In a day and age of cheap products, fast fashion, and excess clutter, people’s desire for experiences is on the rise. We are tiring of ‘stuff’ and consumers are opting away from screen-based entertainment, choosing experiences instead.
With so many incredible things to do in South Australia, making a bucket list is no easy task but here’s a list of some of our favourite, unique South Australian experiences to get you started.
While most of us are across some of the amazing events and festivals that South Australia is famous for, we thought we’d give them a quick shout out before we launch into the bucket list. Adelaide is the UNESCO listed City of Music, so get out and experience the live music scene.
Here are few places that you can enjoy during your stay in Adelaide.
Eat at the Enchanted Fig Tree on Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island has always been one of the jewels in South Australia’s crown. While the destinations on the island have changed slightly since the recent bushfires, an area three times the size of Singapore is still unaffected, beautiful, and open to tourists.
This is something we’ve experienced and absolutely loved. Australia’s first inner-city aerial adventure park features over 70 obstacles, incorporating zip-lines, ladders, log-walks, Tarzan swings, rock climbing and much more.
The Wine Train
The South Coast Wine Train tour travels along the Steamranger Heritage Railway from Mount Barker to Strathalbyn and onward to the South Coast and Murray River Port of Goolwa on the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Along the journey, guests have the opportunity to tour the nearby cellar doors and vineyards at Langhorne Creek, Currency Creek and the Southern Fleurieu wine regions
These regions are home to award-winning, family owned and boutique wineries, and vineyards, dating back to the 1850s, and responsible for producing premium wines highly regarded in national and international wine circles.
Feed A Lion At Monarto Zoo
Experience Australia’s only 360-degree lion encounter for a prey’s eye view into the world of these awe-inspiring predators.
You can even book one of six exclusive opportunities to hand feed the majestic lions.
You may not be exploring the streets and canals of Italy right now, but there is a chance to experience Italian charm right here in Adelaide with Adelaide Gondola.
This unique business has gifted locals and tourists of the state the perfect way to wind down and relax in true Venetian style for decades. Operating seven days a week (day and night) for your convenience, you can enjoy a ride along the picturesque River Torrens.
Adelaide Haunted Horizons Ghost Tours claim to be the real deal, with no gimmicks, no dress-ups, and no dramatics – just personal experiences and real-life ghostly encounters.
Check out their tours to Adelaide Gaol, Adelaide Arcade, the National Railway Museum, Old Tailem Town or the Z Ward Asylum. They also host ghost hunts for those who want a little more action.
South Australia offers so many beautiful camping destinations, however not all of us enjoy sleeping bags and a sore back. This is where glamping comes in handy.
Wilpena Pound Ikara Glamping Safari Tents
Five hours from Adelaide, you’ll discover the beautiful Flinders Ranges, and Wilpena Pound – a fantastic camping destination which forms a base for many bushwalkers, and bush tours. In a secluded spot away from the main campground, 15 roomy tents with king-size beds, tiled bathrooms and timber decks, are set among majestic red river gums and native pines.
Eco Tent, Adelaide Shores
If you’re looking for something closer to home, Adelaide Shores Big4 Caravan Park in West Beach has you covered. Offering double bed and bunks, this 4-person tent does the important things like keeping the bugs out, while keeping you cool with a fan above the beds. With WiFi on hand, it’s also quite a convenient way to experience glamping for a first timer.
Located a short 45 minutes’ drive from Adelaide, Adelaide Tandem Skydiving is South Australia’s most experienced skydiving centre.
Their world-class skydiving instructors are dedicated to ensure all of their guests have the best skydiving experience. Their specialty is first time skydivers wishing to make a tandem skydive and those wishing to become skydivers themselves.
Stay on a Houseboat
Murray River Houseboats invites you to stay and fully indulge all that the river has to offer, and at your own pace with no schedule, just taking it as it comes.
There’s even a new, super-sized, dream houseboat that you can hire on the Murray (it has a spa on board).
Quad Biking At Waitpinga Farm
Enjoy the stunning views of the Southern Ocean and Waitpinga Beach from the paddocks of Waitpinga Farm while riding your quad bike through natural farmland, spotting the local farm and native animals.
Shark Cage Diving with Great White Sharks
If there is one thing you must add to your bucket list, it has to be shark cage diving with great whites.
As the creators of Australia’s first Advanced eco-certified shark cage diving experience, Adventure Bay Charters offer visitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view the legendary great white shark in its natural habitat.
The use of music to attract the sharks to their vessel allows you the unique opportunity to rock out to the great white sharks’ preference of AC/DC or your most loved tunes whilst in the cage.
If you want to see the top sights in this elegant city, but only have one day, the Adelaide City Tour with Optional River Cruise and Adelaide Zoo Admission is a great option. Sit back, soak up some history, and see all the highlights on this three-hour city coach tour, including the museums and heritage architecture along North Terrace and the city’s lush parks. You’ll also stop for coffee and sweet treats at the famous Haigh’s Chocolates. For a different perspective of the city, you can upgrade your tour to include a cruise along the Torrens River and free admission to Adelaide Zoo.
Elegant and refined, Adelaide sits between the rugged south coast of Australia and the foothills of the Mount Lofty Ranges. European immigrants founded this tidy capital of South Australia, and its layout was carefully crafted around the River Torrens, imparting a welcome sense of order balanced by a laid-back vibe. Mining and agriculture brought riches to the city, and today, Adelaide’s affluent heritage is still proudly on display. Magnificent private mansions and grand public buildings command an important place amid the modern high-rises. 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. Parklands ring the city, and a short drive from the CBD, bucolic landscapes and sparkling beaches provide a picturesque playground for outdoorsy locals and lucky tourists. Explore the area with our list of the top tourist attractions in Adelaide…..
