The best of Adelaide on a budget: top 5 things to do

Our suggestions for the best things to do in Adelaide while keeping your city break well within budget.

Tortoise on a log at Woorabinda Lake
  • Jetstar
  • November 2017

Once known mostly for its grand churches and easygoing lifestyle, Adelaide these days is known as a hotspot for foodies with a thriving arts hub, a unique casual style flowing from its elegant architecture, broad leafy streets and relaxed village atmosphere. Here are our suggestions for the best things to do in Adelaide while keeping your city break well within budget.

Brush up on history at the South Australian Museum

If exploring world-class museums and galleries is your thing, head straight for North Terrace, where you’ll find the South Australian Museum and the Art Gallery of South Australia. Both are home to some fascinating and beautiful collections. They’re both free to enter, and are conveniently right next to each other.

Looking to improve your appreciation of Australia’s Indigenous cultures? The museum is home to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of Australian Aboriginal artifacts. Adventurers can indulge their curiosity at the Australian polar collection, which features items collected from the state’s renowned polar explorers.

Our favourite link: Adelaidia: South Australian Museum opens in new window

Get a dose of flower power in the Botanic Gardens

Whether you’re a flower fan or you just like seeing really big things, it’s worth stopping by the Adelaide Botanic Gardens to see the world’s largest waterlily. Housed in its very own purpose-built glass house, the Victoria amazonica is originally from the Amazon and grows to around 40 centimetres in diameter. The flower begins to bloom late in the day, releasing a special scent overnight to attract, then engulf, the scarab beetles it needs for pollination. Its huge plate-like lily pads can reach diameters of more than 1.5 metres.

The Waterlily Pavilion has an interpretive gallery with all the information you never knew you needed about the Victoria amazonica. Flowering season is April to September but the bloom doesn’t last long, so check the website before you go.

Our favourite link: Flowering of the Amazon waterlily in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens opens in new window

Wine discovery at the National Wine Centre

South Australia is famous across the globe for its vino and the wonderful National Wine Centre is a great place to find out why. Entry is free and visitors can take themselves on a self-guided tour to learn about how wine is made and gain insights into Australia’s wine history, local regions and varietals. The exhibition is interactive and easy to explore, but if you want the personal touch there are also free guided tours daily at 11.30am.

Once you become a wine expert, your thirst will need quenching and if your timing is right, you can enjoy free tastings every second Friday from 4.30pm at City Cellar Door (CCD). Two Australian wineries are showcased at each CCD event and there are usually some tastings of local produce to go along with the wine.

Our favourite link: National Wine Centre - Wine Discovery Journey opens in new window

Watch a flick at Odeon Star Cinema

It’s hard to believe that in these days of mega-multiplexes you can still find a family-run suburban cinema that retains its vintage 1920s charm. Head out to Semaphore, northwest of the city, to get nostalgic at the historic Odeon Star. The cinema is almost 100 years old and has had a long and chequered history of operations, but it’s a retro delight, screening the latest hit mainstream films. Best of all, ticket prices are set at an unbelievable $8—all day every day.

Our favourite link: The Odeon Star on Facebook opens in new window

Go bush in the Adelaide Hills

If you want to escape the city and enjoy some open sky and fresh air, catch a public bus from the city centre to the village of Stirling in the Adelaide Hills. Just a few minutes’ walk from the charming village centre will take you to the Woorabinda Bushland Reserves, where you can take a casual stroll and enjoy the wildlife—you can easily spot all manner of fish, birds, lizards and even a few turtles. For a more active adventure, hike around the Woorabinda Lake or take any of the four kilometres of walking trails through lush bushlands.

Our favourite link: Stirling, Adelaide Hills—Woorabinda Lake and Reserves opens in new window