Home to one of the biggest undercover produce markets in the country, pristine ocean beaches, a quirky laneway bar scene, and the “prettiest cricket ground in the world,” Adelaide combines the rich cultural heritage of a state capital with a laid-back atmosphere that attracts travellers from around the globe.
The Adelaide Central Market features 80 specialist stalls, offering everything from fresh, local seafood to gourmet cheeses, olive oils, pastries, meats, and, of course, every kind of organic produce you might desire. Guided tours, cooking demonstrations, and live music also add to the fun and festivity. The city also offers an eclectic mix of eateries: The Flying Fig Deli, Star of Siam, and the Chinatown Café are wildly popular spots for delicious (and deliciously cheap!) ethnic cuisine, while Orana, Georges on Weymouth, and Andre’s Cucina and Polenta Bar top the list of possibilities for that “special occasion.” Stopping at Burger Theory for a Number 1 is a must for travellers on any budget, too. Hotels within walking distance of eat streets such as Rundle, Gouger, Leigh, and Peel are great choices for a foodie weekend, and there are options at every price point as well, from backpackers hostels in Chinatown to award-winning five-star properties on North Terrace.
Hotels in Adelaide are at their busiest (and most dear!) in Mad March, when the city hosts several international arts festivals, a horse-racing cup, and a supercars race (for starters). However, the city’s lively small bars scene keeps the party going all year long: locals love the expertly mixed cocktails and cosy booths at the Clever Little Tailor and Maybe Mae. Also, as one of the nine Great Wine Capitals of the World, Adelaide tempts thirsty travellers with over 200 cellar doors, and is home to the National Wine Centre. The city is also surrounded by famous wine regions: a boutique hotel in Adelaide Hills, a B&B in the Barossa, or a holiday home in the Clare Valley are all excellent bases for a wine tour, yet within easy reach of the CBD and its many charms.
Adelaide is home to a wide array of art galleries, most notably the Art Gallery of South Australia, which houses 38,000 works of art from around the world, and the JamFactory, a purpose-built studio where exceptional local artists create and display their work in exhibition and retail spaces. The Galerie Zadra is well worth a ten-minute drive east of the city, though it is only one of many nearby places to explore Aboriginal arts and culture. The Better World Arts Gallery, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, and the Warriparinga Wetlands And Living Kaurna Cultural Centre are also within a short drive.
Young (and young-at-heart!) travellers will find plenty to do in Adelaide as well, from visiting Australia’s only giant pandas, Wang Wang and Fu Ni, at the Adelaide Zoo to braving the 70-metre waterslide at the historic Semaphore Waterslide Complex or borrowing a (free!) bicycle and riding out to Henley Beach for an afternoon spent building sandcastles. Dinosaurs and giant squid await at the South Australian Museum, and a picnic in the beautiful Adelaide Botanic Gardens is an ideal alternative when the little ones have had their fill of restaurant dining. Energetic young travellers can also burn off some steam exploring the massive engines at the National Railway Museum, or chasing crabs along the Yorke Peninsula, about an hour outside the city. And no family vacation in Adelaide would be complete without a trip to Glenelg Beach, just 25 minutes from the CBD via a vintage tram. Famous for its sandy beach, dolphin cruises, and cafes, the seaside village also offers some excellent cafes and heritage hotels.
The Fleurieu Peninsula is a favoured weekend destination for Adelaide natives, who are drawn by its array of beautiful, sandy beaches. Horseshoe Bay, Middleton, and Goolwa suit swimmers and surfers at all levels, while more experienced surfers might prefer Boomer Beach or else Waitpinga, which is well known for its rips. All of these are just over 50 miles south of the city. When it’s too cold to catch a wave, adventurous travellers can enjoy a bird’s eye view of the turf from the roof of the Adelaide Oval, go chasing waterfalls at Morialta Conservation Park, or kiss the sky at Mega Adventure, an aerial play structure 26 metres from the ground. The park also offers a SkyWalk, for travellers who want to enjoy the stunning view without a safety harness.