I traveled to Australia in 2014, at first to visit some distant family for the holidays. They lived in a sleepy little suburban town called Port Noarlunga on the outskirts of Adelaide, South Australia.

I’d heard much the coastal community – of jetty jumps, meat pies, and windy hills – at the dinner table from my Australian uncle. I figured “what the hell, let’s give backpacking in Adelaide a chance.”

Fast forward 6 months and I’m getting ready to leave Adelaide to start backpacking the rest of Australia. Adelaide had been very good to me while I was there. I fell in love with Adelaide:  an unpretentious city that is just starting to bloom, one full of artists, eccentrics, and, best of all, real Australians.

Lots of people talk trash about Adelaide – they say that it’s a boring place with nothing to see besides churches and bush. I say “let them think that; that way they won’t come here.” Though Adelaide lacks the likes of a harbor bridge or giant rock, it has some real superlatives including some of the best festivals, most beautiful city beaches, and most amazing wine culture in the country. Why wouldn’t you want to go backpacking in Adelaide?

Should you decided to venture to this faraway city, you’ll need some help. Remember: this is still Australia – things can get expensive, real quick.

For your benefit, I’ve written this budget travel guide to Adelaide so that you can save a buck or two. Over the course of it, we’ll cover topics ranging from where to sleep to what to do in this city.

Everything and then some is covered in this guide; with it, you’ll be more than prepared to go backpacking in Adelaide and on the cheap.

How Much does Backpacking Adelaide Cost?

Thankfully, Adelaide is one of the cheapest cities in Australia, outside of Queensland. If you’re backpacking Australia on a budget, staying in Adelaide will take away a couple of your money worries. 

This is still Australia though – even a cheap Australian city is expensive by most international standards. In order to get the most out of your trip or working holiday here, you’ll still have to follow some key money-saving habits. Always go backpacking on a budget! Adelaide included.

port noralunga jetty
Stay as long as you can.
Photo: Les Haines (Flickr)

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The average daily budget for Adelaide is around $55-$75. This will get you a dorm bed, grocery money, some wine, and some extra spending money.

Adelaide can be even cheaper with the right spending habits. By sticking to diehard shoestring tactics, like Couchsurfing, cooking at home, and drinking goon, you can go backpacking in Adelaide for very little. The accommodation costs can also depend on where you’re staying in Adelaide.

A typical hostel in Adelaide will cost around $20-$25 for a dormitory. Though less extravagant and monolithic than some hostels in the larger Australian cities, the hostels in Adelaide are still of a high quality and offer the usual amenities. Hostels in Adelaide are, to some, preferable as they are usually more relaxed. And then there are Adelaide’s Airbnbs. Their popularity is growing thanks to the affordable price and the incredible value you get.

Groceries in Adelaide can be cheap or not depending on where you shop. If you go to the large brand name supermarkets, like Woolworths, then you’ll spend more. The Central Market has the best deals especially near the end of the day/week when the stalls need to get rid of their wares and start slashing prices.

Drinking in Adelaide will be much like the rest of Australia – shamefully expensive. When going out in Adelaide, pre-fade at home and then set a nightly budget.

Below is a breakdown of the costs of travel in Adelaide for the average backpacker.

Adelaide Daily Budget Breakdown

Hostel Dormitory: $20-$25

Basic room for two: $130

AirBnB/temp apartment: $130

Average cost of public transport: $4-$8

City-Airport transfer: $2

Sandwich: $8-$10

Beer at a bar: $5-$8

Coffee: $3-$4

Bottle of wine from the market: $2-$8

Dinner for two: $40-$50

adelaide city center from air
Photo: Normangerman (WikiCommons)

Adelaide Budget Backpacking Tips

adelaide Bicentennial Conservatory
The Botanic Gardens and Bicentennial Conservatory are both free to visit.
Photo: Amanda Slater (Flickr)

There are always ways to save cash while traveling in Adelaide! With the proper spending habits, Adelaide can be cheap and you can stay here without feeling the screws tighten around your wallet. Just follow the tips in this travel guide for Adelaide!

Below is a list of tips for backpacking in Adelaide on a budget. Follow these words of advice and you’ll find that your dollar goes much further.

