Looking to explore Adelaide further and get out of the city centre? Here are all the things to do in Port Adelaide during your visit.
Go and see the historic suburb of Port Adelaide. Renowned for its maritime heritage, this blue-collar suburb might be a little rough around the edges, but that is part of its charm. It is also quickly changing with a lot of new development in the area.
Have Questions? – Come and join the Facebook Group and ask any questions you may have about travel in South Australia. We can provide answers, make further suggestions and update you with the latest information. Click here to join now.
TL;DR? Here's the outline
- About Port Adelaide, South Australia
- Is Port Adelaide Worth Visiting?
- Best Things to Do in Port Adelaide
- Port Adelaide Street Art
- Learn About Port Adelaide with a Walking Tour
- South Australian Maritime Museum
- Cruise the Port River
- Torrens Island Quarantine Station Tour
- National Railway Museum
- South Australia Aviation Museum
- Port Adelaide Ghost Crime Tour
- Admire the Tall Ships
- Shop at one of the Port Adelaide Markets
- City of Adelaide Clipper Ship
- Portobello River Cruises
- Drink Craft Beer
- Watch an AFL Team Train
- Do a Pub Crawl
- Drink in a Hidden Whisky Bar
- Eat in the Cafes and Restaurants
- Take a Self-Guided Walking Tour
- Kayak with Dolphins
- Shop until you Drop
- Getting to Port Adelaide
About Port Adelaide, South Australia
Port Adelaide is located about 15km northwest of the city centre, not quite on the beach, but instead on the banks of the Port River.
Traditionally, like all of Adelaide, this is the home of the Kaurna people. It was first settled by Europeans in 1837, just days after the initial landing in Glenelg.
Many of the early settlers wanted this area, which was perfect for ships to come and go, to be the centre of the city.
Unfortunately, there was no fresh water here, so that did not happen and the ships’ cargo and passengers had to travel what was then a large distance into the town.
So Port Adelaide became a bustling wharf area, filled with all the usual colourful characters that are known to gravitate towards those areas.
This was a workingman’s area, particularly known for its wharfies, who liked to work hard and play harder. There was a pub on every corner and this was a fun and bustling town.
In 1908 a second port was opened, this time not in the heart of Port Adelaide, but instead at the mouth of the Port River.
It was named Outer Harbor. Over time the ships stopped coming into the inner harbour, until in the 1960s, with the advent of containerisation, the ships stopped almost entirely. The area went into decline.
Since 2010, that decline has reversed. New developments are being announced all the time and building, renovating and planning seem to be everywhere.
The Port still has that edge of yesteryear, but it’s getting back its spark and bustle. Now is the time to come and see it for yourself.
Is Port Adelaide Worth Visiting?
Port Adelaide is a historic suburb and is home to a range of attractions, including museums, art galleries, and cultural landmarks.
Some of the most popular places to visit in Port Adelaide include the South Australian Maritime Museum, the National Railway Museum, and the Aviation Museum.
In addition to its museums and cultural attractions, Port Adelaide also has a vibrant food and drink scene, with a range of cafes, restaurants, and bars to choose from.
The area is also known for its waterfront and is a popular spot for boating and fishing.
Whether or not Port Adelaide is worth visiting will depend on your interests and preferences. If you enjoy history, culture, and food, then Port Adelaide could be a great destination for you.
I do recommend a day trip to Port Adelaide as one of the best things to do in Adelaide if you have a few days as it offers a different experience than the city centre or even Glenelg, the other popular suburban location for visitors.
Best Things to Do in Port Adelaide
These attractions are perfect for both visitors to South Australia and locals looking for things to do in Port Adelaide today. There are so many Port Adelaide attractions though that you will not fit them all into a single day.
When planning what to do in Port Adelaide, pick and choose your favourites from this list, or stay the night and fit them all in. Click here for accommodation options in and around Port Adelaide.
Port Adelaide Street Art
The Port has been the location of several Wonderwalls Festivals over the last few years and checking it all out is one of the best free things to do in Port Adelaide.
During each festival (usually held in March) a whole group of street artists descend on The Port and brighten up some of the dreary blank walls.
There are currently more than fifty huge murals and plenty of other smaller ones spread throughout.
You will likely come across several of the murals just by visiting – who can miss the ones on the sides of the 10-storey Marine & Harbours Building? – but if you want to explore further and see some of the more hidden murals, stop into the Port Adelaide Visitor Information Centre and pick up a street art map.
Learn About Port Adelaide with a Walking Tour
This walking tour runs on various Sundays throughout the year where Katina from Flamboyance Tours will guide you through the streets of Port Adelaide and back through the decades of life here.
