne takes 8–9 hours. There are some freeway sections, but the roads are mostly 2-lane roads of highway quality.
From Melbourne, Adelaide is 736 km (457 mi)via Horsham (A8) or 901 km (560 mi) via Mt Gambier (A1/B1). The journey via Mt Gambier takes you through the Coonawarra wine region, one of the most renowned cabernet sauvignon regions in Australia and also is convenient for a side tour via the Great Ocean Road. The trip via Horsham is more direct, but has fewer tourist attractions.
From Sydney, Adelaide is 1,422 km (884 mi) via Wagga Wagga and Mildura (A20). Freeway conditions from Sydney to Wagga Wagga (the divided highway ends at Tarcutta, but it's only a mere 40 km from there) cut hours from the trip. This route also passes close to Canberra, Australia's national capital, which is 1,196 km (743 mi) from Adelaide.
Another option from Sydney is the 1,659 km (1,031 mi) route via Broken Hill (A32), which takes you through the Outback and one of Australia's most historic mining towns. The 2,031 km (1,262 mi) route from Brisbane also goes via Broken Hill.
While Adelaide is the closest capital city to Perth, the 2,550 km (1,580 mi) journey across the Nullarbor is still arduous, though it's a unique drive through some of the most remote places in the inhabited world. Similarly, the 3,027 km (1,881 mi) journey north to Darwin via Alice Springs travels through the true Outback and Uluru is only three hours from the main highway north. However, both these drives are usually drives that ordinary Australians only do about once or twice in their lifetimes.
Journey Beyond runs long distance tourist train services to and from Adelaide. The Ghan runs to Alice Springs and Darwin, the Indian Pacific runs to Perth and Sydney, and The Overland runs to Melbourne, and The former two are luxury experiences, and offer sleepers, meals in a dedicated restaurant car, and the opportunity to take your car with you if you are travelling to or from Perth or Darwin. However, they take considerably longer than driving yourself. The Ghan and the Indian Pacific are also generally more expensive than a plane ticket would be, but the Overland is usually cheaper — even the equivalent of a business-class Overland ticket is comparable to an economy-class Adelaide-Melbourne flight on a full-service airline. The Overland also has interim stops at a number of rural locations, which may be convenient if your travel itinerary involves some smaller towns. Note that Journey Beyond trains lack Wi-Fi.
These interstate trains depart from the 2 Adelaide Parklands Terminal just outside of the city. The station can be accessed by car or bus from Richmond Road. Since the demolition of Keswick station, there are no connections to the suburban rail network. Taxis are also available to meet all arrivals.
There are no country rail services in South Australia.
Interstate buses are operated by a number of coach companies including Greyhound, Firefly and V/Line. The journey from Melbourne takes around eleven and a half hours, with both day and overnight services. The trip from Sydney can take up to 24 hours and by definition travels overnight. Fares are less than train and most plane travel, at least on the Adelaide-Melbourne route, although if the timing lines up just right an Adelaide-Sydney budget-airline flight may be cheaper than the bus.
Regional buses to South Australian country cities and towns are also operated by the interstate bus companies, but local South Australian coach companies including LinkSA and Premier Stateliner often provide more frequent services.
Almost all interstate and regional buses depart from the 3 Adelaide Central Bus Station at 85 Franklin Street in the City. The Central Bus Station operates 5AM-9:30PM, 7 days a week. It has modern amenities as well as a café and it is just across the road from the Adelaide Central Market, a Coles supermarket and Chinatown.
A range of cruise ships call at the 4 Port Adelaide Passenger Terminal during the cruise boat season, which runs from November to April each year. A list of ships arriving in Adelaide is available from Flinders Ports.
Bicycle SA, 53 Carrington St (about a 15-min walk SE of the bus station), ☏ . Operates a free bike hire service sponsored by a group of inner city councils. Bikes are available from more than 10 locations across the City and the inner suburbs for free, but must be returned M-F before 4:30 or 5PM weekends or a $25 fee is payable. Arrangements can be made for bicycles to be hired overnight for an additional fee but all hires are stopped if temperatures are forecast to top 38°C. A list of locations for hire is listed on Bicycle SA's website Bikes are step thru-models with front baskets and a sturdy rear carrier (but you'll need to provide bungy straps or lashings). Front calliper brake, rear brake is an annoying back-pedal arrangement. Shimano 3 speed hub gear. They'll also supply you with a long sturdy combination lock and cycle helmet when you leave some photo ID.
