13 Amazing Free Things to Do in Adelaide
The best free things to do in Adelaide
Are you visiting Adelaide on a tight budget ? No need to worry. We have you covered with our Free Things to do in Adelaide Guide.
There are plenty of amazing free things to do in Adelaide, that will show off the best of the city without making you bankrupt. Adelaide is one city in Australia that is accessible for all – so let’s take a look at an amazing array of 25 Free things to do in Adelaide that you can enjoy.
One of the many reasons that Adelaide is a great addition to any budget Australia itinerary is that there are so many free things to do. From cultural institutions to outdoor activities, there are so many free attractions in Adelaide.
Most visitors to the South Australian capital will probably find themselves staying in the centre of Adelaide.
The good news: there are plenty of fun, free things to in Adelaide. With these, you won’t even need to fork out for a bus ticket.
Adelaide’s grid-like city plan was quite revolutionary when it was designed by Colonel Light back in the 1800s. Plus, it’s a relatively compact city, so you don’t have to go traipsing all over the place to find the highlights.
The Adelaide City Council has put together a bunch of great walking routes. You can find them all here.
Let’s take a look at what Adelaide has to offer for low budget travellers.
The Central Market
Free if you don’t buy anything !!! You can easily spend three hours here wandering around. Many vendors offer free samples and taste tests of their products, like speciality cheeses or bread, so keep an eye out for those.
With over 70 traders under one roof, the Adelaide Central Market is one of the largest undercover fresh produce markets in the southern hemisphere, buzzing with life and colour all year round.
The Market offers a huge range of fresh food including fruit and vegetables, meat and poultry, seafood, cheeses, bakery, smallgoods and health foods, along with some of Adelaide’s most popular cafes and eateries.
Every Friday lunch and Friday night market goers can enjoy live acoustic sets from some of Adelaide’s best known musicians. Check their website for details.
Buy yourself some bread, cheese and a bottle of wine for a packed lunch and let’s get out and explore the city.
Tandanya Cultural Centre
Of all the art galleries and museums in Adelaide, Tandanya is unique. It’s a celebration of Aboriginal art and culture. Tandanya is a visionary and vibrant place to explore and experience contemporary and traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, through visual art and performances.
The name ‘Tandanya’ means the place of the red kangaroo in Kaurna language. The Kaurna are the owners of the Adelaide Plains, and have an enduring connection to the land to this day.
Not all of the artists exhibiting at Tandanya are Kaurna, and you can see many different styles of art. Mediums from photography to painting and clothing design are all represented.
Tandanya also puts on a calendar of great events, with the most well-known being Survival Day which is held on January 26.
It’s important to note that Tandanya is Aboriginal-owned and operated, and has been since it opened back in 1989.
Checking out the exhibitions is free, and the events are usually free as well.
Image Courtesy of Photographer: Hannah Stewart, History SA
The South Australian Migration Museum
Another free thing to do in Adelaide is to pay a visit to the South Australian Migration Museum. It gives a really interesting look at the history of migrants to South Australia. From the earliest Europeans through to more recent waves of migration, it shows how many different groups have shaped the state of South Australia.
Established in 1986 and built on the site of the former Adelaide Destitute Asylum, the Migration Museum was the first museum dedicated to the social history of migration in Australia. The Museum works towards the preservation, understanding and enjoyment of South Australia’s diverse cultures.
It is a place to discover the many identities of the people of South Australia through the stories of individuals and communities. Its nine galleries, which include permanent and changing displays, trace the history and culture of Aboriginal peoples in Australia prior to colonisation, the history and impact of immigration from the nineteenth century onward, as well as the history of the site.
The Migration Museum is also a frequent participant in events like South Australian History Week.
Be sure to check out their website and see if anything special is on!
The South Australian Museum
Yet another free attraction in Adelaide is the South Australian Museum.
Although the museum building on North Terrace looks pretty modern, it’s one of Adelaide’s oldest buildings. The museum opened in 1856, long before Australia’s federation back in 1901.
The museum has numerous permanent and changing exhibitions. Worth checking out is the Aboriginal history collection. It’s really well done, and very eye-opening. Aboriginal people should be aware that it does contain images of deceased people. The Museum is one of the most visited museums in Australia and holds collections of national and international significance, including the world’s most comprehensive collection of Australian Aboriginal cultural material.
There’s also a pretty extensive taxidermy section; similar to the one in the Natural History Museum. Exactly like the Natural History Museum, it’s a combination of unnerving and intriguing.
You can just do a self-guided tour, or there is a FREE tour you can join. In spring/summer, it’s on daily at 11am. Check the website for other times.
