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Adelaide, Australia: A traveller’s guide

By Localiiz Branded | 8 October 2021

The vibrant and creative capital of South Australia is also home to tons of music festivals and city-wide celebrations, as well as an eclectic bar scene and a host of arts and cultural hotspots. As one of the world’s Great Wine Capitals, Adelaide is home to some of the finest wineries in Australia, with more than 200 of them scattered around the city, all within an hour’s drive. Picturesque natural gems coupled with a multicultural and relaxed vibe make the coastal town a must-visit destination for those looking to slow down and experience beauty in all its forms along with a glass of wine.

What to see & do

Explore the great outdoors

Glide along the River Torrens on a kayak as your guide explains the history and significance of the river and its surroundings. Alternatively, enjoy a nice picnic lunch at the Adelaide Botanic Garden surrounded by native and exotic plants, and check out the glasshouse conservatory afterwards. You can also unwind and meditate at the Adelaide Himeji Garden, a Japanese style oasis with a serene lake and ornate gates. 

If you’ve got a bit of time, head a bit further out from the city centre to Morialta Conservation Park and Cleland Conservation Park to spend a peaceful day in the woodlands amongst animals in their natural habitat. Keep an eye out for koalas along the way, and native birds if you’re an early riser. You can also spend time at one of the many metropolitan beaches around town.

Before road and rail became the dominant mode of transport, Australia’s coastal and river towns were only accessible by sea. Port Adelaide was an important hub for trade, and has the highest concentration of nineteenth-century colonial heritage buildings in South Australia. 

For those looking for a unique experience, head to the Garden Island Ships’ Graveyard Maritime Heritage Trail—a strip of shallow waters with abandoned barges, ferries, sailing ships, and steamers that were left there between 1909 and 1945, evidence of South Australia’s unique maritime history.

Afterwards, head to the picturesque village of Hahndorf, Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement, home to many bakeries, pubs, and cafés. Try the region’s produce at the Udder Delights Cheese Cellar, Evercream Ye Olde Ice Creamery, and Harris Smokehouse.

Get artsy

Check out the city’s collection of galleries and museums, starting with the two big ones. The South Australian Museum is the city’s premier museum of natural history, where you can find collections of fossils, exhibits of Aboriginal artefacts, and stories of Antarctic expeditions—perfect for families.

The Art Gallery of South Australia houses one of Australia’s greatest art collections, consisting of Aboriginal, contemporary, religious, classic, and multimedia works from all over the world. ACE Open is a modern gallery with bold exhibitions that challenges perceptions, and JamFactory is home to creatives working on collectable craft and design. You can even take some home with you!

Adelaide also has a diverse collection of street art, painted in laneways, on street corners, and across structures. Follow the Adelaide Street Art Trail to see some of the city’s best outdoor art, or venture out of the city to see enormous murals painted onto water towers and grain silos along the Australian Silo Art Trail

The city also has an exciting calendar of festivals and events, from music festivals and culinary showcases to sporting events and arts programmes.

Drink wine

Spend an afternoon tasting the bounty of the land at the various wineries in Adelaide. Ashton Hills is renowned for its pinot noir, Shaw + Smith is a great place for a wine flight of five wines plus a cheese sampler plate, and Bird in Hand is a family-owned winery which also offers art, music, and farm-to-table feasts. McLaren Vale is home to some of Australia’s oldest grape vines, set on the breathtaking Fleurieu Peninsula. It’s the perfect smorgasbord of fine wine, fine food, nature, and art. Find out more about Adelaide’s wine regions here.

Shop, and shop some more

Adelaide is home to many independent designers and artists, as well as beautiful heritage shopping malls. Semaphore Road is lined with unique boutiques and a treasure trove of op shops, or opportunity shops—an Aussie term for thrift stores. Shop to your heart’s content, and if you get peckish, stop by one of the many restaurants and pubs that share the beachside boulevard. Rundle Mall in the heart of the city is a classic, a pedestrian-only strip of more than 1,000 outlets, from well-known department stores such as Myer and David Jones to chain stores and independent boutiques. The mall is known for its quirky art landmarks—two enormous balls (nicknamed Mall’s Balls), four pig statues, and a giant, mirrored pigeon. The mall’s arcades often host pop-up shops and art exhibitions as well.

Find more upmarket options outside the mall on Rundle Street, from Gorman and Zimmerman to the iconic Miss Gladys Sym Choon emporium.The three-storey fashion boutique houses quirky and hard-to-find labels as well as more popular offerings. Head to Dérma Department for minimal womenswear, and Urban Cow Studio on Vaughan Place for innovative gifts and works by South Australian artists.

