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South Australia Travel | The Top 10 Things to do in Adelaide & Surrounds
Thinking of travelling to South Australia? Well, visiting the city of Adelaide and its surrounds should be right at the top of your list.
Best known for its lush riverbank parklands, grand museums, art galleries, fantastic food festivals and phenomenal wine regions, Adelaide is a prime South Australia travel destination!
In this article, I will be sharing the top 10 things to do in Adelaide and surrounds.
1) Explore Adelaide City
Adelaide is a bustling city of over a million people. If planning your first trip to Adelaide, you’ll be happy to know that there’s a great range of activities you can do while exploring the city.
One of my favourite things about Adelaide CBD, is that it’s pretty small compared to other Australian cities. Therefore, you can easily walk your way from one end to the other, around the main sections of the city.
I also loved that most of the city is surrounded by a parks / garden, which make for really lovely running or walking areas if you like to keep active.
I visited the Art Gallery of South Australia during my stay and must admit that it was an interesting experience. There were some very unique and cool artwork exhibitions as well as some controversial galleries. One that particularly stuck with me was this creepy mask exhibition.
Truth be told, it scared the sh** out of me.
The exhibition consisted of all these crazy coloured masks with conflicting noises that really maked you feel really overwhelmed and uncomfortable – definitely won’t go back to see that exhibit again. But, it did it’s job as it was very memorable.
Some of the top sights to see include:
- Adelaide Central Market
- Art Gallery of South Australia
- Adelaide Zoo
- Adelaide Oval
- South Australia Museum
- Adelaide Botanic Garden
- Rundle Mall
Here are some other great activities to check out:
If exploring Adelaide on your own, you can spend hours discovering the city and its unique history on a self-guided audio tour.
This self-guided tour works by having a phone guide talk you through the city’s history while exploring sites like its fantastic Central Market, Rundle Mall, Victoria Square, St Francis Cathedral, Parliament House and many more.
This tour is a great option for travellers wanting to learn more in-depth information about this beautiful city.
If you would like to read more about self-guided tours, you can click the link below:
Take a leisurely river cruise down the River Torrens on one of the city’s iconic cruise boats.
Head out through the Torrens River Weir Gate and marvel at some of the city’s many sites including the Adelaide Festival Centre, South Australian Medical Centre, and Adelaide Gaol Museum.
Enjoy detailed guided commentary before disembarking at the Adelaide Zoo, where you can enjoy its beautiful botanical gardens.
If you would like to learn more about river cruises in Adelaide, you can click the link below.\
2) Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is located just south of Adelaide and consists predominately of nature reserves and protected landscapes.
Kangaroo Island is by far one of the best places in South Australia to find native wildlife, including sea lions, koalas, penguin colonies, and of course, kangaroos!
Definitely a must-see on our list of the top 10 things to do in Adelaide!
Below, I have listed some cool activities you can check out and do on Kangaroo Island.
This fantastic tour escorts you from Adelaide city centre to Kangaroo Island for a personalised 4×4 tour of the island’s wildlife.
A local guide will take you to some of the island’s many habitats to view Australia’s most iconic wildlife. You’ll also get to visit Seal Bay Conservation Park, savour a gourmet lunch at a natural bush property, and then watch for Kangaroos while on a guided bush walk.
If you’re an animal lover, you can enjoy marvelling at the many native Australia animals. Definitely a must for any South Australia travel itinerary!
To learn more about the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Discovery tour you can click the link below.
Enjoy the fantastic food scene of Kangaroo Island with this excellent wine and dine day trip.
Escorting you from the centre to Kangaroo Island aboard a luxury bus, this tour will have you enjoying the islands most luxurious experiences.
You will get to:
- View jaw-dropping birds of prey displays
- Savour a delicious two-course lunch and distillery tour
- Try Kangaroo islands famous honey ice cream and
- Finish your day with a scenic wine tasting
Interested to learn more about this day trip? Click the link below for more information.
3) Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale
Two of South Australia’s most beautiful wine-producing regions, Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale are some of the most spectacular landscapes around Adelaide.
Any trip through these picturesque landscapes will have you admiring sweeping vineyards and beautiful farmyards for miles around.
The Barossa Valley is one of the top things to do in Adelaide, especially for those who enjoy indulging their taste buds.