A popular ride is to ride from the city centre along the River Torrens out to West Beach, then down to Glenelg and back. You cannot take your bike on the Glenelg Tram or any bus, even outside peak hour, however you can take them on trains. An alternative to taking the tram back from Glenelg is to ride a further 20 minutes south along the coast to Brighton Station on the Noarlunga Centre Line where there are reasonably frequent trains back to Adelaide.
Accurate transit directions can be obtained through Google and Apple Maps. To navigate around, just enter your "to" address and "from" address (or use current location) on your device (including iPhone, Android), then select the public transport icon. Realtime arrival information is available from the Adelaide Metro website or a number of apps for smartphones (e.g. Transittimes), use the time before your vehicle arrives to have a look around the nearby area.
Bicycles can be taken on trains (but not on trams or buses). On Monday to Friday before 9AM and between 3-6PM a peak concession fare is required (except for Seniors Card members). All other times bicycles can be taken for free.
Ticketing and route information
Metropolitan train, tram and bus services are operated under the unified brand name Adelaide Metro and use a unified ticketing system, "Metroticket".
- Adelaide Railway Station InfoCentre, Adelaide Railway Station, North Terrace, toll-free: 1300 311 108. Daily 7AM-8PM. Or the Adelaide Metro website are the places to visit for timetable and route information. Accurate public transit information is also available through Google Maps, which has an easy trip planner if you select 'Transit' directions either on the website or a smartphone.
Single trip tickets with unlimited transfers for two hours are sold on buses, trams and at major train stations for $5.90 peak and $4 off-peak. Alternatively, a $11.20 daytrip ticket is available, allowing unlimited travel within the Adelaide Metro area for an entire day.
Travellers in Adelaide for longer than a couple of days should buy a metroCARD for $10 which comes with $5 of value included. Trips on metroCARD cost $4.05 peak and $2.25 off-peak. metroCARDs are sold at major train stations (Adelaide, Elizabeth, Gawler, Noarlunga Centre, Oaklands, Mawson Lakes and Salisbury) as well as most newsagents and corner stores. A list of locations is on the Adelaide Metro website. metroCARDs can be topped up wherever they are sold as well as on trains and trams using coins or major credit cards.
There is also a $26 Visitor metroCARD that can be used for unlimited travel on the network for 3 days. After the 3-day period, the pass can be topped up and used just like a normal metroCARD.
Off-peak is on Monday to Friday between 9:01AM and 3PM, and all day on Sundays and public holidays. All other times are peak times.
There are free trams and buses in the City centre (see below for details). For those services you don't need a metroCARD or paper MetroTicket.
The Adelaide Metro train system has four main lines, with two additional branch lines.
- The Outer Harbor Line, which goes up the Le Fevre Peninsula in the north-west of the city via Port Adelaide and Glanville. The Outer Harbor line is convenient for the Semaphore tourist precinct, the historic maritime district in Port Adelaide and the Queen Street cafe strip in Croydon. The Grange line branches off the Outer Harbor line at Woodville.
- The Gawler Line, to Gawler Central in the north of the city, through Ovingham, Mawson Lakes, Salisbury and Elizabeth.
- The electrified Seaford Line, which extends to Seaford in the far south of the city, via the beachside suburb of Brighton and Noarlunga Centre. The Seaford line provides access to beaches at Brighton and Hallett Cove, and to Westfield Marion at Oaklands. The Tonsley line branches off the Seaford line and it only operates Monday to Friday until the early evening.
- The picturesque Belair Line which extends to Belair in the Adelaide foothills through Blackwood and the inner south-eastern suburbs of the city. The Belair line is useful to access Belair National Park.
The Adelaide Metro has a comprehensive bus network, centred in the City. Full maps and information are available at the Adelaide Metro website. Most main roads including cafe precincts like The Parade, Prospect Road, Henley Beach Road, King William Road and O'Connell St are 'Go Zones' which have regular buses on weekdays at least every 15 minutes until the early evening. Adelaide's bus network extends out to the outer suburbs, to the Adelaide Hills in the east, down to McLaren Vale in the south (although buses there are infrequent) and as far as Gawler in the north. It does not cover the Barossa Valley. Frequencies in the outer suburbs are much lower than in the City.
The O-Bahn is a bus rapid transit (BRT) line which runs to Adelaide's north-eastern suburbs. O-Bahn buses run from Grenfell Street in the City, entering the O-Bahn at Hackney and stop at Klemzig, Paradise and Modbury Interchanges. After finishing on the O-Bahn, the buses drive the same as a regular bus to reach their destination. O-Bahn services are very frequent, as often as every 3 to 5 minutes during peak hour to interchanges and every 15 minutes off-peak.
