My father is probably not going to speak to me for letting the cat out of the bag – Adelaide is Australia’s new must-do city break.
Adelaide in South Australia is his slice of heaven – the Sydney of his youth he says as he reminisces of a time when he could walk everywhere, traffic was not unbearable, streets were wide and filled with people quietly moving about their day in the sunshine.
This freedom to move and breathe also offers you choice – a beach to walk to, an oval to kick a ball around on, history to soak up, and a sporting match to watch somewhere.
He flies in from Sydney every year to watch the Australian cricket test match. He’s a member of the Adelaide Oval – he reckons it’s the best in Australia. (He plays for the over 70’s Australian team so he’s bit of an expert!)
Well you know what my thoughts were on it – If Dad says it’s good, it must be really boring and daggy.
I arrived in Adelaide last year, for a brief one night stay, curious to see if this small city was boring and slow more suited to oldies, or did it have something a bit more modern and hip that could cater to my interests?
My Dad must be a bit of a hipster in his old age because he was right!
Adelaide has charm, sophistication, history, elegant beauty and a fresh, gentle, fun way of living that doesn’t zap your energy like the big buzzing cities of Sydney and Melbourne do.
It’s a destination that will surprise and inspire.
I left with Adelaide sitting at the top of our list for a much longer stay when we arrive on our road trip at the end of this year. I’m penciling in a couple of weeks to explore more deeply.
Here are eight reasons you should forget Sydney and Melbourne for your next getaway and head to Adelaide.
1. It’s a beautiful, breathable city.
It may not have the stunning wow factor of Sydney, but Adelaide has a softer gentle beauty with the surrounding hills to the east, beautiful beaches to the west, luxuriously wide boulevards, many parks and gardens, enormous skies and wide-open spaces.
Unlike Sydney and Melbourne, Adelaide offers you space to breathe.
Everything you need is only 20 minutes away and with a population of only 1 million, you can swing and spin with arms wide open while appreciating all it has to offer.
2. The food capital of Australia
One hour spent exploring the 143-year-old Adelaide Central Market convinced me Adelaide was the food capital of Australia.
It has over 80 stalls, cafes and restaurants all showcasing local produce. You can watch cheese being made, feast on chocolate, enjoy coffee from an Italian family with a 55 year history in the markets, or buy from green grocers who’ve been operating for more than 35 years. There is even a food tour you can do of the markets.
In the city, highly awarded fine dining restaurants exist alongside pop up bars and food trucks. There’s over 100 pubs in the city and plenty of hip bars and watering holes in arcades and hidden laneways.
I am currently in Adelaide, speaking at the Tasting Australia festival, and gorging myself on more great food. I highly recommend Pure Boutique Coffee in Glenelg, Cafe Zuma for breakfast at the Central Markets, and Ky Chow in Chinatown.
3. The Wine capital of Australia
There’s nothing I like more during the winter than to sit around a cosy fire on a vineyard with a superb glass of Australian Shiraz.
There are wineries all around Australia and near to the capital cities, but in Adelaide, there are several within an hour’s drive.
You’ll find some of Australia’s most recognized brands such as Penfolds, Yalumba, Wolf Blass and Jacob’s Creek. It’s the place where some of the best wine in the country is made. With a nation full of superb wine growers, this is a statement that must be tested.
You’re spoilt for choice: Barossa Valley, Mclaren Vale, Clare Valley and the Adelaide Hills (your boutique stuff). There is no other capital city in Australia that offers you such easy access to many different wine regions.
How can you not love a city where Australia’s best food and wine meet?
4. There’s a greater Adelaide
If you move just a short distance in any direction from the CBD, you’ll discover a diversity of regions to satisfy any person’s interests: Wine regions, beautiful beaches, historical towns, unusual villages in the hills, abundant wildlife and stunning landscapes.
Most of Adelaide’s beaches are within a 30-minute drive and with the warm climate can be appreciated almost all year round. Glenelg, the main tourist beach is only 12km from town. I visited last week and the resident seal waved to me while swimming 5 metres from shore!
5. You can explore the city by bike
Adelaide is an easy city to explore by bike: it’s flat, with beautiful biking trials through gorgeous parklands, and well-marked and safe bicycle lanes on the city streets.
I enjoyed a lovely bike ride along the Torrens River and through the parklands of East Adelaide. There are plenty of sightseeing places along the way, I preferred losing myself in the stunning Botanical Gardens. The bike path does a loop around the city or you can even cycle out to the beaches.
The best news is that the city of Adelaide hires bikes out for FREE!
6. Festivals and Events in Adelaide
Another reason Adelaide is high on our bucket list is the wide variety of festivals and events on offer. You get the party and fun without the maddening crowds.
Now’s the season for the sports mad to experience the thrill of a live AFL game. Mad March is when you throw your party boots on as it’s the hot festival time. The most known festivals in Adelaide are the Fringe Festival, WOMADelaide, Tour Down Under, and Tasting Australia.
But Adelaide also has many smaller, just as fun, festivals and events such as Splash Adelaide, which focuses on bringing the city’s streets and spaces to life with pop-up street parties and restaurants, performances, night markets, and mobile food vendors.
7. Eclectic lifestyle
It might have a lot of history, being Australia’s first free settlement, but Adelaide is overbrimming with multiculturalism which is reflected in their suburbs, food experiences and festivals.
German influence is strong in the Barossa Valley and the Adelaide Hills – a must visit suburb is Hahndorf. The Irish founded the Clare Valley and Italians, Greeks and Asians have a strong influence in the region’s food.
8. It has Kangaroo Island
My heart bursts every time I think of Kangaroo Island. I’ve not been yet, but I already love it. (I’m trusting Mum and Dad’s recommendation for this one.)
Update: We have now been! Here is our post on things to do on Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is Australia’s answer to the Galapagos Island and is only two hours from Adelaide. It’s a remote and undiscovered destination that has stunning beauty, unique and abundant wildlife, awesome sunsets, 4WD drive adventures and no crowds. I’m booking myself in for a month.
Adelaide is pretty Rad!
Now your toughest decision is what do you explore first? (I’m getting back out into the Adelaide streets for more food and wine tasting!)
As Lonely Planet said when it named it in their Top 10 must visit cities for 2014,
“A gateway to some of Australia’s most accessible wine country, Adelaide is effortlessly chic – and like a perfectly cellared red, it’s ready to be uncorked and sampled,”
Time to uncork it!
Plan Your Trip in Adelaide
We’ve been traveling consistently for 17 years and have come to rely on a few trusted websites that save us money and time when booking accommodation, flights and car rental. Below are our preferred partners:
- Booking.com has 700,000+ hotels, apartments and hostels worldwide. You get free cancellation on most rooms and a best price guarantee.
- Airbnb has plenty of vacation rentals in Adelaide. Click here to see availability.
- Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees).
- Scott’s Cheap Flights offers amazing deals on flights to Australia. See more here.
- RentalCars.com is the world’s biggest car rental booking service that compares all the major brands like Hertz, Avis, Alamo, and Europcar.
What are your tips for Adelaide? Share in the comments.