  1. Always pre-fade before going out: Buying full-priced drinks at the bar is a great way to waste your money. Instead, buy booze at the store and drink with your friends at the hostel/their house/the park/anywhere besides the actual bar. Drink lots of store-bought wine; it’s freakin’ cheaper than water sometimes!
  2. Cook at home as often as possible: One of the most proven ways of saving money for backpackers; buying your own groceries and cooking at home will save you heaps of cash.
  3. Eat/drink during happy hour: Many bars and cafes offer drink and meal specials during the quieter hours of the day (4pm-6pm). Some of these deals can be quite affordable; even the locals use them!
  4. Get a job: Whether or not you have a working holiday visa, there are plenty of opportunities to find backpack jobs in Adelaide. Many hostels will give you a free bed in exchange for a few hours of labor. 
  5. Bargain shop: There’s always a sale in Adelaide! Many shops are independently owned and actually use a bartering system as well. Never pay full price for a product unless you have no other choice.
  6. Do free shit: There are a ton of attractions in Adelaide that don’t charge you any sort of entrance fee! None of these are dull or boring either. Check out any of these free things to do in Adelaide while visiting.
  7. Pack a travel water bottle and save money every day!

Why You Should Travel to Adelaide with a Water Bottle

Plastic washes up on even the most pristine beaches… so do your part and keep the Big Blue beautiful

You aren’t going to save the world overnight, but you might as well be part of the solution and not the problem. When you travel to some of the world’s most remote places, you come to realise the full extent of the plastic problem. And I hope you become more inspired to continue being a responsible traveller.

Plus, now you won’t be buying overpriced bottles of water from the supermarkets either! Travel with a filtered water bottle instead and never waste a cent nor a turtle’s life again.

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Backpacker Accommodation in Adelaide

Adelaide has a number of great hostels to choose from. Unlike the hostels in Melbourne or Sydney, which can feel somewhat crowded, the hostels in Adelaide are much smaller and more intimate. In Adelaide, backpackers will have the opportunity to really get to know their fellow travellers, especially so if they’re staying long-term with an Australian working holiday visa.

Many hostels offer discounts to long-term inhabitants. These deals are usually catered to those backpacking Australia long-term with a working holiday visa. Staying for a longer period at one of these hostels could be an awesome experience as everyone really knows each other and the camaraderie is really fantastic.

Other working holidayers opt to stay in an apartment. Since Adelaide is so much cheaper than most other Australian cities, many backpackers can actually afford their own room or even flat with their paycheck.

Check the local classifieds, like Gumtree, or check your hostel’s bulletin board – many backpackers start in the hostel and end up moving into their own place. To save the most money, you can, of course, reach out to potential hosts via couchsurfing.

Australians are an extremely hospitable bunch and love to host unsuspecting visitors. Be sure to follow all the usual courtesies and rules of staying with a stranger though.

The Best Places to Stay in Adelaide

Are you wondering which is the best part of Adelaide to stay in? Well, let me give you a few suggestions.

Adelaide CBD, Adelaide

Adelaide CBD

The CBD is the best neighbourhood to stay in Adelaide if you’re visiting the city for the first time. Set at the heart of the city, this neighbourhood covers just one square mile and is packed with exciting activities and interesting attractions.

Adelaide CBD, Adelaide

Adelaide CBD

In addition to being the city’s central tourist hub, Adelaide CBD is also our top pick for where to stay if you’re travelling on a budget. Dotted throughout this compact city centre is a high concentration of Adelaide accommodation options that will meet any budget.

West End, Adelaide

West End

The West End of downtown Adelaide is our best recommendation for where to stay in Adelaide for nightlife. Adelaide’s West End has been a hub for entertainment since the mid-20th century and today it boasts a high concentration of live music venues and dance clubs as well as wine bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes.

Port Adelaide, Adelaide

Port Adelaide

Port Adelaide is one of the coolest places to stay in Adelaide. This often-overlooked neighbourhood is located about 30 minutes northwest of the city centre.

North Adelaide, Adelaide

North Adelaide

North Adelaide is our best recommendation for where to stay in Adelaide with kids. This charming neighbourhood is located north of the city centre and is bursting with fun and exciting things to see and do for travellers of all ages.

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Top Things to Do in Adelaide

Just like in the rest of Australia, Adelaide is filled up to the rim with amazing things to do. There are so many places to visit in Adelaide that it’ll be hard to fit everything in. We’ve listed out absolute favorites below.

1. Visit the many wineries

Adelaide produces the most wine in all of  Australia! Visit any number of the hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of wineries located outside of Adelaide.

2. Go to a sports match

Adelaidians are crazy for sports! Their favorites are cricket and Aussie Rules Football. Attend any sort of match at the hallowed Adelaide Oval for an epic afternoon.

adelaide oval at night
Hallowed be thy name….Adelaide Oval.
Photo: Rajiv Bhuttan (Flickr)

3. Climb Mt. Lofty

Mt. Lofty is one of the most popular hikes in Adelaide because of its astounding views and relative ease. Climb this moderate peak and join in the ranks of your fellow Adelaidians.

