The Best Free Activities in Adelaide

Keen to check out your new city, but also living on a strict student budget? If you’re studying in Adelaide, there are plenty of things you can do that won’t cost you a cent. Here are some of the best activities in Adelaide that are completely free.

Hang out at Rundle Mall

OK, stick with us here. Although going to a shopping mall usually involves some spending, checking out this Adelaide icon certainly doesn’t have to. Rundle Mall is not only Adelaide’s premier shopping district, but it’s also one of the busiest malls in Australia.

If you are after a spot of shopping, Rundle Mall is the place to go. There are fashion, beauty, lifestyle, gaming and food stores, including four department stores, 15 arcades and more than 700 retailers. So, you’ll have no trouble finding what you need.

Also, make sure you stop to take a photo with Rundle Mall’s Oliver, Truffles, Augusta and Horatio, four bronze pig sculptures that are part of the artwork, ‘A Day Out’.

Discover exciting new tastes at Adelaide Central Market

If you’re obsessed with food, definitely don’t miss the famous Adelaide Central Market. It’s one of the largest undercover fresh produce markets in the southern hemisphere. The colourful market is full of stallholders selling incredibly fresh local produce. You’ll find a bunch of interesting fruits, vegetables and vegan eats, as well as gourmet meats and baked goods.

Many vendors also offer free samples and taste tests of their products, such as artisan cheese or bread, so keep an eye out for those.

Get close to nature at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens

If you’re in need of some peace and quiet in the heart of the city, look no further than the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Check out the impressive blooms at the International Rose Garden, the Victorian-era Palm House greenhouse, follow the winding pathways along the First Creek Wetland, or visit the Bicentennial Conservatory, full of rainforest plants.

Wildlife-watchers should look out for the freshwater turtles, ducks and swans that frequent the garden. Take advantage of this beautiful, quiet study area by bringing your books along and enjoying a picnic in the grassy parklands.

Study inside the State Library of South Australia

The State Library of South Australia is a beautiful blend of old and new. The Spence Wing entrance of the library is strikingly modern and connects to the older Institute Building and Mortlock Wing, French Renaissance-style buildings designed in the 1880s. Not only is the library visually stunning, but it’s also a quiet place to sit and study. It offers free Wi-Fi, study areas, history exhibits and books aplenty.

Enjoy a day by the seaside

Adelaide is home to many gorgeous stretches of coast. And the best part is, you can soak up the beach atmosphere without spending any money. Take a dip at Glenelg Beach, one of Adelaide’s most popular oceanside spots. Along this stylish metropolitan beach lie many trendy shops, cafes and boutiques. Glenelg is just an easy tram or bus ride away from Adelaide’s CBD, and the journey usually only takes half an hour.

Up for some exercise? Take the coastal walk from Glenelg to Brighton, a laid-back coastal suburb near Seacliff. Brighton is a locally loved paddle-boarding and surfing spot and is generally much less crowded than Glenelg.

Experience Adelaide’s arts and culture scene

Feeling arty? Adelaide is a city practically bursting with culture. March sees the kick-off of  Adelaide Writers’ Week, a completely free celebration of poems, books and writers. It’s part of the internationally acclaimed Adelaide Festival, which is full of arts, music, theatre and dance events, many of which are free. The Adelaide Cabaret Fringe Festival, the colourful LGBTQI Feast Festival, and OzAsia, Australia’s leading Asia-focused festival, are also worth adding to your calendar.

Throughout the rest of the year, there are plenty of cultural activities taking place around the city. On any given day, you can lose yourself in the vast collections at the Art Gallery of South Australia, check out what’s on at the Adelaide Festival Centre, or immerse yourself in history at the South Australian Museum. All of these places are conveniently located near the CBD, so you’ll have no trouble getting to them.

Get to know your Adelaide

Take advantage of the Adelaide Free Bikes* and ride around while soaking up the sights, or jump aboard one of Adelaide’s charming trams. Not only is tram-riding a fun way to see the city, but rides between the Adelaide Entertainment Centre and South Terrace are completely free!

Alternatively, take yourself on a tour of the city. Off The Grid are a series of self-guided audio trails you can download for free, packed with insider tips and stories about the city. If you’re new to Adelaide, why not try the Orientation to Adelaide trail to give you a better understanding of your surroundings? Alternatively, print out the Heritage & Folklore map and uncover some of Rundle Mall’s secrets and learn more about the city’s historical buildings.

*Note: The Adelaide Free Bikes service has been temporarily suspended due to COVID-19.