What to do on a Shore Day in Adelaide

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You’ve booked a cruise that stops in Adelaide for a day – but you have no idea what to do once you disembark. Here is what to do on a shore day in Adelaide, including planning your own day, some Adelaide shore excursions and popular activities.

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Featured image photo credit: South Australian Tourism Commission, Port Adelaide Passenger Terminal, Adelaide

The Port Adelaide Passenger Terminal

The Adelaide cruise terminal is officially called the Port Adelaide Passenger Terminal, even though it is not located in Port Adelaide. Instead, you will be docking at Outer Harbor, on Oliver Rogers Road right on the tip of the Lefevre Peninsula.

The terminal itself offers only basic facilities, such as tourism information, a coffee shop and a souvenir shop. There is free wifi available and an ATM if you need to get some cash. It is not a place you will want to spend hours of your time.

The Port Adelaide cruise terminal is in quite a remote part of the metropolitan area with very few services within easy walking distance.

It’s around a 1.5km (20 min) walk to reach the Sailmaster Tavern, which is a nice location to enjoy a meal or a drink with views over the adjacent marina.

You might even be lucky to spot the dolphins playing amongst the boats. There is also one of two other casual restaurants in the complex and a bottle shop.

At a stretch, you could also walk almost 3km (35min) to the small local North Haven Shopping Centre where you will find a supermarket, pharmacy, hairdresser, bakery and some takeaway food shops.

This could be a good option if you just want to pick up some essential supplies.

If you would like to take a walk on the beach, have a swim or simply relax on the sand, the nearest beach is North Haven, around 1km (12 minutes) walk from the cruise ship terminal.

Most afternoons on the weekends from October to April the beach will be patrolled by surf lifesavers, and the adjacent surf club is open for food and drinks.

If you felt like a relaxed day doing very little, you could stick around this area, but it’s not the most interesting of places in South Australia and I recommend exploring further afield.

Popular Adelaide Attractions

Photo credit: South Australian Tourism Commission, Paulett Wines, Clare Valley

Adelaide is best known for being a gateway to several wine regions – after all, it is one of the Great Wine Capitals of the World. So if you like a nice glass or two of wine, I recommend you go and do some wine tasting.

There are three wine regions easily accessible for a day trip, and each has its own wine varieties and tastes.

Both the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale are premier Shiraz locations, with a focus on full-bodied wines full of flavour. But even though the grapes are the same, the tastes in each region are different as are the style of cellar doors.

If you are choosing between the two, I like to recommend the Barossa Valley if you like something more traditional, and McLaren Vale if you like things a little more modern and quirky.

The Adelaide Hills produce cool climate wines, so there is an emphasis here on white wines and light reds such as Pinot Noir.

While you won’t find any of that famous South Australian shiraz, an advantage to visiting this region is that it can be combined with the town of Hahndorf and/or the Cleland Wildlife Park, so you might be able to experience a little of everything.

Another consideration is distance. The cruise terminal is much closer to the Barossa Valley than the other two wine regions, so if you have only a short stay in Adelaide then this would be the best option to fit the most into your day.

If wine tasting isn’t your thing, then I would recommend a day tour to the Adelaide Hills that includes Hahndorf, Cleland Wildlife Park and a stop at Mount Lofty.

Adelaide Shore Excursions

Photo credit: South Australian Tourism Commission/Adam Bruzzone, Tour Dispatch, Adelaide

While every cruise ship has slightly different tours available, your cruise will likely have similar tours to some of these as part of their offering.

These will give you an idea of what else is available too or alternatives if the cruise tours are booked – which I know has happened to me in the past.

What I have discovered is that you will likely find it hard to book shore excursions in Adelaide through any of the well-known booking platforms such as Viator, Experience Oz or Get Your Guide (but still check them, because new tours are added all the time).

If you do look at these websites, occasionally there will be options, but mostly you will be better off taking a look directly at the pages of the tour operators below.

The most common options I have come across require you to arrange a private tour, such as this one for Barossa Valley wine tasting or this one for Clare Valley wine tasting. They do have other options, not just wine tours.

PureSA offers a range of shore excursions, mostly nature-based such as hikes and bike tours, and a Cleland wildlife experience. All tours are small groups only and do tend to sell out, so I recommend booking well in advance to secure your spot.

Bums on Seats offers four different shore excursions. To be honest, while their tours look good, their booking pages are a little clunky. I recommend sending them an email if you are unsure of the details.

  • City Highlights, Mount Lofty & Hahndorf
  • Barossa Valley Food & Wine Tour
  • Barossa Valley via Hahndorf
  • Adelaide South Australia Highlights

Best Wine Tours looks like a great flexible option when you want to put together an itinerary that suits you. They do offer some suggestions though to help you come up with the perfect day.

They even guarantee to get you back to the ship on time – or pay to get you to your next port.

Planning Your Own Day Out

While tours can be great, sometimes you just want to go it alone.

Perhaps you need some time away from the crowds, perhaps your budget doesn’t stretch to a tour at every port, or perhaps you just want to do something that isn’t catered to on a tour.

Here are three ideas for exploring on your own on your shore day.

Adelaide City Centre

Photo credit: Tourism Australia, Adelaide Zoo, Adelaide

It’s an easy train ride of about 45 minutes right into the centre of Adelaide. Take a look at my full post about getting to the Adelaide City Centre here.

Once in the city, you can spend the day doing any number of things.

If the weather is nice, make your way out the back door of the railway station (which is a beautiful piece of architecture if you would like to take a look) and walk down to the bank of the Torrens.