Learn about the days this area was called Port Misery, the dubious maritime history, why Port Adelaide has a pub on every corner and perhaps even a ghost story or two.
You will see some of the fantastic street art that has started adorning the walls in recent years, and at the end, have a drink at one of the local pubs. Of all the Port Adelaide activities this one with give you the best overview of the suburb.
South Australian Maritime Museum
The South Australian Maritime Museum is located in one of the historic warehouses on Lipson Street. It is filled with all things about the sea. I love walking in and seeing the full-size ketch displayed in the first gallery that both kids and adults alike love to jump aboard and experience.
You will also find displays on how many of our early European settlers travelled to Australia, information about our navy, and some of the first explorations along our coast.
There is a big focus on sustainability and the effects on our marine life throughout the museum. Temporary exhibits are also passing through too, adding to the information.
Entry to the museum also includes entry to the Port Adelaide Lighthouse – but the lighthouse is currently closed due to Covid. Hopefully, it will be opened again soon and we can go back to climbing to the top to enjoy the view.
For opening times and ticket information, see the South Australian Maritime Museum website here.
Cruise the Port River
If you want to do a dolphin cruise Port Adelaide is the place to do it. There’s a new cruise in town though, with Port River Cruises now running, well, Port River cruises!
The standard tour is a 90-minute cruise along the river, learning about the history of the area and some of the things you will see along the way.
You will explore the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary, the International Garden Island Bird Sanctuary, and the shipwreck graveyard during your cruise.
Hopefully, you will be joined along the way by some of the local Port River dolphins, one of the only metropolitan dolphin pods in the world. This cruise runs all year round so is great if you are looking for things to do in Port Adelaide this weekend.
The cruises have proven to be so popular that a second boat has now joined the first. Keep an eye out for special themed cruises on the Port River as they expand, such as the Kaurna Cultural Cruise, or cruises that include entertainment.
You can also enhance your cruise experience with a special seafood box filled with prawns, oysters and fish. Beer, wine and soft drinks are available to purchase onboard on all the cruises.
Torrens Island Quarantine Station Tour
There are various times throughout the year (generally during the cooler months) that the South Australian Maritime Museum runs tours to the Torrens Island Quarantine Station.
This isolated camp was originally built to stop smallpox from being brought into the new colony.
Since then it has had a dubious history as an internment camp for men of German descent during WWI. The site was also used at various times for animal quarantine.
It was closed down in the 1980s, and it has been preserved in good condition, so stands as a time capsule.
Some of the rooms look almost as though the inhabitants have only recently left. It was particularly interesting doing this tour now that we know all about quarantine after the last couple of years with Covid.
National Railway Museum
Located on Lipson Street, the National Railway Museum is one of the best things to do in Port Adelaide with kids – of all sizes!
There are well over 100 locomotives and carriages here, although some are not on display. Many of them can be climbed on and explored, and some are running.
Every day there are loops around the museum on a tiny steam train called Bub (his “brother” Bill runs along the Semaphore Rail track nearby) and during special events, some of the larger engines and carriages are also run for rides, including the “red rattlers”.
Other exhibits in the museum include historical items such as the old departures board from the Adelaide Railway Station and many different signals.
There is memorabilia from the war years, the travelling circus as well as women in the railways. Model train enthusiasts will love the large display of different areas of South Australia and the trains that ran there.
For more information, see the National Railway Museum Port Adelaide website here
South Australia Aviation Museum
Port Adelaide has ships and trains, so it will be no surprise to hear that there is a museum dedicated to planes too! Funnily enough though, this is one of the least-known Port Adelaide tourist attractions. I lived nearby for more than ten years before I knew it existed.
The huge hangar is located not far from the National Railway Museum and is filled with all sorts of planes and aviation memorabilia.
Many of the planes are open so that visitors can go inside them to have a look – a 1960s passenger plane is very different from today!
So this is the place to come to live out all those Top Gun fantasies as there is a F/A-111 here to have a look at. There are also tours available so that you can sit in the cockpit and pretend that you are Tom Cruise.
See all the details on the South Australian Aviation Museum website here
Port Adelaide Ghost Crime Tour
With so much history in Port Adelaide, it seems almost a given that this would be a great place to run a ghost tour, and a group of locals have got together and done just that.
The Port Adelaide Ghost Crime Tour is taking people around the streets after dark and telling you about some of these stories and pointing out some of the locations where the local ghosts are said to still hang out.
Hear stories full of murder and mayhem and learn things like where the dead bodies were kept in The Port – and it wasn’t always the Morgue, which is also visited along the way.
Look into some of the haunted buildings and see if you can spot the ghosts that live there – I dare you!