4. Go shopping in the Central Market

The Central Market is one of best attractions in the city! Here, you can find just about anything and of an exceptional quality. If you only have 3 days in Adelaide, this is the place to visit.


5. Relax in one of the many gardens and parklands

Adelaide is a garden city, built amongst groves of trees and bushes that shade and shelter its inhabitants. Visit anyone of the surrounding parklands or gardens, like the Himeji or Botanic Gardens, for an escape from the city.

6. Eat and drink in the CBD

There are countless places to eat in Adelaide! Food in this city is a big deal and the residents love to dine. The cafe culture is very strong here as well – the coffee will not disappoint.

7. Spend a day on the beach

Adelaide has some of the best city beaches in Australia! Each one has a different flavor and is conveniently accessible by public transport.

Steps Staircase Stairs Construction Beach Stairway
Good stuff mate.

8. Roadtrip along the coast to Melbourne

The coastal drive from Adelaide to Melbourne features some of the best scenery in all of Australia! If you’re on a grand Australian road trip, you have to take this route along the way.

9. Hang with some critters in Cleland Wildlife Park

If you’re around Mt Lofty, pop over to Cleland for a positive wildlife experience. Here, native Australian animals roam around the grounds in relative peace. This is not a zoo, either of the petting or enclosed kind – this is a very natural attraction. Watch out for bandicoots, emus, kangaroos, and other creatures roaming around.

10. Take part in a festival

Adelaide’s festivals are sick! Adelaide hosts some of the best cultural festivals in all of Australia.

Internationally acclaimed gatherings like Womadelaide, Fringe Adelaide occur yearly and are an extremely good time. Check out these in addition to a dozen others in addition to the many music festivals occurring yearly.

Backpacking Adelaide 3 Day Itinerary

Looking for a little inspiration? Well here’s a sample itinerary for spending 3-4 days in Adelaide. Perfect for a weekend in Adelaide, you’ll get to see the top hotspots without having to stress or rush around. Give it a look and use it for yourself if you like.

backpacking adelaide 3 day itinerary map
Map of Adelaide with key areas; as follows: 1. North Adelaide 2. CBD 3. Glenelg 4. Brighton 5. Hallet Cove 6. Port Noarlunga 7. Aldinga Beach 8. Mclaren Vale 9. Onkaparinga 10. Morialta 11. Henley Beach 12. Belair 13. Mt Lofty 14. Adelaide Hills

Day 1 in Adelaide: The CBD

We spend the first of three days in Adelaide walking around the CBD and surrounding parklands. Since Adelaide is arranged in a near perfect grid, navigating this city shouldn’t be too difficult. Walking should be minimal as well since the center is quite compact and serviced by a convenient free City Loop.

Start smack dab in the center of the city at Victoria Square, which is, admittedly not really that interesting except for the fact that it’s the middle of the city. We’re only spending a moment here before heading to the market.

Just next to Victoria Square is the Adelaide Central Market, one of my favorite places in the city. This staple of Adelaide, consistently open since the mid-19th century, is full of local products ranging from exotic meats to delightful sweets to souvenirs.

There are a number of cool little cafes inside the market that are definitely worth a stopover. Outside the market is Adelaide’s own pint-sized Chinatown as well.

From the market, backtrack to Victoria Square and head north on the city’s main throughway, King William Road until you reach Rundle Street, which is marked by the historically significant and neo-Gothic Beehive Corner.

Hang a right and walk down Rundle Street, famous for its shopping malls and street performers. Explore the many covered arcades here or just pop into a pub for a quick pint.

At the end of Rundle Street is the city’s parklands, which surrounds the city on all sides. The section closest to Rundle is special though as it is home to the enchanting Botanic Gardens and Bicentennial Conservatory. One could spend the whole afternoon here but, alas, we must continue.

From the Gardens, head northwest past the zoo until you reach the lazy River Torrens. Cross the Frome Bridge and just have a walk along the river, which many locals consider to be the most beautiful part of the city.

As you approach King William Road again, you’ll see the mighty Adelaide Oval, a legend in the Australian sporting world, and a bit of St. Peter’s Cathedral to the north of it. Spend as much time as you want here as it’s – unfortunately – the end of our day.

walkway next to river torrens
The walkway next to the River Torrens.

Day 2 in Adelaide: The Beaches

Visit the many city beaches of Adelaide, which are among the most beautiful in all of Australia! We’ll be covering a lot of ground today so be sure to have a day-pass for public transit ready.

