Planning a trip to Adelaide but unsure which tourist attractions are best for you? If your answer is yes, you have come to the right place! This post highlights the best experiences to have in Adelaide in five days.
Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, was the next port of call after our train journey on The Ghan.
It was day 14 of our round-the-world trip, and we were ready to spend five nights in Adelaide and explore all her best attractions.
I looked forward to being a tourist in Adelaide, seeing the bronze pigs in Rundle Mall, eating chocolate from Haighs, discovering Adelaide’s museums and watching the sunset in Glenelg.
And, of course, the highlight of our time in Adelaide would be experiencing 2-days with the wildlife on Kangaroo Island before leaving the city and heading on a road trip to Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road.
In this post, I have highlighted some of the best experiences in Adelaide that you can have to help you plan a fantastic travel itinerary of your own.
Do you need to arrange travel insurance, car hire or accommodation? Please check out my resources page to help you plan your trip.
Five Day Adelaide Itinerary
1. Arrive in Adelaide – for us, this was from Darwin on The Ghan Train
2. Explore Rundle Mall and Adelaide’s Museums / Visit Glenelg Beach
3. Travel to Kangaroo Island, meet the wildlife and spend one night on KI.
4. Continue to explore Kangaroo Island and travel back to Adelaide
5. Enjoy breakfast, pick up a hire car and hit the road!
Day One in Adelaide
Arriving in Adelaide – the capital of South Australia
Our train journey on The Ghan from Darwin had reached its final destination – Adelaide.
It was a fantastic experience to ride across the heart of Australia on such an iconic mode of transport.
We said goodbye to the new acquaintances and staff we had met during our two nights on The Ghan and hailed a cab to take us to Adelaide CBD (central business district).
We had loved our experience on Australia’s iconic train but were now ready to check in to our accommodation in Adelaide for five nights and sleep in proper beds!
Learn more in my post: The Ghan – three days through the heart of Australia.
Choosing the right (and wrong) place to stay in Adelaide!
I had booked a stay at the Miller Apartments on Hindley Street, but sadly even though the apartment was fantastic, the noisy street below us was not!
We found out later that this was the busiest street in Adelaide at weekends, with bars and restaurants spilling out into the street until the early hours!
Believe me when I say it sounded like Mardi Gras was taking place outside our window! It now made sense why the taxi driver laughed when I gave him the hotel’s address; however, if you want nightlife in Adelaide, this is the perfect place to stay!
That aside, our five days in Adelaide were all good, and we enjoyed discovering Adelaide’s best experiences.
Tips for booking accommodation
We spent one of the five nights in Adelaide on a trip to Kangaroo Island, but we still booked our apartment for five nights. This meant we could leave our suitcases there as we needed the apartment for a night when we returned to the city from Kangaroo island.
We informed the concierge that we would be gone for one night/two days. It is always a good idea to inform your hotel if you are going on an overnight trip so they don’t worry that you have disappeared! This is especially important if you are a solo traveller.
Day Two in Adelaide
Exploring the landmarks in Rundle Mall
After a somewhat restless first night’s sleep, we set off to explore the heart of Adelaide. Haigh’s chocolate shop caught our eye first.
Founded by Alfred E.Haighby in 1915, the building known as Beehive Corner became home to Australia’s oldest family-owned chocolate manufacturer.
It is an iconic Adelaide institute and serves up a mouth-watering selection of confectionery. Of course, we had to sample the chocolate and would agree that it is pretty good, although my favourite is still the Swiss brand Lindt!
Rundle Mall is South Australia’s premier shopping destination, and the pedestrianised outdoor mall is packed with high-street stores, supermarkets and restaurants.
Not forgetting Horatio, Oliver, Truffles, and Augusta, better known as the Rundle Mall bronze pigs.
These fun Adelaide sculptures depict four pigs in different poses, with one rummaging through the litter bin. They are a Rundle Mall landmark.
