The southern City of Adelaide long held a reputation as the “City of Churches” and the gateway to the surrounding wine regions. A quiet graceful old city, a little like the elderly great aunt we would visit many years ago.
It seemed a little boring in comparison to her “cooler” sisters Sydney and Melbourne. Which is why many travellers to Australia seem to overlook a visit to Adelaide, other than a brief stopover as a starting point on an outback adventure.
Yet when visiting family in recent years we have found it certainly has so much to offer visitors. Far fewer crowds in a city which is very easy to get around. In fact most of the main attractions are an easy 30 minutes from the city centre. Best of all, Adelaide is much cheaper than many of the larger cities.
Adelaide has developed a vibrant cultural scene with festivals and sporting events, as well as great bars and restaurants to relax in after a day’s sightseeing.
So even if you are only stopping by for a day or so before starting your main trip, it is well worth making some time to explore our southern city.
Festivals and Events
When planning your trip to Adelaide, check out what festivals and events might co-incide with your visit. Catch a cricket match or a game of AFL at the Adelaide Oval, or enjoy one of the festivals which are held each month. From music and food festivals, to the famous arts festival, the Adelaide Fringe festival.
Check out the Wineries
No visit to South Australia is complete without sampling the world famous produce. Adelaide has more than 200 wineries within an hour’s drive from the city. An easy 30 minute drive into the Adelaide hills will bring you to over 60 vineyards, where you can sample wines from some of Australia’s leading winemakers. Many of these vineyards also have award winning restaurants, so why not pair your chosen wine with a gourmet lunch?
While in the Adelaide Hills, make time to visit the historic town of Hahndorf. This is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement, established by Lutheran immigrants in 1839. As you browse the leafy streets, you are taken back to a different era as you pass the quaint historic buildings. Many of these continue the village’s heritage, serving as cafe’s, arts and craft shops and boutique cellar doors. Enjoy some authentic German fare at the many cafe’s restaurants and bakeries, or sample some local cheese and beer. The Adelaide Hills are well worth a visit at night for the spectacular views of Adelaide’s city lights below.
Nature enthusiasts will also enjoy Cleland Conservation Park in the Adelaide Hills. The park has an excellent network of walking and cycling trails, including the popular walk to Mt Lofty Summit and Waterfall Gully. The three hour hike taking you through natural bushland with spectacular views over Adelaide below.
Cobbler creek recreation reserve in North Adelaide is also a great place to visit with a family. It has has 17 kilometres of shared walkway. Stroll through 256 hectares of native grassland, past gum-lined creeks and enjoy a spot of bird watching along the way. The park has easy marked BMX bike trails and a kids’ adventure playground, which makes it a great spot for a family picnic.
Sample more local produce
Yes, there is more to Adelaide than just wine. As the opal mining capital of the world, Adelaide is also a great place to pick up a special momento of your travels. At Unique Opal Mine in Rundle Mall, you can visit a recreated underground opal mine. You may even have the opportunity to see jewellers and opal cutters in the process of polishing these gems. Take the time to watch the videos along the way to learn how these gems are mined and turned into beautiful jewellery.
Fancy a beer? West End Brewery is located a couple of tram stops out of town. It was established in 1886 and still manufactures a range of craft beers and ciders. You can take a tour of the brewery, including beer tasting.
Sweet tooth’s should Look out for the Beehive building on the corner of Rundle Mall and King William Street. Haigh’s Chocolates are one of South Australia’s most famous brands. The store has been supplying chocolate lovers for over 100 years. Make sure you take the time to step inside and sample the sweet treats.
Just outside the Botanic Gardens you will find the National Wine Centre. Take a wine appreciate course, or sample the local produce in Australia’s largest wine tasting room. The centre holds regular dinners and cultural events.
Relax by the Torrens River
Adelaide is located along the banks of the Torrens River, where you can enjoy walking or cycling along the riverside taking in the beautiful, leafy scenery. Enjoy the city from the water with a cruise down the River. You can also hire a barbecue boat and enjoy some authentic Australian food along the way.
