Things To Do In Adelaide: 9 Cheap or Free Activities To Trim Your Budget

It’s no secret that Australia is not a cheap country to live in or to visit. In fact, Numbeo lists Australia as the 12th most of expensive country in the world on their cost of living index.

That said, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are plenty of ways for travellers to avoid breaking the bank, and for the purpose of this post, I’m going to talk about how to do that specifically in Adelaide, South Australia.

Getting to Adelaide:

Before I get into the list of activities, as the topic of this post is about saving money, I thought I would first talk about the obvious starting point, actually getting to Adelaide in the first place.

The answer to this question is going to vary depending on where you’re coming from. If you’re coming from outside of Australia, then follow the same techniques from our post about finding cheap flights, and even if you are already within Australia I recommend also following those steps as due to the size of Australia it’s a much better idea to fly most of the time.

To illustrate what I mean, Adelaide is 726.8 (~450 miles) kilometres from Melbourne, 1376 kilometres (~855 miles) from Sydney, and 2695.36 kilometres (~1675 miles) from Perth. Despite the distances, from a quick glance on Skyscanner, I can see flights to Adelaide from Melbourne for $39, $66 from Sydney, and from Perth for $116.

Skyscanner flights to Adelaide


Okay, now let’s get into the list of 9 cheap or free activities.

1) Visit the Art Gallery of South Australia

Visit Adelaide on a budget: Art gallery.
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The Art Gallery of South Australia is over 130 years old and receives hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. It’s located pretty close to everything in Adelaide, and although some exhibitions do have a cost attached to them, general admission is completely free.

There is a lot to see there, but don’t take my word for it. Check out their events and exhibitions calendars to see for yourself.

Cost: Free.

2) Go to the beach

Glenelg Beach, Adelaide.
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There are quite a few beaches in Adelaide, but the two I’m going to mention are Glenelg Beach (Pictured above) which is only about a 20 minute drive from the Adelaide CBD, and also Henley Beach which is about a 15 minute drive North from Glenelg.

The beach is in a really nice area with lots of cafes and restaurants around, and also plenty of nice walking opportunities who are trying to keep costs down.

Henley Beach, Adelaide.
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Like Glenelg, Henley Beach is only about 20 minutes by car (Or by public transport) from the Adelaide CBD and also like Glenelg, there are plenty of options nearby to grab a coffee or get something to eat.

There’s a nice long jetty to walk down and like a lot of Australian beaches, it has a really relaxed atmosphere, but there’s also plenty to see and do at close by at the recently renovated Henley Square.

Cost: Free.

3) See the Adelaide Botanic Gardens

Adelaide Botanic Gardens
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One of the great things about Adelaide Botanic Gardens is that they offer free guided tours almost every day of the year! In fact, the only days they don’t run are on Christmas Day and Good Friday, and also any day that there’s extreme heat (>36 Celsius / ~96 Fahrenheit).

If you’re in a group smaller than five then you don’t need to worry about making a booking, either. There are various walking tours starting at different times of the day which you can see here.

Also, although it isn’t free, if you happen to be in Adelaide during summer (December to February), then consider checking out the Moonlight Cinema where tickets cost $18 for adults and $14.50 for children under 15.

Cost: Free.

4) Haigh’s Chocolate

Haigh's Chocolate, Adelaide.
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Haigh’s Chocolates was created by Alfred E Haigh in 1915 and it’s still going strong today.  Although bookings are required, Haigh’s run free tours of their facilities where you get to see how their range of chocolates are made and, of course, get to sample some yourself.

The tours run for about 20 minutes and to contact Haigh’s about a booking, you can call them on (08) 8372 7070 or via their website.

Cost: Free.

5) National Wine Centre

National Wine Centre, Adelaide.
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There are a number of events on offer at the National Wine Centre, however, what I’m going to mention specifically is their “Uncorked” events which are held fortnightly on Fridays beginning at 4:30pm. Admission is completely free, and if you fancy yourself as a bit of a wine connoisseur, then this is a good chance for you to learn some more.

They also offer wine tastings and a Wine Discovery Journey which they describe as a “state-of-the-art, award-winning interactive wine experience.”

Cost: Free.

6) Adelaide Oval Tour

Adelaide Oval
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Although it’s not as big as the MCG in Melbourne, the Adelaide Oval is the premier sporting ground in South Australia and you can get a tour of it relatively cheaply.

It’s a good tour for any keen sports fan, and there are four tours that run each day, each lasting an hour and a half.

Cost: $22.00 for adults (16+) and $17.00 for kids 15 and under.

7) Self Guided Hiking Tour

Waterfall Gully, Adelaide.
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If the outdoors are more your thing, consider going on a self guided hike to Waterfall Gully and Mount Lofty.

You can freely travel at your own speed for the almost 4 kilometre (~2.5 mile) hike, and be sure to take your camera to capture some of the great views of the Adelaide Plains, as well as the falls themselves, and koalas and other Australian wildlife you’re likely to see.

Cost: $28.00 per person (Free for kids under 8 years old).

8) Adelaide Zoo

Adelaide Zoo on a budget.
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Like most zoos, the Adelaide Zoo is no exception in that there are many things to see and do. The zoo is home to roughly 300 native species and like most major Australian zoos, operates on a non-profit basis.

Be sure to check out their most recent exhibit called “Immersion” which is based around South East Asia and is home to orangutans and Sumatran tigers.

Cost: $33.50 per person (14 years and above), and $18.50 for kids 4-14 years old.

9) Adelaide Gaol Ghost Tour

Adelaide Gaol ghost tour.
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The Adelaide Gaol was operational from 1841 until 1988 and despite being closed for almost 30 years, rumours suggest that some of the previous 300,000 inmates still roam the place in spirit which you can see for yourself on a ghost tour.

Okay, fine. We all know ghosts aren’t real, but you might start to second guess yourself once inside and you’re hearing stories about the 45 people that were hanged, or other noteworthy prisoners like Bevan Spencer von Einem that were housed there.

Cost: $48.00 for adults, $24.00 for kids aged 12-16.

All in all, there are plenty of options to fill your time in South Australia without breaking the bank, but also having some fun and interesting experiences.

Are there any other activities you’d recommend for people in South Australia on a budget? Let us know in the comments.

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