Adelaide / Lifestyle / Things to do in Adelaide: Your Essential Weekend Guide

Things to do in Adelaide: Your Essential Weekend Guide

Planning where to go in and around Adelaide, our lengthy guide has got you covered...

Adelaide has been a bit of a sleeper hit in terms of holiday destinations, but it’s now well and truly coming into its own. With a dining and cultural scene to rival Sydney and Melbourne, untouched natural wonders, charming historic towns and world-class vineyards  less than an hour’s drive away, it’s easy to see why Adelaide is a traveller’s delight. While you’re in town, make the most of your trip with our essential picks of places to eat, see and explore.

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Feed a Koala and a Kangaroo at Cleland Wildlife Park

Just 20-minutes from Adelaide’s CBD the Cleland Wildlife Park offers an incredible opportunity to wander through pristine wetlands and surround yourself with over 130 species of wildlife. Most of the animals are free-roaming in the 35-hectare park making the day-out a memorable one, with impromptu opportunities to touch, feed and hold the wildlife, such as hand-feeding kangaroos and holding a koala. 

365 Mount Lofty Summit Road, Crafers 

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Learn to Cook at Sticky Rice

Nestled in the back roads of Stirling in the Adelaide Hills, Sticky Rice Cooking School offers up a steamy and spicy feast for the senses. Hosted by some of the finest chefs from around Australia, you get hands-on in a 4-hour class of slicing, dicing, frying and filleting before sitting down to a sumptuous banquet-style dinner. Choose from a range of cuisines like Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese and Indian and hone your culinary passion into practical take-home lessons. They also have three luxury Asian-inspired villas available for overnight stays.

96 Old Mount Barker Road, Stirling 

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Check Out Glenelg's Jetty Road

A standout along Adelaide’s coastline is the always-bustling Jetty Road in Glenelg. Thriving with a trendy barefoot surfer crowd, the strip has a wide selection of boutiques, restaurants and bars. During summer, the beach is packed, and Moseley Square is dotted with Californian-style palm trees, while the smell of food and freshly made waffle-cones hangs in the air. A winning combo.

Corner Colley Terrace & Jetty Road, Glenelg 

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Indulge in Retail Therapy at Rundle Mall

Pedestrian-only and open-air, Rundle Mall is overflowing with designer shops, buskers, coffee spots and great eats, all of which are tucked down the many lanes and arcades. We’re talking Larry & Lad, Mondays, Hotel Richmond, and Two-Bit Villains. With several large department stores and countless boutique shops, art installations, statues and of course, the Malls Balls – Rundle Mall is a cultural nexus of food, fashion, architecture and entertainment. 

Rundle Mall, Adelaide 

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Walk (or run) the Torrens River in the City

Meandering behind the historic North Terrace and winding its way around the Adelaide Zoo, the University of Adelaide and past the Festival Centre, the beautiful Torrens River – shrouded in greenery – flows quietly through the heart of the city. Although the Linear Park Trail (as it’s collectively known) starts in the North Eastern suburbs and ends at West Beach, there’s a loop app. 4km round-trip that you can do, and the section passing through the city is picture-perfect with pristine gardens and is unimaginably relaxing. 

Victoria Drive, Adelaide

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Take at Seat in The Tasting Room

Evolving beyond a boutique bottle-shop, East End has transformed into an upscale and sophisticated bodega. Having moved out of their cosy corner spot and into a sprawling modern-contemporary delicatessen of sorts, the Tasting Room is European-inspired with street-facing tables, high bars in front of glass windows and huge share tables. Beyond the sensational wine list on offer is a mouth-watering menu of cured meats, cheeses, fresh bread, pickled veggies, pates, smoked fish, and so much more.

25 Vardon Avenue, Adelaide 

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Get Creative at the Jam Factory

A workshop, art school and gallery in one, Jam Factory has been attracting young artists and artisans since the 70s. Housed in a colossal building that neighbours the Mercury Cinema, collectively, the art students work across ceramics, furniture, glass and metal to create Jam Factory branded products, all while pursuing their own artistic endeavours. A standout is the glass-blowing demonstrations, and there are free daily tours from 11am.

