Travelling can be expensive but with a little bit of research you can stretch your dollars a little bit further in Adelaide. There are several cheap or free things to do keep you busy whether you are a local or are visiting the city on holidays.
The selection of attractions and tours have been chosen to suit a variety of people including families, nature lovers, foodies, sports fans and history and art buffs. Here are 10 things that you can do for free or on a budget.
10. Donald Bradman Collection
Credit: Adelaide Oval-Bradman Collection
Location: War Memorial Drive, Adelaide
Sports fans will love this museum at the Adelaide Oval. Donald Bradman was the greatest Australian batsman in the history of cricket and this purpose built museum houses a personal collection of cricket memorabilia of Bradman from 1927-1977. The museum is interactive and visitors can test their skills and browse through personal items on display. The museum is open 7 days a week between 9am-4pm and best of all it is free.
While you are here perhaps you may want to take a tour of the venue or even the more extreme rooftop climb (charges apply). The oval is located 400m from the city and is close to train, bus and tram stations. If you are travelling by car it is advised that you park in the CBD especially on event days.
9. Botanic Gardens
Credit: South Australia Tourism
Location: North Terrace, Adelaide
If the sun is shining, pack a picnic and head to the Adelaide Botanic Gardens in the centre of the city. The gardens spread over 50 hectares and features the First Creek Wetland, Garden of health, an International Rose Garden, Little Sprouts Kitchen Garden, Australian Forest and more.
The botanic gardens runs education programs and talks over the school holidays for children and the Moonlight cinema is held here in summer. If you want to learn more about the gardens you can join a free guided walk at 10.30am every day (excluding Christmas and Good Friday). The venue also holds concerts throughout the year for various musicians and music festivals. This is one of the liveliest botanic gardens in the country that is embraced by the locals.
8. Art Gallery SA and SA Museum
Credit: South Australia Museum
Location: North Terrace, Adelaide
The Art Gallery of South Australia has a great art collection and is housed in a beautiful building in North Terrace. There are over 42,000 art works held here that originate from Australia, Europe, North America and Asia. The artworks are a combination of paintings, sculptures, ceramics, photographs and more. Admission is free and is open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm (excluding Christmas Day). The art gallery also has gift shop and café on site.
Within the cultural precinct is the South Australia Museum. The museum has a changing roster of exhibitions that aims to understand human cultures and natural history. The museum also hosts a lecture series throughout the year where you can listen to the latest research and scientific discoveries first hand by professors. Visitors can also speak to experts at The Discovery Centre on level 1 and ask all the questions that you may have about any of the exhibits. The museum is open 7 days a week from 10am-5pm and admission is free. The museum is closed on some public holidays.
The art gallery and museum are both located in the cultural precinct and you can access the centre by bus, train and tram.
7. Bike SA
Credit: Bike SA
Location: 53 Carrington St, Adelaide
Like most cities, Adelaide has a bike hire scheme, however, this one is FREE in an effort to promoter a cleaner, greener city. The catch is that you need to rent and return the bike from the same location during business hours and your photo ID will be required and held for the duration of the hire. The bike hire system runs in Adelaide City, City of Charles Sturt and Port of Adelaide. Best of all helmets and locks are provided free of charge when you hire the bikes so you are free to explore further afield without having to worry about the safety of your bikes.
For a full list of locations, opening hours and popular bicycle maps and routes please see the Bike SA website.
6. Day out on Adelaide’s beaches
Image- Glenelg Beach
Adelaide’s coastal location ensures that the city is conveniently located nearby several beaches that are easily accessible from the heart of the city. Glenelg is by far the most popular family friendly beach and is accessible by tram to Moseley Square. If you pack a picnic then this is a very affordable day out and the kids will have a great time having a dip in the waters or building sand castles and running around on the beach. There is also a jetty that you can go for a walk or fish from and several restaurants, cafes and takeaways if you want to grab a bite to eat.