Another well-known sculpture is called ‘Spheres’ but is lovingly known as The Mall’s Balls.
Aside from the pigs, there are a few cute coffee shops. We stopped off at Koko Black, a chocolate shop serving coffee – what could be better than that?
We were also thrilled to see a street busker playing an aboriginal didgeridoo in the middle of the mall.
The deep echoing sounds produced by blowing into the long wooden instrument made our trip to Australia feel so real. I also spotted some great Australian street art around the city.
Learning About Aboriginal culture at the South Australia Museum
Having been to Darwin and seen aboriginal people for the first time in real life and not on tv or from the pages of a travel guide, I wanted to learn more about Australia’s indigenous people.
I asked my concierge where to find more information about Aboriginal culture, and he pointed me toward the South Australia museum.
The museum building is beautiful and in a spot close to the art gallery of South Australia and Adelaide’s university.
The area is called North Terrace and has well-manicured gardens and statues of explorers and founding fathers. It is a perfect place for taking a break from sightseeing in Adelaide.
The South Australia museum is one of the best free things to do in Adelaide, and I was pleased to see exhibits in the cultural galleries showing Aboriginal artefacts.
An audio display about Dreamtime really interested me. In Aboriginal culture, Dreamtime is the word used for when life was created, and Dreaming is used to explain how life came to be; it is the stories and beliefs behind creation. I was fascinated by learning about the Aborigines and their traditions.
A staggering 3000 Aboriginal items, from boomerangs to bark canoes, are also housed on two floors of the museum.
This was my first visit to Australia, so I wanted to acknowledge and respect the Aboriginal culture. By visiting the museum, I better understood a race that has existed as the custodians of Australia for over 65,000 years.
If a walking tour of the tourist sights in Adelaide is something you would enjoy, you can book a 90-minute City Highlights Tour with a guide. You will see key landmarks such as the Town Hall, Rundle Mall, Adelaide Central Market and Chinatown.
A visit to Glenelg beach to watch an Adelaide sunset
The beauty of Adelaide is that while it is South Australia’s capital city and a thriving metropolis, it is also a short tram ride away from Glenelg beach.
After a morning of experiencing Adelaide’s landmarks, we hopped on the tram from the corner of Rundle Mall and, within 35 minutes, were at the beach.
Glenelg beach is one of the best things to see in Adelaide. With golden sand stretching for miles, it is everything we imagined an Australian beach to look like and more!
The only trouble is we didn’t have our swimmers with us, so instead, we went for a leisurely walk along the promenade.
We travelled to Adelaide in February, and I’m not going to lie about how hot it was – easily in the high 30s. We even saw volunteers handing out water and free sunscreen to visitors.
Lucky for us, we had come for the sunset, and it was starting to cool down. We had heard that one of the cool things to do in Adelaide was to watch the sunset from the end of Glenelg pier.
While we waited for the evening light show to start, we enjoyed drinks and nibbles at the trendy beach bar, The Moseley.
Watching the sun slip behind the horizon was an amazing sight and, for us, an Adelaide must-do. It was also the first of many incredible sunsets we would witness during our six weeks in Australia.
Learn more in my post: Glenelg Beach – An Amazing Afternoon Of Sea, Sand and Sunsets.
Day Three and Four in Adelaide
An amazing trip to see the wildlife on Kangaroo Island
No trip to Adelaide would be complete without travelling to Kangaroo Island. No words are great enough to describe this wildlife haven; you must see and experience Kangaroo Island yourself.
A one-day Kangaroo Island tour with lunch can be arranged if you are on a tight schedule. However, if time permits, an overnight stay lets you see more of the island over two days and at a leisurely pace.
I booked a one-night/two-day tour of Kangaroo island with Sealink, which included a hotel transfer to the ferry port, a ferry crossing to KI, and a two-day guided tour by minivan with Bruce (well, he couldn’t be called anything, really could he!).
