Adelaide is a beautiful city to visit and a totally underrated destination in Australia. The city is compact and many of the top attractions can be easily reached by walking. The city is also bordered by beautiful natural surrounds, with ocean on one side and forested hills on the other. A 3 day Adelaide itinerary is the perfect length of trip to take in the essence of this city.
Many people visit Adelaide as part of a longer trip around Australia, coming across the country on a road trip from Perth or Melbourne. This city is also great to visit on a stand-alone trip, flying directly to the city. This Adelaide travel itinerary is the perfect way for either type of traveller to make the most of 3 days in Adelaide.
If you are planning to stay for longer then make sure to check out the end of this article. There you will find tips on amazing ways to explore more of South Australia whilst based in Adelaide. This city and state have many beautiful places to discover so read on to plan your perfect trip.
Table of Contents
Things to Know Before You Go
Where to Stay in Adelaide
Before you dive in to the sightseeing and adventures, you’ll want to find the perfect place to base yourself. Where you stay can have a big impact on how easy it is to get around and the enjoyment of your stay. See below for some of our top picks, located in the best parts of Adelaide city.
The Palms Apartments – Situated on the north-east corner of the CBD, this is perfectly located within walking distance to some of the top attractions. The rooms are clean and spacious with great amenities like free Wi-Fi and a dishwasher.
Stamford Grand Adelaide – This building is an iconic part of the Glenelg beachfront. It is equally beautiful inside and out and has an amazing indoor pool to relax in after a day of sightseeing. You will be right near the tram line for easy access to the city.
Best Time to Visit Adelaide
For the best chance of blue skies and warm weather you want to plan your trip between November and March. Like most cities in Australia it can get really hot in the middle of summer, so avoid December and January if you don’t like the heat.
Luckily Adelaide has a mild climate and can be visited year round. There are between 9 and 11 rainy days on average over winter. Ideally you want to complete this 3 day Adelaide itinerary in the sunnier months due to spending a lot of time outdoors.
Getting Around Adelaide
If you are only travelling within the city then you will be ok just getting around on public transport. If you are planning on doing any day trips from Adelaide you will either need to hire a car or take one of the great day tours listed in the relevant sections below.
The trams, busses and trains all fall under the ‘Adelaide Metro’ banner. The easiest way to get around is to purchase a metroCARD that can be recharged and used on all services. We found this to be a great way to get to all the places on this Adelaide travel itinerary.
Alternatively you can purchase paper tickets from various machines and use your credit card to tap on to the trams. This can be unreliable for the busses as not all stops will have a ticket machine.
See this link for more information about Adelaide Metro fares and tickets.
The Best Adelaide Tours
Sometimes you just don’t want the stress of figuring out train and bus schedules. An organised tour can be a great way to dig deeper into some of the sights in Adelaide as well as some gems outside the city limits. All you have to worry about is having a good time. Find some of the best Adelaide tours below.
Cultural Caper Adelaide Walking Tour
This short walking tour will take you through an area of Adelaide filled with historic buildings. The knowledgeable guide will inform you of some of the interesting history of the city and orient you for the rest of the day’s travels. Find out more and book tickets here.
Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary and Ships Graveyard Kayak Tour
See a part of Adelaide that many visitors don’t experience. The expert guide will take you down the mangrove lined waterways to spot dolphins and numerous scuttled ships. Find out more and book tickets here.
Cleland Wildlife Park Tour from Adelaide including Mount Lofty Summit
This 5 star tour is one of the options for the final day of this 3 day Adelaide itinerary. Mount Lofty offers spectacular views over the city and the Cleland Wildlife Park is one of the best in Australia. Find out more and book tickets here.
Torrens River Cruise in Adelaide
The Torrens River runs through the heart of Adelaide and provides a beautiful alternative vantage point from which to see the city. The knowledgeable guide will give some history of the city and river during the leisurely cruise. Find out more and book tickets here.
3 Day Adelaide Itinerary – The Best Things to See and Do
Day One – Adelaide City/Glenelg
Adelaide’s city centre is full of great things to see and do. The best way to spend the first of your 3 days in Adelaide is discovering the most iconic landmarks within the city. Below are some of Adelaide’s must-see attractions as well as a short trip to the popular Glenelg Beach.
Depending on your interests and pace you may not see everything listed here. There should however be enough highlights to fill a full day for every type of traveller.
Adelaide Botanic Garden
A great way to start the day is with a stroll through this beautiful botanic garden. It is located at the north-east corner of the CBD and surrounded by many other attractions.