Be warned that bus frequency declines sharply after 7PM, with hourly intervals being typical in the outer suburbs, half hourly along Go Zones and every 15 minutes on the O-Bahn. All services cease operation around midnight, so check your timetables and expect to catch a taxi if required if you are out after this time. Very basic After Midnight bus services along limited routes operate hourly after midnight on Saturday nights only.
The free City Connector 99A and 99C (anti-clockwise and clockwise loop) buses each have about 30 stops taking in all the major cultural and commercial centres in the City, beginning at Victoria Square and including Adelaide Railway Station. The buses feature ground-level access ramps. They run every 30min on Monday to Friday from 8:30AM–7:00PM for the 99A, and from 8:15AM–7:15PM for the 99C. They do not operate on the weekend or on Christmas Day or Good Friday.
The free City Connector 98A and 98C (anti-clockwise and clockwise loop) buses operate every day. They cover the same City centre area as the 99A and 99C, and include a loop in North Adelaide.
The 99A, 99C, 98A and 98C services combined run every 15min Monday-Friday.
Adelaide has a tram line which runs from the Adelaide Entertainment Centre in Hindmarsh along North Terrace to the Botanic Garden. A second line starts from the Royal Adelaide Hospital through the City then down through the south-western suburbs to the beachside suburb of Glenelg. The Railway Station is a convenient stop to swap between the lines. Travel in the City between the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Botanic Garden and South Terrace is free, while travel to Glenelg needs a ticket or a metroCARD. Tickets can be purchased from ticket machines on all trams or at some stops.
As well as being convenient for popular tourist destination Glenelg from the City, the tram also stops at Rundle Mall, Victoria Square near the Adelaide Central Market and at North Terrace near Adelaide Railway Station. Travelling north on the tram takes you to Hindmarsh and Bowden, the home of the Adelaide Entertainment Centre venue for stadium concerts as well as a popular cafe and restaurant strip along Port Road and the side streets alongside.
If you're driving a car, a convenient (and popular) alternative to parking in the City is to park at the Entertainment Centre and catch the tram into the City. It only costs $4 for a whole weekday, which is much cheaper than city parking.
The City centre is relatively compact and can be easily covered on foot. Most attractions are centred around the blocks between North Terrace and Victoria Square on either side of King William Street. The core Rundle Mall shopping district is entirely pedestrianised. The Gouger Street precinct and the Adelaide Central Market are also great destinations for a walking traveller.
Travellers keen to keep up on jogging while away can use popular jogging tracks along the River Torrens and through the Parklands.
Adelaide has three main taxi companies which operate 24/7:
Cabs in South Australia are white (even those operated by 'Yellow Cabs') and they are clearly marked. It is generally possible to hail a taxi in the street or from a major hotel during business hours in the City, but in the suburbs you typically need to call one of the company booking services listed. There are a number of cab ranks which are staffed by the Taxi Council at night on weekends. Supervised taxi ranks offer extra security with lights and supervision by a concierge and a security officer. They operate 11PM-3AM on Fridays and 11PM-5AM on Saturdays. A map of locations is available on their website.
All taxis in Adelaide are required by the State Government to charge a regulated metered tariff, according to the time that the journey commences. Tariff one is the normal tariff rate and tariff two is a higher rate that applies between Monday to Friday 7PM-6AM, and on weekends and public holidays. Drivers almost always use the meter and are legally required to do so. Payment can be made by cash, EFTPOS, debit and credit cards and Cabcharge. It's a good idea to let the driver know if you are planning to pay with a method other than cash before you start your trip, as the machines can be unreliable.
Adelaide's city centre and inner suburbs like Glenelg, Norwood and Prospect are easily traversed walking and using public transport. However, if you are expecting to spend a lot of time outside the city centre or you are planning a trip to a wine region, a car is useful to avoid long trips on public transport or in the case of the Barossa Valley, to get around at all.
Unlike other Australian state capitals, Adelaide does not have a network of freeways leading directly into the city centre. The freeways that exist begin in the outer suburbs and are for the purpose of carrying traffic to the nearby country towns. Speed limits on most major roads are signposted at 60 km/h, though the default speed limit is 50 km/h if no speed limit is posted. Speed limits are strictly enforced, and even creeping ever so slightly above the speed limit may earn you a ticket with a $350 fine.