We enjoyed a one-night stay in a hotel in Kingscote, the biggest town on KI, a flight from Kangaroo Island to Adelaide on day two, and a transfer back to our hotel from the airport. Fabulous!
Observing seals baking on golden sands, climbing on Dali-esque rock formations and visiting fabulous small island businesses make Kangaroo island one of the best places in Australia to visit.
And seeing a koala for the first time, an echidna (a hedgehog-type creature I had never heard of before), and wild kangaroos bouncing through the bush are memories that will last with us forever.
Day Four Evening
Flight back to Adelaide
After a second day of exploring Kangaroo Island, we returned to Adelaide on a short 15-minute flight from KI. It was the shortest flight I have ever taken, and no sooner had it taken off than it was landing again! We were then taken back to our hotel from Adelaide airport.
Luckily for us, the apartment had a small kitchen area, so we stayed in and cooked, watched some tv and then drifted off to dream of kangaroos, koalas and our magical adventure on Kangaroo Island.
Learn more in my post: The Best Kangaroo Island Tour – a two-day ultimate wildlife trip.
Day Five in Adelaide
Goodbye Adelaide – Hello, Great Ocean Road
Waking for our last morning in Adelaide, we were excited for the next leg of our Australia trip. I would drive from Adelaide to Melbourne via the Great Ocean with three overnight stops in Port Fairy, Apollo Bay and Lorne.
Before we embarked on the first part of this mammoth road trip, an eight-hour drive from Adelaide to Port Fairy (including two convenience breaks), we headed to The Original Pancake Kitchen for breakfast.
After breakfast, we went to Europcar at 225 North Terrace (near the museum) and picked up a KIA Sportage for our road trip. It was a great vehicle, and I loved driving it so much that I bought one when I returned to the UK!
After that, I only needed to get onto the A1 motorway toward Melbourne for the next chapter of our Australian adventure to begin!
Learn more in my post: Adelaide to Melbourne 3-Night Self-Drive Itinerary for the Great Ocean Road.
Extra Adelaide Activities For A Longer Stay
If you intend to travel to Adelaide and stay there for a week or longer, you will have time to complete my 5-night Adelaide itinerary and have some other great Adelaide experiences.
Enjoy wine tasting in the Barossa Valley, soar high in a balloon above the vineyards and take a boat ride to spot wild dolphins.
A tour of the Oval Cricket Stadium can also be arranged for cricket fans during a stay in Adelaide.
And for hikers, a trek to the summit of Mount Lofty will reward you with far-reaching views across the city.
What I liked most about Adelaide was that it wasn’t overbearing like other Australian cities. There were many Adelaide experiences to enjoy, but the city never seemed overly busy.
It was compact and walkable, and the tram system made getting from A to B (Adelaide to Beach) easy.
So if you are wondering whether Adelaide is worth visiting for five days, I can tell you it is. After Brisbane, it became my second favourite city in Australia, ahead of Sydney and Melbourne.
Please Pin for Future Travel to Australia
Are you looking for further Australian travel inspiration? Please check out the following posts:
How to Spend 2 Nights in Cradle Mountain – Tasmania’s Wilderness
11 Sensational Things To Do in Freycinet National Park Tasmania
Sheffield Tasmania: The Amazing Town of Murals in Australia
Monday 17th of April 2023
This sounds like a great trip! Kangaroo Island sounds so cool. I love how you also took the time to learn more about Aboriginal culture.
Sunday 16th of April 2023
Wow this is a great itinerary! Kangaroo Island looks amazing so is definitely be interested in checking that out.
Sunday 16th of April 2023
Thanks for sharing this information, I want to do the Great Ocean Road trip all the way to Adelaide and this was really helpful!
Friday 14th of April 2023
Visiting South Australia is on our bucket list. The beaches look right up our alley. Thanks for sharing this guide.
Friday 14th of April 2023
This was SO thorough and helpful!!! Definitely hope to experience Australia within the next 2 years.