Adelaide is compact, elegant and perfect for exploring on foot. It is Australia’s fifth largest city and has just earned itself a place in the Lonely Planet’s ‘World’s Top 10 Cities’ list. Characterised by wide streets, large public squares and parks, the easily navigable city grid layout is entirely surrounded by parkland.
The many, many things to see and do all seem to be within easy reach of each other and should you start getting foot-weary Adelaide runs free tram and bus routes which service the city’s centre, shopping and business districts. In fact ‘free’ is rather a recurring theme in Adelaide with innumerable things to do, including a walking tour, that won’t cost you a cent.
With plenty in the plus column Adelaide is also arguably Australia’s greenest city with a number of initiatives in operation such as the ‘City Bikes’ scheme which offers free bike hire to everyone.
Home to historic buildings and as a regular venue for some of Australia’s most iconic sporting and arts events along with its title of Australia’s wine capital, Adelaide really is a city for all.
But that is very definitely not all – it would appear Adelaide is quickly emerging as the place of the moment with a number of exciting large scale projects and sleek transformations to several of the city’s key sites. These include the 2014 scheduled completion of the Adelaide Oval refurbishment linking central Adelaide with its abundant surrounding parklands and the riverbank bridge development. Adelaide is changing right before our eyes and it is an exciting and buzzing place to be.
The City That Loves to Party
Adelaide has never been exactly short of after-dark entertainment options but recent times have seen a huge emergence of a lane-way nightlife and restaurant scene full of buzz, colour, character and diversity. Exploring the arcades and hidden back streets may well reward you with the newest and most happening thing in town which has everyone talking.
More than one hundred pubs and clubs can be found ranging from the hip to the hidden gems and from comfortably down-to-earth to scaling the heady heights of sophisticated chic. Dance ’til dawn or sit back and enjoy the show with a range of live music and comedy venues making up a regular part of the city’s evening entertainment choices.
As part of the lighting up Adelaide focus, Splash Adelaide is a regional initiative which aims to fire up the city’s streets focusing on vibrancy and vitality and mixing up live music, funky art installations, under-the-stars movie screenings, night markets and cultural extravaganzas.
Topping the list for fun times and party mood is Adelaide’s Mad March – a month long period of festival madness with more sport, art, music and events than you can imagine. Included in the high jinks and entertainment is the Adelaide Festival of Arts, the Adelaide Fringe Festival, WOMADelaide and the Clipsal 500 V8 car race.
Museums and Culture
There are more museums in Adelaide than you can shake a stick at with an incredibly diverse range of themes sure to appeal to widely varying interests.
Adelaide’s principal museum – the South Australia Museum – contains the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal history and art and is packed with interactive displays – a must for culture vultures and natural history fans.
Those looking for a further glimpse into the world of indigenous art, craft and culture might want to check out the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute where didgeridoo and dance performances can also be seen.
Adelaide Botanic Gardens
In keeping with Adelaide’s ‘plenty for free’ ethos, this 16 hectare garden offers free walking tours around its diverse collections of flora, both native and exotic, and restored buildings. Described by more than one visitor as ‘a little piece of heaven in the city’, the peaceful atmosphere which prevails here really can make you forget your very urban location.
Aside from the Botanic Gardens, green spaces are quite a feature of Adelaide. Not only is it entirely surrounded by parkland but it also has Botanic Park – 34 hectares dotted with exotic species which many compare to London’s Hyde Park. Totally different but with equal appeal for those who enjoy natural beauty is the Himeji Garden with its ‘senzui’ (lake and mountain) concept rubbing shoulders with the ‘kare senzui’ (dry garden) complete with rocks and sand.
Lovingly dubbed ‘Mad March’, Adelaide’s month long party of festival fun, arts events and wonderful mayhem sees four major events and several more bundled into one magnificent package.
For day upon night the city throbs with a vibrancy and hum as pop-up bars, food vans and venues appear as if by magic. Street performers move among the street parties, comedy performers rub shoulders with cabaret artists and the sounds of opera, open-air theatre and poetry readings blend with the sound of racing cars and street vendors calling their wares.