South Australian Art Gallery
Also located on the wide and leafy North Terrace, the South Australian Art Gallery is another free Adelaide attraction. If you enjoy art, then this is well worth stopping in at.
It opened in 1881, not long after the nearby South Australia Museum. Since then, it’s grown to house more than 45,000 artworks from Adelaide and further afar. And counting.
These art pieces go way back in time. There’s also a focus on modern artwork as well. Frequent rotating exhibits mean that local, modern artists are well represented.
If you are visiting the South Australian Art Gallery then I recommend looking out for the works of Hans Heysen , one of Australia’s most decorated artists. His works have a very ‘Australiana’ theme, with many depicting the Aussie outback.
Visiting the South Australian Art Gallery is one of the best free things to do in Adelaide!
The Mortlock Wing of the South Australian Library
The final venue to visit if you’re checking out the free cultural hotspots on North Terrace is the South Australian Library. This library is like stepping back in time.
The library is centrally located and is close to a number of other attractions. The beautiful and well-kept Mortlock wing is breathtaking and takes you back in time. While you may explore the whole library, I’d head for the Mortlock Wing is an absolute must see.
The Mortlock Wing is all very Harry Potter-inspired and has an atmosphere about it like you might be walking into Hogwarts. There are two floors lined with wooden shelves of old books and antique desks and furnishings. It has an amazing roof and a large clock at one end and an eagle at the other.
It’s a popular study spot for local students at the nearby Adelaide University, so it’s very much a “lived in” place. It’s got a wonderful atmosphere and is well worth stopping to admire.
As well as visiting the Mortlock Wing, you might be lucky if your visit coincides with a special event. The library has a great calendar of talks, activities and more, so it’s worth taking a look at the website to see what’s on.
Check out the Bradman Collection at Adelaide Oval
A Wonderful display of Sir Donald’s memorabilia including actual cricket bats, newspaper articles and numerous other items from his cricket career for the cricket fan.
If you grew up in Australia, then I’m pretty sure you know who Donald Bradman is. If not then Sir Donald Bradman was the greatest batsman that ever lived. This is a free museum at the Adelaide Oval, and the display cases are crammed with artefacts from the great man’s career.
For those uninitiated: Donald Bradman was a really, really good cricket player in the early 20th century. He has now reached utterly legendary status.
If you like cricket and you are in Adelaide then this a great place to go, There are lots of items in the Bradman Collection,you could even take in a tour of the Adelaide Oval too (but that costs money lol).
And it’s totally free, which is not bad at all.
Explore the River Torrens Linear Park
There are many beautiful green spaces in Adelaide and one worth exploring is the River Torrens. Located in the north of the city, it’s a quiet and peaceful spot just a stone’s throw from the city’s main attractions.
What a better way to start a morning than a walk along part of the River Torrens Linear Park. You will pass some excellent parks along the way with lovely gardens and great statues including Angas and Grundy Gardens. It’s a great running trail for your morning run too.
The area near the famous “rotunda” is perfect for enjoying a picnic, or relaxing to read a book. You can walk the loop along the riverbank and down towards the Adelaide Zoo.
It’s hard to believe you’re in the centre of Adelaide, as it’s just so peaceful.
One thing about the River Torrens, DO NOT attempt to swim in it.
Every Adelaide kid grows up adhering to the unwritten rule to never swim in the river. SWIMMING in the polluted, murky River Torrens is banned these days. But once in Adelaide, you weren’t just encouraged to swim in it — people held races and fished there for dinner.
Competitors lined up at the Torrens Weir for the start of the annual swim-through-Adelaide in 1939.
Visit the Adelaide Botanic Gardens
To get yourself even more lost in greenery in Adelaide, you can head for the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Covering more than 50 hectares, it’s a huge and gorgeous place in Adelaide. And of course once again, visiting it is totally free.
If you seek peace, beauty and tranquillity the Adelaide Botanic Garden is the place to be.
It is an oasis in the heart of the city, extending over an area of approx. 50 hectares.
The Garden was opened to the public at the end of 1857 and has been open every day all year round since then. It features some of Australia’s finest plant collections.
The gardens are so immense that it’s easy to find a little tucked-away corner where you’ll feel like you’ve got it all to yourself. Just watch out for teenagers hiding in bushes… it’s a well-known getaway spot for young lovers.
While just exploring the gardens is a fun and peaceful free activity in Adelaide, you can also join a tour. Most of them are free, including the daily tour that departs at 10:30am. Check the website for more details.
Visit the Adelaide Railway Station
Adelaide’s first railway station opened on the current North Terrace site in 1856. It served the broad gauge line between Adelaide and Port Adelaide, which was the first government-owned and operated steam railway in the British Empire.