All of Adelaide's roads as well as those throughout South Australia are toll-free.
Major national rental car companies operate kiosks at Adelaide Airport on the ground floor near baggage claim.
Adelaide's main important attractions are mostly centred in the City and North Adelaide. Unlike Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth, Adelaide isn't a place you would want to go specifically for city life and it's a lot less bustling than the other big cities. Instead, Adelaide is more known for its churches, and a trip to Adelaide is never complete without visiting one of its churches, not because of any historical or religious significance, but rather for their architecture. If you can only afford time to see one, St Peter's Cathedral in North Adelaide is one of the most iconic churches in Australia.
Unlike other cities, Adelaide does not have a pass covering all the attractions.
Parks and gardens
Unlike most other cities, most of Adelaide's parks and gardens surround the city, forming a nice boundary distinguishing it from the rest of Adelaide instead of them being completely in the outskirts. There is also another boundary around North Adelaide as well, bordering the River Torrens making most of Adelaide's parks and gardens concentrated in that small but yet diverse green patch of land in the city.
Most of the other parks and gardens are otherwise found in the outer suburbs, particularly in the southeastern areas of Adelaide, often spacious and have a vast recreational space.
The parks in the city and North Adelaide are an obvious sign that you're in a city, while some like Morialta Conservation Park give a feel that you're out and about in the bush while some like Belair National Park have the perfect smooth transition between urban and rural.
When it comes to national parks, the area of Adelaide only has three national parks, not like Sydney's eleven national parks, which for some would still be considered a lot for a city of its size. The national parks are listed below:
- The first national park of South Australia; Belair National Park is home to numerous significant buildings including an old government house. The park has many walking trails as well as some waterfalls
- The second national park of Adelaide is somewhat on the border of Adelaide, and is very much a bird sanctuary, the coastal national park of Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park—Winaityinaityi Pangkara (if that name is hard to pronounce or is too long, Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary or Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park will do), is home to several white beaches and is a particularly good place if you want to see dolphins
- The third and newest national park is Glenthorne National Park—Ityamaiitpinna Yarta (if that's too long, Glenthorne National Park will do) was created in November 2020, which is fairly new compared to the other two national parks and is in the process of being converted to a national park from a conservation park.
Depending on whether you consider Adelaide Hills to be a part of Adelaide, Cleland National Park was also converted from a conservation park to a national park, which includes several mountain bike and hiking trails and Mt. Lofty, the only place where it ever snows in Adelaide, although that too is very very rare. Nevertheless, it's still a nice park to take a stroll.
In December 2021, Adelaide was named the world's second "National Park City" by the International National Park City Foundation (an organisation to promote national parks) after London which became the first in 2019. It's believed that 95% of Adelaide's residents reside just 400 metres from a park, and over 30% of the city is covered in green space, making Adelaide Australia's greenest city (although almost half of Canberra is taken up in a national park).
Museums and galleries
Adelaide's museums and galleries are also centred in the city and North Adelaide as well, just like the parks and gardens or most of the things to see or do in Adelaide, but there's a sizable number of museums in the Port Adelaide/Outer Harbor region as well.
Just like any other capital city, Adelaide has an art gallery, a state museum containing historical artifacts from all over South Australia as well as the border areas neighbouring states, an old gaol (old jail) and most of all, a wine centre in the city. In the suburbs, there's also a railway (railroad) museum, an aviation museum along with many others.
Out of all the museums, exhibitions or galleries in Adelaide, these are some that are particularly important:
- National Wine Centre – in the city, a trip to South Australia without learning about the state's wine culture is never complete.
- The South Australian Museum also in the city is very much South Australia's state museum containing artifacts and an indigenous collection along with several galleries. Just like most museums, it's free.
- Although South Australia did not have such a large number of migrants unlike Sydney or Melbourne, the Migration Museum in the city tells stories of immigrants to South Australia throughout history, and it might surprise you more than you think – South Australia is still a pretty multicultural state, despite stereotypes
- The Art Gallery of South Australia in the city is a particular place of interest for those interested in different genres of art.
There are several other museums, exhibitions and galleries too. See the relevant district articles for information about them.
Adelaide's beaches are mostly in West Adelaide, given the fact that it's the only large district to have a coastline. While Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park—Winaityinaityi Pangkara also has a long coastline, it's protected and not really a beach for swimming.
If there's anything that's a must at any Adelaide beach, it's surfing at one of the many surf beaches (Glenelg and West Beaches), an Australian classic. Some beaches have surf schools and places where you can rent surfboards, but to a much lesser extent than Sydney.