Grab the city tram at anywhere along King William Road in the CBD and take it all the way to the end of the line at Glenelg. Glenelg is the premier beach community in Adelaide, so ig has lots of restaurants and boutiques. This beach, though popular, is not the most picturesque; wander around a bit and then let’s move on!

Grab the bus (265 or 263) down to Adelaide’s own Brighton/Seacliff. This narrow stretch of sand is one of my favorite beaches that is within a reasonable distance of the CBD. The centrally positioned Brighton Jetty is the most distinct landmark here.

Once you’ve wrapped up Brighton, catch the train (SEAFRD) this time to Hallett Cove,which is known mostly for it’s somewhat surreal and rugged coastal geography. You can, if you like, walk to Hallet Cove from Marino, the likes of which makes for one of the loveliest walks in Adelaide.

As we wrap up of Hallett Cove we begin the final leg of our journey. Jump back on the train (SEAFRD) and head all the way down to Port Noarlunga.

This beach, of great nostalgia for me, is definitely my favorite suburban beach in Adelaide and I have many fond memories of it. Aside from the usual beach activities, you can actually go snorkeling at a small reef just next to the jetty.

Once you’ve had your fill of Port Noarlunga, you have two choices: 1. Head back to the CBD as this is the terminus of the train line or 2. catch another bus down to one last beach – Aldinga. Though the bus ride is a bit long (45 minutes), you’ll be rewarded – this is one of the finest stretches of sand in the area. Many locals choose this as their favorite. I would too but I could never abandon my sweet Port Noarlunga.

Photo: Vintuitive (Flickr)

Day 3 in Adelaide: The Countryside

On our final day of backpacking in Adelaide, we explore the bucolic countryside surrounding the city and go wine tasting. In every direction (literally) there is wine country near Adelaide. The primary regions are the Barossa Valley, Mclaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, and Clare Valley.

Now due to the sheer size and amount offered by these regions, chances are you’ll only get to see one or maybe two of them in a day. This is definitely the case if you’re relying solely upon public transport, which is, although possible, quite limited in the actual wine country.

You could, of course, rent a car for the day; this would give you the ultimate freedom to go to any winery that you want but chances are you’ll be drinking quite a bit and Australia has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drunk driving.

If you want to stick to public transit, which may be the cheapest option, I suggest visiting either the Mclaren Vale, Barossa Valley or Adelaide Hills as everything is reachable by public transit.

Upon arriving in any of them, you can rent a bike and then go for a ride. Be warned that the distance between wineries can be large and the hills may be steep. If you’re tipsy, things could be even more difficult.

The best way to tour the wine regions around Adelaide is by hiring a private car or van for the day. By doing so, you’ll have the freedom to go where you want to go and not have to worry about driving drunk.

If you’re doing Adelaide on a (tight) budget, organize a group of fellow wino backpackers and split the cost of the car. I suggest starting with this company when looking for a driver.

Honestly, no matter which region you choose to go wine tasting in, you’ll be right! There are so many wineries in Adelaide that it’s easy to spot the best ones. If you end up in the Mclaren Vale, I definitely suggest visiting Coriole Vineyards and saying hello to Velvet!

barossa valley adelaide south australia
The Barossa Valley.
Photo: Olivier Colas (WikiCommons)

Off the Beaten Path in Adelaide (More Awesome Things to do in Adelaide)

There are lots of locations in the state of South Australia worth checking out! Grab a rental car and go for a mini road trip to any of these amazing off the beaten path places.

Kangaroo Island and the Yorke Peninsula

Kangaroo Island is one of the most popular weekend trips for Adelaidians and for good reason: it’s close by and absolutely gorgeous! Here is some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in all of South Australia as well as some top-quality organic products. This trip involves an hour and a half drive plus a ferry ride. Be sure to check out the Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch, and Flinders Chase National Park when visiting.

Admirals Arch of Kangaroo Island.
Admirals Arch of Kangaroo Island.

Yorke Peninsula

The Yorke Peninsula is pretty off the beaten path even for South Australians. Known mostly as an agricultural region, this peninsula receives little in the way of tourism. It does though have some amazing beaches, which are often completely devoid of people, in addition to some awesome surfing. Must-see locations on the Peninsula are Pondalowie Bay, Innes National Park, and Berry Bay.

Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s must-do activities! This coastal drive from Adelaide to Melbourne showcases some of the country’s most beautiful maritime scenery, complete with sea cliffs, limestone towers, and elegant arches. This trip also has the added benefit of ending in Melbourne, which is one the coolest cities in Australia. Be sure to check out the Delicate Arch, Twelve Apostles, and Great Otway on this adventure.

The Twelve Apostles of the Great Ocean Road.
The Twelve Apostles of the Great Ocean Road.