Adelaide’s passenger rail network comprises 132 kilometres of railway track on the Seaford, Gawler, Outer Harbor, Belair, Grange and Tonsley Lines, including 40 kilometres of electrified railway, 88 railway stations, 84 level crossings, 22 electric railcar sets and 70 diesel railcars.
If you need advice about getting around Adelaide then come here first to the Information Centre and save time and money. The Information Centre is located inside the Adelaide Railway station, you can get information, help about all transport needs in Adelaide and purchase train tickets here. They also have maps.
Read more about Adelaide Railway Station
Image Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Explore the West Terrace Cemetery
It is impossible do a guide to free things to do in Adelaide without mentioning West Terrace Cemetery.
West Terrace Cemetery, originally known as the Adelaide Public Cemetery, is located on West Terrace on the edge of the Adelaide CBD. You can easily walk there from nearly anywhere in the city.
The cemetery is South Australia’s oldest, having been established around 1837. It is now the final resting place of over 150,000 people.
Amongst the graves there are a few of particular interest, including the the unknown victim of the mysterious Tamam Shud Case. There are also the graves of Augusta Zadow, a prominent suffragette and trade unionist and Carl Linger, musician and composer of Song of Australia
One interesting thing about the West Terrace Cemetery is that many different denominations – the Jewish and Catholic sections are particularly distinct. This is a very old cemetery. It is laid out along lines of religious beliefs, even in death, the religions remain separate. There are a great number of very old olive trees, perhaps amongst the oldest in the state of SA, which used to be harvested and the olives crushed for their oil.
It’s totally free to visit and explore for yourself, but there are also paid tours held throughout the year as well.
Marvel at the Rundall Mall Sculptures
The Four Pigs
On 3 July 1999, Rundle Mall welcomed four new residents —Horatio, Oliver, Truffles and Augusta. Made completely from bronze, these life-sized pigs look to be having a great day out in Rundle Mall as they walk the Mall, dig through the bin for food scraps and greet passers-by.
Some people believe the pigs are meant to signify the shoppers at Rundle Mall sniffing out a bargain.
The Mall’s Balls
The Spheres (affectionately titled the ‘Mall’s Balls’ by locals) is Rundle Mall’s most iconic artwork. Made from a pair of larger-than-life stainless steel spheres sitting one atop the other, the artwork measures just over 4 metres tall and was brought to life by Vienna-born artist Bert Flugelman.
Adelaide Metro Free City Connector Bus
If you’d prefer not to walk around the city, then there’s a great alternative thanks to the free 98A, 98C, 99A and 99C buses. This will take you all around the city, and won’t cost you a penny!
The free City Connector bus service runs on two loops – an inner city loop and an extended loop around North Adelaide providing a link to popular city attractions and shopping, dining and services destinations.
Route 98A and 98C link the city and North Adelaide every 30 minutes, seven days a week and routes 99A and 99C link the main city destinations every 30 minutes on weekdays.
Together routes 98 and 99 provide a coordinated 15-minute frequency on weekdays from North Terrace to Hutt Street, Hurtle Square, Whitmore Square, China Town, Central Market and Victoria Square.
The service runs from early in the morning until 7.15pm daily, with extra services running on Friday until 9.15pm.The buses are air conditioned and wheelchair and pram friendly.
The Drivers are helpful and knowledgeable about Adelaide’s attractions and the best stop to get off.
Where to stay in Adelaide
To make the most of your time in Adelaide, I recommend staying in the Adelaide CBD. From here, you’ll have easy access to everything on this list from Agoda.
- Adelaide Central YHA (Budget) – Adelaide Central YHA is clean, friendly and well located in the centre of Adelaide. Breakfast is even included in the price!
- Adelaide Travellers Inn Backpackers (Budget) 15 minute walk from centre of Adelaide but right next to all the beautiful parks. There is a great chill balcony.
- Majestic Minima Hotel (Mid-range) – technically this is just out of Adelaide in North Adelaide, but there’s a free bus or you can walk. This charming hotel has a gorgeous mural on the outside and is cosy but comfy on the inside.
- Hotel Richmond (Upper mid-range) – in terms of location, you can’t get much more central than Hotel Richmond. Located in Rundle Mall, it’s an easy walk to all of the city’s attractions and has a great balcony.
- Mayfair Hotel Adelaide (Luxury) – got a little more room to move in your budget? It’s super central location is really convenient.
- OR you may wish to check out some more Adelaide accomodation on Agoda and compare prices.
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13 Amazing Free Things
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