Having seen many botanic gardens, this one really impressed me. There are so many different areas to explore with a huge variety of plants. The Bicentennial Conservatory is a really interesting building and contains a mini tropical rainforest. Another top highlight is the amazon water lily pavilion.
If you exit the garden on the east side near the conservatory then you are only a 2 minute stroll to the following attraction.
National Wine Centre of Australia
Once you have finished admiring the beautiful architecture of this building from the outside, it’s time to dive into the world of wine. There is a self-guided walk with interpretation stations that teach you about the winemaking process and Australian history.
There is an amazing tasting experience that allows you to sample from a range of over 120 wines from 55 Australian regions. For fans of wine or those who want to learn more, you can’t miss the fantastic Australian Wine Discovery Tour with Tastings.
South Australian Museum
For one of the smaller Australian cities, Adelaide has a fantastic museum. The entrance is free and it is well worth exploring their permanent collections. They have an extensive pacific cultures exhibit which was really interesting, as well as a comprehensive native cultures exhibit.
This is located very close to the botanic garden and you can walk through the beautiful university campus grounds to get there. Check out their website for more information and current events.
Art Gallery of South Australia
The gallery is located right next to the museum making for an easy joint visit. You can’t miss this building as the beautiful façade catches the eye with it’s huge columns. It dates back to 1881 and houses a really nice collection of art. Their aboriginal and historical Australian collections are especially engaging.
Anzac Centenary Memorial Walk
After leaving the museum precinct it is worth walking along this excellent monument to Australian service personnel. The wall is made of black granite etched with images of past conflicts. Interpretive signs at the sight provide more information on other details built into the feature.
The walk will take you towards the city where you can jump on to the Adelaide street art trail.
Adelaide Street Art Trail
Adelaide is among the many cities which have embraced street art. There are a great selection of murals and sculptures throughout the city. You might plan a route between your favourites using this map, then walk between them as you visit other highlights.
Adelaide Central Market
This huge undercover fresh food market is one of the largest in the southern hemisphere. This is the perfect place to pick up some of South Australia’s delicious local produce. You might also stop for a quick bite to eat here in between exploring the CBD.
A great way to finish off the day is to take the tram line to the ocean at Glenelg. This pretty palm-lined seafront strip is full of nice cafes and bars. Take a stroll along the oceanfront promenade, take a ride on the Ferris wheel and then settle in with a drink for the fantastic sunset.
Kids will love The Beachouse Amusement Park. If you have spare time in the afternoon then let them burn some energy at this seafront amusement park. They have large waterslides to cool down on those hot summer days.
Day Two – Port Adelaide
The port for the city of Adelaide was historically separated from the main settlement due to a lack of fresh water. Over time the city grew to encompass the whole area. What used to be an arduous journey to and from the city can now be easily done in 20 minutes on the train or 45 minutes on the bus.
This area was and still is an industrial hub, however a lot of money has been committed to also make it a very appealing place to visit. There are a lot of really good museums in a small area as well as some unique experiences. The historic pubs and many high quality restaurants give plenty of options for lunch/dinner.
A 3 day Adelaide itinerary allows you fully explore this area which is crucial to get a better understanding of the history of this city.
National Railway Museum
The best way to get to Port Adelaide from the CBD is on the train. When you disembark you are already at the first recommended stop of the day. The National Railway Museum is just outside the station and has a fantastic collection of restored historic engines and carriages.
There is a model railway with beautiful detail of the various regions and terrain of South Australia. A miniature train ride is included in the ticket price but for an even better experience you can ride the 2km long Semaphore miniature steam train. This is great value and well worth the small extra cost.
South Australian Aviation Museum and/or Maritime Museum
Only a short walk away are another two great museums. The aviation museum has many flying machines on display as well as various other interesting collections. The Maritime Museum has an extensive list of permanent exhibitions and is a great place to learn about some of the history of the South Australian settlement.
Nearby the Maritime Museum you can also visit the Port Adelaide Lighthouse which dates from 1869. Right next to this is the large indoor Fishermen’s Wharf Markets.
Pirate Life Brewing
After walking around multiple museums you might be in need of refreshment. Luckily just down the road is one of Australia’s best breweries. Pirate Life Brewing only started in late 2014 but rapidly rose to prominence around the country with their exceptionally fresh and delicious brews.
They have a huge selection of beers on tap, great pub food and a sleek industrial venue that well suits the suburb’s history. Try to resist overindulging if you want to tackle the next recommended activity as it involves water!
Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary
You might be surprised to find that there are a whole bunch of dolphins in the Port Adelaide River! This is a great opportunity to see these wonderful animals up close and in the wild.
