It’s called the festival state but, even out of the events season, Adelaide’s got plenty going on.
Adelaide, the tiny-but-mighty city packs a real punch. It has a booming small-bar scene, fine restaurants, world-class art and music, and an impressive festival calendar. There is also a lively sports culture and great galleries.
If you like to sit back and let someone else do the work, book an EcoCaddy tour experience. The bamboo pedicabs that you’ll spot whizzing around the city are electric and pedal-powered, so they’re environmentally friendly and can carry you to places that cars can’t reach. Your driver will take you on a pre-planned wine, coffee or street-art tour.
If you’d rather be a little more active, look to PureSA, which prides itself on sustainable tourism initiatives. Take one of its cycle tours to the beach, or jump on a bushwalking tour through the Adelaide Hills. There are tailored small group trips to Fleurieu Peninsula or the Cleland Wildlife Park, where you can hand feed kangaroos and get up close to koalas.
One of Adelaide’s many nicknames is “the 20-minute city”, thanks to its sub-half hour travel time to the hills in the east and beaches to the west. For the ultimate day out, go for a swim at Glenelg Beach, stop for lunch at one of the city’s trendy venues, then head to the vineyards for wine-tastings.
Food and wine adventures
The city and surrounding suburbs are a hub for clever, creative and delicious food and drink. Prioritise hip African barbecue joint Africola, colourful traditional Afghan venue Parwana, seafood-focused Fishbank, authentic Japanese eatery Shobosho and trendy Thai spot Golden Boy. With the city currently undergoing an Italian-food renaissance; try Madre, iTL Italian Kitchen, Nido, Osteria Oggi and Sunny’s Pizza.
Leaving the city only expands your food and drink options. Adelaide is surrounded by wineries (more than 200 within an hour of the CBD). To the east, the Adelaide Hills is known for its cool-climate wines; to the north, the Barossa Valley produces world-famous shiraz; and to the south, McLaren Vale is fast becoming a culinary destination in its own right – don’t miss the new Chalk Hill collective, home to Chalk Hill Wines, Never Never Distilling Co and Cucina di Strada’s pizzas.
Adelaide by night
In Adelaide’s small bars, which can be found hidden in laneways and secret corners of the city, locally brewed beers, drops from the surrounding wine country, and creative cocktails are the order of the day. At Paloma Bar and Pantry the specialty is agave-based spirits, while Maybe Mae is the authority on all things cocktails. Hains & Co is a nautical-themed bar with an impressive selection of boutique gins, rums and whiskies, and Leigh Street Wine Room serves up natural wines in a former drycleaners.
For after-dark entertainment, check out the magnificently transformed SkyCity Adelaide complex, which includes the five-star Eos by SkyCity hotel, four new restaurants and two bars. Or visit Adelaide Zoo for a fascinating After Dark tour which visits areas usually off-limits to the public. Aside from the animals, you’ll hear from zookeepers about the supposed hauntings of former residents.
Time your visit for late July to catch Illuminate Adelaide, the city’s fabulous winter festival. Combining light, art, music, technology and performance. The event runs from 16 July-1 August and will spill out across the city. The festival includes plenty to see and do, with a variety of free and ticketed events.
On 23-25 July, the Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival will showcase a range of local and international beer and cider, spirits from distillers and winemakers, presented alongside barbecue chefs cooking feasts and a roster of live music. The DJs will be spinning the tunes and there will be plenty of live music.
Where to stay
1. Need somewhere to lay your head? The boutique Hotel Indigo Adelaide Markets opened in March, to much fanfare. The centrally located hotel has colourful and quirky rooms, with suites inspired by the city’s famous festivals. The Indigo boasts city views, spa-inspired bathrooms and excellent onsite drinking and dining venues, including Adelaide’s highest rooftop bar.
2. Sports fans might opt to stay at Oval Hotel, built into the Adelaide Oval complex, with views over the city’s historic parklands. It opened late last year and offers luxuriously appointed rooms, fine-dining options and the chance to be in the heart of the (sports) action. Take a tour of the sportsground or climb the roof for panoramic vistas, and don’t miss the chance to catch a game during your stay.
3. In North Adelaide, Majestic M Suites has suites with one to three bedrooms, all fitted out in an ultra-modern, industrial-chic style. In a quiet area but just minutes from the centre, this hotel has city views, a gym, undercover parking and EV charging stations.