How To Do Adelaide In A Weekend If You Need To GTFO But Have No Annual Leave To Spare

adelaide weekend

If you feel like another holiday already but you’ve chewed through your measly four(ish) weeks of annual leave a year, a weekend holiday in the often overlooked city of Adelaide could be just the thing to tide you over.

Adelaide’s the perfect place to have a fun weekend and still make it back to the office on Monday, ready to take some work meetings that could’ve been an email.

With plenty of flights heading to Adelaide daily, you’re bound to squeeze as much out of the weekend as physically possible.

Explore Adelaide Central Market

Be quick or Lucia’s paninis might sell out on ya! Image: Supplied.

Can you go to Adelaide without visiting the market? Absolutely not. It’s a pride and joy of the city and is perfect for whether you want to grab a bite, have a drink or simply explore things like books and flowers or make your own peanut butter — it truly has it all.

Centrally located near Hotel Indigo Adelaide Market (which, if you have the budget for, I’d highly recommend staying at), Adelaide Central Market is very popular among locals and visitors alike with nine million people walking through annually. If you’re planning on eating somewhere like Lucia’s, plan for those long-ass lines accordingly (worth it!).

If you’re super into food, history and community, you can also opt to do a market tour with Food Tours Australia with their very passionate guides. There’s also an audio tour with Adam Liaw and Katie Spain if that’s more your jam.

Adelaide Central Market is closed on Sundays and Mondays, so the earlier you tick this one off to avoid disappointment, the better.

Where: 44/60 Gouger St, Adelaide SA 5000
When: Saturday 7am-3pm, Tuesday 7am-5.30pm, Wednesday (optional trading) and Thursday 9am-5.30pm, Friday 7am-9pm

Head Off On A McLaren Vale Wine Tour

You’ve likely seen a McLaren Vale winery on your Instagram feed thanks to how unique and aesthetically pleasing the lot of ’em are.

Maxwell Wines

Now that’s what I call good lighting. Image: Supplied.

Around a 45-minute drive from Adelaide’s centre is Maxwell Wines, which boasts floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking the vineyards for a restaurant or wine-tasting experience.

Hey, if you’re celebrating something special, you can even dine in the winery’s lime cave for $350 per person. I’d ask my partner to propose inside if there wasn’t a $3,500 minimum spend.

Where: Olivers Rd McLaren Vale, South Australia 5171
When: Daily 10-5pm

Down The Rabbit Hole

BRB, going to stock up on an entire wardrobe of Spell & The Gypsy Collective and/or Auguste The Label. Image: Supplied.

Less than 10 minutes away from Maxwell Wines you’ll find Down The Rabbit Hole, which basically looks like you’ve walked into a private Byron Bay establishment.

Everyone’s dressed very well and very bohemian there, but I shit you not when I say it was the prettiest and most delicious lunch I had during my entire Adelaide weekend. Bookings are essential for lunch!

Where: 233 Binney Rd, McLaren Vale SA 5171
When: Monday, Tuesday & Thursday 11am-5pm, Friday 11am-9.30pm, Saturday & Sunday 11-5.30pm

d’Arenberg Cube

Trust me when I say: do not judge a book by its cover… Image: Supplied.

Another 10 minutes on and you’ll find the infamous d’Arenberg Cube, the same one that Sam Smith performed at in early 2023. Trust me when I say, nothing can prepare you for what’s inside that one. I don’t even want to set an expectation, but I’ll tell you one thing: men have the opportunity to piss in mouth-shaped urinals.

If you have the extra budget, I’d recommend a wine-making class at The Blending Bench while at D’Arenberg. You’ll probably make the worst wine you’ve ever tasted in your life but it’s a true experience and a funny way to finish off the tour for the day.

Definitely get your own driver for this part of the trip — Door to Door Chauffers are an option for wine tours in McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills and more.

