Adelaide from Mt Osmond, SA. Photo credit: Josie Withers/South Australian Tourism Commission
Australia’s fifth largest city is South Australia’s capital. It’s a place of parkland and markets, sports grounds and eateries. And the best way to explore it is on foot.
It’s warm in winter (16°C average) and a very pleasant 28°C in summer.
Things to do in Adelaide
Adelaide is your departure or arrival point for The Ghan, a train which runs the 2,979 km (1,851miles) to Darwin.
It’s one of the world’s great railway journeys – and one of its longest, taking 54hrs to complete the trip (with a 4hr stopover in Alice Springs).
The train was originally ‘The Afghan Express’, named in honour of the Afghan cameleers who, among others, helped explore and service Australia’s interior from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s.
Visit Adelaide’s Aldinga Beach and Maslin Beach are both near the centre. They’re good spots for swimming, sunbathing, diving, fishing and boating.
To say Adelaide’s founder, Colonel Light, was keen on his parkland is a bit of an understatement. Today there are 29 parks in the city, some given over to natural (or regenerated) bushland; others containing playing fields, gardens, cultural buildings and more. Here are some of our favourites:
- Adelaide Zoo: Found in Park 11, this non-profit zoo is Australia’s second oldest. 300 species fill exhibits such as the ‘Immersion’ South East Asian Rainforest, Seal Bay, Australian Rainforest Wetlands walk-through aviary and the Children’s Zoo. But of all the exhibits here, you’ll find the biggest crowds around Wang Wang and Funi, the southern hemisphere’s only giant pandas.
- Adelaide Botanic Gardens: Also in Park 11, the historic botanic gardens are bursting with native and exotic plants housed outdoors and in numerous pavilions and palm houses.
- Elder Park: Park 26 on the River Torrens’ south bank was named after the Elder family, early settlers to the area. The walking trails let you burn off breakfast while taking in some impressive views of the lake and city. There’s bike and paddleboat hire too.
- Himeji Park: Many of the plants and materials used in Park 18 were given to Adelaide by its sister city, Himeji in 1982. Surprisingly, the Japanese garden was designed by council staff, but Yoshitaka Kumada gave the park some Japanese authenticity later in the 80s.
There’s a thriving market culture to explore in Adelaide. Browsing the stalls is a great way to get closer to the city and its people.
- Adelaide Central Market: Opened in 1869 on Grote Street, Central Market has over 80 independent stallholders selling fruit and vegetables, meat and poultry, seafood, breads and cakes, nuts, and gourmet cheeses. There are plenty of cafes in which to sample them too.
Open Tuesday to Saturday, closing at 9pm on Fridays and 3pm on Saturdays.
- Adelaide Showground Farmers Market: Fresh regional and seasonal produce by local farmers and producers.
Open Sunday 9am to 1pm, entry from Leader Street.
- Gilles Street Market: Gilles Street Primary School is the unusual location for the 50(ish) stalls that make up the fashion market, which takes place on the third Sunday of every month. Local designers vie for space alongside vintage garments, clearance stock, second-hand items, jewellery, shoes, designer gear and accessories.
- Bowerbird Bazaar, Stirling Angas Pavilion, Adelaide Showground: It’s only held twice a year, but it’s a haven for designers, artists and craftspeople from all over Australia showcasing their interior design, homeware, arts and crafts.
South Australia is known as the Festival State. As it’s the capital, Adelaide hosts its fair share. Here are some of our favourites:
- Adelaide Festival (aka the Adelaide Festival of Arts): Visit Australia’s largest multi-arts festival is held annually each March. Opera, theatre, dance, classical and contemporary music, cabaret, and new media events congregate around the River Torrens. Part of the event’s success can be attributed to the city’s layout. With so much parkland there’s an endless variety of ideal venues.
- Adelaide Fringe Festival: Annual arts festival running from Feb to March for four weeks. Australian and international artists host 900 events across the city in what is almost certainly the sunniest fringe festival on earth. Choose from cabaret, comedy, circus, dance, film, theatre, puppetry, music, visual art and design.
- WOMADelaide: Held annually over four days each March, WOMAD (World of Music and Dance) showcases world music, arts and dance.
Tour Down Under
International cyclists race in and around Adelaide every January.
- Adelaide 500: Oz’s largest domestic motor sport event is an annual V8 Supercar race, usually held over four days in early March. Racing takes place on roads in the east end of Adelaide.
Explore Adelaide and you’ll find a city in love with its sport. Watch your favourite at:
- Adelaide Oval (cricket)
- Memorial Drive hosts the World Tennis Challenge
- Norwood, Richmond and Alberton Ovals host SANFL (SA National Football League)
- Hindmarsh Stadium (soccer) home of Adelaide United FC (‘The Reds’)
- Santos Stadium (athletics)
- Adelaide Arena (basketball), home of the Adelaide 36ers and Adelaide Lightning
- Adelaide Super-Drome (cycling)
- State Hockey Centre (field hockey)
- State Aquatic Centre (swimming)
- Morphettville Racecourse (horse racing)
Adelaide: capital by design
Adelaide was founded by Colonel Light in 1836. Right from the outset it was planned and built with the intention of being the state capital.
Colonel Light planned central Adelaide’s grid formation and surrounded it with parkland. Later, he added North Adelaide and surrounded that with parkland too.
The city has continued to expand since, with many more suburbs which didn’t feel the need to stick quite so closely to Colonel Light’s original design.
The city was named after Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, queen consort of William IV of Britain. Her statue still stands in the town hall.
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