Brighton is a quieter beach perfect for a swim and some fish and chips by the sea. Another alternative is Semaphore Beach – 30 minutes from Adelaide complete with heritage protected Art Deco buildings that line the esplanade. Dine in at the 1920’s bathing pavilion or enjoy a picnic or BBQ by the beach. Nearby is the Semaphore Waterslide Complex which houses a Ferris Wheel, mini golf, water slides, bouncy castles and amusement games which the kids are sure to love.
5. Road Trip to Barossa Valley
If you have wheels then you can have an easy and cheap day out on several scenic drives that are not too far away from the city centre and can be easily done in a day. The famous Barossa Valley is full of wineries including the well known Jacob’s Creek. Head to anyone of the wineries for a tasting experience paired with gourmet food for a more indulgent day or mix with the locals at the weekly farmers market where you find the best fresh produce that money can buy.
Another favourite among tourists is the Bavarian town of Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills. Hahndorf is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement and it is celebrated and embraced by locals and tourists with bakeries, pubs, restaurants and cafes that all have their own flair and serve traditional German meals. During the months of November to April you can pick your own strawberries at Beerenberg Farm and the children can run around in the farmyard and nature wildlife park at Hahndorf Farm Barn.
If you prefer a coastal beach location then consider Fleurieu Peninsula. This is a popular spot for fishing, swimming and its stunning coastal scenery makes for some beautiful photos and memories.
4. Adelaide Metro
Explore the city of Adelaide with a convenient free city loop. There are several routes that operate within the boundaries of the city to popular city attractions. The buses are air-conditioned and are pram and wheelchair friendly. The City Loop 98A and 98C run in both directions from early morning to 7pm daily. There are also extended loops that help you navigate your way around the city and are a great and cheap way to do some sightseeing. A free tram also operates taking passengers from South Terrace to the Entertainment Centre passing through the Museum, Botanic Gardens, Central Markets and Rundle Street.
3. Mt Lofty
Location: Mount Lofty Summit Rd, Crafers
This challenging 3.5km hike is just a 15 minute drive from Adelaide CBD. It is hard to believe that such a beautiful waterfall gully and peak could be located so close to a concrete jungle but Adelaide is a very small and easily accessible city to get around. Walkers can climb to the summit for a stunning view of the city and the surrounding coastline. Of course you can bring a picnic but there are cafes at the summit if you want to reward yourself and refuel for the walk back down the mountain. If walking is not suitable then you can also drive and park at the summit to take in the beautiful city and hinterland views.
2. The Jam Factory
Credit: South Australia Tourism
Location: 19 Morphett St, Adelaide
Don’t be fooled by the name this quirky location is a hive of activity for artists who share space to create, display and sell their artwork. Part studio, part gallery, part workshop- this collective space is a great way to spend a few hours. A guided tour is available for just a few dollars so you can watch the artists at work. The glass blowing is the highlight for many and who knows you may just find a piece to take home with you from the gift stores.
1. Haigh’s Free Chocolate Viewing Tour
Location: 154 Greenhill Rd, Parkside
I am yet to meet a person who doesn’t love chocolate and that is why I have made this the number one free thing to do. Haigh’s Chocolate is an Adelaide institution that has been in operation since 1915. The company is oldest family owned chocolate maker in Australia and is still run by family members today.
A free guided viewing tour is available at the visitor centre in Adelaide to hear the history of the company and see the process of chocolate making. The 30 minute tours operate Monday to Saturday. Complimentary tastings are offered throughout the tour as well as tea and coffee at the end of the tour. The centre also has a retail store so you can take home factory fresh chocolates for your friends and family to share. Haigh’s visitor centre is located in Parkside just outside the city centre and while this experience is completely free, bookings are essential because it is so popular. You can book online or via phone.
For a more comprehensive list of things that you can see and do in Adelaide make sure you browse our main experiences page below.