For more details on the Port Adelaide Ghost Crime Tour see here
Admire the Tall Ships
Remember the romantic days of sailing as you wander along the Port Adelaide wharves by taking a closer look at the two tall ships that call this area home.
Visitors will often find the “Falie” or the “One and All” at berth here, preparing for their next trip out to sea.
The Falie is the last remaining Historic Ketch in South Australia. She usually has an open day at least once a month where visitors can come on board for a look. Payment is simply a gold coin donation.
The One and All is a more recently built ship, first commissioned in 1987. It is used as a training ship and offers regular opportunities to join her for a sail.
As well as shorter day and evening sails, there are also multi-day voyages for those who are keen to try this majestic form of transport for themselves.
Shop at one of the Port Adelaide Markets
After the closure of the long-running Fisherman’s Wharf Markets, a new market has just started up and plans to run monthly. Markets at the Mill is located in the Flour Shed on Mundy Street, just behind Hart’s Mill.
The markets will feature local small businesses and artisans selling handmade goods. Perfect for a unique souvenir or gift.
They currently plan to run one Sunday a month and have dates advertised for Jan/Feb/Mar 2023. See more info on their Facebook page here.
Another fledgling market that has started is the Handmade Market. They are being held on some Saturdays in the laneways around the town hall and visitor information centre.
Look out for all sorts of stuff, from all sorts of arts and crafts, vintage goods, food, beverages and live music.
If you are after some fresh fruit, veggies and assorted other products you can stop into The People’s Market, a kind of co-op, more like an eclectic shop rather than a full market.
It is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday and has an ever-changing range of products available. Sometimes there will be some music, and you might find clothing, books or other items available too.
City of Adelaide Clipper Ship
The City of Adelaide is the oldest surviving clipper ship in the world. While it has previously been sitting on the wharf in Port Adelaide it has now been moved to its forever home at Dock 2, just the other side of the Tom Diver Derrick Bridge.
The City of Adelaide was constructed in 1864 and did 23 journeys from London to Adelaide carrying passengers and goods.
It was eventually left languishing in a shipyard in England until a group of volunteers were able to bring it back to its namesake city in 2014.
It’s now possible to do tours of the ship to learn more about it and its history with all funds from the tours going straight towards the restoration.
For more details, click through to the City of Adelaide Clipper Ship website
Portobello River Cruises
The Portobello River Cruiser is what can only be described as an upmarket floating picnic table, to allow you to dine and float around the Port River.
Imagine enjoying dinner during a beautiful sunset with dolphins swimming just metres from you.
Delicious food can be ordered from the local Portobello restaurant, although you can bring your snack if you prefer. Drinks cannot be brought on board though and must be ordered from the menu
Click through to the Portobello website for more details
Drink Craft Beer
When Pirate Life Brewing announced they were moving their brewery to bigger premises in Port Adelaide it was a real boost to the area and Port Adelaide tourism.
Not only have they brought the brewery, but also created an amazing space in which to taste their beers. Beer enthusiasts can learn about the brewery and how the beer is made, and of course taste the beer, on the 45-minute brewery tour.
The location occasionally transforms into a live performance venue or becomes a hub when there are local festivals.
Every weekend you will find food trucks here to provide food with that beer, and if you need a haircut, the barber here will do that while you have a beer too.
Look out for some of the Port Adelaide street art all around, from an amazing peacock on the side of the brewery, artwork on the grain tanks and an ever-changing variety of art on the hoarding around the front.
Pirate Life is well worth a visit.
Watch an AFL Team Train
Port Adelaide is the location of one of the oldest – and most successful – Australian Rules Football clubs in Australia, and they also happen to be one of only two South Australian teams in the highest competition in the country, the AFL.
While the clubrooms now officially sit in the neighbouring suburb of Alberton, it is very much the spiritual home of this much-loved club.
The Port Adelaide supporters are very well known for being loud and parochial, the club means everything to them.
Visitors can go and watch Port Adelaide train at their Alberton home or just have a meal in the clubrooms and browse the memorabilia that covers the walls.
There are also many premiership cups on display too. Pick up a Port Adelaide souvenir at the shop to show your conversion to a supporter of this incredible club. (Yes, I am a Port supporter!)
Work is currently underway to redevelop and refresh the club. It now includes a dedicated museum space to celebrate 150 years, a new retail space, new bars and restaurant spaces, and a conference space as well.
There is still work going on around the place, but some of the new sections are now open.
Do a Pub Crawl
With so many pubs in The Port, it’s the perfect opportunity to do a pub crawl without having to travel too far in between stops. In some cases, the next pub is almost right next door.
While the pub culture has always been strong in Port Adelaide, with the re-opening of the Port Admiral Hotel a few years ago a re-emergence started.