However, there are some beaches in particular, that get more visitors and are more popular beaches than others:
- Glenelg Beach – The historic beachside suburb of Glenelg has a jetty, the Grand hotel and many restaurants and cafés. Very popular with young and old, lots of volleyball competitions.
- West Beach – Ideal for family walks and swimming. It is reasonably close to both Glenelg and Henley Beach. At Henley Beach there is Henley square which hosts some 15 restaurants - an excellent dining venue. All the beaches along Adelaide's coastline are excellent white sand beaches, some with public toilets and cold water showers. If you want to 'wet a line' there are jetties at (suburban beaches, from north to south) Grange, Semaphore, Henley Beach, Glenelg, Brighton and Port Noarlunga.
As every city does, Adelaide also is known for its sport. As with most other Australian cities, Australian rules football (AFL) is by far the most played sport, with cricket not far behind. Unlike Queensland or most of New South Wales, rugby league is not popular in Adelaide.
- Adelaide Oval – During the summer months get down to the Adelaide Oval for a cricket match. Australia plays host to a couple of touring nations each summer and they will play a few matches at this beautiful ground which is just between the city and North Adelaide, in that small space of greenery. Tickets for internationals tend to be snapped up quickly, but domestic matches are frequent and equally exciting.
- AFL, the peak league for professional Australian Rules Football. Home games for the local teams the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide Power are played at Adelaide Oval in North Adelaide. Getting tickets shouldn't be a problem - check out the AFL website for more details.
- SANFL, the state Aussie Rules league, has 5 games per weekend at a number of locations throughout the city and suburbs. Norwood Oval, home of the Redlegs, is situated on the Parade in Norwood which is home to a variety of restaurant, café and pub options for after the game.
- Check out the Adelaide United (soccer team) at Hindmarsh Stadium.
- Format Collective in 15 Peel St is a two-storey performance space with a permanent zine store which hosts small art shows, some of the more experimental gigs, discussion panels and performance art. Much of this is concentrated in the yearly Format Festival which is on at the same time as the Fringe Festival and is considered a more experimental alternative, although there are things on all year round. Known for its hipsters, Japanese beer, and nostalgic games of four-square.
One of the best times of the year to visit is during Mad March, when a multitude of festivals and events are held. These include the Adelaide Fringe, the Clipsal 500 Car race, the Adelaide Festival, WOMADdelaide and the Adelaide Cup horseracing carnival.
- Adelaide 500 (Superloop Adelaide 500) – During mid-March, the Adelaide 500 supercar racing event is very popular, sporting massive street parties, huge concert line-ups and many fanatic Adelaidians.
- Adelaide Fringe Festival – During late Feb-March, the Fringe Festival (second largest of its type in the world) and Festival of Arts bring the city alive with music, arts, dance and culture from all over the world. Both are large and very popular events visited by people from all over the world.
- WOMADelaide (World of Music Arts and Dance) – A hugely popular music festival now held every year in March. People come here from all over Australia and overseas. It shows Adelaide at its very best.
Three different universities call Adelaide home, of which the University of Adelaide is the best regarded. The other two universities in the Adelaide area are the University of South Australia and Flinders University. There are opportunities for international students to enrol in these universities, either as degree students, or as part of exchange programs with foreign universities.
Unlike the "big four" Australian cities, top-end luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada do not have a presence in Adelaide. The Victorian Adelaide Arcade that runs south from Rundle Mall has a fine collection of boutiques and specialist shopping such as numismatics, antiques and chocolatiers. Another good place to look for semi-luxury items would be Burnside Village in the eastern suburbs.
Malls and shopping precincts
Although Adelaide has many malls and shopping precincts, there are some that are of particular interest to travellers:
- Rundle Mall in Adelaide City – a pedestrian-only shopping strip, with many arcades and side streets coming off it. Runs parallel to North Terrace. Over 800 shops.
- Tea Tree Plaza (TTP for short) in Tea Tree Gully – a medium-sized shopping centre with over 250 shops. Tea Tree Plaza is the terminus of the Adelaide O'Bahn dedicated busway which begins in the city centre at Hackney Rd. It is easy to get there from the city centre; most of the buses that stop on the Grenfell St stops travel to the TTP interchange[dead link] via the O'Bahn busway. It's easy to see from a distance as it has the large antenna and supporting pyramid type structure, well-known to the locals, on the roof of the Myer department store. Ample parking is available around, on top of, and underneath the complex. The much smaller Tea Tree Plus shopping centre is right next to Tea Tree Plaza.
