Adelaide is a metropolis located among the sun-bleached plains of South Australia, one of the country’s hottest and driest states. The city was carefully planned and designed by Colonel William Light. His idea was for Adelaide to have open squares and wide avenues. Finally, he acted, and the city started growing along the river Torrens. Surrounded by the lush Mount Lofty Ranges and blessed with clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine, this was a perfect place for vineyards. Today, the city is surrounded by several vineyards with a clear European ancestry. During the 1800s, many Germans came, putting their mark on the state. The many wine districts are embedded among South Australia’s rolling hills. Some of the more well-known areas are the Shiraz-producing Barossa Valley, as well as Clare Valley which is most famous for its Riesling. Adelaide lies far from the east coast and has often been overshadowed by more prominent cities despite being the country’s fifth-largest city. One could say that Adelaide for long has suffered from an inferiority complex. But in recent years, the city’s development within fine cuisine and not least its picturesque surroundings, has put Adelaide on the map as a destination worth a visit. The city is known for its many festivals, good food and its flowing wine.
Not far from the city centre are several excursion destinations to compliment a trip here, giving the traveller a deeper understanding of South Australia. A bumpy tram takes you all the way out to summery Glenelg, southeast of the city. Glenelg is the beach resort where everyone comes to unwind and unbutton. The main street, Jetty Road, is close to restaurants and bars and attracts hungry holidaymakers. Northeast of the city is Port Adelaide, which for a long time was a rough suburb reserved for the hard-working working class. In the past, the pubs reeked of testosterone. Today, a positive transformation is underway. Port Adelaide is taking a leap into the spotlight, getting rid of its negative label of being a grey and boring suburb. More and more cafés are popping up and warehouses are being made into cool art galleries. It certainly helps that some of the locals in fact are the immensely popular bottlenose dolphins. A few hours to the southwest lies Kangaroo Island which has an abundance of wildlife and a wild nature among eucalyptus and dense shrubs. It is one of the state’s best-kept secrets, which is slowly becoming more attentive. So far, Kangaroo Island is still a piece of unspoiled nature.
Not more than an hour’s drive from Adelaide’s central parts is Barossa Valley (wotif.com/discover/australia/south-australia/barossa-valley.d55249). Among the soft hills of the Mount Lofty Ranges are a variety of vineyards to visit or to stay overnight at (hotelscombined.com/Place/Barossa_Valley.htm). Barossa is the area in Australia that produces the most wine and there are many high-class wine-companies to choose from. The town of Tanunda with its German heritage is worth a visit for its many shops, restaurants and vineyards.
About 13 kilometres off the coast at Cape Jervis lies Kangaroo Island (wotif.com/discover/australia/south-australia/kangaroo-island.d181687), a hub for the nature-enthusiast and the outdoorsperson. As the country’s third-largest island, it takes quite some time to experience all the sights. Plan for at least a few days on the island. The ferry SeaLink (sealink.com.au) run between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw several times a day. There is no public transport on the island so either you rent a car or book a guided tour (wotif.com/things-to-do/kangaroo-island-full-day-tour-from-adelaide-with-return-ferry.a193158.activity-details). Exceptional Kangaroo Island (wotif.com/things-to-do/kangaroo-island-life-day-tour-with-lunch.a193094.activity-details) is a small family-owned eco-friendly company that organizes group trips to the island with food, drink and nature in focus.
Half an hour west from Adelaide city is Glenelg (glenelgsa.com.au). You will find this lively suburb right on the beach, a popular destination among partying backpackers and sun-worshipers. The locals come to relax on the beach during the day and in the evening, they move on to one of the town’s small pubs. The beach also attracts a lot of windsurfers. To get here, hop on the tram from Adelaide, running from Victoria Square to Moseley Square in Glenelg.
The part of Mount Lofty Ranges that lies closest to Adelaide is known as the Adelaide Hills. Drive around the mountains and stop by one of the bed and breakfasts (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Adelaide_Hills_Bed_Breakfast_Accommodation.htm), (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Adelaide_Hills_Bonney_Berg_BB.htm). You can hike up to the highest point of the mountain range. The trail to Mount Lofty Summit (walkingsa.org.au/walk/find-a-place-to-walk/waterfall-gully-to-mt-lofty-summit-hike) takes up to two hours when walking back and forth from Waterfall Gully.
Hahndorf is a historic village built by German settlers, largely unchanged since the end of the 1800s (wotif.com/discover/australia/south-australia/playford/adelaide/hahndorf.d10250). It is touristy but cosy with intricate mullions, inviting storefronts and small cafes. The village was founded by German refugees in 1839 who arrived with the German ship Zebra. The village was named after the ship’s captain Hahn. In the picturesque town is a variety of accommodation options to choose from (hotelscombined.com/Place/Hahndorf.htm).
