While some Australian cities can be a bit daunting when it comes to their public transport systems, Adelaide has several convenient and easy transport options to choose from. From trains, trams, and buses to taxis, rental cars, and bicycles, it is pretty simple to find your way around the city when visiting Australia, especially Adelaide.
When you are planning on using the Adelaide Metro network, you will want to purchase a regular metroCARD or the metroCARD Visitor Pass. The Visitor Pass is good for three days and allows you unlimited travel on the metro for one fixed price. You can pick up a metroCARD or Visitor Pass at the Adelaide Airport, Adelaide Metro Info Centre, or Adelaide Railway Station.
There are several Adelaide luggage storage lockers located near the airport, train station, and bus terminals throughout the city so you can easily drop off your extra bags before setting off to explore the city. Don't let extra weight slow you down as you see what Adelaide is all about!
How to get around Adelaide by train
The Adelaide Metro covers train service, public buses, as well as trams that help get millions of locals and tourists to where they need to go in the city. The metro has around 80 million passengers each year with 51 million traveling on the public bus, 18 million passengers traveling by train, and 10 million that travel through the city on the tram.
The Adelaide Metro is still relatively new, only being in existence since 2000 when the former government-run trains and buses became privatized. Now, South Australia’s Department of Planning, Transport, & Infrastructure supervises the two private operators to ensure safety codes are being enforced.
The railway network in Adelaide is a great way to visit some of the fabulous attractions outside of Adelaide. The Outer Harbor train will take you to Semaphore, a beachside suburb of Adelaide, or to the historic area of Port Adelaide. Trains will depart from the Adelaide Railway Station every 30 minutes.
Adelaide’s metro will take you into several of the fantastic suburbs of Belair, Salisbury, and Tonsley. With nine metro train lines that crisscross the city, there are several stops along the way at the various metro and railway stations.
If you want to visit the major attractions located outside the city, plan on taking a taxi or riding the metro to the nearest station and then walking the rest of the way. There are no stations close to most of these attractions including Kangaroo Island, Waterfall Gully, and most of the regional wineries and vineyards.
Adelaide Railway Station
This is the central terminal for the Adelaide Metro and is located in North Terrace just to the west of the Parliament House. All of the train and bus lines approach the station from the west, making it easy to keep things in order. There are nine platforms but there are no through lines. The best part about this railway station is that the Adelaide Casino is housed in part of the building.
The Adelaide Railway Station used to be the terminal for interstate and regional passenger trains until 1984 when regular regional train services through South Australia were suspended. Interstate train services are now sent through the Adelaide Parklands Terminal.
Adelaide Parklands Terminal
The terminal opened in 1984 as the Keswick Terminal and was renamed the Adelaide Parklands Terminal in 2008. The station is less than two miles from the Adelaide city centre and is adjacent to Keswick in the West Parklands, a suburb of Adelaide.
The station was developed by Australian National and is a passenger rail station that operates through the Great Southern Rail and is the only station in Adelaide that offers interstate train services. The station has undergone a face-lift of sorts using government money to create a comfortable experience for passengers both in the terminal and on the trains.
Instead of trying to figure out the metro or train system of Adelaide, hop on one of the trams that run through the city centre and most of the inner suburbs. It is one of the most convenient and easiest ways to travel within Adelaide’s city centre. You can also quickly and easily get to Glenelg, a popular coastal suburb for tourists and locals.
Trams run every 15 minutes and beginning at 7:00 a.m. and ending around midnight. The best part is that it is free to ride the tram in the city centre from the South Terrace Station to the Entertainment Centre Station. There are several stops along the way and links to some of the public bus stops. You can easily reach several terrific attractions when you ride the tram.
The most popular tram route picks up and drops off at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre and Glenelg. This tram is operated by the Adelaide Metro and there are several stops throughout the Central Business District (a terrific place to stay in Adelaide) including Rundle Mall and the Adelaide Railway Station. The only surviving tram line from the original lines of the 1950s is the Glenelg tram line. It was actually the only original tram line to be integrated into the new Adelaide Metro system.
How to get around Adelaide by bus
The city has several bus loops that wind throughout the city and then branch out into the inner suburbs and even out to some of the further away suburbs. Adelaide offers a free City Connector bus service which operates two loops that will take you throughout the city. The loops run in clockwise and counterclockwise directions. Inner City Loop includes 99A which runs counterclockwise and 99C which runs clockwise. Extended Loop/North Adelaide includes 98A which runs counterclockwise and 98C which runs clockwise.
