Location: Adelaide, South Australia.
The capital city of South Australia isn’t usually one on many travelers lists, especially when you have big brothers like Melbourne and Sydney to contend with; however, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what Adelaide has to offer the budget traveller with many free sights and affordable eats.
Siu On and I spent a few days exploring the sights, sounds and tastes of Adelaide, and found that there was definitely enough to keep you busy for a weekend. Our highlights (as always with South Australia) was the incredible fresh produce, but there are so many little gems in this understated city that you should definitely come, see and do it for yourself.
Adelaide is a very compact city and has all the major sights within walking distance, however you can also rent out free bicycles from places around the city, all you have to do is leave your drivers license or passport as a deposit and with that Siu On and I grabbed a bike, a helmet and a map! The city has generous bicycle lanes and we found that drivers were extremely courteous towards us, so we felt very safe pedaling around. If you’re looking to go further afield, there are buses, trains and trams as well.
Adelaide was originally designed to include a green belt around the city to keep the beautiful parklands within reach of all Adelaideans, and with the Torrens river running through the area it makes for great cycling along the many paths and a picnic spot amongst the swans and ducks. We not only cycled along the Torrens whilst in Adelaide, we also spend a morning wandering through the Botanic Gardens and sat for a coffee at one of the cafes in the park; it really felt like you had wandered into a beautiful place, we felt so removed from the city.
Adelaide is actually really close to a quite a few beaches. The most popular one being Glenelg, and is only a short 10km tram ride away from the city centre. Here you’ll find a lot of boutique shops, restaurants, pubs and cafes, as well as swimming! Siu On and I spent half a day walking the coastal trail and the jetty, as well as relaxing on the sand, and in the cafes.
Museums and Galleries
One of the highlights of our time in Adelaide was the Museum precinct, with both the Museum of South Australia and the Art Gallery of South Australia located adjacent to each other. Siu On and I locked our bikes up outside, and with free entry to both galleries we wandered amongst some of the most beautiful examples of Australiana and Indigenous art and artifacts. Seriously, you could lose a day in these two buildings, there is that much to see!
Shopping and Food
The most well known of Adelaide’s shopping areas is the Rundle Mall. With all the major stores and everything in between, it makes for good people watching with the many buskers and street performers. Siu On and I also enjoyed discovering the little arcade offshoots, especially stepping back in time in the Adelaide Arcade. Built in 1885, the Arcade has been restored to its original glory and filled with kitsch shops and cool cafes.
For the freshest and best in local South Australian produce you can’t beat the Adelaide Central Markets. Located in the heart of the city this is also Adelaide’s most widely visited attraction and with over 80 stall holders split over two levels, there’s something here to suit every tastebud! A little further afield is the Adelaide Farmer’s Market, held every Sunday at the Adelaide Show Grounds, which also has an array of organic and locally produced food. It’s also great for some South Australian gourmet and celebrity chef spotting – we saw Saskia Beer (daughter of Australia’s favorite home chef, Maggie Beer) dealing out tasters and we were served paella by Poh Ling Yeow (of Masterchef Fame)! And yes I totally fan-girled in the line.
Adelaide also boasts a vibrant Asian food scene, with the many asian restaurants on Grote and Gouger Street worth a visit. We tried some amazing Hong Kong fare, which impressed Siu On with it’s authenticity and affordable price.
Bars and Nightlife
If you want to hang with the cool kids you have to go to Peel and Leigh Street. Here you’ll find a cluster of lane way bars and tiny hole in the wall eats. We sampled the drink menu at ubercool Udaberri, and dined at a few places in the area which didn’t disappoint. We actually found that dining out in Adelaide was rather inexpensive compared to my home city of Perth, and even Melbourne.
If you can’t tell already, Siu On and I have quite the soft spot for South Australia! One day we dream of returning and doing a gourmet food tour of South Australia, sampling the best this state has to offer… one day.
Are you thinking of exploring more of South Australia beyond Adelaide? Read my article on our travels through the Eyre Peninsula, and sign up for The Travelleur updates as I’ll be posting more on our travels through South Australia!
Featured and final photographs by Auyeung Photography, all other images by Jelena Stipanicev.