Eyre Peninsula

About a half-day drive from Adelaide is the Eyre Peninsula, the last bastion of anything hospitable before the great wastes of the Outback and Nullarbor Plain begin. Here, on the tip of the peninsula, is one of the most thrilling activities in South Australia: cage diving with Great White Sharks!

The waters around Port Lincoln are invested with Great Whites – so much so that is one of the best places in the world to go diving with them. For those not excited by the idea of being trapped in a steel cage surrounded by man-eaters, nearby Coffin Bay is a lovely place to relax with some more tame wildlife like emus.

Flinders Range

One of my favorite places in Australia, the Flinders Range is a total hidden gem, known only to South Australian and diehard bushwalkers. The Flinders Range is the highest mountain chain in South Australia and geologically unique. It’s most prominent feature is the Wilpena Pound, a huge natural amphitheater with a strikingly near-perfect shape. Climb to the top of St Mary Peak and gauk at the pound, which looks like a stadium for giants!

flinders range, adelaide
Photo: Dan O’Cker (Flickr)

Best Walks in Adelaide

Thanks in part to the close proximity of several national parks to Adelaide, there are lots of awesome hikes very close by. You can even grab a bus or train to many of them! Refer to the list below for the best walks around Adelaide.

Three Falls Grand Walk (4.5 miles loop) – A lovely hike that visits the three main waterfalls of Morialta Conservation Park. A local favorite. Can be accessed by public transport.

Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty Walk (5 miles return) – One of the most popular hikes in Adelaide; practically a right of passage for Adelaidians. Walk from a lovely waterfall to Mt. Lofty, which is one of the highest points in the area. Great views of the city. Can be accessed by public transit.

Onkaparinga Gorge Walk (12 miles one way) – A possible overnight trek right next to the city! Bushwalk in the gorge through gumtrees and tranquil pools. Must be done during dry conditions and is overall difficult. Car needed.

Marion Coastal Walk (3.5 miles one way) – Straightforward walk between the coastal suburbs of Hallett Cove and Marino. Mostly done on boardwalks but there are plenty of steps. Can be accessed by public transport.

Belair Waterfall Walk (4 miles loop) – A moderate hike through dense bush and along some nice red cliffs. Waterfalls are seasonal and quite small during the summer. Can be accessed by public transport.

waterfall in morialta park
There are a surprising amount of waterfalls around Adelaide.

Backpacking Adelaide Travel Tips and City Guide

Best Time of Year to Visit Adelaide

Adelaide is the driest and hottest of all the large Australian cities and summers here can be ridiculously hot. Despite the aridity and heat, Adelaide still sees four (somewhat) distinct seasons during the year. In my opinion, Adelaide can be visited at any time of the year though spring and autumn are the best times to visit Adelaide.

As previously mentioned, summers in Adelaide are oppressive sometimes. Thermometers regularly pass 110 degrees Fahrenheit and, especially in recent years, heat waves have become a regular part of living in Adelaide. Local Adelaidians don’t seem to let this heat get to them, though summer is full of festivals and events like the amazing Fringe Festival. If you can stand the heat, summers in Adelaide can be a lot of fun.

Winters in Adelaide are typically mild and rainy, dreary even by Australian standards. During this time, Adelaide receives the majority of its relatively humble rainfall – enough, in fact, to keep Adelaide from being considered a true desert climate. Note that Adelaidian winters are quite windy as well, and make it seem colder than it actually is.

Spring and Autumn are definitely the best time to visit Adelaide. During these seasons, temperatures are warm and rain is sporadic. There are several festivals occurring at these times of the year too, as organizers take advantage of the more temperate climates.

No matter what time of year though, Adelaide can still suffer from heat waves so you should still be prepared for 100 degree F (40 C) days in the spring and autumn.

glenelg jetty at night
Summer nights can be still be in the 90s.
Photo: Bernard Spragg. NZ (Flickr)

Get in and out of Adelaide

Adelaide has one main airport, Adelaide International Airport, and it is served by many large companies. Air New Zealand, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, and Air Asia among many others all offer flights to and from Adelaide.

Between these many companies, you can get just about anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere. Contrary to Adelaide’s relative remoteness on the continent, it is not remote in terms of international flights.

Several public bus lines serve Adelaide International. These are the same as the city buses and so the same fees and rules apply – see the How to Get Around Adelaide section for more info on fares. Look for the J Line and its many sub-routes (J1, J1A, JX, J3), which run every 15 minutes or so.

plain taking off adelaide international airport
No, Adelaide isn’t some outpost in the middle of the desert.

