12 Free Things To Do in Adelaide, South Australia

Looking for free things to do in Adelaide? I spent a week in the city (sick as a dog, I might add) and still fell in love with it. The best thing about this South Australian capital city is that nearly everything cool to do in town is free anyway.

Why visit Adelaide?

Back in 1836, the British decided to create a new colony in South Australia and picked Adelaide to be the capital. Colonel William Light was the brain behind the carefully curated design, which included wide streets, parks, and gardens. He chose the location because of its proximity to the sea and fertile land. It was perfect for agriculture.

free things to do in Adelaide

As the years went by, people from all over the world made Adelaide their home, bringing with them their unique cultures and traditions. It was different than other Australian colonies because the people moving to the city were not prisoners, but free people.  The city flourished, becoming a hub for trade, agriculture, and mining, and even played a vital role in Australia’s political and social history. The Australian Constitution was even signed in Adelaide in 1899.

Fast forward to today, and Adelaide is a bustling city, known for its fantastic food and wine scene, cultural institutions, and stunning natural beauty. From the beaches to the hills, there’s always something exciting to explore in this vibrant and diverse city.

Of course, the Kaurna people are the traditional owners of the Adelaide Plains and surrounding areas and they have a deep spiritual connection to the land.

12 Free Things To Do in Adelaide, South Australia

free things to do in Adelaide

This post is a part of my Outback Road Trip series. 

Whether you are setting up shop in Adelaide, or just stopping through on your lap of Australia, there are plenty of fun free things to do in this South Australian gem of a city.

Visit the Adelaide Botanic Garden

free things to do in Adelaide

North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000

Opening and closing times vary significantly. Check before you go. 

The Adelaide Botanic Garden is like a natural wonderland in the heart of the city. It has over 50,000 plants and flowers from around the world, so it’s kind of like going international without ever even leaving the city. It’s one of my favorite free things to do because you can take a stroll through the rainforest, marvel at the gigantic waterlilies, or even discover some tasty herbs and spices in the kitchen garden.

And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some cute wildlife like turtles, birds, or even a possum. One of the best free things to do in Adelaide is simply grabbing a picnic blanket and spending a day surrounded by the beauty of nature at the Adelaide Botanic Garden.

Adelaide Hills

You might even find it hard to leave! This is because there is a ring of gardens that wraps all the way around Adelaide.  The gardens include Victoria Park, Veale Gardens, South Terrace Parklands, Himeji Gardens, and more. Each garden has its own unique character and features, from stunning water features to lush lawns and picnic areas.

This unique design was intentional and is known as the “Adelaide Parklands Preservation Act of 1849.” The founders of Adelaide believed that having a green belt of parks and gardens around the city would provide not only aesthetic value, but also health and social benefits to the residents. This vision of an accessible, beautiful, and healthy city surrounded by greenery was unlike any other city in Australia at the time, and it has become a defining feature of Adelaide’s character.

Take a stroll along the River Torrens

river torrens adelaide

The River Torrens is Adelaide’s own liquid highway, winding its way through the city like a watery serpent. You can walk, run, or bike along its banks and take in the sights and sounds of the city, from the iconic Adelaide Oval to the lively Henley Beach Road.

And if you’re feeling adventurous, hop on a paddle boat or kayak and cruise down the river. If the weather is sunny, this is the perfect day out to spend with an audiobook or a few friends from your hostel.

Book your River Torrens Cruise here. 

Visit the South Australian Museum

free things to do in Adelaide North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000

The Museum is open every day from 10am–5pm, including weekends and all public holidays except Christmas Day and Good Friday. It opens at 12 noon on ANZAC Day (25 April).

The South Australian Museum is like a time machine that lets you explore the history of the planet and the creatures that have roamed it. From the towering skeletons of ancient dinosaurs to the glittering treasures of indigenous cultures, the museum has something for everyone.

And if you’re feeling brave, you can even come face to face with some creepy crawlies and spine-tingling critters in the Wild South Australia gallery.

Explore the Adelaide Central Market

Adelaide Central Market

44 – 60 Gouger St, Adelaide SA 5000

Opening and closing times vary significantly. Check before you go. 

Adelaide Central Market is like a foodie’s heaven on earth. This was one of my favorite free things to do in Adelaide because I wasn’t feeling well during my week-long stay in South Australia’s capital, so it was great to be able to pick up some fresh food to snack on here. From juicy fruits to crispy veggies, and fresh seafood to exotic spices, the market has it all.

You can munch on a gourmet sandwich, slurp on a smoothie, or even treat yourself to a heavenly dessert. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch some live music or entertainment while you shop.

Take a self-guided walking tour of the city

free things to do in Adelaide

I love a good walking tour. When I get to a new city, it’s one of my favorite ways to get my bearings and figure out what I want to do. You can easily download an app to take a free self-guided walking tour of the city, or if you prefer to have a real-life local to talk to, hop on a guided tour.

The Welcome To Adelaide is the only walking tour of its kind in the city. This tour provides an orientation of Adelaide’s main streets and key landmarks across a breezy 90 minutes.

Book your walking tour of Adelaide here. 

Visit the State Library of South Australia

free things to do in Adelaide

North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000

Opening and closing times vary significantly. Check before you go. 