19 Morphett Street, Adelaide

Holey Moley

Hit a Few Holes at Holey Moley

Dubbed a “leisure-tainment experience like no other,” Holey Moley is an adults-only indoor mini-golf adventure. It’s as kitschy as an 80s costume party. The purpose-built bar in the CBD is a menagerie of lights and music and throwbacks to pop culture so overdone you can’t help but love it. There’s delicious stone-baked pizza, share platters and a huge cocktail list to fire you up and get you ready to putt loose.

1/162-170 Pulteney Street, Adelaide 

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Learn a Thing or Two at MOD.

The western end of Hindley Street has a new look. People are loving the University of South Australia’s modern-contemporary buildings – a super-cool locale to walk around before drinks-o’clock. The futuristic Museum of Discovery is an inspiring place about the world and universe we live in. Its purpose-built gallery covers seven exhibition spaces over two floors and is an unexpected journey filled with breathtaking and incredible “did you know?” about the natural world. 

North Terrace adjacent Morphett Street Bridge, Adelaide 

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Taste-Test Your Way Through the Maggie Beer Farm Shop

Set on the beautiful plains of the Barossa Valley and overlooking a lake is Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop and Eatery. Internationally recognised and drawing upon natural Australian ingredients, Maggie Beer’s tasting and gift shop allows you to sample almost everything for sale, while the Farm Eatery is an incredible lunch experience with stunning views. Choose from a Pheasant Farm degustation, a three-course “trust us” chef selection or anything from the la carte menu. The produce is almost entirely local and with renowned chefs in the kitchen rotating the menu seasonally. 

50 Pheasant Farm Road, Nurioopta 

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Star of Greece (Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission/Josie Withers)

A Touch of Greece on the Coast

The jewel of the Fleurieu Peninsula, Star of Greece is a SA coastal dining experience. Perched on a cliff edge in what literally feels as though you’re hanging over the crystal blue waters of Port Willunga, this Grecian restaurant is as famous for its views as it is for its delicious food. Mediterranean fare is modernised here; Kangaroo Island squid with lime aioli, Harvey Bay scallops in citrus butter, grilled quail with pumpkin puree, Atlantic salmon, braised beef rump, house-made pappardelle and the list goes on and on. 

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Star of Greece (Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission/Zak Kazmasek)

Come for a long boozy lunch on a sunny day or book an early dinner and watch the sunset over a vino. Inside is quaint and cosy and has a fine dining feel or if the weather’s right sit on the deck where the native flora practically grows at your feet. There’s nothing quite like it!

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The Best Beachside Stroll

Winter or summer, the beachside walk from Henley to Grange (and back), two of Adelaide’s most popular beach destinations, is both relaxing and fun. No matter the season this leg is teaming with west-side locals soaking up the sun, the crisp ocean air and the tens-of-kilometres of unobstructed, pristine coastline. Nowhere can you live in a cosmopolitan city and have such an amazing stretch of beaches 15 minutes from your doorstep.

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Starting at Henley Square, great coffee and food options abound to sustain you on the 4km round-trip walk. Go brisk or go slow, be mesmerised by ocean waves or entertained by the innumerable dogs frolicking in the sand and water. Either way, a morning Henley to Grange walk will have you smiling and feeling good for the rest of your day.

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Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant

Suburban Fine Dining at it's Best

In recent years Adelaide has certainly become a culinary heavyweight with the likes of Orana, Press, Osteria Oggi, Africola and Shobosho (to name a few) gracing our city. But, there’s something to be said for a restaurant that is time-tested and ageless. Penfold’s Magill Estate is a breathtaking and sumptuous degustation experience where world-class wines are paired with an ever-changing (sometimes daily) seasonal menu of the finest ingredients.

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Savour stunning views of Penfold’s Grange vineyard while Head Chef Scott Huggins (who has worked in several Michelin-starred restaurants) guides you through an intrepid journey of flavour, aroma and texture. Magill Estate is fine dining at its absolute best, and the avant-garde interior of hanging orbs, plush booths, slate, stone and timber furnishings will have you feeling as though you’re dining at the MoMA. It may not be new, but Magill Estate is an absolute must.