There are several highways that connect Adelaide to the rest of Australia. Major roads include the A8/M8 to Melbourne, the A20 to Mildura/Canberra, the A87 to Alice Springs, and the A1, which runs along pretty much the entire Australian coastline.

Note that many if not all of these routes will be very long though – unless you’re making the 8-hour journey from Melbourne, it’ll take days to reach Adelaide from any other major Australian destination. If you’re heading to or from Melbourne, the drive makes an epic road trip to Adelaide.

For a more interesting transit experience, you can take a long distance sleeper train.  Several famous Australian rail lines, like the Ghan, Overland, and India Pacific make a stop in Adelaide. Though tickets are somewhat expensive, traveling by train can be one of the most unique and romantic experiences you can have while backpacking in Australia.

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How to get around Adelaide

Adelaide has a fantastic public transport system; one of the best that I’ve ever had the pleasure of using actually. While living in the city, very rarely did I ever feel stuck in one place or abandoned without some sort of bus or train nearby. Those backpacking Adelaide will quickly catch on and hopefully share in my enthusiasm for this city’s transit.

Adelaide has several modes of transport including buses, trains, and a city tram. All of these services fall under the same department of transport, called the Adelaide Metro. Metrotickets and the much more convenient MetroCard are all accepted on any sort of public transport in Adelaide.

Commuters can buy a 2-hour ticket for 5.40 AUD ($4), a day-pass for 10.20 AUD ($8), and a 3-day pass for 26.60 AUD ($20). I highly recommend purchasing the 3-day pass as it will enable visitors to visit nearly all of Adelaide’s top attractions including Belair, the southern beaches, and Gawler.

Interestingly, Adelaide Metro has an off-peak period from 9am-3pm; tickets bought during this time will only cost 66% of the usual fare.

Buses are the primary means of transport in the CBD as the trains go out to the suburbs and the city’s single tram only runs between Hindmarsh in the northern part of the city to Glenelg.

Buses run at all hours of the day with late-night services less frequent. Of special note, there are two free City Loops (98 and 99), which run along the perimeter of the city. Also know that travel on the tram is also free between the Entertainment Center at Hindmarsh and South Terrace.

Photo: Xaragmata (Flickr)

Long Distance Travel from Adelaide

Hey guys, guess what? This is Australia; everything is a long ways away! 10 hours is a day trip in Australian terms! If you’re planning on traveling by car across this nation, you’ll have to really be prepared for some long travel times.

Lying on the edge of the Outback, Adelaide is the last big Australian city before venturing into the big fuck-all. With exception of Melbourne, which is only a (paltry) 8-hour drive away, it’ll be a long journey to any other of Australia’s large tourist destinations. Driving to Sydney will take 15 hours, Alice Springs will take 16 hours, and Perth will take 28 hours. Hope you packed lots of snacks for that road trip.

Flying really is your best option when it comes to long-distance travel in Australia. The locals have come to rely heavily upon airline travel as well so prices have become quite reasonable. Trust me: unless you have time on your hands, you want to fly in Australia.

On that note, if you do, in fact, have the luxury of time on your hands, you must go on an epic Australian road trip! It is one of the best and most popular ways to experience the country. Adelaide will most assuredly be on your itinerary as well; spend 3 days in Adelaide and then hit the road.

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Safety in Adelaide

Like all Australian cities, Adelaide is a very safe place. Petty crime, though not completely absent, is uncommon. While serious crimes, like murder, are practically unheard of.

Adelaide does see an uptick in crime at night. Robberies and muggings usually occur in the dimly lit parklands where there are no cameras or police around. When walking in Adelaide at night, be sure to avoid areas that are away from the public eye or devoid of security. 

Mother nature will probably be your biggest nemesis while backpacking in Adelaide. Between some nasty wildlife, which is rarely encountered, and sometimes dangerous weather, you’ll have to prepare to battle the elements more than the natives.

Great White Sharks love to hang around this part of the country and will sometimes pick-off lone swimmers. Be very careful while swimming at Adelaide’s city beaches – do not swim too far and always check for shark activity. This twitter account is a great way to track sharks in the area.

Be careful when walking in the bushlands around Adelaide. Brown snakes and giant centipedes are sometimes in this area and a bite from either would be very bad.

Finally, be mindful of the weather and heat. Adelaide is the driest and hottest of all the Australian cities – summers here can be very, very hot and heat stroke is not uncommon. Be sure to drink lots of water and wear plenty of sunscreen or protection when backpacking in Adelaide. Also, be aware of bushfires, which can pop up in an instant and engulf huge swaths of land in a flash.

Get Insured before Backpacking Adelaide

Traveling without insurance would be risky so do consider getting good backpacker insurance sorted before you head off on an adventure.

