Window to the world: Adelaide
Adelaide will delight and inspire you with fine cuisine, authentic culture and entertaining events. There is always something to do here, so if you are planning on visiting Australia then it’s certainly worth booking a couple of nights here.
Travelling through the Great Ocean Road in South Australia will likely take you into places like Daylesford, Melbourne, Apollo Bay, Fort Fairy and the Barossa Valley before finishing in Adelaide. Adelaide is not usually on the top of a tourist’s wish list. Still, we think it is a somewhat underestimated destination that is full of surprises once you find your way around.
Adelaide combines city living with elegant architecture, music festivals, manicured gardens and sandy beaches where you can swim with dolphins. There are lots of reasons to visit, with the Adelaide Fringe Festival held every February, which is the second-largest Fringe in the world, and the Christmas Pageant, which is the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. There is a thriving bar scene in the evenings and some of Australia’s best award-winning restaurants. If you are interested in going further afield, book a wine tour around the infamous Barossa Valley or an adventure-laden visit to nearby Kangaroo Island, which is, of course, full of kangaroos.
When the Europeans first settled in Adelaide in 1836, surveyor Colonel William Light was given the formidable task of designing a city from scratch. His idea was to create a city within a park with wide, tree-lined boulevards in a grid format. To this day Adelaide is still the only place in the world where 1.3 million people live in a park, bustling around the banks of the River Torrens. Known as the city of churches, you will often find yourself admiring a skyline dotted with spires and turrets that stand gleaming above the other buildings.
Here are our favourite Adelaide highlights:
Adelaide Central Market
You will realise that Adelaide is a foodie’s heaven, and the Adelaide Central Market is sure to delight anyone with a love of multicultural cuisine made from fresh, local produce. It has been feeding hungry tourists and locals alike for over 150 years, with the first market opening in 1870.
With over 70 stalls and traders under one roof, it is one of the largest undercover markets in South Australia and from the moment you walk inside, the hustle and bustle immediately draws you in.
Sample baked goods, cheeses, coffee and everything in-between as you walk through the aisles. Nine million people visit the market each year, with tours available so you can speak to the retailers, hear stories and enjoy an authentic gastronomic experience.
The Botanic Gardens of South Australia
There are three gardens for nature lovers to enjoy; including the Adelaide Botanic Garden, Mount Lofty Botanic Garden in the hills and Wittunga Botanic Garden in suburban Blackwood. These Gardens have provided visitors with a range of cultural, recreational, educational and scientific facilities for over 160 years. It is the perfect place to enjoy an ice cream under the shade or a picnic with the family. However, avoid coming here at the weekends, as it is right next door to Adelaide Zoo, which can make the roads busy.
In Colonel Light’s original plans, he left a large area in the middle for a botanical garden and used London’s Kew Garden’s as a template. He believed that access to public open spaces was an essential factor for maintaining a healthy city. You can spend a whole day at the Adelaide Botanic Garden, which set in the middle of the town but feels like a quiet retreat. Here you will find beautifully landscaped gardens, waterways, ancient trees and plants from across the globe.
Heritage buildings in the gardens include the Palm House, a glasshouse built in 1875, and the Museum of Economic Botany constructed in 1881. However, there are modern examples of architecture in the gardens too, with the Rainforest Pavilion. Try to drop into the National Wine Centre at the end of your visit if you have time.
The Adelaide Oval
Sporting fans will be keen to see The Adelaide Oval, one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in the world. Major sporting events, public ceremonies and celebrations have been held here since colonial times. Still, in 2008, the Oval underwent a massive $500 million redevelopment, completed in 2014.
Combining both new and old features, it is now recognised across Australia as a leading example of sports architecture, with a bronze façade, bowl structure and floating white diagrid roof. Book a tour to see the old scoreboard, 100-year-old Moreton Bay Fig trees and the grassed northern mound. The interactive player’s race is an excellent opportunity to experience a match from a player’s perspective and not to be missed.
A City of Music
Adelaide is recognised by UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a ‘City of Music’, so if you love live bands and performances this is the place for you. In 2015, it was said that there were more live music venues per capita in Adelaide than any other capital city in the southern hemisphere. Lonely Planet labelled Adelaide “Australia’s live music city” and with big names like Adel, the Rolling Stones, Ed Sheeran and Boy George all performing in the city it’s easy to see why.
Glenelg is where you will find the city’s most famous beach, loved for its stretches of white sand and seaside picnic areas. It is in the suburbs of the town but easily reachable by car or by tram. There is always something going on at Glenelg Beach, with a promenade packed with cafes, hotels and bars. Jetty Road leads right up to the jetty on the beach itself, with lots of independent boutique shops, jewellers and art galleries. Enjoy a coffee at Moseley Square while the kids play in the fountains or head over to the Beachouse for water slides and traditional seaside attractions.
Whether you are there for a family stroll or want to shop for gifts to take back home with you, Glenelg Beach has you covered. The early evening is the ideal time to head to the beach, as people tend to gather and watch the sunset or take photos. Anglers set up their lines at the very end of the pier too, as it is an excellent spot for fishing, but it is also a great place to enjoy panoramic views of the beach.
There’s always time for a glass of wine
Adelaide is known as the wine capital of Australia and one of the nine Great Wine Capitals of the World. South Australia accounts for 60% of Australia’s total wine exports, so you can always order a beautiful bottle of local wine in any restaurant while dining in Adelaide.
McLaren Vale is a highly famous South Australian wine region, with 70 cellar doors to explore. As one of the most accessible wine regions in South Australia, McLaren Vale is just a short 40-minute drive from Adelaide that offers stunning coastal vistas along the way. Here you can sample excellent Shiraz, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay as well as lesser-produced varieties such as Tempranillo, Marsanne, Rousanne and Sangiovese.
Be sure to visit the award-winning Wirra Wirra winery, set in the beautiful landscape “amongst the gums” in McLaren Vale. This genuinely picturesque ironstone winery offers the perfect escape from the stresses of the city, with over 100 years of history. From the Angelus bell atop the winery to the immense timber fence known as “Woodhenge”, Wirra Wirra is guaranteed to offer you a winery experience like no other.
Adelaide is a fascinating city that bursts with culture, events and entertainment – if you are visiting Australia then it is certainly worth spending at least a few nights here to experience it for yourself.