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Get Lost at the Adelaide Zoo

One of the drawcards to Adelaide is that it's a small city. The CBD is clean, green, and you can walk from one end to the other in about half an hour. It’s surrounded by parklands including the beautiful Botanic Gardens, which sits on North Terrace, and right next door is the recently updated Adelaide Zoo. Not just a day out for kids, adults will love spending a leisurely afternoon wandering meandering paths and taking a peek at the inhabiting wildlife. The air is rich, the giant fig trees are hundreds of years old, and the symphony of animal calls is simply hypnotising.

Sitchu tip: Duck into the Fibonacci Café in the Botanic Gardens for a lovely barista-made coffee and house-made mushroom toasties (and a cake) before smuggling them in to keep you well-nourished for the day. 

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Mount Lofty (Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission)

Take a Hike, Up Lofty

Whether you’re a local or just visiting and want to keep your fitness in check, the Mount Lofty walk (or run) is a hallmark of early weekend activity in Adelaide. Tucked behind the leafy eastern suburb of Glen Osmond, the brief windy road begins to dot with cars haphazardly parked before the usually full carpark gives way beneath a gorgeous waterfall. You’ve made it. Greeting you at the bottom cool mountain air fills your lungs, and there’s green as far as the eye can see. 

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Mount Lofty (Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission/Adam Bruzzone)

Yes, it’s beautiful. An endless forest of native trees, the crashing sound of water, plentiful birdlife and the occasional koala. But let’s not forget why we’ve come: exercise! The towering 7.8km round-trip will have your thighs burning and your heart pounding. Keen hikers and runners can usually get up and down in about an hour, but but for the rest of us, expect it to take the better part of two hours. 

Not to be deterred, the climb is actually extremely invigorating – the dense foliage is magical, and when you reach the top the overlooking views of the city and sparkling coastline are simply stunning. It’s hard work but definitely worth it, and you can’t call yourself an Adelaidean until you’ve conquered it.

Thebarton Theatre- Wade Whitington
Thebarton Theatre (Credit: Wade Whitington)

Catch a Gig at the Thebbie

The B-52s, Beastie Boys, Ben Folds Five, Ben Harper, Bruno Mars, Cold Play, Gipsy Kings, INXS, Jeff Buckley, The Ramones… any of these ring a bell? The Thebarton Theatre in Adelaide’s west is perhaps the music venue of the city. Constructed almost 100 years ago it looks like a forgotten stage theatre from the outside, but inside musical magic and wonder awaits. No matter who plays there, an undeniable buzz and energy permeates its walls. Intimate, ornate, hot, old-worldy, whatever it is – or isn't – something indescribable happens when you catch a gig at the Thebbie. 

Thebarton Theatre- Adelaide
Thebarton Theatre

Sure, Spotify and Bose make music at home sound pretty good, but there’s nothing quite like throwing on a leather jacket and biker boots and chanelling your inner punk rocker. Live music is one of those things you don’t realise you need in your life until you go and hear it, and doing it at The Thebarton Theatre is as good as any place around the world.

Adelaide Central Market -Melissa Koh
Central Market (Credit: Melissa Koh)

Wander Through the Central Markets

Just like Foodhallen in Amsterdam, Markthalle Neun in Berlin or London's Borough Market, the Adelaide Central Markets are a sight to behold. Fresh produce from all over the state is jam-packed into tight colourful stalls, where people bump shoulders and the intoxicating smell of fruit and veg, cheese, flowers and pastries hang in the air. The Central Markets offers much more than just your weekly groceries.

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Central Market (Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission)

Friday and Saturday evenings are prime-time. Inside the sprawling warehouse you’ll find freshly shucked oysters, fresh pasta from Lucia’s (est. 1957), cocktail and wine bars, paella, charcuterie tasting plates of cured meats and cheeses, Turkish sweets, custard tarts – the list goes on. Whether it’s after work drinks or date night indulgence, the Adelaide Central Markets is a kind of foodie cultural baptism, one that needs to be regularly repeated.

