Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia. Surrounded by a range of leafy reserves and conservation parks and front-facing an impressive stretch of coastline, Adelaide has been consistently ranked one of the most liveable cities in the world for many years in a row.
Adelaide has a fine balance of city and nature. It offers a range of facilities and services just like any other capital city. However, the best about Adelaide is that within just 20-minute drive from Adelaide, you can easily find cellar doors from world-renowned wineries, stunning beaches with amazing coastlines, impressive Mount Lofty Range, and abundant native wildlife.
For the best experience, you should plan at least 3-day to explore Adelaide and its surrounding areas. However, if you are short on time, you can visit the main attractions in Adelaide in only 1-day.
Compressing the best of Adelaide in only one day requires advanced planning and a compact schedule. To help you navigate, I have listed a detailed 1-Day Itinerary to Visit Adelaide. Hope you can find it helpful.
If you happen to be looking for a longer stay in Adelaide, feel free to check out this 3 Day Adelaide Itinerary without a Car: a local’s guide to Adelaide.
Adelaide 1 Day Itinerary
Embrace Adelaide’s cafe culture at The Flying Fig – offers amazing breakfast options in the prestigious North Adelaide.
Adelaide is in no short supply of great breakfast spots. There is also a range of other cafes nearby for breakfast. My favourites are:
- Pantry on Egmont
- Luigi Delicatessen
- Peter Rabbit
- Mister Sunshine’s
- Bricks and Stones
- Whistle and Flute Cafe
- Argo on the Parade
08:30 St Peter’s Cathedral & Adelaide Oval
After breakfast, take a relaxing stroll across the charming streets of North Adelaide to visit the stunning St Peter’s Cathedral and Adelaide Oval.
St Peter’s Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral, first built in 1869. This impressive gothic building is an important landmark in the heart of Adelaide.
In addition to its weekly services, St Peter’s Cathedral is also open for the public to visit on weekdays between 11 am and 1 pm. Entrance to this cathedral is free. You can also join a free guided tour on Wednesdays at 11 am.
Adelaide Oval is right next to St Peter’s Cathedral, along your walk between the North Adelaide and Adelaide CBD.
Apart from being a sports ground, Adelaide Oval also offers RoofClimb, which will bring you to its rooftop stadium seats for a bird’s eye view of Adelaide and its surrounding areas.
This 1-Day Adelaide Itinerary does not have enough time for you to join the Adelaide Oval Roofclimb. However, if you are keen on joining this RoofClimb, you may be able to do so by skipping River Torrens and North Terrace.
Alternatively, you can skip the visit to Windy Point at night and join a Nighttime RoofClimb tour instead. For up to date pricing and tour times, please check out their website from the link above.
09:30 River Torrens
River Torrens is a beautiful waterway separating Adelaide CBD and North Adelaide.
With Adelaide’s visionary city plan, there are numerous parklands around River Torrens.
To enjoy a slice of nature in this buzzing city, you can either walk along River Torrens or hire a bike to explore the riverbanks. Paddleboat rentals are also available to view this beautiful river from a different perspective.
10:30 North Terrace
After exploring River Torrens, you will be heading over to the historic North Terrace.
Along North Terrace, you will come across a vast collection of Victorian architecture. Among them, the most famous ones are (from west to east) South Australian Parliament House, State Library of South Australia, South Australian Museum, Art Gallery of South Australia, and the University of Adelaide.
Most of these buildings have retained their original shape. A walk down North Terrace at times makes me feel like I have time travelled to the 19th century.
All these buildings are worth a visit in their own right. However, with limited time, there is no way to walk into each one of them. With that being said, I do suggest a visit inside of the Mortlock Chamber in the State Library of South Australia.
Mortlock Chamber is a must-visit on North Terrace. The buildings and most of the decorations in Mortlock Chamber have all retained their Victorian charm. A visit here can take you back in time to the Victorian era. Be sure to also grab a book and a chair to enjoy some solitude in this magnificent library.
12:00 Adelaide Central Market
Adelaide Central Market was first established in 1869 as a hub for fresh produce. Nowadays, Adelaide Central Market has evolved beyond just a fresh produce market.
In Adelaide Central Market, you can also find artisan bakeries, cheese and wine stalls, premium chocolatiers, extensive organic products, booming cafes, and much more. No matter what your needs are, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Adelaide Central Market.
A trip to Adelaide is not complete unless you have visited Adelaide Central Market.
There are many cafes in Adelaide Central Market, where you can enjoy a delicious meal while appreciating this flourishing market.
You can also sample some local produce while visiting the Adelaide Central Market.
14:30 Mount Lofty Botanic Garden
Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is just over a 20-minute drive from Adelaide. Sitting on the eastern slope of Mount Lofty, this thriving garden is always looking lush all year round.
Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is the best city getaway from Adelaide. Here you can find a range of cool-climate plantations and enjoy a view of the picturesque Piccadilly Valley. If interested, you can also drive or walk to the Mount Lofty Summit for a spectacular panoramic view of Adelaide and its surrounding areas.
Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is a great place to visit at any time of the year. My favourite time for visiting this botanic garden is during the autumn months (March to June). In autumn, the leaves here are all turning into arrays of gold and red which makes this botanic garden the most photogenic place in Adelaide.
17:00 Sunset at Glenelg Beach
Glenelg Beach is the most popular and touristed beach in Adelaide, and there are reasons for it.
- Only a 20-minute drive from Adelaide.
- Stunning ocean views, especially at sunset.
- A long stretch of soft sandy beach.
- Beautiful marina nearby.
- Streets and the waterfront areas are all lined with charming heritage buildings from the 1800s.
- All amenities in one place – you can find a vast selection of shops and eateries along Jetty Road, Glenelg.