- Westfield Marion Shopping Centre in West Adelaide – Adelaide's largest shopping mall with over 400 shops. There are direct buses from the city centre to this Westfield.
- Harbour Town also in West Adelaide just next to the airport – it's a mid-sized mall undergoing an expansion, featuring outlet shopping, situated up against the western edge of the Adelaide Airport. Only a short bus ride from the Airport, and 30 minutes from the city and North Adelaide. Also, no, this is not a spelling mistake.
When it comes to food markets, Adelaide is never short of them. Some in particular include:
- The Central Market between Grote and Gouger St, west of Victoria Square in Adelaide/City and North Adelaide – which has all your fresh fruit and veggies under one Victorian roof. It's not just vegetarians that will salivate here since foods and non-foods of every variety compete for the best displays. For those looking to buy food to take back home, Central Market is probably what you'd be looking for
- Chinatown While it may come to a surprise for many, Adelaide also has a Chinatown, which is a pedestrian-only area (Moonta St) adjacent to Central Market.
- City East IGA – this IGA won the best IGA Supermarket in SA for its amazing food range, including Greek, Italian, Chinese and Indian ranges. As its name implies, it's in the eastern side of city
- Gaganis Brothers in West Adelaide is a food wholesaler but sells to the public with an amazing selection of ethnic foods. Most items available in larger quantities.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
The BYO culture
While fairly unusual in the rest of the world, it's common for restaurants in Australia and New Zealand to allow patrons to bring bottled wine to dinner. This practice is called 'BYO', short for "bring your own". Originally resulting from a loophole in liquor licensing laws, BYO is now a great opportunity to enjoy some of the wine which you have bought in a wine region, or to visit a local 'bottle shop' and enjoy a wider selection at lower prices.
Nowhere in Australia is BYO more common than in Adelaide. Most restaurants in Adelaide which serve alcohol will also allow BYO, though it's a good idea to call ahead to make sure. It's common for a charge called 'corkage' to be applied to the bill. Corkage will typically be around $10–15 per bottle, though higher charges are not unheard of. Corkage is applied even if your wine is under a screwtop rather than a cork, like virtually all recently produced Australian wine.
The City caters to virtually every different taste and price range. Adelaide has one of the largest number of restaurants and cafes per person in Australia and most of the best are in the City.
- Gouger Street, Chinatown and the Central Market precinct is a multicultural food and wine paradise. Best known in Adelaide for good quality Asian food at a reasonable price, Gouger Street attracts a wide range of clientele from lawyers and public servants from the adjacent courts and State government precinct to new migrants. Chinatown and Gouger St is the hub of Chinese cuisine and culture in Adelaide and there are a wide range of Chinese restaurants along the strip. Other Asian cuisines are also featured including Thai, Vietnamese and Indian. On the northern side of Gouger St, the Adelaide Central Market has a great range of hawker style food stalls as well as a few older European cafes. The last decade has also seen the emergence of high-end dining on Gouger St, with a number of more expensive options joining the long standing and locally famed Argentinian restaurant, Gaucho's.
- Rundle Street and the East End is the traditional hub of Italian and Greek cuisine in Adelaide, but there are also newer Chinese, Thai and Japanese restaurants. Like Gouger St, it has options across the spectrum of budgets, with the western end of the street closer to Adelaide University catering more to the budget end while the eastern end is more upmarket. The East End laneways off of Rundle Street have a range of smaller, quirkier cafes - Ebenezer Place, Bent Street and Union Street all have a few alternative options.
- Waymouth Street and Pirie Street have emerged as new eating destinations over the last decade, particularly for an upmarket lunch. Waymouth Street, on the western side of King William Street, has a range of high end cafes, bistros and bars, while Pirie Street has a few new cafes.
- Hindley Street is best known for its bars and nightlife, but has a range of multicultural food options, particularly Middle Eastern and Asian. The Leigh Street and Bank Street laneways have also emerged as dining destinations in their own right.
- Hutt Street is smaller scale and offers a small variety of upmarket restaurants that please most tastes, and also has a wide variety of gourmet shops and supermarkets.
- The South West Corner of the City's square mile, south of the Gouger Street precinct, is more residential but includes some of Adelaide's most interesting dining experiences sprinkled among the heritage homes and apartments.
- An eclectic mix of small restaurants and cafes make Melbourne Street an interesting place to eat.
