Adelaide is quickly becoming the lifestyle capital of Australia.
By Ellie Schneider
Once considered a sleepy city, Adelaide has undergone a rapid transformation with a burgeoning small-bar scene, world-class art and music, and a festival calendar to rival that of any other Australian city. Discover its laneway secrets, take in the stunning flora at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, experience contemporary and traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at Tandanya and find delicious treats around every bend.
- Shop from 80 traders at Adelaide Central Market
- Take part in celebrations of art and music
- Enjoy a long lunch in the Adelaide Hills
How to get there
International and domestic flights arrive at Adelaide Airport, which is a 15-minute drive from the city centre or 25 minutes via public bus. There is also a door-to-door shuttle service from the airport to city hotels.
Things to do and top attractions in Adelaide
Drink and dine in laneway bars
In the city centre, Adelaide’s laneways and side streets are being transformed with hidden bars and eateries. Along Peel Street enjoy a whisky at Clever Little Tailor or espresso martini at La Moka. Hains & Co is a sailor-themed bar tucked down Gilbert Place, specialising in gin and rum. One of Adelaide’s hottest bars, Proof, can be found on Anster Street, which pairs classic cocktails with tasty share plates and gourmet toasted sandwiches. Underground bar Bank Street Social is the go-to for local craft beer and Australian spirits, while La Buvette Drinkery serves French apéritifs with a side of escargot. Get your caffeine hit at Coffee Branch on Leigh Street, and dine on playful, modern Australian cuisine at Peel St.
Sample fresh produce at Adelaide Central Market
Savour South Australia’s rich bounty of produce – farm-fresh fruit and vegetables, artisan cheeses, smoked meats and seafood – at Adelaide Central Market. The undercover market has been the epicentre for Adelaide’s food scene. Start with coffee at Fair Espresso and freshly baked pastries at Dough. Sample the local cheeses at Say Cheese and hard-to-find international cheese at The Smelly Cheese Shop. Drop by Island Pure, which brings together more than 25 producers from Kangaroo Island, and stocks small-batch gin, flavoured oils, honey and sticky figs. To discover the best of the market, join Mark Gleeson’s early morning walking tour, during which you’ll enjoy generous tastings and meet the people behind the stalls.
Stroll along North Terrace
Adelaide’s North Terrace is home to the city’s most important cultural institutions. The Art Gallery of South Australia features a collection of more than 38,000 works spanning Australian, Australian Aboriginal, European, North American and Asian art. Delve into Australia’s cultural heritage at the neighbouring South Australian Museum, which has the world's largest collection of Australian Aboriginal cultural artefacts. Next, stroll to the Botanic Gardens to wander among thousands of species of roses. If you’re travelling with kids don’t miss the Adelaide Zoo, and if you love cricket, join a tour of Adelaide Oval. Afterwards, visit the Bradman Collection, a private collection of memorabilia from Australia’s great Sir Donald Bradman.
Explore Adelaide’s East End at Rundle Street. Originally home to Adelaide’s central market, the area is undergoing a retail renaissance with fashion boutiques – including Australian designers Gorman, Zimmermann and M.J. Bale – and specialty stores attracting the city’s style set. Find major department stores at Rundle Mall, shop for homewares along Norwood Parade and visit nearby Magill Road for art and antiques.
Relax on the beach
When the mercury rises, head to one of Adelaide’s many popular ocean beaches. Catch the 25 minute tram from Rundle Mall to Glenelg, a bustling beachside neighbourhood with heritage hotels, alfresco cafés and a white sandy beach. For the ultimate retro beach experience, drive 14 kilometres (9 miles) south of Adelaide to Semaphore, where you can walk along the esplanade, tuck into fish and chips or swim in its sheltered waters. Kids will love its historic carousel with 40 handcrafted wooden horses. If you’re looking to hit the surf, both novices and experienced surfers are catered for on the Fleurieu Peninsula, a 45-minute drive south of Adelaide.
Visit for the festivals
Adelaide is recognised as one of the best festival cities in the world, with many falling during February and March. It’s the time of Adelaide Festival, WOMADelaide and Adelaide Fringe, which bring world-class entertainment to the city. Adelaide Festival presents a mix of theatre, music, dance and more. WOMADelaide transforms the Botanic Park for a four-day celebration of music, art and dance. It also hosts the Planet Talks environmental discussions series and Taste the World food and cooking demonstrations. Adelaide Fringe presents a program covering everything from cabaret to comedy. During the festival more than 900 events are staged in pop-up venues as well as established theatres, hotels and galleries.
Head for the hills
Spend a day or two exploring the Adelaide Hills, one of Australia’s top cool-climate wine regions. Drop into some of the region’s 60 wineries such as Hahndorf Hill, which is pioneering the Austrian grape varieties of Bläufrankisch, Grüner Veltliner, Zweigelt and St Laurent, or Bird in Hand, renowned for its award-winning Shiraz. Afterwards enjoy a leisurely lunch at The Lane Vineyard, dining on dishes such as crisp pork belly and Hereford 40-plus days dry aged striploin, at its hilltop dining room. If you’re visiting on the weekend, don’t miss the Adelaide Hills Farmers’ Market for a taste of fresh, seasonal and local produce. Stay overnight in quaint country cottages or drive an easy 30 minutes back to central Adelaide.
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