- Tram service from Adelaide city directly to Glenelg & free tram service along Jetty Road, Glenelg.
Since Glenelg is a popular tourist destination, it is usually much busier than other beaches around Adelaide. If you prefer somewhere more peaceful, there is a range of beautiful beaches to choose from (all within a 30-minute drive from Adelaide):
- Henley Beach: 20-minute drive from Adelaide; a popular beach destination among the locals (mostly); many restaurants, cafes, and shops nearby.
- Brighton Beach: 25-minute drive south of Adelaide; a popular beach to visit among the locals; great sunset views; a great spot for fishing; many restaurants and cafes nearby.
- Grange Beach: 25-minute drive from Adelaide; not as busy as the rest of the beaches here; has a few restaurants and cafes nearby.
- Semaphore Beach: 30-minute drive from Adelaide; many historic buildings along Semaphore Road & Military Road (Semaphore) – worth a walk around; many restaurants, cafes, and shops nearby.
For more information on the best beach in Adelaide, you may wish to also check out this article on : Best Adelaide Beach to Visit – a comparison of all beaches 1-hour from Adelaide.
18:30 Windy Point
Head to Windy Point for a view of Adelaide’s incredible skyline after sunset.
The views here are spectacular, especially at night time. However, as the name suggests, it can get quite windy here, especially at night. So, make sure you bring some warm cloth with you when visiting.
In addition, there is a small section of narrow & uphill drive to Windy Point, so make sure you drive carefully & to the road condition.
Enjoy an excellent fine dining experience at Windy Point Restaurant with a fabulous view of Adelaide.
Best Day Trips from Adelaide
If you are thinking of taking a day trip from Adelaide, here are a few day trips you may consider.
Adelaide Hills is well known for its lush reserves and conservation parks, adorable German towns, premium wineries, and abundant wildlife. Places you may wish to visit include:
- Cleveland Conservation Park
- Cleveland Wildlife Park – One of the few places where you can hold a Koala!
- Mount Lofty Botanic Garden
- Mount Lofty Summit
- Beerenberg Farm – Amazing pick your own strawberry experiences.
- The Big Rocking Horse – A toy factory with a small farm attached & Kids will love it.
- Lobethal – Christmas lights from mid-December to Christmas.
- Wine Tasting at your favourite cellar door
For more detailed information on visiting the Adelaide Hills, feel free to check out this ‘Adelaide Hills Day Trip & Free Things to do in the Adelaide Hills’.
If you are interested in guided tours to the Adelaide Hills, feel free to check out here on Viator.
Most famous for its prestigious wineries, Barossa Valley also offers a remarkable nature, impressive historic buildings, and amazing local produce.
There are plenty of prestigious wineries and chateaus you can visit in the Barossa Valley.
When it comes to cellar door tastings, it highly depends on your personal preference. I’m not a big wine drinker, but I enjoyed the relaxing vibes Jacob’s Creek offers. They have a decent selection of wine choices for everyone. After the wine tasting, you can also enjoy a delicious meal with a view of their stunning vineyards.
Along your drive in the Barossa Valley, you will come across many picturesque chateaus. Be sure to pop in and visit at least one of them. Most of these chateaus offer wine tastings +/- meal services, but advanced bookings may be required.
If you are planning on a lot of wine tastings, you may wish to join a guided tour instead, so you do not have to worry about driving. There are quite a few Barossa Valley guided tours here on Viator, which you may wish to check out.
For more detailed information on the Barossa Valley & wine regions near Adelaide, feel free to also check out this article on ‘Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale? Which wine regions to visit near Adelaide‘.
Fleurieu Peninsula is in the south of Adelaide. It covers a vast land featuring the famous McLaren Vale wine region, the rugged coastline from Willunga to Rapid Bay, and the remarkable views of Encounter Bay from Goolwa to Victor Harbor.
One day is not enough to visit all the incredible places in Fleurieu Peninsula, but you can certainly visit part of the Fleurieu Peninsula on a day trip from Adelaide. Day trip ideas for visiting Fleurieu Peninsula include:
- Wine tastings in McLaren Vale & finish the day with a great sunset view at Port Willunga Beach.
- Explore the rugged coastline near Port Willunga & enjoy a swim at Normanville Beach, before heading to Second Valley Beach to discover its impressive geological formations.
- Take a drive from Goolwa to Victor Harbor to appreciate the breathtaking views of Encounter Bay. Be sure to stop by Port Elliot to spend some time exploring Lady Bay and Knights Beach – marvellous views & not as populated as other parts of Encounter Bay.
Feel free to check out this ‘Adelaide to Victor Harbor Day Trip Itinerary‘ for more inspiration on where to visit near Victor Harbor.
For a guided day tour to Victor Harbor and McLaren Vale, feel free to check out here on Viator.
A great island getaway from Adelaide.
You can visit Kangaroo Island on a day trip from Adelaide, but 2-day or more is much suggested to get the most out of your visit to Kangaroo Island. Places you may wish to visit on Kangaroo Island include:
- The Remarkable Rock – It is certainly remarkable & a must-visit on Kangaroo Island.
- Admirals Arch – Stunning coastal views & not to be missed.
- Weirs Cove – Equally stunning views.
- Seal Bay – Get up and close with the Australian Sea Lions.
- Vivonne Bay – Impressive rock pool.
- Stokes Bay – A great beach, hidden behind an interesting rock tunnel.
- Pennington Bay – Again, stunning coastal views!
For detailed information on visiting Kangaroo Island, you may wish to also check out these articles:
- Kangaroo Island 2 Day Road Trip Itinerary and Useful Tips
- Kangaroo Island Day Trip: a practical road trip itinerary
If interested, Guided Tours to Kangaroo Island are also available on Viator.