The Inner City Loop, also called the 99 City Connector, operates Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. until 7:15 p.m. You can easily reach Rundle Mall, East End, University and Cultural Precinct, Hutt Street, Chinatown, and the Central Market.
The Extended Loop, also called the 98 City Connector, loops around the city and into North Adelaide. This service is operational seven days a week from 7:00 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. except on Friday when it closes at 9:15 p.m. You can reach all the places listed for the 99 City Connector, as well as the West End, Adelaide Zoo, O’Connell Street & Melbourne Street, and Adelaide Botanic Gardens.
Riding public buses is one of the easiest ways to get to and from Adelaide Airport. The Jet Express bus is offered by many hotels in downtown Adelaide and will pick passengers up in the city and take them to the airport and will pick passengers up at the airport to take them to their respective hotels. The Jet Express runs every hour.
With over 550 bus routes throughout Adelaide and its suburbs, riding the bus is still one of the most economical and easiest ways to move throughout the city when you are shopping, looking for free activities, or sightseeing, especially when you take advantage of the free City Connector buses.
How to get around Adelaide by car
While using Adelaide’s public transport network is an excellent way to move through the city and most of the inner suburbs, there are several places that public transit just does not reach. For those places, a car is necessary and really the best option if you are not interested in signing up for an organized tour with transportation included.
Places like McLaren Vale and Barossa are quite a way out from downtown Adelaide and visitors will need a car to get there. You can hire a taxi to reach these areas but it can be expensive. The Adelaide Airport has several car rental agencies, making it super easy to rent a car. The best part is that an American driver's license is recognized in Australia.
While taxi services are available, it can be an expensive way to get from Point A to Point B in Adelaide. You are charged a base rate and then an additional fee per kilometer that is traveled. Most taxi services also apply additional fees for airport transfers, tolls, and late night rides.
You can easily hail a taxi on the street or you can call ahead and have a taxi sent to your location. When you land at the airport, there are usually several taxis waiting to take you to your hotel. You can use the Uber app as well to get a ride.
How to get around Adelaide by bike
Adelaide has partnered with the State Government of South Australia to create the Adelaide city bikes program. With funding provided by the government, the city has created bikeways that wind through the city and give residents and visitors a greener option to Adelaide’s public transport system. The bikeways are believed to be the key to creating a healthy transport option for everyone.
There are currently two bikeways that have been created; the North-South Bikeway and the East-West Bikeway. North-South Bikeway is familiar to locals as it was built on the Frome Bikeway and connects the Braund Road Bike Boulevard to the Rugby/Porter Bikeway making it easy to go from Prospect to Unley without dealing with the congestion of the major roads.
East-West Bikeway links the CBD to suburban bikeways, making it easier to get from the outskirts of Adelaide into the central city. Shared use paths in Rundle Park and South Terrace are a part of this bikeway.
As a part of the cycling infrastructure projects that have gained popularity in the past several years, the Adelaide free bikes program has also become popular. Bikeways and shared paths are filled with avid cyclists and hobby cyclists all vying for the easiest way to get around the Adelaide city centre without having to deal with the overcrowded streets.
Can I get around Adelaide by foot?
While it is really easy to walk through the Central Business District and even explore many of the neighborhoods on foot, many of the major attractions in Adelaide are further out from the city centre making it difficult to walk to these attractions. The walking distance between them is quite long. When you want to visit the Adelaide Zoo or the Adelaide Botanic Garden, you will need use public transit or take a taxi.
When you pick accommodations in Adelaide you will be able to walk to the Art Gallery of South Australia, the South Australian Museum, Chinatown Adelaide, and the Adelaide Central Market. There are also several fantastic restaurants and shops all within walking distance of the CBD.
Adelaide Public Transport Options
Explore Adelaide by taking the Adelaide tram service, which is part of the Adelaide Metro. However, if you are visiting on public holidays, you will have to wait longer for your bus, tram, or train as the schedules do change. You will find it easy to navigate through the streets and find all the important attractions you are just dying to see.
While there are several free services offered by the Adelaide Metro, you will also want to get a metro card that allows you to easily pay for your passage when you board a train, bus, or tram. Free travel is always a bonus, but there will be times when you need to pay to get around town.