- The variety of take-aways, pubs, cafes, bakeries and restaurants that line most of O'Connell Street means you won't be wanting. A local speciality to try is the AB, a dish consisted of shredded yiros meat on top of hot chips and topped with chilli sauce, tomato sauce, barbecue sauce and garlic sauce, of which there are two shops that claim to have invented the dish; The Blue & White Cafe and North Adelaide Burger Bar.
- The Parade, Norwood has a long stretch of shopping and cosmopolitan dining. Buses from the CBD numbering 122-124 or a very short taxi ride.
- Jetty Road / Mosley Square, Glenelg has a variety of restaurants and pubs at the end of a 30 minute tram journey.
- Stuart Road, Dulwich features two cafes, a licensed restaurant and a very good bakery. Catch the 145 or 146 from North Ter which heads along Fullarton Rd and up Dulwich Ave.
- King William Road, Hyde Park is an upmarket strip of fashionable cafes, coffee shops and restaurants.
There are a lot of budget eateries in Adelaide. They don't usually look like much from the outside but most have something going for them - the reason that they are still in business. It pays to look through menus plastered onto doors. Cheap eats should be anywhere from $8–14 for a main, and no more.
There aren't many chains specific to Adelaide, with the sole exception of Fasta Pasta which you can expect to pay from $10 for a plate of pasta. The chain has somewhat become the fast food version of pasta. In more recent times, it can now be found in other states and its popularity in South Australia is due to the chain having started in Adelaide.
Although there are a lot of budget eateries in Adelaide, there are more mid-range eateries. They can be found in every part of Adelaide, and if you're on a budget and in an area without budget eateries. Pubs are generally a good place to look for mid-ranged food, with most pubs featuring fish and chips, as well as other Australian staples such as steaks, lamb chops, schitzels, pasta and risotto.
As with nearly everything in Adelaide, much of it can mainly be found in the city and North Adelaide, but there's plenty of them in smaller town centres. Cuisine wise, it's pretty easy to find Italian and Indian cuisines. Finding Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai) cuisines are also easy, but may not match the standards in Sydney while finding Greek and Mediterranean cuisine is also easy, but may not match the standard found in Melbourne.
Finding a fine dining restaurant in the city is pretty easy, but finding one in the suburbs is considerably less so. That said, the suburbs also have some excellent fine dining options if you know where to look. The nearby wine regions like McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley also have excellent fine dining options, with several wineries having restaurants overlooking their vineyards that only open for lunch. Unlike other cities, if you're going to a fine dining restaurant, there is no dress code. See the #Dress codes section.
As Australians are generally casual, feel free to wear whatever you think suits well. Although most people make an effort to dress up for fancier restaurants, there is no requirement and both restaurants and diners alike are relaxed about dress standards, and so it's not uncommon to see people wearing jeans at restaurants, especially among the younger generations.
There are pubs and bars (also known as "hotels" in Australia) dotted all around the CBD, but a few districts are worth singling out. Rundle Street and its neighbouring area known simply as "The East End" have a number of popular pubs. Hindley St used to be notorious as the seedy home of Adelaide's strip clubs and bikie bars, but it, and "The West End" have undergone a renaissance. The eastern end of Hindley Street is more mainstream, whereas the western end, west of Morphett Street has a few trendier and more alternative venues. The seedy places are still there, but so too is a university campus and a number of trendy bars and clubs. Also important are Gouger Street and its many restaurants but with an increasing number of bars and pubs. O'Connell Street is home to a few of North Adelaide's popular pubs.
There are also many bars in the suburbs of Adelaide which usually are busier on Thursday and Friday evenings. Quite a lot of the locals will go to the hotels in the suburbs on Thursday and Friday evenings, and go into the Adelaide CBD on Saturday evenings.
Smoking in pubs and clubs is banned under South Australian law. Many drinking establishments have outdoor areas where smoking is permitted.
Adelaide has hundreds of accommodation options in the CBD (central business district, i.e. downtown) to consider, from backpackers hotels to five star hotels. However, there are options out of the central area too.
If you are travelling on business, there may be business-style accommodation near to where you are working, but otherwise, the city centre generally has more availability.
If you are into camping, the closest camping to the city is in Belair National Park in the southeastern suburbs of Adelaide. The park is less than 10 km from the city, and there is a train service near the park.
If you are into the beach, you have no choice but to choose the suburbs closer to the coast. The closest one to the city is Glenelg, but there are some in Port Adelaide or Outer Harbor too.