I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip and are already abroad which is super handy.

If there’s one insurance company I trust, it’s World Nomads.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Adelaide Accommodation Travel Hacks

Let’s face it, sometimes we all need to stay in a hostel. Hostels are great for meeting fellow travelers and having private space to do your thing at your own pace. Backpacker accommodation in Adelaide is far from cheap, however.

I will just say the prices are staggering once you learn what they are. So, stay at a hostel for a night or two and consider your other options:

Couchsurf!: If you manage to land a Couchsurfing spot in Adelaide, you will have successfully eliminated your biggest cost: accommodation. I’ll be honest with you. Couchsurfing is more popular than ever before.

I’ve been told Couchsurfing hosts in Adelaide can receive up to 50+ requests PER DAY! Point being, whilst I would not explicitly count on Couchsurfing in Adelaide, I would sure give it an honest go. Make sure you send a very convincing message short of selling your body and your soul.

Tap into your backpacker network: If you have done any sort of backpacking before, odds are you know someone who knows someone from Australia. Australians love to go backpacking!

Before you begin your Adelaide backpacking trip, I suggest you put your feelers out there and ask your network of friends if they know of someone whom you can crash with for a night or two.

This might sound far-fetched, but honestly, this has helped me out multiple times in Adelaide as well as in other cities. As it turns out, my friend of a friend host was awesome and we are still friends! Ultimately, if you can find a balance between a hostel night and a free night, you will save more money.

university of adelaide
What places you’ll go…

Eating and Drinking in Adelaide

Adelaide is quickly becoming one of the top food destinations in Australia thanks in part to its thriving farm-to-table and craft culture. Though not yet able to rival the culinary powerhouse that is Melbourne, Adelaide is quickly catching up and making a name for itself.

The restaurant scene in Adelaide is very similar to the rest of Australia in that it’s built upon traditional English cooking. Since Adelaide was founded primarily by freemen from Scotland and the UK, English food is definitely the standard here.

That is not to say foreign cuisines are not well represented in Adelaide  – being Australia, Asian food of every variety will be top notch and certain European styles, like Italian, will be very well represented as well.

Perhaps due to the more hipster scene than Italian though, the cafe culture in Adelaide is very strong and any one of these establishments would be a great place to grab a bite.

Now I’ve criticized Australian cooking in the past for its bland English sentiments, but I must say that the culinary prowess of Adelaide is quite impressive. Because so many restaurants source their ingredients from the nearby farmlands, the quality of food in Adelaide is awesome.

When eating out in Adelaide, chances are you’ll walk away satisfied. Be sure to inquire about BYOB policies as well – most restaurants in Adelaide will allow you to bring your own bottle and charge you only a small corkage fee.

If you like the idea of farm-to-table, why not just go to the source! Adelaide is surrounded on all sides by farms and vineyards, most of which allow visitors. A day in the wineries and countryside is an amazing experience as these are among the top attractions in Adelaide.

The Clare Valley, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, and Barossa Valley are the premier destinations for wine around Adelaide. Visiting any one of these would be time well spent. Beer lovers may enjoy visiting Hahndorf, which is a German heritage village complete with breweries and sausage houses.

adeliade-central -market
Only the best.

Nightlife in Adelaide

Adelaide was once (and kinda still is) known as the “City of Churches.” Many of these holy houses have been turned into bars and theaters in recent years though. Adelaide is no longer the pious place that everyone once thought it was – nowadays, it’s one of the best places in Australia to grab a pint and party.

The best places to go out drinking in Adelaide are around Rundle Street, Hindley Street, O’Connell Street, and Glenelg. Each one offers a different social scene.

Rundle Street has been the trendiest street in Adelaide for some time. Here, the bars are catered to a more “hip” crowd but, honestly, anyone can go out in this area. My favorite bars in Adelaide are located here, including Distill, the Exetor, Belgian Beer Cafe Oostende, the Austral, and Sugar.

Hindley Street, mostly known and avoided by many for being sleazy, is not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Sure, if you go to well-known pleasure palaces like HQ Complex and Red Square, you’re going to see a lot of debauchery; there are other spots on Hindley worth visiting. Zhivago’s, though dirty at times, can be a lot of fun on Sundays aka industry night. Other places like La Rambla, China Bar, and Rocket Bar are definitely worthwhile as well.

Finally, O’Connell Street is where the affluent go to drink. Most bars around here will be filled with rich kids and business types. Well-known establishments here include the Wellington, Archer Hotel, and the Royal Oak.

