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Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, often gets overshadowed by its big city cousins, including Sydney and Melbourne. But lately, Adelaide has been quietly coming into its own, with a flourishing dining scene (try a pie floater at least once), and the addition of new sports and entertainment venues. And with only an 8-hour drive separating it from Melbourne, it makes for a worthy side trip for travelers looking for an off-the-beaten path city break.

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Perhaps best-known for its Fringe Festival (the second largest in the world, after Edinburgh), the city is undergoing a revival, with its added cultural attractions and the transformation of a central business  district that, in parts, is still a bit rough around the edges. The bit of grit, along with the melding of Anglo and Asian cultures, is why Adelaide seems so real, so approachable. And of course, there’s always the beach!


Start your visit to Adelaide with a stroll, as the city is eminently walkable. The three top routes are North Terrace, Rundle Street and the mysterious and action-packed laneways.

Most of the city’s cultural attractions are lined up along or near North Terrace. You can pop in and out of institutions like the South Australian Museum, the Art Gallery of South Australia, and the Migration Museum, or wander around the stately campus of the University of Adelaide, established in 1874. Nearby is the Adelaide Botanic Garden, where you can take in some fresh air among the exotic plants before heading to the National Wine Centre to taste some of that famous South Australian grape.

Photo courtesy of South Australian Tourism Commission

After a post-wine nap, enjoy the nightlife packed into Adelaide’s revitalized laneways, located in the central business district. These intimate and once-forgotten back alleys are now brimming with quirky shops, restaurants, bars and local trendsetters. Check out the scene at Casablabla, Udaberri Pintxos Y Vino or Peel St.

When it’s time to turn in for the night, the city offers no shortage of great places to stay. For something charming and arty, check in at the Majestic Minima Hotel, complete with rooftop terrace. Or, for something more historic, look to the Mayfair Hotel, opened in 2015 in a stately 1930s building.


Adelaide Central Market

Adelaide Central Market | Photo courtesy of South Australian Tourism Commission

Start your second day early with a visit to Adelaide’s Central Market. If you get there at 7am, you can see  fishmongers mongering and  farmers setting up their produce stalls. Come a bit later and join in a market tour, which lets you meet the producers, sample the goodies and learn about the history of South Australian food.

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With your blood sugar levels up, head over for a shop along Rundle Street. Keep walking past touristy Rundle Mall, a pedestrian shopway filled with chain stores and hordes of browsers. When you pass Pulteney Street, the vibe totally changes. On Rundle Street East, the crowds dissipate and the retail spaces fill up with funky gift stores, hipster cafes, an arthouse cinema and fashion houses (top shops include Gorman, M.J. Bale and Sass & Bide).

These blocks are also choc-a-block with chocolate outlets. Grab a sweet at Max Brenner or The Chocolate Bar, or better yet, indulge your sweet tooth at San Churro Chocolateria. They’ve got everything from handmade, chocolate-dipped churros to a dozen choices of Spanish hot chocolate to shakes, fondues and chocolate-inspired tapas. Yum.

One block over, Ebenezer Place feels like a little piece of France plunked down in the middle of Adelaide.  After dropping some Australian dollars at Leonard St. Adelaide, Uggs and Kisses, and Relove SA, a gallery featuring the works of more than 50 South Australian creatives, get your French fix at Hey Jupiter. The brasserie has all of your Parisian cravings covered.

Photo courtesy of South Australian Tourism Commission

Finally, even if you aren’t a fan of cricket (and let’s face it, few outside the British Empire are), you’ll enjoy a literal round at the Adelaide Oval, said to be the most picturesque test cricket ground in the world. Walk around the edge of the stadium’s expansive canopy during a two-hour guided Roof Climb. It’s the best way to experience an Adelaide adrenaline rush.

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Tagged: Australia

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Laura Powell

Laura Powell

Laura is a 20-year veteran travel journalist. She was CNN's first travel reporter, and has written for publications ranging from Alaska Airlines Magazine to The Washington Post. Find her at the or on Twitter: @dailysuitcase

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