Horseshoe Bay Jetty -Jesse Ehlers
Horseshoe Bay Jetty (Credit: Jesse Ehlers)

Spend a Day in Port Elliot

A scenic yet direct hour-ish drive south of Adelaide brings you to the gorgeous coastal town of Port Elliot. A modest and suitably relaxed seaside municipal with surprisingly plenty to do. First things first, on your way into the township pull into De Groot Coffee, a stellar roaster stocking several top cafes in Adelaide. Then head straight to Horseshoe Bay and have a wander while filling your lungs with crisp ocean air.

Flying Fish Cafe, Port Elliot -South Australian Tourism Commission
Flying Fish Cafe, Port Elliot (Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission)

 For lunch, grab a seat on the deck of the Flying Fish Café & Restaurant and tuck into a superbly cooked seafood platter while you watch the waves crash. Now, you’re not done yet because the leisurely Harbourmaster’s Walking Trail is an absolute must and often overlooked by visitors. It begins right around the corner from Flying Fish and meanders around the point, past Rocky Bay and ends at Knights Beach. Having had your fill of delightful panoramic views head back towards town and stop in at South Seas Books & Trading, a gorgeously converted house turn bookstore. Books here are found in huge stacks on tables and buffets more than they are on shelves. There’s a long brown leather couch to rest your weary legs while reading a few pages of the book(s) you’ll leave with.

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AFL Football Match, Adelaide Oval (Credit: Port Adelaide Football Club)

Catch a Game at the Adelaide Oval

Whether it’s football, international cricket or a Premier League exhibition soccer game, seeing a live match at the iconic and world-class Adelaide Oval is a worthy experience. Positioned along the beautiful riverbank just a stone’s throw from the CBD, this recently revamped stadium pervades over the city like the Colosseum in Rome. With enormous sail-like white shades, an eye-catching heritage scoreboard built over 100 years ago, and a backdrop of magnificent fig trees at one end and the Torrens River at the other, sitting in the stands while the sun sets is breathtaking. 

There’s also a spectacular “roof climb” you can do mid-match if you happen to be treating someone special. Or if sport isn’t your fancy, the Oval also hosts incredible musical acts, and with the likes of U2, Metallica and Queen + Adam Lambert on the 2019 calendar it’s no surprise why they’ve chosen this venue to perform.

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Photo Credit - Orana

Date night: Dine at Restaurant Orana

Crowned  Gourmet Traveller’s Restaurant of the Year in 2018, Orana symbolises owner-chef Jock Zonfrillo’s philosophy. His intuitive combination of foraged native ingredients with traditional indigenous techniques and timeless Nordic methods of preparing food – drying, curing, pickling and smoking – delivers a culinary showcase unlike anything else. 

The sleek and intimate upstairs space of 30 seats will have you feeling as warm and cosy as the smouldering balls of potato damper brought to your table over hot coals. And that’s just the bread basket. The seasonal menu consists of at least 16 courses ranging from crocodile, green ants, desert lime, buffalo milk, feral plum and more things you didn’t know you could eat. 

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Photo Credit - Orana

Each dish is brought to you by  the chef, who’ll explain what your tastebuds are set to indulge. Restaurant Orana is an icon in Adelaide and is a must-try dining experience. The seasonal menu consists of at least 16 courses ranging from crocodile, green ants, desert lime, buffalo milk, feral plum and more things you didn’t know you could eat. Each dish is brought to you by  the chef, who’ll explain what your tastebuds are set to indulge. An iconic must-try dining experience.

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Photo Credit - Udaberri

Raise a glass at the city’s hottest drinking spots

Then go no further then Udaberri  on Leigh Street. The San Sebastian-inspired venue that started the small bar scene for Adelaide back in 2012 continues to deliver year after year. The clean timber lines and exposed brick walls create an intimate and cosy vibe, while the 20 variations of gin and tonic and ever-evolving pintxos (tapas) on offer keep people coming back to savour all kinds of deliciousness. 

Gracing the menu is the likes of smoked cod with aioli, semi-cured chorizo and prawns in a sherry glaze, mussels with saffron and tomato, sautéed portobello mushrooms and even Black Angus rib eye.