Where: 233 Binney Rd, McLaren Vale SA 5171
When: Open daily 10:30am-4:30pm

Check Out What’s On In Adelaide

adelaide fringe festival
I’m scared already. Image: Supplied

I’ll level with you: sometimes Adelaide is overlooked as a destination. And if you’re not a huge drinker or a huge foodie, you might not see the drawcard or you can’t be convinced by your hospo-loving mate to tag along.

But here’s the thing: Adelaide has things going on all the time to help drive tourism to the area.

Adelaide Fringe: The biggest arts festival in Australia runs from February 16 to March 17, 2024. From comedy with Nat’s What I Reckon to a burlesque tribute to the 90s and cocktail-making classes, there’s something for everyone during the month-long period.

This year it’ll have DARKFIELD (February 15 – March 17), an immersive (and terrifying) sensory-deprivation experience in four separate shipping containers. It’ll be coming hot off the heels of its Sydney run, which is happening until January 21, 2024.

WOMADelaide: WOMADelaide brings over 500 artists to perform across eight stages in Adelaide’s Botanic Park (more on that below) for the March long weekend.

Illuminate Adelaide: Illuminate is like Vivid in Sydney — bringing art, music, tech and invention together — except with (presumably) less crowds. It’s free and ticketed in July, 2024 (exact dates are yet to be announced).

Tuck Into Dinner At Kiin

adelaide what to do kin
Kin is designed for sharing, meaning you get to try plenty more than just one dish. We love! Image: Supplied.

My favourite dinner in Adelaide was at Kiin, which you should make a booking for on a Friday or Saturday night (it’s not open Sundays) ahead of time.

The modern Asian dining experience is the brainchild of Ben Bertei and David Wickwar, serving up Thai-inspired dishes on printed dinnerware with doilies that give you that at-home, secret-recipe feel.

Grab some plates to share so you can get around as much of the menu as possible, and don’t pass on the prawn and lychee popsticks or the red curry cheeseburgers. Phenomenal!

Where: 73 Angas St, Adelaide SA 5000
When: Wednesday-Saturday 12-10pm, Tuesday 5-10pm

Grab Breakfast at Bloom

Bloom cafe adelaide where to eat
All day brekky with earthy aesthetics? Pls and thank you. Image: Supplied.

Open from 8am until 4pm on weekends, Bloom is the perfect place for brekky and/or a coffee. The cafe’s in a converted horse tram barn over a century old, just by Adelaide’s River Torrens.

The all-day brekky menu has everything from macadamia and dark-chocolate granola to bap rolls and leek & mushroom okonomiyaki. But there’s also a lunch menu and boozy add-on option if you so please.

Where: 38 Winwood St, Thebarton SA 5031
When: Monday-Friday 7-4pm. Saturday & Sunday 8-4pm.

Explore Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens

adelaide what to do
I didn’t plan on matching the painted glass but here I am. Image: Supplied.

It was my first and only (so far) trip to Adelaide when I discovered the Victorian Glasshouse I’d seen in so many wedding pics was actually in the South Australia city. You’ll find it (it’s called The Palmhouse) at Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens within 50 hectares of gardens and architecture.

Another good thing? It’s free and centrally located, making it an easy tack-on to your itinerary should you have the time.

If your head hurts for whatever reason, it’s a great way to chill and relax with a picnic without hating yourself for wasting a day in Adelaide.

Where: North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000
When: Open daily 7:15am-8pm

Carb Load at Osteria Oggi

With long tables and cave-like booths, Osteria Oggi’s midcentury design offers up Italian dishes that’ll make you salivate for more even after you’ve well and truly lined your stomach.

Open daily from 11.30am until late, it’s the perfect option for your pre-flight lunch or final-night dinner.

Where: 76 Pirie Street, Adelaide, SA 5000
When: Open daily 11:30am-late

This writer travelled as a guest of Virgin Australia and South Australia Tourism Commission. Check out their flights to Adelaide, from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Gold Coast to Adelaide daily.