There are all kinds of other awesome bars not located along these streets. Some of my favorites are Proof, Rhino Room, Thrift Shop, and, of great fame, the Original Coopers Alehouse.

If you’re more into the beach parties, definitely head to Glenelg for the night. This beachside district is infamous for its raucous crowd, in addition to its less-than-awesome pubs. In my opinion, the bars at Glenelg are kind of shitty, but the location and level of intoxication are still impressive.

pink pig pub adelaide
The Pink Pig is another staple of O’Connell Street.
Photo: Greg Scales (Flickr)

Books to Read while Traveling in Adelaide

Unfortunately, there aren’t too many books set in Adelaide the city, specifically. For those who go backpacking in Adelaide, I suggest reading one of the many awesome books about Australia as a whole. Here are some of my favorite travel reads and books set in Australia, which you should consider picking up before you begin your backpacking adventure…

  • Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence – Aboriginal siblings, stolen from their families, run away from their captors and begin a journey almost a thousand miles long back to home. A leading account of the Stolen Generation.
  • In a Sunburned Country – A quick-witted and very informative piece of travel writing from Bill Bryson. Written over the course of several trips to the Land Down Under.
  • Tree of Man – A man and his wife try and make something out of nothing, as they cultivate a little patch of land in the bush.
  • My Brilliant Career – The first of one of Australia’s greatest epics. Tells the tale of a young woman yearning for life and adventure in the Outback. Written by Miles Franklin when she was 16 and, at the time, considered “culturally inappropriate” by the state.
  • Lonely Planet Australia –  It’s sometimes worth traveling with a guidebook. Despite Lonely Planet’s history of selling out and writing about places they haven’t been to, they’ve done a good job with Australia.
adelaide sunset beach
Peace out.

Make Money Online Whilst Backpacking Adelaide

Traveling in Adelaide long-term? Keen to make some cash when you are not exploring the city? 

Teaching English online is a great way to earn a consistent income—from anywhere in the world with a good internet connection. Depending on your qualifications (or your motivation to obtain qualifications like a TEFL certificate) you can teach English remotely from your laptop, save some cash for your next adventure, and make a positive impact on the world by improving another person’s language skills! It’s a win-win! Check out this detailed article for everything you need to know to start teaching English online.

In addition to giving you the qualifications to teach English online, TEFL courses open up a huge range of opportunities and you can find teaching work all over the world. To find out more about TEFL courses and how you can teach English around the world, read my in-depth report on teaching English abroad.

Broke Backpacker readers get a 50% discount on TEFL courses with MyTEFL (simply enter the code PACK50), to find out more, please read my in-depth report on teaching English abroad.

Whether you are keen to teach English online or looking to take your teaching game a step further by finding a job teaching English in a foreign country, getting your TEFL certificate is absolutely a step in the right direction.

Making Money…Not Online

If Teaching English isn’t really your thing, perhaps a working holiday or internship with Global Work and Travel may be another viable option for makin’ that sweet moolah. They offer opportunities in major cities throughout Australia, including Adelaide. They’ll support you throughout the entire process; from VISA guidance to finding you the perfect placement. You’ve got to be between the ages of 18 to 35 though…apologies if this isn’t you!

Global Work and Travel Promo Code

Being a Responsible Backpacker in Adelaide

Reduce your plastic footprint: Perhaps the best thing you can do for our planet is to make sure you do NOT add to the plastic problem all over the world. Don’t buy one-use water bottles, the plastic ends up in landfill or in the ocean. Instead, pack a tough travel water bottle.

Go and watch A Plastic Ocean on Netflix – it’ll change how you view the plastic problem in the world; you need to understand what we are up against. If you think it doesn’t matter, get off my fucking site.

Don’t pick up single use plastic bags, you’re a backpacker – take your daypack if you need to go to the shop or run errands.

Bear in mind, that many animal products in countries you travel through will not be ethically farmed and won’t be of the highest quality. I’m a carnivore but when I’m on the road, I only eat chicken. Mass-farming of cows etc leads to the rainforest being cut down – which is obviously a huge problem.

Need more guidance? – Check out our post on how to be a responsible backpacker.

Backpacking in Adelaide will bring you ample opportunities to participate in debauchery, and it is very important to have fun, let loose, and get a bit wild at times—as the Aussies tend to do. Most backpacking trips I have been on across the world have included at least a few mornings where I wake up knowing I went too far.

There are some things that will put you in the category of a straight up jackass if you do them. Being super loud and obnoxious in a tiny hostel at 3 AM is a classic rookie backpacker mistake. Everyone in the hostel will hate you when you wake them up. Show your fellow travelers (and locals) respect whilst backpacking in Adelaide and anywhere else for that matter!

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