Take a break from your sightseeing to enjoy some of Adelaide’s beautiful parks and gardens. Set in 51 hectares of parkland, The Adelaide Botanic gardens were opened in 1857. The Bicentenial convervatory is the largest single span conservatory in the southern hemisphere. It cultivates a number of endangered plant species from across South East Asia. Horticultural enthusiasts will also be interested in a visit to the Museum of Botany
In Elder Park, you will find the rotunda which has become an Adelaide landmark. The wrought iron bandstand was erected on the banks of the river in 1882. The precinct now hosts many community events and is a lovely area of the city to enjoy a lakeside stroll.
The Japanese Himeji garden on South Terrace was a gift from Adelaide’s Japanese sister city. It is an oasis of calm in which to relax after a hectic day’s sightseeing. Starting from the gatehouse, the pathway leads you through the mountain and lake features, onto the dry rock and stone features.
The Adelaide Zoo is not only a great way to see over 300 species, including the only Pandas in the southern hemisphere. It is set in beautiful riverside parkland, an easy walk along Frome Road from the CBD. A picnic at the zoo makes a great family day out.
Head to Glenelg Beach.
Adelaide’s most popular beach is a short tram ride away from the city centre. The Glenelg Tram is the only remaining tramline in Adelaide. If you take the tram on a weekend or public holiday, you will be able to ride in an historic H class carriage dating back to 1929 .
Glenelg Beach is a popular seaside resort and the oldest European settlement on mainland South Australia. Enjoy a dip in the sea or hire a bike and ride or walk along the coastal walkways. Stroll along the iconic jetty or relax in one of the many cafe’s by the waterfront.
Museums and Art galleries
Art and history buffs will enjoy a walk along the North Terrace cultural precinct, where you will find the State Library and Museum of South Australia among the many heritage listed buildings. The colonial buildings are worth a visit for the unique architecture.
The State Library of South Australia is worth a visit. Among the permanent exhibits is the “Bradman Collection”, memorabilia from the life of Australian cricketer, Sir Donald Bradman.
Nearby on North Terrace you will find the South Australian Museum and Art Gallery. In the past our children have enjoyed many hours exploring the natural history collections within the Museum.
Shopping in Adelaide.
Adelaide is certainly not the shopping mecca that Melbourne is. However there is no shortage of “retail therapy” opportunities.
Rundle Mall is the main shopping precinct. Many of the buildings along the street date back to the city’s origins in 1837. The Adelaide Arcade and fountain outside were built in the late 19th century. In the Mall you will find everything from high end fashion stores to the local markets.
While you are in the Mall, look out for the contemporary statues, including a giant cockroach, and the pigs rooting around in a rubbish bin. Truffles, Horatio ,Oliver and Augusta are four life-sized bronze pig statues who greet shoppers in tRundle Mall. They were initially a little controversial, but they have become a popular Adelaide tourist attraction.
Adelaide Central Market has over 80 stalls under one roof and is a “foodies” paradise. Spend a few hours browsing for a bargain, or enjoy some local cuisine from one of the many food stalls. It is located between Gouger and Grote streets in the CBD and is open from Tuesday to Saturday
Eating in Adelaide
Gouger Street and Rundle Mall are the best places to eat in Adelaide. Whether you are looking for a quick coffee or takeaway lunch, a fine dining experience, or a cheap family meal you will find a great range on these two main restaurant precincts.
Also look out for the mobile food vans around the city, where you can get a quick, cheap bite to eat.
Adelaide would have to be one of the easiest cities to get around. It is very flat and compact, so it is easy to walk or cycle around the city.
The Adelaide CBD is only a 10 minute taxi ride from the airport. There is also a commuter bus, which will take you directly to the city and most hotels operate a shuttle service.
Within the city, Adelaide is very easy to get around. The Adelaide Metro is a tram, bus and rail system which runs through the city. If you are staying for a few days it would be worth purchasing a “Metro Visitor Pass”, which will save you money on transport costs.
So as you can see, Adelaide is far from the “boring City of Churches”. There are so many interesting and unique things to explore, that it is well worth including on your Australian itinerary for a few days.
Getting to Adelaide:
Flying is the quickest way to get to Adelaide.
Adelaide is a 2 hour flight from Sydney and a 1 1/2 hour flight from Melbourne. Virgin Airlines frequently have great flight deals between cities.
Adelaide is an 8 hour drive from Melbourne and could be included at the end of Great Ocean Road trip. Driving from Sydney to Adelaide will take 14 hours and require at least one overnight stop.
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