Where to eat & drink

Restaurants

The colourful Adelaide Central Market is the largest covered market in the Southern Hemisphere, where you can pick up cheese, charcuterie, and jams for a lunchtime picnic. Gondola Gondola is a small, relaxed restaurant with a Vietnamese food stall feel, located on Peel Street. Expect a wide variety of Asian beers, exotic cocktails, Japanese sake and South Australian wines. If you want to sample local produce, Press Food and Wine is a fabulous option. Order dishes from the wood grill and enjoy your meal al fresco on the pavement or in the loft space on the second floor. 

One might not expect to find Afghan food in an Australian Town, but a diverse ethnic population has brought many international cuisines to the tables of Adelaide. Parwana Afghan Kitchen is a homespun eatery with vintage decor, serving food that is packed with spices and flavour. Their tender eggplant curry is a must-order, along with the fried chive dumplings topped with mincemeat and garlic yoghurt. Africola serves North African cuisine, which has a strong focus on vegetables and pulses.

Take a walk on the sands of Port Willunga Beach at sunset before heading to The Star of Greece for dinner. The seaside restaurant is set atop a cliff and overlooks the turquoise waters of the peninsula, so drink it all in while sampling items from its Mediterranean-inspired menu. 

15 minutes from the city lies one of Australia’s finest food and wine experiences, in the foothills of the Adelaide Hills. The Penfolds-owned Magill Estate Restaurant is a stunning glass box facing the vineyard, with an open kitchen that will whip up a seven-course tasting menu for diners. Combine your meal with a wine tasting session and a tour of the cellars for the full experience.

Cafés

Sibling is a local favourite that makes some of the best coffee in the city, with an airy, open atmosphere and compact but delicious list of bites. What’s more, the venue is also vegan-friendly and dog-friendly. My Grandma Ben is a sustainability-focused café, bar, and workshop space, where you can pick up house-made pickles, bags of granola, and seasonal goodies like marmalade. A great place for breakfast, lunch, or tea. If you’re headed to the seaside suburb of Henley Beach, be sure to stop by Coffee By The Beans, a small but outstanding coffee shop with a range of well-made white, black, and filter options on offer.

Bars

Get the most out of Adelaide’s distinctive bar scene with a laneway bar crawl around the bustling parallel streets of Leigh and Peel. Places to hit include Clever Little Tailor, Maybe Mae, Pink Moon Saloon, Udaberri, and Hains & Co. Cry Baby is a no-fuss joint just one street over, where the music is loud, the lights are low, and the cocktail list is just one page. Sip on locally brewed beer while you indulge in a game of pool, and toss a few coins in the jukebox for rock n’ roll greats from the 1960s through to the 1980s.

Rooftop drinking spots are a perfect mix of casual, chic, and fun. In between a coffee shop and an office block, Gallery is the city’s original rooftop bar that is filled with art and oozes cool. The wine list is huge, filled with great South Australian wines from Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, and more. The food menu consists of interesting tapas, from seared scallops to crocodile wontons. On top of the Mayfair Hotel is the Hennessy Rooftop Bar, an elegant space furnished lounge-style with leather armchairs and chandeliers. Sip on premium drinks while listening to the ambient sounds of city living.

Where to stay

From luxury suites to artsy boutique hotels, there is no shortage of accommodation options for every type of traveller. EOS by SkyCity’s rooms emanates modern luxury, with marble flooring and original artwork on the walls. Relax at the Leisure Deck, which consists of a heated outdoor pool, gym, and spa, before getting some shopping done at Rundle Mall, just minutes away. 

Crowne Plaza Adelaide boasts sprawling city views, thanks to its prime location within the city’s tallest building, Frome Central Tower, in the East End neighbourhood. With galleries, boutiques, bars, and dining options all around, this is perfect for leisure and business travellers alike. Other city hotels to consider include the vibrant Hotel Indigo beside the Adelaide Central Market, and The Watson next to the River Torrens. Majestic Minima Hotel in North Adelaide caters to discerning and budget-conscious travellers, and Seawall Apartments offers tranquillity and convenience with their beachfront heritage houses.

If you’re looking for something more unique, consider Oval Hotel, Australia’s first stadium hotel. This one-of-a-kind accommodation experience is set amongst the lush parklands of Adelaide Oval, so you get a piece of serenity in the heart of the city. Dine at the hotel’s Five Regions Restaurant for a comprehensive foray into Adelaide’s renowned wine regions and seasonal produce. To up the ante even more, book a stay with CABN, a collection of cabins scattered throughout the Australian bush. Get off the grid and wake up to the sounds of nature, somewhere in the McLaren Vale wine region.

To explore some more on what Adelaide has to offer, check out this guide!

Tourism Australia

World-renowned for its vibrant natural beauty, Australia is brimming with unique experiences to be enjoyed amongst picturesque landscapes. Rich with multifaceted history and culture as well, there is plenty to soak up and become immersed in. Indulge in the best the nation has to offer, and take a trip down under that you will not forget.

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