There is a choice of backpacker accommodation around the central bus station. Popular districts for these include parts of the CBD and in some of the southern and northern outer suburbs of Adelaide.
As always, your best bet of finding a choice of mid-range accommodation is the CBD (both the city and North Adelaide), often connected to Victoria Square by public transport. Sometimes a cheaper motel-style accommodation can be obtained on the roads leading into Adelaide. Outside the CBD, most accommodation found will likely be mid-range, but the prices may be slightly lower with more facilities.
Adelaide has the usual splurge chains such as Hilton or Novotel, mostly concentrated in the CBD. Luxury hotels can be found throughout Adelaide, but in particular, the city and West Adelaide are worth checking out – the former for convenience, and the latter for its beach views.
The Australia-wide emergency number is 000. The ambulance service, fire service and police are available through this number. For non-emergency police assistance, dial 131 444.
Adelaide is considered a safe city, and much more so than other Australian capitals. People should however exercise personal safety, particularly at night. Most violent crime in Adelaide is fuelled by alcohol, so be sure to be vigilant and avoid any confrontations if you are in the bars or nightclubs at night.
The city parklands are poorly lit and are best avoided after dark due to the presence of intoxicated people. If you need to cross the parklands to reach the suburbs, stay near the road. Catching a taxi or public transport is recommended at night.
Trains in Adelaide are generally reliable and arrive and depart on schedule. (Buses can be slightly more variable.) There are security guards on all trains after 7PM and many rail services have bus connections available.
At night, police actively patrol the city centre, especially Hindley Street, the latter being where many of the city's nightclubs and bars are. Taxi ranks are near the Adelaide Casino on North Terrace, the Hilton Adelaide Hotel on Victoria Square, and the junction of Rundle Street and Pulteney Street outside the Hungry Jacks fast food outlet. Most regular public transport services end before or at midnight, but special After Midnight bus services operate Saturday night only, travelling from the city to brightly-lit points throughout Adelaide's suburbs.
Adelaide's remote location in the world's driest continent means that all of its drinking water is sourced from the River Murray or local reservoirs. Although the water is perfectly safe to drink, it does make tap water unpalatable to those not used to it and is best drunk filtered.
There is extensive free Wi-Fi access (port 80 only) in the CBD and the airport provided by Internode.
- Germany, PO Box 90 - Rundle Mall,, ☏ . M-F 10AM-1PM strictly by appointment. Honorary consulate only.
- Thailand, Room 9, 144 South Terrace, ☏ . M-F 11AM-3PM, except Thai and Australian holidays. Honorary consulate.
- Adelaide Hills, including the Mt Lofty Summit, provides spectacular views of the Adelaide metropolitan area. The Adelaide Hills are a series of villages, each having its own unique character. In particular, the towns of Hahndorf and Stirling are worth visiting.
- The wine regions of the Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley and Clare Valley
- Kangaroo Island. Explore the natural environment.
- Flinders Ranges. Head north to explore the natural beauty and frontier history of the Flinders Ranges and Wilpena Pound
- Victor Harbor, just an hour or so drive south of Adelaide. Granite Island is one of the few places you can see Fairy Penguins in their natural habitat. Visit the nearby surf beaches in Pt Elliot, Middletown and Goolwa.
- Whispering wall, at the Barossa Reservoir.
- Yorke Peninsula is a popular holiday destination for Adelaidians, and less touristy than Victor Harbor, with towns dotted along the coast and the rugged Innes National Park at the foot of the peninsula.
- Alice Springs, 1,500 km of driving. Main stops on the way are Port Augusta and Coober Pedy. Eventually, heading through the Northern Territory you will reach the turn off to Uluru.
- Melbourne, via Coorong National Park, followed by the Limestone Coast and finally the Great Ocean Road before arriving in Melbourne.
- Eyre Peninsula. Visit the historic town of Port Lincoln where you can see the massive tuna farms as well as going diving with Great White Sharks (in a cage) or swim with the dolphins and the seals. Also on the Eyre Peninsula is Coffin Bay, where Australia's best oysters are procured from.
|Port Augusta ← Port Pirie ←||N E||→ END|
|Port Augusta ← Port Pirie ←||W E||→ Gladstone, Peterborough → Broken Hill|
|END ←||W E||→ Murray Bridge → Melbourne|
|Port Augusta ← Port Wakefield ←||N S||→ jct Adelaide Hills → |
|END ←||N S||→ Aldinga → Kangaroo Island|