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Photo Credit - Udaberri

As for the extensive drinks list, there’s gin served with dried grapefruit and chamomile, another with marmalade and dehydrated apple. There’s also an unbelievable Bloody Mary made with tomato salt and jamon-washed vodka, not to mention an interesting wine list. Come with a friend, sit at the bar and soak in the typically Latin and Brazilian jazz beats while the pintxos soak up the many, many drinks to be had.

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Photo Credit - Art Gallery Of SA

Delve into an afternoon of culture and art

With North Terrace redeveloped and beautifully landscaped, the historic sandstone South Australian Museum and Art Gallery of South Australia are not just gorgeous sights but worthy of a visit, too. Start in the Museum and cast yourself back to when Australian megafauna roamed, Ancient Egypt ruled North Africa and early Aboriginal tribes flourished. The wonderfully displayed exhibits will make you feel like a child again learning about the Earth’s history. You don’t need to spend long because next door brings you to the Art Gallery of South Australia. 

Art gallery of south australia adelaide sitchu photo credit - AGSA
Photo Credit - Art Gallery Of SA

With an insightful mix of classic and contemporary art, the Gallery has a collection of over 45,000 works and often hosts international exhibitions. Art Gallery Food + Wine is the gallery’s restaurant so you can dine on the likes of seared Spencer Gulf prawns, duck breast in parsnip purée, five-spice pork fillet or delicious seasonal tarts. The Museum and Gallery is too often a forgotten pleasure so why not spend the afternoon getting your culture fix?


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Art Deco Piccadilly Theatre

Movie and pizza at the Piccadilly

Forget Netflix and remind yourself why going to the cinema has been such a time-honoured tradition. The iconic Art Deco Piccadilly Theatre on O’Connell Street in North Adelaide is perhaps the best cinema worth visiting. 

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Art Deco Piccadilly Theatre

Gorgeous brass railings, plush burgundy carpets, curved stairwells, crystal chandeliers and deep leather seats adorn this magnificent building. O’Connell Street is also a hub of great restaurants like Lucky Lupitas  (Mexican), and Cliché Exhibition (French).

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Photo Credit Lucky Lupitas

Gin Long Canteen (Modern Asian), and our personal Italian favourite Tony Tomatoes. The pizza here is true Neapolitan style – crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle and where the prosciutto is sliced straight onto your pizza. With a great Italian and local wine list, asparagus arancini to die for as well as seasonal pasta specials, we can’t think of a better way to spend a low-key Saturday night then devouring authentic Italiano pizza before cosying up and catching a flick.

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Fancy a picnic in a not-so-secret garden?

Grab some friends, a blanket and head into the heart of the city. The Adelaide Botanic Garden is a magical wonderland worth disappearing to for a sunny afternoon. Lush gardens, exotic plants, towering fig trees and the gentle meandering of the Torrens River full of ducks and turtles await. 

Let the gravel pathways lead you through these beautiful gardens until you find a spot in the dappled shade of a tree to lay down and soak up the sun. Don’t feel the pressure of packing a picnic because the garden’s very own Café Fibonacci has you covered for all things delectable. Think incredible French and Italian pastries, salmon and dill bagels, house-made garlic mushroom and spinach toasties, prosciutto and caramelised onion savoury danishes, and of course barista-made coffee or crack a bottle of ginscato. 

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Due for a new dress (or three), then head straight to Rundle Street

This short but bustling strip is Adelaide’s go-to for designer brands. Everything in the East end feeds off this iconic street – restaurants (Bistro Blackwood, Orana), bars (BRKLYN, NOLA), the Palace Nova (retro cinema) – but it is first and foremost all about the shopping. 

Starting with some of Australia’s best-selling women’s labels Gorman, Morrison, SABA, Leonard St, Zimmermann, Decjuba and Tigerlily can all be found a few steps from one another. There’s also the always-beautiful (and necessary) Seafolly for that new bikini need whether it’s the start of summer or a mid-winter tropical getaway. 

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If you’re after some items that are a little more alternative, grungy or rock’n’roll then Miss Gladys Sym Choon and Midwest Trader will have you covered. And not forgetting the boys there’s the effortlessly stylish Jack London or M.J. Bale for a more elegant and artisan look. Shopping on Rundle Street is fun and full of options with plenty of trendy places to stop for a drink or a bite if you need to rest your weary legs.

