The Best Free Things To Do in Adelaide

Adelaide has many attractions, including those that are free
Adelaide has many attractions, including those that are free | © Yuen Man Cheung / Alamy Stock Photo
From beaches to cultural excursions, check out these awesome free things to do in Adelaide.

Adelaide is a small coastal city located in South Austalia. While its more popular counterparts often overshadow it, there are plenty of things to do in this ‘big country town’, and plenty of good reasons to visit – especially if you happen to be a budget traveller. From beach lounging to museum hopping, here’s a guide to the best free things to do in the South Australian capital.

Visit the city’s best beaches

Glenelg Beach is easily accessible from the city centre © Hayley Simpson

Make the most of Adelaide’s stunning coastline by checking out one of its beautiful beaches. Glenelg is the city’s most popular metropolitan beach. It has a beachfront path, jetty, as well as boutiques and restaurants close by. You can easily get to Glenelg via a tram from the city centre. Other options include Henley Beach, Christies Beach and Brighton Beach; the sheltered bay of Port Elliot; and Semaphore, which is known for its dunes and surrounding Art Deco buildings.

Stroll down Rundle Mall

Shopping Mall
Rundle Mall is home to some very interesting landmarks and sculptures
Rundle Mall is home to some very interesting landmarks and sculptures | © Hayley Simpson
More than 400,000 people visit Rundle Mall every week. Home to 1,000 retailers, you don’t need to spend money to enjoy the mall, as it’s home to some very fascinating landmarks and sculptures. Highlights include The Mall’s Balls, A Day Out – which features four bronze pigs, including one rummaging in a rubbish bin – Beehive Corner’s Gothic Revival-style architecture, The Rundle Lantern and the Adelaide and Gays Arcades, both built in 1885.
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Family Friendly

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Outdoors, Touristy

Walk through Adelaide Botanic Garden

Botanical Garden
The Palm House in Adelaide Botanic Garden
Adelaide Botanic Garden took inspiration from the iconic Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew | © Olga Kashubin / Alamy Stock Photo
Amazingly, 45 percent of Adelaide’s city centre consists of parkland. Adelaide Botanic Garden is the biggest park of them all. Take a walk and check out some of the impressive gardens, including the Garden of Health, the International Rose Garden and the Australian Native Garden. Architecture buffs will also enjoy the Palm House. Built in 1877, it’s one of the last of its kind and houses a Madagascan plant collection.
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Family Friendly

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Outdoors, Peaceful

Bike from the beach to the hills

You can cycle the trail that follows the River Torrens to its mouth at West Beach or Henley Beach © Hayley Simpson

The River Torrens Linear Park Trail is a 46.5-kilometre (29-mile) path that starts at Athelstone at the bottom of the Adelaide Hills and finishes between West Beach and Henley Beach. Over 30km (19mi) of the trail follows the River Torrens through the Adelaide central business district (CBD) to its mouth at West Beach or Henley Beach. Completing the entire route is a full day’s bike ride, but you can easily shorten it and cycle from the CBD to the coast instead.

Visit the South Australian Museum

Museum
South Australian Museum
Today, the South Australian Museum houses over 4 million artefacts from around the world | © Hayley Simpson
One of Australia’s most visited cultural institutions, the South Australian Museum is a great free Adelaide attraction. Over 150 years old, it houses the world’s most extensive Aboriginal artefact collection, with over 30,000 items. At the museum, you can also learn about Pacific cultures, ancient Egypt and the biodiversity of South Australia.
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Check out the Art Gallery of South Australia

Art Museum, Art Gallery, School
The Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide
The Art Gallery of South Australia has almost 45,000 pieces of art in its collection | © Hayley Simpson

Established in 1881, the Art Gallery of South Australia houses almost 45,000 pieces of art from Australia, North America, Europe and Asia. The collection features paintings, sculptures, metalwork and an impressive representation of colonial and contemporary Australian furniture. Past exhibitions have included Desert Colour and its focus on Aboriginal art, and Picasso: The Vollard Suite, which is his most celebrated etching series.

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Family Friendly, Accessible (Wheelchair)

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Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark

Jump on a free bike or free bus

You can see Adelaide for free via a rental bike or City Connector bus service © Hayley Simpson

For a deposit that includes either your passport or driver’s licence, you can hire a free bike from several locations. The only catch is that you have to return the bike to the same place. Adelaide also has a free City Connector bus service, which runs on an inner-city loop and an extended loop around North Adelaide. It conveniently provides a link to the city’s main tourist attractions, as well as its premier shopping and dining destinations.

Devour Adelaide Central Market

Market, Shopping Mall
Inside Adelaide Central Market
Adelaide Central Market has more than 70 traders | © Hayley Simpson
Established in 1869, Adelaide Central Market welcomes over 9 million people annually. It has more than 70 traders selling everything from fresh produce and health foods to cheese and bakery staples. The market is also home to some of the city’s most popular cafés and eateries, including Big Table – a favourite for over 20 years. As one of the southern hemisphere’s largest undercover food markets, it’s a great place to spend a rainy Adelaide morning.
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Admire the Bradman Collection

History Museum
Sir Donald Bradman is considered the greatest batsman in cricket history. Located in a purpose-built museum in the Riverbank Stand at Adelaide Oval, the Bradman Collection is a free exhibition that includes his personal collection of cricket memorabilia. Spanning 50 years from 1927 to 1977, items on display include trophies, clothing and his trusty cricket bat. You can also watch Bradman footage in a theatre and test your skills in an interactive display.
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Family Friendly

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Touristy, Indoors

Have a different museum experience at MOD.

Art Museum

Located at the University of South Australia, MOD. is “Australia’s leading future-focussed museum, provoking new ideas at the intersection of science, art and innovation”. The museum has seven purpose-built galleries over two floors. One of its permanent exhibitions is the country’s first Science on a Sphere, which shows planetary data on a central sphere that’s surrounded by touchscreens. It’s Adelaide’s answer to Hobart’s MONA.

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Indoors

Do a self-guided walking tour of Port Adelaide

The City of Port Adelaide Enfield has created several self-guided walking tour brochures, which you can download from its website or pick up at the local Visitor Information Centre. There’s a heritage walking tour that takes in the suburb’s many historical buildings, while the Port Adelaide Dolphin Trail brochure highlights where you can spot dolphins in the area. Finally, check out the Ghosts of the Port self-guided ghost walking tour.

These recommendations were updated on December 19, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.