Think of Adelaide and what comes to mind? Churches? The Barossa Valley? What about a burgeoning restaurant and bar scene, renowned museums and a festival calendar that will banish dull Saturday nights? We’re calling it: Adelaide could just be one of Australia’s most underrated capital cities – and that’s exactly why it should warrant a mention on your must-visit list. But if the thought of world-class eats and beautiful beaches isn’t enough to tempt you, we’ve pulled together an itinerary for how you could spend your first 24 hours in Adelaide. Too easy.
Touched down at Adelaide Airport? Those who want to make a beeline for the CBD can jump on the JetExpress, a double decker bus service that runs between the airport and city. Head for Glenelg or West Beach by hopping aboard a convenient JetBus service. Both services are operated by Adelaide Metro. You can buy a Metroticket from the bus driver, but if you're planning on making the most of Adelaide’s public transport during your stay opt for an Adelaide Metro Visitor Pass. The pass is $25 and will give you three consecutive days of unlimited travel on all buses, trains and trams. Those keen to have their own set of wheels for their trip are taken care of too, thanks to the airport's car rental desks.
Tuck in | 7am
Rise and shine! We know it’s early, but the promise of fresh espresso and breakfast favourites is definitely worth getting out of bed for. You’ll find La Moka on buzzy Peel Street. This café is a recently opened hotspot and doubles as a wine bar once the sun goes down. If your accommodation is in the CBD, the café is within easy walking distance. Those further out can catch a tram or bus.
Morning wander | 8am
Make your way back into the city centre and head towards River Torrens for a morning stroll along the riverbanks. Those with a penchant for AFL can check out the revamped Adelaide Oval too (the season kicks off at the end of March). Work you way back to North Terrace and head towards the East End around Rundle Street. Seek out Ebenezer Place, located just off Rundle Street, a laneway brimming with boutiques, wine cellars and food stalls.
Foodie fancy | 10:30am
Is that your stomach we heard growling? Must be time for a mid-morning snack. Make for Central Market, the foodie hub of Adelaide. There are more than 80 traders under the market roof, offering fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses, baked treats, health food and smallgoods. You’ll also find some of Adelaide’s most highly rated cafés and restaurants. Don’t eat too much though, because you’ll want to save your appetite…
Road trip | 11:30am
Jump in the car and head to McLaren Vale. Take the Express Way and you should arrive in this world-famous region in less than an hour. Be sure to stop off along the way for a detour to Moana Beach. This stretch of sand is a beach less trodden than its Henley or Glenelg counterparts, and your chance to take a refreshing dip if it's hot. When you’ve had your fill of sand and surf, head back out on the open road.
Bottoms up | 1:30pm
Indulge with a wine-tasting session and late lunch at one of McLaren Vale’s famous wineries. Alpha Box & Dice is a favourite with the trendsetters, D’Arenberg has a café and formal restaurant area (be sure to book in advance), and Coriole is perfect for grazing on a platter and taking in the vineyard’s gorgeous views.
On the road again | 4:30pm
It’s time to tear yourself away from those cellar doors, load your newly acquired purchases into the boot of your car and head back to Adelaide. Follow the way you came and you’ll be back in an hour.
Pre-show refreshment | 5:30pm
You’ll need a well-deserved tipple after the drive, and Adelaide has an up-and-coming bar scene that’s ready and waiting. The Botanic Bar is an old favourite with locals and considered an Adelaide institution, while Gallery on Waymouth is an established rooftop bar overlooking Waymouth Street that's popular with the after-work crowd. 2KW is another rooftop watering hole, with views over North Terrace. If it’s a restorative glass of vino you seek, head to sophisticated wine bar Cantina Sociale.
A splash of culture | 7:00pm
Adelaide’s Festival Centre precinct is home to world-class performance companies, including the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, State Opera of South Australia and Australian Dance Theatre. You won’t have to look far to find an event that takes your fancy, whether it’s musical theatre, a dance performance, live show or classical music. It’s a wise idea to check out the Centre’s season calendar to see what will be playing during your visit and to book tickets. If the event you have your eyes on runs late, think about grabbing an early dinner (each of the bars above serves food). There are exhibitions too, a great alternative for those who don’t want to commit to a full performance.
Last call | 10:00pm
Wind down your evening with a night-cap. Bank Street Social is an underground bar close to the Festival Centre precinct, with a strong focus on South Australian craft beer and cider. Closer to Central Market is Loft Oyster and Wine Bar. Those looking to carry on into the wee hours should head to Peel Street for buzzy cocktail bars and packed pubs. Other nightlife hotspots are Hindley Street (you won’t be able to miss its neon-lit strip) and Rundle Street.
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