There are various tours you can do through Adelaide’s surrounding wine regions. I have listed some popular options to check out.
On this tour, your experienced guide will teach you all about the history of South Australia, Adelaide and the iconic Barossa Valley wine region.
You will get to travel to a thoughtful selection of wine cellars and estates for a private tasting, admire stunning valley viewpoints and savour a locally sourced platter-style lunch.
You can read more about it via the link below:
This tour provides an incredibly scenic tour of the stunning McLaren Vale region. It will have you exploring wineries, cellar doors, gin rooms and breweries.
You will also get to learn about the art of winemaking, enjoy a delicious platter style lunch and savour phenomenal wine at boutique wineries.
Keen to go on a wine tour through McLaren Vale? You can read more about it below.
A remarkable morning hot air balloon flight over some of Adelaide’s most scenic landscapes, this hot air balloon tour will have you taking in 360-degree views of Barossa Valley’s sweeping vineyards.
You will then end your morning with a delightful breakfast and some sparkling wine, while taking in views of the Penfolds Stonewell vineyards.
What an incredible and unique way to experience the Barossa Valley – from above!
4) Hahndorf Town
Hahndorf is a small town in the Adelaide Hills and is well known for its striking German-style architecture and exquisite take on classic Bavarian meals.
Personally, this was one of my favourite destinations in Adelaide.
If you like European architecture, as I do, exploring this town should be one of the top things you do in Adelaide.
This tour is quite a popular one amongst travellers given it combines the Adelaide Hills, Hahndorf and Mount Lofty tour all in one day.
This tour will have you taking in fantastic city scenes from atop Mount Lofty viewpoint before enjoying the abundant boutique shops and eateries of the beautiful Hahndorf town.
If you would like to learn more about this tour, you can click the link below.
5) Victor Harbour
One of Adelaide’s most beautiful coastal towns, Victor Harbour is dotted with charming homes and unparalleled coastal views.
Here you can enjoy a traditional horse-drawn tram ride along the promenade or spend a day visiting a wild penguin colony at Granite Island.
You can also take a relaxing walk along the pier and shore-front.
When I visited Victor Harbour, unfortunately the horse-drawn tram ride wasn’t operating. However, it was still nice to take a relaxing walk along the shore-front.
This full-day tour will take you along the highlights of South Australia’s coastal scenery and features a stopover in Victor Harbour.
Here you can tour the Whale Centre and Museum, visit Granite Island’s penguins or ride the famous horse-drawn tram.
Other tour highlights include a coastal boat ride, a trip to Hahndorf and wine tasting in McLaren Vale.
This tour is a great activity for anyone hoping to see a mix of Adelaide’s most visited surrounding regions.
6) Swim with Dolphins in Adelaide and Surrounds
Dolphin pods are a common sight in the waters around the city, thanks to the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary.
This sanctuary includes a mangrove forest that occupies a section of the Port Adelaide River and is a resting ground for more than 300 wild bottlenose dolphins.
These dolphins can often be found exploring along the coastline and are a must-see South Australia travel experience.
If you’re an animal lover, this is an activity that would be worth adding to your bucket list.
This interactive and immersive tour takes place aboard the colossal 58-foot-long catamaran, the Temptation.
Once aboard, you will sail along the coast of South Australia in search of dolphins before diving headfirst into the waters to enjoy a rare “swimming with dolphins” experience.
I once swam with dolphins when I was very little, but don’t really remember it, This is definitely something that I would love to do myself one day!
7) Segway Tours – Glenelg Foreshore & Adelaide CBD
The Glenelg Foreshore is a popular tourist attraction, located around a 20-minute drive from Adelaide CBD. Here you can enjoy a nice walk along the foreshore or opt for a more unique experience such as doing a segway tour.
Segway tours are also available in Adelaide CBD, and are one of the fastest and easiest ways to get around the city. Particularly its charming park lanes and streets.
I actually did a segway tour in the Whitsundays, and it was so much more fun that I expected it to be!
This tour is one of the most all-encompassing tours of Adelaide’s central district and will have you marvelling at the city’s unique architecture.
Visit impressive city sights along the Riverbank Precinct route, including the Adelaide Casino, Bonython Park, and the Adelaide Festival Centre.
After the tour you will get to enjoy free time in the precincts open area on the Segways which can be a lot of fun!
