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Top-Rated Things to do in Adelaide, Australia

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 things to do in Adelaide.

Adelaide Central Market

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What is it? Established in 1869, the Adelaide Central Market is the undisputed jewel in the city’s produce crown.

Why go? One of the largest undercover markets in the southern hemisphere, it has more than 70 traders from over 40 nationalities under the one roof, selling a whopping one million kilograms of fruit and vegetables every month – not to mention meat, cheese, seafood, coffee, spices and smallgoods. You can’t go wrong by just walking in and wandering the aisles, but if you want a true taste of ‘The Market’ (as the locals call it), book yourself on a guided tour.

BBQ Buoys

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What is it? Wander along the edge of the River Torrens in Adelaide’s constantly-being-revamped Riverbank precinct and you might spy something strange: a fleet of round, floating vessels with smoke emanating from the middle, manned by people waving tongs. Are they boats? Are they barbecues? Actually they’re both, and they’re the best idea ever.

Why go? Yes, the BBQ Buoys (see what they did there?) boats combine the tranquility of floating along the river with the joy of a sausage sizzle, with each circular boat kitted out with a gas grill in the centre. The boats range from couple sized right up to a ten-seater, with hourly rentals starting at $150 (for two). BYO food and drink, or choose from a range of local beers, wines and ciders and pre-made ‘grazer platters’ of South Australian meats and other goodies – and yes, vegetarians are looked after too.

Check out the hustle and bustle of Adelaide Central Market

Check out the hustle and bustle of Adelaide Central Market]

Central Market touts itself as “Adelaide’s food hub”, with good reason: at 80 stalls under one roof, it’s one of Australia’s largest fresh produce markets, with a wide range of products on offer: as well as an excellent range of fruit and vegetable shops to choose from, there’s also delicious patisseries and cafes, gourmet cheeses, sweets, and a popular, delicious charcuterie.

There’s also live music every Friday, and various events throughout the year, such as cooking classes, edible-gift making, school holiday workshops for the kids, and even a vegan fest! Since most of the produce is local, shopping at the market is supporting SA growers and artisans, and it’s an environmentally-friendly choice as well.

Admire the gorgeous flora at the Adelaide Botanic Garden

Admire the gorgeous flora at the Adelaide Botanic Garden in Adelaide

This 51-hectare botanic garden was first opened in 1857, with its design having been influenced by the Royal Gardens at Kew, England and Versailles, France.

Some of the structures in the garden date back to the 19th Century, such as the Palm house (a Victorian glasshouse). The National Rose Trial garden is a lovely spot: the first garden of its type in Australia, it is used to trial various international breeds of roses to establish their suitability for growing in Australia.

A panel of 10 rosarians (yep, that’s a word!) judge the roses over two growing seasons, with the results being announced at the end of the period, and the winning roses being given an award.

The bicentennial conservatory is also noteworthy as the largest single span conservatory in the Southern Hemisphere, and the home of at-risk or endangered plants from northern Australia, Indonesia, PNG, and the South Pacific.

The Museum of Botany, dedicated to the study of “useful” plants (i. e. with economic value), is also a fascinating visit: opened in 1881, it has been described as “the last purpose-built colonial museum in the world”, and many of the items originally on display can still be viewed there.

Of course, beyond the appeal of the history and architecture, there is also a stunning array of beautiful, diverse flora to enjoy, as well as the lovely Botanic Park right next door!

North Terrace

 North Terrace in 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.

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