If the time works out, jump onto the boat Popeye and enjoy a ride along the river until you reach the stop near the Adelaide Zoo. If the timing is not right, it’s just a short stroll along the river.

Jump off here (you can’t miss it, it’s the only stop) and spend a couple of hours enjoying the Zoo. It’s a small, but spacious green zoo, mostly with smaller animals.

It is the only place in Australia to see Giant Pandas, with Funi and Wang Wang currently on loan from China. It’s recently home to three new tiger cubs that can be seen running around their huge habitat.

After the zoo, walk back along Frome Road or through the Adelaide Botanic Garden to Rundle Street and turn right.

If you haven’t already eaten, grab some lunch at one of the many cafes and restaurants here. Browse in some of the boutique stores along the way.

Continue along the street until you reach Rundle Mall, the main shopping area in the Adelaide city centre.

Here is where you will find all the big international brands, like Apple, H&M, Uniqlo etc. Admire the Mall’s Balls and take a quick selfie with the pigs in the mall, or if you prefer, the pigeon!

You may need to double back a little to Gawler Place, where you will make your way back to North Terrace.

Visit the South Australian Museum, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Migration Museum or the State Library of South Australia if any of them are of interest to you.

All are free to enter and browse (although occasionally exhibitions will have an entrance fee).

Make your way then back along North Terrace to the Railway Station for your return trip to Outer Harbor and your cruise ship.

Other things you may prefer to include in your day in the city are time at Adelaide Oval (perhaps a roof climb or a stadium tour?) or the Adelaide Central Market.

You may also like to consider a short tour of the city centre – here are some ideas.

Port Adelaide

Photo credit: City of Port Adelaide Enfield, Lighthouse Square, Adelaide

Getting to Port Adelaide is also easy with the train. When you get off the train, you will be right near the Port Plaza Shopping Centre, so if you need to pick up any supplies this is a good place to do it.

There are plenty of restaurants and cafes here too, but you will also find many more further down towards the water.

I recommend “The Banksia Tree” for brunch/lunch. They have great options for everyone, including vegan food and other dietary requirements.

Port Adelaide is the historical maritime hub of South Australia, so many of the activities revolve around that.

If you can fit it in, I recommend a Dolphins & Shipwrecks Cruise on the Port River to learn a little about the industrial history of the area, see the ship graveyard and hopefully see the Port River Dolphins, one of the only metropolitan dolphin pods in the world.

From there you can admire the tall ship “One and All” if she is in Port, or wander over to the Maritime Museum of South Australia to see even more of the fascinating history of Port Adelaide and the rest of the state.

You can also visit the historic clipper ship “City of Adelaide” the oldest of its kind remaining in the world. It is currently being restored to bring it back to its former glory, and tours are available to take a look at how it’s going.

If boats aren’t your thing, perhaps you would prefer trains at the National Railway Museum, or planes at the South Australian Aviation Museum, both also located here in Port Adelaide.

Then to relax before you return to your ship, stop past the Pirate Life craft brewery and test out the local beer.

Read more about the things to do in Port Adelaide here.


Photo credit: Nathan Godwin, The Moseley Beach Club, Adelaide

Glenelg is possibly the best-known beach suburb in Adelaide. It’s a great place if you would like a relaxed shore day.

While in theory, you could get there by taking the train into the city centre and then a tram from right outside the railway station out to Glenelg, it will take you around 90 minutes each way.

Instead, I recommend getting a taxi or an Uber to take you from the passenger terminal to Glenelg which should take a little over half an hour. While prices vary, especially if it gets busy, you should pay somewhere from $50 to $70 each way.

If budget is an issue, take the train/tram to Glenelg and then get a taxi/Uber back so that you can be sure to be back on time.

Glenelg is all about the beach, and since most cruise ships visit Adelaide in summer, this works out perfectly.

You can book a lounge at the Moseley Beach Club and relax for the day – or if you don’t want to book a lounge, just pop in for a cocktail on the sand.

Enjoy a ride on the Ferris Wheel for great views over the beach and local area, take a walk along Jetty Road looking at the local shops, call into the Bay Discovery Centre to learn a little about the history of the area, or simply catch a movie at Event Cinemas.

If you are not yet sick of being on the water, you could do another cruise for a dolphin swim or you may just prefer to stay dry with the wild dolphin watch.

There are lots of food options in Glenelg, almost every cuisine you can imagine. There are some great seafood restaurants such as Sammy’s on The Marina or the Oyster Bar Holdfast Shores.

Perhaps you might like a high tea overlooking the sea at the Stamford Grand, or ice cream at my favourite Bottega Gelateria.

Before you return to your cruise ship, make sure you have taken a selfie with the heart on the Glenelg foreshore.

Can I go to Hahndorf or a Wine Region on my Own?

While it is possible to travel further afield, perhaps to Hahndorf or a wine region, I wouldn’t recommend doing that by yourself.

It would be at least two hours of travel time in each direction on the train then buses, and while the public transport is quite good, you could end up with a stressful situation at the end of the day if something goes wrong.

Hiring a car is another option, but they are not available from Outer Harbor, and you would need to take a train into the city centre to pick up the car, and then do the same at the end of the day to drop it off.

I recommend a tour if you would like to go to Hahndorf or any other location outside of the city.

Looking for more things to do in Adelaide? Try these posts
Kayaking with Dolphins in Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary
100 Adelaide Experiences
5 Best Walks in Adelaide

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About the author

Josie Kelsh is South Australian, born and bred, living here for her whole life. Travelling all over the world has shown her exactly how amazing South Australia is to live and travel in and she uses her passion to show it to you the way a local sees it.