This tour includes a scenic 6-kilometre guided ride along the beautiful Glenelg Promenade, one of Adelaide’s most stunning beachfront suburbs.
This tour will let you take in the area’s major attractions including the Glenelg jetty, Patawalonga creek and marina area.
Finish your fantastic adventure by relaxing on the golden sand of Glenelg Beach, one of South Australia’s most magnificent beach fronts.
The beautiful river ways of Adelaide are a popular kayaking destination. Adventurous travellers can grab a paddle and glide along the many riverfront locations around the city.
If you’re an adventurous soul, this is activity that would be worth adding to your list of the top10 things to do in Adelaide.
Here are some cool tour options that you can check out below:
This kayaking experience consists of a 1.5 hour guided tour down Adelaide’s famous River Torrens and allows you to take in all of the city’s sites from a truly unique perspective.
You’ll also get to learn about the city’s history from your tour guide and enjoy an exclusive adventure that weaves through this serene city.
If you’d like to learn more about this tour, you can click on the link below.
On this kayaking tour, you will get a guided tour through Adelaide’s fantastic dolphin sanctuary, the chance to explore 10,000-year-old mangrove forests as well as many twisting waterways.
Led by an experienced marine biologist, this tour will allow you to discover the abundant birdlife and marine mammals that make up this intricate ecosystem.
If you’d like to read more about this tour, you can click the link below.
9) Wildlife Hikes and Tours
The abundant biodiversity of the region makes South Australia a perfect travel hotspot for wildlife enthusiasts.
Adelaide is home to thousands of kangaroos, koalas and many more unique species, making it a great destination for animal lovers.
Whether you’re craving a dose of nature, or would just love to pat a koala, I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for in Adelaide and it’s surrounding areas.
The Morialta Wilderness and Wildlife Hike is one of the best locations in Australia to see koalas and to enjoy a walk through the rugged landscapes of Southern Australia.
On this tour, your expert guide will help you to spot the many rare and exotic wildlife that call this exquisite country home
If you’d like to learn more about the Morialta Wilderness and Wildlife Hike, you can check it out below.
10) Mount Lofty
Located a 20-minute drive from Adelaide, Mount Lofty is the highest point of the Mount Lofty mountain range.
Any visit to this remarkable vista will be sure to offer unbelievable panoramic views of the South Australian coastline and surrounding area.
If you like hiking, you’ll be like a kid in a candy shop upon arriving at this stunning attraction.
This tour features an incredible 2-hour hike to the summit of Mount Lofty and a visit to the Cleland free roam wildlife park.
Your hike will have you admiring waterfalls, skipping over streams and enjoying the most breath-taking views of Adelaide from the summit of Mount Lofty.
If you’re keen to hike up and around Mount Lofty, you can read more about this tour below:
& An Extra Bonus!!
11) Rock Climbing and Abseiling
For the adventurous souls out there, I’ve added one more activity to the list just for you guys.
Rock climbing is definitely not for the faint-hearted but can be a ton of fun for those willing to give it a go!
It gives you the once in a lifetime opportunity to take in the fantastic views of South Australia while also enjoying a tremendous adventure.
Enjoy fantastic views with an accredited climbing instructor on this Morialta Gorge tour.
One of Adelaide’s best rock-climbing locations, Morialta Gorge is located east of the city and has climbing surfaces for all experience levels.
If you’re keen to get your climb on, you can read more about rock climbing and abseiling in Adelaide below.
South Australia Travel | The Top 10 Things to do in Adelaide & Surrounds
The city of Adelaide is by far one of South Australia’s top travel destinations.
No matter what adventure you hope to have, you are sure to enjoy an unforgettable experience during your time in Adelaide.
Here is a summary of the top 10 things to do in Adelaide and surrounds:
- Explore Adelaide CBD
- Kangaroo Island
- Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale
- Hahndorf Town
- Victor Harbour
- Visit the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary
- Segway Tours – Glenelg Foreshore & Adelaide CBD
- Wildlife Hikes and Tours
- Mount Lofty
- BONUS: Rock Climbing and Abseiling
I hope that you have found this article to be helpful. If you would like to read more about South Australia, you can check out our South Australia travel page below:
- Adventure Travel to South Australia | A Guide for First-time Travellers
Have a great trip!