The State Library of South Australia is like a treasure trove of knowledge and fun. There are millions of books, documents, and archives available to you, so you can explore the world from the comfort of a cozy chair. You can discover the history of South Australia, learn a new skill, or even catch a movie screening or a fascinating exhibition. There are also tours of the library which are also free, but you need to reserve your spot in advance. If you’re feeling creative, you can unleash your inner artist at one of the library’s workshops or events.

Explore Rundle Mall

free things to do in Adelaide

Rundle Mall is like a shopping paradise. When I got to Adelaide, I was fresh off ten days camping across the Nullarbor. I can’t tell you how excited I was to see a mall filled with other people.

You can stroll down the pedestrian-friendly street and shop at a variety of stores, from high-end fashion to quirky souvenirs. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch a street performance or meet some friendly locals. Every time I went, there was someone playing the didgeridoo. Plus, the mall has some hidden gems like the charming Rundle Street and the arcade-filled laneways that are waiting to be explored.

Take a hike through the Adelaide Hills

Adelaide Hills

Taking a hike through the Adelaide Hills is like going on an epic adventure in your own backyard. With breathtaking views of the city and nature, you can conquer hills, valleys, and forests like a true explorer. You can spot kangaroos, koalas, and even some rare bird species along the way! And if you’re feeling peckish, you can refuel with a picnic lunch while basking in the sun and taking in the beautiful scenery.

If you have a car, you can get there in about 30 minutes. If you are without, there are regular bus services from the Adelaide CBD to major townships in the Adelaide Hills and it is possible to reach key attractions such as Cleland Wildlife Park, Mount Lofty Summit, and Hahndorf by bus. Blackwood foothills and Belair National Park can be reached by trains on the Belair line, regularly departing Adelaide Railway Station on North Terrace (which is just next to all the museums).

If you’re more of a tour person, you can book in for a trip to the Barossa Valley and Handorf. 

Visit the Art Gallery of South Australia

free things to do in Adelaide

North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000

Open 10am to 5pm, every day except Christmas Day.

The Art Gallery of South Australia is like a portal to a world of creativity and inspiration. You can get lost in the mesmerizing colors and shapes of contemporary art, or travel back in time with the fascinating works of famous painters and sculptors. And if you’re feeling fancy, you can attend one of the gallery’s events or workshops and become a master artist yourself.

Plus, the gallery is located in the heart of Adelaide’s cultural district, surrounded by cafes, theaters, and other artsy spots waiting to be explored. When I went, they had an opera singer there in the gallery performing live. I still get chills when I think about it, making it one of my favorite free things to do in Adelaide.

Take a dip at Glenelg Beach

Glenelg Beach

Glenelg Beach is like a tropical paradise right in the heart of Adelaide. With its pristine white sand, crystal-clear waters, and palm trees swaying in the breeze, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a faraway island. A visit here is one of the best free things to do in Adelaide because you can swim, sunbathe, or even take a romantic stroll along the jetty.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try your hand at some water sports like surfing, kayaking, or paddleboarding while there. Plus, the beach is surrounded by lively cafes, restaurants, and bars, making it the perfect place to unwind and soak up the beachy vibes. Don’t have a car? The tram from South Terrace Tram Stop to Stop 16/21D Jetty Rd – Southside takes 25 min including transfers and departs every 15 minutes.

Migration Museum

free things to do in Adelaide

82 Kintore Avenue, Adelaide, 5000
A short stroll from Rundle Mall, behind the State Library.

The Migration Museum is open daily 10am – 5pm

Closed Christmas Day

Australia is a country of immigrants (and colonizers). The migration museum lets you embark on a fascinating journey through time and discover the vibrant history of migration to South Australia.

It’s one of the best free things to do in Adelaide as you will dive into the stories of thousands of people who have made their way to South Australia, from the traditional owners of the land, the Kaurna people, to the diverse groups of migrants who have called this place home.

Experience interactive displays, examine intriguing artifacts, and hear personal tales of hardship and triumph that migrants have faced throughout history. You’ll gain a newfound respect and admiration for the many contributions these communities have made to the colorful cultural tapestry of South Australia.

Adelaide Oval

adelaide oval

Get ready to bat, bowl, and cheer your heart out at the Adelaide Oval! This world-renowned sports stadium is located in the heart of Adelaide. It has a rich history dating back to 1873 when it hosted its first cricket match.

But this isn’t your grandpa’s cricket ground – the Adelaide Oval has undergone numerous renovations and upgrades, making it a state-of-the-art facility that can hold over 50,000 spectators. From cricket to Australian Rules football, soccer, and rugby, this oval is the ultimate destination for sports enthusiasts.

But wait, there’s more! The Adelaide Oval is not just about sports – it’s also a cultural hub and iconic landmark for the city. With its jaw-dropping architecture and breathtaking views, it’s a must-visit spot for locals and tourists alike. And if you’re a music lover, the Oval hosts concerts, festivals, and other cultural events throughout the year.

So, whether you’re a die-hard sports fan or just looking for a unique experience, the Adelaide Oval is the place to be. Get ready to join the fun and excitement at this historic venue! You can stop by for free and look around the outside, pay to attend a game or event, or pay to take a tour inside.

Book your tour of the Adelaide Oval here.

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