Adelaide Central Market (adelaidecentralmarket.com.au) along Grote Street in the city centre is open Tuesday-Saturday and this is the place to go for food-shopping. Local products are mixed with souvenirs and the market always attracts a crowd of visitors. A short journey from the city centre takes you out to Port Adelaide (portenf.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=640). The old district is slowly but surely filling up with hip places and art galleries. Book a cruise with Dolphin Explorer Cruises (dolphinexplorer.com.au). You are served lunch and have a chance to see the wild dolphins that happily splash around in the sea.
Yorke Peninsula is nestled between Gulf St. Vincent and the Spencer Gulf. Turquoise blue lukewarm water encircles the peninsula which is particularly popular amongst recreational fishers. You can fish from the beach yourself. If you want a chance to get a bigger catch, you should join a local fishing guide that takes you out on deeper waters. A 45-minutes’ trip from Adelaide lies Fleurieu Peninsula (fleurieupeninsula.com.au). The peninsula has stunningly beautiful, wide sandy beaches and small towns that come to life during the summers, and accommodation alternatives for all types (hotelscombined.com/Place/Fleurieu_Peninsula.htm). Follow the pier out of Victor Harbor in the southeast, it will take you to the small island of Granite Island (environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Fleurieu_Peninsula/granite-island-recreation-park). Here, among stone boulders, little penguins live.
Planning and preparation
Adelaide has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters. In total, there are four different seasons. The summer months between December and February can get very hot with temperatures up to of 45 degrees Celsius. A good season to visit the area (hotelscombined.com/Place/Adelaide.htm) is early autumn when the leaves transform the world with its colours and the wind is cooler. The autumn falls between March and May, followed by winter between June and August and the spring falls between September and November.
Getting to Adelaide is easy. The airport is located seven kilometres from the city. Several companies fly here from most major cities in the country but also international flights land in Adelaide (wotif.com/Flights). The train the Indian Pacific (greatsouthernrail.com.au) is chugging all the way from Sydney in the east via Adelaide to Perth on the west coast. The Ghan runs from Adelaide to Darwin in the north via Alice Springs. This train trip takes two days and three nights. A whole bunch of buses from different companies stop in Adelaide. Greyhounds in particular (greyhound.com.au) and Firefly Express (fireflyexpress.com.au/ffnew/index.asp). Greyhound’s buses also takes you to the vineyards of Barossa, to Kangaroo Island and a to the Great Ocean Road if you prefer (greyhound.com.au/tours-and-experiences/south-australia/adelaide).
Start the first day in central Adelaide. Wander around the city and get acquainted with the surroundings, take a peek at one of the city’s museums (wotif.com/discover/australia/south-australia/adelaide.d6051330/arts-and-culture). A great place to go shopping is along the Rundle Mall. Look at gadgets, then follow the Torrens River that meanders its way forward. Try a “pie floater”, a classic dish from Adelaide. The café North Adelaide Bakery serving these (bakeryonoconnell.com.au) are open 24/7. A warm meat pie is served in a bowl of thick, green pea soup and then covered in a layer of tomato ketchup. Time for you to dig in. Then take the tram from Victoria Square out to the beach in Glenelg. The journey takes just half an hour and soon you get to hang out with sun-worshipers and party goers. Relax on the beach, have a swim and rent a bike to have a look around when you feel like it.
Next day, take a walk around the crowded market in the centre of Adelaide (adelaidecentralmarket.com.au). Buy some products for a tasty picnic and pack them for your next adventure. Leave the city behind and take the car up the mountains. Visit one of the many vineyards (wotif.com/discover/australia/south-australia/adelaide.d6051330/adelaide-winery-tours). For example, drive to Jacob’s Creek to sample wines and have a stroll among the vines. Join in on a guided tour among the grapes, then drive through the Adelaide Hills. Look for a good place where you can enjoy your picnic while the sun descends over the hills. Spend the night at a bed and breakfast in the mountains. If you have more days left of your holiday, book a trip to the magnificent Kangaroo Island and stay for one night (hotelscombined.com/Place/Kangaroo_Island.htm). Rent your own car or choose the more comfortable option, tag along with one of the nice guides of Exceptional Kangaroo Island (wotif.com/things-to-do/kangaroo-island-life-day-tour-with-lunch.a193094.activity-details). Don’t miss the high dunes of Little Sahara or the seals in Seal Bay.