Second Valley Beach adelaide sitchu photo credit south australia tourism
Photo Credit - South Australia Tourism

Spend a day at Second Valley in the State’s coastal south

Naturally, this jaunt is best on a hot summer’s day where the long drive will take you through picturesque rolling hills and valleys before peeling out onto a coastline of crystal blue water. Second Valley Beach is a small cove dotted with huge rocks and is one of the most Instagrammed beaches in SA. 

Go early and stake a quiet spot on the white sand and stay for hours reading a good book interrupted only with dips in the incredibly clear water. For those a little more adventurous, there is a huge cave entrance located a small trek (and we do mean trek) to the south of the main beach. Here you’ll find people climbing the cliff face before plunging several metres into the deep water. 

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Photo Credit - Leonards Red Mill

Once your skin has reached a rosy complexion, pop into Leonards Mill  for a late lunch. This gorgeous stone building, once a flour mill, offers an incredible paddock-to-plate menu where all produce is sourced from the local area. You might only go to Second Valley once a year but it’ll be worth it.

patch kitchen Stirling. bar adelaide sitchu
Photo Credit - Patch Kitchen

The hills of Stirling are alive with the sound of… food, wine and seasonal magic

Stirling is a short 15 minute drive up the freeway but the scenic countryside suburb will make you feel like you’re hours out of the city. Go for a morning stroll along the palpably beautiful main street of manicured gardens, huge leafy trees and quaint shop frontages. 

Let the clean crisp air invigorate new life into you before stopping in at Patch Kitchen & Garden for a delicious breakfast. Or, if you’re here for lunch then The Stirling Hotel is without doubt one of the best pubs in Adelaide boasting a full restaurant on one side and an Italian wood-oven pizzeria on the other. 

Stirling also hosts a gorgeous street market on the fourth Sunday of each month selling everything from incredible homemade jams and cakes to plants and vintage treasures.

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Photo Credit - Lost in A Forest

Notable nearby mentions: the gorgeous town of Uraidla at the end of the picturesque Piccadilly Road. You have two dining choices here, the recently redeveloped Uraidla Hotel set in a beautiful stone building offering exceptional pub fare, or award-winning pizza (maybe the best in Adelaide) from Lost in a Forest. 

Back across the freeway, pay a quick visit though somewhat-touristy to the iconic German town of Hahndorf where you’ll find live traditional German music filling the air, a dedicated fudge shop, as well as bratwurst, sauerkraut, and ham hock simply too big to finish.

Mclaren vale adelaide sitchu photo credit - mclaren vale tourism
Photo Credit - McClaren Vale

Cellar doors aplenty in McLaren Vale

The drive to arguably the State’s best wine region is not long or hard to get to but the conundrum occurs when you arrive: how many cellar doors can you visit in a day? Needless to say McLaren Vale is gorgeous with low rolling green hills, tightly pruned grape vines as far as the eye can see and incredible architectural buildings worthy of the Guggenheim. With that said, d’Arenberg Cube is an absolute must-see.

d’Arenberg Cube winery adelaide sitchu photo credit - d’Arenberg Cube
Photo Credit - McClaren Vale

Its breathtaking design inspired by the Rubik’s Cube is a postmodern masterpiece but ensure you make time for d’Arry’s Verandah for a leisurely lunch showcasing incredible local produce. For a change of pace, Alpha Box & Dice is your ticket. This boutique winery focuses on experimental and alternative varietals giving their small batch wines more personality with minimal intervention. 

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Photo Credit - McClaren Vale

Our third pick is  S.C.Pannell, a new addition to the region. With incredible views overlooking the valley, the vineyard offers a seasonal lunch on the raised deck or for $75 you’ll get a picnic set up on the lawn with everything you need – bread, cheese, wine, blanket and a few other goodies. These cellars doors are a worthy three to get you started.


Make the most of your next trip to Adelaide with a mix of unique and memorable experiences. From Adelaide atrractions and foodie festivals, to arts, culture and live music, there is so much to see and many things to do in Adelaide.

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