The Adelaide Festival of Arts – widely recognised as one of the best art festivals on the planet – is just one of Mad March’s inclusions featuring opera, theatre, dance, classical and contemporary music and literature and plenty more.
Running alongside is the Adelaide Fringe Festival which might have started life as a smaller cousin but now wears the Mad March crown as the most popular and highly attended event as well as claiming the title of second largest fringe festival in the world.
Music and dance are the focus of the WOMADelaide festival with a hugely diverse range aimed to appeal to all-comers regardless of age and taste. Drawing its performers from all corners of the Earth, WOMADelaide runs big name headline acts alongside traditional artists in an effort to encourage and showcase cultural mixes and expressions.
Thanks to a coastline which features a gentle drop off, the beaches of Adelaide offer a multitude of safe swimming venues complete with sun-warmed shallow pools beloved by children of all ages.
White sands and blue waters are the order of the day and with so many beaches so close to the city centre you can spend a few hours frolicking in the ocean, heading out on a dolphin cruise or kayaking and be back at your hotel in a jiffy.
The nearest beach is the ever popular Glenelg which is served by an electric tram from the centre of the city, adding some fun to the 20 minute journey.
Established in 1844, the historic Penfolds Magill Estate, planted throughout with Shiraz vines, is one of just a few city vineyards in the world. Visitors here can enjoy guided tours which include private cellar wine tasting sessions as their finale.
The location is also home to the Magill Estate Restaurant which tends to elicit rave reviews from its patrons having recently undergone a revamp and relaunched to wide acclaim.
River Torrens Linear Park Trail
This riverside track runs from Henley Beach to Adelaide’s north-eastern suburbs passing the city centre, the Adelaide Festival Centre, the Convention Centre and the city’s zoo among other things. Some stroll along small sections, some combine walk + cruise while others bike the whole trail and if the sun is shining there’s no better way to immerse yourself in Adelaide’s laid-back aspect. Spotting pelicans along the way is a common bonus.
With so much on offer you may decide not to stray too far from Adelaide itself however should you wish to go exploring a little further afield doing so is incredibly easy with public transport options or short self-drives. Adelaide is bordered by scenic rolling hills to the east and long, long beaches to the west so swapping an urban environment for something rather more natural is simple.
Kangaroo Island – lying 112 km south of Adelaide, Kangaroo Island serves up a wealth of wildlife, dramatic caves, vast sand dunes and some stunning geographical features. Proudly held aloft as the jewel in South Australia’s tourism crown, Kangaroo Island is considered by many to be the best place to see native wildlife in its natural habitat anywhere in the country.
Adelaide Hills – situated just a 20 minute drive from Adelaide’s centre, Adelaide Hills surrounds you with scenery of the stunning variety made up of vineyards, orchards and farmland which in turn gives rise to a thriving food and wine scene. Dotted around are historic towns and villages such as Hahndorf full of antique shops, art galleries and cafes and still retaining much of its mid 19th century architecture. If you consider yourself a beer connoisseur you might want to check out the area’s buzzing craft beer scene – good enough to hold its own with the best anywhere.
The Barossa – head north out of the city for an hour and you will arrive in the Barossa – an area of leafy hills, wooded valleys and heritage trails. It also happens to be home to one of Australia’s major wine producing regions – a wine lover’s heaven with over 80 cellar doors dotted around offering wines of the world-class and award-winning variety.
The Fleurieu Peninsula – so close geographically – just an hour south of Adelaide – but otherwise a world away. This peninsula exudes a beach-culture easy-living vibe where cruising whales can be watched from the shore, award-winning wines sampled and the adventure and activity options are seemingly endless.
And this is really just the tip of the iceberg. Adelaide and beyond offers visitors great immersion in all the things which draw people to Australia – culture, scenery and wildlife – along with some very special destination specific highlights.
And getting here has never been easier with more than one airline operator suddenly noticing that Adelaide is a city on the move and wanting to get in on the act. Emirates are just one airline which has added services from the UK and Europe making it more accessible and other recent additions include Air Asia X and Jetstar operating routes from New Zealand.
For more information about the best restaurants, bars, day trips and excursions contact Jerry Bridge and his team at World Travel with Bridge – firstname.lastname@example.org