The pubs are no longer seen as daggy venues where a handful of regulars hold up the bar, now they are vibrant spaces that bring in visitors from all over the city.
Drink in a Hidden Whisky Bar
Accessed through a tiny lane opposite the Police Station, Studio 99 Whisky & Art is a blink-and-you-miss-it venue. I didn’t discover it until I was walking past on foot one day and glanced through the open gate.
Housed in an old foundry building, it has an industrial feel that adds to that dark and mysterious whisky bar atmosphere.
They have a range of blended and single malt whisky from all over the world, and if you ask nicely, they might also be able to find something for non-whisky drinkers too.
Have a look at the Studio 99 website here
Eat in the Cafes and Restaurants
There is a growing food scene here in Port Adelaide. It may not be Michelin-star-style dining, but there are some really good solid options for Port Adelaide restaurants.
For Indian, Spice N Ice has been around forever and is consistently good. Low & Slow American BBQ is almost always packed to the rafters and Miss Viet Kitchen does great Vietnamese food. A favourite Port Adelaide restaurant is La Popular Taqueria which does delicious, authentic tacos.
The Port Plaza redevelopment has recently opened and there are now a big choice of eateries here too. Everything from Thai to Burgers to Pancakes is here. I am yet to test a lot of them out, but there are many good reviews.
For good coffee and brunch head to the Banksia Tree cafe. They have a delicious range of foods catering to all, including vegan options. The Dutch Coffee Lab is also great.
For coffee with a view, The Folklore Cafe is located right beside the wharf, floating over the Port River. This is a great place to spot those dolphins.
Take a Self-Guided Walking Tour
The best way to get to know any area is to walk the streets and soak up the atmosphere.
Rather than just wander, download the Visit Port Adelaide app on your smartphone or call into the Port Adelaide Visitor Information Centre and pick up a map to show you the way.
The tours on offer include Walk the Port, which covers a bit of everything, then specialty tours for the street art, craft beer, Port Adelaide heritage sites, an environmental trail, all the anchors in the area, or even the ghosts of the Port.
Most walks range from 45 minutes to 2 hours – although my guess is the craft beer tour could take a lot longer!
Kayak with Dolphins
Make your way to the outskirts of Port Adelaide and visit the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary. Hire a kayak or join in on a tour and explore this interesting area around Garden Island.
Not only could you have a very close encounter with the dolphins if they choose to come and investigate you, but you can also experience paddling along eerie mangrove creeks, ducking under low branches in the dappled light.
Nearby is the Garden Island Ship’s Graveyard, which is the final resting place of around 25 ships. The last boat was sunk here in 1945, so not all of them are visible and those that are often only above water at low tide.
Shop until you Drop
While I admit the shopping scene in Port Adelaide has more of a local, practical edge to it rather than shops for visitors, there are still some interesting options around.
Op-shoppers will love it here, with three or four second-hand and charity stores nearby. While of course these are filled with clothes, there are often other interesting items too, who knows what you will find. I often visit when I am looking for second-hand books.
There is also a fabulous toy store in Port Adelaide called The Lighthouse Toy Shop on St Vincent Street which has a great range of traditional and unique toys.
Nearby is The Hemp Culture which has a large range of sustainable products for your wardrobe & home.
For more shopping in Port Adelaide look to the Port Mall area that runs off of St Vincent Street, or go to the new Port Plaza shopping centre further along Commercial Road.
Port Plaza is great for food, but there are some other shopping opportunities too.
Getting to Port Adelaide
Port Adelaide is easily reached by car. It’s around 20-25 minutes from the city centre, straight up Port Road.
There is plenty of free parking around The Port, but beware, because some areas are paid and you will need to ensure you follow the directions.
You can reach Port Adelaide by train from the Adelaide city centre. It’s about a twenty-five-minute train ride, and it will take about 10-15 minutes to walk from the train station to the waterfront.
There are also a variety of public buses that pass through Port Adelaide, most of them stopping close to the Commercial Road/St Vincent Street intersection.
A single trip, adult peak ticket is currently $6.20AUD for both the trains and buses. Tickets may be cheaper than this if you purchase a MetroCard and add credit to it in advance, if you have a concession, or if you travel in off-peak times.
Tickets are available on board buses and trains as well as in many shops and newsagencies around the city. For more information on public transport, look at the Adelaide Metro website. Use the Adelaide Metro Journey Planner to discover your route.
With so many things to do Port Adelaide deserves a visit. Include it on your itinerary next time you visit South Australia.
Don’t forget to come on over and join the Facebook group for more South Australian inspiration and to get all your questions answered. Click here to join now.
Please share this post with your friends and pin it for later