The tour below takes you down a section of the mangrove lined river to the best places to spot the dolphins. You will also see the Garden Island ship graveyard and other sights along the river.
If you aren’t able to kayak or don’t like the the water then check out the next experience.
One and All Sailing Ship
If you love the water then you might want to fit in both kayaking and this experience. This could be a stretch but see how you go or just pick the one that interests you most.
This experience is a tall ship cruise on a ship that is designed similar to an 1850’s brigantine. Hitting the water on a beautiful sailing ship like this one is always an amazing experience and you also still have the chance to spot dolphins.
Have a Meal on Commercial Road
The stretch of Commercial Rd closest to the river is home to a number of historic pubs and great restaurants. This is the perfect place to relax with a drink or a meal prior to heading back to the city.
Check out this awesome collection of historical photos of the Port Adelaide pubs. A number of these are still around today although many have had a facelift. Despite this it is still fascinating to sip a drink while considering all the lives and times that have come and gone here.
Day Three – Adelaide Hills
The eastern side of the city is bordered by steep forested hills. The roads wind upward through a series of switchbacks, offering stunning forest, city and ocean views. As if the views and nature weren’t enough, the area also produces some top quality wine and gourmet food.
The sights in and around the Adelaide hills are a fantastic way to spend the last day of your 3 day Adelaide itinerary. There are several awesome tours that will show you some of the best highlights so you can sit back and relax on your last day.
See below for the best tours of the hills and surrounding areas. Pick your favourite itinerary or if you want to go it alone then choose your favourite spots and construct your own route.
Small Group Adelaide Hills and Hahndorf Hideaway Tour from Adelaide
This tour is the perfect way to get the best out of the Adelaide hills. After two full days of sightseeing you will deserve to sit back and relax, letting your guide do all the work.
Travel up into the beautiful hills where you visit the summit of Mount Lofty. From here you can take in amazing views over the whole city and coastline, stretching far into the distance. After this you will make multiple stops to sample wine, cheese, chocolate and more.
The highlight of this area for many is the quaint little village of Hahndorf. It is the oldest surviving German town in Australia, settled by 19th century Lutheran migrants. Enjoy a 2 course pub lunch with a drink included at one of the super cool German style pubs.
After this you will return to Adelaide via one last cheeky winery/cider producer. This is a perfect last day in Adelaide that will leave you full, happy and possibly a little tipsy!
Cleland Wildlife Park Tour from Adelaide including Mount Lofty Summit
This tour is great for visitors from outside Australia as it will tick off several bucket list animal encounters. The wildlife park here is one of the best in Australia and you will get a chance to see and interact with many native animals.
Firstly however your tour will take you to the summit of Mount Lofty. The drive up takes a super scenic route where you can enjoy the natural beauty of the Adelaide hills. At the top you will be rewarded by amazing views of Adelaide and the St Vincent Gulf.
The Cleland Wildlife Park is a huge area of natural bushland filled with over 130 species of Australian animals! You can see almost every native animal on your bucket list as well as interact with many of them. The park has very few enclosures so a lot of animals roam free, you can even get up close with and touch koalas under a keepers supervision,
Full-Day Hahndorf and Adelaide Hills Hop-On Hop-Off Tour from Adelaide
For those people who prefer a little more flexibility to choose their own options, this is the perfect tour. You’ll still avoid the hassle of driving but retain the ability to choose your own adventure.
The comfortable air-conditioned coach runs on a loop that visits from 10 to 15 different venues, taking about an hour to complete. You can get off at whichever ones take your fancy and then jump back on the next bus to swing around.
There are many wineries and gourmet food producers to choose from. The attractive German style town of Hahndorf is also included on the itinerary.
Your 3 Day Adelaide Itinerary is Complete – What next?
If this is the end of your trip then I hope this 3 day Adelaide itinerary has helped you to make the most of it. If you are lucky and have some more time to explore further afield then read on using the links below.
There are some amazing things to see on day trips and weekend trips from Adelaide. If you are travelling even further afield then you might be interested in some of our epic road trip itineraries.
Read More South Australia Travel Guides:
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If you are spending some time in Adelaide then you can check these out individually. If you are heading out on a South Australian road trip then string them together to make a great itinerary.
This might be written the other way around but you can follow it backwards for the best way to travel between these cities. Don’t miss some of the highlights not included on other itineraries!
On your own or not keen to tackle the massive drive across the Nullarbor? Jump on to this highly rated tour for an amazing adventure all the way across to Perth. They take in a lot of the top highlights as well as some extra experiences around the amazing south-west.
Planning a road trip through South Australia? Check out this ultimate list of the best natural wonders in the state so you don’t miss any hidden gems!
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