Mitchell Building of the University of Adelaide
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.
Bordering these, the main campus of the University of Adelaide hosts the Mitchell Building, one of the city’s finest examples of Gothic Revival style. Other North Terrace treasures include the Migration Museum, Ayer’s Historic House, and the Adelaide Botanic Garden, a green thumb’s dream.
Adelaide Botanic Garden
Wander through the wrought-iron gates at the east end of North Terrace and enter a wonderland of botanical treasures. 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. Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is also worth a visit to see its impressive collection of cool climate plants and heritage rose garden.
Art Gallery of South Australia
In the heart of Adelaide’s cultural precinct, 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. European works highlight pieces from the Renaissance to the present day, and Asian exhibits include Australia’s only dedicated Islamic gallery. Important North American pieces are also on display, as well as some evocative avant-garde sculptures.
Official site: http://www.artgallery.sa.gov.au/agsa/home
Take a Tour of Adelaide Oval
Stadiums aren’t always a top attraction in a capital city, but Aussies love their sports, and this venue is an important part of the city’s history. Sitting in the center of Adelaide’s attractive Riverbank Precinct, the stadium was established in 1871 and hosted its first test cricket match in 1884. Since its founding, the stadium has played host to more than 16 different sports, including AFL, archery, cycling, hockey, lacrosse, and tennis, as well as music concerts and major events.
A multi-million-dollar renovation completed in 2014 revitalized the venue, but it still features the old heritage-listed scoreboard and century-old Moreton Bay fig trees. If you have time, try to buy tickets for a sporting match or event here. Cricket fans should make a beeline for the Bradman Museum to see memorabilia on the life of Australia’s most famous cricketer.
Official site: https://www.adelaideoval.com.au/
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.
Children love the natural history exhibits with stuffed specimens, fossils, and skeletons, and special exhibits mean there’s always something new to see. Best of all, this museum is one of the many things to do for free in this culture-rich city.
Official site: http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/
State Library of South Australia
The State Library of South Australia surprises first-time visitors with its dramatic juxtaposition of old and new. The contemporary Spence Wing with its sharp lines and glass-fronted entrance offers modern facilities and free Wi-Fi. From here, ask for directions to the original library, housed in the adjacent 1884 French Renaissance building known as the Mortlock Wing. Entering this grand old space is like stepping back in time. Multi-tiered galleries beckon high above, edged by elaborate wrought iron balustrades, and ladders reach up to leather-bound books neatly propped in the wooden shelves. Highlighting this flashback to libraries of old is a stream of natural light flooding through the glass dome in the roof. The Mortlock Wing is also worth a visit for its special collection of works on the history of South Australia.
Official site: http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm
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 centre.
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.
Sidewalk cafés, boutique hotels, and lively summer entertainment create a holiday feel, and tourists will find plenty of family-friendly attractions. Kids can catch their thrills at The Beachouse, an amusement park packed with rides, including a giant waterslide, bumper boats, and Ferris wheel.
Those seeking a quieter visit can bask on the beach or cast a fishing line off the pier. Sailing and swimming with dolphins are other popular activities.
Giant panda at 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 centre 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.
Address: Frome Road, Adelaide
Official site: http://www.adelaidezoo.com.au/
Cleland Wildlife Park
Less than a 20-minute drive from the city centre on the north western 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.
Address: 365 Mount Lofty Summit Road, Crafers
Adelaide Festival Centre
A five-minute walk from North Terrace and Rundle Mall, the Adelaide Festival Centre was Australia’s first multi-functional arts venue and excites both locals and tourists with its lively cultural calendar. Its white tent-like roof structure is a distinctive landmark along the River Torrens. In addition to the large 2,000-seat Festival Theatre, the venue is home to several smaller theatres, a banquet room, light-filled gallery, and an amphitheatre for concerts and recitals.
The centre hosts the highly regarded Adelaide Arts Festival with theatre, opera, ballet, exhibitions, lectures, and readings by writers. Those who don’t have time to attend an event can join a behind-the-scenes tour of the dressing rooms and performance spaces. Ample parking and easy accessibility enhance the appeal of this multi-faceted venue.
Address: King William Street, Adelaide
Official site: http://www.adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au/
Barossa Valley & Clare Valley Day Trip
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.
Fleurieu Peninsula Day Trip
Less than hour’s drive south of Adelaide’s city center, the Fleurieu Peninsula is one of Adelaide’s most popular coastal day trip destinations. Rolling hills, farms, fantastic surf beaches, and upscale dining lure foodies and city slickers looking for a slower pace. Victor Harbour is the largest and one of the most popular towns along this rugged peninsula. From here, you can hop aboard a seasonal whale-watching cruise or fishing charter, surf one of the south coast swells, cast a line from one of the windswept beaches, or take a horse-drawn tram to Granite Island with its dwindling colony of Little Penguins. Goolwa, by the Murray River, is another popular peninsular town as are the inland towns of Strathalbyn and Mount Compass.
Hahndorf Day Trip
A great place to start a tour is the former 1857 schoolhouse, which houses the visitor centre and the Hahndorf Academy, an art gallery spotlighting local artists. Hahndorf is famed for one of its talented residents, Sir Hans Heysen (1877-1968), a German-born landscape artist who came to Australia in 1883 and later built an Alpine-style house on the outskirts of Hahndorf. Today, you can take a guided tour of his home and studio, known as The Cedars, stroll through the colourful gardens, and view some of his paintings. Sightseers can easily spend a relaxing day in this charming village picking fruit at nearby farms, browsing the craft shops and galleries, and dining at the excellent restaurants.